There are limited world titles in the world of professional wrestling and the best bet is to allow the world champions to have long title reigns to show how important the title is. This means there are limited opportunities to become a world champion in whatever promotion a person competes in.
Along the way, there have been some huge opportunities to deliver a new world champion to the audience, but for one reason or another those plans fell through. Whether it was WWE, WCW, the NWA, or one of the promotions in recent years like Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor, there are times the trigger was not pulled and titles never changed hands. Here is a look at 10 wrestlers that deserved a title win that never came.
10 TED DIBIASE
It is one of the most famous behind-the-scenes stories in WWE history. The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase was supposed to become the WWE world champion at WrestleMania IV but the plans were changed at the last minute due to politicking by other wrestlers.
WWE wanted Honky Tonk Man to lose his Intercontinental title to Macho Man Randy Savage but he refused. He caused such a scene that WWE felt he was going to leave with the IC title so they had Savage win the world title instead, which cost DiBiase his only shot to win the big title. DiBiase later said he was better off because creating the Million Dollar title made him a bigger star than a short world title reign would have.
9 JAKE THE SNAKE ROBERTS
Jake "The Snake" Roberts has to be considered one of the biggest anomalies in WWE history. The Snake is one of the most famous wrestlers in WWE history, a WWE Hall of Fame star who was considered one of the best wrestlers to ever step into the ring when it came to storytelling and in-ring psychology.
Despite that, Jake Roberts never held a single title in WWE. Roberts was supposed to feud with Hulk Hogan for the world title but since fans were starting to cheer for Jake, McMahon did not want to split the cheers and lose Hogan fans so he canceled it. Roberts was never an IC champion or tag champion either, proving how great he was to remain iconic with no titles to show for it.
8 DAVID VON ERICH
In the '80s, World Class and the NWA was building up David Von Erich to become the face of the company. While the Von Erich family were massive stars in Texas, David was the best wrestler in the entire family. He was going to beat Nature Boy Ric Flair and he was going to move on and eclipse his status as a Texas star and become the face of the world.
Then, one tragic day, David Von Erich died while he was wrestling in Japan. Plans changed and Kerry Von Erich beat Ric Flair for the world title at a show honoring David. Kerry was never meant to be a long-term guy like David was and his victory was a feel-good moment that was short-term. David Von Erich was going to be the best of the best.
When Vader came to WWE, it was a big deal. He had been a world champion in WCW and was a monster star in Japan. He was one of the top stars in all of professional wrestling and was a true big man tough guy. He should have been just as successful as someone like Mick Foley became when Cactus Jack moved to WWE.
In 1996, Vader debuted and it was only a matter of time before he was going to win the WWE world title. He was supposed to beat Shawn Michaels for the WWE title and that would have been great storytelling. However, rumors have it that Michaels didn't want to lose the title to Vader so he pulled strings, Vader didn't get the title, and he soon found himself flaming out in WWE.
6 ROWDY RODDY PIPER
For any hero to become great, they need a villain that pushes them to the top. A face is never as great as when his main nemesis is the most hated man in the sport. Rowdy Roddy Piper was the perfect villain and he is the reason Hulk Hogan became as huge as he did. Piper was the only man that Hogan never could defeat.
Despite this, Roddy Piper never won the world title. He was the top villain for Hogan but the two men made each other's lives hell without ever beating each other. If Piper beat Hogan, their dynamic would have died. If Hogan beat Piper, likewise. However, even with Randy Savage and Ric Flair as the champions, Roddy Piper never got the world title reign he deserved.
5 MAGNUM TA
Magnum T.A. was supposed to be the Hulk Hogan of the NWA. Magnum had worked his way to the top of the company the right way. He worked as a babyface who battled some of the biggest villains in the company, with his main enemies being Tully Blanchard and Nikita Koloff.
Jim Crockett planned on Magnum T.A. to become his company's Hulk Hogan -- the man who would allow them to battle WWE on equal terms. Then, one night, Magnum T.A. was in a car accident, wrapping his Porche around a light pole and ended up paralyzed. His wrestling career ended and the win over Ric Flair for the NWA world title never happened.
4 RAZOR RAMON
It seems almost crazy that Razor Ramon was such a major star in WWE but he never made it to the top of the company. He then went to WCW and was one of the biggest stars there, but once again never won the world title. In WWE, he was a huge nemesis of Shawn Michaels and beat HBK for the IC title but never took the world title from him.
He went to WCW with Kevin Nash, and while Nash was a WCW champion, Hall was a second-tier star there too. As great as Hall was in professional wrestling, he was always the next contender who never got the gold.
3 LEX LUGER
Lex Luger was a huge star in WCW when he made the jump to WWE. Vince McMahon believed that with his look and charisma, Luger could become the next Hulk Hogan. McMahon put a huge fire behind the push of Luger, calling him the All-American hero and sending him from town to town in his promotional bus.
Luger was supposed to beat Yokozuna for the WWE world title but the heat cooled drastically and McMahon reportedly believed that Luger was not the man to lead WWE to the next generation, especially after Luger told an interviewer that he was booked to win the title. He never beat Yokozuna, despite the initial plans, and Luger was quickly back in WCW.
2 RICKY "THE DRAGON" STEAMBOAT
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat was always one of the top wrestlers from an in-ring standpoint when he worked in WWE. He was a success in the NWA before moving to WWE but when he got to the company, he was moved into the mid-card as a very over babyface.
However, the best he did was win the Intercontinental title from Macho Man Randy Savage at WrestleMania III in what was called the best match in WWE history at that point. Despite that, he was a babyface in an era where Hulk Hogan was the world champion so he never got a chance at the big title. It wasn't until Steamboat left for WCW that he finally won the big one -- but he only held one title in his WWE career and never the big one.
1 MR. PERFECT CURT HENNIG
Curt Hennig had experience as a world champion, holding the AWA world title before he ended up signing with WWE and becoming Mr. Perfect. The world title in WWE was supposed to end up around Perfect's waste but it never happened. Hennig was supposed to win the Royal Rumble in 1991 but that ended up going to Hulk Hogan due to his pull backstage.
Later, when Ric Flair and Randy Savage became world champions, it looked like Hennig was going to be one of those early new-look champions as well. It never happened, Bret Hart ended up winning the title, and then Hennig's bad back ended his WWE push completely.