The WWE roster is currently packed with some amazing talent as the company has changed its policies a little bit and tried recruiting more independent stars in the past few years, which is why Raw and Smackdown both have flourished with talent. Not only that, but NXT is the one recruiting most of these extremely talented stars and honing them for the main roster when they get called up, making Triple H's show one of the best things about the WWE right now.
But like they have some very talented individuals in the company, the WWE also needs to hire some less than impressive in-ring workers to help the "entertainment" part of their show because of their ability to captivate the audience. There are only a few wrestlers in the main roster who actually started off their careers at WWE, most of the wrestlers had been recruited thanks to their impressive work in the Independent field or some other promotion.
While the WWE has a lot of talent in all of its shows right now, there are some wrestlers who stand out as the absolute best in the company regardless of their brands because of how amazing workers they are. Similarly, there are others which are the worst due to their poor wrestling ability and we see where these wrestlers were before joining WWE.
22 Worst: Lana - Professional Modeling
"The Ravishing Russian" Lana is still quite over with the fans because of how stunning she looks whenever she appears in WWE, but her good looks can't shadow the fact that she's quite the terrible wrestler. Lana is still learning the art of wrestling and before she signed with WWE, she wasn't even into pro wrestling. Lana wanted to be a professional model and had quite the modeling career many years back where she appeared in photo-shoots for publications such as RIGID Tool Calendar. She also went onto become a spokesmodel for Red Bull and Matrix and was part of some really steamy photo-shoots in her many years in the modeling business. She attempted to ignite a career in the show business but it failed for her, but Lana is lucky the WWE liked her and gave her the opportunity to be a star for them.
21 Best: Seth Rollins - ROH
Seth Rollins has been "The Man" in the WWE for quite some-time now and with his recent performance on Raw and Elimination Chamber, he proved why he's one of the best talents the company has right now. Rollins had to work really hard to get where he is today in WWE and was especially hard-working in the Independent scene, where he made a breakthrough after joining Ring of Honor. While Rollins had wrestled for PWG and NWA Midwest, he was especially impressive at ROH where he feuded with the top stars and impressed everyone by winning the ROH Tag Team Titles twice. He even won the ROH World Championship and WWE noticed his great work and signed him up later on, as Rollins has continued to break the boundaries and established himself as the cream of the crop in the WWE right now.
20 Worst: Mike Kanellis - ROH/TNA
Mike Kanellis hasn't really been able to make an impact in WWE ever since signing on with the company and has been a jobber to the stars in the past few months. That is especially surprising considering the amount of experience he has in the pro wrestling circuit, as he has been wrestling for more than a decade. Kanellis became popular when he started wrestling for Ring of Honor, where he won the ROH Tag Team Titles once and was a great mid-carder. Kanellis later went onto wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling as well and his wife Maria helped him get over with the fans. He also went onto sign for TNA and wrestled for them for a year, even winning the X-Division championship in it. WWE were impressed and called him and Maria back, but it's been a really sour journey for Mike so far.
19 Best: Finn Balor - NJPW/ICW
Finn Balor might not be "over' in Vince's eyes, but he's definitely proven to be one of the best wrestlers in WWE ever since debuting and is one of the unique ones as well. Balor spent many years working hard in the Independent promotions before arriving in WWE as he started off wrestling in Ireland and England and wrestled for Insane Championship Wrestling as well. He actually won the ICW Zero-G Championship before he moved to Japan, where he started a long career with NJPW. Balor would do many iconic things in NJPW where he won the IWGP Light-Heavyweight Championship three times and formed the Bullet Club! It was having done almost everything that he accepted WWE's offer and signed on with the company and he's had a rather successful time in WWE so far which could be labeled as "Too Sweet".
18 Worst: Curt Hawkins - Independent Circuit/TNA
Curt Hawkins has been on the end of quite an unfortunate losing streak of over 150 matches ever since returning to WWE, as things really look bleak for him because of his awful form in the company. Hawkins had been in WWE before this in his initial stint and even before that, he started off his career at the New York Wrestling Connection. He teamed with Zack Ryder and did some awesome stuff which allowed them to be picked up by WWE, but after Hawkins was released many years later, he wrestled at many Independent promotions. He wrestled in PWG, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, and Global Force Wrestling events after his WWE release and also signed with TNA! Hawkins spent a year at TNA representing GFW and won the TNA World Tag Team Championships with Trevor Lee and impressed WWE enough to sign him back, after which his "infamous" streak began.
