People may think that signing a great talent is all that is needed for a sports organization to succeed. Imagine if you will that you're the Jacksonville Jaguars and through some miracle of God, you manage to wrest Tom Brady away from the New England Patriots. You now have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever throw a football and by all accounts you should be able to do very well for yourself.
Success is not a guarantee though, even with superstars like Brady. Being the prestigious organization they are, I have no doubt that Jaguars would do something bone headed like let's say put Brady at linebacker, or sit him on the bench. This might sound ridiculous, but WWE had mishandled some absolutely incredible talent worse than Jaguars ever theoretically could.
Whether it be a wrestler who already established a name from other promotions or the possibility that they had a hot new talent who was seemingly poised for great things but was ruined by the powers that be, there is a slew of talent that the WWE managed to rob out of so much money.
Many of these cases is due to the fact that the WWE feels the need to fix things that aren't broken. Over the years we've seen wrestlers who come into the WWE with great resumes but the company decides they need to make a new star out of the guy. This is most likely done so that they could control the intellectual property of the created persona but the problem is your I.P won't make any money if it sucks.
So here it is folks, the top 15 wrestlers who the WWE failed to use well.
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15 Shelton Benjamin
While you can't classify Shelton Benjamin as a legend like many others on this list, he still was a guy with tremendous potential, but the WWE could never seem to start a push for him and stick with it. A couple of big wins over Triple H on RAW proved to be the biggest in his WWE tenure. One of Benjamin's only weaknesses were his promos, which could've been compensated for with a strong manager. Instead we got his Big Momma. Being the in-ring performer that he was, and still is around the world, the WWE missed a huge opportunity with him.
Diamond Dallas Page was a late bloomer in the wrestling business. Starting to wrestle only in his mid-late thirties, DDP broke through to the main event scene in WCW in 1999 until the company's demise in 2001. Even though DDP screams of being a super great guy and someone the fans clearly liked, the WWE decided the best way to have him debut would be as a stalker to The Undertaker's wife Sara. An injury would keep Page out of action for over three months, suffering it not long after his debut.
His life guru gimmick, which he introduced after returning was far closer to the human being and worked well for him, but nagging injuries eventually led to Page's WWE downfall.
Page likely wouldn't have been a mainstay due to his age, but the WWE could've had a solid upper midcarder on their hands. Page was also one of the few upper echelon WCW stars that were part of the Invasion storyline and he was cast aside when the WWE needed depth from the Alliance.
13 Ron Simmons
This was a classic case of the WWE feeling the need to fix something that wasn't broken. Ron Simmons had made a big name for himself in WCW, becoming the first African-American world champion in wrestling history. The WWE could've easily played this up and given Simmons some time on the main event scene, especially at a time in the mid-90s when they were starving for main event talent. Instead, Simmons was rebranded Farooq and thrown in an awful light blue spartan helmet.
The repackaged Farooq as the leader of the Nation of Domination was an improvement and his work later on with Bradshaw in the A.P.A was entertaining, but it seems WWE missed a huge opportunity to make the Hall of Famer a more prominent figure for the company.
Raven did some fantastic mic work while in ECW. Many point to his feud with Tommy Dreamer as one of the best in wrestling history. There was something different about Raven than what we had seen in the wrestling industry. After a brief stint as Johnny Polo in WWE (manager of the Quebecers), Scott Levy joined ECW and made a name for himself as Raven. After flipping between WCW and ECW, Raven made his WWE debut in 2000.
His WWE career would last less than three years, mainly getting some runs as Hardcore Champion (what a prestigious title that was, right?) and feuding with Perry Saturn, which involved Terri and Moppy.
11 Harley Race
Harley Race was one of the greatest heels in wrestling history. After building his legacy in AWA and NWA, the WWE felt the need to rebrand him somewhat. He was given the moniker "Handsome" Harley Race. He would win the King of the Ring tournament in 1986 and adopt the "King" Harley Race gimmick. While Race was decently pushed in WWE, getting a WrestleMania match with Junkyard Dog at WrestleMania III, it feels wrong that Race never headlined a PPV for WWE or held any title.
