It is quite difficult for professional wrestlers to establish themselves in the main event scene. Many of them compete for decades and never reach those heights, while some are granted opportunities from the very beginning. But not everybody goes on to succeed in their quest, as plenty have flopped over the years. Being given a major push by a company isn't enough to be considered a legitimate main event, as fans will always have a say. We have seen many being pushed to the moon only to fall flat overnight after being rejected by the fans.
At times, there may be other factors that come into play such as backstage politics and creative booking - which lead to their unfortunate decline from potential main event players to lost in the shuffle. From WWE to WCW, we have seen it happen countless times as companies will always take a chance on wrestlers if they see potential in them. But once you are inserted into the main event scene, wrestlers don't have plenty of time to get over as they are expected to reward their faith.
Some may receive an opportunity a bit too early in their career, which means that they never recovered afterwards since they were immediately thrown to the wolves. That is just the nature of the business, and not every wrestler who receives a push is guaranteed to succeed. Here are 10 WWE and 5 WCW main event flops who can't even fill gymnasiums anymore:
15 WWE: Chris Masters
Chris Masters certainly had the potential to be a main eventer in the WWE, but he may have been pushed to the top a little too fast. While he did get over initially thanks to the Masterlock Challenge, it wasn't enough to put him into the title picture within one year. At the time, Masters was still very green in the ring which is why he fell flat once the company tried to put him in a higher position.
When he returned a few years later for a second stint, he had significantly improved as an all-around talent, but it was too late for him as WWE had already moved on. It just seemed like Masters got good at the wrong time.
More recently, he was employed by Impact Wrestling where he served as the sidekick of Eli Drake until he was granted his release a few months ago.
Since then, Masters has returned to the independent circuit and it seems like he isn't exactly drawing audiences as you can see by the photo above. But at least he is still getting bookings at a time when so many wrestlers have disappeared or were forced to change professions to make a living.
14 WWE: Rikishi
As a mid-carder and tag team wrestler, Rikishi was one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE. From his appearance to his signature move to the dancing, it's easy to see why Rikishi got so over with the fans back then. But when WWE took the fun out of him by turning him heel in hopes of cementing him as a main event player, it went all wrong for Rikishi. Not only did he become a joke thanks to the infamous angle with The Rock, but his career would never be the same again. Even after he turned face, he was never nearly as popular as he had been before.
Fans didn't buy him as a main eventer especially since he had spent the last two years dancing and goofing around. These days, Rikishi is still active on the independent circuit - portraying the very same character that got him over in the WWE in the first place. And due to the demand, Rikishi is also still showing off his dance moves even when the audience happens to be very small. You certainly won't catch glimpses of heel Rikishi these days, and we are more than fine with that.
13 WCW: Road Warrior Animal
There is no doubt that Road Warrior Animal is a legend as one half of The Road Warriors. But as a solo wrestler, there has never been great interest in him. But apparently WCW didn't get the memo when they attempted to insert him into the main event picture. By 2001, the company didn't have too many big names left so they were forced to introduce new faces to the main event scene, and that's when Animal was revealed as the mystery man in the main event of Sin for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Fans were shocked to say the least, and not in a positive sense. It was more in the sense of "really? Road Warrior Animal?".
Needless to say, Animal's run as a main eventer in WCW barely lasted since it was disastrous from the moment he was revealed as the masked man.
These days, Animal is still performing on the independent circuit, and the photo above is just plain sad to see for wrestling fans. Not only is the venue incredibly small, and the crowd is practically non-existent, but the very few in attendance don't even care that Animal is making his entrance through a shower curtain.
12 WWE: Carlito
Carlito is one of the few names on this list who should have had success as a main eventer. But his WWE career was derailed by two factors: creative booking and his attitude. Carlito's work ethic was always questioned as the company had hopes that he could emulate the late Eddie Guerrero, although he never put full effort during his run. And he was of course hurt by the terrible booking from the creative team, especially once he turned face. Carlito had been one of the better heels from his debut up until 2005, and should have probably remained on SmackDown where he was shining.
Once he turned face, he dropped most of the elements that had made him cool in the first place to become another bland face wrestler. These days, Carlito has bulked up and adapted a new look with a nice dose of facial hair. He is still an active wrestler, accepting bookings from promotions all around the world. And while there have been plenty of rumors regarding a possible return to the WWE, it seems very unlikely at this point, as Carlito will continue to perform in front of what looks like an empty gymnasium. Carlito has said time and time again he has no interest in undergoing WWE's brutal schedule at this stage of his career.
11 WWE: Hardcore Holly
Hardcore Holly's climb to the top was possibly the most random push in WWE history. At the time, WWE didn't have huge plans for the Brock Lesnar's championship at the 2004 Royal Rumble - which is why they opted to put him a throwaway match. It made sense from a creative point of view since Lesnar had previously injured Holly during one of their matches about a year earlier, so the storyline wasn't necessarily bad on paper as the latter came back to avenge himself by winning the title.
