Multiple World Wrestling Entertainment performers have enjoyed breakout years in 2016. A.J. Styles, who was not even signed by the WWE 12 months ago, became one of the biggest stars in the company after he made his debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble. Styles is now carrying the flag for the SmackDown brand as the champion of that show. Shinsuke Nakamura, arguably the best overall wrestler in the world as of the fall of 2016, is currently serving as the champion and top draw of the NXT touring roster. It is, to borrow the phrase used by the popular WWE trio, "a new day" in the top wrestling company in North America and fans have multiple reasons to be excited about what the future could hold for the WWE.
For every version of a Styles or Nakamura, however, there are numerous wrestlers who are floundering and appear to be doomed while working underneath the WWE umbrella. Some individuals such as Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow chose to take their talents away from the WWE and work for independent companies and also for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. One has to wonder if one or more of the wrestlers mentioned in this list will soon choose to make moves away from the WWE and work for TNA, Ring of Honor or other promotions. With the WWE continuing to scout talent from all around the world, those currently on the company’s roster who appear to be doomed are now expendable and could be surplus to requirements as of the start of 2017.
15 Bray Wyatt
One could argue Bray Wyatt is the most wasted talent the WWE has had on its roster in the past six years. Wyatt can work entertaining matches against a variety of opponents. He can cut good promos when he is not tasked with speaking for 20 minutes at a time. His character was different than anything else in the company, to the point that he could have been this generation’s version of The Undertaker.
14 Darren Young
If you’re anything like us, you had one thought upon seeing those promos featuring Bob Backlund claiming he was going to “Make Darren Young Great Again” during segments of Raw: "Darren Young was once great while working in the WWE?"
13 Titus O’Neil
Titus O’Neil is a big guy who has a good look, can be decent on the microphone every now and again and can work as a heel. Those are just about the nicest things one could say about the wrestler as of September 2016.
12 The Vaudevillains
Wrestling fans can sometimes tell when an act is going to get over and also when certain gimmicks will flop. There was little question The Vaudevillains, who were popular and even beloved while working on the NXT brand, were going to flop when called up to the main roster. It’s just not an act that is going to attract attention and positive reactions from casual wrestling fans. Aiden English and Simon Gotch are both fine workers and fine performers, but they were doomed to fail from the start when they were given their current characters.
11 Alicia Fox
As best as we can tell as of the end of September 2016, the gimmick with Alicia Fox is that she is a recognizable women’s wrestler who exists on the roster to be beaten up by the likes of Nia Jax and other better performers. Being squashed by Jax was the most noteworthy thing Fox has done as a member of the WWE roster in quite some time. Since the start of the supposed “Divas Revolution,” Fox has not been pushed like wrestlers such as Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley. Fox, instead, is a woman who is taking a spot on the WWE roster.
10 Sin Cara
Remember when the WWE thought it wise, for whatever reasons, to split up the tag team of Sin Cara and Kalisto? That decision did zero favors for either performer. Sin Cara, specifically, has become a nothing character as part of the Raw brand. The most noteworthy thing he has achieved since no longer teaming up with Kalisto is being beaten up by Braun Strowman in squash matches that were boring and failed to entertain fans.
We understand the idea with a character such as Sin Cara is meant to sell masks at arenas and be popular with younger audiences. We simply cannot understand why anybody would even be interested in a wrestler who has been buried like Sin Cara as of late.
It is comical, in a way, that the WWE managed to take a concept such as a seven-match series involving Sheamus and Cesaro and make it something fans don’t care about and don’t even want to follow. One reason that is the case is because Sheamus is no longer anywhere close to being a special act who draws attention and leaves us wanting more. We have seen what the WWE is like when Sheamus is given an opportunity to figuratively run with the ball. It’s not compelling television in any way. Some guys just have that so-called “it factor” as it pertains to being a Superstar who can move the needle and make money for a wrestling promotion. Sheamus has lacked it for years and he likely isn’t finding it at any point in 2016.
