Wrestling is a tricky business. Sure, if you have the star power of, say, a Cena, Hogan, Rock or Austin, your career is set. Even long after you’ve hung it up, you can still have an impact just by showing up now and then. Brock Lesnar sure proves you don’t need to wrestle regularly to be relevant for fans. But sadly, too many other wrestlers run the risk of being forgotten all too quickly. Injuries, bad booking or pushes or other issues can combine to ruin their drive, turning a once main-eventer into a curtain-jerker in no time. It happens so often, WWE is hardly immune but they are the most visible in how quickly a guy’s star can fade.
Sometimes, they can come back. In 2014, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E were considered irrelevant but then, as The New Day, transformed into a major hot act as champions. Jinder Mahal went from jobber to WWE Champion fast as well. Sadly, they’re an exception, not a rule as too often, once you become irrelevant in WWE, you’re likely to stay there. It’s a shame as many folks are truly talented but circumstances just combined with bad luck to push them majorly downward. Here are 15 current WWE stars who, one way or another, have become irrelevant as 2017 continues and show how unfair the business can be.
One would usually be happy to win a Wrestling Observer award four years in a row. But in Cesaro’s case, it’s not good as he’s been listed as “The Most Underrated Wrestler” for the last half decade. People from Steve Austin to Ric Flair and others have cited this guy as a star and truly over yet Vince McMahon appears blind to the reactions to him. Despite a run as US champion and tag team champion, Cesaro is often ignored in major programs. That’s astounding considering the pops he gets, his good work in the ring and that very impressive hammer throw of his. Every time it looks like he has a shot, he slumps and WWE doesn’t seem interested in him. The man sadly seems to have wasted his best years, now stuck with Sheamus (who’s also turning irrelevant) and it's a shame WWE has ignored what could have been a major star.
14 Curtis Axel
Rarely has a second generation star fallen so far in his father’s shadow. Curt Hennig was hailed as “Mr. Perfect,” beloved for his genius ring work, great on the mic and a top star for WWE and WCW. Sadly, son Curtis has little of his father’s ring skills and charisma. WWE pushed him from the start, even as IC champion but even being paired with Paul Heyman wasn’t enough to get fans that interested in Axel. He was sinking to a horrible tag team with Ryback and soon just bouncing around the card in various short-lived feuds. He did have a brief bright spot with Damien Sandow impersonating Hulk Hogan but that ended with Hogan was fired. That led to the Social Outcasts and then Axel working with Bo Dallas the Miz’s underlings. It’s sad how far away from his father this guy has come down and that a good family name doesn’t always mean stardom.
13 Bo Dallas
He is the poster boy for “NXT star turned WWE flop.” Dallas was great in the Florida brand, reigning as champion, over as a heel and winning fans with his cocky manner. From day one on the main roster, Dallas has been a mess, his “Bo-Lieve” act never catching on and made out to be beaten in one feud after another. His more prominent moments included being destroyed by Brock Lesnar and coming up short in various matches. The Social Outcasts were a complete joke and Dallas’ attempts to make himself a more serious worker didn’t quite take either. The man is talented but stuck in the lower rungs and right now pushed with Curtis Axel as part of The Miz’s entourage. That’s hitting rock bottom and showing how Dallas, more than any other NXT star, is just a massive WWE roster flop which can be beyond belief.
12 Dana Brooke
It looked for a bit like Dana Brooke might rise up in WWE. In NXT, she got attention for her good drive, a strong woman who had good battles with Charlotte, Asuka and Emma. She was moved to the main roster, a secondary aide for Charlotte and helping her out as champion. Dana turned face which has seemed to lower her drive. It doesn’t help that Alexa Bliss appears to have taken over as the hot blonde face of RAW as champion and far better in the ring and more over with fans than Brooke. She’s been out for injury and returning but stuck with Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews as part of their entourage and not up for major action. It just looks like Brooke had the bad timing to be around with stronger female stars, making her place not as good as one might hope.
