For any professional sports league – whether it is the MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL – free agent signings are one of the biggest components to appeasing your fan base, continuing the growth of your product, and ultimately, make it better. Unfortunately, however, many times these signings don’t reach their original expectations.
Sure, most people don’t view World Wrestling Entertainment as a professional sport. However, there is a reason why wrestling is called sports entertainment and just like the sports stated above, the WWE has had many times where different wrestlers are no longer under contract, thus making them available to sign with the company.
In the past, Vince McMahon has signed various talents from all over the world that have paid off tremendously.
Hulk Hogan was once a young upstart who became the man he was once he was signed away from the American Wrestling Association. Chris Jericho was a well-traveled technician who broke out when he left World Championship Wrestling. The Dudley Boyz were a hardcore tag team before joining the ranks amongst the best ever when they jumped from Extreme Championship Wrestling. Hell, even today’s top stars like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens were just seen as young guys with loads of talent in Ring of Honor before reaching stardom in the WWE.
Yes, those talents named above will go down as some of the greatest wrestlers that ever lived. However, for every Hogan, Jericho and Dudley Boyz, there are tons of other wrestlers that just didn’t work out for McMahon’s company.
With that being said, here are the top 20 worst signings in WWE history.
20. Hector Guerrero
The first man on this list – Hector Guerrero – may not have the same lineage as his late brother Eddie, but did have success before joining the WWE ranks.
While Guerrero was a former AWA Tag Team Champion while also challenging for the National Wrestling Alliance’s Junior Heavyweight Championship, his in-ring talents didn’t translate to the WWE.
In what is seen as one of the most bizarre moments in wrestling history, the Gobbledy Gooker – Guerrero donning a turkey costume – came out of a fake oversized egg that was seen on WWE television for weeks. Due to negative responses from the audience, the character was shelved until WrestleMania 17’s Gimmick Battle Royal.
19. Chris Harris
McMahon rarely took chances on former Total Nonstop Action talent, but saw enough to give Chris Harris a shot on the revived ECW. It made sense; Harris had a good look and was a seven-time TNA Tag Team champion that had enough fan support to catapult him into single’s stardom.
With fans anticipating Harris’s debut, it wasn’t hard for them to be disappointed in what they saw.
Now named Braden Walker, he appeared on television to be heavier and out of shape than what he looked like in TNA; and unfortunately, his wrestling skills reflected that. He had two underwhelming televised matches on ECW, which subsequently led to his release.
18. Ted DiBiase Jr.
When Ted DiBiase Jr. burst onto the scene with Cody Rhodes to create the “Legacy” faction with Randy Orton, it looked as though the WWE had their next break out star. Unfortunately, looks were the only thing going for him.
While he had the face and body that McMahon loves in his superstars, his bland in ring work coupled with his boring mic skills was the wrong recipe for someone who many saw as a future champion. However, the creative team didn’t give up DiBiase Jr., as they gave him a similar gimmick to what his dad used to do, including his Million Dollar championship and former “manservant,” Virgil.
After that didn’t work out, both parties decided it was best to end their relationship.
17. Chris Hero
Before Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Adrian Neville, there was Chris Hero. Hero, an indie darling, was a known commodity in Combat Zone Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and ROH, while also having a popular tag-team with WWE superstar Cesaro.
When he was inked to a developmental deal with the WWE, many envisioned him as one of their next top stars.
However, there seemed to be a miscommunication between both sides. While Hero – now dubbed Kassius Ohno – never seemed to get a quality spot on FCW/NXT card, rumors of both a poor attitude and lack of work ethic plagued him from really making a splash with the WWE.
16. Chris Candido
Before Chris Candido ran with the moniker “No Gimmicks Needed,” he was a young, athletic, good looking upstart who was a part of Eastern Championship Wrestling and Smokey Mountain Wrestling.
After establishing himself as a quality talent on the independent circuit, he was signed by the WWE in 1995. Coming in, Candido was viewed as someone that was Intercontinental championship material, while possibly developing into one of WWE’s more popular talents. Unfortunately for Candido, his two-year stint was underwhelming; while he did win the Tag Team titles as one half of the BodyDonnas, he was always portrayed as a comedy character that wasn’t able to showcase his true talents on television.
15. Monty Brown
Remember when I said McMahon didn’t like acquiring talent from TNA? Here’s example number two. Brown, a former NFL linebacker, made his name known as “The Alpha Male” of TNA; whether it was his over-the-top promos or his extremely physical move set, Brown was always seen as a top-level talent.
With the new ECW needing fresh faces, the WWE looked to Brown to be one of the mainstays of the show. Now named Marcus Cor Von, Brown was actually quite successful in ECW, including involvement in a match at WrestleMania 23. It seemed that the WWE had big plans for him for either Raw or Smackdown. Unfortunately, a family issue garnered a several month absence, which eventually led to his release.
