Finding success in the world of professional wrestling certainly isn’t the easiest thing to do. Superstars who want to make it to television have to have the right combination of athleticism and personality while having a look that makes them unique from the rest of the roster. One would assume that everyone who makes it to television was able to show all of that in tryouts and in house shows.
However, wrestling fans from all generations can agree that there will always some wrestlers who are surprisingly able to make it to television – whether for WWE, WCW or TNA. It can be baffling how many wrestlers are pushed to main television just because they are seven feet tall or look as if they weigh a metric ton. Or the promoters see someone who looks good with just enough muscle to be an underdog against the giants to impress the fans.
Every year, there are a number of wrestlers on television who either don’t look the part, don’t have the personality to carry a match or the physical abilities to make a match look passable to the eye. Each year there’s a superstar who can easily be listed as the worst on television, or someone who is too overrated to even receive the push they are given.
The following is a look at the worst professional wrestlers through each year since 2000. For wrestling fans who have watched during this time period, most of these wrestlers will likely be expected to appear.
2000 – Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash was one of the biggest acquisitions in WCW when he formed the New World Order with Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan in 1996. But by 2000, Nash was not booked consistently. The year 2000 saw Nash going into feuds with Scott Steiner and Booker T, which included winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. But then the WCW brought him down the card to be in a tag team with Diamond Dallas Page – The Insiders.
While the duo had won the WCW World Tag Team Championship a couple of times, Nash was not wrestling at the same level as he did when he was making the jump to help start the Monday Night War. Things didn’t get better as WCW was beginning the process of being sold to WWE in 2001.
2001 – Big Show
Despite being seven-feet tall and weighing more than 500 pounds, 2001 was not really one of the best years Big Show had. It started out rough when he was eliminated by The Rock during the 2001 Royal Rumble. He would then be in a triple threat match with Kane and Raven for the WWE Hardcore Championship at WrestleMania — a forgettable match that felt very flat. Big Show would spend most of the year supporting WWE during “The Invasion.”
Big Show then lost to Shane McMahon in a Last Man Standing match before having a segment in which he left an interview with tears in his eyes. While it wasn’t the last time we would see a giant cry, it certainly hurt his image for the fans. The one highlight he did have was being part of the winning Team WWE during the 2001 Survivor Series main event, but he was the first one eliminated.
2002 – 3 Minute Warning (Rosey and Jamal)
Eric Bischoff was certainly trying to bring different things to WWE RAW during the Ruthless Aggression Era. But he also would give certain people only about three minutes to impress before calling in Rosey and Jamal. It felt perfect that their team was called Three Minute Warning since it felt like they could keep a match interesting for only a few minutes. Neither were able to contribute much to the tag team division and were named the Worst Tag Team by most wrestling publications.
Their highest profile match was a feud with the Dudley Boyz and Jeff Hardy at Survivor Series. But Rosey and Jamal would lose the tables match and remain on the lower-to-mid section of the card before eventually splitting up in 2003. Rosey would become The Hurricane’s “Super Hero In Training” and Jamal would be released and come back transformed as Umaga.
2003 – Nathan Jones
There was a period of time when the WWE seemed intent on signing only large athletes, regardless of what their wrestling experience or talent was before signing. Less than two years since he was training and wrestling with World Wrestling All-Stars, Nathan Jones was signed to a WWE contract. He looked impressive at seven-feet tall and 350 pounds. Jones was also a champion strongman, but the Australian giant lacked in-ring abilities.
Jones was written into a storyline to be mentored by Undertaker and was planned to team with The Deadman against Big Show and A-Train at WrestleMania XIX. However, he was written off with an on-screen attack to keep him out of the match that Undertaker still won. Even after a demotion to Ohio Valley Wrestling, the WWE tried to rush him back in the fall of 2003. Jones still struggled to find success before he decided to quit WWE before the end of the year.
2004 – Mordecai
The WWE certainly had something in mind back for a new rival to The Undertaker. In 2004, there were vignettes airing for a man named Mordecai. He was a larger superstar who dressed in all-white and had a gimmick that seemed focused on the Christian faith. The goal was to rid the world of evil and do away with the sinners in the WWE. The character was a great idea for someone who would likely face The Deadman.
