In the wrestling business there is no greater place to be than the WWE. The wages are high, the exposure is great for a wrestler to make a name for themselves. The tours are grueling, travelling all over the world for most of the year. With a company as large as the WWE there are always going to be guys that fall through the cracks. Whether its due to them just not meshing with the audience or backstage, or if its due to the bosses not having faith in them to achieve greatness on the big stage.
The WWE is littered with names that fall into one of those two categories. It could be guys like Kaval or Ron "R-Truth" Killings, who came into the WWE having accomplished big things in other national promotions or on the independent circuit but struggle to make an impact in the WWE. It could be guys like The Macho Man Randy Savage, Matt Bloom(A-Train, Prince Albert) or Ricky Steamboat who the WWE thought had nothing left to give, only to then watch them win countless titles in other promotions after they left.
Then there are guys who just don't seem to get the chance to really showcase their talents. whether it is guys saddled with a horrific gimmick like Matt Morgan and Shane Douglas(Dean Douglas) Or guys who achieved some success but had the powers that be give up on them before getting a chance at the big titles like Christian(NWA World Heavyweight Champion in TNA) and John Morrison(Multiple time World Champ on the indy scene)
This article is dedicated to all the guys who for one reason or another the WWE just didn't think they had "The X Factor" that makes the great superstars great and then went on to achieve greatness in other promotions. So here we go, the top 15 wrestlers that were cast away from the WWE and went on to do BIG things outside the promotion.
15 Bart Gunn/Mike Barton
Bart Gunn was a huge part of the WWE Tag Team scene in the 90s, teaming with Billy Gunn as The Smoking Gunns. The Gunns won the Tag Team Championship on three occasions. After the Gunns broke up/had a short feud, Bart had a short lived singles run before being packaged in another tag team with Bob Holly called the New Midnight Express which was also luckily short lived. The peak of Bart's WWE career came in winning the Brawl for All tournament (a legit shootfighting tournament held in 1998) This huge win however led to the end of Bart's WWE career after Gunn was knocked out in 35 seconds by Butterbean at WrestleMania XV.
Bart rebranded himself as Mike Barton (a play on his real first name and his in ring last name) and made his way to Japan, capitalizing on his fame from the tournament establishing him as a legit tough guy. He teamed with Johhny Ace to win the All Japan Pro Wrestling Tag Team Titles defeating Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama. He would also win the Stan Hansen Cup in 2002 with Jim Steele. Bart would still only be a tag team specialist in Japan, but he was much more respected in Japan than in WWE.
14 Matt Morgan
He made his WWE debut on October 30, 2003, most notably joining team Lesnar for Survivor Series in a losing effort. He bounced around for a while before returning in 2005 with the Gimmick that would define his career. A man who got defensive over his stuttering. The wwe turned the big man into a laughingstock. He was cut in 2005, joining TNA in 2007, he eventually became a two time TNA tag team champion and was a member of their heel stable Fortune. TNA tried making Morgan a big deal but Morgan was unable to win the TNA world Title, However he did win the Ring Ka King world title and was ranked 32nd by PWI in their best singles wrestlers of 2011!
13 Frankie Kazarian
Frankie Kazarian signed with WWE in 2005 and had a good start to his WWE tenure going undefeated for 2 months. He requested his release in August of 2005 after realizing there was not going to be a strong cruiserweight presence in the company. Returning to TNA, Frankie had a great run with Christopher Daniels as a member of Bad Influence, winning the TNA World Tag Team titles on two occasions and being a big part of the group Fortune with AJ Styles. Kazarian is also a former 5 time TNA X Division champion and a 2 time PWG World Champion. Kazarian is now starring in ROH having won the Tag Team Titles once with Christopher Daniels.
12 Shane Douglas/Dean Douglas
WWE had Shane Douglas play the role of "Dean Douglas". Despite WWE trying to get him over, Dean Douglas never caught on with the audience, and Shane never made any friends in the back with his attitude. After leaving the WWE he rejoined ECW, winning the ECW TV title and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship on two occasions. After ECW Shane would re-join WCW and win the WCW Tag Team Titles with Buff Bagwell as well as short reigns with the U.S. and Hardcore titles. Overall Shane had a much more successful time in ECW,WCW and the indies than he ever had with the WWE.
