The WWE card is a volatile landscape, where those filling out its spots are vulnerable to drastically climbing and declining its ranks.
Now that NXT is a truly established brand, the chances of a midcarder being pushed up the card are significantly decreased, with fans wanting new, fresh content as often as possible and WWE attempting to adhere to their wishes.
With this high demand from WWE fans, writing staff are always frantically working to balance pushing the characters the company wants at the top and those the fans want to see. As a result, there are always Superstars that deserve to be given more opportunities being reduced to meaningless roles.
Unfortunately, it seems to happen more often than not, resulting in resentment from fans and eventually a major rating dip, which WWE programming is currently experiencing.
Especially in 2015, that significant misuse of deserving talent is extremely evident, with Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins seemingly the only two seen as worthy in the eyes of most WWE fans breaking out as upper-card performers.
In contrast to those two, you could name a football team worth of players who have been criminally misused; then there are the ones who WWE has simply ruined to the point the characters may not be salvageable.
These are the top 15 Superstars WWE has ruined in 2015.
15 Jack Swagger
Welcome to permanent jobber status, Mr Swagger. Having worked with Zeb Coulter in WWE's annual race wars against Rusev in 2014, Jack Swagger, a former World Heavyweight Champion, has been reduced to WWE's filler programs and appearances at Oklahoma WWE events at best. Currently receiving a small amount of on-screen time to feud with the returning Alberto Del Rio in WWE's Race Wars 2015, you can guarantee Swagger will be fed to Del Rio as a way to boost the new MexAmerica angle WWE is rolling with. Swagger is a consistent performer in the ring and the American patriot angle certainly resonated with WWE's primary audience - that being Americans - but Swagger is likely headed for the scrap heap after having his TV time significantly reduced this year.
14 The Ascension
The combination of Konnor and Viktor were truly unstoppable in NXT, holding the NXT Tag Team Championships for 364 days before being promoted to the main roster in late 2014. Since debuting and squashing a number of nameless tag teams, The Ascension has been used as fodder for The New World Order, APA, New Age Outlaws and numerous current WWE tag teams, and have recently been paired with Stardust as the henchmen in the Cosmic Wasteland stable. The Ascension was ready to bring some ruthlessness to the tag team division, but instead became a poor Road Warriors rip-off with little future.
13 Becky Lynch
In one of the more unique cases, Becky Lynch holds the unfortunate title of being ruined by WWE before she had the chance to succeed. When a number of NXT female competitors made their way up to the main roster as part of the Divas Revolution, Lynch was brought up prematurely due to Bayley's injury at the time. Just one month before coming up to the main roster, Lynch had started toying with her steam punk gimmick, only being established as a singles competitor for a number of months after having spent plenty of time paired with Sasha Banks. Lynch was never going to be the focus of the Divas Revolution and as a result has found herself sitting on the sidelines for the most part, unable to have an opportunity to sell herself to the WWE fans. It's clear Lynch needed at least a few more months in NXT to establish herself, but WWE pulled the trigger and it has resulted in fans not wanting to back a character they know little about; as a result, Lynch remains out of the spotlight.
Here's a joke for you: what do you call a man who regularly features in main events, was on-screen pushed by John Cena himself, but is in no title picture and fills in the gaps for three-man tag matches? Cesaro. It doesn't have to be funny to be true. After his tag team partner Tyson Kidd was sidelined with a serious neck injury, Cesaro became an on-screen cult hero, with fans begging for him to be involved higher up the card. After a thoroughly enjoyable US Championship Open Challenge match against John Cena, Cesaro was seemingly (again) pitted as one of the company's next big stars. Instead, Cesaro plateaued for a while before resuming his place in the midcard. WWE has seemingly been waiting for the window to open to push Cesaro, but were caught sleeping while it was wide open with millions of WWE fans screaming their support for Cesaro through it.
With just one major championship remaining in WWE after the unification of the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships, winning the Money in the Bank is a huge deal for Sheamus, especially after Seth Rollins used the briefcase to create one of the greatest WrestleMania moments of all time this year. When Sheamus returned following surgery in March sporting a new look, his Money in the Bank victory was clearly meant to lead to bigger and better things. However, much like Cesaro, Sheamus is used to fill in the gaps on WWE programming, his MITB briefcase becoming a pointless accessory. WWE spent a year building up to Rollins cashing in the briefcase, while Sheamus is an afterthought at best. If he was to win the championship on the back of his past year, it would effectively be making a nobody the face of the company, resulting in many people changing the channel.
10 King Barrett
What do you do with a guy returning from an arm injury who immediately wins the Intercontinental Championship? You book him to constantly misplace his championship and lose it at WrestleMania, change his Bad News gimmick to a boring, overused king gimmick after winning King of the Ring, use him as fodder in a feud between Stardust and Neville and place him in a tag team with fellow ruined superstar Sheamus. Having recently lost some of the lame king attire minus the crown, Barrett is slowly shedding the old skin that is the king gimmick and reverting back to his ruthless Englishman appearance, but the damage has already been well and truly done. Welcome to the lower midcard logjam, Barrett.
No, Charlotte hasn't been ruined by WWE as far as her potential future success in the company goes, but they have completely halted the momentum she had as a long-time NXT Women's Champion. Although Charlotte's Flair family ties were regularly mentioned in NXT, WWE has booked just about every single angle she has been involved in to revolve around the Flair lineage. The straw that broke the camel's back for a number of WWE fans came when she won the Divas Championship from Nikki Bella, celebrating with her father in the ring and completely turning the newly-revamped Divas division into one big Flair family party. Charlotte's long-term success as a popular face character, which WWE clearly wants her to be, can't come on the coat tails of her father, yet WWE focusing solely on that aspect has made her appear she doesn't deserve her success; which, depending on who you ask, she doesn't.
