Wrestling fans are a passionate bunch and anyone who has been paying attention to the fan base for any period of time will know that in the eyes of fans, not all wrestlers are created equal. When it comes to the more casual fan, the people who they tend to gravitate to are those who the higher ups in the various companies, especially the WWE, have handpicked. As for the more ardent, hardcore fan, the people who earn their adulation tend to be more skilled at the actual art of in-ring work and have created interesting characters. With that said, there has only been a single wrestler who had no flaws that we know of, Mr. Perfect obviously, which means that even the most beloved professional wrestlers are bound to have their issues. We’ll be looking at some of the most enjoyable performers that call the squared circle home and the defect that we can’t help but notice. By no means does that mean that we think that these people don’t deserve their exalted status.
The criteria for making this list couldn’t be simpler. In order to be considered you need to be a pro wrestler who is well regarded but has a noticeable chink in your armour. The form in which their popularity takes form, whether kids or grown men adore them had no effect on whether or not we included them. We also want to make it clear that these problems may lie in the manner the characters these people portray are written instead of those who embody them.
15 The Club – A Star and Jobbers
AJ Styles is one of the most respected in-ring workers of his generation and he has been a huge star wherever he went, aside from his go nowhere run in WCW. A multiple time world champion for the likes of New Japan and TNA, he has somehow upped his game of late and become a better-rounded entertainer, as evidenced by his incredible promo work as a bad guy. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are a duo that has proven how much of a delight they can be to watch, this hilarious team has won the IWGP Tag Team Championships three times together.
Of course, if you’ve only seen Gallows and Anderson work together on WWE television you would have no idea how great they can be. One of the most anticipated WWE signings in recent years, which really says something considering their recent additions, their entrance into WWE storylines has landed with a thud. Seen as nothing but AJ’s buddies, the WWE has used them in a similar fashion to how they packaged Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble alongside Seth Rollins. They may be taken a tad more seriously but when Anderson was beaten down by John Cena with obvious ease, it really showed how WWE higher ups see this talented duo.
14 Kevin Owens – Too Cool
Arguably one of the most beloved wrestling figures in the world today amongst the diehard, internet wrestling community, Kevin makes every segment he is in immensely entertaining. Possessing a figure that many would think might preclude him from being taken seriously by Vince McMahon, he has managed through sheer force of will and his long list of skills to become a star. Excelling in feuds against the likes of Sami Zayn, John Cena, and many others his character was introduced to the world of NXT and WWE as a brutal man who would do anything to feed his family. Called a prize fighter again and again by the announce team his motivations may have been relatable but his actions were anything but.
Fast forward to modern day Kevin Owens and although we love almost every segment he takes part in, we have to admit that we wish he would try harder to actually be hated. We laugh our heads off when he insults Michael Cole but who is that designed for. Michael Cole is no Jim Ross and we’re pretty sure that isn’t anyone who gets passionate about seeing his integrity insulted. Calling out the repetitive lines of others, especially other heels, isn’t going to make him unpopular either. We may chuckle in the short term but we’d love to see Owens return to a more violent and cutthroat villain that everyday fans would love to hate.
13 Bobby Lashley – That Voice
Bobby Lashley is a man whose career has had three distinct chapters. First off, when he was brought onto WWE TV, it was abundantly obvious that he had almost everything Vince McMahon looks for and he was pushed to the moon. Even serving as the representative of Donald Trump in a highly touted WrestleMania match, nobody could have anticipated he’d depart the company in a matter of a few years. Secondly, his first run in TNA, that was incredibly underwhelming went nowhere fast and ended in less than a year. Now, smack dab in his third major wrestling run, Lashley is currently the TNA champ and has finally created a character that is working for him. Additionally, he has earned the respect of a lot of viewers for his great character work.
A man with an incredible physique, surprising agility, and an intimidating aura, Bobby could have been a much bigger draw in the world of wrestling. To our astonishment, it is TNA that has seemed to understand best how to push him, during his latest run, as he has been a man of few words, relying on his mystique and at one time his mouthpiece MVP. The reason why he works best as a silent stalker though is his surprisingly high-pitched voice that is just asking to be mocked.