However, the wrestling skills were not up to par with the very good gimmick. This led to the character eventually being written off television shortly after his undefeated streak was ended by Rey Mysterio. This wouldn’t be the last time we saw the wrestler who portrayed Mordecai in WWE. He made a return to WWE television with a vampire gimmick as Kevin Thorn in ECW.
2005 – Chris Masters
Sometimes, WWE Superstars show they have a gimmick that could actually work. Chris Masters had one of the more unique characters as a narcissistic villain who had one of the best entrances in recent memory, but once he stepped foot into the ring and the bell rang, The Masterpiece wasn’t able to put it all together in one of his matches. Masters was very dull in the ring, but was still receiving a push with an undefeated streak through his first year in 2005.
The confidence grew with the Master Lock Challenge, which was just a simple full nelson hold that didn’t really strike fear into the audience like a finishing move should. The whole point of Masters’ character was that he looked strong and was strong. There wasn’t much after that, especially when he failed a drug test and dropped most of his muscle later in his WWE run.
2006 – Spirit Squad
The year had a lot of positives with the reunion of D-Generation X members Triple H and Shawn Michaels. They also helped put an end to one of the most annoying faction teams in recent WWE history. If there was ever a gimmick that should have never gotten out of the writers’ office in Stamford, Conn., this was it. But this was an idea straight from the mind of Vince McMahon (go figure). The five-man faction were male cheerleaders who would gang up on their opponents and eventually win the World Tag Team Championship.
Their matches were dull at best and the finishing move of all five throwing up their opponent into the sky before a fall is likely one of the worst finishing moves ever done in a WWE ring. Their rise and fall in 2006 was quick as they would literally be shipped to Ohio Valley Wrestling by DX. There was hope for one guy in Nicky, but you probably better know him as Dolph Ziggler.
2007 – The Great Khali
Remember how the WWE is known for trying to recruit giants and give them a push straight through the development territory into the main roster? The Great Khali is a perfect example of rushing someone through training just because he was a physical spectacle to look at. The Great Khali was certainly one of the largest to ever step foot in a WWE ring. He was more than seven feet tall and was weighing more than 400 pounds in mostly muscle.
But since his debut in 2006, his in-ring skills never improved beyond the awkward way he took a bump and how he delivered his chops. Khali was possibly moving in slow motion in real life. The perfect description of his in-ring work could equaled to watching a car wreck in the ring and not looking away. And yet, the WWE decided to give him the World Heavyweight Championship during a 2007 episode of SmackDown — because the WWE doesn’t listen to rational reasoning.
2008 – Vladimir Kozlov
The WWE has been guilty of putting several larger powerhouses on undefeated streaks. But only a few of them actually had the personality and charisma to match their push. Vladimir Kozlov belonged to the majority that didn’t have either the charm or charisma when he debuted in 2008. Nonetheless, the WWE placed Kozlov in an undefeated streak with plenty of squash matches that lasted until just before WrestleMania in 2009.
Kozlov was certainly a strong man who had impressive strength. But his matches were extremely boring. Fans didn’t really have anything to get excited about when Kozlov competed. That might be why the WWE took his push away and eventually made him the smiling goofball sidekick to Santino Marella a few years later. He’s found better success as an actor since leaving the WWE in 2011.
2009 – Jenna Morasca
This might require an asterisk since Jenna Morasca is most notably a model and reality television star who made $1 million winning the 2003 season of Survivor. However, she did earn another half million by working briefly with TNA Wrestling. In 2009, TNA made a mistake of bringing in a celebrity to work a full match on one of their biggest pay-per-views of the year. She might not have been booked similar to David Arquette and won a title, but her stint was a flop. The expectations weren’t high. However, not many matches get the emphatic “Minus five stars” rating from Bryan Alvarez.
Many felt that 2009 was a bad year overall with bad booking in TNA Wrestling, but bringing in Morasca for such a large amount of money was certainly their biggest mistake of the year.
2010 – Rob Terry
TNA Wrestling made the decision to send Rob Terry on a singles run after first coming to the promotion as part of the British Invasion stable. This included him having a run with the TNA Global Championship. Most of his title defenses were in quick squash matches. The reason his matches were short was because he was another one of those very large, very muscular wrestlers who didn’t have the cardiovascular capabilities to wrestle longer bouts.
