Vince McMahon has been making stars out of nobodies for quite sometime now, as the wrestlers he picks to become a star mostly get over with the fans, but some just aren’t made from the same cloth and fail to get the fans’ attention. We’ve seen cases of Vince mostly pushing “his guy” aka the wrestler who found prominence in the WWE and not any other rival promotion, as he loves to make main eventers out of wrestlers he chooses to be the faces of the company and once he’s set on doing so, he works his butt off to get his chosen one over with the crowd.
Over the past decades, we’ve seen Vince push only a number of guys as the real faces on the posters of his company, and you could say he mostly succeeds at making superstars out of the wrestlers he chooses to be at that spot. We’ve seen so many mega-stars being created by Vince from scratch, especially in the Attitude Era where the competition was sky-high because of WCW and Vince had to look towards multiple wrestlers to be vital in their fight in the Monday Night Wars. McMahon is a master at creating stars on his own, but some wrestlers just are incapable of getting over with the crowd no matter how hard he tries.
These wrestlers are mostly incapable of making it in the big stages, or lose Vince’s faith because of their attitude in the company or vices outside it and lose the opportunity for big things because of their own lackluster behavior. These guys gradually get trumped by another superstar who is in the good books of Vince, and are mostly deemed a failure considering they were once Vince’s “Guy”. There have been many cases of Vince’s “Chosen One” smashing his expectations out of the park, and some who let him down. Let’s take a look at 8 wrestlers who worked out as “The Chosen One” and 7 who failed.
16 Worked Out: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is the definition of a “beast” as he’s extremely strong as well as crazy agile in the ring, and can bring big bucks to the company because of his history. Lesnar had amateur wrestling training in college as he was a NCAA wrestling heavyweight champion and was quickly signed by the WWE who were impressed by his antics. After being heavily impressed by his development, McMahon labelled him as “The Next Big Thing” which indicated how high he was on him, and pushed him over the moon. Lesnar went onto win the WWE Championship from the Rock at SummerSlam, becoming the youngest champion in the company’s history. He would later become the face of the Smackdown brand and was on the top of the world with Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece. Even after Lesnar left the WWE, Vince was still high on bringing him back because of his success in the UFC and around the world and so he did in 2011, as Lesnar now went on to destroy his opponents with his “The Beast” gimmick and shocked the world by breaking the Undertaker’s streak. Since then, Lesnar has been the ultimate dog in the company as he is a part-timer who always main-events shows and is Vince McMahon's golden treasure, as Lesnar’s popularity shows how Vince did the right thing at making him his chosen one.
15 Failed: Bobby Lashley
Vince McMahon had a lot of expectations from Bobby Lashley, as the wrestler had a stellar amateur wrestling background and was a superb athlete. Lashley would be pushed from the get-go with his hard-hitting style of wrestling and was built as an extremely powerful wrestler who didn’t go down unless he was defeated dirty. Lashley’s push and shoving down the throats of the audience found a lot of backlash from the fans, as Lashley went onto become US Champion and later ECW Champion inspite of fans wanting someone else to be pushed, and Lashley saw his downfall because of his constant push deapite having a one-dimensional character and little mic skills. He was also put into the WWE Championship picture but lost to John Cena, as he went onto have an injury which propelled the WWE to let him go, as Vince’s gamble at making him a star of his company backfired and ruined Lashley’s career in the WWE.
14 Worked Out: Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels entered the WWE as part of “The Rockers” with Marty Jannetty, but soon saw himself rise as one of the guys Vince really trusted to elevate the level of his company. After his time in the tag team division, Michaels saw a change in character as an arrogant heel who called himself “The Heart Break Kid” or HBK and this saw him rise from the mid-card to a main-eventer. In the mid 90s, Michaels dominated the main event scene as he won the Royal Rumble two years in a row, as Vince showed real promise in making Michaels his main man in the mid 90s with WCW threatening in the shadows. After an injury derailed his career, Michaels was semi retired but soon returned to be WWE Commissioner for a couple of years before returning to in-ring action in 2002. He was immediately put to feud with former friend Triple H for the World Title and kept on being the show-stopper of the shows he wrestled in, before having a successful DX reunion with Triple H which made for some entertaining years. In the end, Michaels got his wish granted of retiring in the grandest stage of them all, as “Mr. Wrestlemania” was one of the guys Vince’s really trusted and successfully saw his “guy” rise in popularity amongst the fans over the years.
13 Failed: Mr. Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy had a ton of charisma in him, which made his heel character all the more obnoxious and his impressive ring-work and ability to fight it out on the mic made Vince McMahon hold him in high regards. After he was pushed as a strong mid-carder who held the US Title, he was about to be pushed as a main-eventer and even won the Money in the Bank briefcase, only to lose it to Edge later on. That was because he suffered an injury which would rule him out for the next few months. Later on, Kennedy was actually pitched to be the illegitimate son of Mr. McMahon and get a push because of it, but that was scrapped because of him violating WWE Wellness Policy and getting a 30 day ban. Kennedy could’ve been the WWE Champion if he didn’t have these vices, as his injuries and drug abuse was the end of him in the WWE as he was let go in 2009 because of some backstage politics, as Vince’s trust in him was all ruined because of Kennedy’s unprofessionalism.
