Any wrestler who’s not named Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, Triple H or The Undertaker must have had a period of irrelevance since the turn of the century. Even big-name wrestlers like Kevin Nash or Booker T are no exceptions.
A wrestler becomes irrelevant due to a multitude of reasons. They can be forced into retirement, sustain injuries, experience a drop in quality of matches, or they may face personal issues. However, a good number of wrestlers also become irrelevant when a company chooses to make them irrelevant. We’ve seen a great deal of wrestlers become irrelevant because of a bad attitude or booker’s malicious intents or downright poor booking. Santino Marella, Low-Ki and Damien Sandow are a few examples from various time periods.
In any roster, at any point in time, there must be wrestlers who’ve only recently become irrelevant, and WWE is no exception. WWE has made a good number of wrestlers irrelevant in the recent times because of the creative’s not having anything for them, their characters becoming stale or the wrestlers’ prolonged absence due to injury or personal reasons.
Here, we'll list some wrestlers WWE has made irrelevant in the recent times and discuss why they find themselves in a rut. We'll also predict the downfall of more wrestlers and explain why they’ve been named ahead of other WWE wrestlers.
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20 Irrelevant: Jinder Mahal
Jinder Mahal was a World Champion not so long ago. Last week, though, he was pinned by Zack Ryder, who has been so irrelevant in the recent times that he didn’t even make our list, at Main Event of all WWE shows. While it’s true a lot of people saw it coming all along given the negative reaction his push received from fans, not many expected him to return to jobber tier after rubbing shoulders with Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton and AJ Styles, among others.
At this point, no one will be surprised to see The Modern Day Maharaja and The Singh Brothers be future endeavoured or sent to one of the smaller WWE shows, like Main Event.
19 Will Be Soon: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is the new Cesaro. The Montreal born wrestler can put on excellent matches with anyone on the roster but, unlike The Swiss Cyborg, he can cut a decent promo. He’s seen numerous other indie darlings, including AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, sign for WWE months after he did and go on to become bigger names than he’s ever been in the WWE umbrella.
Zayn was placed in a feud with Bobby Lashley earlier this year that didn't do him any favors and that took a lot of momentum out of his heel run.
Save for a miracle like The Yes Movement, he’ll soon be made irrelevant by WWE.
18 Irrelevant: Tye Dillinger
Tye Dillinger’s entrance at number 10 at Royal Rumble 2017 showed us he’s capable of producing a reaction from the audience. Given his overall talent, it felt as though he’d back it up in the ring, but the WWE writers haven’t given him an opportunity to do that. Indeed, he couldn’t hang with the main-event talents for long, but he does boast what it takes to be an Intercontinental Champion or United States Champion. For some reason, though, he hasn’t even been handed a proper storyline, with even a comic relief segment like Dance Break proving enough to end R-Truth’s association with him.
17 Will Be Soon: Jason Jordan
Jason Jordan's main-roster run with Chad Gable wasn’t as epic as it could have been, but Dave Meltzer and other prominent wrestling journalists touted the duo to achieve big things in WWE. With WWE’s making Jason Jordan hang with Kurt Angle and Money in the Bank winner Baron Corbin, it felt as though he’d be the breakout star. However, injuries have set him back, with Chad Gable now gaining admirers both inside and outside the company.
The former Raw Tag Team Champion’s injury reportedly being career-ending has also not helped matters either. Even if he does come back though, it doesn't seem like WWE will resume their push for Jordan.
16 Irrelevant: Gran Metalik
Triple H and WWE aptly made Gran Metalik the Cruiserweight Classic finalist, but they have failed to utilize him properly since the launch of 205 Live. Indeed, those who’ve had the opportunity to be Cruiserweight Champions ahead of him have absolutely deserved it, but it’s safe to say he’s been unfairly deprived of his chance at the top.
It’s likely that his not being the best speaker of the English language on the 205 Live roster is a big reason why he finds himself where he is.
That said, so are Kairi Sane and Akira Tozawa, who’ve both been more successful than him.
