Some of the most talented in-ring performers barely achieved any success in the industry since they couldn't connect to the audience beyond their ability. Ideally, professional wrestlers should be able to entertain inside the ring as well as on the mic. But it's no secret that the former has never been a requirement to make it big as a wrestler since some of the biggest names in history were far from renowned for their matches.
Despite that, they still managed to attract crowds around the world due to their ability to entertain beyond the ring. Some of them had great characters that put them in a position to succeed as they could simply perform the simplest of moves inside the squared circle, and still receive major reactions from fans. But charisma is something that is tough to teach as many wrestlers are simply not interesting or memorable enough when it comes to the entertainment aspect of the industry. They may steal away every single show with their in-ring displays, only to end up on the lower end of the card.
While some fans do appreciate wrestling as an art form, crowds tend to favor performers who are able to connect through their gimmick and promos, as they are far more resonating in the long run. Most fans would prefer re-watching a classic promo over a great match, which speaks volumes about the industry. With today's list, we look at 10 bad wrestlers that became stars and 10 great wrestlers no one cared about.
19 Bad Wrestler: Shane McMahon
If he didn't happen to be Vince McMahon's son, it's unlikely that Shane would have ever made the WWE as an in-ring performer. He did express an interest in pursuing a career in the industry early on, although he was used in non-wrestler roles for the most part. But as the entire family became heavily involved in the show during the Attitude Era, it created an opportunity for Shane to get in the ring as well. Since then, he has been apart of major feuds and matches to become a highly successful WWE Superstar. McMahon has also gained popularity due to his willingness to take bumps at all times.
18 Great Wrestler: Jerry Lynn
Jerry Lynn doesn't receive the credit that he deserves for having been a top talent in his prime years, as well as having the longevity in the industry. He hasn't been a top star in the past, but Lynn was greatly appreciated by ECW fans as well as many other promotions that he wrestled for. Putting on great matches was certainly not enough to be a top star in the 90s when WCW and WWE clashed for ratings, leaving the likes of Lynn as a low card wrestler at best, which is why he didn't last long with either company.
Bad Wrestler: Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash has never been known for his wrestling ability even when he was an up and coming wrestler. But he did have the size and appearance that is more than ideal in the industry, and led him to become one of the most popular stars during the 90s. While Diesel didn't exactly have many memorable matches, nor was he spectacular on the mic, Vince McMahon was a fan of his look as a Superstar and that was enough to make him the WWE Champion. He would go on to reach bigger heights in WCW as he improved significantly on the mic later on.
17 Great Wrestler: Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews is one of the most talented in-ring performers in the WWE today, and yet he hasn't been able to establish himself with the company. Despite being put in various positions to advance, fans haven't taken interest in Crews as a Superstar due to his nonexistent character. And while he has a solid all around look, it doesn't stand out enough to warrant giving him a push given his lack of charisma. At the moment, it appears that Crews will be remembered as one of the many great wrestlers who were simply unable to get over with management as well as fans.
16 Bad Wrestler: JBL
It took JBL quite some time to become a main eventer, but he finally reached the scene in 2004. Bradshaw had spent his entire career as a tag team competitor, and when it seems like APA would split up - not many fans expected him to reach the biggest heights of his wrestling journey in the following months. He was never exactly known for his wrestling ability either. JBL could have a decent showing as long as his opponent was able to carry him. But his mic skills and heel antics proved to be enough to make him a star in his final years as a wrestler.
15 Great Wrestler: Jamie Noble
Jamie Noble was among the most exciting Cruiserweight performers of the 2000s, but his career resume doesn't quite reflect his overall talent. He had two forgettable years with WCW before he moved on to WWE, where he was stuck with a number of bad gimmicks that ruined the trajectory of his career. From his strange on-screen partnership with Nidia to the bizarre tag team with Kid Kash, and finally the embarrassing storyline against Hornswoggle - Noble is now remembered by fans for all the wrong reasons as he was never put in a position to advance any further on the WWE roster.
14 Bad Wrestler: Hulk Hogan
He has a strong case as the biggest name in wrestling history, but that doesn't make Hulk Hogan a great wrestler. He was certainly an elite entertainer from his Hulkamania run to the nWo days, although fans were never left in awe upon watching his matches. Hogan performed very basic moves and had a limited skillset, making him arguably the worst wrestler to ever become a top star. It wasn't exactly a matter of Hogan coming up in a different era since the WWE roster was filled with great in-ring performers such as Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and many others.
13 Great Wrestler: Chad Gable
At a time when the WWE roster is filled with impressive talents in all of its divisions, Chad Gable still manages to stand out as one of the better in-ring competitors. More recently, Gable was able to win the Raw Tag Team Championship with Bobby Roode, making it clear that the company doesn't view him as a potential singles star. Beginning with his NXT run to his current stint on Raw, Gable has been stuck in the tag team division and it doesn't appear that he will be moving up the card anytime soon, as he is likely to remain stuck where he currently is.
12 Bad Wrestler: Sycho Sid
Sycho Sid was arguably the most popular WWE star at one point in his career and could have gone on to achieve even more in the industry. But he still had an impressive run that most professional wrestlers would envy him for, especially when you consider how little he had to offer in the squared circle. Having a great all around appearance was Sid's ticket to the top as it didn't take him too long to rise through the card in the WWE. He also had some successful years as a member of the WCW roster, so it's safe to say that Sid overachieved overall.
