The shelf life of a push in WWE is always hit or miss. Top stars like The Undertaker, Triple H and John Cena get the opportunity to run with the ball as long as they want. That luxury doesn’t apply to the rest of the talents. WWE typically only uses a performer for as long as they can get value out of them or as long as the company wants to employ them. Navigating politics, connecting with the fan base and finding new ways to keep things fresh are all necessary to have a long career in the WWE.
Many of the talented performers have been limited by the landscape of the WWE preventing them from hitting their potential. The initial push or success of a wrestler is great, but the gradual growth and progress is more important. Performers have to continue maturing with management supporting them enough to get to the next level in the company. WWE has been home to many “one hit wonders,” seeing their career go downhill after a brush with success. We’ll look at the most talented performers to fall under such unfortunate luck. These are the top fifteen WWE one hit wonders that actually had potential to become bigger stars.
15 15. Wade Barrett
Every wrestling expert would have predicted Wade Barrett to become a future WWE World Champion after his early success in The Nexus. Barrett was the standout talent among the group of promising youngsters looking to make an impact in the company. The on-screen presence and potential of Barrett tempted WWE enough to make him an instant main event performer as the leader of The Nexus against John Cena and Randy Orton.
14 14. Bobby Lashley
WWE desperately wanted Bobby Lashley to become one of the top stars for the future of the company from day one. If Vince McMahon initially had his way, Lashley may currently be WWE Champion instead of TNA World Champion. Lashley was heavily protected with the hopes of becoming a success story similar to John Cena and Batista. McMahon was still invested in the bodybuilder physique for his top stars around that point.
13 13. Sean O'Haire
The acquisition of WCW by Vince McMahon led to very few contracted talents making the jump to the WWE. Most of the big stars collected a bigger paycheck to stay at home until it ran out, but the younger talents didn’t have the same luxury. WWE actually preferred to go after youth by signing the talented prospects with hopes of developing them into stars. Sean O'Haire was one of the most interesting names on the roster with a great look and natural athletic ability.
12 12. Marcus Cor Von
Over the last few years, we have typically seen TNA sign many former WWE stars. One of the first occasions of WWE signing a former TNA talent was bringing in Marcus Cor Von. TNA fans remember him as Monty Brown, the former NFL player that intensely brought it in the ring every week. WWE renamed him and tried to push him on the ECW brand as one of the future stars of the company.
11 11. Muhammad Hassan
WWE tried to get controversial by creating the character of Muhammad Hassan to take advantage of a hot topic in society. Hassan portrayed an Arab-American reacting to racial discrimination by rebelling against America. Vince McMahon always loves tapping into the patriotic side of the fan base. The Iron Sheik, Yokozuna and Rusev are just some of the characters to achieve big success as a heel by standing against the USA.
10 10. Steve Blackman
Every longtime wrestling fan has affection for Steve Blackman’s presence in The Attitude Era. The Rock, Steve Austin and Triple H are the names anyone can name but the diehard fans recall Blackman using his nunchucks and kendo sticks to absolutely destroy his opponents. Known as The Lethal Weapon, Blackman achieved popularity for his weapons and genuinely intense presence as a performer. Blackman’s top moment came when he knocked Shane McMahon off the titantron at SummerSlam 2000 and dived onto him.
9 9. D'Lo Brown
The underrated talents of The Attitude Era never got the respect they deserved due to the overwhelming talent during the time period. A plethora of future Hall of Famer's dominated the top spots but a couple of talented wrestlers flew under the radar. D'Lo Brown is the perfect example as one of the better in-ring performers on the show. WWE could always count on Brown having a fun match in the midcard on any episode of Raw, SmackDown or PPV.
8 8. Spike Dudley
Spike Dudley never gets the credit he deserves for his time in the wrestling business. The underdog hero was born in ECW but got over in WWE during a highly competitive time. Spike joined Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley as beloved brothers and hated enemies at different stages in their careers. WWE fans took to the smallest Dudley due to his positioning as a loveable underdog. One specific short term storyline led to his greatest success.
7 7. Ken Doane
The Spirit Squad gimmick was a ridiculous idea pitting five young wrestlers in a faction as male cheerleaders, but the wrestlers selected all had potential. WWE specifically put talented performers in the position to work against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Big Show, Kane and Ric Flair. Ken Doane was the standout talent and the assumed leader of the faction. It only made sense that he would get a singles push following the end of the group.
6 6. Elijah Burke
The ECW brand under the WWE banner on SciFi television was made for the company to introduce young stars. In a lot of ways, ECW was meant to be a touring version of what NXT currently is. CM Punk, John Morrison, The Miz, Sheamus and a few others became stars in ECW before moving on to Raw or SmackDown. Elijah Burke had the potential to join them, but it just never materialized.
5 5. Ken Shamrock
WWE went out of their element by signing Ken Shamrock to a big contract following his success in the UFC. MMA was not nearly as popular back then in the 90s, but Shamrock was talented enough to have name value entering WWE. The in-ring work and intensity of Shamrock made him a noteworthy wrestler on the show right away. A solid push saw Shamrock win the 1998 King of the Ring and become one of the most popular midcarders in the company.
4 4. Stevie Richards
ECW pushed Stevie Richards perfectly as the leader of the Blue World Order and it led to him having bigger opportunities elsewhere. Richards failed horribly in WCW as Raven’s lackey, but it didn’t prevent WWE from giving him a new chance at wrestling stardom. The Attitude Era represented the shock element of crash television wanted by society at the time. That meant violence, sex and foul language were all utilized to create interest.
3 3. Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow has always been a highly entertaining performer on WWE television but never was used to the best of his abilities. The charisma and in-ring skills shown by Sandow usually would be a strong enough combination to receive a massive push, but it never came. Sandow’s greatest success came in the least likely of situations. With nothing going on with his character, Sandow started imitating other wrestlers and entertainment personalities every week from Shawn Michaels to LeBron James.
2 2. Eugene
WWE has a horrible history of saddling talented performers with terrible gimmicks. This was the story of Nick Dinsmore being introduced on television as Eugene. Dinsmore had the reputation of being an elite in-ring performer that could hang with anyone in the ring. That led to the character of Eric Bischoff’s mentally handicapped nephew Eugene coming to WWE as a super fan turned wrestler. Eugene did make Dinsmore a lot of money, so it was worth it at the end of the day.
1 1. Kharma
The signing of Awesome Kong was hoped to signal the original women’s revolution in the WWE. The company only hired models at the time and Kong getting a spot gave us hope the division would become credible with such an elite talent coming over. Renamed as Kharma, she debuted by running into matches between others and destroying the competitors with ease. Kharma had a mysterious personality making her motivations unclear and adding intrigue to her entire presentation.
A pregnancy forced her off television for a few months and ended her storylines. Kharma made a shocking return in the Royal Rumble match and even eliminated a few male wrestlers. This was actually the only official match she ever participated in WWE, as her other interactions always featured her interrupting other bouts. Kharma would get released from her contract shortly after the Rumble appearance. The short-lived success left an impact but Kharma’s talent sadly didn’t evolve into anything more than a memorable WWE one hit wonder.
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