The recent changes in WWE have shown the potential of things to come under the watch of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Triple H is open minded regarding talent and his product in NXT shows he can allow the wrestlers to shine with their own creativity, rather than forcing changes to make them less organic. However, Vince McMahon is still the most important man in the WWE landscape. The final decision for anything to happen on television goes back to Vince with his vision ruling all at the end of the day.
A few wrestlers currently on the main roster have seen just how important McMahon’s opinion is. If Vince doesn’t believe in a wrestler, the booking will show it, with a talent being a forgotten player or not being treated with any credibility. Some wrestlers do overcome the opinion of McMahon. Daniel Bryan was someone Vince clearly didn’t care for, but enough hard work and improvement finally changed things. Bryan went on to become one of the biggest stars in recent WWE history. There is hope, but it's an uphill battle. We'll look at the wrestlers that are trying to push ahead despite the fact that Vince McMahon isn’t crazy about them.
Paige used to be a huge star for WWE due to her young age, impressive talent and huge potential. Other women’s wrestling stars like Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch passing her in the pecking order saw Paige’s star fall dramatically. Things would get worse over the past year when she entered a relationship with Alberto Del Rio.
WWE did not approve of the two dating due to the controversial stories that have come from it. Paige actually violated the WWE Wellness Policy twice during her time on the injured list. The public war between Paige and WWE PR regarding the suspensions saw her become one of the wrestlers on Vince McMahon’s bad side. Paige is working towards a return to WWE, but the unhappiness from McMahon and others in power towards her could spell doom.
14 Bo Dallas
The history of the NXT Championship sees many top stars today and future World Champions. Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor are three of the best examples of the success that can come from being the top guy in NXT. Bo Dallas stands out from that history for the wrong reasons. His heel work allowed him to shine as a genuinely hated World Champion in NXT.
Bo worked memorable feuds with Sami Zayn and Neville that showcased his potential. WWE tried to call him up to the main roster utilizing the same “Bolieve” character of a delusional heel that thinks the fans love him. Vince McMahon was rumored to have hated it and Dallas’ push ended quickly. Bo hasn't been able to rise above the lower card enhancement talent level.
13 TJ Perkins
WWE had high hopes of introducing the Cruiserweight division to Raw following the brand split. Triple H did an outstanding job with the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network and the decision was made for TJ Perkins to win the tournament and bring back the WWE Cruiserweight Championship with a new sleek design. WWE introduced the division with Perkins as the face of the Cruiserweight roster and it didn’t connect.
A wrestler’s push abruptly ending is usually proof that Vince McMahon has given up on them and doesn’t believe in their ability to get over. Perkins failing to show any personality or charisma is what doomed him. McMahon didn’t give him much of a chance to save his push before calling for a quick title change with The Brian Kendrick defeating Perkins and sending him to the second tier of the division.
12 Mauro Ranallo
The signing of Mauro Ranallo received positive reviews from pure wrestling fans. Unlike the majority of other play-by-play commentators in wrestling today, Ranallo actually calls the moves and talks about the story in the ring first before anything else. His transition into the world of WWE has been a learning process.
WWE typically go with three-person commentary teams, but Vince McMahon made the bizarre decision to add Tom Phillips to the SmackDown Live table with Ranallo, JBL and David Otunga. Phillips is a play-by-play man similar to Mauro, making for an odd dynamic. Phillips is clearly there to read ads and transition in between segments. McMahon going as far to add someone to the commentary team for minimal impact shows just how little faith he has in Ranallo.
11 The Ascension
The Ascension dominated NXT during the early years as a developmental brand. They had the freedom to be the mysterious tag team that destroyed the competition. WWE allowed them to keep that on the main roster for a few weeks, but their push ended in an embarrassing fashion. Vince McMahon often feeds lines into commentators’ ears, especially JBL.
That showed how much he detested The Ascension when JBL started burying them each week on WWE television. It ended with a group of veterans destroying them in the ring and that was the end of their time as a relevant team. WWE no longer featured them as a regular team on television. McMahon’s rumored dislike for them still shows today with their lack of a role on the SmackDown Live brand.
10 Mick Foley
Vince McMahon has always had a love-hate relationship with Mick Foley going back to his days as a wrestler. Foley didn’t fit the mold of a typical McMahon favorite, but he got over with the fans enough to become a legendary figure during the Attitude Era. McMahon however disliked a lot about the way Foley carries himself.
The two big names have had many falling outs over the years. Foley has revealed in multiple interviews that he was shocked when McMahon offered him the Holy Foley reality series and the position as Raw General Manager. The number of errors Foley has made, like failing to remember his lines during live promos on Raw, likely has him back on McMahon’s bad side. Rumors are already circulating that Kurt Angle will replace Foley in the role after WrestleMania.
9 Titus O'Neil
Titus O'Neil's role in WWE has always seen him appear to be someone the company strongly appreciates. O’Neil does a lot of promotional work for WWE and is a tremendous brand ambassador. That made it all the more shocking when WWE decided to suspend him about a year ago. O’Neil playfully grabbed the arm of Vince McMahon following the Daniel Bryan retirement speech as the roster walked to the back.