10 Ultimo Dragon
It seems that with WWE NXT and the rise of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan throughout the past couple of years it seems that WWE is loosening their screws on the need for big bodies in their company. The year 2003 wasn't exactly 2015 though.
Believed to be a clone of Rey Mysterio, WWE signed Japanese wrestling icon Ultimo Dragon to round out their growing Cruiserweight division but instead of showcasing him as the big deal he was he instead was stuck on Velocity and never made much of an impact at all. On the bright side for Dragon, he fulfilled his dream of competing in Madison Square Garden and working a WrestleMania. The Dragon was definitely deserving of more.
9 Dean Malenko
"The Man of 1,000 Holds" and "The Iceman". Boom, right there you have two marketing gimmicks that the WWE can really get behind for their badass light-heavyweight star. So how did we get a ladies' man in Dean Malenko?
One of the most gifted technical wrestlers of his generation, Malenko tore the house down every time he stepped in a WCW or ECW ring throughout the late 90s including incredible matches with Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio. Seeing no upward momentum in WCW in January 2000, Malenko and several others packed their bags for WWE.
Once there, Malenko found the WWE didn't have much for him either. Aside from winning the meaningless Light Heavyweight championship, Malenko accomplished nothing of note in WWE and rather than being portrayed as the ruthless killer he was, he instead got strapped with a "Double Ho Seven" gimmick, a lame James Bond parody. Luckily for Malenko he transitioned into a career as a road agent for the company, so the trip to WWE wasn't a total loss.
When Goldberg made his debut on the night after WrestleMania XIX, he speared The Rock out of his boots and it seemed like the WWE had a hot new main event draw on their hands. Then they put a wig on his head.
SWERVE! I actually don't think that little segment did anything major to harm Goldberg. No, I don't think Goldberg's WWE run was due to a lack of talent or a lack of good booking on WWE's part. The problem is that it was too little too late.
As has been discussed several times, the WWE's 2001 Invasion storyline was god awfully managed. None of the WCW's biggest stars like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Sting or ahem, Goldberg were brought into the fold and instead stood on the sidelines. Why wouldn't McMahon sign them? The story goes is that McMahon would have to pay a lot of money to get those men out of those contracts with Time Warner and he didn't want to that. The problem comes though is that when Goldberg came to WWE in 2003, Goldberg's star had faded quite a bit. If Goldberg joins WWE in 2001 it's a totally different story.
7 Ken Shamrock
Okay, so I'm a littleeee biased with this pick but come on now, who wasn't terrified of Ken Shamrock back in the late 90s? He may be more of a MMA legend than a wrestling legend, but he's a legend nonetheless, and WWE had him.
A legit world champion in Mixed Martial Arts, Shamrock left the UFC back in 1997 due to the sport dying out at the night and the company not being able to afford him anymore. Naturally, Shamrock took his talents to the WWE and made his first appearance at WrestleMania 13 as the guest enforcer for the legendary Stone Cold versus Bret Hart submission match. Right away from his slam of The Hitman after the match, the crowd bought it: Shamrock was the world's most dangerous man.
Shamrock might not have been a full package but what he did, he did damn well. He was never going to be able to cut a long promo but he absolutely excelled as a badass babyface destroyer. Throughout his entire run he only got one world title match, which was at In Your House: D-Generation X versus Shawn Michaels.
The reason why this is only at number seven is that the WWE roster was so loaded in the Attitude Era is that as great as Shamrock was, there were guys better than him to put in the main events.
Speaking of badasses, ECW legend Tazz made his way from the dying Philadelphia promotion over to the WWE in 2000. In what was one of the best debuts in WWE history, the Judo black belt decimated the Olympic Gold Medalist and finished him off with a Tazzmission inside of five minutes. It seemed as if the company had a new challenger for WWE Champion Triple H lined up. So what went wrong?
Well after a couple of months of not doing much of anything, Tazz, the ECW Champion, fought WWE champion Triple H on... an episode of Smackdown? Yes, instead of billed as a big deal, the historic match between WWE and ECW champ was given away as a throwaway six minute TV match. Tazz would later enter into a program with Jerry Lawler before retiring to become an announcer.
