WWE prides itself on being kings of content and they couldn’t be more right. Monday Night Raw is the longest-running weekly episodic television program in the U.S. with no reruns and the company makes it a point to hammer that fact into our heads every chance they get. Their sister brand, WWE SmackDown, is the second longest. Coupling these two shows together, you have five hours of primetime wrestling programming every week.
With all the talent on their roster and all of that TV time, you would think WWE has ample time to give everyone in their talent pool a fair opportunity to showcase themselves and try to stand out above the pack, wouldn’t they?
WRONG. Even with hours to fill, WWE typically picks out a handful of wrestlers they trust and have invested time and money into to saturate their program and carry their shows while other promising superstars are left rotting on the bench, their names never scheduled on the card. “Creative just doesn’t have anything for you,” is what they’re told, which is pretty much the kiss of death.
Being at the arena while not being booked for anything significant has some perks. Superstars can enjoy themselves to WWE’s massive backstage catering menu, work out, play some video games and lollygag while receiving a paycheck. However, WWE Executive and surefire future Hall of Famer Triple H has stressed that “If you aren’t in this business to be WWE Champion and headline WrestleMania, you’re in the wrong business.”
In the WWE you have to fight for a spot on the card, but if the company isn’t giving you a chance to prove your worth and “grab the brass ring,” that must be pretty frustrating. Below are 15 Superstars WWE doesn’t see much value in to give them significant TV time, which more often than not means their time with the company is running out.
15 Heath Slater
The one-man rock band (Babay!) Heath Slater isn’t much of a looker, doesn’t sport an impressive physique and his in-ring work isn’t something that people are frothing at the mouth to see. Slater has gotten by based off of his personality alone, surviving the dismantling of The Nexus group he debuted with (which surprisingly enough he’s one of the few that are still under contract) and he even was spared the pink slip while his other 3MB band members Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal were given the axe. Now he’s the leader of The Social Outcasts stable with Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas who aren’t exactly on the bullet train to stardom.
Possibly his most memorable run of significance was when he was coming out on RAW and getting trounced by legends and old-timers on a weekly basis until WWE decided that dead horse was beaten enough. With the latest influx of talent arriving to the main roster from NXT, Slater is lost in the shuffle, but they seem to be getting some use out of him for WWE Network content like Swerved and can call on him for comic relief when they need to. He’s the new Santino!
14 Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder has been dealt a crummy hand time after time during his tenure in the WWE. The Long Island Iced Z survived being one of Edge’s lookalike cronies along Curt Hawkins during Edge’s main event run on SmackDown and created a niche for himself with his Long Island partying gimmick. WWE management never got behind him so he became proactive and took advantage of social media to create an impressive fan following with his YouTube channel.
Management took notice, albeit briefly, and gave Zack Ryder a run with the US Title. That was short-lived and Ryder was exiled to dark matches and the doldrums of WWE Superstars, not appearing on a RAW for months at a time, and when he did appear it was only to be squashed which is a shame.
The WWE shockingly threw Ryder a bone by giving him a WrestleMania 32 moment when he captured the Intercontinental Championship in a seven person ladder match that he might’ve not even been in had several superstars not been injured. As fate would have it, he dropped the title the next night and was back to his same condition that he’s been in the last few years, floundering with no direction. BOO HOO HOO, you know it.
13 Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel is a classic case of someone not being able to break out of their father’s shadow. The son of Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, Curtis Axel has unfortunately failed to live up to being even half as good as his late father. Part of the reason for his flopping on the big stage was his initial lack of charisma and ho-hum in-ring work.
He bombed on NXT as Michael McGillicutty then was repackaged as Curtis Axel and paired with Paul Heyman. Things looked to be going well for Axel when he captured the Intercontinental Title and even a win over Triple H. Management soured on him soon thereafter and he found himself in the dreaded comic relief role on the roster which has done him no favors. Now he is a part of the Social Outcasts, the modern day JOB squad, and it looks like that is where he’ll stay, at the bottom of the card until further notice.
It feels like it’s been centuries since the world was taken by storm with their pointer fingers up and were “Fandango-ing,” humming to the tune of Fandango’s theme music. Fandango started out as a talented athlete with tons of potential named Johnny Curtis on NXT but apparently WWE wanted him to have a larger than life personality and decided to repackage him as a ballroom dancer.
After a lot of hype, Fandango debuted and got the WWE machine behind him at first, earning him a key career win against WWE living legend Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29. The WWE Universe then started getting on the Fandango bandwagon by interacting with his catchy entrance music which became a social media trend. After that phase, WWE flipped the switch on Fandango once it was realized that his one-dimensional character did not have a very promising trajectory.
