The Bludgeon Brothers’ dominance over the SmackDown tag team division was cut short due to Erick Rowan suffering a bicep injury. However, Luke Harper is more than capable as a singles competitor and should get the opportunity to prove such on SmackDown with his partner away.
Harper does not have an extensive history as a solo competitor, having spent the majority of his WWE career as Bray Wyatt’s primary disciple in The Wyatt Family.
Harper and fellow Wyatt Family member, Rowan— both then known as Luke Harper and Erick Rowan—were staples in tag team competition. The fearsome duo captured the NXT Tag Team Titles and went on to have killer matches on the main roster with tandems such as The Usos.
The Wyatt Family was randomly split in late 2014, giving way to Harper’s first singles run in WWE. Harper’s solo prospects appeared bright at the start as he won the Intercontinental Championship from Dolph Ziggler and was part of the Team Cena vs. Team Authority main event of Survivor Series that year. Harper was realigned with The Wyatt Family not too long after losing the title back to Dolph Ziggler in a phenomenal ladder match, ending his first singles run in WWE after less than a year.
Post-brand split, Harper finally started to come into his own again in the midst of a Wyatt Family power struggle between himself and outsider Randy Orton. Despite the low expectations heading into a match against Orton at Elimination Chamber, Harper—even in defeat—put on a star-making performance.
Despite – albeit briefly – being in contention for a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 33, Harper’s second singles run was halted for him to reunite with Rowan as The Bludgeon Brothers. This go-around of Harper and Rowan as a tandem was their most successful to-date as they captured the SmackDown Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania 34, holding the titles until August.
With Rowan now sidelined for months, Harper finds himself alone once again. He recently made a surprise appearance at an NXT live event challenging Ricochet for the NXT North American Championship. Oddly, he has not appeared on SmackDown since Rowan’s injury, and that’s something that should change.
SmackDown’s top talent have been engaged in bitter rivalries leading into the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, which in turn has left the undercard feeling a little thin. This could not be any more true when you consider the glaring omission from the Hell in a Cell card, Shinsuke Nakamura and the United States Championship.
Considering the strong outings that Harper has delivered throughout his limited singles runs in WWE, he can be a sleeper boost for SmackDown as a solo act. The biggest worry for Nakamura coming out of SummerSlam is that he didn’t have any credible challengers leading into the next pay-per-view. Assuming the issue continues after Hell in a Cell, Harper is an easy fix to the problem as long as he is treated like the threat he was as part of The Bludgeon Brothers.
Harper is way too talented to remain off of television until his partner recovers. He is an agile, unorthodox bruiser that should be featured prominently whether he has a tag team partner or not.