12 Samoa Joe – Complacency
A far more agile athlete than a man his size would ever be expected to be, Samoa Joe has taken part in some of the best feuds and matches the wrestling world has seen over the last fifteen years. His work with AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels is always in the conversation when talking about the best feuds in TNA history. When Kurt Angle, the biggest signing TNA ever made, was brought into the company, he was immediately placed into a feud with Joe and it too resulted in some truly incredible matches. While he was a part of ROH, his work with CM Punk and Necro Butcher were also the thing of legend and that is just the beginning of that list. Finally, we’ve loved seeing him mix it up in NXT, especially after becoming a bad guy and beating down Finn Bálor.
Yet somehow, in the middle of his sure to be legendary career, he was totally miscast and underutilized for years on end in TNA. If it weren’t for the fact that he finally broke loose of those chains, Joe could have easily taken the top slot on this list as he seemed to do little to better his position. We understand completely that it is a wrestler’s job to go out into the ring and do as he is told but there is little question that Joe did little to change their minds. If you were a fan of his during this period and you couldn’t feel his ever more dissipating passion ebb away we don’t know what show you were watching.
11 The Wolves – Lack of Individuality
Alright, we should have said this already but for the purpose of this list tag teams and small factions are also up for grabs. The Wolves, also known as The American Wolves, are one of the most skilled tag teams in the world today when it comes to their actual in-ring wrestling skills. The duo that is comprised of Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards is signed to a contract to TNA today and that is the sole reason why they find themselves on this list. Prior to joining the much-maligned company they’d already created a highly successful tandem and were also known for their individual success. Both men had won titles around the world including ROH World Championships for both and Eddie was the very first ROH World Television Championship and was the company’s Triple Crown Champion.
Now that they spend their time in TNA, you’d never know any of that. Brought in together, it is awesome that they have managed to form such a cohesive duo but as they’ve been stung by the injury bug it is obvious they’ve been failed on an individual level. For two men who look so different, aside from their notable tattoos, it is remarkably disappointing that their personalities are so interchangeable and are used so poorly on their own.
10 Dolph Ziggler – Lost Fan’s Faith
Calling himself a show-off, Dolph Ziggler has definitely lived up to the nickname. The only man to survive The Spirit Squad and stay employed by WWE long-term, his ring work quickly earned him the fan’s respect and turned his matches into must see endeavours. The fact of the matter is that there are few workers who have organically built such immense fan bases without the backing of the company, as Dolph has done. If you need further proof of that, you need to look no further than the awe-inspiring and goosebumps receiving response he received when he cashed his Money in the Bank briefcase in the night after WrestleMania.
Then, he got hurt, had to take time off and lost the belt in his first defence after a hard fought battle. That was ok, though; fans were worried but remained hopeful that he would continue to be focused on until it became incredibly clear that he would quickly return to the mid card. Add to that his chemistry-free relationship with Lana and the fact that he hasn’t taken part in a meaningful storyline since, including his never ending Baron Corbin series, and we have lost faith and interest in him.
9 Jeff Hardy – Too High Concept
One of the most popular wrestlers wherever he has been, Jeff alongside his brother, created one of the best tag teams ever and participated in many memorable moments. As a singles performer, Jeff managed to increase his popularity even further during legendary feuds with the likes of The Undertaker, CM Punk, Triple H and many others. Then his addiction issues reared their ugly head and he went through some dark years before seemingly beating them and coming out intact and becoming TNA’s biggest marquee star.
With popularity comes clout and it certainly seems like Jeff must have that in spades to have gotten some of his ideas on TNA television. Either that or his bosses have no idea what will work in this industry. Whether it was the odd era in which his inner monologue could be heard by the television audience or his work as Willow, there is little doubt he is original but is that always a good thing? Who in their right mind would think that it makes sense to take a man like Jeff, who has to be well paid, and then cover him in a character that renders him unrecognizable? We may have known who he was but the point of paying stars hefty fees to work for you is to appeal to the casual fan, who likely had no idea it was him. That’s not to even mention his always awful music while working for Dixie.
