There are a lot of reasons fans love specific professional wrestlers. There are high-flying cruiserweights who entertain the fans with their ability to defy the laws of physics with their aerial offense. There are technical experts who are able to put together a lot of submissions, counters, holds and throws that get the fans intrigued without having to do too much. And then there are those who use their brutish show of strength to amaze the crowd with how large of an opponent that can be placed on their shoulders with ease. Some have even been able to deliver their finishing move to multiple people at the same time. However, not all memorable wrestlers are considered the best overall in-ring performers in the industry.
Sometimes, wrestlers are able to get by with average-at-best in-ring skills. It all depends on a number of things. Maybe their promoters saw their true strengths and were able to hide their weaknesses from the casual eye of the fan base. A lot of credit has to be given to either the promoters or the wrestlers themselves. Maybe it’s a combination of both.
Regardless, the following are the top 15 wrestlers who were terrible in the ring despite having plenty of love from the fans.
15 Enzo Amore
There’s no denying that Enzo Amore has a special talent when he speaks on the microphone. The charisma and machismo blend together to create some of the funniest and memorable quotes since he and Colin Cassady debuted in April. Even at their debut on Monday Night RAW, fans had already memorized his entire opening promo and recited it along with them. It shows that you can teach that, at least.
He might not have the most talent in the ring, but his voice helps balance out the team that has broken out in 2016. It’s the perfect mix of the vocal cruiserweight and the giant enforcer. Even if the WWE does decide to allow Big Cass to go alone down the road, Enzo probably is the most dependent on the tag team partnership.
14 Santino Marella
The underdog storyline was a big hit during an episode of Raw in Italy. The Milan Miracle saw Santino Marella be picked out of the live audience to challenge Umaga for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. While Marella was booked into a great debut onto the main roster, his ability to make fans laugh in different ways kept him employed for several years. Despite his lack of technical abilities, fans enjoyed watching Marella.
Whether it was cross-dressing to win a women’s battle royal at WrestleMania or dressing up for a silly parody gimmick, Marella was someone who could deliver a hilarious segment on WWE television. Even if he wasn’t the best wrestler technically, he had a lot of characteristics comparable to great comedic wrestlers like Colt Cabana.
When Ryan Reeves first debuted as Ryback in 2012, he was a man on a mission. He looked like an unstoppable force similar to Goldberg from 1997 to 1998 in WCW. The comparisons to the former WCW World Heavyweight Champion were more evident as Ryback continued to win. But while some fans gave him a hard time, he was still over with a majority of the WWE Universe.
It didn’t take long until they chanted “Feed Me More” with Ryback as he pursued CM Punk and the WWE Championship. While he was never able to win the big gold, he still had some mid-card success. Ryback was unfortunately hurt by a poor direction from the WWE creative team. This led to that hot start in 2012 to be lost within a few years.
12 New Jack
Extreme Championship Wrestling had a good number of their own superstars who were able to make their own mark in the world of professional wrestling. It was a big red, bloody mark left in various small venues around the world. Most of them could be credited to New Jack. He was likely one of the most violent men in professional wrestling. Some would say he was a ring general in his own right.
While New Jack wasn’t someone praised for technical skills like traditional ring generals like Triple H and Chris Jericho, he surely knew how to put together a memorably gruesome bout. If you take away the weapons, New Jack wouldn’t be able to last as a traditional wrestler. New Jack’s following is faithful as many hardcore fans favor ECW originals.
11 Tommy Dreamer
When competing in ECW, Tommy Dreamer found plenty of success as the heart and soul of the promotion. This allowed him to hold the ECW World Heavyweight Championship before the promotion was forced to shut down. Dreamer would go to the WWE for a very lengthy run that saw him as part of the RAW brand in the original brand split. Dreamer did hold the WWE Hardcore Championship 14 times, but was mostly a lower-tier superstar.
His early years in the WWE saw him doing disgusting acts like eating food from the floor and drinking The Undertaker’s tobacco spit on live television. Dreamer wasn’t able to do much beyond the world of hardcore wrestling and he was a below-average wrestler in terms of technical abilities, but Dreamer earned the respect of fans for being one of the toughest in the industry.
10 Zack Ryder
The modern day underdog story is certainly Zack Ryder. Similar to the infamous Rudy storyline from Notre Dame Football lore, Ryder is someone whom a lot of people wouldn’t expect to do much in the WWE. But despite not always being used on television, Ryder was able to get himself over as someone with a different personality. Credit can be given to his very successful YouTube series called Z! True Long Island Story. It was just one part of his overall online success as a social media champion for the WWE, which makes him perfect for the unsanctioned Internet Championship.
While he’s charismatic in a dorky sort of way, Ryder isn’t really special as an overall pro wrestler. Honestly, his abilities between the bells are average at best. The crowd still loves him as the ultimate underdog, whether he is competing in singles competition or teaming with Mojo Rawley. This has allowed Ryder to earn reigns with the Intercontinental and United States championships.
9 Ahmed Johnson
While maybe not one of the best WWE superstars in the late 1990s, Ahmed Johnson was someone who the fans got behind right away. Part of that could be credited to how the WWE paired him up with the already over Shawn Michaels after his debut during the Survivor Series pay-per-view in 1995. Johnson had the support of the crowd, but Johnson was considered a little too intense during the matches.
This led to a number of injuries for Johnson and the wrestlers he faced in the ring. But his popularity kept him in the WWE for a few years and even brought him to winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship in 1996. His run in WWE ended in 1998. He competed in WCW for less than a year and has since left wrestling altogether in 2003.
