Professional wrestling has a long and storied history. Throughout that history, countless Superstars have had the honor of stepping between those ropes. By law of averages alone, that has obviously led to certain talents being less deserving than others to walk that mat. There are other variables at play though, as well as plain old statistics. Wrestlers don’t always become wrestlers because they can wrestle, shocker I know. In fact, for some of the performers on this upcoming list, it’s probably a little bit of a stretch to even refer to them as wrestlers.
This list alone features 20 Superstars and they’re all from just WWE’s chequered past, so just the tip of the iceberg really. Although Vince McMahon may clearly know how to successfully run a pro wrestling company, some of his talent choices can be quite suspect. More specifically the reasoning behind choosing said talent. Mr McMahon is often blinded by a couple of things. Sometimes it’s a guy who’s seven feet tall, other times it’s a model who looks fantastic but has no wrestling experience.
Those two examples in particular will feature heavily in the upcoming 20 entries, however, they’re not the only reasons certain Superstars should never have been a part of any in-ring action. Not all wrestlers are fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to show their real talents, as some get stuck with terrible gimmicks that ruin their careers. And then you have those who just arrived in WWE at the wrong time.
Here are the top 20 wrestlers we believe never should have been allowed to step foot in a WWE ring.
20. Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly arrived in WWE in 2006. A time where being a female in WWE had little to no bearing on how much ring experience you were bringing to the job. Kelly Kelly personified that. She was the youngest Diva on the roster at the age of just 19 and was recruited from a modelling agency. Kelly had absolutely no wrestling background whatsoever. That was further showcased when she made her television debut on the newly launched ECW brand.
Not being nearly ready enough to compete between the ropes, Kelly was instead used as a stripper. Her first appearance sparked a weekly installment called Kelly’s Expose during which her on-screen boyfriend Mike Knox would rush to the ring to cover her up as she tried to strip.
19. Giant Gonzalez
While through much of WWE’s history, women have been hired purely based on their good looks, there is one aspect of certain male performers that’s likely to get them a contract in spite of anything else. Their size. If you’re tall and muscular, then chances are Vince McMahon is going to like you regardless of your in-ring ability. And when it comes to size, they don’t come much bigger than Giant Gonzalez.
The Argentinian Superstar stood at an incredible seven feet and seven inches, although WWE thought they’d round that up to an even more impressive eight feet. While Gonzalez had the height, he did not have the wrestling ability. The highlight of his WWE career was a poor match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania IX which he lost by DQ.
18. Buff Bagwell
Not everyone on this list has earned their place because they can’t wrestle. Buff Bagwell was a more than an okay performer in the ring. While in WCW, he held titles and made a good name for himself. It’s the fact that he stepped foot in a WWE ring that warrants his place on this list. When WCW folded, Bagwell was actually one of the more promising Superstars to come straight across to WWE.
The trouble is the only chance he got to prove himself to Vince McMahon and co was in a match with Booker T that stunk the joint out, and that’s putting it kindly. It was the fault of that match that Nitro never got the relaunch WWE originally had planned for it. Just a week after his stinker with Booker T, Bagwell’s time in WWE came to an abrupt end.
17. Stacy Keibler
Stacy Keibler is another example of a Diva who was simply hired for her looks rather than her wrestling experience, or lack thereof. Stacy actually began her career as a Nitro Girl on WCW. Following that, she was a manager and when she made the move to WWE after WCW went under, she continued that role, managing The Dudley Boyz. Being a former model and cheerleader, being a manager and valet was a perfect reason to have Keibler as part of the WWE team.
However, after she had been with the company a while she became a part of the in-ring talent and subsequently competed in some of the less than favorable matches that women competed in back in the early 2000s. Stacy’s bouts were for the most part bra and panties matches or other similar gimmicks that didn’t require her to actually do much wrestling.
Superstars hired by WWE that should have only ever been managers or valets aren’t restricted to just females, I’d like to hastily add. One example of a male performer who should have stuck to accompanying others to the ring is Virgil. For the most part, that is all Virgil was during his WWE run. He entered the business in 1986 and acted as a jobber who would lose squash matches to other wrestlers.
Within a year of signing for WWE though, the company had Virgil in a more permanent role outside of the ring as he became Ted DiBiase’s personal assistant/bodyguard. Although WWE clearly realized Virgil wasn’t cut out for in-ring competition early on, he still made sporadic appearances in matches after making the move from wrestler to valet.
15. David Flair
WWE were probably left kicking themselves after giving David Flair a shot with the company. Ric Flair’s son had already proven in WCW that he was never going to come close to being the performer his father was, but clearly WWE were blinded by his name value and picked up his contract anyway.
