Sometimes in professional wrestling, a performer can be given absolutely all the tools they need to make it big, but inexplicably fall way short. Other times, superstars can wow the world in NXT or on some other smaller stage, but can't deliver at the biggest stage. In several cases, as you'll see from this upcoming list, there is no real explanation behind it. Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and because of that, they miss the boat and their career doesn't take off.
More than anything it has to be the perfect storm for a superstar to really make it at the very top of the professional wrestling industry. You hear so many stories of stars who were never supposed to make it but powered through, or others explaining how if even one tiny detail had been different on their ascent to the top, then things may not have panned out the way they did.
The upcoming fifteen entries showcase some of those cases, but also times when stars were being pushed to the top when they most definitely shouldn't have been. Wrestlers who on first appearance looked like the real deal, but once you started revealing those layers, you soon realized that maybe you had a made a mistake. Plenty of that on this list, but also the odd story of superstars ,who still to this day, should have been considered a bigger deal than they were and boats were most certainly missed.
15 Bobby Lashley
Now MMA fighter and TNA World Champion, Bobby Lashley appeared to have such a bright future during his time at WWE. It was evident that Vince McMahon was a big fan of his, and as we've seen so many times over the course of pro wrestling history, that's pretty much the number one thing you need if you even want a chance of making it in WWE.
Unfortunately for Bobby, having Vince's blessing alone just wasn't enough. Lashley didn't have what it takes, especially when it came to mic skills. Despite being thrown in to the WWE Championship picture, he never won the belt and never really deserved it. He has gone on to find good fortune in TNA since then.
14 Mr. Kennedy
Another superstar who tried his luck with WWE around the same time as Bobby Lashely is Mr. Kennedy. Coincidentally Kennedy is also another performer, like Lashley, who has gone on to have more success with TNA. The similarities do not stop there. Kennedy had no shortage of pushes while he was wrestling under the WWE banner. In fact, at WrestleMania 23, Kennedy won the much coveted Money in the Bank briefcase, meaning he could cash it in for a World Title shot any time over the following twelve months.
Kennedy decided to announce that he would not be cashing in his shot until the twelve months were almost up, at the following WrestleMania XXIV. Unfortunately for him, not very long into that year, WWE clearly realized he wasn't the star they originally thought and Mr. Money in the Bank lost his briefcase to Edge.
13 Chris Masters
One trend you may notice throughout this list is superstars who most definitely had the look, but when it came to crunch time, they did not have the charisma or personality to match it. Bobby Lashley definitely falls in that category, as does our next entry, Chris Masters. Upon his WWE arrival, Masters utilized his physique as his gimmick, bragging about how good he looked. Following that, he created the 'Master Lock Challenge'. Various superstars would come to the ring in an attempt to break out of Chris's Master Lock, which was a full nelson hold.
Once again Masters received the full backing of WWE, having matches with Shawn Michaels and even appeared in two WWE Championship bouts. During his WWE tenure, Masters received two wellness policy violations and was released after the second of those.
12 Buff Bagwell
The story of Buff Bagwell in WWE is a short and very strange one. Before arriving in WWE, in the summer of 2001, Bagwell had enjoyed a long and relatively successful career with WCW. Of course, earlier that same year, WCW went out of business after they were bought out by WWE. Bagwell had been a multiple time tag team champion with WCW during his time there. When it came time for WCW talents to decide whether to make the move to WWE or not, Buff was one of the first to make the jump and have WWE buy out his contract.
WWE didn't tempt many former WCW stars out of their big money contracts but Bagwell was one of the most promising along with Booker T. Buff made his WWE debut on Raw against Booker in a forgettable match on July 2, 2001. Just a week later, Bagwell was released from his contract. WWE claimed he had faked an injury and that Buff's mother had continually called to ask for him to have time off. It's a very grey area as to why exactly he was released, especially since Bagwell still denies all of the above reasoning to this day.
11 Terry Taylor/The Red Rooster
In circles made up of wrestlers from his era, Terry Taylor is widely regarded as a terrific worker. Taylor has also been kept around by WWE as a trainer at NXT's developmental center. So there's no questioning the man's in-ring ability. Those of you not familiar with Taylor will no doubt now be wondering why Taylor didn't make it as a big star and live up to all this high praise. Well, if you've not heard of the name Terry Taylor, you may have heard of his alter ego, The Red Rooster.
If this list was running down the fifteen worst gimmicks in WWE history, The Red Rooster would be a lot higher. It's often joked about that if Taylor had arrived to receive his gimmick from the 'gimmick box' slightly earlier, his career in WWE would have been much different. In fact, Taylor would have you believe that he was supposed to be Mr. Perfect as opposed to Curt Henning. Oh, how different it all could have been.
10 Scotty Goldman
Not only is Colt Cabana well-known on the independent circuits as a tremendous wrestling talent, but he's also widely renowned as one of the nicest guys in wrestling. So, all of that begs the question as to why Colt didn't make it in WWE. Cabana made it through WWE's developmental system and during the majority of his time in WWE, he wrestled under the ring name Scotty Goldman.
Even though Colt's time with the company pre-dates NXT, he may be an early example of a talent not transitioning when called up. Colt wrestled sporadically on SmackDown but never managed to nail down his place on the roster and was released in early 2009.
