Professional wrestlers have come from all over the world. There are a plethora of Canadian, Mexican, and Japanese wrestlers who have made their name in the WWE. Canadians including Bret Hart and Edge have reached the level of superstardom in WWE. Tajiri and Shinsuke Nakamura are two of WWE's most popular stars in their respective time. Wrestlers of Mexican descent like Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero were loved by millions of WWE fans. This goes to prove that many non-american wrestlers have had success in WWE.
This even goes for European wrestlers. Even back to the days of the NWA, Europeans have found their way in to pro wrestling. The third ever NWA Champion, Leo Nomellini was from Italy. He won the championship back in 1955! In WWE however not all European wrestlers have fared well. Despite the anticipation of the fans for these guys to reach the upper echelon in WWE many have been unable. Some on this list still have time. Others were never given a fair shot, or were plagued by injuries. This article well be detailing European wrestlers in WWE who have either succeeded to some degree or have had there career considered a failure by many.
16 Flourished: Dynamite Kid
The Dynamite Kid was born in Wigan, England. He was trained in the Hart Family Dungeon under the tutelage. He would arrive in WWE in the year 1984. Kid formed the popular tag team The British Bulldogs with Davey Boy Smith. The team would achieve very much success during the 1980s, winning the WWE Tag Team Championship on one occasion while being one of the more popular tag teams of their era.
Dynamite Kid helped revolutionize wrestling for smaller wrestlers. Wrestlers such as Daniel Bryan, Chris Benoit, and Bret Hart have to than Kid for making that style popular. Sadly, Kid has to live out the rest of his life in a wheelchair because he is paralyzed in his left leg. Many believe Kid's life being reduced to a wheel chair is because of his use of the Diving Headbutt, a move the creator of (Harley Race) regrets ever innovating.
15 Failed: Ludvig Borga
Ludvig Borga is a Finnish wrestler who performed for the WWE for less than a year. Borga's career started off decent enough with Borga ending the winning-streak of Tatanka. He would go one to participate in the main event of Survivor Series as well. From there, Borga would do practically nothing until his departure. After his ankle injury, creative canceled all future plans for Borga.
He would go on to wrestle in the Catch Wrestling Association, winning the World Championship and holding it for over a year. Borga would pursue a career in Mixed Martial Arts, losing all off his fights and his final to MMA legend Randy "The Natural" Couture. He move on to boxing and politics. Borga at the time easily could have been an important member of the roster because he embodies what Vince's idea of a wrestler should be. However, many believe his attitude caused his lack of success. Borga died in 2010 due to a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
14 Flourished: Finn Balor
Just because Finn Balor hasn't been on WWE programming for very long doesn't mean he hasn't been successful. Balor who was born in Ireland has arguably been the most successful NXT Superstar in it's brief history obtaining both the NXT Championship which he held for almost 300 days and winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic trophy with Samoa Joe. Balor would also become WWE's first Universal Champion before being forced to relinquish it due to injury.
Balor appeals to much of the WWE audience because of his unique character. Balor's character has an alter-ego of sorts with him becoming "The Demon." When Balor went to the WWE, he became very popular because of people knowing him from his time with New Japan Pro Wrestling where he would form one of wrestling iconic stables the Bullet Club. Balor has already made an impact with his short time in WWE and will accomplish much more in the coming years.
13 Failed: Paul Burchill
Paul Burchill, a man from England, I thought had what it took to be a bigger star than what he was in WWE. His move-set contained one of the most innovative and popular moves the C-4. He got his WWE start in Ohio Valley Wrestling and debuted as a part of the SmackDown roster where he would form a team with fellow Englishman William Regal. The team would achieve minimal success as tag team. Burchill would be repackaged as a pirate where he would feud with his former partner.
Burchill's repackaging was WWE's attempt to associate themselves with the booming movie franchise "Pirates of the Caribbean". Burchill would return to his old character after a while off of television. He would partner up with his on-screen sister Katie Lea Burchill where at one point it was implied that they were lovers. He would move on to ECW where he remained until his release 2010.
12 Flourished: William Regal
England's own William Regal is one of wrestling most technically sound performers. A man who is beloved by many of the hardcore fans(including myself), Regal truly captured the idea of being an amazing wrestler and having an amazing gimmick. Regal was incredibly gifted on the mic. Regal's short first stint with WWE came in 1998 under the "Real Man's Man" gimmick.
This gimmick was short-lived and he returned to WCW. In 2000 he came back to the WWE as a very entertaining pompous Englishman. Regal was able to get the crowd stirred up like no other. Over his long career in the WWE, Regal won various mid-card titles including the Intercontinental Championship, the European Championship, and the Hardcore Championship all more than once. Regal is now one of NXT's premier trainers a and is the on-screen General Manager for the weekly television show.
