World Wrestling Entertainment is the undisputed top professional wrestling organization in all of North America, one that remains much bigger than the likes of Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling and other would-be contenders to the throne. It is, thus, easy to believe a plethora of men and women currently signed on any portion of the company’s roster feel lucky to have jobs within that promotion. Recent history has shown that even a jobber can be given a lengthy championship run, one that includes being featured in the main events of top cards and being the face of a brand for a period of time, and that reality affords wrestlers with reasons to dream big as it pertains to their careers that may be going nowhere fast heading into 2018.
When the artist formerly known as Cody Rhodes willingly left WWE to pursue life on the independent scene and overseas, he opened the eyes of many fans and even of some wrestlers who think they can only become stars who make great livings working underneath the WWE umbrella. While a lot can change in a hurry thanks to those who make booking decisions, we can’t help but wonder if at least the ten acts mentioned in this piece regret putting pens to paper on their WWE deals. Money isn’t everything, after all, and the WWE clearly is no longer the only place where a talented wrestler can land work that allows him or her to live comfortably without having to sacrifice dignity, match quality or a career.
15 Enzo Amore: Lucky
Let’s all be honest and admit that the majority of wrestling fans out there expected the worst for Enzo Amore after the WWE broke him away from Big Cass earlier this year. Things seemed more bleak for Enzo after Cass suffered a significant injury during a match versus none other than his former partner.
The WWE realized Enzo can get himself over as a babyface and/or a heel on the microphone, and so the company went all-in on a heel-turn after placing him in the Cruiserweight Division and putting that championship on him. The problem here is Enzo is the weakest wrestler of that group of performers. He’s lucky to have a job on the roster, and we still have doubts about his long-term future with the promotion unless the company chooses to make him a manager.
14 Neville: Regret
We don’t actually have to wonder if Neville regrets signing with the WWE, as the former Cruiserweight Champion and best overall performer of that portion of the roster willingly walked away from the promotion during the fall of 2017. Those who would claim that he probably shouldn’t be mentioned in this piece because he technically isn’t active as of the typing of this sentence should realize that reports surfaced in November that he and the company have had positive discussions about him making a return at some point down the road.
Neville is still signed to a WWE contract, and the company could use such a talented worker who vastly improved on the microphone after the promotion removed the figurative handcuffs and allowed him to display some personality.
13 Gallows & Anderson: Regret
WWE rumors often pop up due to either knowledgeable individuals or fans speculating about certain acts potentially being unhappy because of how they have been booked. The tag team of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson is essentially nothing more than a lower-card act, which is quite the change for the duo that was a big deal working in Japan and on ROH shows.
There is currently zero indication the WWE will treat Gallows and Anderson as a team equal to the Usos or The Shield near the end of 2017, and it’s also difficult to envision the WWE attempting to create its own version of the Bullet Club faction that could include some combination of Gallows, Anderson, Finn Balor, A.J. Styles and Adam Cole. Maybe these two were always better off away from WWE.
12 Lana: Lucky
The WWE choosing to separate Lana from Rusev when both were on the SmackDown brand made zero sense at the time of that decision. Here we are months after the fact, and it’s downright baffling these two aren’t working together in some capacity.
Rusev is a great character who can also help create entertaining matches, but Lana, as ravishing as she is, is a wrestler in name only these days. Even the WWE has seemingly admitted defeat as it pertains to pushing her as an act worthy of working a program with the likes of Charlotte, Becky Lynch or even Natalya. Lana should consider herself lucky the Total Divas television show still exists, because we’re not sure she would have a job in the WWE without it.
11 Mike Kanellis: Regret
If you’re anything like us, you probably forgot that Mike Bennett, who goes by Mike Kanellis in the WWE, is still on the SmackDown roster. There’s something to be said for Mike earning a good paycheck and having a gig with the WWE at a time when his wife, Maria, is pregnant, but it sure seems as if the promotion has no plan to do anything noteworthy with the character at any point in the foreseeable future.
We cannot say, with any certainty, Kanellis would have been better off remaining outside of the WWE and attempting to do better in the independents, but it’s not a stretch to wonder if he regrets the business decision he made earlier this year. That “feud” he had with Sami Zayn following his debut feels like it happened years ago.
10 Apollo Crews: Regret
One glance at Apollo Crews, and you’d think the WWE would drool over the thought of making him a mega-star. Crews looks like he was cut from granite, he has incredible athleticism for a man his size, and he showed in NXT he can elicit emotional responses with promos so long as he doesn’t have to read from a WWE script.
With all of that said, the company has done nothing with him in the long run. Crews wasn’t even given a run with the NXT title before he was called up to the main roster. At this point, the WWE should relegate him back to the SmackDown brand and let him, at the very least, have some great matches with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and A.J. Styles.
9 Heath Slater: Lucky
Every wrestling promotion needs jobbers, which is why it may be a bit harsh to say that Heath Slater is lucky to have a role within the WWE as 2017 comes to an end. Slater clearly has no problem being on the wrong ends of jokes and match finishes, and he has done well to remain with the promotion long after the supposed shelf life of his character theoretically expired.
Still, nobody out there should believe for even a second the WWE would change one bit if Slater were to be wished well on his future endeavors between now and next spring. Slater is unquestionably lucky to be employed by the WWE, something that probably isn’t lost on him before the holiday season. After all, that man has kids!
