Throughout the years, WWE has had a penchant for snagging wrestlers from opposing promotions to put on their own roster. To be fair, this is a practice that has existed as long as the wrestling business itself, but there's no doubt that when WWE makes a new acquisition, people take notice. WCW and TNA (along with ECW) have been the two promotions that have given the most talent to the WWE ranks, and while there have been some undeniable hits, there have been some cringeworthy misses as well.
Some wrestlers just don't fit the mold of what WWE looks for in a star, and as a result, they are unlikely to be given any kind of a push, even if they deserve it. Unfortunately, this has been the case with many former WCW and TNA talents that have made the switch. WWE can make a career, but they also have the ability to ruin one as well. Some of these wrestlers could have been massive stars, but instead they were buried. Let's take a look at some notable examples.
Ranked below are 8 WCW and 7 TNA wrestlers who WWE dropped the ball with.
17 Lance Storm (WCW)
WWE didn't quite bury Storm the way they did with many others, but they hardly made use of the fact that he was one of the best wrestlers in the world at the time. Granted, WCW didn't either. He was put into the directionless Un-Americans stable, and held a few tag team titles, but that's hardly the kind of push he deserved.
Storm was a world-class wrestler, and was never given a chance to wrestle the kind of match that would have put him over. Not surprising, given the climate of WWE at the time, but true all the same. It wasn't an outright disaster, but he definitely wasn't utilized properly. He ended up leaving the company in 2005, and returned to the indy circuit, where he resides to this day.
15 Chris Harris (TNA)
This one was just terrible. Harris was one of the best tag team wrestlers in the world during his time in TNA, making his name with America's Most Wanted. When he signed with WWE in 2008, most thought he would just be placed in a continuation of the team, but instead WWE made him a singles wrestler, giving him the Braden Walker moniker.
It just wasn't necessary to have such a renowned talent play such a goofy, ill-conceived gimmick. The jokes weren't funny, and it basically ruined Harris' career in the process, as he had the name attached to him wherever he went in the proceeding years. He's barely hanging on to the indy circuit now, and WWE did him and his career no favors whatsoever.
14 Mike Awesome (WCW)
Awesome started getting traction in the mid-'90s, and eventually worked his way up the ranks of ECW to the point where he was one of their main draws. From there, he spent several years in WCW before they closed their doors, and promptly went to WWE directly after. It seemed to be like an ideal situation, but Awesome never ended up getting the push that many thought he was going to.
As it turned out, Awesome's stay in WWE was short, and he went back to the indy circuit before he passed away in 2007. It was a tragic end to an underrated career, and Awesome definitely could have been a star in WWE had management seen him in a different light. Unfortunately, he just never got the opportunity, and never had a chance to establish himself with the company.
13 Frankie Kazarian (TNA)
For a brief period in 2005, Kazarian made the switch to WWE. He was coming off of a very successful run with TNA with saw him become one of the top stars in the company. The X-Divsion had a ton of talent at the time, and he was seen to be one of the rising stars in the business.
The move to WWE just didn't work, however, and Kazarian was gone in short order. He wasn't happy with the lack of attention given to the cruiserweight division, and he wasn't going to stay in a supplementary role for the long-term. He went back to TNA for years, until he joined up with ROH, which is the primary company he works for today. WWE should have placed more emphasis on the cruiserweights years ago, and had the benefit of a talent like Kazarian on the roster.
12 Elix Skipper (WCW)
Skipper was one of the few bright spots during the dying days of WCW, and he transferred his talents to WWE in 2001, along with so many others who were leaving the company. Again, this is a case of management just not seeing the potential with Skipper, as he was sent down to developmental territories rather quickly in his brief time with WWE.
After departing, he went on to a very successful run with TNA, showcasing great matches on a regular basis. It was clearly a mistake to let him go, even with the inflated roster of the time, with all the WCW talent coming over. Skipper retired in 2009, but overall he's still one of the better wrestlers of the 2000s, and someone who deserved a better shake of things during his time with WWE.
11 Kid Kash (TNA)
Once considered one of the best young wrestlers in the business, Kash made his name in ECW, WCW and TNA before heading to WWE in 2005. Most thought that he would get a real push with the company. Kash was at the peak of his ability, and he seemed primed for a huge run. He end up briefly holding the Cruiserweight Title, but he still didn't figure into the long-term plans.
Kash was given lame storylines to work with, and was essentially a filler body that they could throw out and count on a decent match. There was a lack of direction as to where to take his character, and it wasn't long before he was released from the company in 2006. With better booking, he could have worked out, but Kash ended up being dead weight to them.
10 Jerry Lynn (WCW)
Lynn has had a storied career that has included work for many different promotions. He always switched companies relatively quickly, never really staying in one place for too long. That was the case with WWE as well, and Lynn had several stints with the promotion, his longest being in 2001-02 after he came over from WCW.
WWE management never really knew what to do with Lynn. He was one of the best wrestlers in the world, but his demeanor and style didn't really fit with WWE. He's always been a bigger draw internationally and on the indy circuit, and never carved out a role for himself on the biggest stage. Some extra effort may have been worth it, as Lynn was capable of some of the best matches on the planet circa 2001.
