Those who dream of being mentioned among the best professional wrestlers in the world and of their time must have a wide variety of talents. They need to be physically capable of performing inside of rings, sometimes for up to an hour per shot, and they have to be able to draw fans in with their words, their personalities and how they conduct themselves when not wrestling. In many aspects, being a top-tier professional wrestling is far more difficult than is making it in European football leagues or in other sports organizations such as the National Football League.
The fact that making it to the top of main event cards in World Wrestling Entertainment and in other organizations is so difficult is what makes those who are seemingly wastes of talent so frustrating for those in the industry and for fans who want to cheer those wrestlers on at events. Multiple individuals who are showcased in this piece cost themselves comfortable livings and even millions of dollars, not to mention the fame, fortunes and legacies that come from being mentioned among the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Andre the Giant.
20 Matt Hardy
From the start of their careers, it became apparent that Matt Hardy never would equal what his brother Jeff achieved while working in the WWE. With that said, Matt was more than capable to produce memorable matches inside of the ring and his mic work improved over the years. Hardy was notorious for looking out of shape during the twilight of his last solo WWE run, something that he blamed on intestinal problems. Wrestling insiders instead saw Hardy's physical appearance as being a result of a lack of dedication to the cause.
19 The Ultimate Warrior
It is difficult to categorize where Ultimate Warrior belongs in this list, if at all. Warrior did, after all, have a career worthy of the wrestler being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He also had a long history of greed, allegedly asking for more money than was first agreed upon, and no-showing WWE events. Warrior could have been a figure equal to Hulk Hogan in status and popularity, but he instead was on the outs with the WWE for nearly two decades before he got his day at the Hall of Fame. That moment unfortunately came roughly 72 hours before he passed away.
While not technically a wrestler during her days in the WWE, any such list would be somewhat empty without mentioning the woman who is often credited for being the first true “Diva” in the history of the company. Sunny was a sensation in the early days of the Internet who was routinely featured on different WWE television programs and magazines, but her time in the company would not last a full four years before she was released in 1998. Alleged backstage problems coupled with rumors of substance abuse led to her demise within the WWE.
17 Evan Bourne
Evan Bourne is a high-flyer who could have been a star of the cruiserweight eras in both WCW and WWE. He instead suffered multiple injuries during his time with the WWE, but that was not all that kept him from ascending to the tops of cards. Bourne struggled following the company's rules for what he was not allowed to put into his body, failing multiple drug tests, allegedly for smoking synthetic marijuana. Those drug failures along with one final injury spelled the end of Bourne's days with the company, and he has not since worked for WWE.
16 Ken Anderson
It is almost difficult to believe that there was once a time when Ken Anderson was going to be the next big star of the WWE. Anderson got himself suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy, and his days with the organization came to an end when it was alleged that he was too rough inside of the ring with the likes of Randy Orton and John Cena. People can have whatever opinions on those allegations. What is a fact is that Anderson has never been welcomed back to the WWE since linking up with TNA Wrestling.
15 Brock Lesnar
The truth of the matter is that bitter wrestling fans could easily put Brock Lesnar atop this list. Lesnar was one of the most-talented wrestlers in the WWE in 2004 when he chose to walk away from the business to pursue careers in the National Football League and later the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Lesnar made a triumphant return to the WWE in 2012, and he is currently the best act and biggest single draw in the company. Fans can only wonder what could have been, however, had Lesnar never left in the first place.
14 Mistico as Sin Cara
Those running the WWE likely believed that they had the next Rey Mysterio upon signing Mistico back in 2011. While the Sin Cara character did manage to get over with certain groups of WWE audiences, Mistico's run in the company was largely a disaster. He was guilty of multiple botches during matches, including even messing up his own high-flying ring entrance on multiple occasions, and the man who first played Sin Car for WWE returned to Mexico in 2014. The company has since put the character, now played by Hunico, in a tag team.
13 William Regal
The veteran was, by multiple accounts, set to have the best run of his WWE career in 2008. William Regal was booked to win the King of the Ring tournament that was featured during a three-hour edition of Raw, and he capped that run off by defeating CM Punk by submission. Regal was soon after suspended 60 days by the company for a second violation of the WWE Wellness Policy. His abilities in the ring could not be questioned by any knowledgeable fan, but Regal can only blame himself that would could have been a prosperous run was cut short.
Raven was one of the top acts in Extreme Championship Wrestling when he, along with other stars of that company, was lured to join WCW with an impressive contract. While nobody can blame Raven for wanting to cash in and take the money, that move proved to be a mistake. Raven was more often than not an afterthought in the company, and that was not more true than he was booked to lose the United States Championship to Goldberg. He never again rose to such heights while with WCW, and one can't help but wonder what might have been had he instead linked up with the WWE.
