If you're a professional wrestler then you probably have an awful lot of aims and dreams. Some may want to get to WWE. Pretty much everyone dreams of performing at WrestleMania. But surely every pro wrestler's ultimate goal is to become a World Champion. It's a select club that not many Superstars become a member of. There are huge names from the past that never held the top prize in WWE. Roddy Piper, Curt Henning, Scott Hall. While under the employ of Vince McMahon those more than deserved Hall of Famers were never WWE's top guy. Those names and others can cause quite a bit of controversy when it comes to discussing who deserves to be a WWE or World Champion in the present day. Some fans believe that if the likes of those big names never held top gold then a lot of wrestlers on the current roster should also not be in the world title frame.
In defence of the present day product however there is more than one top title in WWE now. If the big gold belt or the Universal Championship had been up for grabs along with the WWE title then those names mentioned above would have almost certainly been World Champions. That being said even with an extra title in the mix there are still a number of seemingly deserved Superstars that continue to be passed up. This list runs down 15 of them, some of which may still have a chance to reach the top of the pile and a few others whose time is probably up.
Rusev burst on to the main roster during the first few months of 2014. While his literal debut was in the 30-man Royal Rumble match of that year, it wasn't until a couple of months later that we were really introduced to The Bulgarian Brute. He was and still is a pretty unique wrestler and for more than 12 months into his main roster career he was unbeaten, capturing the United States Championship in that time. John Cena ended Rusev's undefeated streak at WrestleMania 31 and since then the Eastern European has struggled to get his momentum back. If it hadn't have been for his loss to Cena at The Show of Shows I'm almost certain Rusev would have had a world title to his name by now.
14 Big E
He has been NXT Champion. He has been Intercontinental Champion. While leading New Day he's been a Tag Team Champion. Yet one of WWE's big ones continues to elude Big E. Once Langston broke off from Dolph Ziggler and was no longer his bodyguard he won the Intercontinental title and the future looked bright. History dictates that winning the prestigious belt is more often than not a stepping stone to becoming a World Champion. Well no such luck as of yet for Big E, and it won't be something that happens while he's a part of New Day. There are certain people who would have you believe that Vince McMahon's original choice for the spot Roman Reigns currently occupies was ear marked for Big E, how different a landscape WWE could have had.
13 Wade Barrett
The British wrestling scene is currently going through somewhat of a boom period. Companies like Progress and Scotland's ICW are not only getting a lot of deserved traction but they're also in cahoots with WWE who themselves are just around the corner from a weekly UK based show. It's not as if wrestling hasn't had some remarkable Brits before the present day though. Dynamite Kid and British Bulldog among others, yet the British Isles have never produced a World Champion in WWE. There was a point when many of us believed Wade Barrett would buck that trend. The Bearer of Bad News led the Nexus in hunting down John Cena and it only made sense that his pursuit of Big Match John would culminate in a World Title win. No such luck however as Wade eventually left WWE and placed the hope of a nation on to this next entry.
When Wade Barrett had already announced that he was on his way out of WWE, he shared a moment with fellow Brit, Neville at a house show in a moment that went semi-viral. Barrett told The Man That Gravity Forgot that he had failed in becoming the UK's first World Champion and was now passing the responsibility on to him, adding that he was certain he would achieve what he couldn't. At first it felt like foreshadowing but immediately after, Wade attacked Neville and the heart felt statement was forgotten. Neville did have one WWE Championship match against Seth Rollins on Raw, and it was such a close fought bout that at points it really did seem like Neville was going to do the unthinkable. Of course he did not and Britain's wait for a World Champ continues.
11 Matt Hardy
The Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian's time as tag teams in WWE ran parallel. They were bitter rivals who had to invent a new style of match, Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, just to house their feud. Once all four men went their separate ways three of them became World Champions in WWE. Edge of course famously won multiple titles, as did Jeff and even Christian had a spell with the big gold belt. Matt Hardy on the other hand has never held a major title in WWE. The highest level he's reached is ECW and TNA World Champ, but unlike his brother and his closest rivals he has never made it to the very top. Maybe a spell as Broken Matt in WWE will change all that.
10 Luke Harper
Up until very recently all Luke Harper has known in WWE is The Wyatt Family. Naturally while a part of that group Luke has been overshadowed by its leader, Bray Wyatt. The big man and incredible worker he is though has had fans clamoring for him to be more than Bray's lackey. Like Big E, Harper spent some time with the Intercontinental title but it led to a dead end. Harper was finally inserted into the WWE title picture in early 2017 when he broke away from Bray and went up against him and Randy Orton. That was even more short lived than his Intercontinental title run however. Just when it looked like we were building to a Bray versus Harper title showdown, the rug was pulled out from under the former Wyatt and now he has returned to the mid card where WWE seemingly think he belongs.
