Vince McMahon -- the boss, the chairman, the billionaire business mogul -- is a man you want on your side if you want to go places in the wrestling industry. The likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Big Show have all had doors opened because of their close association with the main man. If Vince likes you, likes your style, persona and all-round wrestling ability, he’ll make you a superstar and opportunities will come your way. You may even achieve legendary status like Triple H and get a piece of Vince’s rather big pie.
On the other hand, if Vince doesn’t like you, thinks nothing of your talent and doesn’t believe you’ve got what it takes to cut it with the world’s premier wrestling promotion, either pack your bags and get ready to head for the exits, or be prepared for a long and tumultuous road ahead.
Fortunately for many wrestlers, Vince’s word is not the final word when it comes to getting rid of wrestlers from the roster. Otherwise, he’d be kicking people out of the company left, right and center. Some have been forced out because Vince didn’t believe in them, while others stayed but didn’t enjoy the best of times.
These are the top 15 wrestlers Vince didn’t believe in, and their careers were stifled because of it.
15 Tyler Breeze
Initially, rumor has it that Vince gave Tyler a chance; in fact, the WWE gave him every chance to succeed, but Mile Dalton – as his character was known at the time – was an epic fail.
Matt Clement – to go by his real name – was put through his paces when he left ECW for WWE in 2010. Vince didn’t really see much potential and made him work for his place, making him progress through the ranks before earning a place on the main roster five years after starting out with the company at Florida Championship Wrestling. When FCW was rebranded into NXT, management warned him that his character to date wasn’t wowing the audiences and that something had to change, and thus Tyler Breeze – the selfie-taking, narcissistic pretty boy – was born.
Unsurprisingly, Vince didn’t believe in the gimmick at all. Can you see Vince getting excited about a guy prancing around with a selfie stick? He dropped the virtual selfie stick, but then he went on a winless streak of 20 televised matches.
Vince has since placed Breeze with Fandango to form the team of Breezango. It's hard to believe Breeze is ever going to be a top star on the main roster.
It’s important to differentiate between hate and lack of belief, but Goldberg endured both at the hands of Vince. It’s surprising because think back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, and Goldberg was one of the biggest names in the wrestling industry during that period. However, most of his success came in WCW, prior to him joining Vince’s company. It’s remarkable to think that Goldberg was only with the WWE for one year, during which he won a solitary title, but that had a lot to do with his strained relationship with the boss.
Vince didn’t believe in Goldberg from the start, which is surprising considering how successful he was with WCW. However, it was probably because he had been at WCW for so long. Vince didn’t consider Goldberg one of his boys, and didn’t think he could cut it with the world’s biggest wrestling promotion. He didn’t have faith in the whole gimmick, and because of that he didn’t really get many opportunities to flourish with WWE, forcing him to leave after a paltry one-year spell.
13 The Road Warriors
The Road Warriors found their success elsewhere, but with Vince’s company they had a disastrous time. They did win two Tag Team Championships with WWE, but Vince wasn’t willing to give them the opportunities they received from other promotions around the world; they didn’t even get a full-time contract with WWE the last time around in 2003 – that just shows how much belief and faith Vince had in their future with the company. There were numerous issues between The Road Warriors and Vince. Vince didn’t believe they’d last because they didn’t conform to his regime. They were too cocky and loud-mouthed backstage and weren’t willing to get in line and do as he said. That’s why nothing came of their contract negotiations.
Vince may have not believed in the duo, may have actually hated them, but these feelings were put aside at the Hall of Fame ceremony in 2011.
12 Colt Cabana
Colt Cabana doesn’t look like he’ll be invited back to WWE by Vince anytime soon.
Cabana has actually won a ton of championships and titles – none with the WWE – but today he’s probably best known for his podcast, The Art of Wrestling, which has attracted some prominent stars and involved plenty of heated discussions.
Cabana had been wrestling for a good five years before he was signed to WWE – to their developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling. However, Vince just never bought into the gimmick, didn’t believe Cabana had anything about him, and because of that, his stint with WWE was short-lived. There wasn’t really any animosity between Cabana and Vince, per se, but Vince didn’t believe Cabana had what it took to progress through the ranks with the company and gain a fan following along the way; thus he didn’t give him the opportunity to do so. A year after wrestling with their developmental territory, Cabana made his debut on an episode of SmackDown, but did nothing to impress the boss. Over the next six months, he made a few more appearances, only making his first TV appearance in February 2009, but Cabana wasn’t going anywhere, and the inevitable happened a couple of weeks later, when he was released from his contract.