17 Best: Samoa Joe - TNA/ROH
Samoa Joe has hit a bit of a snag recently in the WWE because of his constant injuries denying him the chance to show his full potential, as we already know he's one of the best wrestlers in WWE right now. Joe arrived at the WWE with tons of experience which he gathered wrestling for promotions like TNA at ROH. He actually got his breakthrough at Ring of Honor where he was part of some epic feuds and won the ROH World Championship as well. Joe later became a top star in TNA where he was a fantastic heel and an absolute machine, who won many championships and destroyed many opponents. It was after years of hard-work and impressing with his amazing ability that Joe received the call from WWE, where he now has the opportunity to show everyone how much of a terrific wrestler he is.
16 Worst: Titus O'Neil - Football Player
Titus O'Neil has been a really entertaining wrestler for the WWE over the years where he has mostly been part of tag teams and can't really make it big because of his poor in-ring ability. O'Neil isn't even a wrestler by nature as he was a football prior to joining the company and he had started playing football in college. Titus did his graduation from the University of Florida for whom he played he played college football from 1997 to 2000. He played 44 regular games in those years and after completing his graduation, Titus would play in the Arena Football League for almost 4 years with the likes of Utah Blaze, Tampa Bay Storm and Las Vegas Gladiators. It was a few years after leaving football that Titus joined up with WWE, something which has made him popular but done nothing to improve his wrestling skills.
15 Best: Cesaro - Chikara/PWG/Ring of Honor
Cesaro might be stuck in the Tag Team Division as the Raw Tag Team Champions with Sheamus, but a man of his talent definitely deserves a solid singles run which WWE is denying him. He's been an amazing wrestler for a long time now and well before he joined WWE, as he wrestled for many Independent promotions in the past. But the most memorable of his Indy career was his time in Chikara, where he also formed the "Kings of Wrestling" tag team with Austin Aries. "Claudio Castagnoli" as he was named as a shrewd heel who actually had hair back then, and he also did some amazing work in PWG and ROH as a tag team specialist and sometimes as a main-eventer as well. Cesaro might be a terrific tag-team guy, but he deserves more from WWE and it's high time he receives a solid singles push from them.
14 Worst: Dana Brooke - Professional Bodybuilder
Dana Brooke might love to show off her muscular figure to the WWE fans, but that doesn't really help in making her a good wrestler as she's still very poor and needs to work on her in-ring ability. Brooke is not really a wrestler by nature as she had started off her career as a professional bodybuilder and won many championships under the National Physique Committee for her great work initially. Brooke also appeared in the Arnold Classic in 2013 where she finished 12th and later on at the Arnold Sports Festival as well in 2015 finishing 13th. It was during this time that she caught the eye of WWE who were impressed enough to sign her and put her in NXT, but Brooke has been underwhelming so far and has failed to repay their faith upon her.
13 Best: Kevin Owens - ROH/PWG/CZW
Kevin Owens has established himself as one of the best heels in the WWE ever since arriving at the company and has been a terrific wrestler for them. Owens might have grown exponentially as a star after joining WWE, but he was quite popular in the Independent circuit because of the kind of violent, terrorizing wrestler he was back then. Owens went by the name of "Kevin Steen" and wrestled in promotions like ROH, PWG, and Combat Zone Wrestling as well. Owens won the PWG World Championship three times in his year with the company and wrestled in some barbaric matches in CZW, which is known for its extreme violence. He also had some iconic rivalries in Ring of Honor including that with El Generico aka Sami Zayn and Owens won the ROH World Championship as well, with his impressive reputation helping him get a call from WWE.