11 Nick Dinsmore
The Eugene character was offensive in the eyes of many wrestling fans, but it was one that Nick Dinsmore did well to get over as a babyface during his days in the WWE in part because Dinsmore was so talented on the mic and inside of the ring. Like too many performers on this list, Dinsmore was responsible for the downfall of his time with the company due to failing multiple drug tests. The company gave Dinsmore opportunities to work as a trainer for the NXT brand, but he has not since worked underneath the WWE umbrella since October 2014.
10 Teddy Hart
Anybody who ever saw Teddy Hart wrestler either in-person or via Internet videos during his prime knows that Hart could have had the goods to be a high-flying star in the WWE. His resume has instead been filled with instances of Hart working an unsafe style, having an ego that comes more so from his last name than his abilities to perform, and even multiple charges of sexual assault. Hart could have been a great fit in NXT at any point over the past several years, but it seems unlikely that he is ever going to make it in the WWE because of decisions that he has made in the past.
9 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner could undeniably be an asset to the WWE, most notably in working behind the scenes with younger talent coming up the ranks through the NXT brand. Steiner is simply notorious for being difficult behind the scenes and even on the air. He was suspended by WCW for “shooting” during televised segments, and he was banned from the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony after an incident involving Steiner and the wife of Hulk Hogan. Steiner has even managed to burn bridges with TNA Wrestling. His inability to reel it in time and time again lands Steiner on this list.
8 Jake Roberts
Jake “The Snake” Roberts was unlike any other character who performed in the 1980s and 1990s. His original style for promos could make the hair raise on your skin, especially when he was playing the role of a heel, and Roberts was also an underrated worker inside of the ring. You do not have to be a wrestling insider to have heard of the many personal issues that Roberts dealt with throughout his days in the WWE and WCW, and he was by his own admission his own worst enemy for decades. Roberts has since registered victories over those demons, hopefully for good.
7 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett is the case of a wrestler who got a little too cocky for himself and who made one business deal that ultimately cost him. Jarrett put pen to paper on a deal with WCW in 1999, and he then (allegedly) strong-armed Vince McMahon for money in order to drop the Intercontinental Championship to Chyna at the No Mercy pay-per-view. That one choice burned a bridge for Jarrett, seemingly for good, and Double-J has since spent over a decade attempting to build a competitor to the WWE: First TNA Wrestling and now Global Force Wrestling.
6 Marty Jannetty
Shawn Michaels was a once-in-a-generation superstar and one of the greatest performers in the history of the WWE. Whether or not Marty Jannetty, once the tag team partner of the “Heartbreak Kid,” would have ever been able to have a similar career is unknown, but Jannetty can only blame himself for his WWe career flaming out multiple times in the 1990s. A house arrest that stemmed from Jannetty attacking a police officer cost him six months of his career, and it proved to be the beginning of the end of Jannetty's potential push to the top of main event cards.
5 Scott Hall
Some would say that Scott Hall had a fine career during his time with the WWE and WCW. Hall won multiple championships during his run as Razor Ramon, and he happened to be front-and-center of the new World order storyline that forever changed North American pro wrestling. Hall could have been so much more, perhaps even a world heavyweight champion across multiple top promotions, had he been able to defeat his demons and his substance abuse issues. A report put out there in May 2015 stating that Hall is still struggling makes one worry that this story may have a sad ending.
4 Buddy Landel
Everything was in place for Buddy Landel to potentially become the next big star in the wrestling business. At just 23-years of age, Landel, given the nickname of “Nature Boy” to help set him up for what was supposed to be a life-changing feud, was booked to take on Ric Flair. Substance abuse issues started the beginning of the end of what could have been a prosperous run, and a battle of depression then caused Landel's weight to become an issue. It was too late to save his career by the time Landel was able to right the ship and get his life together.
Say whatever you will about the supposed issues surrounding Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Chyna that led to Chyna departing the WWE back in 2001. That matter did not have to essentially signal the end of her wrestling career, as she had options overseas and eventually in TNA Wrestling had she wanted to resume working in North America. She instead fell off of the grid in the industry before eventually choosing to feature in adult films. It has been well over a decade since she has featured in the WWE, and her odds of making it into that company's Hall of Fame, an honor she deserves, are anywhere between poor and non-existent.
2 Rob Van Dam
The former face of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling brand waited and waited for his chance to shine for the top company in the world, and that time came for Rob Van Dam in the spring of 2006 when he won both the ECW and WWE World Championship titles. His celebrations would not last long, however, as both RVD and Sabu were busted for drug possession during a traffic stop that occurred because Van Dam was speeding. The WWE suspended the wrestlers and RVD was booked to lose those two titles, and he never again won the WWE Championship.
1 Jeff Hardy
There was a time when Jeff Hardy could have been the next big babyface in all of the WWE, one capable of overtaking even John Cena atop of cards. Hardy's struggles with personal demons – most notably with substance abuse – have been documented by wrestling journalists over the years, and even receiving multiple chances from the WWE and from TNA Wrestling did not keep Hardy from being his own worst enemy. While the hope now is that Hardy has gotten his life together and has defeated these issues, the truth of the matter is that he will never be the top superstar in the business that he could have been a decade ago.