The best job security in the WWE is to be liked by Vince McMahon. WWE may not quite be the dictatorship they once were, but ultimately, the buck still stops at Vince’s desk. At the very least, you can be sure that if Vince truly doesn’t like a wrestler they don’t have a chance of sticking around unless Triple H, Stephanie, or the lawyers intervene. In a way, then, you can consider everyone on the active roster to be there by the good graces of Vince McMahon.
For as many wrestlers as there are on the roster who Vince needs to show a little more love, there are at least as many performers who have to go. The longer a wrestler sticks around on the roster without really doing much of note, the more you begin to realize that there’s a strong chance they are still on the roster because Vince has determined that they are going to be on the roster until he says otherwise. If that is the case, then we need to have a little heart-to-heart discussion with Vince. We know it’s his company and his call but these are the top 15 wrestlers Vince McMahon should just give up on.
15 Hideo Itami
Technically, this is probably someone that Triple H needs to give up on, but the point still stands. At the last Takeover, Hideo Itami took on Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship and had his best NXT match ever in the process. It was the main event that most fans assumed Itami would have had years ago. It was...not that great of a match. The fact is that Itami is still a very good wrestler, but he’s a shadow of his former self.
Injuries and age have robbed Itami of his ability to work the hard-hitting style that made him famous. It certainly doesn’t help that his constant injuries have deprived Itami of much of his mystique. Itami is not going to make the main roster and has likely done everything he can do in NXT.
14 Eva Marie
There’s actually a pretty strong chance that Vince has already given up on Eva Marie, but just in case Vince still thinks that Marie has the potential to be a star, let’s set the record straight. Even at a time when WWE prioritized looks over talent when hiring new women wrestlers, Eva Marie stood out as one of the most obvious cases of a wrestler that simply didn’t know how to wrestle. WWE tried to turn this into one of Marie’s greatest assets by making Marie a heel, and it actually did work for a time.
However, the moment Marie was suspended for the violating the Wellness Policy, any momentum she enjoyed instantly disappeared. It’s been months since we’ve heard from Eva Marie. She has no chance of mounting a serious comeback.
The suggest that Vince McMahon should give up on Sheamus must seem a bit odd. Sheamus has been a WWE star for years and has admittedly improved across the board over that time. The problem is that Sheamus is reportedly signed to a $1.3 million annual contract. That’s a ton of money for a guy who has spent much of the past year either feuding with or teaming with Cesaro. There was a time when guys like Sheamus who have clearly reached their career peak in WWE would have jumped ship to another company to get a fresh start. The problem is that there’s no other company that can come close to paying Sheamus’s contract. Despite that, Sheamus has certainly done all he’s going to do in WWE.
12 Andrade Almas
The Andrade Almas situation is a tricky one. When Almas debuted in NXT, fans had a hard time really identifying what it was about the guy they were supposed to care about. Almas struggled to work the WWE/NXT style, and his anxiety started to show in his promos. In recent weeks, Almas has begun to find a little niche for himself. The only problem is that NXT fans are clearly not into the guy. His matches draw no heat and his much-improved character still doesn’t really have a place on the current roster. Almas should be getting opportunities to shine on a theoretically thin NXT roster, and he still can’t really distinguish himself as a future star. Almas prospects on the main roster aren’t any better. The guy just doesn’t have a clear future in WWE.
11 Mojo Rawley
Oh, Mojo Rawley. In some ways, you could consider Rawley to be the perfect NXT success story. He was a guy who entered the promotion with zero wrestling skills, no character, and very little - if any - star power. In the end, he was able to make the main roster through sheer force of will. While it’s great that non-indie stars like Rawley can turn NXT into a staging ground for something great, Rawley is just not making an impact on the main roster and honestly wasn’t even that well-liked in NXT.
Vince loves turning football players into pro wrestlers, but no matter how hyped Mojo may get, it doesn’t change the fact that whatever hype Mojo generated amongst the fans has all but disappeared.
10 Zack Ryder
Mojo’s running mate Zack Ryder once won the internet over with his inventive YouTube video that alerted the world to the fact that WWE was not using this man to his full potential. However, that was several years ago. Since then, Zack Ryder has faded into the background while other wrestlers took his place on the roster and in the hearts of fans everywhere. These recent years have made it that much more clear that Ryder’s time atop whatever career mountain he once occupied is done. Ryder’s just a step behind in every aspect of the game that matters and he no longer has that lovable loser status. His win at WrestleMania 32 came about five years too late. Now, the only thing left for him to look forward to are future endeavors.
JBL may not technically be an active wrestler, but since he is a former wrestler on the roster and one of Vince’s favorite boys, he deserves a place on this list. Here’s the thing: JBL comes from a different era of wrestling where 'boys will be boys' and the men...often acted like boys. He still loves to haze, tease, and generally torment wrestlers. By all accounts, he is allowed to do so because Vince likes him and the way that he keeps this old-school style of wrestling alive.
Whatever your views on this matter are, the fact remains that stories of JBL’s old-school ways have gone from being cute stories to horror movies. There’s simply no excuse for some of his worst actions and Vince has to see that he’s a liability in the modern world.
