Vince McMahon is still the person ultimately responsible for what we see on WWE television. Triple H has been given more power but his success in NXT has yet to convince McMahon to give up the reigns. Vince gets the final say and often times, is the person that decides who gets a push. A few wrestlers have been treated extra well on WWE’s main roster lately and the support of McMahon is a major reason why. These wrestlers have the most important believer in their talents. On the flip side, there are a few wrestlers that are dealing with the wrath of Vince.
Fans are often surprised at certain talented wrestlers getting snubbed with their talent being wasted or underutilized. McMahon not believing in a wrestler is enough to doom their careers. We'll take a look at some of Vince’s biggest opinions regarding stars in the new era. Both wrestlers that he wants to become main eventers and wrestlers that he doesn’t think should be in a major spot will be examined.
Things change in WWE quickly so this doesn’t mean the fate of these performers is set. However, it shows what to look for in the short term. Here are ten wrestlers rumored to be on Vince McMahon’s good side and five he seems to have given up on.
15 Good Side: Alexa Bliss
The success of Alexa Bliss has seen her jump over Four Horsewomen members Sasha Banks and Bayley in the pecking order of the Raw's Women’s Division. Bliss stepped up into the top heel role on SmackDown Live last year. Vince McMahon was one of her biggest supporters as she remained in the title picture for the entirety of her stint on SmackDown.
Shortly after moving to Raw, Bliss defeated Bayley to become the new Raw Women’s Champion and has been dominating the division for the past few months. It's obvious that Bliss is being booked with more confidence than her peers. McMahon reportedly was down on a few other female talents. Alexa being one of his favorites added to the opportunities she received to become the top woman on Raw.
14 Good Side: A.J. Styles
One name fans and pundits feared would be on Vince McMahon’s hate list when joining WWE was A.J. Styles. The belief was that Styles never received a WWE contract before 2016 because Vince hated his Southern accent. However, the exact opposite happened as A.J. instantly became a favorite of McMahon. The brand split saw Vince make Styles one of the top stars on SmackDown and the WWE Champion.
McMahon also recently made the call to have Styles win the United States Championship on a live event by defeating Kevin Owens at Madison Square Garden. WWE wanted a big moment in MSG and A.J. winning a title was apparently something Vince felt would be perfect. Styles is likely going to have a great run for the next few years as long as McMahon doesn’t change his opinion on the talented performer.
13 Given Up On: Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose was once viewed as the star with the most potential in The Shield. WWE gave him a chance at the top of the card in 2016 as the WWE World Champion. Ambrose disappointed in the role and it apparently caused Vince McMahon to give up on him. The fact that Ambrose didn’t even make the main card of WrestleMania 33 shows how far he has fallen from being a World Champion.
Rumors are out that Vince and other important executives in WWE view Ambrose as being lazy and complacent to stop his growth as a performer. Ambrose spending the past few months in the Intercontinental Championship picture showed that he isn’t getting back into the World Title picture any time soon. WWE is going with a reunion between Ambrose and Seth Rollins as a tag team which hurts them both as singles stars.
12 Good Side: Jason Jordan
An old Matt Hardy interview revealed that Vince McMahon will prematurely end a tag team when he views one of the two wrestlers to be a bigger star. That is the case with Jason Jordan being revealed as Kurt Angle’s illegitimate son in the most ridiculous of storylines. It's no secret that McMahon has been fond of Jordan’s potential going all the way back to NXT and American Alpha is now split up because of that.
Jordan is rumored to get a huge push with Angle now being his father. Early speculation has rumors floating around that Jordan may actually get to face Angle at WrestleMania 34. Regardless of his future, Jordan is currently getting a great spot in WWE. McMahon believes he can be something special and you'll see this play out on the Raw brand in the upcoming months.
11 Good Side: Elias Samson
Elias Samson spent the majority of his NXT career a lower-card heel act and was quite frankly an enhancement talent for quite some time. No one expected Samson to get called up to the main roster, let alone receive a slight push. Samson debuted as a joke originally on Raw wandering around backstage before getting beat up in humorous fashion by Dean Ambrose.
The joke was on the fans as Samson would get multiple victories over Ambrose during their mini-feud. Samson is now involved in a long feud with popular face Finn Balor. Many fans view it as a huge waste of Balor's talent, but WWE clearly sees something in Samson. It's safe to see his biggest supporter is Vince McMahon. The chairman frequently gets a soft spot for silly characters and Samson’s singing won him over.
10 Given Up On: Kalisto
WWE once viewed Kalisto as being good enough to replace Rey Mysterio as the luchador on the main roster. Kalisto had a couple of stints as the United States Champion but struggled immensely after losing the title. Vince McMahon has clearly given up on him being the star Mysterio used to be for the company selling huge merchandise and appealing to the Latino market.
We barely see Kalisto get any television time on Raw. The most memorable moment of his career so far in 2017 was unfortunately being thrown into a dumpster by Braun Strowman. It showed everything Vince thought about him right now. Kalisto’s last saving grace would be joining the Cruiserweight Division. If not, we could find him out of WWE sooner than later given how little faith McMahon has in him right now.
9 Good Side: Tom Phillips
The end of Mauro Ranallo’s time on the SmackDown Live commentary team saw Tom Phillips benefit greatly from it. Vince McMahon added Phillips as a fourth person to the commentary table last year because he was already grooming him to take Mauro’s spot. The bland style of commentary from Phillips is what McMahon wants from his play-by-play man.