The Fandango character went through a couple of makeovers that flopped and was taken off the cards for some time. The character is currently teaming with the similarly, criminally underused talent Tyler Breeze in an inconsequential tag team feud with Goldust and R-Truth. Where does Fandango go after that’s over? He may very soon be called upon to take a final bow and exit the stage.
11 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox has been in the WWE since 2008 and is one of the veteran women wrestlers on the roster. Fox is a former Divas champion and her in-ring work has proven that she’s not just a pretty face. Alicia possesses a mix of beauty, athleticism and wrestling IQ which makes it a shame how underutilized she’s been in her eight years with the company.
Alicia Fox has unfortunately always been a bit player in the Women’s division, whether she was the sidekick of Michelle McCool during her SmackDown brand days or most recently being the third wheel with the Bella Twins. As part of the cast of Total Divas on E! Alicia was able to show a little more personality she normally doesn’t have a chance to show on regular WWE programming however that hasn’t really translated to anything significant on RAW or SmackDown.
The clock may be ticking for Fox to stand out amongst the growing talent pool for the women in WWE or get further lost in the shuffle.
10 Big Show
Big Show has been a mainstay in the WWE since his shocking debut during The Attitude Era when he jumped ship from WCW. Paul Wight has done it all in the WWE, having won every major and minor championship title and has even headlined WrestleMania.
Big Show is that trusty tool that WWE keeps in the shed when they need to shake thing up and it’s because of his versatility that he’s earned that distinction. Show has thrived as a face and heel - he’s famously and humorously been known for by having such frequent changes of heart. He hasn’t done anything since WrestleMania 32 when he was part of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.
Show’s age has been showing and judging from the chants of “Please retire” fans direct towards him whenever he makes an appearance, maybe management feels similarly and are working on phasing him out.
9 Mark Henry
The World’s Strongest Man may have claimed that he has a lot left in the tank after famously faking his retirement in 2013, but management may feel differently. Mark Henry’s hasn’t had an appearance on RAW or SmackDown since February of 2016 and his last match that he competed in was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32. This was believed at first to be his final match before retiring but he never made any formal announcement and is still under contract.
Henry’s a fan favorite no doubt and though he is up there in age, he still has some value to his name and can be effectively utilized as an established veteran on the roster who can help build up the new generation of talent that have joined the WWE locker room. Unfortunately, it seems the doors of the Hall of Pain are closed. For good? Only time will tell.
8 Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman is a massive, freakish looking brute, which is everything that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon loves in a WWE superstar. While still being very green in the ring, Strowman was added to The Wyatt Family where his strengths could be accentuated and his weaknesses could be covered up.
As part of Bray Wyatt’s henchmen, Strowman made an instant impact and it looked like the monster was headed for bigger and better things. He was rumored to be a possible option for The Undertaker to face at WrestleMania before the WWE ultimately went with Shane McMahon. The lack of faith in Strowman may have to do with his lack of in-ring experience and it may have been too much too soon for the newcomer.
For the rest of The Wyatt Family, if Bray is not doing anything, they aren’t doing anything. Wyatt was injured for some time and as a result, the entire family was taken off TV. Strowman’s trajectory and spot on the card on this point depends solely upon Bray Wyatt. You could say that for Strowman, Bray Wyatt has his whole world in his hands.
The Devil’s Favorite Demon is one of the longest tenured active WWE Superstar, along with his kayfabe brother The Undertaker. Kane has managed to make his presence felt for nearly two decades and has been a constant major player on the WWE roster. In today’s current landscape, The Big Red Machine may be getting pushed aside for the New Era WWE Superstars.
Just like his fellow long-time WWE staples Mark Henry and Big Show, Kane has been getting featured on TV less and less and his last significant in-ring appearance was also the Andre the Giant Battle Royal from WrestleMania 32. The WWE is in a transitional period and Kane seems to be understanding of that and has been transitioning into a more authoritative role in the WWE as opposed to being an in-ring competitor.
The former Director of Operations for WWE is now vying to be SmackDown’s new GM. While he was swiftly turned down by Shane and Stephanie McMahon, it remains to be seen what WWE has for Kane moving forward.
In the WWE, timing is everything when it comes to becoming a bonafide star in the company and the talented and athletic beauty Naomi was well on her way to becoming a marquee star in the Women’s division on more than one occasion, before being sidelined with injuries.
