The road hasn’t exactly been easy for Heath Slater in the WWE.
In fact, on July 19, 2016, he went undrafted in WWE’s brand-splitting draft. A draft that saw fellow Social Outcast members Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel get drafted to Monday Night Raw. As each pick was announced, and the night drew closer to an end, Slater was left all alone. Not brand to fight for, no general manager interested. They even turned the lights off on him.
The future looked bleak for Heath Slater.
Heath Slater: From Undrafted to Champion
Relegated to live events and Superstars tapings, Slater headed a group of misfits known as The Social Outcasts. Along with the aforementioned Axel and Dallas, as well as now-released Adam Rose, the group attempted to gain notoriety. Instead, they quickly became the butt of all jokes. However, with the draft leaving Slater in no man’s land, something needed to change.
On the August 1st episode of Raw, Slater appeared in the ring, begging for a spot on the roster. Claiming to be the hottest free agent on the market, Slater held up Raw in an attempt to win over Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley. He even brought along former One Man Bandmate, Jinder Mahal.
Slater was indeed granted an opportunity to win a contract but he would need to defeat Mahal. Turning down the offer, citing a clear attempt to disband his friendship with Mahal, Slater would turn around to get kicked in the face. With Mahal once again left without a brand, Mahal stood triumphantly.
Turning his attention to Smackdown Live, Slater would once again gain the chance to earn his way onto the roster. Only this time, Shane McMahon would stick the One Man Band in a match with Rhyno. A quick loss would leave Slater stunned and looking for answers.
After a tilt with “The Viper” Randy Orton and an ill-advised encounter with Brock Lesnar, there was little left in the tank for Slater. Facing a string of losses, humiliated by everyone he faced and losing favors with both general managers, Slater and his unknown number of children were faced without a stable income. Even in victory, he was defeated.
That is, until Smackdown Live announced a Tag Team Tournament to crown the first-ever WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
In an effort to fill up the participants in a tournament which include The Usos, The Hype Bros and American Alpha, Slater was granted a spot. That is, if he agreed to team up with the very superstar that defeated him weeks prior; Rhyno. Needless to say, Slater chose to team up with him over the possibility of eating another Gore from the man-beast.
It was put up or shut up time. In their debut match of the tournament, Slater and Rhyno took on the returning Headbangers Mosh and Thrasher. While fans felt a little nostalgic with the Attitude Era duo, excitement was in the air when Rhyno and Slater put them to waste.
Their second-round opponents in The Hype Bros, Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder, were no easy task. After a thrilling back-and-forth affair between the two teams, Rhyno managed to enter himself into the ring and delivered a massive Gore to Ryder. With two wins now behind them, Rhyno and Heath Slater had their focus set on Backlash, where they would compete in the finals of the tag tournament.
However, it would not be known who their opponents would be due to American Alpha being forced to be taken out of their finals appearance after an attack from The Usos. Heading into Backlash, the team of Rhyno and Slater would watch very closely as The Usos and The Hype Bros would be given a second chance to reach the finals.
The result; The Usos would make it to the finals.
In a match to crown the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions, Slater and Rhyno put their money where their mouths were. After all, this wasn’t just about championship glory. A win in the finals would also solidify a guaranteed contract for Heath Slater.
Slater would be on the wrong end of a physical beatdown as The Uso brothers would take turns pummeling him into the ring. Continuous knife-edge chops and slaps, stomped to the ground and whipped into the corner, Slater’s only hope to even the odds was to make the hot tag to his partner. After managing to slip by and get past The Usos, Slater would bring the crowd to their feet by tagging in Rhyno.
The tides were turned and Rhyno unleashed his power. Raging forward, Slater would enter himself back into the match and delivered a neckbreaker to each Uso brother. His offense was quickly stifled however, and things looked like they were tilting towards The Usos favor. That is, until Rhyno delivered a Gore to Jey Uso.
Slater would earn the pinfall victory by crawling over his downed opponent and, in doing so, became one half of the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. He had done it! Heath Slater had went from being an undrafted joke to holding championship gold on his shoulder.
In a night which saw the crowning of the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion and AJ Styles becoming the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Heath Slater stands along with them as a champion. Championship gold (silver?) in one hand and a contract in the other, life simply does not get any better for Heath Slater.