It’s tough to determine which wrestlers competing under World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) lived up to expectations, or if they were shadowed by any sort of expectations at all. Numerous champions who have lifted the gold in the past may have been seen as hot commodities back then, yet history is not too kind to them when reminiscing about their time at the top. In other words, they were not as good as we were told they were.
Also, it’s true that Vince McMahon is notorious for drawing big men into the fold, using humongous athletes to take charge of his promotion and bring more eyeballs into the world of professional wrestling. Some succeed and use size to their advantage, while others fail miserably to deliver a good match.
This list of the 25 Most Overrated Wrestlers in WWE history doesn’t necessarily cover all angles of the board, but it challenges a number of talents who may have been given too much success based on their capabilities inside the squared circle.
But keep in mind, just because a wrestler is a good worker, it doesn’t mean he can’t be overrated.
25 Triple H
“The Game’s” inclusion may come as a shock; however, his place isn’t based on his whole career. He’s had some stellar showings (his matches versus Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels), and he’s extremely good inside the squared circle. Although, his exhaustive run as WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2003 annoyed several enthusiasts because nothing seem to change with Triple H during his stay at the top and delivering the same match over and over again. He is by no means bad, yet his reluctance to take new risks and rumors of not putting people over have the public judging his presence even harder during his time as the number one guy.
Triple H was also voted The Wrestling Observer’s “Most Overrated Wrestler” for three years straight during that time (2002-2004).
24 Randy Orton
Don’t take this one too literally either, because Orton’s ring presence and psychology stand out. The problem is, he’s been fairly average over the past couple of years, and it’s hard to pinpoint how many great matches he’s had over the past decade. He’s capable of performing well, yet his recent showings haven’t been mesmerizing, to say the least (apart from his epic match with Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 31).
At this point, Orton is a good wrestler who hasn’t done anything spectacular in almost forever.
23 Road Dogg
Again, there’s a difference between being a good worker versus having limitations in the ring. Road Dogg was pretty lackluster as Jeff Jarrett’s roadie, and he was the victim of a bad gimmick as the country singer, Jesse James Armstrong.
Being one half of The New Age Outlaws, B.G. James was an incredible performer, yet his singles matches were far from classics and apart from his theatrics when doing the “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” leapfrog body guillotine and his pumphandle falling powerslam, he wasn’t as amazing as his persona.
His partner Billy Gunn also escaped the wrath of these rankings, with his inclusion being fairly close.
22 Junkyard Dog
Junkyard Dog was quite a presence during his early days in NWA Mid-South Wrestling, filling the seats wherever the promotion would go and held a whopping 15 titles under the organization’s banner. His look was great, and he appealed to the African-American community, not to mention being highly influential in his day, too.
However, he wasn’t seen as the best worker or wrestler, despite his improvements later on in WWE, being a little too sloppy at times to be considered truly great.
21 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett is a perfect example of someone who did basic things relatively well, yet wasn’t anything close to being perceived as the great wrestler he portrayed.
The Tennessee-based wrestler impressed as a young stud under the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the United States Wrestling Association (USWA), but became unbearably boring years later under the WWE banner. He was always a presence while participating in the “Attitude Era,” however, his inability to dazzle crowds really hurt him. This wasn’t the case in WCW and TNA, where Jarrett won major titles and became even more unimaginative and monotonous.
20 Andre The Giant
For what it’s worth, when Andre The Giant was making waves as a larger-than-life wrestler, he didn’t really need to be all that skillful. The late 1970s and early 1980s were vastly different in terms of how wrestling (and wrestlers) evolved, and someone like Andre was used solely for his presence rather than what he could do in the ring.
By the early 1990s, it was apparent Andre was simply a giant used to trouble babyfaces like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Jake Roberts. Apart from his head butt, slaps, and the way he would crush the craniums of his foes, there wasn’t much else there.
No disrespect to Nelson Frazier Jr., who was widely perceived as a well-liked individual among wrestlers, but his singles push as King Mabel was more remembered for putting Diesel over in terrible matches than complimenting himself.
The expectations as Viscera could have only gone so far, and Big Daddy V didn’t provide anything fresh that we hadn’t seen before. He's mostly remembered as King Mabel, who never grew to be a standout. His attacks seemed slow and according to Nash, Mabel was almost let go after their SummerSlam 1995 match after being unsafe in the ring and almost “crippling” him.
18 Big Boss Man
Serving as a fan favorite prison guard and one of Vince McMahon’s enforcers later on during his career, Big Boss Man was popular enough to gain a following, and he usually drew the crowd in because of his veteran status and inclusion in big storylines.
Apart from winning the Tag Team Championship with Ken Shamrock and capturing the Hardcore Championship four times, he never held a major belt inside the promotion, and being bounced around from company to company in the 1990s felt like he was a big presence with little to offer.