Naomi came up in the WWE as a competitor on NXT and then had a run as a backup dancer for Brodus Clay. After gaining notoriety on the hit reality TV show Total Divas, Naomi was well on her way to a breakout year for WWE when she fractured an orbital bone in her eye in a match on Raw. Unfortunately, upon getting healthy and returning to action, Naomi never seemed to capture the same momentum she had built.
Naomi was taken off TV for some time and then repackaged as a heel in a stable known as Team B.A.D. with Sasha Banks and Tamina. Unfortunately, due to an injury with her ankle, Naomi was again shuffled off TV and it remains to be seen where she will fit in when she comes back amongst the crop of female talent that are coming up on the main roster.
5 David Otunga
David Otunga is a bit of an enigma, mainly because he’s under contract as a WWE wrestler yet he hardly ever wrestles. Otunga has been with the company since 2010 when he debuted on NXT and became a part of The Nexus group, but since the group disbanded, he has competed in the ring only a handful of times yet remained on WWE payroll.
David Otunga sports an impressive physique but he’s known more for his resume outside of the ring than in it. He has a Law degree from Harvard and is the long-time fiancé of singer and Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Hudson. That being said, he’s not very impressive in the ring and WWE seems to agree as he has not wrestled a match on RAW or Smackdown since 2013.
Otunga has served as an on-air character at different points in time for the WWE particularly as a legal advisor before switching to being a guest panelist on the RAW pre-shows and now most recently serving as a commentator.
4 The Ascension
Konnor and Viktor stood out as an intimidating and fearsome tag team during their time in NXT, brutally destroying the competition and going on to become NXT Tag Team Champions, where they hold the record for longest reign. Many believed their tag team dominance would translate well to the main roster with some even stating that they could be the next Road Warriors. That prediction as so far fallen flat since The Ascensions debut to the main roster fizzled out quite quickly.
WWE management is mostly to blame since they haven’t really developed their characters and their goals and what their identity is. As a result, they’ve mostly been fodder to other tag teams before being taken off of WWE’s main programs entirely. They have not been featured on Raw or SmackDown in months. With the beefing up of the tag team division recently with the return of The Dudley Boyz, and the call ups to the main roster like Enzo and Big Cass and The Vaudevillians it appears The Ascension’s fate won’t be changing anytime soon.
The daughter of Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Tamina has been a part of the WWE roster for six years but it surely doesn’t feel like it, since she has not accomplished anything of significance during that span of time.
Tamina is an imposing figure and intimidating presence in the ring, which distinguishes her from the rest of the female roster. Being part of a large samoan wrestling family, she can certainly bring it in the ring but has spent the majority of her time in the company as a manager or bodyguard, letting her natural talents go to waste.
WWE just doesn’t trust her personality on the mic, as she has rarely been given speaking lines. Her recent stint as a part of Team B.A.D. looked to be an opportunity to break out and show some character, but that team was short-lived and served only as a launching pad for Sasha Banks. And now with WWE being flooded with an array of female talent, it’s becoming less and less likely that Tamina will get an opportunity to show the world what she’s made of.
2 Jack Swagger
At one point, he was known as The All-American American, the collegiate amateur wrestling athlete that many thought was the second coming of Kurt Angle to the WWE roster. His early success made that prediction not seem so far-fetched at first. He was a breakout star of the ECW brand before getting a taste of success on SmackDown by cashing in a Money In The Bank contract and capturing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for a short run.
Like many before him, WWE took a 180 on Swagger and he had the rug pulled out from under him. He wasted away in the mid-card for years before it seemed the WWE was going to give him another chance at a Main Event run when he was paired with Zeb Colter as a proud American patriot. Unfortunately after being arrested for Marijuana possession, the WWE pulled the plug on Swagger again and he hasn’t sniffed anything of significance since which is a shame because Swagger possessed all the talent in the world to be a big star.
1 Rosa Mendes
Can you believe that Rosa Mendes has been with the WWE since 2006? She’s surprisingly a 10 year veteran in the WWE and has basically nothing to show for it other than being a part of the cast on Total Divas. Rosa Mendes is known more for coming out as bisexual than for her actual wrestling career.
She’s like the Diva version of Funaki or JTG, where year after year she slips under the radar of roster cuts and manages to stay on the company payroll even though the WWE does nothing with her. She's had failed run after failed run managing wrestlers like the team of Primo and Epico and Fandango.
Mendes has only wrestled a handful of matches and for good reason since her in-ring ability is lacking. It’s safe to say she won’t be holding the WWE Women’s Championship anytime soon.