When the PG Era was introduced in the WWE, not many would’ve imagined just how watered down the product would become in the next few years. All the edgy elements that made the WWE so entertaining for much of the fanbase was curbed down in this era, as it saw the rise of the entertainment part of “sports entertainment” as the WWE took a u-turn from all the exciting, hardcore stuff we saw in the Ruthless Aggression era.
The WWE’s PG Era saw the company trying to get into mainstream business as they started their own developmental called “NXT,” which would later evolve into a huge promotion when Triple H took over. But the quality of the wrestlers took a real dip after the PG Era was introduced, as WWE hired many incompetent wrestlers because of their ability to “entertain” and not for their ability to wrestle.
The PG Era turned out to be a nightmare for lifelong WWE fans, as the product has become too soft by catering to the youth and not to the hardcore wrestling fans. And even though things have improved in the past few years, there have been a bunch of horrible wrestlers who have gained relevance in the company.
Let’s take a look at 15 of the worst wrestlers of WWE’s PG Era.
15. Adam Rose
Adam Rose had some interesting gimmicks in his career, namely in a very early one in Leo Kruger where he was this sadistic wrestler with a real dark side to him. But he couldn’t really wrestle that well and was unable to connect with the fans because of that. His limited move-set and his lacking ability to enthral inside the ring forced the WWE to give him the dumb gimmick of Adam Rose, who would be accompanied by his “Rosebuds” and loved to party. Rose was mostly a jobber in his WWE career and won only a handful of matches and soon fizzled out after moving to the main roster as he just couldn’t impress the WWE fans with his poor in-ring ability and idiotic gimmick and soon became a jobber to the stars who’d only feature in short-length matches.
Fandango has been with WWE (including developmental) for almost a decade now, but has shown minimal improvements in terms of wrestling as he only has a handful of moves and even after spending so much time in developmental hasn’t been able to bring a variety to his move-set. He was Johnny Curtis at first who took part and won NXT season 4 and then debuted as Fandango, a dancing gimmick with his own female dance partner. In spite of being put over by Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29, Fandango would fail to go far in the WWE. He has shown minimal skills of entertaining inside the squared circle and has remained a jobber because of his inability to improve.
13. Bo Dallas
Bo Dallas might be a very entertaining character in general, but his bane has been his incapability of developing a solid move-set to his character in order for him to really gain relevance in the WWE. Dallas was quite successful in WWE’s developmental, as he was a WWE NXT Champion and even had a hilarious winning streak of 17-0 after coming to the main roster before being beaten by R-Truth. Dallas might have a gimmick which has been very entertaining over the years, but his ability to pull off only basic moves and incapability of bringing variety to his arsenal has kept him in the lower card for all these years. Though he might have an interesting gimmick right now, we’ll have to see whether he improves in the ring as he still looks pretty lacking in the squared circle but because of his young age, he has time to improve and excel in WWE’s New Era.
12. Mason Ryan
Mason Ryan was the powerhouse of The Nexus which terrorized the WWE for quite some time in 2011, as his intimidating features would make him quite the enforcer for the menacing stable. But Ryan was all power and no technique, as he could only pull of ordinary moves for a powerhouse like him and couldn’t impress in his matches, fading away after the stable dissolved. Ryan couldn’t impress the fans with his wrestling ability as they had grown tired of watching big wrestlers crush opponents with the same 3 moves. Ryan would soon be demoted to NXT again, before being released by the company and is now working at Cirque de Soleil as wrestling wasn’t meant for him and thankfully he discovered that soon after being released from the WWE.
11. Alex Riley
Alex Riley wasn’t really known for his wrestling ability during his glory days as the side-kick for The Miz. Riley would soon start to accompany The Miz to the ring and helped him retain his WWE Championship in his matches, as well as accompanying him in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII. After that however, Riley would part with The Miz and try to get his singles career going but it never really went well because of his inability to entertain the fans in general. Rumors that he was “buried” by John Cena have floated around in recent years, but Riley himself was never a good wrestler and had the most standard moves without having any uniqueness in his wrestling which could make him stand out from the others and therefore remained a failure as a wrestler in the WWE.