9 Samoa Joe (TNA)
Right now, WWE is essentially using Joe as enhancement talent to the stars, and while it makes sense to some degree, it's still a bit disconcerting to see one of the best wrestlers of the era have a limit of just how much he'll be able to succeed. They stuck him in NXT for a while, where he won two championships, but now he seems to be relegated to putting part-time Universal Champion Brock Lesnar over on the main roster.
Joe was one of the best wrestlers in the history of TNA (which at one time was quite the impressive feat), and you can't help but feel that he's gotten a raw deal in WWE. It's not the most egregiously mishandled situation, but it does feel a little bit like a raw deal for Joe and his level of talent.
7 Chavo Guerrero (WCW)
WWE invested a lot of time into his brother Eddie, but Chavo was also a great wrestler in his own right. The problem was that he often played second-fiddle to other stars, and never got the help of many decent angles or storylines. At best, Chavo was kind of inconspicuous, and at worst he was hampered by awful gimmicks.
Seriously, there's no reason why one of the best wrestlers in the world should have had to play a character like Kerwin White. It was embarrassing, and after Eddie died, WWE scrapped the idea in short order. WCW may have buried Chavo at times as well, but WWE took it to new lows. He's one wrestler that was just horribly mismanaged throughout the majority of his career.
6 R-Truth (TNA)
Once upon a time, Ron Killings was one of the biggest stars in the business. He was one of the main faces of TNA during the early portion of their existence, and won a ton of titles. As a main event talent in TNA, he was expected to do big things during his WWE run. Instead, Killings became a mid-level contributor, but never ascended to the heights that he probably could have.
Whether management just wasn't high on him, or whether Killings just wasn't able to carve out a high-level role for himself, he slowly descended in the ranks, and is now firmly in the lower mid-card. Even though he's won the United States Title and a few others along the way, it would have been cool to see Killings get a run with the main WWE strap.
5 Sean O'Haire (WCW)
O'Haire was up-and-coming near the end of WCW, and seemed to be an intriguing talent. He looked like he could develop into a future WWE star at some point, as he had he look and in-ring skills to go far. For whatever reason, it never really caught on, and he was destined for an early retirement shortly after leaving the company.
It may have been a bad break for O'Haire, as WWE was still learning how to best use some of their talent directly after the folding of WCW. There was too much new talent on the roster for all of them to be involve in great storylines, and as a result, some suffered greatly. By 2006, O'Haire was out of wrestling all together.
4 Roderick Strong (TNA)
Strong's track record is simply phenomenal. After standing out in the indy scene during the early-2000s, he's been one of the most important talents on the ROH roster, and has had plenty of high-profile matches, including a pronounced presence in Japan. However, he's just not being booked correctly in WWE right now.
Stuck on NXT, there's little room for Strong to showcase his skills to the widest possible audience. He needs to be on the main roster, and there's really no excuse for him not to be. He's excelled in NXT, but Strong has already proven his worth at the lower levels of the business. Seems as if he's getting a bit of the Dean Malenko treatment. We'll see if that continues over the long-term.
3 Gregory Helms (WCW)
Another terrible WWE gimmick given to a very good wrestler, Helms really should have gotten a better shake. The Hurricane was funny at times, but they should have given it to a wrestler who had little in-ring ability or upside. Now it's all but forgotten that Helms was once a rising star in the business, and was one of WCW's top cruiserweights--an area that actually got right most of the time.
Giving him The Hurricane gimmick hindered him from the beginning, and while he was able to last for a while in the WWE ranks, it wasn't the best use of the talent. There were much better ways to book him, and unfortunately management just saw him as a guy on the fringe of the roster, and not the innovative, proficient wrestler that he actually was. Helms recently left Impact Wrestling, and is now well past his prime.
2 Tony Nese (TNA)
Nese is one of the most underrated wrestlers in the world. He's a stellar in-ring talent that should be at the top of the revamped WWE cruiserweight division. Unfortunately, he's been cast aside on the roster after signing with WWE last year. Granted, he wasn't used properly in TNA either, but now in the prime of his career, he should be getting more opportunity than he's been given recently.
To be fair, there's still time for WWE to correct their mistakes. The cruiserweight division doesn't hold as much clout as a lot of the other talent on the roster in the sense of storylines. If Nese is given a pay-per-view match, then he will excel and get over. It's just a matter of management recognizing the talent they have on their hands, and understand that he should be elevated within the company.
1 Perry Saturn (WCW)
Far and away the most mishandled wrestler that came over when WCW closed, Saturn was one of the unheralded greats of his era. Unique look, great charisma, and excellent in-ring work made him the total package by the early-2000s. Even though WCW had started their decline by the time he started gaining some traction with the fans, his matches and segments always stood out.
When Saturn got to WWE in 2001, he was either trying to overcome a bad gimmick (maybe highlighted by the one where he was infatuated with a mop), or served as a filler body in a stable of wrestlers (The Radicalz). He won the European Title on one occasion, but that was easily the lowest ranked title in the company, and small potatoes for a wrestler the caliber of Saturn.
This is a clear example of WWE not knowing how to develop new stars in the post-Attitude Era. Saturn could have been one of the hallmark wrestlers of the era, but instead had to settle for being massively underrated.