There is such a waste of talent in the WWE nowadays that fans fear a world-class superstar joining the company because of their history of “burying” them into the undercard. This has been a routine for quite some time now, as Vince McMahon tends to push “his guys” more than talent which he buys from other promotions, and rarely do we see a wrestler who was a star in another promotion gain a similar spotlight in the WWE. McMahon’s ego destroys the potential of many wrestlers who have to carry on because of the money WWE offers and because of its reach in the wrestling world.
Superstars who have gained immense popularity among the fans, along with those who deserve pushes because of their devotion towards the company are pegged down to the lower or mid-cards and rarely achieve the glory they deserve. So many prominent wrestlers who have shown impeccable technical ability along with good mic skills are kept down the ladder, with McMahon doubting their “popularity” or “ability” to perform at the top stage, but nonetheless pushes guys who have no connection with the fans and deserve to be sent down the order.
In the modern era, the level of competition in the WWE rose by strides as the brand split and the need for unique rosters for RAW and SmackDown before the unification in 2013 made it really difficult for some superstars to “grab the brass ring”. We saw so many talented guys get wasted by the WWE and many of these superstars needed to be treated as a bigger deal than they were. We’ve seen the mid-card being more entertaining than the top card over the past few years which is a prime example of how these guys needed to be pushed to the top and deserve their fame as a much bigger star than they are.
15 Jack Swagger
The All-American American started wrestling at the age of five and was an amateur wrestler and footballer in his university days as he caught the eye of Jim Ross who brought him to the WWE. After years in developmental, Swagger impressed many on the main roster as he quickly won the ECW title after being drafted to the brand. His impressive technical ability got him a push as he won the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania XXXVI and won the World Heavyweight Championship weeks later. His inadequate mic skills didn’t let him survive at the top, as he went on to form various tag teams and become a “Real American” turning face and recently feuding with Rusev. But he’s mostly jobbing to Rusev and others these days, as the one time touted “Next Kurt Angle” deserved more time at the top.
14 Titus O’Neil
Titus O’Neil has everything Vince McMahon craves in a superstar: the strength, the physique and the ability. But McMahon’s hesitance at making an African American a prominent champion has hindered O’Neil’s relevance in the company. Titus came off as an unstoppable force coming through NXT and quickly formed an entertaining tag team with Darren Young. They couldn’t really win the gold until reuniting later, as Titus also formed a horrible team with Heath Slater which made no sense. After his lengthy tag team run, it seemed like he would get a strong singles run but a suspension after “shoving” Mr. McMahon put an end to that. Titus revealed that he would serve out his contract before leaving the company, as now he’s in a feud with Rusev over the US Title, as WWE really screwed up an opportunity to make a prominent African American Champion in the powerful Titus.
13 Tyson Kidd
A trainee of the prestigious Hart Dungeon, Tyson Kidd was trained by the great Bret “The Hitman” Hart himself before starting out his wrestling career. He arrived in the WWE with some experience and formed an alliance with David Hart Smith, a long-time friend and real-life girlfriend Natalya. They had a successful outing by winning the Unified Tag Team titles, but disbanded leaving Kidd to try out his hand in singles competition. He didn’t really make that impact on creative who after a short stint again teamed him up with Justin Gabriel and then Cesaro. Kidd really gelled with “The Swiss Superman” as they awed audiences with their stunning partnership, before Kidd got injured in a dark match against Samoa Joe. An impeccable wrestler, Kidd deserved his hand at singles competition as his amazing technical ability and wrestling skills gets him ahead of the curve who deserves to be on top.
12 Drew McIntyre
McIntyre was touted as “The Chosen One” by Mr. McMahon himself on WWE TV as he said he found a “Future World Champion” in him. The Chosen One gimmick was the high-point of his WWE career as he won the Intercontinental and Tag Team Titles under it. But it abruptly ended as creative didn’t really know what to do with him afterwards. He was put in 3MB along with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal, with their “rock-band” being the epitome of jobber bands in WWE. Sure they were extremely entertaining, but barely won over fans and McIntyre was let go off in 2014, with his “Future World Champion” prophecy being actually a “Future Jobber” one. He found much success after WWE, being a main eventer at independent shows and also is the current TNA World Heavyweight champion, which indicates how misused he was in the WWE.