14. Barry Windham
When you look back at Barry Windham’s career, his time in both the NWA and WCW was highly decorated. Not only did he hold the NWA World Heavyweight championship, amongst others, but also was a part of the Four Horsemen’s second incarnation.
However, when Windham decided to take his chances with the WWE, he was given terrible gimmick after terrible gimmick. During two different stints with the company, Windham went by the Widowmaker, the Stalker and finally, one half of the New Blackjacks. Throughout each of his roles, Windham didn’t find much success, as he was portrayed in little known feuds and never held a championship.
13. Marc Mero
Although he wasn’t a part of the wrestling scene for a long time, Marc Mero made his presence known in World Championship Wrestling. Using the name Johnny B. Badd, Mero was a flamboyant yet high-energy athlete that took WCW by storm. Once he became a face, he instantly became a fan-favorite en route to three different United States championship reigns.
When he jumped ship to WWE, he wrestled as “Wildman” Marc Mero because the Johnny B. Badd name was owned by WCW. After a short feud with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Mero tore his ACL and was out of action. When he returned as Marvelous Marc Mero, his heel persona was jealous of his real life wife, Sable. Because of her popularity, however, he was never truly able to garner fan support, as the WWE audience preferred her sex appeal to Mero’s athleticism. What makes this signing bad was that Mero was the first WWE performer to receive guaranteed money in his contract. In fact, he was making 1.5 times the salary of Steve Austin. Not exactly a bang for your buck deal.
12. Mike Awesome
There weren’t many wrestlers that were as athletically gifted as former ECW champion, Mike Awesome. At 6-foot- 6 and nearly 300 pounds, it wasn’t uncommon to see him hit a devastating power bomb, all the while doing an over-the-top rope dive with ease. When he joined the WWE during the Invasion angle, many saw it as an opportunity for Awesome to be a big-time player in the WWE.That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Sure, Awesome added the Hardcore Championship to his resume; yet no storyline direction and an untimely injury hurt his chances of making an impact in the WWE. When he returned in 2002, he was used as a regular jobber on both Smackdown and Velocity, which was a far fall from grace for Awesome.
When Kharma signed with the WWE in 2010, she looked completely different than the other Divas – something that seemed to be in her favor. While being an imposing wrestler in companies like Shimmer, ROH and TNA, Kharma was revered for both her unique look and impressive in-ring skills.
After vignettes were shown on WWE television hyping up her debut, Kharma finally appeared by taking out various Divas on both Raw and Smackdown. However, when she entered the ring to – again – take out Divas, she instead broke into tears, announcing she was pregnant and couldn’t wrestle.
After being a surprise entrant in the 2012 Royal Rumble, Kharma again went on a leave of absence and was released. That Royal Rumble match is her only official match with the company.
10. Ultimo Dragon
When Ultimo Dragon signed with the WWE, both he and the company thought the partnership would be beneficial, especially due to the emphasis on the Cruiserweight championship.
With vignettes hyping Ultimo Dragon’s debut, many fans were excited to see the man who was a big name in Mexico, Japan and WCW grace the WWE ring for the first time. Unfortunately, the creative team didn’t seem to know what to do with the international star.
Without ever really being in a notable feud, Ultimo Dragon’s biggest moment in the WWE had nothing to do with in-ring action; instead, it was when Ultimo Dragon tripped on the way to the ring for the Cruiserweight Open at WrestleMania 20.
This is no fault of Ultimo Dragon but rather on the company. Why sign the guy if you have no idea what to do with him?
9. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams
It could be argued that no one faced a string of bad luck like “Dr. Death” Steve Williams did when he signed with the WWE. Not only was Williams viewed as one of the best American wrestlers to ever grace a Japanese ring, but he also held an impressive undefeated streak, which spanned over 10 years and various promotions.
With Williams’s reputation as being legitimately tough, the WWE assumed he would win the Brawl for All – a real boxing tournament – which would send him to a feud with then WWE champion Stone Cold Steve Austin. That’s where it all went downhill.
After getting passed the first round, Williams was not only defeated by Bart Gunn, but also tore his hamstring in the process. After having a forgettable program once returning from injury, he was released in 1999. For one reason or another, considering they had hoped he would be a top rival for Stone Cold, the signing has to be seen as a bust.
8. Sin Cara (Mistico)
With Rey Mysterio facing multiple injuries and father time, the WWE looked for someone who could take his place to appease the Mexican market of fans. Enter Sin Cara. Sin Cara, formerly known as Mistico, was met with a huge amount of fanfare. The WWE held a press conference in Mexico City announcing his signing, various vignettes were shown on Raw and Smackdown and there was even special lighting during his matches.
Unfortunately, the lighting couldn’t even distract the fans from noticing the mistakes he made in the ring. In seemingly every match, Sin Cara committed botch after botch, to the dismay of both the company and their audience. Couple that with his lack of the English language and poor attitude, and the original Sin Cara was eventually released.
