When it comes to the modern day WWE product, there aren’t many wrestlers who can claim top spots. Back in the esteemed Attitude Era, the WWE was famous for letting their fans cheer for who they wanted to see succeed, and because of their reactions, these wrestlers were pushed to the top of the card.
But nowadays, the company seems to have changed their philosophy. Instead of letting talents grab the brass ring that Vince McMahon always loves to talk about, they’ve taken the television mantra of doing “what’s best for business” and have brought that to the forefront of both Raw and SmackDown.
Oftentimes the decision makers ignore the sounds of the audience for doing what they think is the right choice. Because of this, many wrestlers see their talents wasted.
But that’s not the only reason why. Other times, wrestlers lose their passion along the way, struggle to work on their skills outside of the squared circle or fail when given the chance, only to waste the opportunities handed to them.
No matter what way you look at it, there are plenty of current WWE wrestlers whose talent is being wasted. Here are 15 of them.
Dating back to when he first signed with the company, Kalisto has been a wrestler that many believed could one day be the next Rey Mysterio. The WWE creative team had those plans too; whether it was his time with Sin Cara in NXT or when the Lucha Dragons got called up to the main roster, Kalisto was always positioned as the superior luchador. After his surprising but underwhelming US Title run, it was only a matter of time before he made his way to the upper mid-card.
14 Luke Harper
13 Tyler Breeze
For the most part, the WWE creative team has done a tremendous job in promoting NXT talent as a big deal once they make it to the main roster. The key part, however, is 'most' part — and Tyler Breeze is someone who hasn’t received a strong push like some of his other NXT counterparts. When looking at a pure in-ring style, there aren’t many wrestlers as talented as Breeze. He was constantly in the main event picture in NXT, even being chosen to take on Jushin “Thunder” Liger in his only WWE appearance.
Speaking of NXT call-ups not getting a fair chance on the main roster, Emma could challenge Breeze as someone who the creative team failed. The talented Australian wrestler signed with the company back in 2011 and built her strong in-ring reputation in both FCW and NXT. However, once she made it to the main roster, she was instead paired into a comedy gimmick with Santino Marella as her talent dwindled away. Realizing she wasn’t getting far, she was re-assigned to NXT and found new life with an improved and physical in-ring persona.
Unlike both Tyler Breeze and Emma, Neville was someone who was brought from NXT to the WWE roster which much fanfare. One of the biggest stars the developmental system has ever seen, Neville was both an NXT Champion and NXT Tag Team Champion, with his in-ring style and unique build making him one of the most awe-inspiring wrestlers in the entire company. Although he wrestled for both the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and United States Championship against Seth Rollins and John Cena, Neville has mostly been relegated to smaller feuds without much build.
10 Apollo Crews
9 Austin Aries
Since we’re talking about NXT so much, let’s take a look at someone who’s still in the promotion. Austin Aries came to the WWE-run circuit after much fan fare from his time in TNA and ROH, amongst other independent promotions. Although he’s a a near 16-year veteran, it was expected Aries needed to spend time in NXT, simply because he needed to adjust to different nuances that the WWE uses in their programming. What wasn’t expected, however, was his extended period in Full Sail University, as he’s been with NXT for almost a year.
8 Sami Zayn
Before being called up to the main roster, Sami Zayn was arguably the greatest wrestler to ever come out of NXT. Whether it was awesome in-ring ability, connection with the crowd or his infectious personality, the man formerly known as El Generico was surely going to be a hit whenever he made it to the main roster. After being called up at the Royal Rumble, Zayn has had some high profile matches, including multiple number one contender’s matches for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32 and a handful of great matches with Kevin Owens.
7 Gallows and Anderson
When Vince McMahon, Triple H and company raided New Japan Pro Wrestling back in January, it was seen as one of the biggest coups in recent memory. AJ Styles has been WWE’s MVP in 2016. Shinsuke Nakamura has been his counterpart down in NXT. In Gallows and Anderson, fans thought they were getting a team that would be atop the tag team division mountain for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, all the WWE Universe has seen from the duo is a ripoff of the infamous Bullet Club, terrible comedy segments and loss after loss.
6 Xavier Woods
Although they’re not as popular as they were a year ago, The New Day is still one of the most over acts on WWE television. The trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods have utilized the perfect combination of in-ring talent and silly charisma, making them beloved in nearly every arena they walk into. Unfortunately for Woods, however, he’s used as a mouth piece instead of a wrestler. There’s no denying that Big E and Kingston are great in the squared circle, but so is Woods; and it’s a shame he doesn’t get much of a chance to shine.
It could be argued that Paige had the greatest debut in WWE history, as she captured the Divas Championship in her first match at the Raw on the night after WrestleMania 30. Although the WWE loves to push Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley as the figureheads of the Divas Revolution, Paige deserves just as much credit. From her first night on, she made it clear that nothing meant more than what goes on inside of the ring, making her beloved among loyal WWE fans. With an influx of women on the main roster, Paige had recently lost her spot as one of the top dogs.
4 Dolph Ziggler
When talking about wasted talent, there aren’t many wrestlers who deserve to be on the list ahead of Dolph Ziggler. After spending time as Kerwin White’s caddy and a part of the Spirit Squad, Ziggler finally caught his break as the Show-Off, letting what goes on in the ring do all the talking. For years, Ziggler has been one of the best performers in the company, with his work on the mic getting better by the day. After a brief time on the top of the card, the WWE seemed to sour on him until the end of 2014, where he began on an ascent to the crowd’s favorite superstar. But as the WWE Universe backed him, the creative team didn’t. Ziggler floundered in the middle of the card, seemingly being held back despite everyone else not believing so.
3 Dean Ambrose
Speaking of the SummerSlam showdown, Ziggler’s opponent in Dean Ambrose is also someone who has had his talent wasted. After The Shield disbanded, the WWE Universe united behind Ambrose and his frantic wrestling style. Unlike former friends Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, Ambrose was relegated to the mid-card. But that didn’t matter to the fans, as he was the most beloved character on WWE television on the road to WrestleMania 32. After an awesome WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Roadblock, people were excited for his match against Brock Lesnar at the Showcase of the Immortals.
2 Samoa Joe
1 Bray Wyatt
Since he reinvented himself from Husky Harris to the Eater of Worlds, Bray Wyatt has been someone who has main event talent written all over him. There aren’t many wrestlers who can match what he does on a microphone, and he has the wrestling ability to match his promo skills. Wyatt can easily be a franchise player for the WWE, but the creative team instead wastes his talents on promos that go nowhere and on feuds that he never wins. Since his debut, Wyatt has had main event programs with John Cena, Roman Reigns and The Undertaker, but has failed to come out on top of either of those programs.
Despite having a majority of the WWE Universe in his corner, it seems like the WWE believes he doesn’t need to win - and that’s a shame, because a couple of high profile victories will catapult him into true stardom. In Wyatt, the company has someone who could main event for the next decade. Instead of making him the next Undertaker, he’s slowly becoming the next Papa Shango.
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