WWE wants fans to believe that we have the most influence in which stars get pushed, but that just isn’t the case. Vince McMahon ultimately decides who should be pushed. The wrestlers that he prefers will get more opportunity to shine and those that he doesn’t believe in will have less of a chance to get over. Fans however have caused plans to change for various wrestlers. There are some wrestlers that just were too good to hold down like Daniel Bryan. The opposite story also exists with fans being the reason many heavily pushed wrestlers couldn’t make it.
We'll look at the wrestlers that were supposed to become big stars in recent years and what they are doing today. These wrestlers had among the most disappointing careers in WWE in recent memory. Some would argue that it is worse for the wrestlers to never receive pushes. However, it is more embarrassing to be remembered for dropping the ball rather than not getting the chance. The names on this list have the legacies of being unable to make the most of their opportunities for whatever reason. These are fifteen of the biggest recent WWE busts and what they are doing today.
15 Ryback: Podcast host
The career of Ryback witnessed many disappointments during major pushes. Ryback was introduced as an unbeatable face running over opponents with an undefeated streak. WWE placed him against CM Punk in a WWE Championship story as the culmination of his feud. Ryback wasn’t ready to hang in the main event picture and never belonged.
14 Kharma: Actress
WWE made a surprising signing when acquiring talented women’s wrestler Awesome Kong following her time in Impact Wrestling. Kong was given the new name of Kharma and received an instant push to start. Kharma would make her way to the ring and destroy the stars of the WWE Women’s Division. Fans had high hopes for her creating change in the failing division at the time.
13 Wade Barrett: Actor
Another wrestler to recently delve into the career of acting is Wade Barrett. Many fans are still wondering why Barrett didn’t become a major Superstar in WWE. The introduction of Barrett as the winner of the first NXT season and the leader of the Nexus faction was the perfect way to start his WWE career. Barrett led the group to instant credibility with impressive work that appeared ready for instant main event work.
12 TJ Perkins: Background Player in Cruiserweight Division
WWE made TJ Perkins the winner of the Cruiserweight Classic and the Cruiserweight Champion heading into their next project. 205 Live was the latest show meant to showcase the cruiserweight talent that shined in the successful tournament. Unfortunately for all involved, 205 Live has been a huge failure from day one and has never recovered.
11 The Great Khali: Running Indian wrestling school
The Great Khali is considered one of the worst wrestlers of all time. The big man was hired due to his size which made him an attraction for WWE. Unfortunately, he couldn’t contribute anything else during his performances on screen. Khali was too slow and large to move around the ring with the other wrestlers making it nearly impossible for him to have a good match. His speaking was also incoherent most of the time adding confusion to the overall mix.
10 Original Sin Cara: CMLL
The talent of Mistico made him the top luchador in Mexico in the 2000s. WWE decided to expand their talent search of free agents at the time and looked over to him. The hope was that Mistico would become the replacement to Rey Mysterio. WWE made a lot of money from Mysterio appealing to children with his merchandise and the Latino market as their wrestling representation on the big stage.
9 Ted DiBiase Jr: Various Projects Outside Wrestling
Hang'n with my new bud Dakota ( @youngproudgy ) & @makeawishms - Dakota is a true warrior. He's a REAL fighter! Honored to meet him..... I know that God gives the toughest battles to His toughest Warriors... Dakota is exactly that, the toughest. Thank you for your inspiration Dakota! You're my hero 👊🏼 (**show @youngproudgy some love and follow a real CHAMPION) Blessings
WWE wanted Ted DiBiase Jr. to become one of the faces of the company due to his potential and pedigree in the business as the son of Ted DiBiase. The best time of DiBiase Jr’s career came when he was paired with Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes as part of the Legacy faction. DiBiase and Rhodes worked well together as a tag team and received some credibility thanks to a main eventer like Orton leading them.
8 Mason Ryan: Cirque du Soleil
The jacked physique of Mason Ryan made him the dream wrestler of Vince McMahon. Ryan was viewed as a top prospect in developmental. WWE placed him in the Nexus faction under the leadership of CM Punk as a way to get him in a relevant spot on television. Fans never responded to him and he would get left behind faster than anyone expected.
7 Brad Maddox: Off The Grid
Brad Maddox was once a hot commodity in WWE. The company had him playing the referee for an angle where he cost Ryback his first loss against CM Punk for the WWE Championship. Maddox was introduced in a title program right off the bat. Things only got better for him when he was given the role of Raw General Manager working for The McMahon family.
6 Adam Rose: Running Tattoo Shop
The NXT run of Adam Rose made him look like a potential star on the main roster. A fan interaction character allowed him to get reactions louder than most of the roster before even hitting the ring. Rose was called up to the main roster and the character just never connected. A few subtle changes to the gimmick are why Rose believed it failed so poorly, but others believe it just had no chance at main roster success.
5 Lord Tensai: Head WWE trainer
Matt Bloom has gone under many different names throughout his career, but the run of Lord Tensai would be considered the biggest push. WWE saw him walk away in the early 2000s following his run as A-Train. He found great success in New Japan working as the intense Giant Bernard character. The reputation of Bloom reached a peak due to how credible he came off in Japan.
4 Alberto Del Rio: Impact Wrestling
#elpatron is back amigos... thank you Tijuana 🙏🏻 for all the love, all the support and all those #sisisi and @goyito_perez you were brave and crazy 😂 it was an honor to have you in the ring with me... @combateamericas familia always stick together Gracias amigos en #tijuana por venir apoyar a su servidor a solo unos días de #navidad por su amor, sus gritos de sisisi y por un tiempo espectacular una vez más aquí en mi #mexico lindo. A mi padre #doscaras y a mi hermano @hijodedoscaras por hacer equipo conmigo, los amo con todo el corazón y mención especial a mi amigo y compañero de la familia @combateamericas @goyito_perez por venir apoyarme durante la batalla, y tomar dos que tres sillazos jajaja, la próxima nos traemos a @berma80 😂😂 Andresitooooo Señores y señoras nos vemos a la próxima, feliz navidad, Año Nuevo y que dios los bendiga 🙏🏻
At one point, Alberto Del Rio looked on pace to be nearing a Hall of Fame worthy trajectory for his WWE career. A huge push to start his main roster run saw him win the WWE Championship within a year of his debut. Del Rio was a consistent main event act for most of his first stint in the company. His first firing came when he hit a WWE employee for making a racist comment towards him.
3 Alex Riley: Actor
The WWE career is easily forgettable, but he was valued quite highly by management for quite some time. Riley was paired with The Miz in hopes of him picking up the business considering both guys had similar weaknesses to start their careers. Riley however would never find the improvement that Miz did to survive in the WWE.
2 Eva Marie: Actress/Model
Eva Marie is one of the most controversial women in WWE history despite not having much of a career. WWE wanted to push her in a major way due to her look and potential to break out in the mainstream. Eva received a main roster contract right away to become a part of the first season of the Total Divas reality series.
1 Jack Swagger: Starting MMA Career
The WWE career of Jack Swagger saw him never live up to the potential and early expectations the company had from him. Swagger won the Money in the Bank contract shortly into his career and was the World Champion out of nowhere. WWE wanted to see if he would sink or swim in such a pivotal role that early in his career and it ended up sinking his career.
Swagger failed horribly as a champion and never rebounded. A few smaller pushes led to him always failing to move into a top spot. Swagger spent the final few years of his WWE stint struggling to get television time. A release allowed him to find more freedom and happiness wrestling on the independent circuit. However, the main goal of Swagger right now is to start his MMA career after signing with Bellator as a major acquisition.
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