11 Failed: Mason Ryan
The former Welsh WWE Superstar had everything wrestling fans think Vince McMahon loves. He was absolutely ginormous. Ryan debuted as a member of CM Punk's Nexus. I vividly remember people comparing him to Batista. From there, Ryan wrestled very little as a member for of the Nexus for obvious reasons. He was taken of TV to recuperate from an injury and returned as a babyface. During this time, Ryan was involved in a Survivor Series Elimination match where he was a member of Team Orton and was the third person eliminated.
Ryan would return to the development brand NXT where he didn't do anything remarkable until his release. Ryan's lack of success is due in part to his limited wrestling abilities and his inability to connect with the fans. Ryan's look was absolutely exceptional and should have been given some more time to improve in the ring. Ryan currently wrestles for a promotion known as Inoki Genome Federation.
10 Flourished: Sheamus
The Irish Superstar Sheamus was on the receiving end of one the quickest pushes in WWE history. Sheamus debuted on main roster as a part of the brand ECW in 2009. He would later move on to Monday Night Raw. In December of that year he would defeat John Cena in a Tables match for the WWE Championship at the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Pay-Per View. In 2010 he would win his second WWE title at the Fatal Four-Way Pay-Per View.
In 2011 Sheamus turned face and began gaining a following. Sheamus would go on to win the 2012 Royal Rumble and defeat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds, a moment that would stick in the craw of many wrestling fans. Sheamus' next World Championship reign would not happen until late 2015 where he cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase against Roman Reigns. Many might not like Sheamus but it is hard to argue with the success that Sheamus has obtained in is seven year career on the main roster.
9 Failing: Paige
Paige should have been the woman at the fore-front of the "Women's Revolution." Sadly the English Superstar has not done as much as she should have on the main roster. Paige's accolades includes being the first ever NXT Women's Champion, and a two-time WWE Divas Champion. Her first Divas Championship reign came on her very first night where Paige defeated AJ Lee for the title on the Raw after WrestleMania XXX. In her reign, she didn't face the most stellar of talent. Her Pay-Per-View victories include Tamina Snuka at Extreme Rules, Alicia Fox at Payback, and Naomi at Money in the Bank.
On the Raw where AJ Lee would make her return, Lee would regain the Divas title. The two feuded for the next couple of PPV's trading the belt. After feuding most of 2014 Lee and Paige would team at WrestleMania 31 to defeat the Bella Twins. Paige would fail to regain the Divas title and would form Team PCB with NXT Women's wrestlers Becky Lynch and Charlotte. She would turn on them marking another heel turn and turn face once again later in her feud with Charlotte. Paige's lack of success comes from being poorly booked by creative.
8 Flourished: Ivan Putski
Polish wrestler Ivan Putski began wrestling for the WWE in the year 1974. Given the nickname the "Polish Hammer" for his outstanding physique, Putski didn't win many championships but was one of few European wrestlers for the WWE at the time. Putski would win the Tag Team Championship with Tito Santana from Jerry and Jimmy Valiant.
They were able to hold on to the tag titles for over six months before losing them to the Wild Samoans. Ivan Putski was involved in feuds with Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, and Ivan Koloff. Putski was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995. He was inducted by his son Scott Putski. Scott Putski is not on this list because he was born in Texas but he had a completely underwhelming career in the WWE.
7 Failing: Neville
Neville was honestly the hardest addition this list. Neville has done nothing of importance on the main roster. Over the year Neville has had few matches of actual importance. One of the Englishman's most important matches included a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match with Seth Rollins where Neville was defeated. Other high-profile matches include the King of the Ring finals against Wade Barrett where he came up short. Another one of the significant matches was a Pay-Per-View match where he teamed with Arrow's Stephen Amell against King Barrett and Stardust and was victorious. Neville is an extremely talented wrestler and has been misused on the main roster.
On NXT Neville shined tremendously and was super popular. On the main roster he's just another guy it seems. It was believed that Neville was supposed to win the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32 but injured his ankle on a match on Raw with Chris Jericho. Neville still has some time to succeed on the main roster and should be one of the main guys of the Cruiserweight Division.
6 Flourished: The British Bulldog
The former partner of the aforementioned Dynamite Kid, The British Bulldog would achieve a great deal of success with multiple tag team partners as well as a singles wrestler. Bulldog would have multiple runs in the WWE. In his first run, he and Kid would win the Tag Team Championship. His second return was met with decent success where he and Bret Hart would main event SummerSlam in his hometown in front of 80,000 people. He defeat Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship.