8 Buddy Murphy
We’ll be completely honest and say that we actually forgot Buddy Murphy was still part of the WWE as of September 2016. Some fans out there may have been bored by the team of Murphy and Wesley Blake during the closing days of that duo’s existence, but at least they were something when they were a team.
Both Murphy and Blake are nothing more than jobbers on NXT as singles workers. The best thing the WWE could do with these two is call them up to SmackDown, align them back with Alexa Bliss and see if the trio could maybe get over as a unified group. Otherwise, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where Murphy becomes anything of note on the main roster.
7 Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews has all the tools necessary to be a big star in the WWE. Crews has a great look and the size that is supposedly coveted by those making important decisions regarding WWE talent. He can work entertaining matches, and his wrestling style is unique in that he can take to the air unlike other big men.
We have yet to see Crews put in memorable work on the microphone, though, largely because the WWE has not given him adequate time to cut promos and try to get over with fans. The top reason we believe the Crews character seems to be doomed is that the WWE insists on pushing other acts ahead of him. Baron Corbin is currently more over than Crews, which is absurd when you consider the reactions those two received while working in NXT.
6 Bo Dallas
It’s not happening with Bo Dallas, WWE. It’s just not. You can have Dallas carry signs around rings before and after matches. You can give him the “Bo-Lieve” slogan. You can have him defeat jobbers and assorted “local talents” during editions of Raw. Nobody cares. Dallas’ matches are not even worthy of spots on Hulu editions of Raw these days.
5 Jinder Mahal
We honestly have no idea why the WWE thought it necessary to bring Jinder Mahal back to the company in the summer of 2016. Yes, the promotion’s main roster needed additional talent and bodies following the brand split that occurred in July. The NXT roster is filled with individuals who could have played the role of Mahal and taken beatings during editions of Raw.
This is not at all a knock on Mahal. His character has simply been booked to be nothing more than a loser who doesn’t get over. At least Mahal was allowed to be funny and somewhat entertaining as a member of the 3MB during his last stint in the WWE. The character Mahal is playing in 2016 is forgettable and the wrestler is a jobber to other talents.
Neville could have been a Superstar babyface had the WWE properly protected his character after he was called up from NXT to the main roster. He has a great look even if he is undersized when compared to other performers. Neville is a high-flyer and such acts always get over with pockets of WWE viewers.
3 Zack Ryder
This one should not shock any passionate WWE fan who stumbled upon this post. Zack Ryder was once an Internet darling who used his own YouTube show as a way to get himself over and attract a following of fans who chanted his name during editions of Raw and live shows.
The WWE teased the company was going to push Ryder, even giving him the United States Championship for a brief amount of time. That was years ago. Ryder has since been turned into a goof and a jobber to top heels such as Rusev and other wrestlers. The WWE even went so far to create a storyline where Ryder had to drop down to NXT and team up with Mojo Rawley as a last chance to salvage whatever he can of his WWE career.
We cannot explain why the WWE did not do more with the Natalya character following the start of the “Divas Revolution.” Natalya is a beautiful woman. She is a better worker than at least half of the females currently signed to any portion of the WWE roster. Natalya can play a babyface and a heel. One would think she has everything the WWE would want in a stellar women’s wrestler.
Instead, the WWE has made it clear Natalya is not at the level of a Charlotte or Becky Lynch. Natalya’s last important storyline involved her doing multiple jobs to Charlotte and she has not since been pushed as a talent worthy of working in main events.
1 Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is a loser from Cleveland who is not nearly as good as he thinks he is and who can’t beat the best wrestlers on SmackDown. That is not an opinion or a negative take on the performer. That is actually the storyline presented to WWE fans in 2016.
Even turning heel would probably mean little for the Ziggler character, because fans have been conditioned to not take him seriously as a wrestler. Ziggler loses whether he is a heel or babyface. That’s his gimmick. Underdogs such as Sami Zayn can get over with fans, in part because they earn upset victories. Asides from his brief push winning the number one contendership, you would have to head over to Wikipedia to remember the last time Ziggler earned a meaningful victory during a WWE show.
Ziggler could have been a top star had the WWE allowed him to get over. He is instead a loser, and thus we believe he is doomed.
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