WWE and Vince McMahon have always had a penchant for pushing muscle-heavy wrestlers. It’s just the way it is, and the way it always has been. Any given wrestler with a tremendous physique stands a better chance to receive a big push than an average-looking wrestler with more in-ring skill. There are exceptions to the rule of course, but in WWE, this is generally how it goes down.
Given this, it’s not a surprise that we’ve seen our share of jacked WWE wrestlers who were awful in the squared circle. In every era of the company there have been a distinct group of these types, and it’ll likely continue that way for years to come. Again, sometimes it does end up working out (Goldberg, Brock Lesnar), but much of the time these pushes were very much ill-advised, and came at the expense of better in-ring workers getting the same kind of attention. Even if they succeeded for a short amount of time, these wrestlers were simply high on style, and low on substance. Not a recipe for long-term success, even in such an image-based promotion like WWE.
Ranked below are 15 WWE muscleheads who were terrible in the ring.
Debuting in 2003, when WWE was trying to inject new and original stars after the buyout of WCW, Heidenreich was a curious mid-card gimmick from the beginning. Despite having the advantage of being managed by Paul Heyman, Heidenreich just didn’t have any pull in any version of his character that was portrayed. His psychotic gimmick had been done before in better ways, and he was too boring in the ring to get anybody to give it a chance further.
Perhaps the most egregious misuse of Heidenreich was putting him as a member of the Legion Of Doom along with Animal, and having him come out in the full LOD regalia. It was something that was neither deserved or desired, and though the pair would win the tag titles, Heidenreich left the company a short time later, and was out of wrestling soon after that.
14. Scott Steiner
By the time Steiner returned to WWE in 2002, he had quite clearly become a parody of himself, and his “powerlifter on steroids” routine had grown stale. It was wearing thin by the time WCW ended, and simply changing companies wasn’t going to all of a sudden get him over to the point of being a massive star in the world of WWE. Steiner received somewhat of a push, but never ended up holding a title with the company.
He was always better as a tag wrestler anyway, when his sheer bulk wasn’t inhibiting his wrestling ability. Overall, the Steiner character from this period is one that just hasn’t aged well, and he turned out to be one of the most overrated wrestlers of his time.
13. Matt Morgan
Morgan debuted in 2003, and right from the get-go, it was clear that this was just another one of Vince’s musclehead experiments who couldn’t wrestle. He was slotted into about five different roles during his two years with the company, and nothing worked to get him over. He was a physically large presence and little else, as he couldn’t be elevated to any kind of success, no matter whom he was paired with in the ring.
In fairness, he did do slightly better in TNA a short time later, but only because he managed to capture the tag titles on two occasions. That’s only a minor improvement, and in truth it never should have happened. Morgan was a mediocre talent who was given a chance because of WWE’s infatuation with physique.
A former Tough Enough competitor, Ryback was somehow able to parlay his appearance on the show into being a full-time WWE wrestler, much to the dismay of wrestling fans everywhere. Ryback just stunk in every aspect of the business. Even his muscular look seemed to resemble Dino Bravo on more steroids. It was just a bad getup for a wrestler who didn’t really have any in-ring ability to begin with.
Not surprisingly, Ryback’s foray into the indie scene hasn’t gone very well up to this point. He works low-level shows, and has little chance of progressing to the level of ROH, or making a run overseas in New Japan. He’s simply not very good, and is generally considered the worst Intercontinental Champion in WWE history.
11. Gene Snitsky
Another absolutely horrid mid-2000s gimmick that was squarely a part of the awkward post-Attitude Era phase the company was going through, Snitsky was a ripoff of so many better wrestlers that came before him. He couldn’t even be sold as a legitimate powerhouse. Everything about his character was limp, and it was embarrassing to even see him get a major push at all.
Forget about match quality. Snitsky’s matches were like the worst Brock Lesnar match in history, repeated over and over again. He was absolutely one of the most horrific workers the business has ever seen, and the fact that he held on to a WWE contract for five years is nothing short of astounding. Just one of the worst overall wrestlers of all-time, never mind the actual era he wrestled in.
10. The Warlord
The Powers Of Pain may have been one of the most visible WWE tag teams of the late-’80s, but Warlord was truly one of the company’s worst wrestlers, and that was evident very early on. He was a part of the weightlifting crew in Minnesota that all got into the business around the same time (Legion Of Doom among them), and though some of them were able to turn in very good careers, The Warlord really wasn’t one of them.
He never did end up winning a title, despite the fact that he wrestled nearly five years in WWE when it was all said and done. At the time, he wasn’t really able to stand out, since the steroid era produced plenty of musclebound wrestlers, but in retrospect he was really one of the worst that WWE had to offer. No agility in the ring, but without the psychology you’d expect from a brawling-type wrestler. Awful.
9. Mark Henry
Henry may have been a great character in WWE for many years, but he was never really a great wrestler. There’s no denying that he was able to make his presence felt, and was willing to work just about any gimmick under the sun. Actually, the fact that he was able to get over as such a limited wrester with so-so mic skills is actually pretty incredible. Nonetheless, Henry wasn’t a premier talent at any point.
He accomplished far more in the world of powerlifting than he ever did as a wrestler. The former Olympian has held numerous records in the world of weightlifting, and is truly one of the biggest names in the sport. His celebrity extended into wrestling as well, but after a while it became clear that WWE just kept him on the roster as a formality.