12 Worst: Jinder Mahal - Prairie Wrestling Alliance/Indy Circuit
Jinder Mahal has become a surprising top star in WWE after returning to the company as he shocked everyone with his WWE Championship win last year. "The Modern Day Maharaja" isn't really the best wrestler and often makes some mistakes in the ring, but he's been wrestling for many years now. He started to gain fame in his home country Canada's promotion "Prairie Wrestling Alliance" and often tagged with his cousin, Gama Singh Jr. Mahal also held the PWA Heavyweight Championship for quite some-time before he left for WWE. After his initial WWE release, Mahal went back to the Independent circuit and wrestled sporadically for promotions like Reality of Wrestling, All Star Wrestling, and World Wrestling Council. He was never that big a wrestler even in the Independent promotions, but WWE saw money in him and gave him the WWE title to make themselves more popular in India.
11 Best: Asuka - Pro Wrestling Wave/Smash Wrestling
Asuka has been an extremely dominant individual in WWE so far in her career as she's still unbeaten and has an insane winning streak going on, something which she deserves for being one of the best wrestlers in the company. She arrived in WWE with a lot of experience of wrestling in Japan and the "Princess of Tomorrow" got over during her time at Pro Wrestling Wave. She won the Wave Tag Team Championships twice during those years and also later wrestled for Smash Wrestling, where she won the Divas Championship twice as well! Asuka has wrestled all around the Japanese Independent circuit and her incredible wrestling skills were spotted by WWE as Triple H signed her up and made her into this dominant force which seems unstoppable right now because of how damn good she's been so far in the WWE.
10 Worst: Mojo Rawley - Professional Football Player
Mojo Rawley is someone who isn't liked by many WWE fans because of how annoying his character is and how average his wrestling skills are and the reason he's been pushed by WWE is because of his professional football career prior to joining the company. Rawley had a great career in college football which gave him the opportunity to play in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers. He wasn't really that good as a defensive lineman and later also joined the Arizona Cardinals, but he didn't make many appearances because his performances weren't good enough and that forced the clubs to let go of him. Thankfully for Rawley, WWE signed him up and he gave up his footballing career for a new one in wrestling, something which he's not really been that good at either.
9 Best: AJ Styles - TNA
"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles has been an amazing performer for the WWE ever since debuting and has adapted to the company amazingly well, and he's been rewarded by winning the WWE Championship twice. Styles might be a top star in WWE, but he got his popularity when he was in TNA many years ago. After an initial few years in Ring of Honor, Styles signed for TNA in 2002 and was one of their "originals". His growth in the company was impeccable as he won the X-Division Championship, NWA Heavyweight Championship, and TNA World Heavyweight Championship. He was the face of TNA for many years and won everything there is to win, before heading to New Japan Pro Wrestling for a few successful years. It was after that the WWE finally saw sense and signed him up and Styles has continued being one of the best wrestlers in the world ever since.
8 Worst: Curtis Axel - Brief Independent Run
Curtis Axel has been in the WWE for such a long time that it may seem like he's been here for the entirety of his wrestling career, something which is definitely not accurate because of the "Ax-Man" having a very brief run in the Independent scene before WWE came calling. He actually made his professional wrestling debut as an Independent promotion "World League Wrestling" where he teamed up with Ted DiBiase Jr in a tag team match. Not only that, but Axel also went undefeated and have a nine-month winning streak at World League Wrestling before losing his first match. Just as he was being established as a top star, WWE came calling for him as he opted to join their "FCW" developmental territory where he would spend a few years before eventually receiving his main roster push a few years later.
7 Best: Sami Zayn - Ring Of Honor/PWG
Sami Zayn has been going through a bit of a change in personality as of late as he looks much hungrier to do bigger things in WWE and is far from the "good guy" who initially debuted. Zayn has had quite the journey so far in the wrestling industry and even before he became a WWE star, he was a beloved figure in the Independent circuit because of his delightful character. Zayn portrayed a masked luchador named "El Generico" and wrestled in many promotions such as Chikara, International Wrestling Syndicate. But his best years were in Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla where he delighted fans with his terrific wrestling and won many championships, including the ROH Tag Championships with buddy Kevin Owens and PWG World Championship. He might've dropped the mask after joining WWE, but Zayn's wrestling ability has been terrific which ranks him amongst WWE's best.