12 Worked Out: The Undertaker
The Undertaker has been probably the most faithful worker for Vince McMahon over the past few decades, as he didn’t even think of any other promotion after debuting for the WWE in 1990. Since then, he found a legendary gimmick in “The Undertaker” who along with Paul Bearer at his side wrecked havoc for his enemies. The Undertaker would go onto have a legendary streak at WrestleMania, as no-one could deter him in the grandest stage of them all before Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX. McMahon holds Undertaker in the highest of regards, as he was pushed as a main-event heel during the Attitude Era and then had a biker gimmick before returning to his “Deadman” gimmick. Since then, he was put as the face of the Smackdown brand and was always in the title scene to make it more entertaining and reap in the fans to the product. The Undertaker’s streak might have ended a few years ago, but his legacy as one of the best characters in WWE history is etched forever as Vince’s love for one of his faithful employees can be seen in the way he’s booked, as this chosen one definitely worked out.
11 Failed: Drew McIntyre
Vince McMahon stated that Drew McIntyre was “The Chosen One” on live TV in a segment where he introduced the wrestler to the Smackdown brand, stating how McIntyre would be a future World Champion. McIntyre would get a strong push in the beginning, winning the Intercontinental Championship and being booked to look as a strong mid-carder who could be in the main event soon enough. But McMahon’s prophecy for his “Chosen One” was flawed, as he couldn’t seem to get the man over with crowd enough, and McIntyre didn’t seem to have the heel persona which would fit at the top of the ladder. Vince gradually lost all faith in Drew, as he was degraded to becoming a jobber as part of “3MB” in his last years before being let go a few years ago, as McMahon’s high expectations from his international star all went to waste as McIntyre failed to live up to the hype he was glittered in.
10 Worked Out: Triple H
Triple H slowly became Vince McMahon’s right hand man, as the raunchy wrestler from D-Generation X saw his stock rise when his buddy Shawn Michaels had to leave the WWE due to injury, and was pushed as the top guy when Stone Cold was unable to compete. Slowly Triple H became the guy of Vince McMahon, especially after the Attitude Era as he held his gold for quite some-time and was always in the thick of things, as he could adjust himself for any role Vince had for him. After an entertaining time with Michaels, Triple H slowly began to climb the main-event ladder before formally semi-retiring a few years back to take a backstage role, becoming the creator and promoter for the failed NXT. He made his own promotion in the revamped NXT which is blazing right now, as McMahon holds Triple H to be his successor in the company and believes in his judgement. Triple H might not have had the same popularity as the Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin, but he got his boss’s trust and is definitely one of his most trusted chosen ones in the company right now.
9 Failed: Goldberg
So Goldberg wasn’t a “Vince McMahon product” as he found much of his success and legacy in WCW, where he had an unprecedented winning streak of 173-0 and he was the monster who reaped all the fans in the WCW because of his intimidating, hard-hitting nature. When Goldberg was reported to have finally signed on with the WWE after WCW’s demise, Vince had high hopes from him to continue his destruction for his company and reap a ton of crowds on his own. Goldberg was booked extremely strongly, as he went undefeated for half a year and Vince probably wanted to make him the top baby-face of the WWE. But Goldberg wasn’t ready to commit that much to the WWE, as he only wrestled for about two years in the company and wasn’t interested into becoming the top guy for Vince McMahons. Vince’s high hopes for Goldberg all fell flat when he decided to leave the company after his Wrestlemania XX match against Brock Lesnar, and his “chosen one” had quite the underwhelming career at WWE.
8 Worked Out: The Rock
Vince McMahon was pretty high on The Rock right from the moment he entered the WWE because of his Samoan heritage, but his constant pushing of the still green superstar saw backlash from the fans. McMahon then let him repackage his character to The Rock, as he used his charisma to woo all the fans who hated him some-time back. The Rock would be a superb heel and an electrifying face as the People’s Champ was vital in the amazing story-lines which helped WWE Triumph over WCW during the Monday Night Wars, as McMahon was never shy of putting a title on him or pit him in crucial story-lines. The Rock’s unbelievable ability to entertain and reap emotions from fans made him a superstar not only in the WWE, but later on Hollywood as McMahon would watch his chosen one leave the WWE, only to come back years later. The Rock is currently one of the highest paid superstars in WWE, inspite of making appearances a handful of times in the promotion as Vince’s trust in his chosen one is still very much intact.
7 Failed: Diesel
Kevin Nash was given the name of “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel as he made his way into the WWE, as he was given this cocky, bad-ass biker gimmick who would be the bodyguard for Shawn Michaels. But Vince McMahon, who's known for his love for brawny, tall wrestlers was very high on Diesel and decided to give him a singles run, which culminated in Diesel being pushed into the main-event scene and gradually going onto win the WWE Championship. Diesel would continue to dominate and go through his opponents which wasn’t taken kindly by the fans, who didn’t want to see Diesel as the champion and grew tired of Diesel soon enough. With the ratings plummeting each week, Vince finally had to give up and make Diesel drop the title and had to let him go after Nash was demanding for too much of a salary and threatened to go to WCW. So Vince let him do it as Nash had quite the success there, but his failure in the WWE as it’s champion is Vince’s fault as he trusted too much on this green big guy to get him more viewers, but Diesel failed to do that and only hampered their ratings even more.