15 Will Be Soon: Aiden English
Rusev Day was undoubtedly one of the best things going on SmackDown Live, if not, WWE as a whole. For some reason, though, before the angle could peak, WWE chose to break the team up, writing yet another unimaginative angle involving adultery. The Rusev Day shtick showed the WWE Universe what Aiden English is capable of, and oftentimes, the fans looked forward to seeing him perform. He probably won’t be able to create Rusev Day magic again, as it felt more organic than most other angles in the last decade. He’ll probably transform into Tye Dillinger 2.0, especially with much more popular talents already struggling for TV time.
14 Irrelevant: Carmella
Carmella’s hanging out with James Ellsworth with the Money in the Bank briefcase highlighted her strengths. She proved she could cut a good promo and draw a response from the crowd. Her title run and matches with Asuka, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair all drew classic reactions from the fans.
Her dropping the title, however, has made her less relevant than a recently-dethroned Women’s Champion should be.
Her teaming up with R-Truth has definitely made for some exciting segments, but most wrestling fans agree she can be more than just a Dance Break gimmick. Here’s hoping WWE doesn’t make her any more irrelevant than she’s already become.
13 Will Be Soon: Asuka
Asuka debuted on the main roster to much fanfare. With her making the main-roster jump on the back of a monster winning streak, wrestling fans expected WWE to treat her like a bigger deal than anyone else. Their making her win the Royal Rumble match was seen as a precursor to a huge push but, one year into her main-roster run, it remains her only major accolade.
Why Vince McMahon feels she can’t connect with the main-roster audience is anyone’s guess, as she comes off as a believable champion. Many hope she’ll spring back to prominence once the Becky Lynch-Charlotte Flair feud ends, but if she doesn’t get a title run before WrestleMania, she’ll become irrelevant.
12 Irrelevant: Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode is a curious case. He drew excellent reactions from the NXT crowd, with his cockiness tempting the crowd to hate and love him at the same time. For some reason, WWE chose to make him a face on the main roster, effectively taking away his edge.
He now languishes near the bottom of the mid-card, and has been a part of a rather forgettable angle with Chad Gable.
He should have been a heel on Raw or been on SmackDown Live for a few more months to establish himself. It’s safe to say he’s already irrelevant on the main roster, just months after embarking on a much-lauded NXT Championship run,
11 Will Be Soon: Bray Wyatt
Although many touted him to replace The Undertaker in the long run, WWE hasn’t booked him well enough to even achieve half as much as The Deadman has done. He, indeed, has had high-profile matches at major PPVs and has had a WWE Championship run but, when all things considered, he only looks a jobber to the main-event talents like Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
His run with Woken Matt Hardy was far from impressive as well. Should he fail to reinvent himself, WWE will probably make him irrelevant, especially with NXT’s Aleister Black drawing reactions The Eater of Worlds can only dream of.
10 Irrelevant: Chad Gable
"He is so talented. If he left, anywhere he went he would do freaking great. Then WWE would want him back and respect him more,” wrote respected wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Newsletter in July 2018. Since his statement, though, his stocks have only plummeted, with his now wrestling in a tag team with Bobby Roode in a division that also has The Authors of Pain and Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre fighting for the Raw Tag Team Championship. It’s safe to say he’s currently irrelevant and needs a miracle to reach the heights a wrestler as talented as him must do.
9 Will Be Soon: Rusev
We discussed earlier how Aiden English will end up becoming irrelevant in the near future. He won’t be the only wrestler to pay for Rusev Day’s break-up. Rusev, a former United States Champion, has heavily banked on his wife Lana and tag-team partners like Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio to win in kayfabe, so their break-up only leaves him in a much worse position.
With Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Big E all proving to be more rounded wrestlers, he’ll soon return to irrelevancy.
It’s quite sad that WWE never really allowed Rusev Day to reach the popularity it deserved to.
8 Irrelevant: The Club
The Club arrived to much fanfare in April 2016. Given their popularity in Japan and their working with red-hot AJ Styles, many expected Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to be treated like big deals in WWE’s tag-team scene. They’ve only been sparingly since, to hype AJ Styles or Finn Balor up. It’s been over two years since their debut, and they’ve failed to climb up the pecking order, with their career highlight in WWE being a two-month Raw Tag Team Championship reign. Now on SmackDown Live, they’ve hardly been seen on television, with The New Day and The Usos dominating the tag-team scene.
