In theory, as the most watched and financially successful sports enterprise on the planet, working for World Wrestling Entertainment should be the ultimate goal for all professional wrestlers. However, due to the business practices of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, who has been the company’s owner and CEO since the early 1980s, select individuals are wary to ever step foot in the place. They have good reason for this mindset, too, considering even a good number of people currently working for the so-called world leaders in sports entertainment are practically destroying their careers by doing so.
The simply fact of the matter is that despite all the bombastic, WWE doesn’t always get everything right. Sometimes wrestlers are horribly miscast, and others are simply overlooked, passed aside for lesser talents for reasons the world at large will probably never understand. It’s hard to say which is worse in the long run, as fans never talking about an entertainer is probably just as bad as fans never having anything good to say in relation to their talents. Not that either case is always their fault, of course, as it’s usually the people behind the scenes holding the pens who ultimately dictate what the audience believes. That in mind, keep reading to learn about 15 potential superstars WWE is dragging through the mud.
17 Erick Rowan
Can anyone name a single thing Erick Rowan has accomplished outside of the Wyatt Family? Matter of fact, can anyone even think of a moment involving the entire group where Rowan played a key role? There are minions and lackeys, and then there are people who clearly were only involved because of their look, and Rowan is firmly in the latter category when it comes to his entire WWE career. Since the Wyatt Family has broken up, Rowan’s limitations are on full display, no one to back him up and cover for his severe lack of charisma. That said, Rowan isn’t entirely free of talent inside the ring, and it’s WWE who have failed to come up with any sort of gimmick that could wash him of the irrelevant status and give the guy something interesting to do.
Deep down inside, most NXT fans knew Vince McMahon was going to do something to screw up Bayley the second she got called up to the main WWE roster. For whatever reason, her unique character as an optimistic hugger simply wasn’t going to fly with the man in charge, and sure enough, it took him less than a year to make the Huggable One go from amongst his most beloved employees to a person fans never wanted to see on their televisions. Bayley used to be an innocent fan girl trying her best to live her dreams, even accomplishing a few of them through hard work and dedication. On the main roster, that sentence ends at fan girl, with no depth or emotional subtlety to the way she’s written. Worse than that, she’s also turned into a complete idiot inside the ring, putting in far less effort and never thinking about her opponents motives, making it hard for fans to support her attempts at regaining their love.
14 Apollo Crews
Prior to getting signed by WWE, Apollo Crews, or Uhaa Nation as he had previously been known, was one of the freshest and most exciting new talents in the wrestling world. His rare combination of physical strength and a high-flying move set made Crews a truly unique superstar, and his energetic personality helped fans connect to him despite Vince McMahon and company failing to take notice. There was a huge paradigm shift when they finally started paying attention, though, as McMahon unfortunately missed the mark yet again and had no idea what to do with Crews after he actually hired the wrestler. Ignoring everything that made Crews unique, WWE presents him as just another face on the roster, never employing a unique move set or giving an everyman style promo that could win over some fans. Heck, they barely even let the guy win matches, making it hard for anyone to care about him at all.
13 Baron Corbin
When Baron Corbin suddenly went from Mr. Money in the Bank to a man losing multiple high profile matches in a row, WWE fans instantly knew there had to be an explanation. Rumors long held that Vince McMahon saw something special in the Lone Wolf, and this sudden change of mind wasn’t exactly out of character, but still came as a surprise. Initially, people believed Corbin’s Twitter war with a veteran had something to do with it, while later stories are blaming his speaking out to a WWE doctor during a CTE-related meeting. Either way, the fact remains Corbin went from a definite future WWE Champion to a guy who can barely win a match, a career trajectory that has pretty much never worked out for the better. Hopefully the losing streak doesn’t last, or he might not be able to recover, and that goes for WWE or anywhere else.
