When you think of professional wrestling, more specifically World Wrestling Entertainment, there are many former superstars that have become icons in both the sports world and pop culture. Names like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena have not only been atop the WWE mountain, but have also had their success translated throughout different ventures of life.
However, there was only one way that these men, among others, were able to get those opportunities; because Vince McMahon and the creative team gave them the chance to do so. Although it was a joint effort between the talent and their bosses, these men wouldn’t have had the chance to succeed if they didn’t get the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a worldwide audience. For example, had the creative team never allowed Austin to ditch his Ringmaster gimmick, he would have been out of the company within a year. If The Rock never got the chance to turn heel, he would have been labeled a bust.
Unfortunately for many talents throughout WWE’s history, they haven’t been granted the same opportunities to become a household name like the previous names mentioned. While they have the skillset to do so, the higher ups just don’t feel comfortable with giving some people a look as a top-tier player in the company.
With that being said, lets take a look at the top 15 WWE wrestlers that the company is currently dropping the ball with.
15 Xavier Woods
To begin this list, we will start with the mouthpiece of The New Day, Xavier Woods. Although he is a part of one of the most over acts on television, Woods often takes a backseat when it comes to in-ring action, as both Big E and Kofi Kingston are immensely talented in their own right.
Before wrestling under the WWE umbrella, Woods wrestled for NWA Anarchy, Total Nonstop Action and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Woods, who typically went by the name Consequences Creed, was noted for displaying his strong charisma and in-ring skill for TNA, where he teamed with the likes of R-Truth and Jay Lethal, while also competing in the company’s popular X-Division.
Although he has succeeded in NXT and as a part of the New Day, Woods has hardly had the chance to flash his true potential inside the squared circle. Hopefully the creative team gives him a chance to be more than just the voice of the popular faction.
14 Bo Dallas
Next up is Bo Dallas, who is a third generation superstar – his grandfather is Blackjack Mulligan and his father is I.R.S. – that has yet to be able to flash his talents at the WWE level. Beginning his wrestling career in Florida Championship Wrestling, Dallas teamed with his brother (who will be featured later on) and also won the FCW World Heavyweight Championship three times. Unfortunately, multiple injuries held him back early on.
When FCW was rebranded into NXT, Dallas turned into the happy-go-lucky character you see on WWE television. However, instead of being mocked and beat down like you see today, Dallas was a strong competitor, as he was even chosen to represent NXT in the 2013 Royal Rumble.
After defending his NXT Championship in quality matches against the likes of Cesaro, Adam Rose, Sami Zayn and Neville, he was called up to the main roster, where he has floundered ever since.
At number 13, we have our first Diva on the list: Emma. The Australian native has had the unfortunate timeline of being sent up to the main roster from NXT, only to be demoted at the start of 2015.
After training in her home country, Emma moved to North America, first stopping in Canada to train with Lance Storm. After working with him for nearly two years, she moved back to Australia, only to move to the United States six months later.
After shining in the all-women company Shimmer, she traveled through various Canadian independent promotions before settling in at FCW/NXT. There, Emma, although portraying an odd-dancing character, became one of the biggest fan favorites on the roster, as her quirky dance moves and talent made her stand out.
Unfortunately, what got her over in Full Sail University didn’t work on the main roster, as she was noted for having a love interest in Santino Marella while participating in forgettable feuds. She is now entrenched as a heel character in her second stint in NXT, which hopefully can help her when she returns to the WWE.
12 Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady
Although this list is about wrestlers the WWE is dropping the ball with, NXT is technically the WWE; therefore, the tag team of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady deserve a spot on the countdown. Both Amore and Cassady, who in real life knew each other from the New York area as teenagers, united as an on screen tag-team when Amore signed with the WWE in 2013. Although it took them a little while to garner adoration from the fans, the duo eventually turned into crowd favorites.
Just like any good tag team, both men possess different assets; while Amore can talk on the mic with the best of them, Cassady has the advantage with in-ring ability. However, with their patented promo cut during their entrance, both men have been often compared to the New Age Outlaws; a lofty, yet suitable parallel.
With NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy primed to drop the titles at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, coupled with Amore and Cassady’s popularity, it appeared that they would win their first titles in front of their home crowd. Unfortunately, the creative team thought otherwise.
Following Emma is our second Diva on the list, Natalya. As the only third generation female wrestler in the world, Natalya has great talent; unfortunately, she is seriously underutilized.
After training in the Hart Family Dungeon and wrestling in hotbeds such as Canada and Japan, Natalya made the move to WWE. Although she gained in-ring experience in the WWE’s developmental territories, she was used mostly as a manager for the new Hart Dynasty tag team when they were all called up to the main roster.