Although Stardust, or Cody Rhodes, wasn't exactly breaking any walls down in previous years, he was one half of the tag team champions with brother Goldust and is a former Intercontinental champion. Since turning on his brother, there have been numerous opportunities for WWE to take advantage of the mystery behind Stardust, with clear mental health issues underlying his reasons for recognizing himself as Stardust rather than Cody Rhodes. After the unfortunate passing of his father Dusty Rhodes, it was thought Stardust would get a push in some capacity, but instead he continued a meaningless rivalry with Neville. The opportunity has now passed for Stardust to gather any sort of momentum and he is now destined to enjoy jobber status once again.
Even in John Cena's most uneventful years since his WWE dominance began, he has to squash at least one talent: Rusev. Undefeated in one-on-one contests heading into WrestleMania, Rusev lost his United States Championship in a relatively quick and dull match before again losing to Cena at Payback the month after, losing Lana as his valet in the process before feuding with Dolph Ziggler during his recovery from a fractured foot. After TMZ released a story on Lana and Rusev's real life engagement, that angle was completely thrown out the window and Rusev has been demoted to SmackDown and Main Event appearances.
6 Brie Bella
2014 looked like it might be the beginning of a breakout year for Brie Bella, who had broken away from her twin sister Nikki to feud with her and Stephanie McMahon. The angle brought a breath of fresh air to the Divas division and Brie's new positive, lovable attitude connected with the young female wrestling fans that are often overlooked by WWE officials. As far as role models go, Brie fits the bill perfectly and the feud with Nikki could have easily set her up not only for a Divas title push plus a battle against The Authority - which could have then paved the way for Daniel Bryan to do so upon his return to action. Instead, WWE slapped the title on Nikki and the tensions between the Bellas were unresolved on screen, as WWE simply glued the pair back together to renew the same old song and dance. Not only taking a back seat to her sister, Brie has been pushed down the ranks further after the Divas Revolution and is destined to remain her sister's lackey, rather than the stand-alone, positive female role model the company could desperately use.
5 Dolph Ziggler
Coming into 2015, Dolph Ziggler was completely over. Having played the vital role in the 2014 Survivor Series match that saw The Authority thrown out of power, Ziggler was poised to join the main event scene and finally break out in WWE, despite winning the World Heavyweight Championship previously (but let's be honest, who didn't?). Instead, Ziggler was placed on WWE's backbench and took a seat to watch the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and even Kane flourish while Ziggler was involved in a time-filling feud with Rusev and Lana that ended in utter confusion. A year later, Ziggler is where he has been for the majority of his WWE tenure: in the shadows.
Not only was Naomi poised to feud with, and potentially, win the WWE Divas Championship from Nikki Bella, she could have arguably gone on to become the face of the Divas division, which desperately needs a strong individual character. Instead, the car crash that was the Divas Revolution began, as WWE promoted a number of NXT performers before throwing together a bunch of stables, completely making Naomi's dramatic heel turn pointless. Naomi, Sasha Banks and Tamina became the biggest casualties, as their faction, Team B.A.D, finds themselves on the outside looking in. Now that WWE is pushing Charlotte as their number one Diva, because y'know, "Flair", Naomi is stuck in the Divas division logjam.
3 Damien Sandow
If you're a fan of WWE, this doesn't really need any explanation. As The Miz's more entertaining stunt double, Damien Mizdow, Sandow became arguably the most entertaining facet of WWE TV, mimicking The Miz's in-ring actions and becoming a cult favorite in the process. Turning on The Miz for good in the WrestleMania Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, the two feuded on the undercard and eventually The Miz won the rights to the 'Miz' gimmick, resulting in Sandow teaming with Curtis Axel in a Mega Powers parody as Macho Mandow and AxelMania. After Hulk Hogan's antics that resulted in WWE severing all ties, Sandow returned to his original 'Intellectual Saviour of the Masses' gimmick on WWE's 'Oh I didn't see that, did I miss anything?' shows, basically wasting the last two years and ruining his credibility and strong fan support.
There is no better example of WWE taking a great character in Adrian Neville and turning him into a futureless midcarder. Having held the NXT title for 287 days, Neville was promoted to the main roster the night after WrestleMania as Neville, given numerous lame nicknames, an overly-dramatic entrance and a goofy cape. The only major highlights to follow were losing efforts in John Cena's US Championship Open Challenge and a feud with Stardust as dueling comic book characters. Had WWE simply used Neville as he was in NXT, the focus would have naturally been on his incredible in-ring work. Instead, the cheap children’s cartoon gimmick makes him very easy to dislike for WWE’s older fans.
One of the biggest names in WCW history finally made his long-awaited WWE debut at Survivor Series in 2014, foiling The Authority's plans and becoming an instant sensation. Sting and Triple H built up to Sting's first ever WWE match at WrestleMania, with plenty of buzz surrounding how the company would book the event, given that it pitted WWE against WCW and nWw. Predictably, WWE can't be seen to be inferior to any other company, so of course Triple H won and Sting's debut buzz was completely swept away. To make things worse, Sting returned to WWE programming to feud with WWE Champion Seth Rollins for a month, got injured, lost badly and is now potentially not returning to a WWE ring. The acquisition of a true professional wrestling legend in Sting should have been a massive turning point in WWE's poor ratings, but of course the writing team screwed it up in a way only a WWE writing team can screw something up. That’s 15 years of hype down the drain.