In his run Bulldog would turn and wrestle Diesel and Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship, coming up short against both men. Bulldog became the first European Champion when he defeated Owen Hart. Bulldog would leave again, this time after the Montreal Screwjob. His last and most underwhelming run occurred in 1999 where he would team with the Mean Street Posse and win the Hardcore and European Championship. Bulldog would pass away in May of 2002 from a heart attack and is a wrestler who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
5 Failed: Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre is a guy everyone thought was incredibly talented and was eventually going to become a major player for the WWE. McIntyre originally made his debut in 2007, teaming with Dave Taylor for a short while before being sent back down to developmental. He was repackaged in 2009 as the "Chosen One." McIntyre's biggest angle would see him engage in a feud with Theodore Long.
After dropping out of the Intercontinental Championship picture he would team with "Dashing" Cody Rhodes and would win the tag team titles and would hold the titles for over a month. McIntyre did very little up until 2012 where he would form 3MB with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. The team accomplished very little and McIntyre as well as Mahal was released with a bunch of Superstars. McIntyre now wrestles in TNA as Drew Galloway where he is a former TNA World Champion.
4 Flourished: Andre the Giant
Andre the Giant is one WWE's most iconic personalities. The French big man is a true icon not only in WWE, but in all of professional wrestling. Andre joined the WWE in 1973 and remained undefeated up until one of wrestling's most iconic matches. Andre faced Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III at the Pontiac, Silverdome in front of a crowd of over 90,000 people. The moment that ensued lives in the minds of all wrestling fans. Andre was slammed by Hulk Hogan and the place erupted.
Andre would lose ending his incredibly long losing streak. Later in his WWE career he would form a team with Haku to form the Colossal Connection. The team would win the tag belts on one occasion. Andre who's health was declining rarely participated in the tag matches. The team would face Demolition at WrestleMania VI, where they would lose and Andre would turn to babyface and eventually retire. Andre died in January of 1993 and was the company's first Hall of Fame inductee.
3 Failing: Cesaro
Cesaro would unfortunately agree that he has had a less than stellar run in the WWE thus far. Cesaro came up to the main roster in 2012 and would win the United States Championship by SummerSlam. He held the belt for over 200 days before losing it to Kofi Kingston. He would form an awesome tag team with Jack Swagger known as the "Real Americans" The team should have won the tag titles but never did. During the pre-show for WrestleMania XXX, Cesaro turned on Swagger and gave him the Cesaro Swing to an amazing reaction.
Later in the night he won the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, an achievement that hasn't done anything for all three winners of it. This period was the perfect time to elevate Cesaro to the upper echelon of WWE, but they refused to capitalize. Vince McMahon claimed on the Stone Cold Podcast that not enough wrestlers are trying to grab the "brass ring" a comment that upset many wrestling fans. Cesaro still has time to make a name for himself in WWE and I truly hope he is able to.
2 Flourished: Bruno Sammartino
Any other name here would be completely ludicrous. Sammartino wrestled for WWE all the way back in 1960 when it was known as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. He left and returned to the company in 1963 against "Nature Boy" Buddy Rodgers. In this bout, Sammartino won the WWE Championship. Nobody knew what would ensue after this. Sammartino would hold the WWE title for 2,803.
That equates to over seven years! When he eventually lost the belt to Ivan Koloff, people in the audience wept and cried. Sammartino eventually regained the championship after defeating Stan Stasiak and would go on to hold it for another three years. Sammartino and the WWE had strained relationships for a long time due in part to the treatment of his son David Sammartino. Both parties ended the gripe when Bruno was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 2013, an induction that was long overdue.
1 Failed: Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett should have made it to the top of WWE. He was very good on the microphone considering his accent, decent in the ring, and had a fantastic look. So the question I pose is why didn't it work? Barrett debuted as the leader of The Nexus, a group of rookies from the NXT competition. The group was then doomed after losing to Team WWE at SummerSlam 2010. He lost all four WWE Championship opportunities he was given. Barrett then formed the Corre on SmackDown. The team would lose to the random team of Santino Marella, Kofi Kingston, Kane, and Big Show.
Barrett would then continue as a singles wrestler on SmackDown where he failed to do anything of significance in the year 2011 except one lackluster reign as Intercontinental Champion. Barrett would then get injured fighting for a chance at the WWE Championship. When he came back he won the Intercontinental Championship on two occasions, got injured, and won the title again (although his IC reigns are forgettable). He won the King of the Ring where he would lose every match afterwards. Then formed the League of Nations and was released after the stable disbanded. Barrett's lack of success is mostly due to injuries and bad booking.