The WWE has proven there are a variety of ways to make a Superstar. From the creation of a great character to hiring a performer with such an outstanding personality that the actual art of wrestling takes a back seat. There's no cookie-cutter way to "make it".
Still, by far, the easiest way to get yourself over in the wrestling industry is to perform well in the ring. Become one of the best wrestlers in the company and you'll likely keep employment for as long as you want it. Show that you can't wrestle a lick and no gimmick or personality can save you.
Today, the WWE employs hundreds of workers. Many of them are great wrestling talents just starting to get noticed and rise to prominence in the company. Others have honed their craft in other promotions and brought their talents north. Some have fizzled and squandered opportunities because their ability to work in the ring is lacking. These talents may be entertaining or they may not, but they don't seem to know a wristlock from a wristwatch and they can't get through a contest without getting the WWE Universe to heckle and boo them at every opportunity.
Who are the wrestlers who've proven to be so bad, they're on the cusp of losing their job? Conversely, who has wrestled so well in the WWE or internationally that they deserve the big bucks the WWE has to offer?
20 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Titus O'Neil
Titus had some hope as a WWE performer when paired with Darren Young in the tag team Prime Time Players, but as a single's wrestler, he's been an on again, off again mess. He can't seem to find a character or storyline that suits him and as a big and bulky wrestler, he's not proficient enough in the ring to work without the right gimmick.
At 39-years-old, he's on the back nine of a wrestling career that hasn't gone well the last couple years. It appears the WWE has moved him out of the wrestling spotlight and into a more managerial role. That's probably a good idea because his matches were channel-change inducing. When you weren't the greatest wrestler to begin with, not having the support of the company will spell the end of your career sooner than later. If this management thing fails, he's as good as done.
19 1.) Deserves A Raise: The Miz
He's not considered to be the most technical wrestler and he certainly isn't a high-flyer, but his matches are steady and his storytelling and mic work make you overlook any shortcomings he might have as a wrestler. That said, he does have the ability to put on a show-stopper which is what he did with Dolph Ziggler. 2016 was the year of the Miz and 2017 is looking to be another strong campaign for a man who's seized the opportunity given by the brand split and run with it.
At this point, you can put The Miz with almost anyone and the match will be good. The story will be even better. That combination means he should be looked at as one of the WWE's most reliable performers and compensated as such. There is always a place for wrestlers like The Miz in WWE and outside of his consistency, his job as an ambassador for the company shouldn't go overlooked.
18 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: The Undertaker
The Undertaker is a phenom who deserves all the respect in the world for what he did for both wrestling and the WWE. There has arguably never been a bigger star. However, the latest reports are that he's banking somewhere around $2 million per year to wrestle one match and by using his last couple matches (years) as benchmarks, the wrestling just isn't very good. It appears as though WrestleMania 33 was his last match in the WWE, but who knows what kind of a salary he's still working with and being paid. Based on the position of a company paying a WWE Superstar to have him wrestle, he clearly deserves to bet let go. If he's moving toward being a part of the WWE in a different capacity, that's a totally different animal altogether as he's earned that right and then some.
17 Deserves A Raise: Neville
There was a time where Neville was a real question mark in the WWE. He'd just come from NXT and the WWE thought it would be wise to put a cape on him and treat him like some sort of Mighty Mouse character. It was an odd choice and it didn't work. It wasted the talents of an extremely competent wrestler.
With the creation of the Cruiserweight Division, Neville wound up being on the receiving end of impeccable timing. He was coming back from injury and boosted the Cruiserweight Division with his sudden heel turn. Since that day, he's taken the entire division, put it on notice, carried it on his back and made it watchable. He's having excellent matches with guys like Austin Aries and he's showing how good a performer he is in the ring. We'd sort of forgotten that when he was more of a cartoon character than anything.
16 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Randy Orton
Randy Orton is actually a pretty good wrestler. His talent comes naturally as a third generation star and a performer who took to the craft naturally. The question worth asking is, does his wrestling ability overshadow his continued tendencies to get himself in hot water with management, the WWE Universe and other wrestlers? Maybe not. Clearly, Orton knows he's good. Some people just wish he'd be a little more respectful and not so arrogant.
Why he's the way he is can be a bit baffling. Orton has lost a ton of steam when it comes to the product he's putting on in the WWE. He had an interesting House of Horrors match with Bray Wyatt, but it was received 50/50 by the WWE Universe and he seems to get little to no reaction from a crowd who could care less that he's the WWE Champion. He's a good wrestler, but he's not in the class of some of the other guys on this list. It's perhaps time he got knocked down a few pegs.
15 Deserves A Raise: Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss is like the little wrestler that could. Coming from NXT, she snuck into the conversation about the Women's Revolution and is slowly taking it over. She was called up to the SmackDown Live brand and after she put on great matches with some of the female competitors there, she moved over to RAW where she quickly became the RAW Women's Champion.
Her mic skills are excellent, she has an ability to create compelling characters and adjust on the fly and she has an aggressive style in the ring that makes you forget she's so small. She's got a bit of everything from the ability to fly or the willingness to take it to the mat. She's had some great matches with Cameron and Becky Lynch and that's probably just the start of things to come. Bliss is definitely one to watch in the WWE.