11 2 Cold Scorpio
Charles Scaggs, aka 2 Cold Scorpio, has been around for decades and hasn’t yet officially retired. However, one blot on his wrestling résumé is his time spent with WWE – a short amount of time, but a period which ended without any sort of major success. That’s because the Flash Funk gimmick back in 1996 was, well, quite frankly ridiculous – we thought so and Vince definitely did. He didn’t believe in that initial gimmick, so Scaggs reverted back to 2 Cold Scorpio, but even that did nothing to enhance his reputation. He was kept on for a few years before requesting a leave of absence because of personal issues; Vince saw this as the perfect opportunity to boot Scaggs out the door, and he was released from his contract.
Remarkably, he returned for a second stint in 2006, but this was even shorter than the last. He wrestled with one of the company’s developmental promotions, but left a year later after never once making a TV appearance. Poor old Scaggs – at least he enjoyed a reasonable amount of success elsewhere, away from Vince.
10 Buff Bagwell
Buff Bagwell’s been involved in the industry since 1990 and made his name wrestling with pretty much every promotion – but his time in WWE was nothing special. His most notable achievement is winning five World Tag Team Championships, but his year with WWE was an utter fiasco.
Bagwell was wrestling with WCW when the promotion was purchased by WWE. He accepted the buyout clause and was then essentially Vince’s man – it proved to be one hell of a mistake.
Vince just didn’t take to Bagwell and the whole oiled up, Totally Buffed, gimmick. Like many wrestlers during this time, Bagwell was pushed to one side because he wasn’t considered to be one of Vince’s WWE boys. He had one championship match which ended in a no-contest, and then a week later, he was told that he was being released from his contract. WWE justified it by saying it was due to attitude problems, but anyone could tell this had been in the cards for some time. Bagwell’s mom actually called up to complain, which certainly didn’t help matters. If Vince didn’t believe in Bagwell before, he certainly didn’t then, believing he could not stand up on his own two feet and last with his company, not without holding his mommy’s hand anyway.
Sabu was ECW’s golden boy, willing to put his body on the line to wow audiences – he took the word "extreme" pretty literally. He was innovative, gutsy, and was willing to do things that many wrestlers nowadays wouldn’t even dream of doing – all of which made him a huge star with ECW. He did okay in WCW, but his career fell apart when Vince got involved.
In 2006, Sabu signed a one-year contract with WWE, and wrestled under the re-launched ECW brand, but unfortunately, wrestling fans didn’t get to see the best of Sabu. His glory days were already long behind him at that stage, and he couldn’t really muster anything of note at Vince’s company. Sabu also had the misfortune of being one of ECW’s stars about whom Vince was a little skeptical and didn’t take under his wing. Vince just didn’t believe Sabu could hack it in WWE.
To be fair, due to Sabu’s previous accomplishments, he was given an initial push, but nothing materialized and that one-year period ended up being a forgettable time for Sabu.
8 Shane Douglas
Initially, when Shane Douglas first got contracted with WWE in 1990, it appeared that Vince did believe that he could go places with the company, though he gave him plenty of opportunities in the limelight. However, Shane left after just a year in order to take care of his father who was ill at the time. Whether it was because of this or because there were some other underlying issues that were kept under wraps, we’ll never really know, but for some reason, when Douglas returned to WWE for his second stint in 1995, he just didn’t feature in Vince’s plans.
Douglas was lumbered with playing the cringeworthy "Dean Douglas" gimmick that never took off, and during the course of that comeback year, he wasn’t given any opportunities of note, and eventually faded out of the company.
Most people blame Vince for DDP’s exit from WWE after his first stint with the company in 2001, but there’s no bad blood between the two of them. DDP has gone on record to say that he has a tremendous amount of respect for Vince and what he’s done for the wrestling industry, and Vince has since sung DDP’s praises regarding his DDP Yoga program. So whatever went on in the past – if there was anything – now seems to be done and dusted, with both having mutual respect for one another. DDP even returns now and again to WWE, but it has to be said that during his first foray into the world of WWE, Vince just didn’t believe in him.
DDP, who had gained a huge fan following, turned into an obsessive stalker who had eyes for The Undertaker’s wife – a gimmick not befitting a man of DDP’s pedigree.
He went from one epic failure to the next. DDP then became a motivational speaker, and his whole time in WWE just turned into a complete joke. He went from a guy who thrived by just being himself to someone ridiculed by the masses. Vince didn’t believe in the real DDP and had to try and manufacture something, and that ended in complete disaster.
Today, Tazz is considered somewhat of a legend, but that’s not due to anything that happened in WWE. He made his name as Taz in ECW, but left to join WWE in 2000 because he had “lost passion.” Well, little did he know that his two-year stint with Vince wouldn’t help matters.