17 Sid Justice
Also known as Sid Vicious or Sycho Sid, the West Memphis talent wasn’t all that bad in the ring, but he wasn’t primed to take the top spot.
Feuding with the likes of Bret Hart, The Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels complimented him in his stint in the mid 1990s, and wrestling guys like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior before leaving for WCW in 1993 weren’t seen as the most memorable conflicts, either.
It was more so Sid’s ability to hold major titles in WWE factored in with his incapability of having a lengthy match and delivering good promos when the camera wasn’t two centimeters away from his whispering mouth.
16 Dusty Rhodes
Rhodes was subjected to racial controversies, seeing how his lingo and mannerisms tried to depict African Americans in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Texan had been a premiere figure in NWA, participating against Ric Flair in a set of high profile matches, and when he ended up in WWE, he didn’t have the same success when it came to the programs.
Decked out in yellow polka-dotted attire, the “American Dream” was more of an embarrassment to his legacy, having acquired a plethora of titles in NWA and being unable to get over with the fans in WWE.
He may be astonishing to look at, yet Ryback never succeeded in the main programs, looking very flat and green against the likes of John Cena and CM Punk (despite the Chicago native making him look good at times). His time as a “Paul Heyman Guy” was an utter failure, and maybe the directionless athlete could be paying for not being the safest worker, either, having given Dolph Ziggler a serious concussion in the beginning of the year.
His “Feed Me More” shtick was working for a little while, although he comes off as another muscular prototype launched out of the machine that is used more for physical appearance rather than for sporting use.
Not counting his time in The Headshrinkers, Rikishi’s case is an odd one, given his hilarious and unique persona based on someone who dances and sports a thong despite his monstrous derriere.
He was thoroughly entertaining, but the Samoan didn’t have much to offer in the move set department, other than impressive kicks and a "Stinkface" full of his jelly. Still, his contributions were good enough for him to be a recognizable character down the road, and his four championships (Tag Team and Intercontinental) will likely get him in the WWE Hall of Fame someday.
He was simply limited in the squared circle, despite his willingness to work hard and entertain.
13 Ultimate Warrior
The WWE Universe was rightfully sentimental when The Ultimate Warrior died one night after appearing on Monday Night Raw following his historical WWE Hall of Fame 2014 weekend, seeing his life flash before their eyes after the juggernaut finally found peace with his former employers.
It was a very confusing time, because it’s almost as if fellow wrestlers and coworkers forgot about the harsh statements they made when it came to Warrior’s attitude and his wrestling skills. For what it’s worth, “The Self Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior” DVD can be found easily, if you need to see a handful of legends trash his existence.
Warrior was one of the most iconic stars ever, yet in all fairness, he wasn’t all that mesmerizing in the ring, using his chaotic actions to mask his lack of safety and skill.
12 One Man Gang
With wrestling booming in the latter half of the 1980s, it wasn’t all that difficult to be a top heel if you had size. A lot of big men were seen as spectacles, which made up for their weak offerings inside the ring.
One Man Gang was billed as a vicious street thug who terrorized the likes of Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, but his cool gimmick couldn’t save him from being a little too dreadful. After all, he was a brawler.
Things worsened when his manager Slick introduced him as Akeem, who was utterly deplorable as a character.
11 Big Show
There were several big men who dazzled over the years, including Bam Bam Bigelow and Yokozuna. Big Show wasn’t as gifted as those stars, but you could include him in the same conversation. That said, he hasn’t done anything spectacular over the years.
Brock Lesnar made him look superb in the ring during their feud, and besides matches against Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio Jr., Paul Wight has always been relatively the same in the ring since his debut.
He’s gotten more comfortable now, and he’s won the Triple Crown and Grand Slam awards, but he’s been quite dull over the years, besides his improvements for a wrestler of his size.
10 Ahmed Johnson
When Ahmed Johnson came to WWE as a former gangster eager to turn his life around, the hype behind him was overflowing. Here’s someone who was given the mid-to-top card feuds and a WWE Intercontinental Championship several months after making his debut, wowing fans with his unique style.
After being deemed too rough to work with, Johnson was running around in circles having joined The Nation of Domination, before jumping ship to WCW in order to join his friend Stevie Ray on a horrid run.
He was destined for a big push and even though there were problems that went against him which were unfortunate for him (reoccurring injuries, politics, etc.), Johnson’s potential was cut short and he’s not going to be known for his limited run as a top dog.
9 Bobby Lashley
The current TNA World Heavyweight Champion and active mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter looked like a promising talent when he emerged in WWE, drawing comparisons to Brock Lesnar and Ahmed Johnson.