From 2010-2013, Natalya had the chance to wrestle, and even won the Divas Championship in 2010; however, with women’s wrestling at an all-time low during those years, her matches were overshadowed.
Over the past year, Natalya has gained exposure as both a fixture on WWE’s Total Divas, while managing the popular team of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, until Kidd suffered a neck injury.
What’s unfortunate is that the WWE is currently promoting a great story in the “Divas Revolution” while Natalya, arguably the company’s best women’s wrestler, is absent from the action.
10 Titus O'Neil
Titus O'Neil has many backers, including Batista, who even took to social media to go to bat for the former Gator. Titus has a great look, charisma and is genuinely a likable person outside the ring. While he doesn't have the widest variety of moves in the ring, when has that ever stopped someone from being a top star, or at least getting a shot? The only thing working against him is his age, 38, but Batista was pushed as a top face of the company in his late 30s as well. His reunion with Darren Young and The Prime Time Players has been successful, but he never got a fair chance to shine as a singles star, often stuck in tag matches with Heath Slater. He could be doing a lot more for the company, if they gave him a chance.
9 Jack Swagger
When the “All-American American” made his debut on the re-incarnation of ECW, he appeared to be the heir apparent of Kurt Angle; and while he was no where near as good as Angle in the ring, he flashed his potential.
As he improved in the ring, the creative team made sure the WWE Universe realized, as they gave him the Money in the Bank briefcase in 2010 and a World Heavyweight Championship reign soon after. However, with the decision makers being behind Swagger, he still didn’t appear ready for the spotlight, and his title reign flopped.
Although he stayed relevant in different title pictures from 2011-2013, it wasn’t until he formed the Real Americans with Cesaro and manager Zeb Colter when he got over with the crowd. His “We, The People” chant was amongst one of the loudest chants, and he was finally showcasing his talent inside the ring.
However, once the team disbanded, Swagger got lost in the shuffle. After partaking in various small feuds and losing to Rusev on multiple occasions, Swagger has now been put on the backburner. It is unfortunate, as he could be a viable option in both the Intercontinental and United States Championship picture.
8 Tyler Breeze
Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady aren’t the only NXT wrestlers on this countdown, as Tyler Breeze – unfortunately – deserves a spot on this list as well. Breeze has had to overcome many obstacles to get the spot on NXT that he holds today. After training with Lance Storm at his wrestling school in Canada, Breeze worked many Canadian independent promotions before being signed to the WWE in 2010.
After having moderate success in FCW, Breeze, who went by Mike Dalton, was lost in the shuffle after FCW rebranded into NXT. He believed the Dalton persona was generic and boring, he wanted to change his character; thus, Tyler Breeze was born.
Now acting as a narcissistic, selfie-obsessed wrestler, Breeze got over with the audience by both his entrance and athletic in-ring ability. While he has been atop or near the top of the NXT card, there is not much more he can do in Full Sail University. However, the WWE has yet to bring his character to television; while he could bring a breath of fresh air to the mid-card scene, Breeze is just going through the motions in developmental.
7 Luke Harper
Before being known as one of the Wyatt Family members, Luke Harper went by Brodie Lee and impressed wrestling fans all over the globe. After being a part of different wrestling promotions from 2003-2007, Harper really made a name for himself on the independent circuit, as he made pit stops in notable promotions such as Chikara, Ring of Honor, Evolve and Dragon Gate in both Japan and in the U.S.
Once he joined NXT, his look made him a logical decision to join the Wyatt Family along with Erick Rowan. Both men were strong forces in the tag team division, while holding the NXT Tag Team Championships at one time.
Once the Wyatt Family joined the main roster, all three men were booked strong, but it was Harper who wasn’t allowed to do some of the things he did in the ring before joining the WWE. For a big guy, Harper can move around and bump like a cruiserweight; his suicide dive is more impressive than others simply due to his size. While he can be a great monster heel like a young Kane, the creative team doesn’t appear to have a solid direction for him.
Before the WWE Universe was introduced to Stardust and his strange and abnormal persona, it was Cody Rhodes who looked to be a future WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Although a character change doesn’t always put an end to someone’s hopeful career, the persona of Stardust just doesn’t translate to the main event level. However, the man donning the face paint does.
When Rhodes – son of late Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes – first appeared on WWE television in 2007, he didn’t appear to be more than an enhancement talent, especially standing next to Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase Jr. However, as the years went on, Rhodes went from an afterthought to one of the better Intercontinental Champions over the last 10 years.
However, when he joined his brother Goldust in similar name and appearance as Stardust, it looked to be for a short while. Nearly a year since the gimmick began, Rhodes still uses it to this day. Rhodes has the potential to be a top WWE star; that just can’t happen as the Stardust character.
