There are lots of stories about wrestlers who should have been massive stars, but something caused them to stumble on their way to success. Whether it was self-inflicted due to demons faced in their personal lives, injuries that halted any push they were receiving, or just bad luck due to their booking, many guys with all the talent in the world didn't reach their full potential in professional wrestling.
This problem was more pronounced in the '90s, where the Monday Night Raws, nWo, and the Attitude Era helped professional wrestling rise to the top of the mainstream conscious. However, while the wrestling industry was huge, not everyone was able to make it work for them, and many wrestlers who should have been stars remained C-listers.
10 CHRIS KANYON
Chris Kanyon is a sad story in professional wrestling. When he debuted in WCW in the '90s, he was in a mask using a gimmick known as Mortis. While feuding with Glacier was a recipe for disaster, Kanyon showed that he was great in the ring with an innovative style that should have made him a star.
However, he never reached his full potential. In an interview a few years back, John Cena said that Kanyon never made it because he was "just a guy" and had no personality or character. Kanyon also suffered from bi-polar disorder, which caused him problems in his real life, and he passed away at the age of 40.
9 SCOTT NORTON
Scott "Flash" Norton had everything it took to be one of the most dominating big men in professional wrestling in the '90s. He was a bruiser who made it look like he was legit beating the heck out of his opponents. However, the best he could achieve in the American wrestling scene was a tag team with Buff Bagwell and a stint in the nWo.
Norton was big-time in Japan, but that never carried over to America. There are a lot of guys like Norton right now in America, whether in Ring of Honor, WWE or AEW, but at the time Norton was wrestling, he never could break out of his career as a C-lister in WCW.
8 ALEX WRIGHT
Alex Wright came to America to wrestle at a very young age. The young German was only 19 when he came to WCW as Das Wunderkind, and he looked like he could be a very exciting cruiserweight superstar. He was taller than most of the division, but he could pull off the moves that could have excited fans for years.
Sadly, fans never warmed up to him. WCW then made the mistake of taking him off TV for an extended period before returning him as Berlyn, an evil foreign wrestler, which never really took off. He also feuded with Disco Inferno in a dance-related feud. Wright finally left WCW and retired at the age of 26.
7 STEVE KEIRN
Fans of the territory system in the '80s remember the Fabulous Ones. The tag team consisted of Steve Keirn and Stan Lane, the two coming to the ring dressed like Chippendale dancers with the bow ties and gyrating hips. The team split up when Lane got a chance to join the Midnight Express, and Keirn returned to Florida as one of their top stars.
While Stan Lane enjoyed great success in the Midnight Express, Keirn signed with WWE and, since it was the early '90s, was given an embarrassing gimmick that pretty much ended his career. WWE made the former Fabulous One into a gator hunter known as Skinner, who liked to spit tobacco on his opponents.
6 BART GUNN
Billy Gunn is now a WWE Hall of Fame superstar thanks to his role in DX. He is a multi-time WWE tag team champion and also held most of the company's mid-card titles as well. When Billy first debuted in WWE on a significant level, he was in a tag team called the Smoking Gunns, managed by Sunny.
Gunn's partner was Bart Gunn. JBL said years later that no one knew how legit Bart Gunn was as a fighter in the ring, and it was his talent that cost him his job in WWE. The company had a shoot fight called Brawl for All that they wanted Dr. Death Steve Williams to win. However, since it was a shoot fight, they did not control the winner, and Bart beat both Williams and JBL before Butterbean destroyed him at WrestleMania. WWE then let Bart go.
5 JUSTIN CREDIBLE
In the '90s, a group of young WWE superstars started to take over backstage in the company. They were known as The Kliq, and they started winning titles and feuding with each other, putting each other over and holding other people down. They included Shawn Michaels, Kevin "Diesel" Nash, Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall, Shawn "X-Pac" Waltman, Triple H and Justin Credible.
If that last name is a surprise, that explains everything. Credible was part of the group from the start, but he ended up as a character named Aldo Montoya, who many ridiculed because his mask looked like a jockstrap. He went on to success in the latter days of ECW but came back to WWE and was a C-lister once again.
4 BRYAN CLARK
Bryan Clark looked like he was going to be a monster star when he rose up the ranks of the WCW tag team division. However, he struggled every time he got a chance to run with the ball. He worked in WWE from 1993-95 as Adam Bomb. He had a red tongue and green contacts and was a monster. However, he enjoyed no real success.
He went to WCW as Warath in the Glacier storyline, which went nowhere. He then started a tag team called Kronik where he won tag team titles. However, when WWE purchased WCW and fired both Clark and his partner, Brian Adams.
3 WAYLON MERCY
Dan Spivey was a big wrestler that was very similar to Barry Windham but never enjoyed anywhere the same success as Windham did. Spivey worked in WWE in the '80s as a tag team wrestler and then a singles star who enjoyed minimal success. He went to WCW as part of the Vastiyy Club and Skyscrapers, also with limited success.
In 1995, Spivey got a great opportunity as he debuted back in WWE as Waylon Mercy, a character based on the classic horror-thriller Cape Fear. It was very similar to what Bray Wyatt enjoyed great success in recent years, but Spivey seemed disinterested, and the gimmick failed with Spivey retiring later that year.
2 DUKE DROESE
When it comes to insulting and degrading gimmicks, look no further than WWE in the '90s. The one gimmick that many people point at when making fun of '90s era WWE is Duke "The Dumpster" Droese. This was hugely disappointing because Droese was a great big man, with an athletic move set and a good work ethic.
However, you can't rebound from a gimmick as a trash collector in WWE. Sure, Kane rebounded from his evil dentist gimmick, but he put on a mask and changed everything about himself. When it came to Droese, WWE lost interest, and he was gone after two years, never getting a chance to show what he could really do in the ring.
1 MATT BORNE
When Matt Borne came up with the gimmick of Doink the Clown, it was brilliant. Doink was based on the classic Cesar Romero version of The Joker from the classic Batman TV shows, and Borne had a specific idea in mind for the clown. He was evil, he scared kids, and he cheated to win at all costs.
However, after a great start where Doink was one of the scariest wrestlers in the WWE roster, the company decided to make him a babyface and then neuter him to the point where he was no longer a threat, but was just a joke. To make it worse on Borne, they gave his gimmick to a ton of other wrestlers, and he ended up out of WWE the next year. Borne died at the age of 55.