8 Drew Galloway – Cookie Cutter Babyface
It seems hard to fathom now but Vince McMahon once singled this performer out as “The Chosen One”. After a run as an upper mid-carder that made it seem like he could be poised to be a future world champion, he was relegated to a comedy tag team and unceremoniously released. After reminding the wrestling world that he deserved to be taken seriously with awesome performances around the world, he was brought into TNA and eventually managed to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Then why do we find his TNA work so boring? Used as the Boy Scout good guy who will always stick up for the little man and won’t give up no matter what, they seem to want to turn him into a John Cena style character but he doesn’t fit that mold. We’re not saying that there isn’t a place in the wrestling world for the prototypical hero but there is something about his promos, especially when he wore #Stand Up clothing, that doesn’t ring true. We know from the gusto he hit the indies with after he was let go from the WWE, that he loves the wrestling business but we just wish we could feel that passion when he talks on TNA TV.
7 7. Roman Reigns – Handed the Keys to the Castle
While Roman Reigns was a member of The Shield, he was put in an enviable position that helped him progress as a worker while earning the love of the fans. Serving as the muscle of the crew, he spoke the least and would more often than not come in near the end of a match and be used to clean up their foes. Also serving as the center of their triple powerbomb, audiences loved it when he would work himself up into a frenzy. A singles superstar after his crew disbanded, he has been criticized for his supposedly limited move set and although we wish he used the Superman Punch and Spear more sparingly, it isn’t a fair criticism. He has been put in the ring against some of the industry’s best performers but hasn’t been carried as the fact that he has held his own proves his work deserves more respect.
If only it was so abundantly clear that he leapfrogged over the entire roster, and men who arguably deserved a shot at the bigtime more, to become the heir apparent to the mantle of The Man. Chosen by Vince McMahon to follow in the footsteps of John Cena, huge portions of the company’s fan base have outright rejected Roman because they resent being force-fed him. He also may not have done himself any favors by giving interviews where it appears he feels he owes the role but the fact remains that had he been pushed in a more subtle manner the outcome may have be different.
6 Dean Ambrose – Imposed Craziness
The second member of The Shield to make this list, during the trio’s time together Dean’s run with the United States Champion, arguably made him seem like its biggest star. A charismatic man with a unique promo style that came off as unhinged but authentic at the time, Dean initially provided the lion’s share of the group’s characterization. Once the group disbanded it was clear that Dean was the least focused upon but he was still able to consistently be cheered and when Roman won the Royal Rumble the audience stopped booing for the brief time they thought he might prevail.
Then the WWE coined the term Lunatic Fringe in reference to this talented man and seemingly overnight shackled him with a cartoonishly crazy persona. Spraying a foe with paint from a briefcase or covering him in condiments are things a lame person would do, not an edgy and off-kilter person would. Recently crowned the Heavyweight Champion for the first time, we had high hopes that he would be given a much-needed character makeover. Then he left his title belt in a cab he exited in a terrible attempt at comedy in his Raw moments as champ and we groaned. Hopefully, he bucks that trend soon.
5 Bray Wyatt – Rambling Promos
When promos began airing on WWE TV announcing the imminent debut of the Wyatt family, as led by Bray Wyatt, our minds were blown. Bringing to mind the mood of some of the best horror films of all time, the clips were unlike anything we’d ever seen in wrestling and our anticipation was palpable. Also given one of the coolest intros in company history, the faction and especially its main figure carried a real star quality about them. Also memorable for a cool move set, which is highlighted by the visual of him bending backwards and walking on his hands and feet, Bray’s ascent to the top of the company should be a no-brainer.
Unfortunately once he began to speak on the microphone for the fifth, tenth and fiftieth times on our televisions and we realized his promos had become boring our interest waned. Don’t get us wrong, his vocal delivery is incredible but once we realized his words were composed to sound cool but went nowhere we rolled our eyes. If he changed things up a lot more and actually addressed his opponents in a less vague manner we could love him once again. Oh yeah, it would also help a lot if he won a feud once or twice.