14 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke was called up way too early from NXT. She hadn't nailed down her craft yet and since her call-up, it looks like she has regressed. Since leaving the Florida-based developmental program she hasn't been anything but a shadow of the character she created in NXT and I'm sure Triple H wishes he had that performer back to help bolster his depleted NXT roster. Her microphone work in the WWE has been inconsistent and her wrestling has looked amateurish. She hasn't had a good match with anyone and she's been in the ring with some of the WWE's top female talent.
In some cases, she looks like she's about to injure another performer since she struggles to nail the moves down. That's grounds enough to take her off the program if not at least send her back for more training.
13 Deserves A Raise: Braun Strowman
When the Wyatt Family separated during the brand split, it was looking as though all members of the Wyatt Family might struggle to regain a foothold in the WWE. Most thought Bray Wyatt might come out of it the most popular of the group members, but Strowman went to RAW and has become a Superstar. Only a recent injury seems to have derailed his momentum a bit.
Most monsters can't wrestle. The WWE has a history of using these guys anyways. Surprisingly, Strowman does quite well and his matches have been entertaining and unique. He's been able to showcase his skills against different styles and that combination of talents is not one the WWE should overlook. It seems clear the company is looking to make a major investment in the big man. He seems to have earned it.
12 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Curt Hawkins
It's hard to tell what the WWE was thinking when they brought back Curt Hawkins at the brand split. It's not as though he'd ever had a singles run with the WWE and he definitely wasn't someone fans clamored for. Since returning, he's done nothing but act as an enhancement talent and his matches have been so fast and so pointless that it's time for the WWE to cut their losses and move on.
Hawkins was not and is not talented enough in the ring to overshadow such bad writing for his character. His matches are fill-time on television and no one takes him seriously. It's actually quite painful to watch and it would be better for everyone if he wasn't subjected to such pointless employment. Hawkins might disagree because he's cashing WWE sized cheques, but he's not a watchable commodity.
11 Deserves A Raise: Kevin Owens
There is really no other way to describe Kevin Owens than to say he's hands down the most underrated wrestler in the WWE. He's also clearly one of the best mic workers and has become one of the most watchable elements of any WWE programming. Having wrestled in a few match-of-the-year candidate matches with guys like John Cena and Sami Zayn, Owen's has now moved over to the SmackDown Live brand and he's taking the show by storm.
Every storyline that Owens is a part of is pure gold. He's got an innate ability to make you both hate him and respect him and it's in part because he puts on some of the best matches and regularly steals the show. He's doing all of this despite not having the typical "WWE look". Hopefully his appearance isn't something that stands in the way of him becoming one of the WWE's biggest stars. He has the wrestling talent to do so.
10 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Summer Rae
Summer Rae started in the WWE as Fandango's dance partner and went on to rotate from WWE Superstar to WWE Superstar, falling flat in almost every storyline. All that time, she wrestled very infrequently. When she hit the ring, there wasn't much asked of her, thus she really never needed to deliver. Instead, she was used as a prop on the reality show Total Divas and a sidekick to some mid card talent.
Years later, Summer’s wrestling skills haven't improved much. She's now part of a Women's Division that is top-notch in terms of wrestling skill and she fits like a square peg in a round hole. Since she can't keep up and the rest of women's roster would need to do the lion's share of the work, Summer Rae either dramatically needs to improve or say goodbye.
9 Deserves A Raise: Bobby Roode
Being simply glorious should mean that you have a glorious paycheque to go along with it. That's probably the case for Bobby Roode who is only a step away from making it to the big time. As the current NXT Champion, he's easily the biggest male draw on that brand and his ring entrances alone are a marketing dream for the WWE. He's a throw-back to the old school heel character that the WWE misses nowadays.
Sometimes a concern for experienced wrestlers coming to the WWE (which Roode is) stems from the lack or performance and production training the receive elsewhere. It can be a difficult transition to the WWE which places heavy stock into every little detail of a show. Roode has picked up the speed of the how the WWE works quickly and if he stays in NXT, has the potential to be a record-breaker there. Once he shatters some of those records, he'll make his way up to the WWE roster and do extremely well.
8 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Sin Cara
Most people view the Cruiserweights as either fast-paced, high-flying or unique. Sin Cara offers none of those things. Since his debut in the WWE, he's been repackaged, recast and re-worked only to find failure at every turn. His matches aren't exciting, he's often seen messing up moves and for someone who recently entered the Cruiserweight Division, he should be exciting to watch, which he isn't.
There are so many better options in that division and there are so many better wrestlers in the WWE in general that it's time to end the Sin Cara experiment. After all, the original Sin Cara was let go a long time ago. If the WWE insists on keeping him, at least put him back with Kalisto and reform the Lucha Dragons. That team was fun to watch and Kalisto could do most of the work.
