This is one of those topics where the trick isn’t finding enough examples, it’s trying to narrow them down. Since wrestling began, there have been a lot of constants of the business. And sadly, one of them is that incredibly talented performers are simply not given the chance they deserve to rise correctly. It’s been that way for years and the reasons are varied. The short-sighted reasoning of those in charge, other workers not willing to give up their spot, even fans not giving them a shot. Whatever the reasons, it just happens, not always fair but it does.
The list is long and filled with plenty of workers, including some major names of the business. It’s amazing to look at these people exploding with talent and promise and yet somehow just not used right. In some cases it’s young talent but in others, it’s a veteran making a jump yet not used the way they should be. It’s always a disappointment to watch happen but it seems unlikely to continue. WWE are easy to blame but WCW and TNA have more than their share of such examples as well. Here are 20 of the biggest cases of wrestlers never used the way they should have been and how it hurt them and the companies as well.
20 The Ascension
19 2 Cold Scorpio
18 Brodus Clay
17 Terry Taylor
According to legend, it was literally the flip of a coin between Taylor and Curt Hennig for the “Mr. Perfect” gimmick. Taylor lost that as badly as you can imagine. A great star in Mid-South and the UWF, he was a terrific worker able to handle 60 minute matches with Ric Flair and good on the mic. But then he was saddled with one of the absolute worst characters in history: The Red Rooster. A red streak in his blonde hair, terrible promos of actual rooster crows and more, Taylor never had a chance, a complete joke and his attempt to remake himself in WCW as “Terrance Taylor” didn’t do much better.
At first, Vader was used perfectly by WCW, the unbeatable monster crushing all in his path and dominating as champion. But the arrival of Hulk Hogan pushed him down to nothing feuds with Sting and the Boss among others. He and Hogan seemed set for a dream battle but it was ruined when Hogan no-sold Vader’s dreaded powerbomb BEFORE their PPV match. Vader never recovered, soon out of WCW and at first, his WWE run was promising but was marred by battles with Yokozuna.
15 Chris Harris
14 Orlando Jordan
13 Diamond Dallas Page
12 Lance Storm
10 Cactus Jack
In his first book, Foley is clear that he liked WCW and would have stayed but couldn’t stand what they were doing with him. It was one thing to be used as just muscle against Sting, but it got worse with his feud with Vader. First, they came up with the horrible “Lost in Cleveland” skits that rendered what should have been an epic feud into a total joke and Foley hated it. The blow-off was a good Halloween Havoc match but still not as good as could have been. The final straw was when Vader power-bombed Foley on concrete, a huge move but the announcers completely no-sold it.
9 Christopher Daniels
For a time, it looked like the “Fallen Angel” was going to be one of TNA’s biggest stars. He was a great tag team worker with XXX and then set the record for the longest X Division title reign, including his classic battles against A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe and killer promos. But then, he was put into the idiotic masked personas of Curry Man and Suicide that took away a key element for TNA and robbed his momentum. He would return but not quite the same big star with a dumb face tattoo and gimmick that didn’t suit him well.
8 Shane Douglas
Even WWE themselves acknowledge Douglas’ run in 1995 as a total flop. Coming in from ECW, Douglas had shown himself as a main-event caliber heel and a terrific worker. WWE’s great idea was to present him as “Dean” Douglas, talking school lessons and scratching a chalkboard, not exactly a threatening person. Of course, Douglas had issues clashing with the Kliq and coming out the loser there.
Madusa got a big push in WWE as Alundra Blayze, winning the Women’s title and seemingly ready to push this division up. However, Blayze had a falling out thanks to her lack of payment and some poor booking and so jumped to WCW. It was a famous moment as she showed up on “Nitro” and dumped the WWE Women’s title belt into a garbage can on live television.
WCW struck gold with this man, pushing him as an unbeatable monster and his victory over Hogan for the World title was fantastic. Sadly, Goldberg was soon lost by the politics of WCW, his reign a joke as he was often not even headlining shows. He got lost in the shuffle following the Fingerpoke of Doom and was marred by a bad heel turn, injury and other moves that cost him his heat.
5 Nick Dinsmore
There’s an entire list to be made of guys who were fantastic in WWE’s developmental system but when they got the call-up to the big league, they were saddled with terrible stuff. In OVW, Dinsmore was a terrific worker who reigned as champion 10 times and sparked fans up with his act. When he was moved to RAW, he was given the character of Eugene, Eric Bischoff’s “slow” nephew and meant to be used as comic relief. At first, there was the promising bit of him as a wrestling savant who could copy anyone in the ring and it had promise with The Rock giving him the rub in a promo.
3 Mike Awesome
2 Cheerleader Melissa
1 Bret Hart
Nothing speaks to the sheer ineptitude of WCW than what they did with Bret Hart. This was a massive star, an icon in Canada (a fanbase WCW could never quite crack) who was coming off the biggest double-cross in wrestling history. This was a major coup for the company and Bret easily could have helped them take the lead in the Monday Night War for good.
Instead, in his very first appearance, Bret was made the special referee for a match between Eric Bischoff and Larry Zybsko for the fate of “Nitro” then an entrance in an attempt to salvagee the terrible blow-out to the Hogan/Sting match. For the next couple of years, Bret was shoved down the card, with feuds that went nowhere, lost amid the politics of WCW and the non-stop New World Order push. He never became the headliner WCW should have used him for. Bret would get the belt down the road but it didn’t mean as much thanks to how WCW had devalued it and his career was ended by injuries suffered as champion. Bret himself has always been sorry for how things went and even Vince McMahon has indicated he can’t believe how badly WCW dropped the ball with a man who could have led them to the promised land.
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