WWE suspended Titus for two months with the claim of him being unprofessional. O’Neil's rough play saw him get on McMahon’s bad side for the first time in his career. WWE allowed him to return but the fact that he missed a WrestleMania for something so minor showed just how angry Vince was. Titus is still on the Raw brand in the lower echelon of forgettable names.
8 Cedric Alexander
Similar to TJ Perkins, Cedric Alexander was meant to be an important part of the Cruiserweight division. Alexander's talent shined in the Cruiserweight Classic with his tournament stealing performance against Kota Ibushi. Fans at Full Sail chanted “Please Sign Cedric” and it worked, with him debuting on the first night of the Cruiserweight division.
Alexander did a good job in his first few weeks before getting lost in the shuffle. Currently, Cedric is on the shelf with an injury that will keep him out for a few months. Regardless of the injury, WWE doesn’t appear to have faith in him and that once again falls back to Vince McMahon.
7 The Vaudevillains
It wasn’t too long ago that The Vaudevillains won the NXT Tag Team Championship to a huge roar in front of a sold out Barclays Center crowd. Simon Gotch and Aiden English got their throwback gimmick over in the smaller world of NXT, but flopped horrendously on the main roster as part of the SmackDown Live brand. Reports leaked instantly that Vince McMahon loathed the gimmick and thought it was a joke.
Gotch and English quickly turned into the jobbers of the tag division. In the many multi-team matches on SmackDown, The Vaudevillains are usually the first team eliminated or lose in the most embarrassing fashion. McMahon clearly doesn’t view them with much respect and they may be better suited just splitting up and starting fresh if they want to save their careers.
6 Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler's career has often been stuck in mid-card purgatory. Fans no longer care about Ziggler reaching the top of the mountain as a World Champion or face of a brand. It's rather depressing for the talented star to think about, given he was once among the most popular performers on the roster. There would be “We Want Ziggler” chants all the time, especially when he was holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, which culminated in one of the biggest pops of all time.
Vince McMahon just didn’t believe in his talent as a true main eventer. Every time it felt like Ziggler was about to be given the ball, he would suffer a huge loss and move back down into the mid-card. Time has passed and Ziggler will likely stay there for the rest of his career as another name that couldn’t win over McMahon.
You’d assume Vince McMahon would love Rusev, given his gimmick of a large foreign anti-American heel being a throwback to old school WWE characters. Things were going great for Rusev early, with WWE pushing him to the moon with an undefeated streak lasting a year leading into a feud with John Cena at WrestleMania 31.
Rusev would see his standing in WWE fall dramatically after the feud with Cena,as the shocking decision came to have Rusev and Lana split as a couple. Rumors and reports claimed this was McMahon's idea due to the petty reasons of not believing they should be a couple outside of the ring. The angle was meant to portray McMahon’s vision of Lana being too good for Rusev which failed and forced WWE to reunite them shortly after.
4 Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews received one of the fastest call-ups to the main roster from NXT. Crews debuted on NXT during the SummerSlam weekend of 2015 and was on Raw the night after WrestleMania 32 in 2016. Triple H and others in NXT assumed McMahon would love Crews due to his impressive physique. Unfortunately, his promo skills and lack of personality didn’t help Crews get over on the main roster.
The brand split and his drafting to SmackDown Live made Crews one of the more interesting names, as fans thought he could have been something special. Instead, he has become completely irrelevant and a lower tier name on the SmackDown brand. Rumors of McMahon being down on him were proven correct with the way Crews is being booked on SmackDown today.
3 Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze is another NXT standout that got over in the smaller pond down in Full Sail. His egotistical and eccentric persona of a male model made him an endearing villain in NXT, but instantly flopped in WWE. Part of the reason for this was the company not giving him a fair chance. Breeze got a few initial victories over Dolph Ziggler and then started doing jobs in lower-card matches.
Vince McMahon reportedly hated Breeze’s gimmick and overall look. One major thing WWE looks for in their Superstars is to look like they could destroy you in a fight. Many have speculated this is specifically why McMahon isn’t crazy about the upside of Breeze. Breeze's WWE career is likely doomed to be in a lower tier comedic tag team that puts over the actual credible pairs in the division.
2 Sasha Banks
The women’s wrestler that fans were most excited to see during the Women’s Revolution was Sasha Banks. Anyone that watched Banks in NXT would go on the record that she stole the show almost every single time she had a relevant match. Her matches and character work made her a must-see performer at every TakeOver special.
Today, Banks has fallen behind Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Becky Lynch and even Alexa Bliss in the pecking order. Vince McMahon reportedly doesn’t believe in her as the woman to carry either Raw or SmackDown Live women’s divisions due to her injuries in 2016. Her smaller size is also a concern that made McMahon doubt her potential and double down on pushing Charlotte as the female face of Raw.
One wrestler that has failed to win over Vince McMahon through the years is Cesaro. The talented performer almost always guarantees a great match any time he has more than five minutes of ring time. Fans have consistently cheered for Cesaro and many even bring “Cesaro Section” signs to show their support.
This situation doesn’t revolve around rumors or educated guesses like the others on this list. McMahon actually admitted on a live podcast with Steve Austin that Cesaro didn’t have “it” yet and needed to reach for the brass ring. Nothing has changed since that interview and Cesaro is actually in a lower position as a tag team Superstar. McMahon doesn’t think he can be a major player and it’s hard to envision that changing at this point.