The wrestling business is a hard one to navigate, and winning the WWE or World Heavyweight (now replaced by the Universal) Championship is seen as the pinnacle of the industry. Holding such a prestigious championship is often the highlight of a wrestler's career. With that being said, the WWE isn’t a traditional wrestling company, as they opt to focus on the entertainment aspect of "sports entertainment," so the Championships have become much less valuable to the product (see: WWE & Intercontinental), and it has resulted in some incredibly weird title reigns.
From Jinder Mahal to The Great Khali, the World titles have just been tarnished over and over again, so there is a fair few performers we’d rather not see at the top of the card again, and while WWE continue to push that they are in a "New Era," there are guaranteed to be some who will win the title for the first time, so we have listed 10 performers that come under each banner.
17 NEVER AGAIN: Bray Wyatt
When he debuted several years ago, it looked like the creepy cult leader character that was Bray Wyatt was on his way to big things, as he had been dubbed the man to take Undertaker’s spot as the supernatural being at the top of the card, but three years of utter mistreatment has left him as nothing but a rambling character which the fans see as no threat. Even though he won the WWE title (for a month) earlier this year, his character is way past repair, and should never see the main belt again.
With guys such as Lesnar, Rollins, Reigns, Balor, Joe and Strowman ahead of him, as well as guys like Aleister Black and Bobby Roode waiting in the wings, there is just no chance for Wyatt to succeed, as Vince McMahon won’t suddenly be able to book him the way he deserves. Bray will go down as quite possibly the biggest missed opportunity in WWE history.
16 NEVER AGAIN: The Big Show
For someone with the lengthy, legendary career of The Big Show, it’s amazing that he has rarely held Championship gold in the WWE, as its been over four years since he laid claim to being World Champion. At his age, the WWE probably isn't thinking of giving him a belt anytime soon, but it has to be said nonetheless that he should never be World Champion again. We thought that he may have retired following his appearance in the WrestleMania 33 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but he has recently appeared on RAW alongside Enzo Amore, seemingly prolonging his 2+ decade-long career for the time being. With so much talent ahead of him, it seems like the WWE know they should never put the top title on him again, but we’ve seen weirder things happen in the WWE.
15 FIRST: Braun Strowman
When Braun Strowman appeared as the new member of the Wyatt Family, everyone could see that he only got his spot due to monster size – we all know that Vince McMahon loves big men. But after working hard on his craft, he has become a genuine main event star, and one of the most popular wrestlers on RAW, probably just due to the fact that he destroys "fan favorite" Roman Reigns so much. Currently, Brock Lesnar holds the Universal title, and with Roman Reigns the rumored favorite to win the belt at WrestleMania 34, it will be a while before we see anyone hold the top belt on RAW. Still, we hope Vince McMahon comes to his senses, and gives the elusive victory over Brock Lesnar to Braun Strowman.
14 NEVER AGAIN: The Miz
This one pains me to write, as The Miz has been the most consistent performer on the roster since the 2016 brand extension. But since moving to RAW will definitely hurt his chances of again becoming a World Champion, the company should look to focus his efforts on the Intercontinental title, as he could make the midcard belt again feel like something very, very special. Performers like Reigns and Strowman feel like a genuine threat to Brock Lesnar, so to have someone like Miz challenge him, it just wouldn’t feel right, and with a very average midcard on RAW these days, Miz could truly bring out the best in some of the babyfaces on the RAW roster (see; Ziggler, Dolph, 2016).
Overall, I think keeping Miz on SmackDown would have been better for his career, as he could have battled the likes of Tye Dillinger, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn or even Rusev, but he knows how to make the best of his time and situation, and he will do that again for the Intercontinental title.
13 NEVER AGAIN: Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy is one of the most popular superstars in wrestling history, and him finally climbing the mountaintop and winning the WWE Championship at Armageddon 2009 was one of the most emotional and exciting moments in recent WWE history. Hardy was gone soon after, and after over seven years away from the company, Jeff has just returned with his brother Matt.
While those two may break up soon, Jeff shouldn’t become Champion once again. He may be very popular, and should no doubt wrestle some of the company's top stars that they have, but as we’ve mentioned about others on this list, there is just too much genuine young talent in the main event scene, and to put a veteran like Hardy over just wouldn’t feel right. When it’s all said and done, Hardy will be in the Hall of Fame and will go down as one of this generation's best performers, but he doesn’t need another World title to solidify that.
12 FIRST: Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin was yet another performer to join the WWE by way of the NFL, and while it may have taken him a while to get the hang of performing for the company, he sure has excelled since that point, becoming one of SmackDown’s top heels. With the Jinder Mahal experiment failing miserably, it’s time that Corbin stepped up into the main event role that he deserves. Sure, fans may not like him, but he takes advantage of that, and turns it into real heat for his character. And while he may not be the best wrestler inside the ring, he plays his character well, and shines the light on the strength of his smaller opponents. With Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura all on SmackDown, it may take a while for Corbin to finally reach the top, but it will happen within the next 18 months.
11 NEVER AGAIN: Sheamus
When the Celtic Warrior debuted in WWE, he was part of the ECW reboot, and he began dominating his competition, and it looked like the WWE had a top star on its hands. That fact was backed up when the company had him go over John Cena in a tables match to become the WWE Champion so early on in his WWE run, but its been all downhill for the Irishman since that point. After a brief stint at the top, the company decided to turn him face, and it’s safe to say that he was one of the least effective good guys in WWE history, as fans couldn’t wait till he got off their screens. Surely a heel turn would rejuvenate his career? Wrong, he came back to chants of “you look stupid,” and cashed in the MITB briefcase in one of the worst moments of the year 2015, and it’s safe to say that he should never again be Champion after that horrid run at the top.
