Hot girls with big breasts and tall men with chiselled pecs are two of Vince McMahon’s favourite things, alongside money and pushing people in swimming pools. It’s part of his old school mentality, where those things were incredibly popular during the 80s and 90s, and although the formula has been very successful for him in the past, it has also lead to pushes of stars that the audience didn’t get behind.
I don’t think there’s ever been a period in WWE history where someone hasn’t been pushed for their physique. At all times, Vince and his fellow backstage suits are looking at the beauties and behemoths in the locker-room and deciding how to best sell them to the audience, despite people these days being more into competent female wrestlers and more technical and smaller men.
The endless parade of Vince’s perfect bodies won’t be ending for a while yet, and some wrestlers have even changed their body type to suit what the WWE want. Remember John Cena when he debuted? A lot scrawnier than he is now.
It’s just what the company likes and will push. So, let’s have a look over at 15 examples of superstars obviously pushed for their physique.
15 15. Maryse
The French beauty Maryse has recently come back to manage her husband The Miz, which is a role that’s quite well suited to her. What’s not suited to her is competing in a wrestling match.
It boggles the mind how she had two championship reigns, holding the title for a total of 265 days. She was as sub-par as sub-par could be, and needed a lot more time in developmental before given that kind of responsibility.
But, on the other hand, she’s really hot. Boobs n’ butt to make any guy turn to look, and a sexy French accent that accompanied her arrogant attitude. This was clearly the reason she was given such esteemed reigns with the title, and was one of the major reasons the female division in WWE was seen as such a joke for a long time.
14 14. Batista
I love Batista. He’s one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and was a core part of me growing up watching wrestling. I still get giddy and mark out when I watch the clip of Batista turning on Evolution, and I can’t help but put my fist in the air when I rewatch his WrestleMania victory against Triple H. Sure, his comeback for WrestleMania 30 was poorly handled, but the guy managed to turn himself heel for it and work all the heat into the storyline, because Batista is awesome. He knows the crowd, he knows how to put on a good match, and he’s always amazing.
13 13. Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash was undoubtedly given a shot in the wrestling business due to his towering height nearing seven feet tall. He had a stint in WCW that didn't include much success, being saddled with gimmicks like Vinnie Vegas and Oz. He was eventually signed by the WWE where he was brought in as Diesel, a bodyguard for Shawn Michaels. While Michaels was the one who obviously belonged in the main event spot, Nash was given a title reign first, defeating Bob Backlund in late 1994. Nash held the championship for a year and was the worst draw as a babyface champion in company history.
12 12. Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley was a guy that WWE really liked. He had a “perfect athlete” look, was streamlined and toned, but muscly and strong. The exact type of figure that Vince loved. The only problem was that he was sorta dull. He was always around the top of the card, going for championships, and even capturing the WWECW championship on one occasion. But he never quite clicked with the audience, and despite his continued pushes, he was eventually released after an injury.
11 11. Aksana
Aksana was a complete travesty in the ring. She never seemed to get better, and all of her matches had at least two messed up moves. She just looked unsafe as well, not someone I’d trust in the ring. And yet, she was in the company for around five years. This was during a time when AJ Lee was beginning to turn around the opinion that women’s wrestling was worthless as well, meaning her faults were double as noticeable. So why did she stay so long?
10 10. Hulk Hogan
9 9. Sable
Sable once stood in the middle of the ring completely topless other than two hands painted over her nipples.
I don’t know if I need to say more than that. She was a key player during the emerging Diva scene during the Attitude Era, being put alongside the likes of Sunny and Debra as reasons for teenagers to watch the product outside of the wrestling. For the time it was fine, it was just the way the product worked back then. She was a star of evening gown matches, strap matches, and bikini contests, and she shone brightly.
8 8. Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly’s original gimmick in WWECW was that of a stripper. She would come out to the ring and strip, much to the annoyance of her on-screen boyfriend Mike Knox. She was just kinda pushed around various feuds, never really making an impact. She would get multiple opportunities at the Divas championship before winning it in 2011 on an episode of Raw. She dropped it not long later to Beth Phoenix at Hell in a Cell, and not long after that left the business due to injury.
7 7. Great Khali
He was more of an “Okay” Khali, wasn’t he? Intimidating enough, his size was enough to keep him interesting to crowds and was also the sole reason for the amount of focus he got on WWE programming during his tenure at the company. It certainly wasn’t his wrestling ability, that’s for sure.
Slow and boring, The Great Khali would lumber around the ring pawing at opponents as they tried their best to sell his moves like he was Godzilla swiping at a helicopter. But in actuality, Khali was a man whose years of performing with his build had taken a serious strain on his body, and by the time he got to WWE he couldn’t move the way he used to. Despite that, he still became a World Champion during a lengthy run with the company.
