Many of the current Superstars made their name elsewhere before joining the WWE. In fact, some of these names resisted a move to the company for a number of years before finally caving in. As impressive as it is to make a mark outside of the WWE, it also signifies that fans had missed out on seeing them for a lengthier run.
Of course, it is better late than never to have seen them on the grandest stage, although a few names perhaps needed to develop away from the company. With today's list, we look at 10 stars who signed too late with the WWE!
10 Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode joined the WWE when he was 38 years old and didn't make it to the main roster until he was nearly 40. He would've likely achieved more success in any other era, especially if he had joined the WWE at a younger age. He had a great run on NXT and did pick up many titles along the way, but there is no doubt that fans expected more out of his run. There is still a place for him on the roster where he will likely continue to hop from one division to another until he calls it a day.
Considering Sabu's infamous style as a performer, he was never going to have a lengthy run in the WWE. Brought in 2006 to boost the credibility of the ECW brand, Sabu was already 41 years old when he made his first impression on a WWE audience. He did provide fans with a few highlights - including his attack on John Cena as well as some extreme spots - although he was well out of his prime by then. Sabu may not have been an ideal fit for the WWE at any point, but his stunts would've certainly drawn plenty in during the Attitude Era.
8 Samoa Joe
Every time Samoa Joe appears on television, fans are reminded that the company took too long to sign him. Unless you happened to be a fan of TNA, then you may have missed out on some of Joe's best work prior to the WWE. Given his great all-around talent, Joe is still able to succeed in the WWE despite joining at a late stage of his career. He made a relatively quick jump to the main event scene, putting on some brilliant matches and promos throughout his run from NXT to Raw. At 40 years old, Joe can likely give it a go for a few more years.
Goldberg never intended to stick around in the wrestling industry for too long, especially since he became a sensation overnight in WCW. And while it is understandable as to why he didn't join the WWE until the Monday Night Wars had been settled, it took Goldberg a two-year hiatus before he inked a deal with Vince McMahon's empire.
If he had joined during the Invasion storyline, the angle would've been received better by fans, leading to a smoother integration for all talents involved. The era was also more suitable for Goldberg as the industry had changed quickly with the arrival of the Ruthless Aggression era.
6 Marcus Cor Von
Marcus Cor Von has been forgotten by plenty of fans as his talents were wasted on the ECW brand. One of the most exciting talents to come from TNA, Monty Brown had the potential to become a star in the WWE. His mic skills stood out among his peers, while also having a finisher that was popular among fans. A few factors led to an underwhelming stint with the company, including his character change, but Brown should've arrived into the WWE a few years earlier to settle into a more fitting timeline. Fortunately for his legacy, he did deliver one stunning Pounce to Sabu that remains a top highlight for the short-lived ECW.
5 Shinsuke Nakamura
Since inking a deal with the WWE, Shinsuke Nakamura has been considered among the most talented and consistent names on the roster. Fans who had followed his career in NJPW and IWGP believe that Nakamura arrived into the WWE just as he was exiting his prime years as a performer. And while he may be a few steps slower these days, Nakamura is still a top attraction for the crowd as evident by his success on NXT and later on SmackDown. He is one of the few Superstars on the roster who would've likely been just as successful, if not more so, in any other era.
Coming into the WWE in 2010, there was plenty of buzz surrounding Kharma's debut who was fresh off an impressive stint with TNA as Awesome Kong. But her run with WWE was forgettable, to say the least, due to the lack of talent in the division at the time, as well as questionable creative direction for Kharma.
It also didn't help that she was written off television for a year due to pregnancy. Kharma joined the WWE at the wrong time as she would've been a far bigger name in any other era due to her unique character and wrestling style.
3 Diamond Dallas Page
It's no secret that Diamond Dallas Page turned into an active wrestler at an older age after having played the role of an in-ring manager for several years. His success in WCW's heydays had fans dreaming about various match ups involving DDP and WWE stars, but that wouldn't take place until the infamous 2001 angle against The Undertaker. Being 45 years old and dealing with nagging injuries, DDP's stint was always going to be a brief one. However, the company couldn't capitalize on DDP's debut as he quickly fell down the card before slowly fading away from the spotlight.
2 AJ Styles
It is likely that WWE not hiring AJ Styles early into his career was a blessing in disguise as it pushed him to continue improving and become a superior all-around performer. Styles made a name for himself away from the company and was already a huge name in the industry by the time he debuted at the 2016 Royal Rumble. He has gone on to have a remarkable run with the company, exceeding all expectations about his fit with the WWE. With that being said, fans would've loved having AJ on the roster a decade before the WWE finally signed him up.
Since the '90s, many offers had been on the table for Sting to join the WWE but he ultimately chose to decline them. Following the death of WCW, Sting was tempted to join some of his peers in the WWE although he had a change of heart upon seeing the booking of WCW talents. That delayed Sting's arrival into the WWE, especially as he settled into a new home with TNA. Most fans were just glad to have witnessed Sting in a WWE ring despite it being an underwhelming run that didn't materialize in a dream match against The Undertaker.