7 Deserves A Raise: Kazuchika Okada
There may be wrestling fans who don't know Kazuchika Okada well. If you don't follow anything but the WWE, it's easy to see why. But, if you're going to write one name on your watch list, make that name Okada's. Many will argue he's simply the best wrestler in the world.
Okada is seemingly having perfect matches over and over. He was one-half of an instant classic at Wrestle Kingdom XI when he squared off with Kenny Omega. He then had arguably better matches with Shibata and Kota Ibushi (WWE fans will know Ibushi from the Cruiserweight Classic). It's only a matter of time before the WWE pulls up an armored car with boatloads of cash and tries to get him to sign a WWE contract. They've seen what a wrestler like Shinsuke Nakamura can do. They know the WWE Universe will accept a major player like Okada and it's great for their international offerings.
6 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Eva Marie
Technically, this entry may have been written just a tad too late. It appears as though Eva Marie has seen the end of her time on E! Network's Total Divas and if she's not returning, it's only a matter of time before she's officially removed from the WWE roster altogether. That show was pretty much the saving grace for her as an employee of the WWE.
It only makes sense as Eva Marie was widely known as the worst female wrestler in the company and was in fact so bad, her character was built to hide her ineffective wrestling ability. That was until she failed a Wellness Policy test and was suspended, making things even more awkward. The WWE had high hopes for her and her look alone could have made her a marketable commodity, but the audience hated her. They resented the fact that the WWE was pushing her as a talent, but had no actual talent in the ring.
5 Deserves A Raise: Asuka
Technically, it appears as though Asuka just broke Goldberg's undefeated streak by going 174-0. The WWE has yet to officially acknowledge this feat, but that's the math and she's literally the only female wrestler who could make this sort of record believable.
She's clearly only still in NXT because the WWE just promoted an influx of female talent to the main roster and Asuka is the one real women's star left on that brand. Once they've found some talent to shape out the NXT Women's Division, expect Asuka to come up to the WWE and dominate. In the meanwhile, she's showing her versatility and changing direction in her character. It's a talent that will suit her well when she is counted on to help carry the main roster's Women's Division.
4 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: The Boogeyman
This entry isn't a current wrestler in the WWE, but he does show up on WWE programming from time to time and it wouldn't be a shock if one week he was placed in a match. As such, we've considered him a qualified option for entry here. The other reason we thought to include him was because he was one of the worst wrestlers in the history of the WWE and could have had a much longer, more successful career if he simply knew how to wrestle.
He started his WWE career by getting kicked off WWE's "Tough Enough" show. He lied about his age and was disqualified. He was brought back privately (not because of his wrestling talent) because of his look and the wild character that was about to be introduced to the audience. He wrestled short matches to hide his inability to work, he ate a bunch of worms to creep people out and he injured himself often. The WWE finally gave up on him as a regular and turned him into more of a personal appearance type performer. That's probably where he should stay.
3 Deserves A Raise: Kenny Omega
Perhaps it's not so much that Kenny Omega deserves a raise, it's more that he deserves a promotion. The independent wrestling star is an active part of New Japan Pro-Wrestling and is tearing it up over there. That said, as often as he's apparently turned down the WWE, doesn't everyone truly believe at some point he'll wind up there?
Omega was at one time released by the WWE. He went on to gain popularity in the Japanese promotion DDT alongside Kota Ibushi. Since his release, the WWE has seen the error of their ways and reached out to Omega in an attempt to get him to come back. His athleticism, charisma and unique move-set will make him a hot free agent target for the company who would love to make him a worldwide Superstar. It's yet to happen and he's now a part of the popular faction the Bullet Club. He also become well known for having one of the greatest matches in wrestling history against Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11.
2 Wrestled Themselves Out Of A Job: Erick Rowan
As the most prominent failure of the WWE's Wyatt Family, Erick Rowan is big, but not very skilled in a wrestling ring. He's managed to stick around as long as he has because of his size, look and connection to the Wyatt's, but now that this connection is fading, Rowan is stuck in no man's land and he'll probably soon find himself on the outside looking in.
It's not for a lack of trying on the WWE's part either. They're working hard to make a new mask for him every month or so (sense the sarcasm here). There's simply not enough special about Rowan and his character that this will last and he's definitely not going to overcome the issue with his wrestling ability. He just simply isn't that good.
1 Deserves A Raise: AJ Styles
AJ Styles is probably making decent money now — thanks to bonuses and merchandise sales he's estimated at about $2.4 million— but he probably wasn't signed for huge money considering he was widely known as an independent talent who made his name in TNA. Whatever he's making, the WWE needs to double it.
Styles does nothing but put on good match after good match and he's the ultimate team player. After failing to find a good rivalry for Styles, he was placed in a match at WrestleMania 33 with Shane McMahon. That match had no right to be as good as it was. He also made the last couple weeks of that thrown together feud look pretty entertaining. Styles has also proven to be one of SmackDown Live's leaders and more watchable parts of WWE programming of late. Not only is he perhaps the best wrestler in the WWE, he's one of the stronger mic workers as well. He's being called the Shawn Michaels of today and Michaels was considered perhaps the best in-ring wrestler of all time.