8 The Sandman
Similar to other ECW stars like Tommy Dreamer and New Jack, The Sandman was someone who had quite the following from the violent, hardcore wrestling faithful. As one of the most iconic, original members of ECW, The Sandman had five runs as the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, along with tag team gold with 2 Cold Scorpio. The Sandman was one of the ECW Originals brought to WWE in 2005 for their ECW brand extension.
While it brought some great memories for the ECW faithful to see The Sandman hit jobbers with a Singapore cane, The Sandman didn’t really bring much overall as an overall wrestler. This limited what he was able to do when he joined the WWE and led to his eventual departure in less than two years.
7 Scott Steiner
When Scott Steiner made the jump to the WWE at the Survivor Series event in 2002, Big Poppa Pump received quite the ovation. Part of that was that he was about to beat up on the very unfortunate Matt Hardy and Christopher Nowinski in a dominant squash. Steiner had a lot of attention around him after being a former WCW World Heavyweight Champion and several other titles. He also had the look of a dominant heavyweight.
The crowd was behind Steiner as he was pushed towards a feud with Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, fans started to learn that he was very limited in his conditioning. Steiner was unable to run longer matches and didn’t have the most diverse move set. However, the fans still got behind him despite his struggles in WWE. He found some success in TNA Wrestling and for various independent promotions around the world.
6 Lex Luger
Lex Luger had jumped between WCW and WWE during the 1990s. After joining the WWE in 1993, he was originally booked as The Narcissist, but the company needed someone to be a top face when Hulk Hogan left the company. Luger was then booked as an All-American superstar. The fans cheered for him when he was flown onto the U.S.S. Intrepid in a helicopter to take a bodyslam challenge set by Yokozuna.
Over the years, Luger was still a popular wrestler as the Monday Night Wars began and he jumped back to WCW. He might not have been the most talented wrestler, but Luger still held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship twice and tag team championships with other legends like Sting and Barry Horowitz. The former top-ranked wrestler from the beginning of the 1990s would continue to fall until he finally left television around 2002.
5 Kevin Nash
A lot of credit has to be given to someone like Kevin Nash. He was certainly stuck with various failed gimmicks in WCW before he finally found a niche as Diesel in WWE in 1995. Nash won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but was never considered a great talent like some of the others he was facing for the title. However, his popularity grew when he made the jump to WCW with Scott Hall in 1996.
He was often criticized for his championship success in WCW, but he still had a faithful following as one of the best in WCW before the company was bought out in 2001. Nash still had some struggles when he returned to WWE from 2002 to 2004, but he still had a strong fanbase that kept him on television until the WWE didn’t renew his contract. Nash’s name still brought some viewers to TNA Wrestling from 2004 to 2011.
Fans fell in love with Bill Goldberg as he was the most dominant wrestler ever to come into WCW. He owns the longest undefeated streak to start a professional wrestling career with 173 straight wins from 1997 to 1998. At one point, Goldberg held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship simultaneously with the United States Championship. Goldberg still had a lot of fan support despite losing his first match at 1998 Starrcade via a hit from a taser.
Goldberg didn’t have the most successful run in WWE from 2003 to 2004. Part of that was due to the poor match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX. Despite what some experts might consider an average-at-best wrestling ability, Goldberg is one of the most popular wrestlers that still attracted plenty of attention for his WWE return last month.
3 John Cena
While many adult wrestling fans might not like him, John Cena does deserve a lot of respect. Cena is one of the hardest working men in professional wrestling history. It hasn’t been until recently that fans have noticed his absence from the WWE. Overall, it’s well deserved considering how dedicated he’s been to the WWE Universe between wrestling, acting and fulfilling a record number of requests from the Make-A-Wish foundation.
This has allowed Cena to be a fan favorite among the children and moms. But for pure wrestling fans, Cena was criticized for a limited wrestling move set that made matches extremely predictable and boring. Cena’s recent work the last few years has been better. However, many aren’t big fans of the fact that he’s a 15-time world champion.
2 The Ultimate Warrior
During the late 1980s and into 1991, The Ultimate Warrior was one of the biggest names in professional wrestling. He was extremely energetic as he ran to the ring, shook the ropes and competed at what seemed like 100 miles per hour. Warrior was definitely a fan favorite as many wrestling fans painted their faces like he did. He was also quite the hit on late night television programming.
While he was successful as one of the best Intercontinental Champions in WWE history, he often worked a little too carelessly. It was a similar situation to that of Ahmed Johnson. But Warrior still got a push towards the WWE World Heavyweight Championship before legal disputes led to the end of his WWE run in 1991 and again in 1996. We’ll ignore how terrible his WCW stint was in 1998.
1 Hulk Hogan
Hulkamania was certainly running wild in the 1980s. Hulk Hogan was the big star that bridged the gap between professional wrestling and the rest of popular culture. Imagine how popular John Cena is currently and multiply that by 1,000. Hogan’s presence in the WWE grew as he was building so much backstage influence thanks to the popularity of Hulkamania. It followed him as he continued his career in WCW as a big part of the Monday Night Wars.
But like Cena, Hogan really isn’t known for having a very expansive set of moves in the ring. For the most part, he was mostly known for strikes, a big boot, a powerslam and the Atomic Leg Drop. It was personality and marketing that led to Hogan being the arguably the biggest name in professional wrestling history.