8. Mark Jindrak
An early-2000s washout from WCW, management in WWE gave Jindrak every opportunity to succeed. The issue was that he just didn’t have any natural talent for the business in any aspect. Mediocre on the mic, and worse in the ring, Jindrak never looked like he belonged in the major leagues of wrestling, and we were left watching a good physique and little else. Unfortunately, this was all-too typical for WWE around the mid-2000s, right after The Attitude Era ended.
He was cast away in 2005, never to return to the company again, though he has gained some traction in Mexican promotions such as AAA and CMLL. Despite this, he was never a great talent when wrestling in WWE, and wouldn’t have an audience if he were to return to the States.
7. Luther Reigns
And the misses from 2003 keep on coming. Reigns actually may be the worst wrestler on this list. He was just a terrible in-ring worker who had gotten dropped from WCW before coming to WWE several years later. Without a semblance of talent to his credit, it’s no surprise that he fizzled out within a few years on the active roster. Reigns was destined for the low-level indies, only to retire for good shortly after that.
There was no angle on the planet that could have gotten him over. Reigns was indicative of the dreck that was leftover after all the talent from WCW had been signed in the buyout, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. WWE gave him a shot because of his look, but without anything else, he got boring in a hurry.
6. Tyson Tomko
For what it’s worth, Tomko actually wasn’t entirely useless in the ring. He could be carried to successful tag matches, and he certainly improved from his start in the business. He wasn’t much of a singles wrestler, but in the right circumstances, he was acceptable as a monster-heel-type character, or as an enforcer, like he portrayed for Christian.
It’s clear that his ceiling wasn’t that high, though. Tomk0’s career was saved because management didn’t try to do anything catastrophically stupid with his character, but that doesn’t change the fact that he wasn’t going to be holding any titles. He had a distinct role in WWE, and while it wasn’t anything special, at least he can say that he was spared the lows that the likes of Heidenreich and Snitsky reached in the same era.
5. Chris Masters
It was clear that WWE creative was running out of ideas when Masters came on the scene in the mid-2000s. A wholly unexciting character, Masters miraculously did two stints in WWE from 2004 to 2011. At his best, he was just an average in-ring presence, getting by on the same heel or face routine depending on the year. At his worst, he was horrendously bad.
After the novelty of having a new wrestler on the roster wore off, there was little intrigue for anything Masters had to do. He seemed more like a create-a-wrestler template in a video game more than anything else, and never ended up winning a single title in the WWE ranks. This isn’t surprising, as he had little to offer besides his physique.
4. The Ultimate Warrior
Yes, there’s no question that the Warrior was successful on a massive level, and indeed was good at playing his character, however limited it may have been. What he wasn’t good at was the actual wrestling part of his job, and he never really improved on that, even when he held the WWE Title in the early-’90s. The phenomenon was strong enough for him to get by on, but in hindsight the in-ring work was really, really bad.
The fact that he was able to make it work deserves some credit though. Jim Hellwig may have had a lack of talent in the ring, but he was able to pull off the persona very well. However, it’s not surprising just how quickly the gimmick fell off the map after 1992 or so. Sure, Hellwig was dealing with his own personal demons, but the character would have washed up regardless, because there was no wrestling ability to give it any replay value as a champion.
Always seemingly stuck in third gear during his run with WWE, Hercules may have been a staple of the late-’80s within the company, but he also was extremely limited. With plenty of opportunity on TV to make a name for himself, Hercules was only ever able to bounce around the mid-card, no matter what the storyline was.
As he was certainly a powerful wrestler with a great physique, there was room for stardom, and it seemed like management really wanted to give him a push. But whether it was in the singles ranks, or in the tag realm (with Paul Roma as Power & Glory), Hercules had only a mid-level ceiling when it was all said and done. The quality of his matches were only ever so-so.
There’s no doubt about it; Batista was successful during his time in WWE. He managed to create a unique presence for himself, starting as a member of Evolution, and eventually became one of the most decorated wrestlers in the promotion’s history. While it’s certainly legitimate to say that he was an integral part of the company, it’s also fair to say that his matches were repetitive and uninspired more often than not.
Batista became popular initially through his fallout angle from Evolution. With Triple H as the ultimate heel in the company, anybody who opposed him was going to get over quickly. Batista was able to run with this, and despite his limited wrestling ability, he racked up a ton of title wins, using his feud with Triple H to basically set the stage for the rest of his career. It was a fortunate outcome for Batista, but purely on his in-ring ability, there were more deserving champions out there.
1. Lex Luger
Luger’s entire gimmick was basically having style over substance, so it’s no surprise that he’s atop this list. For whatever reason, he was pushed to the moon in every promotion he was ever in; Jim Crockett Promotions, WWE and WCW all thought he warranted being a top star at all times. In WWE specifically, he came at an opportune time, as Hulk Hogan had just left the company, opening up another spot for a main event-talent.
But Luger never had the in-ring originality or psychology to truly make his name in that role. At least to fans who could tell that he was in fact merely masquerading as top-tier superstar in a company that was desperate for such talent at the time.
In contrast to many others on this ranking, Luger successfully got by on his look for the entirety of his career. While he was certainly a staple of the era, it doesn’t take much to figure out that there was a fairly wide gap in quality between him, and the likes of Ric Flair or Bret Hart.
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