12 The Ascension
Of all the names on this list, it makes the least sense that The Ascension would be here. Konnor and Viktor have exactly the sort of look Vince McMahon once loved, and it just so happens fans of tag team wrestling all around the world actually agreed with the WWE CEO on that one. The Ascension is from the same ilk as teams like The Road Warriors or Demolition, both amongst the most respected and successful duos in sports entertainment history. For whatever reason, though, McMahon has decided to treat them like absolute jokes starting the moment they were called up from NXT. In the developmental training ground, The Ascension reigned as Tag Team Champions for almost a full year, yet haven’t come close to gold of any kind in the almost three years since arriving in the mainstream.
11 Zack Ryder
No one wrestler on the WWE roster today has done more to make themselves a star than Zack Ryder. Way before the company had Michael Cole and Corey Graves hawking their social media presence everything thirty seconds, Ryder was producing and starring in his own YouTube series, Z True Long Island Story, a title that still makes fans nostalgic of the humorous antics he got up to. Ryder is also a consummate babyface in the ring, getting fans to react with vociferous applause at all the right moments no matter how he gets booked. Unfortunately, wins and losses do matter in wrestling so far as upward mobility is concerned, and McMahon has responded to Ryder’s ability to make fans on his own by severely punishing him for it. The louder people cheer for Zack, the less he wins, apparently an attempt by McMahon at keeping him in his place, so to speak.
10 Mike Kanellis
In many respects, it feels like Vince McMahon only hired Mike Bennett, aka Mike Kanellis, to make fun of the guy for having a wife who was more famous than he was. This isn’t entirely out of McMahon’s character, as the little success Bennett has earned for himself was found outside of the WWE Universe, a fact that makes the company CEO bitter every time it happens. Therefore, that Mike’s wife had worked for WWE and he hadn’t made her the far more important person in the duo, and he needed to be reminded of this every time someone on the Internet claimed Bennett was a great worker. Before the duo came to WWE, they were working clever gimmicks in Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling that used their relationship in mutually beneficial ways, but now it seems like they’re both getting punished for being married, the sort of absurd treatment that Vince McMahon has made a trademark.
9 The Colóns
Looking at the ongoing careers of Primo and Epico Colón, it’s no wonder why the former’s brother Carlito decided to leave WWE long ago. Despite hailing from a legendary Puerto Rican wrestling family, The Colóns are largely treated like jokes, and the punch lines were never all that funny. Having suffered through stints as Los Matadores and then The Shining Stars, in the very least, The Colóns have recently reverted to using their real surnames in the ring, but this has hardly done anything to fix their career prospects. The two are still jobbers, plain and simple, never winning any noteworthy matches or participating in memorable angles. This is in no way a reflection of their skills in the ring, as either one could probably still deliver a decent performance under the right circumstances, but so rarely are they given the chance it’s barely even worth discussing.
8 Chad Gable
Almost from the moment WWE announced they hired a former Olympic competitor in Chad Gable, fans started making comparisons to Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, and the more they’ve seen of Gable’s talents, the more apt the similarities are revealing themselves to be. Despite this, WWE apparently believes Gable’s former American Alpha partner Jason Jordan was the one with all the potential, keeping Gable in the tag team division without any chance of upward mobility. The sad thing is, American Alpha was going along great when together, but now that they’ve been split apart, both are going to suffer for it. This list will cover Jordan as we continue, and the issue with Gable is that every single time WWE has attempted to recreate a tag team with one of the members in tact, especially this close to the original breaking up, it has been a massive failure. Great as Shelton Benjamin is, he’s going to end up ruining Gable the same way The New Rockers ruined Marty Jannetty, unless WWE lets them both out of the mess extremely fast.
While the two have next to nothing in common on paper, Goldust is in an almost identical situation to that of Mark Henry. The sole difference is how much the two have achieved in wrestling and how recently their greatest runs took place. Otherwise, they’re shockingly similar in being legends in the twilight of their career, slowly having everything they worked towards destroyed by the whims of a boss who no longer understands their value. Goldust was never the sort of character to make literal toilet based jokes with R-Truth, and his other persona as a dark and manipulative freak doesn’t quite work in the PG era. For a little while, he had something great going on when reunited with his family, but as the only Rhodes left in the WWE Universe, what little strengths he has left are too far away for him to matter.