6 6. Eva Marie
Eva Marie is stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. I get a lump in my throat every time she appears on the screen. However, from the opening bell to the three-count I can only shake my head as she attempts to put on a half-way decent wrestling match.
Her push has been so obvious and see-through that NXT even turned it into a storyline. She is clearly loved by the staff at WWE, and have given her opportunity after opportunity to improve her in-ring work she can become the lead woman they want her to be. But it ain’t happening. She’s not great in the ring and her voice is shrill on the mic. On top of that, audiences are beginning to get completely sick of seeing her, and she’s getting massive heat from the crowd that even a heel turn can’t fix.
5 5. Roman Reigns
“You have it all Roman. The size, the strength, the speed, charisma, athleticism, the aggression, everything, you have everything you could want,” Triple H tells Roman a few weeks before Survivor Series, the two being bitter enemies at this moment.
Only recently, AJ Styles said that Roman was aggressive, explosive, powerful, and in order to beat him he’d have to have the match of his life.
This is a guy whose hand has been raised by The Rock and Daniel Bryan, and got booed both times. For years the WWE have pushed this guy as the next top babyface, and have been rejected at every show.
Why? Because he’s pretty. The ladies love him. He’s also quite tall, has got big muscles, and is Samoan which allows them to try and bring in Rock-esque promos.
4 4. Giant Gonzales
Way before the Monday Night Wars started in 1989, WCW signed a former basketball player named Jorge Gonzales, renamed him El Gigante due to his size and gave him a mini-push towards the championship. But he wasn’t very good, and other than his size he was unremarkable. So when WWE signed him in 1993, they had to come up with something incredible to get the guy over.
That incredible thing was a morph suit that looked like muscles, and saying “Gosh, look how tall he is!”
Despite being one of the esteemed few to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania, Giant Gonzales ended up going down in WWE history as a joke. It hasn’t helped his legacy recently when one of the most popular animated series of the last few years, Attack on Titan, is primarily populated with Giant Gonzales lookalikes.
3 3. Goldberg
Goldberg is one of the few cases where being pushed for physique rather than talent actually worked, and it even happened during an increasingly cynical 90s wrestling boom. But for someone who exclusively did squash matches, Goldberg was booked to perfection. He was treated like a legitimate killing machine, marking out his next opponents before quickly destroying them in the ring.
His career wasn’t perfect. He got out-wrestled and embarrassed by William Regal, had backstage drama with Chris Jericho, and lost to both Kevin Nash and Triple H due to backstage politicking. And on top of that, he was responsible for the most disappointing WrestleMania moment in history – On one side, Goldberg, the unbeatable man from WCW. On the other, the beast incarnate Brock Lesnar. The referee was one of the most important wrestlers of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin. The match sucked hard because neither competitor cared.
2 2. Big Cass
Call this one a prediction more than a clear fact. Big Cass will be hugely pushed over the coming years due to his size, and we’re already starting to see signs of it happening now.
Usually when a tag team member gets injured, the whole team is taken off TV for a while. You only need to look back at the Usos last year to see that. When Jimmy (or was it Jey?) got injured, Jey (or was it Jimmy?) ended up doing nothing, occasionally, commentating on SmackDown to keep himself busy.
But when Enzo suffered a concussion at Payback, Big Cass was given all the TV and mic time the WWE could throw at him, getting into scuffles with legends like Jericho and the Dudley Boyz over the coming weeks. He’s been made to look like a hero, and the figurehead of the so-called “new era”.
When Enzo came back their tag team reunited, but this is a strong indication of how the WWE view’s Big Cass, and we should expect to see him climbing the ranks quickly over the coming years.
1 1. Lex Luger
Lex was big, buff, blonde and all American. He was groomed to be the replacement to Hulk Hogan.
But Hulkamania was actually beginning to die out, and the companies pushing of Luger was so obvious that even an audience that still mostly believed in the reality of the product saw through it.
Imagine this: It’s July 4th, America’s birthday. It’s the launch of a brand new American aircraft carrier, and the WWE is holding an event there in celebration. The current champion Yokozuna challenges any American to body slam him, and a slew of American’s try and fail to lift the foreign giant. But then Lex Luger lands in a helicopter while wearing a Stars n’ Stripes t-shirt to slam Yokozuna for the glory of America.
Yeah, not surprised people saw through the obvious attempt to push Lex to the top. The company ended up going with someone else instead, a little Canadian called Bret Hart. It was one of the first steps the WWE took to accepting smaller athletes at the top of the card, something it’s still adapting to today.
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