The international talent in WWE is impressive today with the best performers from all over the world. Talents like Shinsuke Nakamura, Andrade and Pete Dunne are finding success in WWE after making a name in their respective countries. Prior eras did not feature the same level of opportunity for the international performers to come to WWE and find success at the highest level. Quite a few big names would make the move with high expectations to minimal results.
We will look at the wrestlers that could not find major success in WWE. These talents made their names before joining the company, but they just couldn’t figure out how to thrive in the biggest promotion. The reasoning varies from language barriers to poor booking to not adapting to the WWE style among other things. Find out which talents could not get to the next level as we look at ten international stars that failed in WWE.
10 Taka Michinoku
Taka Michinoku made the jump from Japan to the United States to enter WWE in the mid-90s. WWE signed Michinoku with the intent of building the new Light Heavyweight division around him. This was done to counter the thriving cruiserweight division in WCW built up by international stars.
Michinoku did become the first Light Heavyweight Champion with the title becoming known for his run. However, WWE never found the success they wanted from the belt and eventually turned it into a more comedic title. Michinoku also had a run in comedy with tag partner Funaki as he couldn’t thrive in WWE despite his talent.
9 Juventud Guerrera
The WCW career of Juventud Guerrera made him a bigger name as one of the top luchadors from Mexico. WWE eventually added him to the roster in the mid-2000s when uniting him with Psychosis and Super Crazy in the Mexicools faction.
This stable just upset viewers since it played on stereotypes that ruined any chances of success. Guerrera was the biggest name of the three and saw his WWE career wasted in disappointing fashion. WWE never viewed him as someone worth pushing and released him when the Mexicools ended.
8 Essa Rios
WWE hired Essa Rios after an impressive run in Mexico. The hope was that Rios would add another star to the Light Heavyweight Championship picture during the Attitude Era. WWE placed Rios and Lita together as a joined act, but it didn’t work out.
Lita connected with the audience and received a bigger push when they split up. Rios unfortunately could not get consistent television time and saw his run ended faster than expected. WWE didn’t find much success from Rios and many fans forgot he even worked there.
7 Hector Guerrero
The legendary career of Eddie Guerrero created a WWE chapter to the legacy of the Guerrero family. However, he was not the first member of the family to get signed by the company. Hector Guerrero is the brother of Eddie and joined the company many years prior with a unique gimmick.
WWE made Hector the Gobbledy Gooker in one of the most infamous flops in company history. The turkey costume shocked fans expecting a big reveal when the egg hatched after weeks of hype. Guerrero flopped due to the gimmick never even giving him a fair chance in WWE.
The WWE career of Brakkus is barely remembered since it barely even happened in the first place. Vince McMahon loved the look and background of the German bodybuilder enough to lock him into a contract with no wrestling experience.
Brakkus struggled in WWE, so he was sent to ECW as part of their working relationship. The best work there came when he was squashed by Taz in dominating fashion. Brakkus would get a few more opportunities in WWE, but nothing worked in his favor and he was released.
5 The Great Khali
The Great Khali is the only person on the list to have a world title reign, but he clearly disappointed from what WWE expected. Vince McMahon signed Khali from India with the hopes of him becoming the next top attraction as a 7’1’’ giant.
Khali could not improve in the ring and was among the worst workers in WWE history. The inability to deliver coherent promos also hurt him in the ring. WWE did try to give him the biggest push as the World Champion, but fans could not take it seriously. Khali spent the second half of his WWE run as a comedic act.
4 Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones moved to the United States from Australia to chase his opportunity in WWE. The look and intensity of Jones showed a lot of potential that WWE wanted to bring out. Jones received a couple of relevant chances aligning with top stars like The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar.
WWE could not find much success with Jones and ended his push early on both occasions. Jones could not bring it in the ring and failed to stand out as a personality. The end of his WWE run essentially ended his career with no companies caring to invest in him.
3 Ultimo Dragon
WWE hired former WCW star Ultimo Dragon in 2003 after finding success with Rey Mysterio. The hope was that another masked star would bring the same appeal from fans rallying behind him and purchasing merchandise like his mask. He had tremendous runs in Japan and Mexico to become a legendary figure in both countries.
Ultimo Dragon sadly could never fit into the WWE style like Mysterio did. The booking would see him move from Smackdown to the smaller show Velocity within a few weeks where he spent most of his run. Ultimo Dragon barely did anything of note in WWE for the entirety of his short run.
2 Hideo Itami
The success of Hideo Itami in Japan as KENTA earned him a contract offer from WWE to join NXT as the brand started to grow. Itami joined the same time as fellow top indie names Kevin Owens and Finn Balor, but he did not find as much success as the other two.
Injuries and a lack of momentum would prevent Itami from ever truly showing his potential. WWE placed Itami into the cruiserweight division until he left the company. Itami is now in New Japan as a top member of the Bullet Club following the flop in WWE.
1 Sin Cara (Mistico)
The Sin Cara character was expected to succeed Rey Mysterio as the next top masked act in WWE. Triple H hired legendary Mexico star Mistico to join the company for the new character. A press conference and months of hype videos showed just how much WWE expected Sin Cara to thrive in the company.
The hype ended within a few weeks of his debut with consistent botches making him look bad. Sin Cara would deal with injuries as well to slow down any push. WWE eventually gave up on Mistico altogether firing him and having Hunico continue using the Sin Cara character in a lower card role.