6 Worst: The Singh Brothers - Global Force Wrestling
The Singh Brothers have played a big part in developing Jinder Mahal as a terrific wrestler in the WWE but in the same time sacrificed their wrestling part, as they barely wrestle and are part of awful squash matches. Despite their terrible in-ring form in WWE, The Singh Brothers have been in the wrestling industry for more than a decade where they wrestled in Indy promotions like Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling, Ring Ra King where they won the Tag Team Championships. Later on, they also appeared in Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling promotion as "The Bollywood Boyz" and became the inaugural GFW Tag Team Champions. Sunil And Samir Singh might not be that relevant wrestling-wise in the WWE anymore, but they have quite the history in the Indy circuit and will definitely want to improve their in-ring situation in the WWE going forward.
5 Best: Andrade "Cien" Almas - CMLL/New Japan Pro Wrestling
Andrade "Cien" Almas didn't really get that much attention when he initially debuted in WWE, but with his change in persona and ability to churn out incredible matches, people realized how much of an amazing talent he truly was. The NXT Champion brought a lot of experience with him in WWE and he was actually a very popular wrestling in Mexico during his days at CMLL. "Cien" wore a sweet mask. He won a number of championships including the CMLL World Championship and was also part of the popular "Los Ingobernables" faction. Almas also wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling for quite a few years and won the NJPW Intercontinental Championship in his years, where he feuded with Shinsuke Nakamura for the title as well! He achieved everything there was to in the Independent field before signing with WWE, where he now aims to become a top star.
4 Worst: Tye Dillinger - Independent Circuit
Tye Dillinger has spent a chunk of his career in the WWE where he's tried to get over and did for a period of time because of his "Perfect 10!" gimmick, but that has watered down again. Dillinger spent years in WWE developmental, but before he joined it, he wrestled for a few years in the Independent circuit. He wrestled in Indy promotions like Border City Wrestling, World Xtreme Wrestling for a few years before joining WWE's developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling. He was released in 2009 and went back to the Indy circuit and even had a tryout match at TNA. Dillinger wrestled in Mexico for a bit before working one Ring of Honor show and later on won the World Wrestling Council Tag Team Belts as well before returning to WWE in 2013, but things have gone horribly wrong for him on the main roster so far.
3 Best: Aleister Black - ICW/PWG/Progress Wrestling
Aleister Black is definitely one of the more interesting characters in WWE right now because of his supernatural nature and is one of the best, most complete wrestlers in NXT as well. Black brings in years of expertize with him as he spent many years in the European Independent scene wrestling for promotions like Insane Championship Wrestling, Progress Wrestling, and Westside Xtreme Wrestling. He also wrestled in PWG and the Japanese promotion Big Japan Pro Wrestling. He's been tag team champion in many promotions and was a well-renowned wrestler in the European scene prior to joining WWE. It was after his years of doing amazingly well in the Independent scene that WWE signed him up and it seems like they have some big plans on making Black one of the top stars of their company in the near future.
2 Worst: Zack Ryder - New York Wrestling Connection
Zack Ryder has been in the WWE for quite a long time and became popular because of his awesome work in social media, but he hasn't really been backed by WWE and mainly been a jobber to the stars for them. Ryder isn't really a good wrestler and has shown little improvement over all these years as it'd be difficult to say he's been in the wrestling biz for almost 14 years now. Before joining, Ryder actually wrestled in the Independent circuit for a while and worked for the New York Wrestling Connection promotion with Curt Hawkins. The two made quite the great team and even won the NYWC Tag Team Championships and spent their time together before moving to WWE later on. Ryder's stint at NYWC is probably not known by many, but he did have some wrestling expertise before joining WWE and gaining popularity.
1 Best: Shinsuke Nakamura - New Japan Pro Wrestling
Shinsuke Nakamura looks to be heading for big things as he earned the opportunity to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship after winning the Royal Rumble and will make this "dream match" a reality at Wrestlemania. Nakamura is a terrific, hard-hitting wrestler who is one of the best in WWE right now and he earned a lot of popularity back when he was in New Japan Pro Wrestling. "The King of Strong Style" wrestled for NJPW for almost 14 years in which he wrestled against some of the biggest stars it had to offer and became one of its most charismatic wrestlers. He won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship thrice, IWGP Intercontinental Championship five times amongst more amazing achievements before he decided to head into a new journey at WWE, which could be taken to another level if he manages to win the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania.
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