When it comes to the WWE roster, there is only one end-all, be all when deciding who to push — Vince McMahon. And if you’re going to be on top of the wrestling world for the better half of three decades, you need to be great at choosing your stars.
And McMahon has a great track record. From Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man Randy Savage, to Bret Hart to Shawn Michaels, to The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, to John Cena, Batista, and now AJ Styles, the czar of the WWE has had his fair share of great picks to represent his company.
But at the same time, he hasn’t always pushed the wrestlers that the fans want to be WWE Champion. Zack Ryder made himself a star and was punished for doing so. Cesaro was lauded as someone who “doesn’t grab the brass ring” but continues to act like the hardest working man in the room. Even Dolph Ziggler consistently looked like a star but never received the backing of the WWE.
Like in all walks of life, McMahon has his favorites — and these talents are not. Here are the top 15 wrestlers Vince McMahon just doesn’t care about anymore.
15. Bo Dallas
When NXT was still in its infancy stages, one of the top stars of the developmental territory was Bo Dallas. While that may be hard to believe when you see what NXT has turned into today, the son of IRS was, in fact, a big time player in Full Sail University. Dallas — who gained recognition due to his entertaining yet heel character — even went on to defeat Big E for the NXT Championship while also successfully defending it against Cesaro.
Unfortunately, however, Dallas was doomed soon after his debut. While there was some hype surrounding his call-up — Vince McMahon put out a number of vignettes on both Raw and Smackdown — it wasn’t long before the shiny new toy was put on the backburner. While Dallas is both talented and young, he’s been buried on the depth chart for far too long. It doesn’t seem like McMahon will ever find interest in pushing him.
There aren’t many people who have the pedigree that Natalya has. Not only is she a part of the Hart Dynasty but she was also one of the top female workers in the company when the Diva’s division was relegated to joke status. The company woman that she is, Natalya even went down to NXT to help put the new crop of women over while simultaneously giving them competition against a WWE Superstar.
When Vince McMahon decided to go with the Women’s Revolution, it appeared as though she would get a real chance at being one of the top hands on the roster. Unfortunately, however, the promotions of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Alexa Bliss, and others kept Natalya on the back burner. While she’s featured in storylines on SmackDown Live, it’s hard to imagine McMahon has never given her a true chance as the top act on the show.
13. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Back in 2016, Vince McMahon pulled his first true raid in decades, as he was able to go out and acquire top New Japan Pro Wrestling acts in AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows. While they were wrestling overseas, the tandem of Gallows and Anderson gained recognition as two staples of Bullet Club and many believed their combination of in-ring ability and charisma would translate to the WWE in a major way.
It’s over a year into their run — and unfortunately, they’ve yet to make an impact that many believed they could. Instead of thriving as badass heels, Gallows and Anderson have been relegated to feuds that have been more comedic than anything else. Many still have hope, as the duo captured to Raw Tag Team Championships and with Finn Balor on the roster, some believe the Balor Club could finally come to fruition. But at this point, it’s hard to imagine Gallows and Anderson reaching their potential.
12. Tye Dillinger
When looking back in the history of NXT, there may be no other talent that won the love of the fans over more than Tye Dillinger. He was never the NXT Champion, he was rarely featured in big time feuds and sometimes struggled to be featured on TakeOvers. But a brilliant gimmick and ability to make other wrestlers look better had Dillinger’s stock rise quicker than anyone could’ve imagined.
While his “10” chants have been heard on weekly WWE television, it seems as though Vince McMahon has little interest in giving Dillinger a significant push. Not only did the company fail to capitalize on him by keeping him on the main roster after his debut in the Royal Rumble match but he’s rarely been featured on SmackDown Live since receiving a promotion after WrestleMania.
11. Zack Ryder
Unfortunately for Zack Ryder, he is the poster child for WWE’s hypocrisy. While Vince McMahon loves to talk about his talents grabbing the brass ring, Ryder did just that — and was buried for it. Since he wasn’t being used on television, Ryder took his talents to the internet and ended up becoming a fan-favorite due to his YouTube show and Twitter page. While he did win the United States Championship when his popularity was at its height, a failed program with John Cena and Kane moved him back down to the card.
Throughout his career, Ryder has been a consummate professional; like Natalya, he, too, asked to go to NXT. While he did revitalize his career by forming the Hype Bros with Mojo Rawley, he’s yet to receive the mid-card push he deserves. Hell, he even got his crowning moment at WrestleMania 32 by winning the Intercontinental Championship but lost it the following night on Raw. Ryder may not be a main eventer but he’s been a great team player — unfortunately, McMahon hasn’t rewarded him for his efforts.
10. 205 Live Roster
It’s safe to say the WWE struck gold with their Cruiserweight Classic tournament that took place on the WWE Network last summer. There were no storylines but some of the best cruiserweight talents in the world put on fantastic matches. The success of the CWC eventually led to the talents involved getting their own show, known as 205 Live.
Unfortunately, however, it’s been downhill ever since. A combination of poor booking, straying away from in-ring action that made the CWC great, and being live after SmackDown Live has been a recipe for disaster. Sure, Neville has been the most successful out of the crop of talent but even he was a main roster wrestler before joining 205 Live. Outside of him, there aren’t any talents that are given the chance to work to their full abilities, as it appears Vince McMahon isn’t keen on that specific product.
9. American Alpha
Like selections before — and spoiler alert, after — this spot on the countdown, American Alpha flourished in NXT. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable started off as an odd pairing and worked their way to the top of the Tag Team Division. Their matches with The Revival were second to none and their in-ring ability, look, and charisma had the team pegged for success when they were eventually called up to the main roster.