11 Great Wrestler: Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko is undoubtedly one of the greatest technicians in wrestling history. He has a number of classic matches to his name, and managed to do so against wrestlers with different styles while competing for various promotions around the world. Malenko is still highly regarded to this day for his wrestling style, but his resume is very underwhelming in comparison. He may have been capable of stealing the show on any given night - regardless of the opponent - but Malenko was still overlooked for the most part by management, and even wrestling fans who believed he was too bland as a performer.
10 Bad Wrestler: Road Dogg
Wrestlers didn't have to be high flyers or technicians inside the ring to make it big during the Attitude Era. It was a matter of standing out as a character, while managing to entertain the crowd every single night. With mic skills and crowd engagement becoming the main decisive factors in the WWE, Road Dogg thrived in an era that perfectly suited him. As a pure wrestler, he left plenty to be desired since he wasn't exactly impressive by any means. But Road Dogg's catchphrases and antics resonated with audiences to make him one of the hottest acts for several years.
9 Great Wrestler: Tajiri
Coming into the WWE, Tajiri had a tough task ahead of him. He had to rely on his gimmick and wrestling ability to get over with the fans since his English wasn't good enough for him to cut promos. To his credit, Tajiri did get over during various stints of his career but only as a low card and tag team competitor. He never got a taste of the main event, or even the mid-card scene, as the WWE had given him a low ceiling to work with. Since fans weren't nearly as big on Tajiri as they were on someone like Rey Mysterio, it meant that he was never considered for a noticeable push.
8 Bad Wrestler: Lex Luger
Lex Luger had big shoes to fill in the WWE since Vince McMahon was grooming him to be the next Hulk Hogan. Although he never came close to such heights, Luger was still one of the top stars of his era - gaining a huge following in the WWE and later on WCW. Much like The Hulkster, Luger couldn't have a great match if his career depended on it. But unlike Hogan, he wasn't quite as interesting on the mic, and fans weren't as invested in such characters by the mid 90s, so his act quickly became stale not too long afterwards.
7 Great Wrestler: Charlie Haas
From his early run with the WWE, it was apparent that Charlie Haas had potential to be a star in the future based on his wrestling ability. But there were question marks regarding his appeal as a performer, as well as whether fans would buy into him beyond a tag team technician. While Haas did gain popularity at the expense of his credibility - as he portrayed various WWE Superstars in his final run - he was never taken seriously as a solo competitor. He is now remembered for being one of the better in-ring talents from the early to mid 2000s who didn't blossom with the WWE.
6 Bad Wrestler: The Great Khali
The Great Khali is living proof that you don't necessarily need wrestling talent to make it big in the industry. And he wasn't any better when it came to promos or overall character, but what Khali did have going for him is a unique frame that set him apart from everyone else. Knowing how valuable size tends to be with Vince McMahon, and it makes sense that he was instantly pushed to the moon; beating The Undertaker in his rookie year and then claiming the World Heavyweight Championship. Khali was certainly booked like a star for two years before the company dropped him down the card.
5 Great Wrestler: Paul London
When the WWE attempted to resurrect the Cruiserweight division during the mid 2000s, Paul London was among the top names competing for the title. And he did have a decent run apart of the division, while also forming an exciting team with Brian Kendrick. But his ceiling was always going to be limited with the WWE since London had very little to offer away from the squared circle. Fans never showed enough support to convince the company of featuring him in a bigger role, and he has now become forgotten by most fans just years after his departure by the WWE.
4 Bad Wrestler: Goldberg
Goldberg was signed by WCW due to his size and appearance rather than his previous experience. His wrestling training was very informal as Goldberg barely spent time in development before joining the main roster. He was given a huge push off the bat as he started running through the roster to develop an undefeated streak. Goldberg was always criticized throughout his wrestling run form being unable to put on good, lengthy matches as he mostly squashed his opponents. But that didn't stop him from becoming the face of WCW for a number of years, as well as a top draw in WWE.
3 Great Wrestler: Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin is one of the most talented wrestlers to grace a WWE ring. But as great as he has been during his journey, Benjamin was unable to make it past the mid-card division. Despite being give decent pushes, and being over enough to earn his spot, Benjamin wasn't exactly receiving major reactions from audiences. His lack of charisma held him back from having a far greater legacy and more prestigious resume that fits someone with his talent. But he still managed to have a solid career in the WWE despite his obvious limits as an entertainer away from the ring.
2 Bad Wrestler: The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior was beloved for multiple reasons by WWE fans, but his wrestling talent wasn't among them. He was one of the worst performers to ever reach main event status as Warrior couldn't execute more than a few basic wrestling slams and holds. But his remarkable intensity in his promos and behavior, unique entrance and appearance made him one of the biggest draws in WWE. He entered the wrestling industry at the perfect time since Warrior didn't have to impress inside the ring to have fans on his side. For a wrestler as limited as he was, Warrior certainly overachieved with his overall accomplishments.
1 Great Wrestler: Lance Storm
It would be difficult to compile a list of wrestlers who were more talented in the ring than Lance Storm. Not only was he capable of working different styles, Storm was also known for being a very smooth performer who could make every move appear impressive. He did have minor success as a member of the WCW mid-card division in the early 2000s, but his transition wasn't quite effective into the WWE where he struggled to fit in. After going through numerous gimmicks that fell flat, including an angle poking fun at Storm's lack of charisma, he was released from the company.