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.
WWE changed course and had him turn heel to face both John Cena and Punk once again. It was another bust. Ryback spent the final couple of years of his WWE tenure in the mid-card picture before deciding to leave when his contract expired. Ryback has done nothing of note in the wrestling ring outside of WWE since leaving. Most of his time is spent hosting a tell-all podcast and trying to sell nutrition and supplement products.
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.
Kharma however would get removed from television after getting pregnant and they eventually parted ways. The wrestling career of Kharma is on hold today with minimal appearances, but she is still making her name most in a wrestling circle. Kharma is one of the actresses on the hit Netflix series G.L.O.W. about the all women promotion set in the 80s. It is fitting that she is making a great living thanks to wrestling outside of the wrestling bubble.
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.
However, WWE decided to quit on Barrett being a top guy despite getting the upper hand over the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton and The Undertaker at different points. Barrett never had another credible chance at the main event picture after his initial run. It made sense when he took time off from WWE and left the business back in 2016. Barrett has been working on his acting career and recently took a GM role for Defiant Wrestling in the United Kingdom.
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.
Perkins being the face of the show to start it off was a poor decision. WWE was so disappointed in his work that they had him lose the title relatively quickly into the launch of the brand to Brian Kendrick. Perkins not only lost the title but was moved back down into a secondary role in the division. Perkins was off television for the past few months showing how far he has fallen. A recent return to 205 Live at the start of the show at least confirmed he is still with the company.
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.
WWE tried pushing him on multiple occasions, including making him the World Champion. Khali was ultimately spent the final few years of his WWE career as a comedic character. The release eventually came when WWE gave up on him. He's back in India trying to grow the wrestling industry over there. Khali is running his own school, which is a scary thought given his lack of in-ring talent.
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.
Mistico was introduced with the Sin Cara character and a huge push. It was a rare occasion of someone getting to skip developmental and go straight to the main roster. Consistent botches, injury issues and poor attitude issues all culminated in him getting released. The Sin Cara character still exists with the formerly known Hunico playing it today. Mistico is back in Mexico working for the very popular CMLL promotion.
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.
DiBiase received the Million Dollar Man character that his character used decades prior. Fans rejected it due to WWE trying to recreate history. DiBiase flopped horribly and would become an afterthought within a few months. The crazy thing is he was once valuable enough by WWE to be in rumors of ending The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Instead, DiBiase would get released and leave the wrestling industry faster than expected. Today, he is running college textbook e-commerce website and working with underprivileged kids in his spare time.
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.
Ryan never got over and struggled to find a role in WWE. It came to no surprise when he was released from his contract. Ryan continued wrestling on the independent circuit and still takes the rare booking. However, he is most known for being a part of Cirque du Soleil these days. Ryan has a role in the show Kà that allows him to make a living in entertainment today.
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.
Maddox eventually was made into a full-time role and disappointed big time. The lackluster career ended when he broke a rule by using terminology not allowed by WWE in promos. Following his WWE release, Maddox has transitioned outside of wrestling. An old leaked tape with Paige put him in the public eye again. Maddox deleted all his social media pages and is trying to get away from the controversy.
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.
Rose was released after a few controversial incidents of being accused of domestic abuse and getting suspended for failing a drug test. The release led to Rose hitting the independent circuit hoping to become the next breakout star. He never received the relevant bookings to gain momentum. Rose claimed he was retiring at the end of 2017 to enter new business interests including running his own limousine service and a tattoo parlor.
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.
WWE was impressed enough to sign him with the idea of a new character known as Lord Tensai. This saw him get a rare clean victory over John Cena, which was the ultimate proof of a big push coming. Unfortunately, fans still chanted “Albert” and the character flopped horribly. Following a few years as a comedic lower card act, he moved into a training position at the Performance Center. Bloom is now the head trainer with a huge role shaping the future of WWE.
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.
Del Rio would return for another run but never had the same momentum. Following multiple controversial incidents, he was released after requesting to get out of his contract. Alberto is still trashing WWE today and has a negative reputation in wrestling. Impact Wrestling is the only place consistently booking him as he is an afterthought these days.
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.
WWE gave him one major singles push after splitting him from Miz. Frequent botches and the ability to keep up with his better opponents each made him a huge bust. WWE quit on him a few months into the push with rumors of John Cena causing management to turn on Riley. The release of Riley came after another disappointing comeback in NXT. Riley is trying his hand at acting right now, but he has not secured any noteworthy roles outside of one episode on G.L.O.W.
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.
The lack of wrestling skills made her stand out among the worst performers on the roster. WWE sent her down to NXT and called her back up with minimal improvement. It didn’t prevent them from pushing her again when the brand split started. Eva was getting a noteworthy heel character before failing a drug test to essentially end her WWE career. Things have been fine for Eva with consistent work in her acting and modeling careers making up for a failed wrestling run.
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.