7 Will Be Soon: The B-Team
The B-Team was always going to be nothing more than transitional champions, but the way they treated the Raw Tag Team Championship titles gave their fans little hope that, perhaps, they’d hold on to it for a long time. However, their reign ended only 50 days after they’d won the titles of Woken Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt.
They haven’t been in the title picture since, with bigger names like Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Drew McIntyre feuding over the titles. It’s safe to assume they’re already irrelevant, just three months after being crowned the Rag Tag Team Champions.
6 Irrelevant: Bayley
Bayley has, indeed, won the Raw Team Championship and went on to hold it for 76 days. Only Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey have held the title for 76 days or more. However, for a wrestler who was so over as she was in NXT, she has been poorly booked on the main roster.
Since July 2016, she has only rarely been used in high-profile feuds, with her rivalries with Sasha Banks proving the only outlier.
With Nikki Bella back, her stocks will only fall further. Given her talent and ability to connect with the fans, she can become relevant again but, as of now, she’s irrelevant, by her standards.
5 Will Be Soon: Finn Balor
When you win the Universal Championship on your first big match, against Roman Reigns of all opponents, you must expect to be treated like the biggest star on the roster. For Finn Balor, however, it remains his biggest night on the main roster to date. He has since wrestled for Intercontinental Championship and the title he claims to have never lost but has failed to win any major tournament or title since.
If he continues to be booked the way he currently is, he will soon be irrelevant. One imagines what he’d have become had he not sustained an injury on his first main-roster PPV, SummerSlam.
4 Already: Hideo Itami
WWE made a promising move signing Pro Wrestling Noah talisman Hideo Itami in July 2014 after a successful tryout. He was seen as the guy who’d spearhead the Japanese revolution in WWE; however, frequent injuries meant he hasn’t quite realized his potential in WWE yet. In spite of his talent, he’s found himself being surpassed by Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre and Samoa Joe, among many others. He’s been healthy for some time, and is quietly building momentum in 205 Live. He now needs a miracle to swim out of irrelevance and the graveyard that is 205 Live now.
3 Will Be Soon: Drew Gulak
Enzo Amore brought attention to 205 Live when the show was drawing little to no interest from most wrestling fans. He didn’t just elevate himself, for he also elevated everybody who worked with him. Drew Gulak, in particular, benefited greatly from working with the former Cruiserweight Champion.
His character became more sports-entertaining, but he managed to utilize the attention he was receiving to make people take notice of wrestling ability.
Wrestling in UK Championship Tournament and putting on great matches on 205 Live, he’s established himself as a badass. However, if WWE doesn’t put him in title matches, he’ll soon become irrelevant.
2 Irrelevant: Sanity
How WWE has handled Sanity has confused everyone. After prematurely calling them up to the main roster without Nikki Cross, arguably the most important member of the faction in April 2018, they’ve failed to use them in any capacity, save for a handful of matches and segments. There were reports that the company kept them away from TV due to copyright issues, and they’re finally making noises again, with the leader of the stable, Eric Young, detailing their origin on social media. With The Bludgeon Brothers on the same roster, they can have numerous lame yet interesting segments. As of now, though, most WWE fans probably don’t even remember they’re on SmackDown Live.
1 Will Be Soon: Mustafa Ali
How WWE has stopped themselves from putting the Cruiserweight Championship on Mustafa Ali baffles a lot of wrestling observers. He caters to a big wrestling market in Pakistan thanks to his roots, and doing so will finally would help them have a wrestler from the Middle East that's not just the typical foreign heel. Additionally, a wrestler who’s as talented as he’s must have had at least one Cruiserweight Championship run by now.
He consistently puts on four-star matches in front of 205 Live crowds, and if WWE fails to put the title on him in the coming weeks/months, he’ll become as relevant as a lot of poorly-used 205 Live talents like Gran Metalik.