There very well may be no other wrestler on the entire WWE roster that is as athletic and exciting as Neville. Before joining the WWE by way of NXT, Neville traveled the world as a wrestler, impressing crowds in the United States, Japan and Europe, where his amazing acrobats and energy stood out amongst the other talents that were featured on the card.
When he started in NXT, many of his longtime fans didn’t think he would translate, as both his height and highflying skillset aren’t the best things to have if you want to make it in the company. However, Neville shined in Florida, as he was arguably their best talent in the year of 2014.
After making his debut the night after WrestleMania 31, Neville has had great chances to shine, but hasn’t been inserted into any featured programs. He could be a World Heavyweight Champion in due time, but he should at the very least be featured in the Intercontinental title picture and not in throwaway feuds.
4 King Barrett
When the Nexus made their debut on WWE television, the group of men was seen as a dominant force to be reckoned with for a long time – and Wade Barrett was their leader.
While the likes of Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel and David Otunga were showcased as lackeys, it was Barrett who was the brains behind the operation, as he even received a WWE title shot merely months after he debuted. However, instead of breaking out on his own after the original Nexus disbanded, the creative team decided to give Smackdown their own version of the group, known as The Corre.
After The Corre flopped, Barrett went through minor gimmick changes before settling on Bad News Barrett. At this point, the character change brought many positive results to Barrett, as he was the Intercontinental Champion and even scheduled to win the Money in the Bank briefcase in 2014. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury put him out of action, thus ending his potential title hopes.
Now wrestling as King Barrett after winning the King of the Ring tournament, Barrett is nothing more than a glorified jobber. Although he has the potential to be a WWE World Heavyweight Champion, it doesn’t look like Barrett will be put in that position.
Cesaro, affectionately known as the Swiss Superman, is someone who most fans can’t believe hasn’t held the World Title since joining the WWE in 2011. After absolutely tearing it up in Chikara, Combat Zone Wrestling, Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, amongst others, Cesaro spent a brief amount of time in FCW before joining the WWE main roster in 2012.
While he won the United States Championship early on and also impressing as one half of the Real Americans, many were disappointed with his standing on the card. However, once Cesaro won the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and became a Paul Heyman Guy, the sky was the limit for the Internet darling. Unfortunately, neither one of those moves helped Cesaro, as the creative team didn’t put him in a position to succeed.
Cesaro appeared content teaming with Tyson Kidd, as the duo became crowd favorites for their impressive in-ring ability. The unfortunate injury of Kidd, however, put an end to their team; but it ended up working out for Cesaro.
Ever since Cesaro went on his own, he has been placed into an upper-card feud with Kevin Owens after having great matches with John Cena for the United States Championship. If it wasn’t for his newfound success, Cesaro could have very well been placed as number one on this list.
2 Dolph Ziggler
While Dolph Ziggler appears to be a young wrestler still clamoring at his chance to get to the top, the fact remains that Ziggler is a grizzly veteran, as he made his WWE debut in 2005.
As a member of the Spirit Squad, the gimmick overshadowed his talent; however, as he was repackaged in developmental and called up in 2008, that’s where his ability began to shine through.
Working as the Show Off, Ziggler had multiple Intercontinental and United States title reigns, along with a Money in the Bank win, while developing as a workhorse in the ring amongst the audience. Although he became a two-time World Heavyweight Champion, injuries cut both reigns short.
Towards the end of 2014, Ziggler was regularly having the best matches on every show he was on while becoming a fan favorite, and being the sole survivor in the Survivor Series main event seemed to signal a main event push.
Unfortunately, ever since that moment, he has been placed in lackluster situations, as the WWE appears to think he is too injury prone to invest a lot into him. Although unfortunate, it appears we have seen Ziggler’s career peak.
1 Bray Wyatt
If there is anyone on the WWE roster who is being underutilized, there is no doubt that Bray Wyatt is the prime example. Wyatt wasn’t always the captivating character you see today. Originally wrestling under the name Husky Harris, Wyatt was a part of the second incarnation of the Nexus under the tutelage of CM Punk. With his awkwardness jumping off of the television screen, it seemed that Wyatt didn’t have a chance to succeed in the WWE.
Fortunately for him, he was able to reinvent himself in FCW and NXT – it was there where Wyatt’s current character was born. Acting as a cult-like leader, Wyatt was able to captivate the NXT audience enough where the WWE creative team took notice. Curious vignettes were played each week, displaying images that no one could really grasp.
When Wyatt and the Family debuted, they were a dominant force that no one got in the way of. Their clashes with the Shield were some of the best matches of 2014, and it appeared the company had a future star on their hands.
Unfortunately, forgettable feuds with the likes of John Cena, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker and Ryback really hurt his growth as a superstar. Wyatt has the potential to be a character similar to The Undertaker – awe-inspiring and eerie, while performing top-notch matches. We’re just waiting for the WWE to realize that.