11 Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch was the inaugural SmackDown women's Champion but since losing the title, the WWE hasn't exactly kept her in the title hunt very often and she hasn't scored a significant victory in quite some time. With Natalya now holding the Women's Championship on the blue brand, and Carmella holding the Money In The Bank briefcase, Becky Lynch seems to be lost in the shuffle and it doesn't seem WWE has any plans to give her the title again. It really is a mystery as to why the WWE doesn't seem to be super high on Becky Lynch. She has all the tools needed to succeed, fans find her attractive, yet she's constantly booked as an afterthought on television, much to our shock. This better change soon.
10 Baron Corbin
It’s utterly astounding how fast this guy’s stock has fallen but it seems he has himself to blame for it. After a rough start in NXT, Corbin repackaged himself into a major bad-ass and it got him far more over. He had feuds with Samoa Joe and others and looked very promising even though he came up short challenging for the NXT title. But Corbin had the goods and WWE gave him a push with word of both Triple H and Vince seeing some potential in the guy. He won the Andre the Giant battle royal and got pushed even more with big wins over Dolph Ziggler and others. It was all to come together with him winning Money in the Bank and the rumored plan to cash it in to win the WWE title.
But then, his planned cash-in ended in a loss and then another loss to John Cena. Reports are that Corbin’s push has stalled with argument as to why. Some say he bad-mouthed soldiers on Twitter while others believe he was trying to undermine WWE doctors' opinions as it relates to concussions in wrestling. Either way, it looks like Corbin has gone from planned champion to lower-card talent in less than a month, an astounding fall that made the supposed next superstar irrelevant for WWE.
9 Apollo Crews
He’s what Vince McMahon loves in a worker: Big, beefy, a good charisma and just seems right for WWE. Sadly, like too many of Vince’s pet project, Crews hasn’t been able to make it all work as expected in the ring. His work with Dragon Gate was good and he rose nicely in NXT. He got a good push out the gate on the main roster but fans just haven’t taken to him. His promos are bland, his ring work rougher and he has one of the worst entrance themes in the company. It all combines to lower Crews’ standing in WWE and he’s been drifting for a while. Right now, he and Titus O’Neil are working together and some are wondering if, like the New Day, they can click into a good act. That seems unlikely however as right now, Crews just seems another of Vince’s “favored guys” who hasn’t come close to matching that potential.
8 Bray Wyatt
Yes, the WWE even somehow managed to take the guy they made WWE Champion back in February and turn him irrelevant into a span of a few months. Wyatt's title reign only lasted about a month, as he lost to Randy Orton at WrestleMania in a shocking booking decision. He was then moved to RAW in the Superstar Shakeup. Wyatt continues to cut promos promising he's going to destroy his opponents' world, but everyone is now well aware of Wyatt's dismal PPV record. It's evident that WWE is never going to get fully on board with him and as a result, fans have started to care less and less about him. Fans aren't stupid, and they've been able to see that Wyatt's character is mostly all talk and won't get the job done when it really counts.
TJP (formerly known as TJ Perkins) was the original winner of the Cruiserweight Classic, and thus, was named the Cruiserweight Champion. However that now seems like an eternity ago. Since the Classic last year, Perkins lost the title much earlier than expected into his reign and hasn't climbed back to relevance, even in the 205 Live division as of yet. He has even turned heel in an effort to make his character feel fresh, but that idea was abandoned and he was turned back face a few months later. There's nothing particularly interesting about him and it doesn't seem WWE has any plans for him in the division going forward. At this point, you kind of forget he's even around. You wonder why WWE even had him win the Cruiserweight Classic last year.
6 Alicia Fox
There’s no denying how sexy she looks. Alicia Fox has always been a top draw when it comes to looking hot in outfits and the various Diva antics. She’s had a brief run as Divas champion although also known for his infamously bad promos. However, as the Divas have transformed into more serious workers, Fox appears lost, not as good in the ring as others and her stock falling. The woman is mostly just filler for multi-women tag matches, doesn’t make much impact and her appearances are more fleeting by the day. She seems to just stick around because of being on “Total Divas” but even her time on that show it becoming more limited. She lives up to her name as a Fox but Alicia’s actual input to WWE is becoming more limited as she’s more style than substance.