The big problem was that Holly had never been close to a top tier Superstar, and fans weren't invested in him enough to support him - especially when the likes of Eddie Guerrero were being looked over for that opportunity. Once Lesnar defeated him at the Rumble, Holly never reached those heights again in his career. He was a good veteran presence for the WWE, but certainly not great enough to be a main eventer player - which is why he flopped as expected. As of today, Holly is still active on the independent circuit although he isn't exactly working for major promotions as you can tell by the photo above.
10 WCW: Buff Bagwell
Say what you want about Buff Bagwell, you cannot deny that he was over at some point. But that doesn't mean that he was worthy of a main event spot, which is why he failed to establish himself as a top star in WCW.
With the company desperate to create new main eventers since many had already left or gotten injured, Bagwell got many opportunities to move up the ladder.
But it was clear that his ceiling had always been lower, and once they attempted to put him at the forefront, Bagwell fell flat as a main eventer.
WWE would also realize that very same thing when they brought him over after the demise of WCW, where he only lasted a couple of days following the horrendous main event match between him and Booker T. These days, Bagwell is earning most of his money thanks to his new career as a gigolo, but he still steps inside the squared circle whenever he isn't booked by the ladies. His wrestling career has been nothing to write home about since his WWE departure as he has gotten more irrelevant by the year, and now he is stuck competing for local promotions.
9 WWE: Heidenreich
It's still hard to make sense out of Heidenreich's run in the WWE. He was initially brought to feud with The Undertaker, like so many big imposing guys were, and was immediately inserted into a top feud as a dominant monster. But his reign on top wouldn't last too long as fans immediately rejected him. He was bland as a character and not particularly impressive on the mic or inside the ring. But considering his build and height, it is no surprise that Vince McMahon was big on him. Shortly after his failed run as a main eventer, Heidenreich would team up with Road Warrior Animal to form a new version of the Road Warriors - which somehow turned out to be even more disastrous.
It wouldn't take too long for the company to completely give up on him and release him, as Heidenreich carried on with his journey on the independent scene, where he didn't impress either.
As the years passed by, Heidenreich has found it increasingly more difficult to get bookings, and has had to settle for lower tier promotions. Very few fans have caught him live in recent years since he doesn't exactly generate much demand in 2018.
8 WWE: Tatanka
Tatanka had an intriguing start in the WWE largely due to his undefeated streak. But once he lost, there was nothing remotely interesting about his character to keep him around especially since the company was going into a new direction. To his credit, Tatanka did get over initially but fans never truly bought into the hype as far as the main event scene. He may have had more success if he joined the WWE a couple years earlier, but he happened to come towards the end of that era.
A decade later, he would once again return to the WWE where he mostly competed as a tag team wrestler and low-card division. Even if he had remained undefeated, Tatankta was never going to be a draw and Vince McMahon realized that soon enough to drop the streak.
Considering that his debut came nearly 30 years ago, many fans would expect him to be retired by now.
But Tatanka doesn't appear to be quite ready as he continues to carry on through his work on the independent circuit. And as you can tell by the photo above, he is mostly competing in front of audiences that cannot be larger than 100 people.
7 WCW: Vampiro
Vampiro had some memorable moments in his WCW stint, but also happened to be apart of many cringeworthy segments that aren't remembered too fondly by the fans. And once the WCW roster began to thin out, some talents were given a chance to move up to the next level, including Vampiro who embarked on a feud with Sting. But that couldn't help reach the next level as he was soon back to the very same position he had been in. It was evident that Vampiro was never going to cut it as a main event wrestler, especially with the booking that WCW had given him.
His contract wasn't picked up by the WWE once Vince McMahon purchased WCW, but Vampiro never quit wrestling as he performed for numerous promotions since then. These days, he is working as a color commentator for Lucha Underground although he still accepts bookings every now and then. Sadly, they happen to be lower promotions in which events are usually held at high school gyms. And with the hair gone, as well as the fact that he hasn't been employed by a top company for 17 years, it is quite tough to find spots on the independent circuit.
6 WWE: Muhammad Hassan
Earlier this month, Muhammad Hassan competed in the ring for the first time since his last WWE appearance (13 years ago). For so many years, he had been away from the spotlight with fans not knowing about his whereabouts. Hassan had transitioned into a teacher after leaving the wrestling industry, but as of the past year, he has been more involved in the industry with some random appearances. Not many Superstars generated as much heat as Hassan did during his run with the WWE, and he could have certainly been a legitimate main eventer.