More misery was heaped on the man already referred to as “The Most Miserable Son of a B*** on the Planet.” He added that extra “Z,” and then everything just seemed to spiral. Most of all, it was down to Vince and his lack of faith in Tazz – his lack of understanding in everything that Tazz was about – that ultimately made that period a total failure. Vince made it clear at the time that he didn’t buy into the Tazz character. Perhaps that’s why the former ECW legend never achieved legendary status in WWE. He did find success as an announcer on SmackDown, but as a wrestler, his time in WWE was a massive flop.
5 Lance Storm
Lance Storm’s another guy who proved himself away from WWE and Vince. He was a star in ECW’s Tag Team division, and along with partner Chris Candido, dominated the tag team scene for a number of years. When the two went their separate ways, the success just kept coming for Storm, who won a number of titles with WCW.
When Vince and his team purchased WCW in 2001, Storm, because of his accomplishments in the wrestling industry, wasn’t discarded, but looking back at it now, it appears that Storm was just kept on to make up the numbers. If Vince had any belief in Storm at all, he would have helped to harness that potential, but instead, Storm was essentially ridiculed by Vince and eventually followed in the footsteps of some of his previous tag team partners. That goofy dancing gimmick just showed how little respect and belief Vince had in Storm. No wonder he eventually left in 2005.
4 Perry Saturn
This is another guy who was a pretty decent wrestler before Vince wrapped his tentacles around him. When he first got onto the wrestling scene, he was actually Triple H’s tag team partner, long before Triple H was a major star. Even so, when Saturn joined WWE in 2000, it’s remarkable to think that Triple H let his former tag team buddy endure such ridicule. Triple H wasn't actually controlling the company in 2000, but he did have some influence on it. He didn’t do Saturn any favors. Vince certainly didn’t believe in Saturn; you don’t subject a guy to a 'Moppy' gimmick for someone you respect.
During his time wrestling under Vince’s watchful eye, Saturn portrayed one of the most ridiculous gimmicks in WWE history. He fell in love with a mop. This essentially ended things for Saturn, who, from that moment, could never be taken seriously. Not only did Vince not believe in Saturn, he ruined things for him as well, leaving Saturn and “Moppy” to sail away from WWE into the sunset together.
3 Mick Foley
Mick Foley wouldn't have been hired by WWE if it wasn't for Jim Ross clamoring for Vince to give the Hardcore Legend a chance. Foley had been wasted in WCW as Cactus Jack and through the mid 90s, he earned his reputation in ECW and winning the Japanese 'Death Match' tournament. McMahon finally agreed to give Foley a chance, but instead of allowing him to go as Cactus Jack, he thought of a new character for him, initially meant to be called Mason The Mutilator. Foley thankfully talked Vince into giving him the Mankind name. Foley has said on numerous occasions that Vince wasn't initially high on him, until he gave his legendary interview with Jim Ross on RAW, where he described why he became the deranged individual known as Mankind.
Foley wasn't McMahon's traditional type of guy, but through his hard work and creativity, Foley won McMahon over and even ended up becoming a multiple time world champion in WWE.
2 CM Punk
I’m sure most of you know of Punk’s and McMahon’s strained relationship – he revealed all in a no-holds-barred episode of Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast, which shocked all those who heard it, including Vince. He made some major allegations about the way the company was run, the medical personnel, backstage staff and Vince himself, which, if true, makes us think it’s a miracle Punk lasted as long as he did.
Vince probably didn’t believe Punk would last – not as long as he did anyway – which is why things got heated towards the end of Punk’s career. The little things here and there added up to make things unbearable for Punk, who understandably got fed up and eventually left wrestling for the "real" sport of UFC.
But aside from these trials and tribulations, Punk thought – and was probably right looking back at things – that Vince kept him down, didn’t give him the opportunities he deserved and ultimately didn’t believe in his character. As the sixth longest reigning WWE Champion, you’d think Punk would have gotten more airtime and headlined major events, but it didn’t really happen for Punk who was kept down and ultimately walked out on Vince.
1 Daniel Bryan
At one point, Punk allied himself with Bryan, which did nothing to help Bryan’s already strained relationship with Vince, but the problems began between the two long before that.
Initially, there wasn’t really any tension between Vince and Bryan – that all came much later. However, Vince just didn’t love him, and didn’t believe in the Daniel Bryan gimmick.
When he first joined the company, he was signed on a developmental contact, but that 18-month stint was pretty uneventful. He didn’t do anything to impress or catch Vince’s eye and was released from his contract. He made a couple of non-contracted appearances for WWE over the next couple of years, but again, there’s wasn’t anything to note.
After fighting around the globe with various other promotions, however, Bryan was signed again with the WWE in 2009. Still, Vince never believed in him and resented the fact the fans did. He did his best to stifle Bryan’s career and avoid put him in a WrestleMania main event. Finally, Vince succumbed and put Bryan in the WrestleMania XXX main event. Hopefully Vince now understands Bryan.
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