4 Mike Bennett – The Miracle?
The last high profile wrestler who the WWE has let slip through their fingers to date, Mike and his wife, the always gorgeous Maria opted to sign a TNA deal and debut on POP TV. A former Ring of Honor and New Japan standout, he and Matt Taven were one of the most respected and touted tag teams in the world. Earning gold in both of the aforementioned companies, they even managed to stand in defiance of The Bullet Club, arguably the hottest faction in the world, which only men as good as them could have pulled off.
We were so excited when it came time to tune in and see his TNA debut but we had no idea what we were in for. Introduced by the voice of his wife and accompanied by some oddly ethereal music, “The Miracle” Mike Bennett walked to the ring and we were intrigued to see what his new ring name meant. Fast forward several months and the only explanation we’ve been given is that it is supposed to symbolize his egocentric attitude but we’re still unclear what that has to do with miracles and at this point, we don’t care. Please, drop the silly moniker and awful music.
3 Triple H – Professional Burier
There are a lot of people who feel that Triple H has gotten everything handed to him because of his relationships but to those people we ask, have you been paying attention? He may not be in the position he enjoys today on his merits alone, and we’re not even sure of that, but he had all the attributes to have a legendary career had he never even met Stephanie McMahon. Looking back at the seemingly never-ending applause he received after he returned from his first Quad tear, it is obvious that he’d earned the audience’s respect. He may have even been the most respected WWE performer for a few years after that legendary return, which included the beginnings of his onscreen marriage to Steph.
That is why the fact that his character has made a career out of making his opponents look like they were lesser stars so appalling. In the early 2000s, he took part in some truly awful feuds with Scott Steiner, Goldberg, Randy Orton, Kane, RVD, and Randy Orton to name just a few and managed to make them all look bad. Then he became a good guy once again, rejoined DX and would stop at nothing to make sure he looked like a funny and cool character. Including destroying The Spirit Squad, and in the most egregious moment in his career, mocking Chris Masters’ smaller build after he’d returned from a Wellness Policy strike. There is zero question that again and again in his career he has damaged the respect fans feel for others in hopes that he will look cooler.
2 Alberto Del Rio – Lack of Progression
An obviously attractive man who oozes charisma from his every pore and has proven, both in and out of the WWE, that he is a capable hero and villain, Alberto Del Rio could be the man in any company. Introduced as a cocky heel who felt that he was owed the world, he managed to feud for world championships against men like John Cena, Edge, and CM Punk soon thereafter. You don’t receive a push like that if the company doesn’t have big plans for you, so we couldn’t wait to see where his character would go next.
Then it went absolutely nowhere. Aside from an unsuccessful attempt at a face turn where his verbiage got a little less cocky, the character of Alberto Del Rio today feels almost exactly the same as the one we were first introduced to in 2010. The only things that seem to have changed are that he no longer has his own ring announcer, drives fancy cars or fights for world champions. In short, he has been stripped of some of his coolest elements too.
1 John Cena – Lack of Stakes
A deeply polarizing figure through much of his career, John’s run as the face of the WWE has lasted longer than everyone but the legendary Bruno Sammartino. Standing atop of the heap in the biggest wrestling company in the world longer than men like Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin, no matter how you feel about him his career he deserves respect. Even his most ardent of haters should admit that he has played a part in several fantastic matches and his work ethic is second to none. You also have to respect that he has sacrificed so much of his time to work with charities like Make a Wish, even if we wish the company didn’t bring it up so much.
That said, his character has time and time again made sure that his matches and their outcomes matter little. Just once we wish we could see him devastated after losing a major championship or even pretend like he cares a little. When he loses the World Championship and then comes out the next night on Raw and has a big smile on his face while he makes jokes it belittles his opponents and the prize they fight for. While we realise that his character is written this way, we also know that he holds more clout in the back than almost anyone and could exert his will to ensure the outcome of his matches mean more. Worst in our minds was the manner in which his feud with The Nexus, including losing a match to them where he was supposed to be fired and showing up every week to beat them up, ruined the group.