Every wrestler joining WWE has the same dream of rising the ranks into a top spot as a main eventer. They have their eyes on the prize(s): headlining WrestleMania, winning world titles and making the money associated with being a top player for the biggest wrestling promotion. Unfortunately, the playing field does not offer everyone an opportunity to prove their skills.
WWE just didn't see the potential or drawing ability of some performers. We will look at the wrestlers that could have been more if they received the right opportunity with the confidence of the booking behind them.
10 Wade Barrett
The WWE career of Wade Barrett did not go the way fans expected, after he made an impact instantly as the leader of the Nexus faction. Barrett looked like a future world champion by entering a feud with John Cena right away.
Nexus ended faster than expected as WWE lost faith in Barrett. The world title reign never came aND Barrett was viewed as a C-lister for most of his run. WWE would see him make the decision to leave when his contract expired, upon realizing the top spot was out of reach.
The long run of Goldust in WWE featured him primarily as an afterthought on the roster. There was a window in the early years of the Attitude Era, with the unique character of Goldust showing great potential. Goldust's promos and matches were good enough for the main event level.
WWE just never felt the timing was right for Goldust to have a top role in the company. Recent years have featured him sitting in catering without a television storyline. Dustin Rhodes left WWE for a bigger role in AEW, which appears to have been the right call.
8 Mike Awesome
Mike Awesome had his best run in ECW as a tremendous wrestler in the title picture. The bouts between Awesome and Masato Tanaka provided an incredible rivalry that still holds up when watching it back on the WWE Network today.
WWE brought over Awesome when he was a part of the WCW roster, after the purchase of the company. Awesome had a handful of lower-card matches, but he did not get any opportunities of note in WWE. The size, skills and agility of Awesome could have made him a great asset to WWE if they saw his potential.
The size of Vader made him a perfect wrestler for WWE as a monstrous heel. Vader also proved at WCW and NJPW that he could keep up with the better workers. Main event programs with Sting and Ric Flair had fans excited about the potential of a feud with Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels in WWE.
However, Vader could not get a push at the top level during his time in WWE. One main event program with Michaels ended without a conclusive winner, as Vince McMahon gave up on Vader quickly. The questions about his ring shape and wrestling style caused Vader to remain a C-lister instead of getting pushed.
6 Colt Cabana
Independent wrestling legend Colt Cabana hoped to find success when he signed with WWE in the 2000s. Cabana performed under the name of Scotty Goldman for a short run on the main roster in between his developmental stints.
The overall talent of Cabana has shown his great comedic entertainment value, along with the occasional serious feud to tap into another side of his personality. Cabana could have been a relevant star for the company if used right, but his run was a joke until he returned to the independent circuit.
5 Evan Bourne
Matt Sydal, former WWE star Evan Bourne, showed great potential as a top high-flying wrestler. WWE loved to feature the spectacle of Bourne’s incredible moves with the Shooting Star Press as his finisher. Bourne had a few noteworthy matches, but most of those were meant to set up moments for other wrestlers, like when Randy Orton hit the RKO out of the Shooting Star Press attempt.
A few injuries and wellness policy violations led to Bourne losing his spot on the WWE roster. It was understandable, but WWE never trying to elevate Bourne to a top spot was a mistake.
4 Chris Candido
The in-ring skills of Chris Candido made him one of the best technical wrestlers in the world at a time when these talents weren't really appreciated. Candido’s biggest break came when he signed with his girlfriend Tammy Sytch to become part of the Body Donnas act as Skip.
The gimmick was never designed to help Candido transition out of his spot as a C-lister. Candido eventually left to have the best run of his career with ECW, but it is disappointing knowing we missed out on such a great wrestler having a stronger run in WWE.
3 Sami Zayn
The current run for Sami Zayn does not provide much hope that he will break out of the C-list of wrestlers. Zayn was the first major success for NXT, as a beloved face who took the fans on a journey until he was finally crowned the NXT Champion.
The main roster stint has not provided the same success, as Zayn is never presented as an upper level star. Zayn’s rare top-level matches will feature him often taking the loss when other bigger names are involved. WWE does not appear ready to push Zayn harder, despite his immense talent.
WWE hired Raven on multiple occasions, due to his overall potential. The first run as Johnny Polo featured him managing, but Raven became a far bigger star on his own in ECW. Some of his matches and storylines in ECW and WCW landed him another contract with WWE in 2000.
Raven did not get a fair chance to prove his talent. WWE only used him in a lower position as part of the hardcore division. Raven rarely interacted with many other top stars, unless he was going to get destroyed. The talent of Raven could have made him a top star if WWE put him in a position to succeed.
1 Bam Bam Bigelow
The size and agility of Bam Bam Bigelow made him one of the all-time great big men workers. WWE fans got to see Bigelow have some great matches against Bret Hart. However, the overall placement of Bam Bam rarely gave him chances in the upper card.
Bigelow would get a rare WrestleMania main event against NFL player Lawrence Taylor, as WWE wanted someone good enough to lead the non-wrestler. Despite doing a great job in the tough spot, Bam Bam would never get pushed, returning to the status of a C-lister until leaving the company.