Insiders believe Phillips will be the guy to eventually replace Michael Cole as the “voice of WWE” when Cole is ready to step down from Raw. The ascension of Phillips in such a short time is rather impressive. Despite being involved in a couple of social media controversies, Phillips remains bulletproof in WWE thanks to Vince’s support of him. Don’t be surprised if he's calling Raw in the next year or two with Cole moving to SmackDown or retiring from on-screen work.
8 Good Side: Roman Reigns
The obvious name here for Vince McMahon’s love list in WWE is Roman Reigns. McMahon has remained adamant about Reigns being “the guy” and uses WrestleMania season every year to try to elevate Reigns. The three consecutive years of WrestleMania main events against Brock Lesnar, Triple H and The Undertaker will likely grow with John Cena being Vince’s next dream match for Roman.
Reigns getting suspended last year for violating WWE’s Wellness Policy put some doubt into his future. Many wondered if McMahon would finally give up on arguably the biggest push in WWE history. Roman moved into the United States Championship picture for a few months before returning to the top role at WrestleMania 33 by retiring The Undertaker. Vince just thinks he’s significantly better than all the other new era talent and it shows with the all-time strong booking.
7 Given Up On: Luke Harper
Luke Harper did some great work on SmackDown Live during the Randy Orton against Bray Wyatt feud heading into WrestleMania 33. The momentum of Harper was strong enough to have fans wondering if we could get a Triple Threat Match. Harper has fallen from being that featured on the show to not having anything to do at all.
If you don’t check the WWE roster page, you would be hard pressed to remember he was still actually part of the SmackDown brand. Harper is struggling to get television time and Vince McMahon clearly doesn’t think much of him as a singles star. It's always the same story with Luke when split from The Wyatt Family. Harper gets a small push, has great matches and sees the company quit on him for no valid reason.
6 Good Side: Big Cass
The split of the Big Cass and Enzo Amore tag team had Vince McMahon written all over it. Everyone knows McMahon prefers the taller and larger wrestlers on the roster. From day one on the main roster, Cass just looked to be of greater importance than Enzo or the tag team act. The few weeks since their breakup show Cass being portrayed as one of the next top stars.
Enzo may have the better verbal skills, but Cass has the support of the most powerful man in the company. The recent segment of Cass destroying both Big Show and Enzo on his own gave us a glimpse into his future as the next big main event heel project of Vince. A recent report surfaced that Cass was unpopular in the WWE locker room for supporting Donald Trump. Given the fact that McMahon is a close friend of Trump, this story likely is another factor working in Cass’ favor.
5 Good Side: Baron Corbin
Another new star that is one of Vince McMahon’s favorites is Baron Corbin. The former football player revealed on Chris Jericho’s podcast that he has a good relationship with McMahon. Vince was comfortable enough with him to body check the wrestler into a mirror as a rib. Corbin isn’t complaining as McMahon recently gave him a monster push.
The fact that Corbin won the Money in the Bank briefcase over some of the other top tier names on SmackDown proved just how much Vince believes in him. Unless he does something to screw it up, Corbin is slated to become the WWE Champion at some point in the near future. McMahon wants him to be a top main event level heel for many years to come.
4 Given Up On: Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews received one of the fastest call-ups to the main roster in NXT history. WWE introduced him a few months before the brand split. Vince McMahon reportedly favored Crews over some of the other top NXT stars due to his impressive physique. However, the lack of time on NXT hurt Crews in terms of getting an established character or learning some more tools for the main roster.
Crews instantly hit a wall with his peak coming the first few weeks of his debut on Raw. The current role of Apollo in the "Titus Worldwide" brand is finally something for him to work with, but it shows he's not of large significance for WWE. Once it ends, Crews is in big trouble unless Vince finds something new for him.
3 Good Side: Braun Strowman
Vince McMahon loved Braun Strowman from the day he was signed to a WWE contract. The look of Strowman is McMahon’s dream of a top monster heel. Strowman got to skip NXT straight to the main roster to be a member of The Wyatt Family at the decision of Vince. It was only a matter of time before he received a huge singles push and the brand split opened that up.
Aside from Roman Reigns, no one has received stronger booking in WWE over the past year than Strowman. McMahon views him as the kind of performer that can main event multiple WrestleMania events. Hell, Braun is one of the very few wrestlers to get multiple clean victories over Reigns, something not many can say.
2 2, Good Side: Jinder Mahal
Jinder Mahal is the most recent example of how quickly Vince McMahon can push someone out of nowhere. The physique of Mahal made him stand out to McMahon as someone the company should be doing more with. Jinder getting to be in the final two of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33 and taking part in a segment with Rob Gronkowski showed an early sign of his future.
Mahal would defeat Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship just a month into his move from Raw to SmackDown Live. The decision came from Vince wanting him to become the new top foreign heel much like the villains of the 80s. Jinder revealed on Talk is Jericho that he has a great relationship with McMahon. At one point, Vince started sending notes to Mahal and his agents for live events to better improve his standing with the crowd which is something that is very rare these days.
1 Given Up On: Bayley
One of the more depressing tales in WWE lately is the downfall of Bayley. The lovable NXT star made her way to the main roster and left WrestleMania 33 as the Raw Women’s Champion. Everything went downhill shortly after with Bayley struggling to get impressive reactions from the live crowds. WWE did a poor job with her character’s journey to becoming champion and it gave her a poor reign.
Bayley not only lost the title to Alexa Bliss but found herself destroyed in a Kendo Stick rematch. It showed Bayley had fallen lower on the totem pole. She has even admitted to having her confidence in question and has pondered changing things up. Vince McMahon is clearly the person in power that doesn’t believe in her character and it's showing right now with horrible booking sinking her.