Terry still defeated his former British Invasion teammates Doug Williams and Magnus in short matches. He would eventually start to lose his push as he became a bodyguard for Immortal. The rest of his TNA career included gimmicks that teamed him with Robbie E and The Menagerie. But 2010 was when the rise of “The Freak” ended.
2011 – Mason Ryan
The WWE will often be accused of signing superstars based solely on how they look going into the ring. Mason Ryan is another example of someone who certainly had a muscular look. He would spend about three years working in Florida Championship Wrestling before he made a surprise appearance on the WWE RAW to help CM Punk and join the Nexus faction at the time. However, he lost a good number of his matches before he would suffer an injury.
After recovering by the fall of 2011, Ryan spent most of his time competing in house shows and also on the rarely viewed Superstars show. Ryan would then turn face after turning on Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler in a six-man tag match. It felt like a random swerve that left more people confused than shocked.
2012 – The Miz
The Miz became “the man” in 2011 when he was able to win the WWE Championship and also defeated John Cena in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII. No one would have thought the goofy, cocky character who first came to WWE in 2006 was going to find that kind of success. However, 2012 was a rough year as he fell out of the main event spotlight and even below mid-card mediocrity.
Miz would lose to R-Truth in multiple matches. At WrestleMania XXVIII, he had to settle for joining John Laurinaitis’ team in a 12-man tag team match. But the worst thing that happened to The Miz in 2012 was the WWE turning him into a face. Not only that, but he was mentored by Ric Flair. The Nature Boy would “pass on” the Figure Four submission move to Miz, probably the worst superstar to whom the WWE could have Flair give that move.
2013 – Curtis Axel
Being considered a client of Paul Heyman has worked for some WWE Superstars. Well, only Brock Lesnar. It hasn’t worked out well when others have been endorsed by Heyman. Curtis Axel was given quite a positive boost when he came back to the WWE main roster by defeating Triple H. This would eventually lead to Axel winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship. But his singles push would end shortly as he would form a team with Ryback.
As time continued, Heyman’s association with Axel faded away and the son of Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig struggled to remain relevant in the WWE. He obviously was not as gifted in the ring as his father. He also didn’t have the same level of charisma that his father had. It just seemed like the WWE realized Hennig was not ready for a singles championship and he has yet to prove he deserves that kind of spotlight.
2014 – Kane
When Kane was first part of the WWE roster in the late 1990s, he was a dominant monster that set people on fire. He was a big part of the Attitude Era as a creature of destruction. Even when he was unmasked in 2003, he was still the Devil’s Favorite Demon by torturing opponents. He even set Jim Ross on fire. However, 2014 was not a good year for Kane. The former Big Red Machine was now wearing a suit and without a mask, again.
Not only that, the former WWE Champion was now essentially a jobber to the WWE Superstars who challenged The Authority. Kane was no longer a demon, but viewed as corporate. His character was boring and his matches generated little excitement from the live crowd. Things got better for him in 2015 and even this year, but 2014 was a year of poor booking.
2015 – Adam Rose
The frustrating thing about this entry is that the Leo Kruger gimmick looked like it had a lot of potential in NXT. However, the WWE officials felt that he needed a change. This led to the creation of the party-loving Adam Rose. Shortly after the character first appeared in NXT, he was fast-tracked to the WWE main roster in 2014. The Exotic Express had some initial momentum before the steam started to die in the engine.
Rose would then turn heel and attack some of the Rosebuds before he would become associated with Rosa Mendes and undergo a number of character changes that hurt his overall image among the WWE Universe. Rose felt more like a flash in the pan that died quickly as it took off. A true sign of his struggles was being put into a faction with Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas and Heath Slater at the beginning of 2016 before he was released last May.
2016 – Eva Marie
No one should be surprised to see the red-haired diva on this list. While she was first on the WWE main roster in 2013, she spent most of her career working in NXT. There was a lot of time spent at the WWE Performance Center and training with Brian Kendrick to help her become a better in-ring competitor. However, it felt like Eva Marie’s talents were not improving as one would have suspected.
Fans have made it known how they view her as a wrestler. She’s received no pity from the WWE Universe from botches in her matches that leave both her and the fans confused. It’s hard to imagine that she would make it through 2017 on the WWE roster. But she also seems to be a main focal point of the promotion’s Total Divas “reality” show.