9 Kassius Ohno
Current fans and viewers of NXT will most likely know that Chris Hero has returned to WWE under the name Kassius Ohno. What you may not know, however, is that Hero was with the company once before and quite rightly was seen as a pretty big deal. Despite his size, Hero is an extremely gifted athlete and widely regarded as one of the best pro wrestlers on the planet right now.
However, for some reason, things didn't really click during his first run with NXT. The company had high hopes and if you believe CM Punk, Hero was actually the original suitor to be in The Shield and had his spot taken by Roman Reigns. I'm fully expecting his latest run in NXT to be a far more successful one.
Kharma was not labelled as the next anybody. That was not what stopped this lady from achieving greater things in WWE. What halted Kharma, or Awesome Kong as she was more commonly know in TNA, was timing. She was ever so slightly ahead of her time. She arrived on the scene in WWE in 2011, and perhaps, if that debut had come two or three years later, Kharma would have taken a very different path.
Nowadays, women's wrestling is at the top of its game, and the female side of WWE has never been stronger. Nia Jax is effectively 2017's Kharma. A bigger woman set to destroy the roster. She's what Kharma could have and should have been but unfortunately for her, she arrived on the scene at a time when there simply wasn't enough competition and nowhere near enough interest in women's wrestling.
7 Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow is not someone who was given all the tools he needed to succeed in WWE. Nor was he someone who arrived on the scene too early or too late. Damien Sandow is simply someone whose potential WWE did not realize despite multiple opportunities. He impressed in the ring. He won over the crowd. He seemingly did everything that was asked of him and more, yet never got the push that he deserved while he was with WWE.
His work with The Miz was absolutely stellar and the fans thought they would finally see his hard work pay off. Alas it wasn't meant to be, and now the independent circuit is benefiting from Sandow's tremendous wrestling talent.
6 Ted Dibiase Jr.
If you want to be in the pro wrestling business, having a parent or family member precede you is a sure fire way to get your foot in the door. However, it does not mean you have the talent and will not guarantee you success in the squared circle. Nobody epitomizes that lesson quite like Ted Dibiase Jr. His father is Hall of Famer and legend, The Million Dollar Man.
Dibiase Jr., along with Cody Rhodes, was taken under the wing of Randy Orton to form the group Legacy. Named so because all three of them were sons of famous and successful pro wrestlers. While Randy and Cody made something of themselves in WWE, Dibiase did not. His time with Legacy was the pinnacle of his WWE career.
5 Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin began his path in WWE as a part of the famed OVW class of 2000. The developmental class produced not only Benjamin, but also John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. It would be easy for anyone to be overshadowed when competing with talent of that nature for a place on the roster.
Despite such fierce competition, Benjamin did find his way on to WWE and had a relatively successful run, but perhaps not as successful as he may have had. A recent return to WWE was scuppered by a serious shoulder injury, but hopefully once he's recovered, Shelton can rejoin WWE and pick up where he left off.
4 John Morrison
One WWE superstar who had absolute bags of talent, and still showcases said talent in Lucha Underground, is John Morrison. Bags of talent that WWE seemingly did not know what to do with. Aside from showing off his aerial prowess and athletic ability in a multitude of ladder matches, Morrison really wasn't utilized well during his time as a WWE talent.
John won tag title after tag title, with both Joey Mercury and The Miz, but when it comes to WWE gold, that was about it for the charismatic performer. Yes, the man now known as Johnny Mundo, like so many others on this list, was featured in feuds for the grand prize, including the WWE championship, but never quite ascended to the top of that mountain.
3 Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett was the chosen one. The man with enough talent, both in-ring and on the mic, to become the first British WWE champion ever. He even mentioned the fact that such a prestigious honor was very much meant for him, but had passed him by as he 'passed the torch' to fellow Brit, Neville, not long before he parted ways with WWE.
Barrett arrived in WWE with a bang, leading the devastating faction Nexus on to the main roster and gunning after John Cena. During the feud, and immediately after it, there appeared to be so many times when Wade was inching ever closer to achieving that goal and that dream of becoming WWE champion, but alas, those dreams never came to fruition.
Carlito was another victim of the mid-2000s WWE, as he came around when the product was in somewhat of a lull. Week after week, vignettes would air readying the WWE Universe for Carlito's arrival, and upon arrival, he was thrust straight in to the limelight. Carlito had feuds and matches with number of top talents on the SmackDown brand, winning the WWE United States Championship on his first night against John Cena.
He even won the Intercontinental Championship on his first night on Raw, but never managed to clinch the big one, despite the promise WWE clearly saw in him. Being part of the famous Colon family may have placed more pressure on Carlito than he could handle. Despite spending seven years with WWE, he never reached his full potential.
When it came time for many ECW stars, they struggled to transition from the hardcore life to WWE. Perhaps, the man who struggled the most however was Raven. While in ECW, Raven was at the very top of his game. A big fish in a small pond. However, upon arrival in WWE, it was evident from the start how big a pond Raven now found himself in compared to ECW.
Fans who hadn't seen ECW weren't really sure how to take him. He was odd and different, but not in a way that saw his career take off as part of the mainstream. He had some success in WWE's hardcore division, but other than that, he was not utilized well under the WWE banner.