He wasn’t given the reigns, but it was pretty close to it, holding the ECW World Heavyweight Championship for a while, combined with shaving Vince McMahon’s head alongside Donald Trump at WrestleMania 23.
Calling Lashley a complete flop could be harsh, yet his time in WWE never made him amount to anything other than a lifer in the middle of the pack.
8 Jim Duggan
In the golden age of wrestling, there were different expectations for wrestlers. Reading this list, you’d expect your fair share of underachievers, and there must be a little leniency when targeting them, too.
Jim Duggan was a patriotic figure wrestling needed during his time, yet he was very limited when it came to his moves. His three-point stance clothesline and running jumping knee drop were his signature moves, and although his “USA” chants and rugged style made for good television, he would forever be in the bottom-tier in the pecking order after winning the first ever Royal Rumble match.
7 John Cena
The “Doctor of Thuganomics” was surprisingly refreshing when his rap gimmick burst onto the scene, after his clean-cut “ruthless aggression” phase ran its course.
Now 10-12 years later, Cena ditched spitting bars while maintaining the same presence in the ring, which is mediocre at best for a superstar of his grandeur.
It would be foolish to disrespect the Massachusetts-born competitor, since his work ethic, dedication, and love for the business speaks volumes on a consistent basis. However, his tiresome and painfully unfunny punch lines don’t appeal to adults, and his moves are average at best. Maybe he’s overrated because when you compare him to legends that came before, he would be heavily overmatched in front of the likes of The Rock, Shawn Michaels, and The Undertaker.
6 Scott Steiner
When Scott Steiner teamed up with his brother Rick as The Steiner Brothers, they were one of the hottest tag teams emerging out of the early 1990s. Fast-forward a few years later, and Scott’s singles career went up in flames despite finidng success as a WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
Improvements to his physique were questionable, and he came off as one of the laziest and underworking guys to hold gold. His main events in WCW were painfully long to watch, and transitioning to WWE for the second time didn’t help, either. Feuds with Test and Triple H didn’t get him over, and he appeared to be stale bread by the time he worked for Vince McMahon again.
The mammoth athlete may have gotten better since his early days as a part of Evolution, but Batista never really evolved altogether, so to speak.
He’s held 10 championships in WWE, and he could very well be a future Hall of Fame inductee, yet Batista was never really able to tell a story in the ring, with his matches being short presumably due to exhaustion.
Fans weren’t so kind to him when he returned, facing backlash because of his part-time status while taking the spot of hopeful workhorses who earned the spots while he was away.
The Georgia-based beast had the “it” factor. He was just what the doctor ordered for WCW during the time they needed something big to compete against WWE.
When Goldberg made the switch well after the “Invasion” angle in 2003, he immediately started feuding against The Rock, Chris Jericho and shortly after, Triple H. Apart from winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, he looked disinterested at times, and became quite lazy when it came to his move set. His run was also capped off by perhaps the worst WrestleMania match of all-time against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XX.
3 Lex Luger
Lex Luger was billed as the “Total Package,” having all the physical qualities without mic skills or the ability to have a good match.
In 1993, the “Lex Express” was blazing across America, as Luger was arousing wrestling crowds after winning the "Bodyslam Challenge” against Yokozuna. He was incapable of winning a title shortly after, and Luger proved he simply couldn’t carry a company as the top guy because of his lack of wrestling abilities.
Not to mention, his matches were incredibly uneventful and it’s a shame he couldn’t muster up anything great in such a long career.
2 Kevin Nash
WWE had given Diesel the reigns to take over in the mid 1990s, and he was doing well with the fans. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t draw in the wrestling purists and legends before him to help his cause.
His most memorable matches were against Shawn Michaels, who made everyone look amazing, and it didn’t bode well that WCW had snipped both Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to compete under their banner.
That may have been a blessing in disguise for WWE, who didn’t have to deal with Nash’s laziness and underachievement, since he would return years later to form the NWO alongside Hall and Hulk Hogan, and stayed a while without any real conviction.
1 Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan is hands down the originator of the “Five Moves of Doom.”
The “Hulkster” was a larger-than-life figure who put wrestling on the map, and without his contributions, who knows if WWE would be where they are today. Still, he’s regarded as one of the lesser-qualified wrestlers when it comes to being truly great, and spent most of his matches getting beaten until “hulking up” for the last hurrah at the end.
There wasn’t much else after blocking punches, his clothesline, big boot, body slam, and leg drop, and you cease to wonder why guys like Randy Savage, The Iron Sheik or Bret Hart couldn’t stand having to watch him be put over qualified youngsters who earned main event status.
If wrestling were different back then, physical qualities wouldn’t be more important than the competitive aspect of sports entertainment. Luckily for Hogan, he came in exactly at the right time.