11 Luke Harper
An extremely experienced customer coming into WWE, Luke Harper didn’t really need much “development” at WWE NXT as he debuted as part of the terrifying Wyatt Family. As the right hand man of their leader Bray Wyatt, Harper was the “athlete” of the family as he put on some amazing matches and maintained his mysterious, eccentric persona superbly as the Wyatt’s battled with The Shield to determine the top dog in the industry. After the family disbanded, things looked upwards for Harper as he won the IC Title and seemed like a strong top heel quality. But later he was again put as Wyatt’s “follower” which disrupted the solo momentum he was having in his singles career. Things look bleak for the crazy Harper now, as the Wyatt’s are stuck in a limbo and nothing “big” seems to come for them.
10 John Morrison
John Morrison was quite an amazing high-flyer coming into WWE and won the third edition of Tough Enough enabling him to jump to the main roster, quickly forming MNM with Joey Mercury and Melina. The cocky trio was quite the success with Morrison impressing the most with his technical ability, winning the Intercontinental Title during this time. After a stint as ECW Champion, he teamed with The Miz making for a great heel team. After being drafted to Smackdown, Morrison got a slight push by competing for the World Heavyweight Title and winning his third IC Title. He also received a WWE Championship match after being drafted to RAW, but failed to win the gold. The “Shaman of Sexy” soon got pegged down the ladder before being let go by the WWE after an injury. Morrison definitely deserved a stronger push as a strong main event player but didn’t get enough time to legitimize himself and now finds great success at Lucha Underground.
9 Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett rose into the scene after his infamous group The Nexus took over RAW to beat up top stars and make statements. Barrett looked like a proper dictatorial heel who should’ve been made into a top heel then and there, until John Cena decided to bury him. After losing to Cena, Barrett would create The Corre which failed and he went on his own. He was a good heel mid-carder before creating the “Bad News” Barrett gimmick which was highly entertaining and making himself this street fighter of types. But persistent injuries hampered his IC Title reigns and even a King of the Ring couldn’t elevate him to the top card anymore. He created the disappointing League of Nations with Sheamus, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio and decided to leave the company soon after the group kicked him out, marking the end of a potential top heel who could gather heat which many are unable to do so nowadays.
The “Bulgarian Brute” was booked so well as a monster heel from his NXT Days to debuting on the main roster, where he quickly captured the US Title to begin an impressive undefeated streak which stretched over 146 days. Rusev was being booked as this unstoppable monster heel, who in spite of not being like 400 pounds did show incredible technical skill. His push was halted by John Cena who defeated him at WrestleMania 31, also ending his relationship with Lana(until they reunited again later). He suffered an injury later which pegged back his momentum which was now almost gone, as he was put into infuriating romantic angles and then into the lackluster League of Nations, before winning the US title again recently. But his unstoppable aura of a top monster heel is gone, and so is seemingly his chance of being a main eventer.
7 Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder is a man who worked really hard to get himself over with the fans, but constantly got buried by creative. Ryder started out as part of “La Familia” and a protégé of Edge, before beginning a singles career as a loud-mouth. Surprisingly his catch phrases as this character got him over with the fans, as he won the US title and also got a chance at the WWE Championship. He lost the match in 11 seconds, which basically sums up his chances as a main eventer. He would only go down the order, becoming a jobber soon and a form of entertainment at times and in spite of getting good responses from the audience, his situation remained the same. He would be sent to NXT as part of The Hype Bros with Mojo Rawley, before surprisingly appearing in the IC title match at WrestleMania 32 and even winning it. It seemed like the time for Ryder, before he lost it the next night to The Miz and soon disappeared from the scene as if he was wasn’t even there in the first place, which basically sums up his time at the WWE.
6 Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow came into WWE with an amazing gimmick of “The Intellectual Savior of the Masses” where his character’s personality garnered a lot of heat from the fans. Then came a brilliant tag team with Cody Rhodes where he won the Tag Titles, and then went on to the win the Money in the Bank briefcase ending the alliance with Rhodes. His potential as a top heel was glowing as he tried to cash in the briefcase against John Cena, but lost the match becoming the second man to lose while cashing in the briefcase. This ended all his momentum as this annoying heel, as he fell down the ladder to the very bottom trying to find a gimmick. He found the Mizdow gimmick as the stunt double of The Miz, and quickly gained huge popularity because of his antics as his stunt double. They also won the tag titles but disbanded at WrestleMania 31, and that spelled the end of his time creative was unable to find anything for him in spite of him being so over. He continued to job in odd matches and left the company this year, as WWE wasted an opportunity to make him into a top heel or even a strong face.
