Over the past few years, WWE has changed dramatically as a company. This has allowed them to grow as a business and as a promotion and it has allowed them to expand their own developmental set up.
NXT and WWE's Performance Center have allowed the company to bring in many talents who have no wrestling experience and nurture them into full rounded athletes. Many stars that WWE now signs have experience in the NFL or are females who have experience as bodybuilders, but are not ready as wrestlers.
The Performance Center allows WWE to build these stars up into full rounded athletes and then test them out on their NXT brand. The problem is, that there are many stars who have been in NXT for around three or four years or have been in FCW before it was rebranded to NXT and haven't been able to make the step up.
One of the main issues that many WWE fans have with Roman Reigns is the fact that he was a football player a few years ago who easily stepped into the WWE world because of who he was related to, but Roman isn't the only star who debuted in WWE as soon as the ink on his contract was dry. Here are 15 other stars who have followed in his footsteps.
15 The Bella Twins
The two best known female wrestlers in WWE right now have had their own fair share of setbacks over the years. Nikki and Brie Bella were signed to WWE after the WWE Diva Search and it seems that WWE decided to send the twins to gain some wrestling ability before their TV debut.
The Twins were signed to WWE back in 2007 and Brie then made her SmackDown debut less than a year later in August 2008. The Bellas were not good wrestlers when they first debuted and were not ready for this kind of push. Over the past few years, both Nikki and Brie have worked hard to improve their craft and maintain the places that they deserved on the WWE roster. The sisters are currently both taking some time away from WWE after more than a decade of performing.
Lana competed in the 2013 Diva Search alongside the likes of Devin Taylor and Eva Marie. But since she wasn't a winner, WWE decided to send her to NXT to partner with Rusev. Over the past few years, Lana has been the voice for The Bulgarian Brute, who is now her husband and has slowly been learning to wrestle at the same time.
Lana made her in-ring debut at WrestleMania 32, making her the only female wrestler to ever do so, but it was easy to see that Lana wasn't ready for this kind of match. Lana is now ready to make her debut as a singles competitor on WWE's SmackDown roster, so it will be interesting to see how WWE allow Lana's debut to go because it has been more than a year now since the WWE Universe saw Lana in in-ring action.
13 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox has quite a fascinating story when it comes to the way she came into WWE. John Laurinaitis saw a photo of Alicia in a catalogue and decided that she would make a fantastic female wrestler. Fox later made her WWE debut as a wedding planner for Edge and Vickie Guererro's wedding, meaning that WWE decided to throw her in the deep end with no experience.
Alicia made her in-ring debut later that same year, and it is thought that like many female wrestlers who WWE signed at that time, she had minimal experience and was being forced to train while she was already touring with the company. This didn't help her very much at all. Luckily, Alicia has managed to improve over the past few years and has almost been in WWE now for a decade.
12 Tino Sabbatelli
WWE likes to sign former football players, and Tino Sabbatelli was something of a catch for the company as a former NFL star. He signed with WWE back in October 2014 with only prior experience in football and went on to make his NXT Live event debut merely months later.
Tino has been stuck in developmental for a long time now and was actually part of the first season of WWE Breaking Ground. Tino suffered a concussion in training only a few months in and it is thought that has affected his pace somewhat. At some point, WWE will bring Tino to NXT TV, since so far he has only been seen in two tag team matches. Hopefully, WWE has realized that he isn't ready and are allowing him to take the time he needs to get there.
11 Rezar - Authors Of Pain
Another WWE Superstar who was signed to the company and quickly pushed through developmental and the Performance Center despite not having any prior experience. Rezar is currently one-half of the NXT Tag Team Champions and many of the NXT Universe have commented on just how bad The Authors Of Pain are in the ring, with Paul Ellering being the only thing that is getting them over right now.
Rezar made his NXT Live event debut merely months after it was announced that he had signed a contract with WWE. In the past few months, AOP have managed to injure an enhancement talent and accidentally throw a chain into a crowd of people. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for wrestling and the characters who are coming through the Performance Centre right now.
10 Maria Kanellis
Maria Kanellis didn't win the WWE Diva Search but it seems that she made quite the impression with the company because they decided to sign her to a contract. And rather than teach her how to wrestle, they gave her a microphone and put her backstage. Maria was inevitably caught up in a feud a few months later and was then forced to wrestle without any experience.
Maria has gone on to make a name for herself in both Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling since her release. And it seems that she has learned much more about wrestling. If only WWE had decided to teach her how to wrestle all those years ago instead of thinking she was good enough to look at, it could have all been so different.
9 Ashley Massaro
The 2005 Raw Diva Search winner is one female wrestler in WWE that the company would much rather forget. Ashley was caught up in a feud involving Trish Stratus, Victoria, and many other much more experienced stars at that time, which forced her to compete in the ring with minimal experience.
