Superstars in wrestling aren't born in an instance, as most of the wrestlers have to be properly moulded before they can make it to the real big stage of wrestling. While we've seen many wrestlers over the years grow in strides from their days in WWE's developmental system to their main roster, these wrestlers have had to be properly guided and trained in order for them to become what they are right now. WWE's strict developmental system trains promising talents till they are absolutely ready for the main roster, as this training can even stretch to the course of many years at times.
The WWE's developmental system has grown over the years, as Ohio Valley Wrestling was the field where some real superstars were born in the likes of John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton as this later transitioned into Florida Championship Wrestling which became WWE NXT. While Triple H's NXT has created its own superstars over the past few years by bringing world-class talent from around the world, the main objective still to create superstars for the main roster as even the biggest talents have to undergo the same training an unknown rookie has to go through.
Many of the wrestlers have their moment to shine and do eventually get the call from upstairs, but some others aren't really so fortunate. Some wrestlers are let go before they can be called to the main roster, as their lack of improvement or some horrible injury problems leads to their firing from the developmental promotions. Here, we take a look at these 15 wrestlers who couldn't manage to get out of developmental.
15 Percy Watson
"Showtime" Percy Watson was actually one of the more popular guys in NXT when he entered as a contestant in the second season, as he took his valuable experience from his FCW days to NXT and entertained many with his offbeat gimmick. He was actually the first rookie to defeat a pro, beating Zack Ryder and did really well before being eliminated and finishing 5th overall in the season. Although he did work some dark matches for the main roster, he couldn't really make it as he returned to NXT in its fifth season as a "friend" and tag team partner of Titus O'Neil. He'd later feud with Titus and also stuck on with NXT when it transitioned from FCW, but his inability in the ring cost him dearly as he was released sometime after the revamped NXT began. He has returned as a commentator to the NXT commentator table recently, but he couldn't make it to the big stages and will always be stuck in developmental because of his inability to run that extra mile.
14 Lucky Cannon
Lucky Cannon looked like a really promising talent not only during his run as a contestant in the second season of NXT where he was probably noticed by many people, but during his FCW days where he eventually started out as a rookie in the developmental system of the WWE. Cannon would gradually begin as a tag team wrestler who tagged with an array of wrestlers before he was pushed as a mid-carder and feuded against Byron Saxton and his stable The Saxton Conglomerate. He would also become FCW Heavyweight Championship soon after and hold the title for a while, before he was ready for NXT. He was looking promising at first in NXT with Mark Henry as his mentor, but fell off towards the end as his personality just wasn't very popular and he was eliminated in the 10th week. He would return in the 5th season of NXT, but couldn't make much of a mark here either as his lack of entertainment skills or fan-popularity hurt him. He was soon let go from a developmental contract and despite looking like a future star, he just couldn't turn up when it mattered the most.
13 Jacob Novak
Jacob Novak seemed to have some talent in the ring, but his lack of proper looks and poor gimmick probably cost him in the end as he was looking pretty impressive in his initial years in the WWE. After spending a short time in FCW, Novak was a contestant on NXT's 4th season where he was mentored by Vickie Guerrero who he tried to flirt with in order to get preference. This didn't really work, as Vickie soon ditched him and Chris Masters became his pro which failed miserably as he'd get eliminated soon after that. After much training, he came back for NXT's season 5 with JTG as his pro, but this went miserably as he couldn't garner any fan reaction and was eliminated soon from the competition. His lack of time at FCW probably cost him, as he didn't have the ability to get something out of the audience and was therefore released soon after his elimination from NXT and he doesn't seem to have done anything beyond that in his wrestling career either.
12 Wes Brisco
The son of the great Gerald Brisco gained a developmental contract in the WWE in 2009 when he debuted by winning a Battle Royal, but he couldn't seem to make much impact afterwards. Brisco would go on to win the FCW Tag Team titles with Xavier Woods, but an injury would force them to vacate it as his inability to cope with WWE's rigorous training and lack of improvement forced the WWE to release him soon after his injury. But unlike some of the other released developmental wrestlers, Wes went on to impress in the Indy circuit as he kept fit and managed to get into TNA in 2012 and make a real impact as part of the villainous Aces & Eights, later going onto wrestle for a year in New Japan Pro Wrestling as well. He's currently doing pretty well in the Independent circuit and took his release from WWE as motivation to improve and that release has actually turned out to be a boon for him.
