The WWE is just like the real world — some things work out, some things don't.
When you're trying to figure out a talent who can take your company to the next level, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into that. Substantial pushes, long term booking, and putting wrestlers in the right position to succeed all help — but in the end, it's what the wrestlers do or don't do that ultimately decide their fate.
Just look back in the history of the WWE. Vince McMahon put a lot of time building up Triple H as a potential star. But because he was a part of the infamous Curtain Call, Stone Cold Steve Austin ended up getting his push instead. I guess you can say that worked out...
In addition, there's always crowd reaction that helps as well. When The Rockers broke up, both Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were supposed to go on single's runs. But because the fans reacted to Michaels a hell of a lot more than Jannetty, he ended up having a Hall of Fame career.
Sometimes it's because of the wrestlers, sometimes it's because of outside interference; but either way, here are eight wrestlers who were supposed to be the guy and eight who took their places.
16 Supposed To Be: Gangrel
When looking back, not much changed in terms of characters between the New Generation Era from the mid-90s to the Attitude Era in the late 90s-early 2000s. While the former era has been laughed at for their hokey and cartoonish characters — and rightfully so — the latter one had their fair share of them as well. One of them is Gangrel.
15 Took His Place: Edge
When Gangrel was trying to make a name for himself on Monday Night Raw every week, he was typically flanked by his cronies at the time in Edge and Christian. But whenever the trio would share the ring with one another, one thing became blatantly obvious — Edge, not Gangrel, was the clear-cut star of the group.
14 Supposed To Be: Ted DiBiase Jr.
From the day he stepped foot in a WWE ring, Ted DiBiase Jr. was poised for stardom. Making his intentions known that he planned to follow in his father's footsteps and become a champion, he captured Tag Team gold in his first pay-per-view match as Cody Rhodes — another second generation star — turned on his partner Hardcore Holly and aligned with DiBiase.
13 Took His Place: Cody Rhodes
Like DiBiase, Rhodes suffered from inconsistent booking when his storyline with Orton was finished. It didn't take long for him to take off, however, as Rhodes became an Intercontinental Champion a few shorts after the WreslteMania blowoff match. Working as "Dashing" Cody Rhodes, he was positioned as a future star of the WWE.
12 Supposed To Be: John Morrison
John Morrison began his career as the Shawn Michaels of MNM. Teaming with Joey Mercury, Morrison — who went by Johnny Nitro at the time — stood out in all facets of the wrestling game. His in-ring ability and look were second to none, and while he struggled on the mic, he gradually got better as a speaker. His main event push on ECW furthered that narrative as he was positioned as the top face of the brand.
11 Took His Place: The Miz
Even when The Miz and Morrison were teaming, it appeared as though the latter was going to become a marquee star. But when it was apparent that The Miz could verbally destroy Morrison, he was put in a position to succeed — and to his credit, The Miz took the ball and ran with it.
10 10: Supposed To Be: Bobby Lashley
Oh, what could have been. From the moment Bobby Lashley debuted on WWE television, you knew he was going to be a World Champion. Was he the best when it came to in-ring skills? Not even the slightest. But his look and size alone warranted an automatic push from Vince McMahon, which included being placed The Battle of the Billionaires match at WrestleMania 23 where he represented Donald Trump.
9 Took His Place: CM Punk
When Bobby Lashley first captured the ECW Championship at December to Dismember, Paul Heyman abruptly quit. Not because he didn't like Lashley — it was because he wanted CM Punk, one of the company's fastest rising stars, as the show's figurehead. Punk may have not won the championship that night; but it's safe to say his career ended up just fine.
8 Supposed To Be: Wade Barrett
There have been a ton of memorable debuts in wrestling world, but one that stands out above the rest is when Nexus first appeared on WWE television. After starting out as eight rookies on the first season of NXT, the youngsters destroyed everything in sight on their first night. Wade Barrett, who won the competition, was positioned as the leader — and after getting a WWE Championship shot just one month into his career, it appeared as though the sky was truly the limit.
7 Took His Place: Daniel Bryan
A lot of people forget that Daniel Bryan wasn't only on the first season of the NXT show but was also a part of The Nexus debut. But because he choked out announcer Justin Roberts with his tie, he was released. His absence didn't last long as he was brought back weeks later and quickly became an underdog and fan favorite.
6 Supposed To Be: Dean Ambrose
If The Nexus had the best debut in WWE history, The Shield wasn't too far behind it. The trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns — three of the top stars in developmental — ran roughshod during the main event of Survivor Series and were originally positioned as muscle for CM Punk. Eventually, the team branched off into their own category, with Dean Ambrose serving as the leader.
5 Took His Place: Roman Reigns
Speaking of which, that honor obviously belongs to Reigns. When looking back, the signs were obvious; Reigns typically was the one scoring the pinfall for The Shield and was positioned as the silent muscle. Even CM Punk claimed that Chris Hero, not Reigns, was supposed to be in the group but Vince McMahon and Triple H handpicked The Big Dog.
4 Supposed To Be: Lex Luger
When Hulk Hogan left the WWE, Vince McMahon should've received the hint. Not only could he never duplicate what The Hulkster brought to the company but, because Hogan was being booed towards the end of his career, he should've transitioned to a different type of star to lead the Next Generation. Instead, McMahon tabbed Lex Luger as "The All-American."
3 Took His Place: Bret Hart
While Vince McMahon was firmly behind Lex Luger, there were a number of other members of the WWE that wanted Bret Hart to be the next face of the company. When the crowd followed suit, the decision was made to have Luger and Hart become co-winners of the Royal Rumble in 1994 which resulted in both men receiving a championship match at WrestleMania X.
2 Supposed To Be: Randy Orton
When looking back at some of the greatest factions in wrestling history, you have to rank Evolution at or near the top. Triple H has been mocked for burying young talents during his wrestling days but that couldn't have been further from the truth during this era as he elevated both Randy Orton and Batista. With Ric Flair as the final piece, the foursome dominated Raw throughout their reign.
1 Took His Place: Batista
With the Orton experiment temporarily failing, the Vince McMahon went in a new direction for their star — and they didn't have to look far. As Evolution was nearing its final months, Batista was received more and more positively by the WWE Universe. After capturing the Royal Rumble victory, he had the choice of facing JBL for the WWE Championship on Smackdown or taking on Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship.
To the crowd's delight, Batista chose Triple H, all but cementing his face turn. The Animal received his crowning moment at WrestleMania 21 and was on top of the wrestling world for the better part of four years. Even though they started at the same time, Batista didn't have a run comparable to John Cena — but at the time, he was just as big, if not even a bigger star than him. All in all, Batista was a six-time WWE Champion and will no doubt be a member of the Hall of Fame someday.
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