Again, Tazz isn't higher because if you look at the roster at the time, I could see why Tazz didn't fit into the main event field of The Rock, Undertaker, Stone Cold and so on. Still think they could do better than a feud with a retired announcer though.
5 Dusty Rhodes
When people speak of the legendary career of the recently deceased Dusty Rhodes, nobody is going to talk much about his short stint in the WWE.
In Jim Crockett Promotions, Dusty Rhodes was known as the "American Dream" and his whole schtick was that he was a man of the people who rose up and attained championship glory despite his humble roots. He was the top face in the company and beloved by This being early 90s WWE though, the company pushed his character into cartoon territory.
Clad in polka dots and saddled with the charisma vacuum known as Sapphire, Dusty Rhodes never managed to reach the heights that he reached in Jim Crockett Promotions. Luckily for Rhodes, his legendary work outside of WWE was enough to solidify his legacy. Rest in peace Dream.
Looking at the WWE roster in the mid 90s, there was a very short list of people in the company who were capable of drawing heat from the crowd. Goldust was on that very short list.
Goldust was a character that WWE had never seen before or since when he debuted in 1995. A drag queen obsessed with all things gold and Hollywood, the crowd absolutely despised Goldust (probably due to homophobia, but hey it worked!). Despite easily being the most over heel in the company, the company didn't give Goldust a high profile World Championship match. Unless you count a ladder match versus Shawn Michaels at an iPPV (WWF The Xperience, look it up) in 1996 high profile.
Goldust would later go through several gimmick changes but they never reached the same heights that the original incarnation hit. After all Prince references and costumes like this do not make a top star.
Vader time hits the list at number three and once again we have a man who could have really helped out the WWE in their mid 90s struggles but ultimately fell flat due to horrible booking.
A terror on the Japan wrestling scene, Vader established himself as one of the toughest brawlers in the entire world on the back of his performances versus Cactus Jack and his match with Stan Hensen where Vader popped his eye back in its socket and held it in place until the end of the match. After a lengthy stint in WCW where he won three World Titles, Vader made his way to WWE.
Despite being a monster in every promotion, Vader's run in WWE was ultimately done in by backstage politicking. According to Jim Cornette, Vader's stiffness caused Michaels to put the screws to him backstage and ultimately put an end to Vader's potential as a monster heel. Cornette also notes that Leon White was a high maintenance individual, which didn't help him at all in the WWE structure.
Allow me to preface this entry by saying that the WWE has potential to turn this around in the next year. Until then, Sting is one of the most misused talents in WWE history.
His debut at Survivor Series 2014 was an incredible moment. Then, after not seeing him for weeks, Sting came back to help Randy Orton on a episode of Raw. The problem with all this? Sting didn't speak until March 16th... in a two minute promo, exclusively on the WWE Network. WWE was trying to emulate the 1997 Sting but the problem was that everyone had already heard Sting speak, so already the mystery was gone. Instead of building suspense, this just made the storyline boring as hell.
All of this would be worth it though if Sting were to beat Triple H and have his great WrestleMania moment. Instead, Triple H won the match with the help of DX but fear not! Sting had the help of... the nWo? The same faction Sting passionately battled for over a year in WCW? Right, good job WWE.
WWE creative, just put Undertaker and Sting together in a ring for WrestleMania 32 and let them draw everything by themselves.
1 Big Show
Literally the biggest man in WWE since Andre The Giant, Big Show looks to be something that you cannot screw up. WWE, determined to do the impossible, managed to do just that; screw up a five hundred pound giant who can cut a promo.
While WWE's sins are numerous, let's start at the beginning. Despite having a potential main event program with WWE Champion Stone Cold on their hands, the WWE instead had Austin defeat Show in his first WWE match, killing any potential the giant had as a threat to the face of the company.
And then there's the face/heel turns. Since 1999, Big Show has turned heel to babyface and vice versa over TWENTY times! Just as a measuring stick, Undertaker has been with the company for 25 years and has had only five. Pathetic.
At the age of 43, Big Show's drawing power has been shot past the point of no return and most of the blame falls on WWE's shoulders. I would say a face turn would fix things, but I think Big Show is a little dizzy from all the turns.
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