There are plenty of perks being a superstar in World Wrestling Entertainment. Obviously, there’s more money that comes with being a WWE Superstar, but if you have a certain look that members of WWE management prefer, then you may also enjoy the perk of getting a little more leeway. They don’t have to be the most athletic or the most charismatic to be kept on the WWE roster.
Not all superstars on the WWE roster have ever been considered among the best that professional wrestling has to offer. They often seem like they were made relevant by the WWE, despite having matches filled with botches or things that you’ve seen over and over. Other times, they aren’t even that great with whatever character they are given.
This isn’t a new issue in WWE. An argument can be made that some of WWE’s top stars in history have not been able to find success outside of the company for a variety of reasons. The flaws they have were covered up by how WWE protected them on television or with how they have been booked over recent years.
The following are 15 current wrestlers who wouldn’t get anywhere without the help of the machine that is the WWE.
When looking at Konnor, he is one of those larger athletes who should have the physical tools to be a success in the WWE. This isn’t his first run in the WWE either, as he was initially in the company from 2005 to 2007 under developmental before taking a break. Since coming back to Florida Championship Wrestling in 2010, this giant has had various character changes that started with the very rat-like Conor O’Brian.
14 Erick Rowan
The Wyatt Family appears like a collection of giants who looked scary standing behind their leader in Bray Wyatt. Luke Harper has found success on his own when the family first split up in 2014 that included a short reign as the Intercontinental Champion. Unfortunately, Erick Rowan was unable to do the same. His move set is not as flashy as someone like Harper and his personality is about as dry as toasted rye bread.
13 Braun Strowman
The WWE creative team has made the right decision to have Braun Strowman have a chance to develop into a monster among men on the RAW roster. There were rumors that the WWE had considered placing Strowman in a match with The Undertaker earlier this year, but Strowman is still relatively new to professional wrestling and that showed early in his run with the Wyatt Family.
12 Baron Corbin
Professional wrestling companies, including the WWE, have had a history of recruiting former football players to be trained as superstars. Baron Corbin is one of the recent examples of someone who played on the offensive line in the National Football League before being signed by WWE in 2012 under a developmental contract. He’s shown some potential, but he still has a lot of growth with some fans feeling that he was called up to the main roster a little too early. He didn’t even receive any hype for his sudden debut in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match at WrestleMania 32.
11 Titus O’Neil
The promo that Titus O’Neil delivered a little more than a week ago did not do him any favors. There has already been some disinterest building up for the former Florida Gator. The frustrating part is that he once showed a lot of potential when he was in a tag team with Darren Young – The Primetime Players. But as a singles wrestler, O’Neil's flaws have become a lot more noticeable. It’s a shame because he is a large man with a good amount of charisma. Remember Rufus “Pancake” Patterson?
10 Darren Young
Speaking of someone who didn’t find a lot of success after the end of The Primetime Players tag team, Darren Young hasn’t really flourished much beyond a few wins here and there. The catchphrase with Bob Backlund being Young’s coach was “Make Darren Young Great Again.” The problem is that Young was never that great to begin. He is weak speaking on the microphone, which might explain why the WWE decided to bring in Backlund to be his manager.
9 Sin Cara
There might be a curse on the character Sin Cara. The original superstar to have the gimmick, Mistico, made a number of mistakes and suffered multiple injuries before the current Sin Cara – Hunico – took over the mask. Whether he was feuding with the original Sin Cara as the doppelganger or in a tag team with Camacho, he was never able to find his niche. While not injured as often, a poorly timed shoulder injury last December hurt the tag team push he and Kalisto had at the time.
8 Bo Dallas
While part of a very talented family bloodline in professional wrestling, Bo Dallas isn’t really up to par with his family. While he had some success in WWE developmental, his move to the main roster was definitely one of the bigger flops among the recent NXT call-ups. Fans were seemingly interested at first at the comical motivational speaker gimmick, but it lost momentum when his undefeated streak ended in 2014.
7 Eva Marie
This goes without saying, but Eva Marie hasn’t really done well in the WWE. Sure, she does look very good physically, but when it comes to her abilities in the WWE ring, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done to get her ready for a live match. The sad part is that there was a period of time last year when Eva Marie was actually being trained by "the" Brian Kendrick, a former WWE Tag Team Champion.
The WWE has spent some time in protecting Eva Marie by having her as a heel with numerous excuses not to compete on SmackDown Live – fake injury, wardrobe malfunction and even bad traffic. The WWE is allowing her to be on television. There isn’t a question of how Eva Marie would have done with another promotion. She wouldn’t make it to the ring with companies like Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling, but maybe with TNA Wrestling.
6 Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger is an interesting case as another athlete that was recruited to come to WWE and jumped around the different developmental territories for about two years. The former Oklahoma Sooner football and wrestling star has struggled to really connect through the microphone. His vocal abilities are very mediocre at best, but the WWE doesn’t want the time they’ve put into him to be wasted. This is the same superstar who was expected to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania XXIX in 2013, but ruined that by being caught with marijuana.
It is extremely likely that Goldust is going to retire as a member of the WWE roster. As Dustin Rhodes, he wasn’t able to make enough of an impact in World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s. It was actually part of his infamous promo as “Seven” where he said he was told that “Dustin sucks.” He’s not able to get beyond having a gimmick where he paints his face and acts a little off.
Sheamus was recruited as a decent talent from his time in his native Ireland and for various British promotions. However, his biggest success has been found in the WWE, where he has held the Money in the Bank briefcase twice, won the Royal Rumble and the King of the Ring. That has led to being a four-time world champion in the WWE. However, he probably wouldn’t be able to have that kind of success outside of the sports-entertainment giant.
3 Nikki Bella
The WWE has been notorious for hiring female talents who come into the company without any wrestling background. Both Nikki and her sister Brie were models who signed up for the 2006 WWE Diva Search. Both would be signed to a developmental contact in 2007 and have not had the most success in the WWE. Matches were filled with botches and it seemed as if they were only kept on television to be eye candy for the male audience. If they were with any other promotion, they would have been fired.
2 The Miz
Before becoming The Miz, Mike Mizanin was a former star on MTV’s Real World. The reality television star had the desire to become a professional wrestler who would quickly enter WWE’s Tough Enough. His eventual signing and debut for the company included hosting the Diva Search and having a very goofy and confident gimmick. His abilities were limited early in his wrestling career, but he would improve and has become one of the most decorated superstars in recent history.
1 John Cena
For several years, the Internet was filled with jokes about how John Cena’s move set was limited. One that comes to mind includes Cena being shopped into an image of the Pokemon games that said “Cena can’t learn more than four moves!” The WWE took someone who had a decent look and could cut a good promo in the form of a rap and made him the Ruthless Aggression Era’s version of Hulk Hogan – a top main event wrestler who can get numerous movie roles.
There’s no denying that Cena is very popular among the younger audiences and has become a great ambassador for what a WWE superstar should do (i.e. Make-A-Wish visits). He’s also improved greatly in his feuds with guys like Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, which has recently earned him more respect from the WWE Universe. Still, he would have never had a long career and 15 world championships outside of the WWE.
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