Baby Flair was sent down to OVW, a WWE developmental territory at the time, to try and improve on his in-ring ability but after about a year and a half, they gave up and released him from his contract. Flair did have one match on WWE television though in early 2002, against The Undertaker. Far less shocking when you realize the only reason for this was to further a story line between Ric and The Undertaker, who ended up facing off at WrestleMania X8 a little while later.
14. Eva Marie
There are many examples of women arriving in WWE at the wrong time. Most cases of that refer to great female wrestlers showing up when WWE wasn’t interested in their wrestling ability. Eva Marie is the opposite. Clearly, Marie’s in-ring ability is extremely limited, and even being sent down to NXT to hone her craft hasn’t helped further her career.
Despite that, Marie was drafted to SmackDown Live and found herself on a roster absolutely teeming with impeccable female wrestlers. Everyone she shares a locker room with is far and above her level of expertise. All Red Everything hasn’t been seen on WWE TV for a long while now and possibly won’t be making a comeback at all.
13. Titus O’Neil
What Titus O’Neil is still doing in WWE is a little bit of a mystery. Even as a part of the Prime Time Players with Darren Young, which was probably the high point of his time with the company up until this point, Titus was never really a key part of the roster. What baffles me most is that on top of that Titus is quickly becoming renowned for being a poor worker in the ring.
O’Neil has allegedly on multiple occasions been careless with other wrestlers during matches. Then last year, he was suspended for a very confusing interaction with Vince McMahon. Titus tried to hug the boss and Vince did not react well. It’s still unclear as to whether that was what he was actually suspended for but nevertheless, that was seemingly the end of Titus yet he still finds himself on Raw most weeks.
Ryback is a man living on the same page as Titus O Neil, albeit slightly higher up that page. Just watching Ryback during his time in WWE, you can tell that he’s a rough worker. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but then came the accusations from CM Punk. During Punk’s tell-all podcast with Colt Cabana, he revealed a lot about his time in the ring with Ryback.
Punk even claimed that he basically begged not to be put in matches with The Big Guy. The fans’ respect for Punk’s word coupled with watching Ryback’s rough style really had people thinking. In all fairness, the combination of the two probably led to the demise of Ryback in WWE because at one point before that he was chasing the WWE championship.
Cameron is another female who makes this list that was hired by WWE for all the wrong reasons, but slightly different than the ones already mentioned. Cameron actually entered the WWE fold via their reality TV show Tough Enough. She famously told Stone Cold on the show that her favorite match of all time was Melina vs Alicia Fox.
No offence to those two ladies but that alone should have been enough to warrant not awarding Cameron a contract. Nevertheless, she was brought on board but primarily to be a dancer for Brodus Clay and to appear on Total Divas. She did make her way into some in-ring competition though. She was released after a failed attempt to improve that aspect of her ability by being sent to NXT.
10. Diamond Dallas Page
Another entry on the list that was a fantastic in-ring performer, he was a WCW champion and is a WWE Hall of Famer after all, Diamond Dallas Page. Sadly though, similarly to Buff Bagwell, DDP was mistreated and misused when he arrived in WWE. The creator of DDP Yoga was thrust into a feud with The Undertaker to start the WWE chapter of his career with a bang.
DDP is more than talented enough to hold his own in the ring with Taker and it would have been all well and good had it not been for a couple of things. One, the story behind the feud was terrible. WWE had Page play some creepy stalker who had an obsession with The Deadman’s wife. And two, when the pair finally clashed in the ring it was a one sided mauling. Undertaker won convincingly and DDP’s in-ring image was damaged beyond repair.
9. Ted DiBiase Jr.
Ted DiBiase, also known as The Million Dollar Man, is a bonafide legend and WWE Hall of Famer. The hiring of his son by WWE around ten years ago however led to a career that was a lot less glamorous than his father’s. Much like David Flair, I’m sure WWE were blinded by the fact that DiBiase had wrestling in his blood.
In fact, on his debut on Raw, they revealed that Ted would be paired with fellow Superstars with Hall of Famer dads, Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton. The trio formed the faction Legacy. While Cody would go on to find some success under Orton’s tutelage, DiBiase unfortunately didn’t and his time with Orton and Rhodes was by far the pinnacle of his WWE career.
The final example of a performer on this list who was a tremendous worker in the ring, but simply shouldn’t have set foot in one owned by WWE, The Icon Sting. Let’s be fair, Sting should have come to WWE, it just should have been years and years before he eventually did. Sting was a devout WCW guy, then he moved on to TNA once WCW went under.
