It never seems to fail. WWE has some of the top wrestlers in the world under contract, and fans get excited about what they can accomplish. However, WWE also has a lot of writers who plan out angles, change them at the last minute, and script promos that never seem to feel right coming from the superstars forced to recite them.
As a result, there are too many instances where great wrestlers end up falling hard when they should have soared high. It also seems to happen more in the current era of WWE than it did in the past. In the 1980s and 1990s, it appeared that wrestlers could come in and get over and develop their characters, thriving in WWE. Over the last decade, that hasn't been the case, and the ten wrestlers below are some of the most unfortunate victims of this.
Batista made his debut in WWE in 2002, coming up to the main roster along the same time as fellow developmental talents John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar. From 2002-2010, Batista was just as successful as those other wrestlers; honestly the top star in WWE alongside John Cena for those eight years.
However, in 2010, Batista left and went to Hollywood. Then, in 2013, WWE convinced him to come back and promised him a title run. However, he returned as a babyface even though he told WWE fans wanted him as a heel. Fans rejected him, his Royal Rumble win did not result in a world title, and he left before SummerSlam. He came back in 2019 and wrestled a disappointing retirement match against Triple H.
9 ENZO AMORE
Enzo Amore and Big Cass became a tag team in NXT and fans gravitated to them quickly. They carried themselves as a Jersey-styled tag team and with Enzo's great mic skills and Cass' fun reactions to his partner's promos, fans fell in love with the duo -- even if they weren't that great in the ring.
Enzo and Big Cass debuted on Raw the night after WrestleMania 32 and the main roster fans loved them as well, singing along with Enzo's ring entrance schtick. However, WWE broke them up and then fired Cass. Then they turned Enzo into a heel and made him the 205 Live Champion and fans turned on him quickly. After it turned out Enzo had criminal charges he hid from WWE, they released him, and he was gone just as quick as he arrived.
8 AUSTIN ARIES
Austin Aries is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He is also one of the hardest to work with, someone who does not play well with others and will walk out if he doesn't get his way. Sadly, when Aries was in NXT -- where he should have shined -- he spent more time injured than healthy and never had a chance to show the NXT fans anything they expected when he signed.
He made it to the main roster, and when he was cleared to wrestle, he ended up in a feud for the Cruiserweight Championship on 205 Live and fought Neville at WrestleMania 33 on the pre-show. Three months later, WWE released him. Most recently, he worked for Impact Wrestling where he won their world title but then walked out on them as well when he lost his title to Johnny Impact.
7 ZACK RYDER
Zack Ryder did everything he could to put himself over with the fans, and he actually succeeded. Thanks to his YouTube web series Z! True Long Island Story, fans started to take notice and began chanting his name at live events. By 2011, WWE had no choice but to feature Ryder on television, but then they buried him just as quickly.
He ended up in an awkward angle alongside John Cena where Kane destroyed him. He then appeared less and less on television, and when WWE convinced him to let them produce his Internet show, they buried that as well. In 2018, Ryder barely appeared on TV at all, and while he is the current Raw tag team champion, his success was nowhere near as great as it could have been.
Ryback came into WWE as part of The Nexus. However, when that angle ended and Skip Sheffield changed his name to Ryback, WWE repackaged him into the role of an unstoppable monster. While he was a little too much like Goldberg in his appearance and the idea he was squashing everyone he fought, fans soon bought into him.
However, when Ryback got a chance to fight CM Punk for the WWE Championship (and it seemed fans were firmly behind him in that goal), WWE squashed everyone's dreams when it debuted The Shield and had then beat down Ryback. The big guy dropped down the card, and not even Paul Heyman could save him before WWE released him.
5 DOLPH ZIGGLER
Remember when Dolph Ziggler defeated Alberto Del Rio and claimed the WWE World Championship? Remember how Ziggler, a heel, got the loudest pop of just about anyone who ever cashed in the Money in the Bank in WWE history? That was the height of Ziggler, and then WWE dropped the ball.
Ziggler fell to an injury (a concussion) after winning the title, and he lost the title in 69 days. The red hot Dolph Ziggler cooled off instantly and never regained the momentum that he had on that Monday Night Raw episode. No matter how well Ziggler performs (and he is one of the best in WWE), he can't seem to get over that hump, and his post-world title career has been hugely disappointing for his fans.
4 THE NEXUS
The Nexus was, for a short time, one of the most exciting factions in WWE. The competitors from the NXT competition attacked John Cena and CM Punk and beat them up on Monday Night Raw and claimed they were taking over. While WWE fired Daniel Bryan (the biggest fan favorite of the group) immediately after their debut, The Nexus looked like they could be a force in WWE for years.
Instead, John Cena beat them all a few months later and buried the entire faction. The group tried to reform with new members like Husky Harris (Bray Wyatt) and Michael McGuillicutty (Curtis Axel), but they never again caused the excitement their debut generated.
3 BRAY WYATT
Bray Wyatt was able to overcome a rocky start as the overweight and lifeless Husky Harris and turn himself into one of the greatest creations in WWE since the early '90s. Bray Wyatt made his name in NXT and then brought his Wyatt Family to the main roster. The fans loved his entrance, and even as a villain, he had everyone's attention.
Look at the match where The Shield faced off with The Wyatt Family to see how hugely over Bray Wyatt was. Then, WWE had Wyatt lose every single feud he took part in. When he lost to John Cena at a WrestleMania, it finished his dominating push, and Wyatt himself said that he gave up when he saw the direction his career was taking.
Ryback is one of those WWE superstars who has done everything he can to get over with the fans -- both as a heel and as a babyface. He was the NXT Champion and was a dominant presence there. He made his WWE debut and was undefeated for a very long time, but never got higher than the United States Championship.
The guy came to the ring in a tank for his WrestleMania match with John Cena -- and then lost. After that, he did little, although he did keep close to the U.S. title on occasion. He ended up in a faction created just to put over Roman Reigns. Even when fans started chanting "Rusev Day" and put him over, WWE made sure he never rose any higher than the mid-card despite the fans' backing.
1 SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
When WWE signed Shinsuke Nakamura, they got one of the most exciting stars in Japanese wrestling history. The guy is charismatic and exciting, and tailor-fit for WWE. He even delivered competitive matches with Brock Lesnar in New Japan before signing with WWE. When Nakamura arrived in NXT, he showed that he was the perfect signing for WWE, turning in great matches every time.
Then, Nakamura showed up on the main roster. He won the Royal Rumble and earned a title shot against A.J. Styles at WrestleMania that year -- a dream match that fell short of what fans expected from him. He won the U.S. title twice but rarely appeared on TV with it and rarely defended it on PPV events. Nakamura is an afterthought not on the main WWE roster, a huge disappointment.