6 Worked Out: John Cena
John Cena’s rise in the WWE is quite outstanding, as the cussing rapper grew into the face of the company in a short amount of years, and because of his amazing contribution outside the WWE, he always had the trust of Vince McMahon. After his amazing gimmick of “The Doctor of Thuganomics”, John Cena became Mr. Hustle, Loyalty & Respect which made him quite a polarizing character who would show signs of Hulk Hogan’s resilience and rarely lost cleanly. Cena’s amazing passion for the product made McMahon put his title on his shoulders for quite a number of years, with Cena raking up 15 World Championships in around 10 years in the company. Cena is still a main-eventer for the company as he brings a lot of fans and bucks to WWE’s table, as McMahon’s decision to make him the face of the company was spot on as his guy really manages to get the crowd’s attention with his irresistible aura.
5 Failed: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns has been constantly pushed ever since the days of The Shield, as Reigns was the powerhouse who always finished the matches for the terrorizing trio before he went solo after the Shield broke up. Ever since going solo, Reigns has been pushed through the roof as he went onto win feuds with WWE’s greatest obstacles and didn’t eat a pin cleanly at all. Reigns push(which was topped off with the Royal Rumble victory) was at a time where everything is revealed in the internet prior to stuff happening, and fans were livid at the prospect of Reigns main-eventing Wrestlemania. Reigns got booed at his Royal Rumble victory(even the Rock coming out couldn’t save it) and is constantly booed whenever fans notice he’s being pushed into the main event scene. Recently with his violation of the Wellness Policy, Vince McMahon has probably lost some of the faith in him and has gone with the other options he has to make his “The Guy” as Reigns failed to get over as the chosen one among the Shield of Vince McMahon, mostly due to McMahon’s fault than his own.
4 Worked Out: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin’s potential was probably not discovered by McMahon before he came up with the character of “Austin 3:16” where the trash-talking, beer-jugging wrestler got his popularity because. Vince saw this opportunity and seized it to make one of the greatest rivalries of all time between his character of Mr. McMahon and the rebellious "Stone Cold" as Austin would see amazing rise because of this feud. Austin’s feud with McMahon was the reason the ratings of WWE rose through the roof and helped them win the Monday Night Wars, and McMahon was never shy of fighting it out with the rattlesnake and putting the titles on him at the grand stages of the WWE. Austin’s popularity sore as years went by, as the Rattlesnake was the reason many tuned into the watch the WWE and even stopped watching after he left. McMahon’s decision to pick Austin as the guy who will spearhead his company during the Attitude Era was paid off by the humongous success, as McMahon created a superstar in him and saw his faith in him rewarded in the end.
3 Failed: Lex Luger
Lex Luger was brought in to be the next Hulk Hogan after the Hulkster left the WWE, but Luger was not even close to Hogan in terms of charisma or personality which made for his downfall in the WWE. Luger was given the gimmick of “The All-American” who was supposed to be a fan favorite and was booked as strongly to body-slam the giant in Yokozuna. He was also given his own private bus in the “Lex Express” tour, as he would travel in the bus with the paint of the American flag and meet and greet fans as he was supposed to originally win the WWE Championship from Yokozuna at SummerSlam 1991. But what Vince McMahon hadn’t taken in account for his golden boy was the backlash the fans were giving to him, as he was often booed because of his unbelievable strength and fans just didn’t want him to be champ ahead Bret Hart. This and a bar incident before SummerSlam made for Luger’s demise, as he would win the match but by count-out, which meant he didn’t win the Championship. Luger would later be degraded to a mid-carder and later team with Davey Boy Smith as “The Allied Powers” but failed in his quest to become “The Chosen One” for Vince McMahon who saw all his faith and expectations in Luger go down because of the crowd’s reaction and some of Luger’s own faults as well and McMahon found out the hard way that there can’t be another Hulk Hogan!
2 Worked Out: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was the reason on why wrestling became so famous in the United States, as his antics as this American Hero trying to defy the odds and defeat the villainous heels made the fans tune into watch “Hulkamania” in full flow during the 80s. McMahon seized on Hogan’s popularity to make him the top star of his company, as Hogan would often get the WWE title around his waist or tag with other superstars in the company. After the huge success of Wrestlemania III where Hogan body-slammed Andre the Giant, his popularity was at a peak as McMahon saw his guy became one of the most popular celebrities in America. Hogan’s popularity would gradually decrease a bit as the 90’s arrived, as he went onto have a fruitful career in WCW before Vince called him back to the WWE. Since then, he has had quite the relationship with WWE but Vince always holds him in high regard because of his contribution to the WWE’s success and Hogan’s probably “The Top Guy” in the history of Vince McMahon’s billion dollar empire.