10 NEVER AGAIN: Goldberg
After the horrid encounter we saw at WrestleMania XX, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if WCW legend Goldberg never came back to the WWE. But in 2016, we saw him rise again to battle the Beast. Yet after two encounters with Brock Lesnar, a Royal Rumble appearance and a Universal title reign, Goldberg was again gone from the WWE, and while he may return again, he should never be given any of WWE's two top championships. This should be fairly self-explanatory, as Goldberg is way older than everyone in the current RAW main event, and with the depth they have, it’s unlikely we’ll see Goldberg at all, but hey, who could have predicted that he would have shown up and won the title in 2017? Don’t get me wrong, it was great to have Goldberg back for the nostalgia value alone, but he never should have won the Universal Title in 2017, and he should never hold a title in WWE ever again.
9 FIRST: Big E
When Big E came into the WWE, fans saw just another bodybuilder-type with little charisma, but he has destroyed all of those first impressions with his hilarious role in The New Day. With the trio shifting to SmackDown Live, it would be a perfect opportunity to let The Power of Positivity run the show, with Woods and Kingston in the tag team division, and Big E finally getting his shot at the main event. You may not have noticed beyond the wacky antics of the group, but Big E has come on leaps and bounds as an in-ring performer, and with his undeniable charisma, he would be perfect in the main event scene. With guys like Randy Orton, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura to wrestle, Big E could have some great matches, and while he may eventually move on from the New Day to a darker side, he will be able to show that he is one of the most diverse performers of this entire era.
8 NEVER AGAIN: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is a phenomenally talented wrestler, and he has been for quite some time, but unfortunately the WWE never went all-in on the former Spirit Squad member, and apart from a few World title reigns a few years ago, he hasn’t been given much to work with. Now that he's on the wrong side of 30, there are now much more talented performers ahead of him, and Ziggler now exists on SmackDown Live as nothing more than a very talented midcarder. That’s not to say Ziggler shouldn’t be competing with the likes of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kevin Owens, as he is still a great in-ring performer, but after years of misuse, the fans just don’t see the Show-off as a threat. It’s unlikely that Ziggler will renew his WWE contract when it comes to an end, and that will be a fitting end to a very disappointing WWE career.
7 NEVER AGAIN: Randy Orton
Randy Orton has been a fantastic main event talent for the past 14 years, and after 13 World Championships, his character has become incredibly stale. If the WWE can’t come up with a way to make Orton interesting again, he should never again hold a World title. His story with Bray Wyatt was great, and was told with a lot of patience and logical story developments (something that doesn’t happen often in WWE), but since that, fans have grown incredibly tired of his stale character. With AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tye Dillinger and even John Cena still on the SmackDown Live roster, there is just too much talent for someone like Orton to remain on top, and if he can transition into a midcard talent, he will help SmackDown create great depth.
6 FIRST: Shinsuke Nakamura
We all know that The King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the top stars in the industry, so it seems only a matter of time until the former IWGP and NXT Champion makes his way to the top of the pack on SmackDown Live. Still, we’ve been wrong about "sure things" before on the main roster. After AJ Styles had a stellar 2016, I’ve regained faith on the SmackDown brand, but with the recent move to make Jinder Mahal the WWE Champion, I can’t be sure anymore, especially with the odd way the company has been marketing Nakamura (“The Artist known as” is just the worst). But with his undeniable talent and charisma, Shinsuke should be successful. If there is any justice in the world, the main event of WrestleMania 34 will see Shinsuke Nakamura battle to claim his first WWE title from AJ Styles in a rematch of their Wrestle Kingdom 10 bout, if not before that point.
5 NEVER AGAIN: Jinder Mahal
Still, weeks later I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Jinder Mahal is the current WWE Champion. While we can all see that it is a simple ploy to tap into the Indian fan market, it’s a stupid one, and once he drops the title to Randy Orton, AJ Styles or whoever wins the Money in the Bank ladder match, he should never see the World title again, or even be in the main event picture. While his in-ring work is solid, his work on the mic has been fairly average, and although it is improving with his increased television time, it’s just not main event-worthy. With so many talented stars already on SmackDown Live, it’s hard to see Mahal lasting as a top guy.
4 NEVER AGAIN: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is the current Universal Champion, and if you believe rumors, he won’t be dropping that anytime soon, with WrestleMania 34 the rumored time and place and Roman Reigns the rumored man whom he will drop the belt to. But once that title change takes place, Lesnar will be too old, and with his reduced schedule, he should never be on top again. With guys like Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and The Miz all still on the roster, there is plenty of main event talent to take that top spot, so Lesnar would be better to feud away from the title before his contract is done. After winning several world titles in the WWE and UFC, Lesnar has done all he can do in the wrestling industry, and he might not like it, but it’s time he starts giving back in feuds away from the title, and that should begin immediately following WrestleMania 34.
1 FIRST: Sami Zayn
The Heart and Soul of NXT, Sami Zayn is one of the best wrestlers in the world today, and despite putting on classic bout after classic bout with the likes of Neville, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura and Braun Strowman (before he was the top guy he is today), but for some reason, the company just won’t invest in him as a top star. He is solid on the microphone, and tells great stories inside the ring, which is why it’s all the more confusing that the company won’t invest in him, as he could fill the void as sympathetic baby face that has been around since Daniel Bryan retired from in ring competition. If SmackDown Live truly is the land of opportunity, then Zayn should be getting his opportunity sometime in the next 12 months, and while we may be somewhat skeptical, we have faith that The Underdog from the Underground will be hoisting a world title above his head sometime soon.