When the WWE first announced the brand split, American Alpha were chosen for SmackDown Live and were positioned as the top tandem on Tuesday nights. But instead of giving Jordan and Gable characters to compliment their skills, they instead were pushed with little mic time. Because of this, they haven’t gained the full support of the WWE audience — and to make matters worse, the former Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions have been absent from TV altogether over the last number of weeks.
8. Luke Harper
When looking at Luke Harper, there aren’t many people that can do what he does — both in the WWE and in any other wrestling company. Despite being a bigger man, Harper is as agile as they come and offers a unique look and skillset that makes him stand out. The former Intercontinental Champion has always been a quality hand but has yet to have that breakout moment.
At one point, however, that looked to be changing. In the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, Harper was booked very strongly and had many believing that he would compete for the WWE World Championship after the Showcase of the Immortals. Unfortunately, however, Vince McMahon decided to look elsewhere post-WrestleMania, and the one-time breakout candidate has been, once again, relegated to lower-card feuds.
When Bayley was arguably the top act in NXT, many believed the WWE had their female version of John Cena on their hands. Not only is she a very good in-ring worker, she also holds a special connection with fans — especially young girls — that hasn’t been seen in the history of the company. But ever since she graduated from NXT and moved on up to the main roster. she hasn’t felt as special as she once did.
Sure, she’s already a one-time Raw Women’s Championship and is regularly featured in one of the top programs on Monday night’s Bayley hasn’t been booked as strongly as she was in Full Sail University. Instead, Vince McMahon has booked her as a weak and dull character and it has negatively affected her character. While she’s young enough to improve, it doesn’t seem like she’ll ever be positioned as the top star of the Women’s Division.
6. Dolph Ziggler
Throughout his entire WWE career, Dolph Ziggler has been on the doorstep of stardom. In his younger years, he was a consistent member of the upper mid card scene and was a frequent holder of both the Intercontinental and United States Championships. When he won and successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, many believed he was going to be a champion for a very long time.
Sure, injuries played a part in his shortcomings, as Ziggler lost the World Heavyweight Championship shortly after winning it due to a concussion. But at the same time, Vince McMahon never strapped a rocket to his back despite consistently positive reactions from fans and supreme wrestling ability. There were times where Ziggler was a legitimate main event contender — and while his ability hasn’t changed, it seems like he’ll never reach the top of the mountain again.
Picking back up on the brass ring comment from the Zack Ryder section, Cesaro was specifically named by Vince McMahon as someone who had yet to grab the brass ring and run with it. Sure, the Swiss Superman will never cut a tremendous promo but there aren’t many who rival his abilities inside of the squared circle. If paired with a manager, there’s no denying that Cesaro could be a true main event-level talent.
Instead, it’s been decided that Cesaro doesn’t have the charisma of a top level star — and instead of having him wrestling in singles competition, he’s been a consistent member of the Tag Team division. Don’t get me wrong: whether it’s been with Jack Swagger, Tyson Kidd, or Sheamus, Cesaro has made it work — but he can bring much more to the table. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like McMahon agrees with that sentiment.
4. Becky Lynch
From the day Becky Lynch was signed to a WWE contract, she was consistently booked as an afterthought with the Four Horsewomen. Sure, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Bayley are great in their own right but Lynch, too, has the abilities to be the best female in the company.
Her move to SmackDown Live was seen as a great one as she was moved away from both Charlotte and Banks, who stayed put on Raw. Lynch was the inaugural SmackDown Live Women’s Champion but was eventually displaced by Alexa Bliss. With Charlotte now moved to Tuesdays, Lynch is once again in the back burner. You can’t deny that the Lass Kicker is a star in her own right — but for one reason or another, it doesn’t seem like Vince McMahon will give her the top billing of the Women’s Division.
3. Bray Wyatt
In a company full of cookie-cutter characters, there isn’t a wrestler on the WWE roster that is more unique than Bray Wyatt. He’s a bigger man but his high-octane offense is unparalleled. He’s also someone who is fully in tune with his character, as it’s hard to separate Bray Wyatt the man from Bray Wyatt the sports entertainer.
Despite being arguably the most well-rounded act on the roster, Vince McMahon seems to think that his character is more than enough to make him a star. Because of this, he’s consistently on the losing end of big time feuds and his WWE World Championship run was one of the most lackluster in WWE history. He could be someone who takes the company to the next level, but instead, he’s just another spoke on the wheel.
2. Dean Ambrose
When The Shield burst onto the WWE scene, it looked like Dean Ambrose was the de-facto leader. While he didn’t possess the athleticism of Seth Rollins or the look of Roman Reigns, it was his ability on the microphone that made him stand out amongst his teammates. One the trio split, each one went on to achieve great success — but in the beginning, it appeared as though they had something special with Ambrose.
Instead, however, he’s been booked as a goofy character, a far cry from his indy and even early WWE days. While it hasn’t been specifically said, it’s obvious that Ambrose is positioned as a step below both Rollins and Reigns, and that’s been proved further since he joined the Raw brand after the Superstar Shakeup. Ambrose has the chance to be a Stone Cold-level talent — not necessarily in popularity but someone the entire audience can get behind because he’s relatable. But at this point, it doesn’t look like Vince McMahon wants to go down that route.
1. Sami Zayn
There was a specific time period when NXT went from a true developmental territory to a legitimate third brand. It’s safe to say Sami Zayn was the main catalyst in that change. A star on the independent scene, Zayn proved that you don’t have to look like the typical WWE star to be a beloved figure.
Once promoted to the main roster, Zayn has been booked relatively well, as he’s been a fixture in the upper mid card while also being in contention for number one contender ship of the WWE Universal Championship. Vince McMahon, however, has it set in his mind that the way to get Zayn over is to make him lose week in and week out. The company could have their next Daniel Bryan on their hands — unfortunately, however, McMahon doesn’t seem to be willing to make that happen.
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