5 Cody Rhodes
The son of the great Dusty Rhodes was a triple crown OVW champion before moving to the main roster as a face trying to stand up to the bully Randy Orton. Cody moved onto the tag team scene with another second generation superstar in Ted DiBiase and sided with Orton to form The Legacy. This group was a really good heel group, helping Randy Orton win his matches in dirty ways. Rhodes would then go his own way after Legacy disbanded to a brilliant gimmick of “Dashing” Cody Rhodes where he won various championships as an arrogant heel. But he never really reached the top and was pegged down with Goldust as his partner as they won the Tag Titles, and Goldust created Stardust out of Rhodes. The eccentric Stardust would betray his brother later to create a disappointing feud and the legacy of Cody was dead because of this gimmick. He couldn’t take it anymore and decided his departure a few months back, as WWE lost upon creating that arrogant top heel which everyone hates in Rhodes.
4 Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose was arguably the most charismatic member of The Shield when they took WWE by storm from day one and looked like the star among the trio. He won the US title during his time with the stable and held it for an amazing 351 days before dropping it. This happened just before the destruction of The Shield as Seth Rollins joined The Authority. As Roman Reigns went his own way to slowly become the face of the company, Ambrose took upon a lunatic gimmick and went after Rollins for a long time, challenging him for the WWE Title and coming very close to winning it. In spite of having all the skills needed to be a main-eventer, Ambrose was sent to the mid-card where he won the IC title but continuously fails to make the jump to the top. Being a part of the Money in the Bank match at the PPV, one can hope he wins the briefcase which will catapult him to the main event and being champion which he probably deserves for some time now.
3 Bray Wyatt
The transformation Bray Wyatt had to become the terrorizing character he is now is bewildering. He debuted as the chubby, fat Husky Harris who was a part of The Nexus and just couldn’t survive after the stable disbanded. He was sent back to developmental and came back a new man, as he teased his debut with some enchanting promos and debuted as “The New Face of Fear”. Everyone thought the modern Undertaker was born, as Wyatt with his “family” put together some amazing feuds and got themselves over pretty quickly. Even a loss to Cena at WrestleMania XXX didn’t deter their rise, but the lack of gold on any of them and same methods being reused on them did. From a legitimate terror, Wyatt has degraded to somewhat of a boring character and is quickly losing relevancy because of his lack of achievements. WWE needs to act quickly in order to create something legendary in Wyatt, or he’ll perish into the darkness fairly soon.
2 Dolph Ziggler
Honestly speaking, no one expected Dolph Ziggler to even come about as he was Nicky from the Spirit Squad when he debuted. After the squad disbanded, he went on his own way and showed incredible charisma and technical ability to rise in the WWE as a “showoff”. He won his first Intercontinental Championship after his repackaging and held the title for five months. He won the World Heavyweight Championship for about 12 minutes before losing it in his first reign and then went on to win the US Championship. Ziggler won the Money in the Bank Match in 2012, signaling his upcoming push and received a massive pop the night after WrestleMania XXIX where he cashed in on Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight title again. His heel persona was brilliantly going with the fans who started supporting him, forcing him to turn face as a fan favorite. This would spark his downfall from the main event scene as he won the IC Title again and even had an amazing showing at Survivor Series 2014, winning the match almost by himself and kicking out the Authority (with Sting’s help). Even this couldn’t propel a push for him as he remained in the lower-mid card and then had a love triangle feud and constantly loses matches which can push him to the top. He threatened to leave but signed a lucrative contract nonetheless, as “The Showoff” doesn’t seem like he will get a push anytime soon.
Cesaro came into the WWE as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world and everyone had high hopes for the “Swiss Superman” because of his potential and ability. He was pushed at first, winning the US Title and holding it for an amazing 239 days and convincingly destroying his opponents in the ring. What followed was a disappointing tag team tenure with Jack Swagger as The Real Americans (which made no sense considering that he’s Swiss), but a push seemed imminent when he impressively won the Andre the Giant Memorial battle at WrestleMania 30. Paul Heyman would be his manager and the sky seemed to be the limit for Cesaro, only for creative to ruin it as he was accused of “not connecting with the fans” and being “unable to grab the brass ring” by Vince McMahon. He took this as a challenge and tagged with Tyson Kidd for an entertaining run and got his own “Cesaro Section” which is seen in full force in every WWE show he is in. But he never seems to win the important matches which would catapult him to the top in spite of being arguably the best wrestler on the roster, and definitely deserves to be WWE Champion as soon as possible. Maybe a Money in the Bank win can help catapult him to the top, where he belongs.