9 Damien Sandow
While we're on the topic of fans believing in a performer that the machine doesn't have the same faith in, enter Damien Sandow. Like Wade Barrett, Sandow has since left the WWE but sadly it was before The Intellectual Savior of the Masses got what he deserved. At one point it really did seem inevitable as well. Sandow won the Money in the Bank and (almost) everybody who lays claim to that briefcase ends up becoming a World Champion. Consider Damien the exception to that rule as his cash in saw him come up short against John Cena. His work as Damien Mizdow also warranted insertion into the World title picture but again Vince McMahon and co didn't see it.
8 Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe has of course had a long and successful career, one teeming with championship reigns. The latest of those championships being the NXT title. Despite Joe's long career, he hasn't spent a very long time in WWE. In fact take NXT out of the equation and Joe has only been a WWE employee for a little over three months. It would be pretty impressive if he had managed to notch up a WWE World title run in that time. The reason he's on this list is because a wrestler of Samoa Joe's quality should have been atop of the WWE pile a long, long time ago. Even his stay in NXT was a little too long for my liking. If Joe's career had taken a different and more direct path then there is no doubt in my mind that he would be a multiple time World Champion in WWE by now.
Goldust has one of the longest tenures in WWE of any Superstar on the current roster. If it was based on length of time in the company alone Goldie would already have won an awful lot of World titles. That's not how it works though, and the younger fans among you may be absolutely baffled by the veteran's inclusion on this list. Well Goldust wasn't always the jokey character that he portrays today alongside R-Truth. During the mid-90s there was a time that Goldust was an extremely big deal, winning the Intercontinental Championship and having matches with the likes of Shawn Michaels. It got to a point however when even in a much racier time for WWE, Goldust's persona was a little too much in terms of sexuality and the brakes were pumped on his rise.
6 Baron Corbin
If I had been compiling this list a year ago there is no way that Baron Corbin would have made it on, and I would not have believed he would have a year from that point either, yet here we are. Corbin is one of the few Superstars to benefit from 2016's draft in a major way, especially since he went the way of SmackDown Live. I'm of the opinion that had he landed on Raw like some others, Baron would have been lost in the shuffle. On Tuesday nights however Corbin has really come into his own and it may be a controversial opinion, but he's ready to be WWE Champion. I'd definitely prefer to see him in that spot than Jinder Mahal.
5 Shinsuke Nakamura
Nowadays if you want to compete in WWE, you have to first go through NXT. It's no longer simply a developmental territory and even the most experienced wrestlers have to prove themselves there before moving on up. Few are afforded a direct pass like AJ Styles was, but one man I firmly believe should have been given the Styles treatment is Shinsuke Nakamura. It seems that his nationality alone stopped that and the year we've had to wait for him to arrive has felt like an eternity. If Shinsuke had been granted a place directly on the main roster then it is without question that he would have won a World Championship by now. He and Styles may have even competed for that most coveted prize, a match I am dying to see under the WWE banner.
4 Zack Ryder
A fair few entries on this list so far have been examples of the fans getting behind a performer and WWE sticking their fingers in their ears and refusing to give them what they deserve. There is perhaps no greater example of this than Zack Ryder. Yes there was famously Daniel Bryan, but with him eventually Vince McMahon took heed. With Ryder WWE sort of pretended like they were listening, then immediately made a u-turn. They've done that a couple of times in fact. Zack has utilized the internet to get himself over with the fans and WWE has rewarded him with a couple of runs with secondary titles. He has never reached the lofty heights of a World title however.
In an interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin a couple of years ago Vince McMahon famously commented that more Superstars in the present day need to try and grab the proverbial brass ring. During that interview the pair directly referenced Cesaro while talking about those brass rings. Well in my opinion before that and ever since, The Swiss Superman has continually grabbed those brass rings only for it not to be rewarded. It honestly surprises me that Cesaro hasn't been frustrated to the point that he has walked out on WWE and gone somewhere that his talents would be more appreciated. Right now the former United States Champion is successfully tagging with Sheamus but as soon as that comes to an end we need to see him inserted into either of the World title pictures.
2 Kofi Kingston
Kofi Kingston is the second member of The New Day to appear on this list. While Big E probably deserves to have been a World Champion by now, it's a straight up mystery as to why Kofi Kingston hasn't held that title. Long before joining the New Day, Kofi was embroiled in a rivalry with Randy Orton who was World Heavyweight Champion at the time. The two battled at SummerSlam and it seemed a given that Kofi would be leaving with that belt. Of course he did not and has never really returned to the title scene since. Now Kingston has to settle for tag team title reigns with the New Day and his annual acrobatics in the Royal Rumble match.
1 Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is one of the top five pure pro wrestlers on the planet right now. AJ Styles is also up there who has deservedly already been WWE Champion. Sami on the other hand is still waiting for any sort of gold since arriving on WWE's main roster, let alone a World Championship. So many times it seemed such a simple and straight forward decision to make Zayn United States Champion but over and over again it never happened. Yes we get that he's an underdog but eventually Sami needs to have a title around his waist, and it deserves to be a top title. Now that he's got his wish and he's on SmackDown Live the chances of that happening have greatly increased.