8 Akira Tozawa: Regret
Remember how excited WWE fans felt upon learning about the rebirth of the Cruiserweight Division, one that would include talented and noteworthy acts such as Akira Tozawa? Maybe we all should’ve known better from the start. The Cruiserweight Division was quickly dumped to a WWE Network show and to portions of Raw that are filler segments and little more, and Tozawa, one of the best overall wrestlers in that division, is now just a guy following a very brief run as the champion.
Sure, Tozawa is still giving us memorable moments during matches, and he deserves credit for working to get himself in tremendous shape. We wonder, though, if he will regret signing with the WWE unless the promotion chooses to give him a real push in early 2018.
7 Shelton Benjamin: Regret
Maybe the wrestling fates, whichever ones may or may not exist, never wanted Shelton Benjamin to enjoy another stint in the WWE. His initial return to the promotion stalled before it started because of an injury, and he is now a tag team performer alongside Chad Gable, who undeniably deserves more of a push from the promotion as quickly as possible.
Benjamin was never going to be given a run with the WWE Universal Championship or WWE Championship upon resigning, but the veteran who can still go in any organization in the world should be better off on a roster than as part of a team that’s floundering on SmackDown shows. The old adage teaches that you can’t go home again. It’s possible that’s the case with Benjamin and the WWE.
6 Dolph Ziggler: Lucky
Maybe the only person who doesn’t believe Dolph Ziggler is lucky to be employed as a WWE performer in 2017 is Dolph himself. Anybody who follows the product with any regularity understands Dolph could be one of the best wrestlers in the company if given the right character and a real push that lasted longer than a couple of weeks before it ended for whatever reasons.
It’s almost 2018, though, and it’s just not happening. Nothing about the SmackDown product would deteriorate if the company decided to give Ziggler his walking papers ahead of next year’s WrestleMania. We’re not even sure casual fans would notice Ziggler was gone. Heck, he may even find new life working overseas or as an actor if the two entities go separate ways sooner rather than later.
5 Sami Zayn: Regret
The actual storyline for Sami Zayn, the ultimate babyface just about anywhere noteworthy he has wrestled during his career, is that he turned heel because he was being held down by forces within the WWE. That, on its own, is reason enough to believe he may regret having ever signed with the WWE in the first place.
Zayn never even got to truly enjoy a real run as the champion in NXT, as his winning the title served to be only a place-holder for a storyline that ended with Kevin Owens squashing Zayn on multiple occasions. Zayn has proven his worth as a member on the roster during matches against Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura and others. Perhaps being sent home from a European tour this fall will serve as the unofficial beginning of the end of his WWE tenure.
4 Kassius Ohno: Regret
It’s possible Kassius Ohno, a veteran of the industry, will be given a chance to work in the WWE on a long-term basis as a trainer in the company’s developmental system, and that will make his signing with the promotion well worth it in the future. Ohno, the wrestler, is little more than a middle-of-the-road NXT act who beats some opponents, but loses to others who, simply put, aren’t as good as he is in the ring or on the microphone.
Because of his size and look, it’s hard to envision certain people within the WWE allowing Ohno to thrive even a little bit if he is called up to either Raw or SmackDown in 2018. That’s a shame, because he could be a great performer on either shows.
3 Jinder Mahal: Lucky
There’s not a day that goes by where Jinder Mahal should not thank whoever called him to return to the organization as a jobber and, essentially, a body in 2016. The WWE put a rocket behind Mahal after moving him to SmackDown in 2017, and he shockingly won the WWE Championship in an apparent attempt to attract more viewers and money from potential customers living in India.
While Mahal showed improvement as a heel while learning how to be a champion on the job, he’s nowhere near the level of an A.J. Styles or a Shinsuke Nakamura. Those who celebrated Styles taking the title from Mahal in November should realize it’s entirely possible the former champion will reclaim his championship before 2018. Mahal is arguably the luckiest wrestler on the roster and perhaps in WWE history.
2 Hideo Itami: Regret
The hope among members of the WWE faithful still wanting to see Hideo Itami find success in the promotion is that he will click after being called up to either Raw or SmackDown assuming he receives that promotion. It’s been rumored for quite some time Itami is already eyeing a return to Japan once his WWE contract expires. Nobody could blame him for believing his stint in the promotion just isn’t meant to be.
Injuries halted potential pushes in NXT on multiple occasions, and potential roster spots for him on all three brands are currently occupied by other acts. There’s no doubt Itami could be a star in the WWE with the right backing. After all that has gone wrong, however, it could be best for all involved if he leaves when the chance arises.
1 Shinsuke Nakamura: Regret
Go back to 2015, and tell that version of yourself that Shinsuke Nakamura will lose a WWE Championship match to Jinder Mahal in 2017. The past you would probably slap current you in the face after laughing hysterically.
It’s almost unfathomable WWE creative managed to take the most charismatic member of its roster who also happens to be a wrestler unlike anybody else signed and turn him into just another person on SmackDown who wins some matches and loses others. Assuming the WWE does take the title from Styles to put it back on Mahal before WrestleMania because the promotion just can’t help itself, a future bout between Styles and Nakamura would occur just to exist. It will still be a great match if that happens, but that contest should be for a major title.