The Attitude Era was one of the most beloved times in wrestling history thanks to the star power. Iconic names like Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, and Triple H became breakout stars during this time between 1997 and 2002. Not every talent pushed would live up to their potential. The top spots were few and far between. WWE tried to make some other names join such an elite category of big names in the Attitude Era to minimal success.
We will look at some of the talents the company hoped would have significant runs in the top spots of their respective divisions. While some were held back by injuries and poor booking, other wrestlers just were not good enough to warrant a top spot at the time. Find out which talents had the chance to become bigger stars. These are ten wrestlers from the Attitude Era WWE incorrectly expected to become A-listers.
10 Big Boss Man
The Big Boss Man had a great career in the wrestling industry, but the expectations were too high for him during the Attitude Era. WWE hired Boss Man away from WCW in 1998 to become one of the lead enforcers for the Corporation faction protecting Vince and Shane McMahon.
Boss Man entered feuds with Steve Austin, The Rock, and The Undertaker but never came off as a legitimate threat. WWE even pushed him into a title feud with Big Show and it once again flopped. Boss Man moved back into the lower card since he couldn’t hang in the main event.
9 Dan Severn
Dan Severn's MMA fighting background made him a valued addition to the WWE roster during the Attitude Era. Jim Cornette managed Severn for a short time with the hope of the latter gaining enough momentum to move up the card.
Severn’s best work came in the mid-card against Ken Shamrock, Steve Blackman, and Owen Hart. Severn's talent was there with his fighting background, but he lacked the versatility needed from the talents that thrived during the Attitude Era.
8 Ahmed Johnson
Vince McMahon strongly believed in the potential of Ahmed Johnson due to his physique and athletic background. Johnson received a push before the Attitude Era, but he always failed to jump to the next level. The disappointing matches and embarrassing promos hurt his momentum.
In the Attitude Era, WWE continued to give Johnson opportunities, but nothing changing. An eventual injury removed Ahmed from television and WWE eventually released him. Johnson could not improve enough to fulfill his expectations of becoming an A-Lister in WWE.
In the '90s, Kurrgan's size made him a valued prospect for WWE. Kurrgan had his first relevant run as a member of The Truth Commission, with The Jackyl serving as his manager. WWE viewed Kurrgan as standing above the other members of the group and often protected him.
Kurrgan could not improve at the rate WWE expected from a rising star and they eventually gave up on him. The run in the comedic Oddities group would see Kurrgan have one final forgettable angle. Kurrgan was released from his contract and left the wrestling industry to try out acting.
6 Public Enemy
The Public Enemy tag team was signed by WWE with the intent of establishing the pair as a top tag team. With stellar teams like Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz, and the New Age Outlaws, WWE's tag division was a must-see at the time.
Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock had impressive runs in ECW and WCW, but they struggled to fit into the WWE landscape. Locker room heat ended their time in WWE faster than expected. The Dudley Boyz ended up unofficially replacing them as the hardcore tag team.
5 Ken Shamrock
WWE signed Ken Shamrock with the hopes of him becoming a top-tier main eventer. Shamrock was the first standout UFC star to make the move into professional wrestling. WWE instantly made him relevant by having him referee the classic WrestleMania 13 main between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.
An instant push would see Shamrock get involved in feuds with Davey Boy Smith, The Rock, and Shawn Michaels. Unfortunately, he could never break out into that top-level and become a consistent main eventer. Shamrock would see his WWE come to an end faster than expected, with the wrestler failing to make a huge impact.
4 Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn had a tremendous run in WWE's tag team division, but there was a plan to make him a main eventer in 1999 during the height of the Attitude Era. WWE booked Gunn to win the King of the Ring and enter an important feud with The Rock.
The match between Gunn and Rock was the semi-main event of SummerSlam 1999 and the biggest match of Billy’s career. It sadly just proved Gunn was not at the main event level as he was outshined by Rock immensely throughout the entire angle. WWE slowed down his push and ended all plans to push him into the main event scene.
3 Ron Simmons
WWE signed Ron Simmons in the mid-'90s following his tremendous run in WCW. The historic moment of Simmons becoming the first black WCW Champion could have made him a big deal in WWE. Simmons was instead introduced with a silly gimmick along with Sunny as his manager.
The formation of the Nation of Domination helped Simmons have a good run, but he never hit that level as an A-Lister. Simmons lost his spot in the Nation when The Rock joined and, within a couple of months, passed him in the pecking order.
2 Steve Williams
A close friend, Jim Ross hired Steve "Dr. Death" Williams with the hopes of the company pushing him hard. Vince McMahon was on board as everyone loved the legitimate fighting toughness that Williams brought to the table. The Brawl for All was reportedly set up to have him win and eventually challenge Steve Austin.
Bart Gunn shocked the world by knocking out Dr. Death to win the tournament. WWE quit on the plan to push Williams and he did not do anything of note in the Attitude Era. Williams moved to WCW and had another lackluster run, failing to hit the main event picture.
WWE viewed Test as the perfect performer and a future star. With his height, athleticism, long hair, and presence all working in his favor, Test simply looked like the ultimate rising talent. He was even selected to have a romantic storyline with Stephanie McMahon, just to show how much WWE believed in him.
Following the end of the angle with Tripler H marrying Stephanie instead, Test failed to gain any momentum. WWE pushed him in the mid-card a few times, but something always held him back from the main event. Test remained a solid mid-carder for his run and never hit the A-List level in WWE.