11 Brett DiBiase
While the wrestling world knows about one wrestling son of Ted DiBiase, not many actually know of Brett DiBiase who is the younger brother of Ted DiBiase Jr. Brett actually had begun training to become a WWE wrestler in 2008, as he started to wrestle in FCW from 2009 as he tried his best to make a mark, but sadly couldn't. He would get a chance at impressing in the main roster as a plant who interfered in the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton and John Cena, later appearing on Raw in a few segments with Legacy but was sent straight back to development to hone his skills. He did wrestle for some months in FCW, even winning the FCW Tag Team Titles with Curtis Axel, but some bad knee injuries forced him to stop wrestling as he started to train to become a referee. But soon he decided to leave professional wrestling due to his knee injuries, as he maybe could've had a promising career in the WWE had the injuries not plagued him just as he was gaining some momentum, as his weak body wasn't meant to take the pressures of wrestling and forced him to unfortunately retire at a very young age.
10 Marcus Louis
Marcus Louis looked like another really intriguing character in NXT, as he started off as part of an ordinary heel tag team with Sylvester Lefort but that didn't really go so well for him. Louis was shaved bald after Lefort lost a Hair vs Hair match against Enzo Amore, as he finally snapped on him later on and rode on a momentum after that. He had a change in gimmick after that as well, as he entered without any entrance and portrayed a deranged, unstable character and showed much potential. But constant losses didn't help his cause at all, as Louis would eventually be fired by the WWE last year after being unable to really impress the audience. He has since gone onto do better things at TNA where he reunited with Lefort and formed "The Tribunal" which looked to be going really well for him, until that ended and he was fired from TNA as well after which he just called it a day from wrestling and retired in a rather sour note.
9 CJ Parker
CJ Parker had a really fascinating and unique gimmick in NXT, when he started to portray a hippie gimmick who was an eco-warrior who often foul-mouthed the fans. Although Parker did initially start off in the FCW promotion of WWE's developmental system, he started to gain somewhat of a recognition in the revamped version of NXT as he would start off with his new gimmick well by defeating Tye Dillinger, but then started to job to almost every star to come up to NXT. He had a rather hard-hitting match against Kevin Owens in the latter's debut in NXT, legitimately breaking his nose with a palm-strike but he went onto lose that as well as the next matches he faced in the promotion. Parker finally requested his release from NXT in mid-2015 after becoming a jobber for it, as he moved onto wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling after getting released. Although he's doing better than his time at NXT, he still needs to improve in order to become a popular wrestler in the competitive field of Japan, as development in WWE did nothing but ruin his wrestling career as he's trying to fix that in Japan right now.
8 Jake Carter
The son of Big Van Vader wanted to be a professional football player before an injury forced him to retire from that field, as he then decided to become a pro wrestler like his dad and was even recruited into WWE's developmental system. He was paired up with Corey Graves, as the two went onto become the final FCW Tag Team Champions before it was transitioned into the rebooted NXT. But Carter wouldn't be able to blend in to this new system properly, as he was soon disassociated with Graves and went onto go into his singles career, which was pretty unimpressive and an array of bad defeats cost him dearly. After serving as a jobber to the stars for many months, he was finally released in September 2013 due to his inability to impress in an NXT ring and lack of personality, something for which his Dad will be remembered forever. He has been trying to make it in the Indy circuit since,but the recent news of his dad's condition will probably want him to stay with him for his remaining days as Vader's wish for his son to become a WWE wrestler wasn't really granted by Jake.
7 Eli Cottonwood
The Behemoth of a man in Eli Cottonwood made quite the impression in the developmental system of WWE,as he started to impress when he was signed to FCW and crushed much of his opponents in the promotion. He was then picked to be a contestant for the 2nd season of NXT, with John Morrison as his mentor but couldn't really survive in it for the long run, as his lack of mic skills and poor gimmick really hurt him. Cottonwood was then sent back to FCW for sometime, as he wrestled in it for some years, defeating many an opponent but he couldn't really impress the trainers enough to lift him to the main roster. The former Basketball player was granted his release in 2012, as he had the opportunity to become the next "big" thing in WWE but couldn't capitalize on the opportunity and is now trying to succeed in the Indy field as a wrestler and a promoter of Florida Hardcore Wrestling as well.
6 Corey Graves
Corey Graves was quite the renown wrestler before he came to the WWE, as he had wrestled all over the world before he was signed to WWE's developmental promotion in 2011. He won the FCW Tag Team Titles with Jake Carter and was the promotion's final tag team champion before it was transitioned into NXT, where Graves became one of the earliest fan-favorites. He had quite the gimmick of a punk who didn't back down from a fight, going onto win the NXT Tag Team Championships with Neville and was a major tag team wrestler at first before getting his chance at the singles fame. But as soon as he was garnering major popularity which would've turned into a main roster call-up, constant concussions made the WWE keep him in the sidelines as he was forced to retire from wrestling because of this unlucky burden. But Triple H offered him a chance at becoming a commentator, and the rest as they say, is history. Graves is currently one of the best commentators in the WWE and plays his heel persona perfectly on the main roster, as he has come a long way since his NXT days as he might not have been able to come out of developmental as a wrestler, but he got something arguably better in the commentary position.