11 Max Moon/Konnan
WWE used Konnan as a comical masked gimmick named Max Moon, After investing a lot of time and money in the gimmick Vince McMahon was pissed when Konnan fled after just three television appearances. After leaving the WWE, Konnan went on to become one of the most well known Mexican wrestlers in history. A one time AAA Americas heavyweight champion, he was also a two time NWA Tag Team Champion, two time WCW Tag Team Champion, former WCW U.S Champion and a former WCW Television Champion. Konnan was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2009.
10 Derrick Bateman/EC3
Ethan Carter III got his start in WWE as Derrick Bateman in 2006. EC3 was always viewed as someone with an insane amount of potential in the WWE. Having won the FCW Tag Titles with Johnny Curtis(Fandango), He also competed on the 4th and 5th seasons of NXT. "BetaMax" ruled NXT but Bateman would never be able to break through the glass ceiling in NXT. Derrick Bateman would be released May 17th,2013 but from his ashes rose Ethan Carter III. Instantly given a push as the storyline nephew of Dixie Carter, EC3 was one of the most hated men on the roster right off the bat. After a stint working as a henchman type for Dixe, Carter broke out on his own. EC3 is now a former 2 time TNA World Heavyweight Champion and has a bright future ahead of him in TNA
9 Matt Bloom/Prince Abert/A-Train/Giant Bernard
In WWE Prince Albert/A-Train was very underused. A former one time Intercontinental champion, He wasn't put in much of a position to do anything in the WWF/E. Used as a tag team wrestler for much of his run he was also utilized as a henchman for a heel Vince McMahon in his feud with Stephanie McMahon. Once leaving the WWE however, He exploded over in Japan as Giant Bernard. Mostly as a Tag Team wrestler, Matt Bloom reached new heights in Japan with his tag partner Karl Anderson holding the IWGP Tag team Championship for a record 564 days. His success in Japan led him to being brought back to the WWE this time feuding with the likes of John Cena and CM Punk, A much better position than when he left!
8 Ron Killings/ R-Truth
Ron Killings made his WWE debut in 2000, teaming with Road Dogg. After that pairing ended Killings (wrestling under the name K-Kwik) became a regular on the WWE Weekend show Jakked. Killings won the Hardcore title on two occasions (who didn't back then?) before being released. He debuted on the very first NWA-TNA pay per view K-Krush to minor success. However when he became Ron "The Truth" Killings and began talking about race holding him back he hit his stride. Killings defeated Ken Shamrock for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at NWA-TNA 8 becoming the first ever Black NWA World heavyweight Champion A Championship he would win on two occasions.
As a member of "3 Live Kru" Killings would also have 2 reigns as NWA Tag Team Champions and well as 1 reign as TNA world Tag Team Champion with NFL player Adam "Pacman" Jones. Someone that WWE took for granted Killings established his legacy in Pro Wrestling as a member of the TNA roster before returning to WWE in a much better position in 2008.
7 John Morrison
John Hennigan made a big name for himself in the WWE. He won the third season of Tough Enough, is a former three time Intercontinental Champion, four time WWE Tag Team Champion (including one title win in his WWE Smackdown debut) and was a one time ECW World Champion. Despite all these accolades Hennigan (known as John Morrision/Johnny Nitro in WWE) was unable to take the next step and win either the WWE or World Heavyweight title.
Morrison had a rather anticlimatic ending to his WWE career, having been attacked by former tag team partner The Miz in 2011. Hennigan was a high in demand star on the indie circuit when he was able to take bookings in 2012. Using his real name he won the WWFX Heavyweight championship in February of 2012, and won the FWE Heavyweight Championship from Carlito in 2013. Now wrestling as Johnny Mundo, Hennigan is a huge part of Lucha Underground.