10. Brodus Clay
Brodus Clay never really seemed like a good wrestler, mostly because of his weight issues and inability to pull of many moves because of those issues. Clay would be mentored by Alberto Del Rio in the season four of NXT and would be it’s runner-up before being given his main roster push as “The Funkasaurus”. He’d have his “Funkadactyls” (Naomi and Cameron) and dance in the ring before squashing his inferior opponents. But Clay’s wrestling ability was all about knocking opponents down with his strength and he couldn’t really pull of any proper, variety of moves which curbed him in the long run. He couldn’t entertain the fans in the ring and they became bored of his dancing after a while, and after a disastrous team-up with Tensai he lost his popularity with the fans and was soon released by the WWE. He now wrestles for TNA who are pushing him as a star which again shows the state they are right now, because Clay can never become a star because of his inability to pull off unique wrestling moves and his constant use of his weight to knock down opponents getting annoying for the fans after a point.
9. Heath Slater
Heath Slater might be one of the most entertaining aspects of Smackdown Live! right now, but that just manages to sugarcoat his inferior wrestling ability which has hampered his progress in the WWE over the years. Slater was also part of the Nexus stable and ravished when part of the stable, but couldn’t do anything when he was left to fend for himself. Slater is more of an entertainer rather than a wrestler and survived in the PG era because of his ability to entertain audiences as he was always a shoddy wrestler who could only pull of the most basic moves. He might be Smackdown tag team champions with Rhyno right now, but the WWE leaves the Man-Beast to do much of the work during their matches as Slater takes his punishment well and is this successful because of his hilarious gimmick, as if he’d have relied on his wrestling ability, he’d be out of the WWE years ago because of the complete lack of compelling moves in his arsenal.
8. Ezekiel Jackson
Ezekiel Jackson was another big-guy to rise in the WWE during the PG Era, as his muscular figure and nature was what kept him in a rather successful state in the WWE. He debuted as the Bodyguard of THE Brian Kendrick but was soon drafted to ECW where he became ECW Champion and was the brand’s last champion. Jackson would then be drafted to Smackdown, where he became an enforcer of sorts for The Corre, but soon after would feud with Wade Barrett and even won the Intercontinental Championship from him. But he couldn’t impress the fans with his lame moves which consisted of shoulder blocks, clotheslines and powerful slams and he had no variety to his move-set whatsoever and was pretty lazy in the ring as well. He wouldn’t survive long as IC Champion and soon dropped the title and became less and less relevant with each passing week, which forced the WWE to release him soon after as Jackson might be an intimidating character, but didn’t have the skills which made the larger stars so successful in the WWE as his lack of pulling of many moves hurt his reputation in the company in the long run.
Sheamus is a guy who everyone loves to hate in the WWE, as he has this core heel look to himself and has maintained himself as a very good heel over the years. The problem with Sheamus is that he hasn’t really improved from when he first debuted in 2009 and has been pulling of the same moves which he pulled of 7 years ago, which makes him a questionable wrestler. Though he has the ability to pull of hard-hitting, strong-style matches because of his strength and Irish toughness, he hasn’t improved wrestling wise over the years and that has hampered his image in front of the fans. His inability to improve and bring a variety to his arsenal is what makes fans hate him and call him a bad wrestler, as there’s a reason on why he’s known to be one of the worst WWE Champions of all time. Sheamus might be able to reap all that heat with his character, but he has been stagnant and poor as a wrestler over the years and needs to work on that in order to gain relevance in this New Era.
6. Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder has been a case of all style and no substance in the WWE, as he might have an stylistic attitude towards him, but can’t back up his talk with his wrestling. Ryder started to gain popularity with his “Long Island Loudmouth” gimmick and even won the US Championship when he was over with the fans, but many were pissed when he got downgraded to a jobber later on. In reality, Ryder couldn’t tough it out with the best with his terrible wrestling skills as his style couldn’t make him wrestle compelling matches against other wrestlers. He got his WrestleMania moment recently for his service for the WWE, but doesn’t deserve anything over that as he’s a very bad wrestler in general who hasn’t improved in all these years and can only pull off a handful of standard wrestling moves, as he’s still relevant because of his irresistible personality.
