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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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