It wasn’t until 2014 that The Icon finally made it to WWE, and it was largely forgettable. WWE had him lose to Triple H at WrestleMania 31, then later that year Sting was seriously injured by Seth Rollins in a match for the WWE championship, putting an end to his career. All in all not exactly the most memorable run in the company for someone who had so much success elsewhere.
Debra is another example of a female talent who began her life in the professional wrestling business as a manager and valet, but somewhere along the line, despite not having adequate training was hand picked by someone to venture on to the other side of the ropes. Debra began her career in WCW, where she was solely an out of the ring performer, and made the move to WWE in 1998.
She managed Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart for a while, in fact right up until Owen’s tragic passing in 1999. It was that same year that Debra began wrestling, and the stipulation for her match with Sable for the Women’s championship will tell you more than I ever could. An evening gown match, and Debra won! By 2001, she had returned to managing and worked alongside her then real life husband Stone Cold Steve Austin.
6. The Kat
The Kat, or Miss Kitty as she was known before winning her one and only women’s championship, was yet another example of a Superstar who garnered her way into WWE based on purely looks alone. She had no wrestling training whatsoever and was introduced as the assistant to Debra, a woman discussed earlier in this list who was a manager herself at the time.
Similarly to Debra, The Kat also won the Women’s championship in an evening gown match. By the way, in order to win an evening gown match all you have to do is strip your opponent of their evening gown before they do it to you. Kat then defended that title in a chocolate pudding match. Thank the wrestling Gods that women’s wrestling has come a long way since then.
5. Torrie Wilson
Torrie Wilson is the final woman on this list from WWE’s bygone era, and similar to all the others was hired without having any in ring experience. Wilson was exploited for her looks perhaps more than any other woman featured in this article. For starters, her most notable storyline involved her and another female Superstar called Dawn Marie making out in their underwear in a hotel room.
The footage featured on pay-per-view and was a lot more racy than anything you would see on today’s product. She was also featured in both FHM and Playboy magazine during her run in WWE. Another victim of a time in WWE where women were not seen as anywhere near equal to their male compatriots and their aesthetic was valued over their ability to put on a good wrestling match.
4. Hector Guerrero
You may consider having a member of the famous and talented Guerrero family, especially one of Eddie’s brothers, on this list absolute heresy, but hear me out. While Hector was an extremely gifted wrestler like most of the other Guerreros, his time in WWE is largely forgotten. The reason behind that? Because Hector Guerrero was the man inside the infamous Gobbledy Gooker costume.
For those of you unfamiliar with the gimmick, the Gobbledy Gooker was a giant turkey that hatched out of an egg during Survivor Series 1990. Rumour has it that Guerrero was actually supposed to portray the Gobbledy Gooker on many more occasions but the crowd hated the character so much it was scrapped soon after its debut and not spoken of again for a very long time.
Heidenreich came at a time during the mid 2000s in WWE where Vince McMahon thought he could shoot Superstars straight to the top with a simple formula–put them on SmackDown and have them go after The Undertaker. He did it with Heidenreich, The Great Khali and Vladimir Kozlov among others. What Vince didn’t take into account was that perhaps a Superstar as new to the business as Heidenreich wasn’t ready for such a big feud.
Battling with The Undertaker is naturally going to mean you’ll have a pretty bright spot light shone on every single thing you do. That’s what happened and thus Heidenreich’s flaws were magnified. Maybe if he hadn’t have been thrown in at the deep end with such a big star, we wouldn’t scrutinize his short stint with WWE as much as we do today.
2. The Great Khali
It’s been far too long in this list since we included an entry that was only hired because they’re huge. After all, it’s no secret that Vince McMahon loves big guys. It’s why WWE is known as the land of the giants. Well, one of the biggest giants to ever call WWE home was The Great Khali.
Another man who was shot straight to top because of his enormous size, and also another man who was fast tracked to that top spot via a feud with The Undertaker. The Great Khali dominated The Undertaker during their feud, and this was when Taker was established and had been a part of WWE for well over a decade.
1. James Ellsworth
A lot of people were fans of James Ellsworth when he first arrived in WWE. I was not. I was mildly amused when he debuted against Braun Strowman but I found his feud with AJ Styles infuriating. The fact that he defeated The Phenomenal One on three separate occasions makes my blood boil. When being directly compared to someone like Styles, you’re always going to look second best.
Well, in Ellsworth’s case, it was a lot worse than second. He had absolutely no business being in the ring with AJ who, to make it even worse, was the WWE champion at the time. That belief was solidified for me when Ellsworth decided to tuck his head while being given a Styles Clash. If it hadn’t have been for AJ’s quick thinking, Ellsworth would probably have broken his neck.
Ellsworth has overstayed his welcome, as he continues to make regular appearances on SmackDown.
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