5. Santino Marella
Santino Marella was one of the prime reasons on why wrestling fans hated the PG Era, as it gave birth to this comic-relief who was surprisingly pushed by the WWE because of his ability to entertain fans alone. Marella was quite the hilarious character who would be an able entertainer, but he was a terrible wrestler who had the poorest wrestling skills and the most cringe-worthy of finishers in “The Cobra” which even won him some matches. Marella won the Intercontinental Championship in his first night on Raw, and was kept in the WWE purely because of his ability to make people laugh as they didn’t even care if he could wrestle or not. He was made to go through some humiliating stuff, but was surprisingly kept relevant by the WWE even though he had the credentials of a jobber as he also won the US Championship. Marella was absolutely horrible in the ring and couldn’t put up one memorable match in his WWE as he was in the company for all those years purely on the basis of his ability to entertain audiences and will definitely go down as one of the worst champions in WWE history.
4. Ted DiBiase Jr.
Ted DiBiase Jr entered the WWE because of his father’s reputation, but couldn’t even achieve half the popularity his father had during his heydays. He started out on the main roster with Cody Rhodes as part of “Legacy” as they were lead by Randy Orton as they were an able tag team, mostly because of Rhodes superb ability in the ring. DiBiase would end up in a difficult position after parting with Rhodes, as he tried to bring back the Million Dollar Championship to no effect and ended up to be a complete failure as a singles wrestler. DiBiase was a poor worker in the ring as he could only pull off the most basic, predictable of wrestling moves and couldn’t bring anything new to the table. DiBiase would eventually be released by the WWE after failing to impress, as he wasn’t really meant for wrestling as his lack of ability in the ring became glaring after he parted with Cody.
Ryback is another wrestler who was heavily disliked by wrestling fans because of him being a case of all brawn and no brains, as he was a bad wrestler with only a limited number of moves in him. Starting out originally as Skip Sheffield in NXT and then a part of The Nexus, he started to gain relevance when WWE repackaged him and sent him out to crush jobbers. He even got a push into the main-event scene and was booked very strongly, much to the dismay of fans who couldn’t believe how an incapable wrestler like him was getting pushed so early. He didn’t win the championship thankfully and would be pushed to the mid-card later on, only getting to win the Intercontinental Championship in his career. In reality, Ryback could only pull off a number of power moves and didn’t have any cutting edge to his character which could make him popular with the fans and his reputation for legitimately hurting people gave him a black mark in the eyes of the fans as well and he never deserved to be pushed so strongly, as he could only chant “Feed Me More” and pull of those same horrible moves time and time again.
2. The Great Khali
The Great Khali might have looked like a legitimate monster, but he was an absolutely awful wrestler who only had 2 or 3 moves in him to knock people out. The fans still don’t know why he was pushed so heavily early on in his career, as he would dominate the Undertaker in his first feud before going onto win the World Heavyweight Championship as it was probably a ploy to gain more viewers from India. The Great Khali only had 2 noticeable moves in the Vice Grip and Khali chop, as many would fall to those two only and he had some horrible matches with wrestlers because of his inability to properly wrestle. His character was made weirder with each passing year as he got the “Punjabi Playboy” gimmick and was used as a filler to most of the shows and he competed mostly in Battle Royals and matches of the sorts and was released in 2014. Khali was quite the horrible wrestler even for someone his size and his complete lack of personality only made it worse for him, as he’ll definitely go down as one of the worst wrestlers of all time.
1. David Otunga
Imagine that you’re David Otunga, a Harvard Law graduate and you have the whole life ahead off you, only to go onto join wrestling about which you have no idea about whatsoever. So David Otunga joined the WWE, being part of the first season of NXT and later a part of The Nexus as he was an absolutely horrible worker in the ring who didn’t know anything about how to entertain a crowd or wrestle a match properly. He just came and flexed his muscles, and shockingly won the tag titles twice(most because of his partners) and as the Nexus dissolved, Otunga slowly made his way out of wrestling. He became the legal advisor of John Laurinaitis and worked less matches which were also pretty bad. He later went onto become the Raw pre-show panelist and is now a commentator for SmackDown as wrestling is something he should’ve never tried out for because he had no idea how to wrestle and his promo-skills are what has kept him in the company or else he’d be kicked out years back because of his complete lack of wrestling skills.
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