6 Drew McIntyre
Drew was announced by Vince McMahon himself as "The Chosen One" and a future World Champion. Drew had a good start to his run winning the Intercontinental Championship and having a tag title run with Cody Rhodes. A domestic violence altercation with his wife, former WWE performer Tiffany (Taryn Terrell) led to his WWE career goingdown in flames fast. Being saddled with a horrible gimmick as a member of 3MB the once promising performer had become a comedy act. Drew was finally released on June 12th, 2014.
Drew has been on fire since rejoining the indie ciruit, winning the Evolve Championship and the Evolve Tag Team Titles with Johnny Gargano. Galloway also won the ICW World Championship on two occasions and has since become a big part of TNA's new show on Pop TV winning a World Title shot during their "Feast Or Fired" gimmick match.
Captain Charisma had a hell of a WWF/E run. A former 9 time Tag team champion in WWE, Christian also held the Hardcore and European titles as well as a 4 time Intercontinental champion. One thing he didn't do in his first WWE run however was win a world title. After leaving the WWE Christian signed with TNA using the ring name Christian Cage. Christian Cage would become a 2 time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and be treated as a huge star coming into TNA, Something he didn;t get in WWE. His TNA success played a huge part in him becoming ECW champion and a 2 time World Heavyweight Champion upon his return to the WWE.
4 Low Ki/Kaval
Low Ki wrestled as Kaval in the WWE, winning NXT Season 2. Kaval's time in the WWE was a huge failure, He was treated more like an accessory for LayCool to parade around and he lost his Title shot he was guaranteed for winning NXT. It just never seemed like his wrestling style was a fit for the WWE. Outside of the WWE however, Low Ki is one of the most respected men in the industry. Labeled as one of "The Founding Fathers of ROH" Low Ki was the first ever ROH Champion. Low Ki would also be a three time NWA Tag Team Champion and four time X Division Champion in TNA. Low Ki has made a huge name for himself over in Japan as well winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on three occasions since his WWE departure including a title win over current NXT Champion Finn Balor(Prince Devitt) Low Ki has shown many times over that the WWE made a huge mistake letting him go.
3 Christopher Daniels
Christopher Daniels really never had a shot in the WWE. He made a few appearances here and there on shows like Sunday Night Heat and Shotgun Saturday Night never gaining any real traction, his biggest match being under a mask as one of the Los Conquistadores during the Edge and Christian vs Hardy Boyz feud. Outside of the WWE, Daniels had a lot of success mainly in ROH and TNA. Daniels is as highly regarded for his time in ROH as WWE Legends CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.
A former ROH TV Champion, three time Tag Team champion, Daniels is described as one of "The Founding Fathers" of ROH along with Low Ki and Brian Danielson. Daniels became a regular fixture of TNA winning the X Division title four times,the NWA tag titles six times and the TNA world Tag Team Titles twice. Daniels also has a plethora of World Titles from independent promotions all over the world. Pretty good for someone WWE wouldn't give the time of day to.
2 Macho Man Randy Savage
The Macho Man Randy Savage was one of the biggest stars of the 80s for the WWE. A former Intercontinental Champion and the 1987 King Of The Ring, Macho Man reached his pinnacle at WrestleMania IV winning the WWE Championship. Towards the end of his time in the WWE Macho Man spent more time as an announcer than an in ring competitor. In October of 1994 Macho Man's contract expired and he jumped ship to WCW. Being utilized as only an announcer in WWE, Macho Man showed he had some gas in the tank winning World War 3 in 1995 and becoming WCW World Heavyweight Champion four times. Not bad for someone Vince McMahon was convinced was done as a in ring competitor.
1 Ricky Steamboat
Okay, I know Ricky had one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history at WrestleMania III against Macho Man Randy Savage, but besides that his WWE run was very underwhelming compared to the rest of his career. He maxed out as an Intercontinental champion. In WCW he won the World Heavyweight Title once, was a four time United States Champion, four time Television champion and an EIGHT time Tag team champion. His run in WCW far exceeded anything he did in the WWE.