But considering the circumstances, as well as the demands of the television network to drop his character, Hassan was sadly left behind with his efforts going to waste. During his final weeks in the WWE, he had engaged in a feud with The Undertaker and there were rumors that he was on his way to claim the World Heavyweight title - although they never came to fruition. If Hassan had continued his wrestling journey after the WWE, he would have likely remained relevant on the independent circuit. But it's now too late for a comeback, and that's exactly why his return match took place in front of an empty audience.
5 WWE: Billy Gunn
We have lost count of the amount of times that WWE attempted to push Billy Gunn as a main event wrestler. The first attempts came when Gunn had yet to join D-Generation X and fans rejected him at the time, although he would soon find major success as a member of The New Age Outlaws, and later on DX. During his time with the stable, WWE once again tried to push Gunn to the forefront but those efforts always fell short, regardless of how strong he was booked. He just couldn't quite put it all together.
The roster was stacked at the time with multiple Superstars who happened to be better all-around talents.
Gunn has mostly found success as a tag team wrestler, as he always fell short of expectations on his own - especially when he was on the receiving end of a push.
As of 2018, Gunn has yet to hang up the boots and is still accepting bookings from various promotions. And while we have to credit him for remaining in top shape, that hasn't helped his case in landing bigger opportunities. Like so many veterans in the industry, there isn't a great amount of interest in his services these days.
4 WCW: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner has certainly left a mark on the industry with a career spanning decades. But he has never shone as a main eventer, and has always been far superior as an upper card or tag team wrestler. With Steiner as the face of WCW in its final days, it isn't a huge surprise that the company didn't survive for long. He has never been a top tier star regardless of how much he was pushed. Not only did Steiner disappoint as a WCW main eventer, but he was even worse during his early run in WWE.
Steiner engaged in a feud with Triple H for the World Heavyweight title, producing some of the worst segments and main event matches in modern history. Since his departure from the WWE, Steiner has competed around the world with his most memorable stint coming in TNA. But now that he is at an advanced age, Steiner isn't exactly a hot name on the independent promotions. Most of his bookings have been at smaller promotions that are underwhelming for someone with Steiner's legacy. After having wrestled in front of thousands of fans on weekly basis, it must be disappointing to compete at random gymnasiums.
3 WWE: Brutus Beefcake
Brutus Beefcake could have landed on either side of this list since he received a main event push in both WWE and WCW. And they both came due to his association with Hulk Hogan, who had been one of his closest friends from their early beginnings. He was even apart of the 1989 SummerSlam main event, teaming up with Hogan to defeat Randy Savage and Zeus. If it hadn't been for his friendship with Hogan, it is highly unlikely that Beefcake would have ever reached that position.
And that's exactly why he didn't last too long in the main event scene since fans never brought him as a top tier Superstar. Fast forward to a few years later, and WCW pulled off a similar tactic by attempting to get over Beefcake over through his association with Hogan. And once again, that also fell flat as he returned to being a mid-card wrestler at best. As of today, Beefcake is still an active wrestler - but now that he fell through with Hogan after their personal beef a few years ago - he is mostly competing for amateur companies instead of major events.
2 WWE: Vader
It's a shame that Vader lands on this list as he was one of the better main event stars outside of the WWE in the early to mid 90s. A three time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, who also achieved plenty of success in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and yet he is now known as a WWE flop. But he wasn't so much to blame, as Vader was somewhat held back due to backstage politics involving The Kliq, as well as Shawn Michaels not being a huge fan of his.
Once he left the WWE, Vader continued to achieve success around the world - showing that the WWE had severely misused him during his run.
At the age of 63 years old, it is impressive that Vader is still competing in the ring.
And although he recently had a heart surgery, he announced his wish to get back to the ring once he is cleared to return. Unfortunately, the big man is no longer the draw that he used to be in the 90s - having to resort to compete for amateur promotions around the world instead of larger companies as he used to. Vader just loves the business too much to leave it.
1 WCW: Glacier
Glacier is arguably the most hyped star in WCW history. Fans were teased for a while with promos hyping up his debut, and there was plenty of interest before Glacier stepped foot inside the ring. The company had invested thousands of dollars customizing his attire, and making his entrance as unique as possible. But the payoff wasn't rewarding as fans instantly rejected him when Glacier failed to live up to the hype. WCW was attempting to capitalize on the surging popularity of Mortal Kombat by having a Sub-Zero ripoff, which meant that Glacier was set up to fail from the very beginning.
He was originally booked to look like a main eventer but that didn't last too long as he turned into a lower-card wrestler and then later on just became a jobber. It was quite the dropoff for one of WCW's biggest investments, who would continue performing once the company died. In recent years, he has become a part time wrestler thanks to his new job as a producer for an Advertising and Marketing agency. But you can still find Glacier making rare appearances at local promotions, where he is still carrying the very same gimmick to this day.