The WWE is just like the real world — some things work out, some things don’t.
When you’re trying to figure out a talent who can take your company to the next level, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into that. Substantial pushes, long term booking, and putting wrestlers in the right position to succeed all help — but in the end, it’s what the wrestlers do or don’t do that ultimately decide their fate.
Just look back in the history of the WWE. Vince McMahon put a lot of time building up Triple H as a potential star. But because he was a part of the infamous Curtain Call, Stone Cold Steve Austin ended up getting his push instead. I guess you can say that worked out…
In addition, there’s always crowd reaction that helps as well. When The Rockers broke up, both Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were supposed to go on single’s runs. But because the fans reacted to Michaels a hell of a lot more than Jannetty, he ended up having a Hall of Fame career.
Sometimes it’s because of the wrestlers, sometimes it’s because of outside interference; but either way, here are eight wrestlers who were supposed to be the guy and eight who took their places.
16. Supposed To Be: Gangrel
When looking back, not much changed in terms of characters between the New Generation Era from the mid-90s to the Attitude Era in the late 90s-early 2000s. While the former era has been laughed at for their hokey and cartoonish characters — and rightfully so — the latter one had their fair share of them as well. One of them is Gangrel.
Gangrel, of course, was pushed as a vampire, including fake teeth and drinking blood before he entered the ring. He was placed as the leader of The Brood, a dark stable with the combination of great music and a unique entrance. In the early stages of the tandem, Gangrel was clearly positioned to be the top member and eventual solo act as he was always seen as the focal point. Unfortunately for him, his underwhelming in-ring ability and lack of promo skills only forced him towards the bottom of the card — and that opened up the door for one of his stable-mates to take the reigns.
15. Took His Place: Edge
When Gangrel was trying to make a name for himself on Monday Night Raw every week, he was typically flanked by his cronies at the time in Edge and Christian. But whenever the trio would share the ring with one another, one thing became blatantly obvious — Edge, not Gangrel, was the clear-cut star of the group.
After breaking off from Gangrel, Edge and Christian turned into one of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history, both because of their charisma and five-star matches they put on with the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz. From there, Edge became a solo act, and after spending some time in the upper-mid card, he branched off as a main event player. Before seeing his career end prematurely, The Rated-R Superstar finished with 11 World Title reigns and victories in the Royal Rumble, King of the Ring, and Money in the Bank matches.
14. Supposed To Be: Ted DiBiase Jr.
From the day he stepped foot in a WWE ring, Ted DiBiase Jr. was poised for stardom. Making his intentions known that he planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a champion, he captured Tag Team gold in his first pay-per-view match as Cody Rhodes — another second generation star — turned on his partner Hardcore Holly and aligned with DiBiase.
From there, the duo became known as The Legacy and joined forces with Randy Orton. While the duo of DiBiase and Rhodes wrestled against plenty of opponents, it was the Million Dollar Man’s son who typically picked up victories. But as the Legacy stable died down, so did DiBiase. While the company tried a number of other gimmicks including giving him the Million Dollar Belt, a combination of poor mic skills and average charisma was his downfall.
13. Took His Place: Cody Rhodes
Like DiBiase, Rhodes suffered from inconsistent booking when his storyline with Orton was finished. It didn’t take long for him to take off, however, as Rhodes became an Intercontinental Champion a few shorts after the WreslteMania blowoff match. Working as “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, he was positioned as a future star of the WWE.
Things didn’t necessarily turn out as grand as Rhodes hoped. Nonetheless, he was still the star of The Legacy faction. Not only did he work in memorable programs with Rey Mysterio, Damien Sandow, Goldust, and as the Stardust character, he was also a two-time IC Champion and six-time Tag Team Champion. Frustrated with his booking, Rhodes has taken his talents to the indies and has revitalized his career. Putting on top-tier matches with TNA, ROH, New Japan, and PWG, amongst others, it’s only a matter of time before Rhodes returns to the WWE as a top star.
12. Supposed To Be: John Morrison
John Morrison began his career as the Shawn Michaels of MNM. Teaming with Joey Mercury, Morrison — who went by Johnny Nitro at the time — stood out in all facets of the wrestling game. His in-ring ability and look were second to none, and while he struggled on the mic, he gradually got better as a speaker. His main event push on ECW furthered that narrative as he was positioned as the top face of the brand.
The signs started to change, however, when he was put onto the Raw and SmackDown rosters. After teaming with The Miz, Morrison’s lack of promo skills grew even further, making it hard to give him a true main event push. While Morrison was a multi-time Intercontinental Champion, he was never able to break that glass ceiling in the WWE. While he’s doing a much better job in Lucha Underground, his failures in the biggest wrestling company in the world stand out.