Although they draw a lot of ire from wrestling fans across the globe, being involved in the WWE's creative writing process must be one tricky job. With so many stars on a packed roster, and just a few titles in contention, finding a place for everyone on the card is practically an impossible mission. And when some guys don't get used, they inevitably end up getting released from the company after months and months away from the limelight.
Naturally, everyone will always have their own opinion on former wrestlers who didn't quite make the grade in the WWE. Every time the company announces a round of releases, there are plenty of names on there are hardly a surprise; fans feel they were deservedly released due to their awful gimmicks or sub-par wrestling ability. However, for all the relatively poor wrestlers that the WWE has let go throughout the years, there's always a feeling among some wrestling fans that some stars were let go way too soon.
It could be guys who seemed to have plenty of ability, yet were released without much explanation or logic. It could have been guys that had a couple of issues away from the ring, yet the WWE couldn't seem to find the faith to stick with them through difficult times. Either way, there have been a fair few candidates that the WWE has simply given up on way too soon. That's not to say each and every person mentioned here would have been a definite world champion, but with the right booking and creative direction, they certainly shouldn't have been let go when they were. Simply put, these were 10 stars that the WWE should have kept around a little longer.
10 Chris Masters
When he debuted in the WWE back in 2005, Chris Masters was immediately dubbed "The Masterpiece" - and brought a pretty impressive gimmick to the party. Masters actually broke Stevie Richards's nose during his debut, perhaps summing up just what a monster Masters actually was. His signature "Master Lock Challenge" was a nice gimmick for him to have, with a number of high-profile stars being unable to break the hold.
By the end of his first year on the roster he was in the WWE Championship picture, and things looked really good for Masters. He was the first man to render John Cena unconscious in a WWE ring via the "Master Lock", but rather inexplicably, Masters suffered a huge fall from grace not long after his flirtation with the main event scene. Problems with the WWE's Wellness Policy didn't help his cause, but it just felt like the WWE dropped the ball with Masters. After initially being released in 2007 he would return in 2009, but his second spell was more disastrous than the first. Will he return for a third spell? It would be interesting to see, that's for sure.
9 Sean O'Haire
Tragically, former WWE and WCW star Sean O'Haire passed away earlier this year, at the young age of 43. When he was performing inside a ring, O'Haire was a huge talent, but the WWE just didn't handle him right. He came across from WCW as part of The Alliance, which was a major part of the WWE's "Invasion" storyline alongside Chuck Palumbo. Their alliance was ended shortly after their arrival in the WWE, leading to O'Haire getting repackaged. His new gimmick was as a "Devil's advocate", where he encouraged people to break the law and commit adultery. This drastically took the limelight away from his superb wrestling ability, and it wouldn't be long before O'Haire was shown the door by the WWE, leaving in April 2004.
8 Brian Kendrick
Given how he's currently only 35, you get the feeling that one day, the door might open for a return for Brian Kendrick. He may be most fondly remembered for his "The Brian Kendrick" gimmick, but it's easy to forget that he and Paul London are the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions since the inception of the belts. Kendrick is a hugely talented performer that certainly managed to draw popularity from the crowd, and again, it seems like the WWE missed a step when it came to Kendrick's booking.
7 Matt Morgan
Given his success in TNA since his release from WWE, it's pretty obvious to see that the company made a huge mistake in releasing Matt Morgan. It started off pretty well; he teamed up with the likes of Brock Lesnar during his early days with the company. However, after been sent back to developmental, Morgan returned in 2005 with a gimmick that contained him having a speech disorder. Predictably, it was a booking disaster for all parties, and just a few months later, Morgan was gone from WWE. He would go on to have a good career with TNA as mentioned, which proved that if they'd handled him right, Matt Morgan could have been a huge star with the WWE.