Quite frankly, we have no idea why WWE treats Rusev and his wife Lana the way they do. Both performers are incredible in their roles when placed together only to falter when separated, and yet Vince McMahon seems dead-set on proving to them they somehow don’t belong together. They’ve been kept apart onscreen for the better part of 2017, greatly suffering for it in their every appearance. Granted, Rusev spent much of the year away due to injury, but his performances since returning have been significantly less entertaining than before he left, and a lot of it has to do with the lack of a Ravishing Russian standing in his corner. Lana could just as easily wind up on this list, shedding her brilliant classy villainess persona in favor of a lame dancing gimmick and losing streak. Bringing them back together could easily save them both, but that may be exactly why WWE refuses to do so.
4 Bray Wyatt
What a strange universe it is where Bray Wyatt can win the WWE Championship and turn into one of the worst characters in all of wrestling within the span of a calendar year. Hell, considering the match Wyatt lost that title in, it could be said he went from the top of the company to the absolute bottom during a single match. Wyatt’s feud against Randy Orton was a failure on every single level, and though Orton basically recovered by moving on and never talking about it again, Wyatt has no such luck in getting fans to forget he once shot a movie about bugs out of his hands and onto the ring mat at WrestleMania. Not even The Undertaker and Kane shooting lightning and fire out of their hands was that stupid, and rather than sweep it under the rug, WWE doubled down on the idiocy with the following month’s House of Horrors match. Now, everything Wyatt touches turns to garbage by association, a fact that doesn’t bode well for his future opponents.
3 Sasha Banks
Whenever a wrestler brags about how many times they’ve won a given title, there’s always a downside in that fans might happen to realize being an “x-time champion” means they’ve also lost the belt a whole bunch of times in addition to winning it. This feeling is heavily intensified when said wrestler almost always loses the belt almost immediately after winning it, making the victory meaningless in retrospect. In barely over a year, this has already happened to two superstars who won the WWE Raw Women’s Championship, and as the person to hold the belt considerably less between them, Sasha Banks has it much worse than Charlotte Flair. If nothing else, Flair at least earned a cumulative nine months or so with the belt, something that would’ve even been impressive were it consecutive. Through her four reigns, Sasha has been champion less than two months, sometimes even losing the belt in her very first defense. This makes it look like she never deserved to challenge for the gold at all, a horrible status for one of the best pure athletes on the WWE roster to hold.
2 Mark Henry
All right, so at this point, Mark Henry’s career is pretty much over. In this sense, perhaps it’s more accurate to say WWE is dragging his legacy through the mud than his career, yet the fact remains working for Vince McMahon is making the World’s Strongest Man look bad. Not all that long ago, Henry opened the Hall of Pain and won the World Heavyweight Championship, and even more recently, he cut the promo of his life against John Cena en route to his latest WWE Championship shot. That was a full four years ago, though, and Henry has done virtually nothing of note ever since. All he does during appearances anymore is claim there’s still a lot of gas left in the tank, words that sounded powerful in 2013 but now seem pathetically flat in the present day. Henry either needs to give up entirely or get out of WWE before they ruin him for other companies that might look to hire him.
1 Jason Jordan
Not every failure of Vince McMahon has necessarily been his fault, as sometimes in pro wrestling a promoter simply has to throw ideas at a wall and see what sticks. That said, when they come up with an idea as big and game changing as the General Manager of Raw having a secret lovechild with an unknown mistress, they better be pretty darn sure the idea is going to be a hit. Unfortunately, when they had this idea, they decided the bland and uncharismatic Jason Jordan was the person best suited for the role, a spectacular miss if there ever was one. Things would have been much different had he and Chad Gable switched places, to the extent it may have saved both from this list. However, Gable is still treading the waters while Jordan is in a role he’s not ready for, killing two rising stars with one stone.