5 Bull Dempsey
Bull Dempsey might have been quite an impressive wrestler for his size, but it was because of his overweight which kept him down in the developmental system of WWE. Dempsey was signed to NXT in 2013 and started out as a promising heel as he squashed many a wrestler in his first few years, but after losing some vital feuds, he became pretty irrelevant with the fans. A change in gimmick didn't really help his cause either, as he'd turn face with him trying to "get into shape" by trying to train hard in the gym and failing everytime. He called himself as "Bull Fit" as he would also get this habit of eating junk food, prompting general manager William Regal to threaten him to stop doing so. He'd become a glorified jobber in his face role and his lack of popularity or proper gimmick forced the WWE to let him go last year, as he's trying to make it big in the Indy field and has since wrestled for promotions like Ring of Honor, as his horrible shape and lack of personality cost him dearly after a promising start to his NXT career.
4 Raquel Diaz
Not many actually would've actually believed that Raquel Diaz is the daughter of the late, great Eddie Guerrero as she doesn't seem to have anything on Eddie and got into the WWE only to enhance the heritage of the Guerrero family. She was signed to FCW in 2010 and actually even managed Rusev for some-time when they were both in developmental, as she'd later become a wrestler and won the Queen of FCW crown as well. She was a decent wrestler and was chosen to be a part of the new NXT where she portrayed the role of an "ultra diva" and was looking really promising before she chose to leave WWE for a while. She soon came back but couldn't blend into the new surroundings as her love for wrestling had gone and she had to retire from wrestling due to an eating disorder, as the dream of Vickie to see her daughter in a WWE ring was crushed. Diaz married WWE superstar Aiden English last year and has seemingly become more of a family person, as she could've probably made it to the main roster had her flame for wrestling not worn off.
3 Solomon Crowe
Solomon Crowe was quite the renown unique, twisted character in the world of Independent wrestling before he came to the WWE, as he had wrestled all over the world and was a good buddy of Dean Ambrose when he came to the company. While many were really excited at how he'd be used by the WWE, they were left to be quite disappointment, as Crowe debuted as quite the watered-down version of his real gimmick and in a really rushed, bizarre manner at that as well. Crowe started off with this gimmick of a hacker whose debuted was really delayed and messed up by NXT, as he would also suffer a bad injury months after debuting. He couldn't seem to get over with the NXT fans and was forced to portray a very "PG" version of himself, which left him disgruntled and he was granted his release about a year after initially debuting, as his NXT run was a major failure and also proved that wacky, violent characters like his can't make it to the PG WWE.
2 Derrick Bateman
WWE definitely didn't know what they were missing out on when they treated Derrick Bateman(more popularly known as EC3) with major disrespect by keeping him buried in developmental for a LONG time. Bateman first started out in FCW where he initially impressed a lot, winning the FCW Tag Team Titles with Johnny Curtis. He was then picked to be a contestant for NXT season 4 with Daniel Bryan as his mentor, as Bateman was really impressive in NXT and was one of the final three competitors before being eliminated. He would then be teased to make a main roster debut with vignettes showing promos of his "Bateman Institute" promoting a fictional Mark Henry perfume and he later appeared on an episode of Smackdown, where he was squashed by Ryback. Bateman became a contestant in the 5th season of NXT, where he came very close to winning and made for the best memories of the season, winning over the crowd as well. He'd be a part of the revamped NXT as well, where he wrestled a few matches but WWE's hesitance at promoting him made them release him after his contract, something which they'd badly regret. Bateman turned into EC3 who was single-handedly THE Best Thing about TNA in his bad years, as Bateman is glad that WWE released him and motivated him enough to become one of the best things about the wrestling world right now.
1 Richie Steamboat
The son of Richie Steamboat was arguably as good as his dad in the ring, as he really impressed in his rookie years in the Indy field, also going onto wrestle in Japan for a while before being signed to WWE's developmental system. Richie was signed to FCW to hone his skills, as he was one of the best wrestlers in FCW for a long time and was utilized pretty well as well, as he'd win the FCW Tag Team titles with Seth Rollins when in the promotion. He'd then get a push to the main event scene, as he was the final FCW Heavyweight Champion and FCW 15 Champion before it was transitioned into NXT. Steamboat was one of NXT's early superstars, as he competed in two separate matches on the inaugural taping of NXT, winning both. He went to the Semi-finals of the NXT Championship tournament, before going onto feud with Kassius Ohno which he decisively won to gain some momentum. But then tragedy struck, as an injury suffered during the feud needed surgery and that injury ended his wrestling career as he was released a year after the surgery and couldn't wrestle again because of his back problem. This was a rather sad end to a very promising career, as Steamboat would've definitely become a big thing on the main roster but an awful injury ended his dream to keep his family's name shining in the WWE.