5 The Big Show
That he hasn’t retired yet is surprising. Big Show has been in the business for over 20 years now, still impressive as a big man but has been hampered time and again by injuries. His best days are long past him as he’s slowed down majorly and his bouts failing to make folks get excited. His role today appears to be just coming out, cleaning house and set up as a threat simply for his size despite how so many guys can claim victories off of him. Indeed, that’s a key issue, you can’t sell him as this unstoppable monster since he’s lost so many times but WWE keeps trying. Show himself does seem to enjoy it as he keeps coming back despite so many injuries and stupid angles. Yet one wonders if it’s high time Show finally packed it in as it’s clear that when it comes to being relevant in today’s WWE, the Show is long over.
4 Charlotte Flair
How, just how on earth could the WWE let this happen? Perhaps no other star was as negatively affected by the "Superstar Shakeup" a few months ago as Charlotte Flair was. After being the top female on the RAW brand for the better part of the past two years, Charlotte was moved over to SmackDown, turned face, and while she's as good as ever, she has yet to have a significant one-on-one PPV match. Her undefeated PPV streak was broken at Fastlane earlier this year and it seems like an eternity since she scored a meaningful win.
Again, this is no fault of her own, but WWE seriously has to find a way to make Charlotte a priority again, as it's inexcusable that they would just make her another face on SmackDown.
3 Dolph Ziggler
It’s hard to believe just how far Dolph Ziggler has fallen. This is a man who’s held numerous titles, including the World belt, truly over with a fun drive, attitude and character. He’s still out there, still working but it just seems like WWE doesn’t quite know how to handle him. Whereas the Miz is a veteran who’s managed to transform into a top mid-card talent, Ziggler can’t quite match that. Since losing the IC title to the Miz, Ziggler has bounced around with a heel turn that included mocking Jerry Lawler’s heart attack and basically just filling time for SmackDown shows. He looks in top condition still but is getting heat for openly talking about how he’s been “phoning it in” for a while.
Speculation is Ziggler is leaving when his contract is up, making his current talk of a gimmick change unlikely to mean anything and how a guy so decorated with WWE titles doesn’t seem to even care about his job anymore.
It’s a bit sad to see how fast Bayley’s star fell. In NXT, she connected with good ring work and a fun personality, connecting well to the Florida crowds with her hugging. This led to top feuds and her fantastic battles with Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s title were hailed as the best matches of 2015. Her debut to the main roster was a big deal and she was over quickly. She finally won the belt in early 2017 at which point, her stock started to fall. Her underdog act didn’t take as well to the larger crowds, not helped by the bad booking that failed to utilize what made her work in the first place. She came up short losing the belt to Alexa Bliss, who’s already far more over and her injury cuts her drive shorter. It’s a shame given how great she was in NXT that Bayley is now pretty much forgotten in WWE.
1 Zack Ryder
To many, he’s the epitome of how WWE cuts down guys who try to be big on their own terms. Inspired by Vince’s talk of “grab the brass ring,” Ryder remade himself with his “Long Island Z” persona and soon hot as hell with the crowds. He rose up to win the US title and it looked like he’d be a new main event star. Just as fast, WWE cut his legs down and gave him a brutal burial job. He’s had flashes now and then with a one-day IC title run and some tag team stuff but Ryder just appears lost despite how he’s more over than most of the main event card scene.Ryder’s star has fallen farther as his tag team with Mojo Rawley isn’t exactly setting things on fire. When Rawley was out for injury, Ryder himself was kept inactive for six months. That speaks volumes on how the hype for him has sadly died out and stands as an amazing case of a guy who had the backing of the fans but his company refusing to use him right.