Many women were annoyed with the fact that Ashley was allowed to wrestle in a singles match at WrestleMania 23 against Melina as well because she had decided to pose for Playboy merely weeks before the show. It was one of the worst Women's matches in WrestleMania history and Ashley didn't remain in WWE much longer after that since she asked for her release. The Diva Search didn't create many great female wrestlers, which is perhaps why WWE decided to scrap it.
8 Mojo Rawley
Mojo Rawley is the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner and is currently performing on SmackDown Live. Rawley has Triple H as one of his main advocates and that could be one of the reasons why he managed to skip through developmental so quickly.
Mojo signed with WWE in August 2012 and less than a year later he made his NXT debut in May 2013. Mojo decided to become a wrestler after rehabbing a football injury. He would make the decision not to return to the career he found fame. Mojo has improved a lot over the past few months since he was called up to the main roster, but it probably was a little too soon for him to debut when in 2o13 with only a few months training experience.
7 Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly was signed to WWE back in 2006 when the company decided to expand and begin airing ECW on SyFy. This show was thought to have been a huge deal at the time but was ultimately a failure that WWE now often overlooks. Kelly was signed with no prior wrestling experience and was allowed to become part of the ECW roster where she perform striptease dances for the watching audience.
Kelly was eventually able to develop some skill in the ring and was able to capture the WWE Divas Championship. But this was a time when Women's wrestling was going through something of a dark time and even though Kelly won the title, it didn't mean that she had improved a whole lot, because the Women's Division at that point was forgettable.
6 Angelo Dawkins
Angelo Dawkins was an athlete who competed in football and track for many years before WWE decided to take a gamble and sign him to their developmental set up. Angelo was signed in late 2012 and merely months later in December the same year, he was able to make his NXT Live event debut, in a loss to Sawyer Fulton.
Unlike many names on this list, Angelo has failed to capitalize on his quick start and has instead continued to be used as an enhancement talent in NXT for the past few years. Earlier this year Dawkins formed a team with Montez Ford called The Street Prophets. Hopefully, the past few years will help him when it comes to a more permanent push in NXT in the next few months.
5 Enzo Amore
Enzo Amore is a former football player. He played as a linebacker for many years before he decided to make the switch to wrestling. He was signed by WWE after Triple H decided to take a chance on him.
Amore didn't have any wrestling experience at this point in his career, but he could talk on a mic and that was the thing that WWE liked most about him. Enzo was signed to WWE in August 2012 and made his NXT debut in May 2013. Many of the WWE Universe have questioned Enzo's lack of technical wrestling skill, but it seems that WWE was happy to overlook this because they had the idea of putting him with Big Cass. This has allowed Enzo be the talker and Cass be the wrestler, but what happens when the group finally splits?
4 Eva Marie
Eva Marie was a case where WWE made a big mistake and tried to take it back. But they seemingly failed. Eva Marie won the 2013 Diva Search and the winner of the contest won a part on Total Divas. Eva was then needed on WWE TV to promote the show so she was thrown in at the deep end without wrestling experience.
The fans thought that this was a step backwards when it came to female wrestling and the fact that Eva was pretty horrific to watch didn't help either. To her credit, Eva decided to head down to NXT and the Performance Center to learn her craft, but it was seemingly too little too late for the WWE Universe who had already made their mind up about Eva and were not ready to give her another chance.
3 Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke is a WWE star who also had no prior wrestling experience before she was signed to the WWE back in June 2013. She stayed in developmental until September 2014 when it was decided that Dana was ready to make her NXT debut. It was a debut that didn't go down too well with the WWE Universe since many fans didn't think Dana was anywhere near ready.
This is something that has haunted Dana for a while. Even on the main roster since there have been many rumours that WWE is not happy with her work since she has been pushed on the Raw roster following her run with Charlotte. Could a lengthier span in developmental have helped Dana? Was she pushed too soon? Perhaps this is a question WWE should be asking themselves.
2 Baron Corbin
WWE has signed many former football players to their roster over the past few years and it seems that Baron was just another name on this list. Corbin was signed to WWE back in August 2012 and just months later in October that year, he was part of a match at an NXT Live event.
This affected Corbin's connection with the WWE Universe for a while, and many stated that Corbin wasn't ready when he finally made his NXT debut a few months later in May 2013. Corbin didn't spend a long time in developmental at all, especially considering that he had no prior wrestling experience. But it seems that he does learn quite fast, since he has been making huge strides in WWE on their main roster over the past few months.
1 Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman is currently creating waves on the Raw roster because he's decided to make a B-Line for Roman Reigns. Right now any star who will take the fight to Reigns will be seen as a fan favourite, but in their hypocrisy, the WWE Universe have forgotten just how easy Strowman's path to the main roster really was as well.
Strowman is a former strongman, who was signed to WWE in May 2013 with no prior wrestling experience. Strowman spent a little over a year at the Performance Center, before he was allowed to make his debut in December 2014 against Chad Gable at an NXT Live event. Strowman then completely skipped NXT and made his main roster debut as part of The Wyatt Family less than a year later in August 2015. While Strowman has proved that he has the ability in recent months, it seems slightly unfair that he was able to skip NXT completely.
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