Given how Kaval (Low Ki, Brandon Silvestry) had a pretty successful career in professional wrestling prior to signing with the WWE. It's incredible to think the company insisted he start out in NXT. Kaval was a pretty big signing for the WWE, and whilst it came as no surprise that he actually won Season 2 of NXT, what happened next was just bizarre. The WWE gave up on Kaval's character after just three months of him making his debut on SmackDown, which seems like a massive error in judgment. A top talent inside the ring, Kaval could have been something great in the WWE.
5 Elijah Burke
In many ways similar to Matt Morgan, Elijah Burke's success in TNA showed just how much the WWE wasted his talent whilst he was with them. As part of "The New Breed", which were a bunch of ECW stars who feuded with original ECW stars such as Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer. In fact, Burke was even dubbed "The future of ECW" by Vince McMahon, which is not a bad tag to get from the boss. Unfortunately, Burke's career as an up and coming WWE star never really got off the ground, with him remaining in ECW for the bulk of his time with the company. He lost out a couple of times on pay-per-view to CM Punk in some fantastic matches, but it almost felt like Burke never got a fair crack at the main roster.
4 Evan Bourne
Evan Bourne has tons of talent, and on rare occasions, the WWE seemed to agree with that philosophy. His initial rise through their developmental program indicated that a star was in the making, with Bourne's noted aerial ability earning him plenty of fans. Even when he was on the main roster, Bourne was given a couple of opportunities to show what he can do, with his alliance with Kofi Kingston as "Air Boom" producing a reign as WWE Tag Team Champions. However, injuries and other circumstances largely limited Bourne's chances, but you feel that if the WWE had shown a bit more faith, Evan Bourne could still be a worthwhile member of the roster in 2014.
3 Drew McIntyre
The case of Drew McIntyre and his mishandling from the WWE is one of the more frustrating wastes of a wrestler in recent years. After all, McIntyre was indeed "The Chosen One", as proclaimed by Vince McMahon himself. A quick rise to the Intercontinental Championship followed, with it looking certain that the WWE would fulfill the hype they promised surrounding McIntyre. However, McIntyre started to appear less and less on WWE TV in the latter years of his time with the company, before the final nail in his coffin was the cringe worthy 3MB stable, which really did finish Drew off. If only the WWE had shown a bit more faith; McIntyre would well have ascended to world champion level.
When it comes to all the elements required to be a successful professional wrestler, MVP seemed to have it all. He had a great look, and he could certainly deliver on the microphone. His gimmick was pretty decent too, which begs the question; where on earth did it all go wrong? Sure, his reigns as United States Champion were decent, but the WWE could have done a lot more with MVP and his character. He is a superbly technical athlete, and he earned more than a few fans during his time in WWE. Currently working with TNA, there will be some who hope a return to WWE transpires one day, because he can then show those who didn't book him correctly that they had it wrong all along.
1 Shelton Benjamin
As far as the WWE wasting a talent on their roster, the failure to turn Shelton Benjamin into a certified world champion is one of their biggest errors in recent years. All the signs were there that Benjamin had everything required to get to the top, after all. It all started when he was groomed by Kurt Angle into a worthwhile addition to the main roster, alongside Charlie Haas. From there, "The World's Greatest Tag Team" was formed; and in terms of the talent they were competing with at the time, they weren't far from that self-adopted name.
But it was when Benjamin went solo that we really started to see the best of him, not least from his quick ascension to Intercontinental Champion. Even when Benjamin switched to ECW in 2007, everything seemed to be in place for another push. Under the nickname of "The Gold Standard", a now blonde-haired Benjamin took that brand by storm, impressing plenty of people with his superb performances. Even just a few weeks before his release, Benjamin was competing in a Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI, again earning rave reviews for his performance. However, when the latest batch of releases was announced in April 2010, Benjamin's name was alongside the likes of Paul Burchill and Jimmy Wang Yang. To this day, it remains a major mystery why, because Benjamin was, and still is, a major talent who just wasn't handled right.