This one is hard to admit but no less true. Emma debuted in WWE as a plucky young wrestler with a positive attitude and clean babyface style. Once that predictably failed, WWE sent her down to NXT and rebuilt her as a heel. For a time, the change worked. Emma took to her heel role rather nicely and started to show her potential. Apparently, not everyone felt that way. Following an injury, WWE decided to repackage Emma as Emmalina.
Apparently, the Emmalina character just never worked. Unfortunately, it took so long for WWE to figure this out that by the time Emma came back, she arrived to the sound of crickets. Even though its’ not entirely her fault, Emma just doesn’t have any momentum and is struggling to find her place on the roster.
7 Sin Cara
Consider this your monthly reminder that Sin Cara is still on the active roster. One day, someone is going to write a best-selling novel about Sin Cara’s absolutely bizarre WWE career. It will start with when WWE hyped Sin Cara up as the next Rey Mysterio only for Sin Cara to spend the next several weeks botching every match. It will continue with WWE deciding to keep the gimmick and drop the wrestler by having Jorge Arias play the character. How will it end? Hopefully, with Sin Cara’s 2017 departure. Even if WWE just decided to keep Arias on the roster and give him a new gimmick, the fact is that the Sin Cara character is forever tainted by his awful debut and subsequent lack of memorable moments.
6 Apollo Crews
In case you didn’t know, Apollo Crews used to be one of the most respected wrestlers on the indie scene. As Uhaa Nation, he toured the world and dropped jaws everywhere with his unbelievable combination of power and speed. Here’s the thing about that. If you’re a freakishly athletic guy on the indie circuit, you can make a pretty good living for yourself by looking like a future star. Once that same wrestler makes the transition to WWE, however, they need to be able to offer something more than just a good look and skills. Crews has never really learned to cut a WWE promo, wrestle a WWE match, or develop a WWE character. He’s not really a WWE guy. He just kind of looks like one.
Fandango will forever be associated with that two-week window when “Fandangoing” was sweeping very small parts of the world. For a time, WWE bought into the idea that he was going to be an actual star and gave him a little push. When Fandango-mania died down, the company’s interest in Fandango did as well. They’ve been keeping him on the roster for years, but refuse to actually give him anything to do. The sad part about this is that Fandango is actually a really talented guy. He’s got a ton of personality, a few in-ring skills, and a very good look. Vince clearly sees something in the guy or he would have fired him years ago, but it’s time to either repackage Fandango or send him on his way.
4 Jinder Mahal
If you didn’t know that WWE has a huge fan base in India, you’ve probably figured it out over the last few weeks as WWE has done everything they can to get Jinder Mahal into the main event scene. Let’s be clear. Mahal is not The Great Khali. He’s a decent wrestler with a good look who deserves a place on the roster. However, that place is not in the main event. You could argue that WWE is booking Jinder Mahal in such a way that you’re not supposed to like him, but it makes no sense for the company to compromise their other markets in order to try to increase their popularity in India when they’re already popular in India. The Mahal push cannot last long.
3 David Otunga
It’s easy to see why Vince McMahon loves David Otunga. Otunga is arguably the smartest person to ever put on a pair of wrestling boots, a minor celebrity in other fields, married to the very famous Jennifer Hudson, and an overall likeable guy. None of that quite explains why David Otunga is still on the roster. A few years ago, WWE realized that Otunga wasn’t going to be a star in the ring. As such, they gradually transitioned him to a broadcast role. Everything was going well until audiences realized that Otunga is not a good broadcaster. At this point, you have to wonder if it’s really worth having the likeable and talented Otunga on the roster if WWE has no way how to actually capitalize off his likability and talent.
2 (Number One Babyface) Roman Reigns
If you’re tired of hearing about how Vince McMahon needs to back off of the Roman Reigns push, then perhaps you can appreciate how it feels to be a wrestling fan that can’t stand Roman Reigns. To be honest, Roman Reigns is an incredible wrestler who deserves a main event spot. The problem is that Vince McMahon truly believes that Roman Reigns can be the face of WWE. The next John Cena or what have you. He can’t. Even when John Cena was being booed night in and night out, he was still serving as WWE’s greatest global ambassador. Roman Reigns is not that guy behind the scenes and he’s also not that guy on the microphone or as a character. Roman Reigns can stick around WWE for another 20 years if he likes, but every year that he’s pushed as a generic face is another year wasted.
1 Brock Lesnar
How much of a draw is Brock Lesnar? The numbers argue the guy does attract additional buys, but in order for WWE to justify the deal they gave Lesnar, he would have to be as big of a draw as guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena were in their prime. We don’t know exactly how popular Lesnar is, but we guarantee you he’s not that popular. So why does WWE keep him around? Well, they probably figure that whatever money they give Lesnar is worth it so long as he still has name value that they deny another company.
However, the fact remains that for as long as WWE pays Lesnar what they pay him for the amount of days they ask him to work, they are the ones getting played.