7. Scott Steiner
Although Scott Steiner didn’t join the WWE during the Invasion storyline in 2001, his re-debut with the company was met with both fanfare and excitement; after all, Steiner was one of the most popular and controversial wrestlers in WCW.
After Steiner came back at Survivor Series in Madison Square Garden, he joined Raw after being courted by both brands. Steiner was immediately thrown into a two-month feud over the World Heavyweight championship with Triple H, and while fans saw it as a dream matchup, their in-ring chemistry was off, resulting in two very bad matches at the Royal Rumble and No Way Out.
After the failed bouts, the creative team seemingly lost faith in Steiner, as he was put into random feuds with Chris Nowitski, La Resistance and Test – and never sniffed the World title scene again.
While out with an injury, he was released in 2004.
When you look back at ECW, there was no one that was more intense and intimidating than the Human Suplex Machine, Tazz. However, when Tazz believed he had accomplished everything he could with the promotion, he signed with the WWE and, to this day, had one of the best debuts in the company. During the Royal Rumble in 2000, Tazz answered an open challenge to the undefeated Kurt Angle, and eventually made him pass out from the Tazmission.
Unfortunately for him, that was his shining moment with the company.
After being in the Intercontinental and Hardcore title pictures, Tazz dealt with numerous injuries while seeing his weight balloon. Unfortunately, the injuries were too much, and Tazz traded in his wrestling card to become a commentator.
Having Sting on this list is interesting, since he still is under contract with the company. However, there was no one who was as highly anticipated to join the WWE, and eventually did so little.
Sting was the flag bearer for WCW, a career lifer with the company and someone who vowed to never join the WWE unless he believed the storyline he was involved in was worth his time. I guess money really does talk.
Sting, who debuted last November, was put into a feud with Triple H that was eventually turned into a WWE vs. WCW match…and we all know how those end. Sting made his in-ring debut at WrestleMania 31, and while Sting could’ve gone out on a high note and won his only WWE match, he lost.
There are rumors that Sting could be active at SummerSlam, Survivor Series and next year’s WrestleMania. However, the creative team blew his first – and possibly only – match.
No matter where he was, when you saw Vader inside of the squared circle, you knew he was going to tear his opponent apart. That is, until he joined the WWE. Leading up to his signing, Vader was one of the best heels in the business throughout Japan and WCW, where he was multi-time champion.
His debut in the WWE in 1996 gave fans high hopes for Vader. After having an impressive stint in the Royal Rumble match, he continued to attack wrestlers after he was eliminated. He also was in featured programs with the WWE’s two top dogs, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, for the company’s main prize.
Unfortunately, rumors of problems with Michaels led to his demise in the company. By mid-1998, Vader had lost his signature mask and became a glorified jobber. His WWE career came down to an odd end, with one of his final moments in an interview where he called himself “a fat piece of shit.”
He worked out his own release so he could return to Japan in mid-1998.
3. Sycho Sid
It seemed like neither wrestling company ever learned with Sid. Call him Vicious, Justice, or Sycho, he was never a great worker and kept getting pushed due to his look. The most entertaining aspects of Sid involved his botches. After signing Sid didn’t work out for the company in the early 90s – he was once seen as a possible replacement for Hogan – he was brought back as Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard once Diesel turned face. Sid feuded with HBK, Undertaker and others but once again, proved to not be a draw, nor a good wrestler. Sid went back to WCW after both of his WWE stints and remains a classic case of look trumping quality in Vince McMahon’s world.
2. The Great Khali
With the WWE wanting to have a face for their Indian market, they looked to Dalip Singh Rana – better known as The Great Khali. At first glance, the Great Khali is an imposing figure. At 7-foot-1, he towered over every opponent in the ring with ease. There was just one problem… He couldn’t wrestle.
Not only could the Great Khali not wrestle, but because of his size, he couldn’t run, pull off any maneuvers, or really even move. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was placed in high profile feuds with the Undertaker, Batista and John Cena, while becoming a two-time World champion. Eventually, the creative team came to their senses and used him as a more favorable comedic babyface. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before fans forget about the Great Khali as the Punjabi Nightmare.
There has been no worse signing for the WWE than Goldberg. During his heyday, Goldberg was arguably the most popular wrestler during the hottest wrestling period. He was the main character that was holding WCW together.
While Goldberg didn’t come over to the WWE in 2001, he eventually signed in 2003, debuting in a segment attacking The Rock, leading to a match at Backlash later that month. During his tenure with the company, Goldberg went through forgettable feuds with Chris Jericho and Kane, while underwhelming in a three-month program with Triple H H that saw him capture the World title.
Once 2004 hit, Goldberg entered a feud with Brock Lesnar and a dream match was set for WrestleMania XX. Unfortunately, because both men were leaving the company, they put on boring match to the dismay of the New York crowd. For whatever reason, Goldberg never connected with the WWE audience, and his subpar performances make him the worst signing in company history.
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