The era of John Laurinaitis as the Vice President of Talent Relations is viewed as a dark cloud in WWE history. Jim Ross was beloved for that role during the Attitude Era hiring stars of various eras like The Rock, Mick Foley, Brock Lesnar and John Cena. Laurinaitis joined WWE following the WCW buyout and earned the trust of Vince McMahon to eventually replace Ross around late 2003.
The tenure of Laurinaitis lasted until 2011 as he was the main person responsible for hiring talents for most of the 2000s. Wrestlers often ripped him in interviews after leaving WWE with the claims that he was a “yes man” that kissed up his way to the top. Many of his singings were criticized for not having the passion or background in wrestling. Well, we will now look at the ten worst overall signings made by John Laurinaitis that flopped in WWE.
10 Chris Masters
One constant complaint about the hiring process of John Laurinaitis was that he would go for the “body guys” with huge physiques and not much wrestling experience. Chris Masters fit that bill as he struggled to get strongly over with his Masterpiece gimmick.
WWE eventually tried to elevate him by having a feud with Shawn Michaels. The match was fine, but fans took nothing from it aside from Michaels being superb. Masters unfortunately flopped and was one of the classic bad signings from Laurinaitis.
9 Alicia Fox
Two of the first female performers signed by John Laurinaitis in his new vision for the women’s division were Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox. Both ladies had zero wrestling experience as Laurinaitis looked towards modeling outlets to find his new talents.
Fox had a long career and became a respected veteran of the locker room, but she clearly wasn’t a top star like Laurinaitis expected. Kelly at least had a short run as the face of the division before her time ended. Fox did not live up to the hype from Laurinaitis to revamp the division.
8 Luther Reigns
Another body guy to get a chance in WWE was the jacked Luther Reigns. WWE had high hopes when John Laurinaitis gave him a major contract. Reigns was placed with fellow prospect Mark Jindrak as Kurt Angle’s sidekicks on the Smackdown brand.
Matches with Eddie Guerrero, Booker T and The Undertaker couldn’t help Reigns convince the fans that he was the next top heel. WWE eventually gave up on the push with Laurinaitis once again looking like a fool for investing so much in him.
7 Kenzo Suzuki
John Laurinaitis’s success in Japan always made him look towards that scene for any potential new talents. Kenzo Suzuki was one of the few to get signed and receive a run on television as part of the Smackdown brand.
The anti-American heel character was overdone in WWE for many years making it less effective for him. Suzuki’s peak moment was a short feud with John Cena, but no one viewed him as a credible opponent. WWE never got what Laurinaitis expected from Suzuki.
6 Mason Ryan
The addition of Mason Ryan to Nexus saw him get a huge opportunity thanks to John Laurinaitis signing him. Ryan had the ideal look Vince McMahon loved from his wrestlers at the time. Unfortunately, the jacked physique was all that Ryan really had going for him.
WWE fans never gravitated towards him and the entire push fell apart. Ryan would get released faster than expected once WWE realized he wasn’t connecting with the audience. Laurinaitis clearly wanted too many wrestlers with the same look as fans even joked Ryan was a Batista clone.
5 The Great Khali
WWE started scouting international talents more frequently with John Laurinaitis hoping to make an impact with some new talents. The Great Khali was viewed as one of the biggest signings in company history due to his size and stature.
An introduction of Khali destroying The Undertaker showed how much WWE wanted him to thrive, but it just never worked out. Laurinaitis made a poor decision believing talents with minimal experience or in-ring skills could learn on the job.
4 Alex Riley
WWE was criticized for hiring wrestlers that all looked the same under the regime of John Laurinaitis. Alex Riley perfectly showcased that as he was the typical signing that came off as generic since nothing was special about him in the WWE world.
The push of Riley would eventually come, but fans never bought into him. A few major issues for Riley hurt his standing in the company. Riley would get released and leave the wrestling business as yet another hire by Laurinaitis that couldn’t make it in the industry.
3 Lord Tensai
The prior run of Albert aka A-Train in WWE found some lower card success, but he became a bigger name in Japan as Giant Bernard. John Laurinaitis’ Japan connections would see him sign the performer to play the new character of Lord Tensai on WWE television.
A rare clean victory over John Cena showed how much WWE wanted to push Tensai as one of the biggest projects of Laurinaitis. The presentation never worked out as Tensai would lose the gimmick and eventually move into a comedic role teaming with Brodus Clay.
2 Ted DiBiase Jr.
Ted DiBiase Jr. received a tremendous opportunity as a top prospect in WWE. The John Laurinaitis era featured many second-generation talents getting signed to developmental contacts. DiBiase had the most hype as the son of a legend with obvious athletic gifts.
WWE found success with him in the mid-card as part of the Legacy faction with Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. The eventual singles push unfortunately saw him flop and never fulfill his potential. DiBiase Jr. retired from wrestling shortly after the end of his WWE career.
1 Vladimir Kozlov
Vladimir Kozlov was another big man to get signed with minimal wrestling experience by John Laurinaitis. The push of Kozlov was meant to see him become a main eventer, but he lacked the overall skills to live up to the hype.
WWE slotted Kozlov into feuds with Triple H and Jeff Hardy to no success despite working with the two biggest stars on the Smackdown roster. Kozlov’s push ended and he played a comedic character for the rest of his run. It was another poor signing by Laurinaitis to showcase his weaknesses in talent relations.