Our Ten Best: Wrestlers Who Never ‘Made’ It
There has always been some wrestlers who simply never could quite achieve the success they deserved. No matter how skilled or charismatic they may be or how good they were/are in the ring, it just never clicked.
Here’s our list of those who should have been mega stars, but it just never happened.
10: Carlito seemed a good alternative to the stereotypical “WWE look.” Fairly average size at 5’10′ and 230 pounds, with an afro larger than his head and a fetish for apples, he provided a nice balance to the prototypical vanilla-flavored beefcakes. He had loads of charisma, a natural swagger, and was a solid ring worker. Winning the U.S. and Intercontinental titles in his Smackdown and Raw debuts respectively, WWE seemed to be high on the Carlito bandwagon. He just couldn’t keep his head focused and his success consistent. With his head in the clouds and an inability to truly capitalize on the repeated chances offered by the WWE, he left to return to Puerto Rico, never having lived up to his potential.
9: Hardcore Holly had a full 15 years with the WWE. During that time he defined himself as a no-nonsense, tough as nails, and sometimes-vicious competitor. A 7-time Hardcore champion and 3-time tag team champion, he seemed to be capable of at least lower mid-card status. Always a company guy and an underrated performer, he was unfortunately released by the WWE after over a dozen years of service.
8: Nigel McGuinness had the potential to be one of the English greats. Athletic, tough, and with a loads of fan support, he held the ROH Pure title for 350 days and the ROH World title for 545 days. From there, he moved into a contract with TNA, and seemingly finally into the national
spotlight. But after an opening and red-hot feud with Kurt Angle himself, TNA just didn’t know what to do with him, and released him after a mere 2 years.
7: Jamie Noble is another indie darling who just couldn’t quite gel with the mainstream, in this instance WWE. Despite a brief tenure as ROH World champion and time as WWE Cruiserweight champion, he couldn’t capitalize on his legitimate toughness and excellent repertoire of suplexes and aerial maneuvers.
6: The only tag team on this list, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas, are by far one of the best tag teams to come around in the past five years. And they even had a solid team run in the WWE, along with Benjamin himself having an impressive 244 day long reign as Intercontinental champion. However, they deserved better on the grand stage. With their pure athleticism, marvelous mat skills, and underrated showmanship, they could have, and should have excelled as upper mid-carders for years to come, possibly even as spoilers for World title contenders.
5: Paul London is yet another beloved star of the indies who just couldn’t quite click with the mainstream. An aerial stylist, an uncanny resemblance to Keanu Reeves, and trained by the legendary Heartbreak Kid himself, it would appear that London has all the tools for success. However, despite excellent runs as a tag champion with Billy Kidman and Brian Kendrick as well as a solid run as a Cruiserweight champion, WWE management just couldn’t figure out how to use him properly for the next level.
4: MVP. Montel Vontavious Porter. A real-life story of triumph. Somebody who turned his life around, learned from his past mistakes, and became a success through hard work and determination. After spending nine and a half years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, he ended up becoming a two time United States champion as well as a tag team champion. After his marvelous U.S. title programs with Chris Benoit and Matt Hardy, the latter of which also saw him as a tag team champion, he seemed to poised to take the next step into world title contention. But it would never materialize, well at least in the U.S. He’s a star in Japan now and it doesn’t appear he’ll ever be back.
3: “The Notorious 187” Homicide is a vicious competitor with a mean streak a mile long. Known for taking a page from Chris Benoit’s playbook with mixing brutal brawling with picture perfect suplexes and submissions, with a sprinkling of aerial maneuvers thrown in for good measure. A former ROH World champion, 3 time NWA/TNA tag team champion, and X-division champion, he has shown an ability to work in any environment with nearly any type of opponent. But perhaps due to his own uncouth preferences in ring style and out of ring behavior, TNA couldn’t quite use him to the fullest.
2: Mike Awesome was a natural athlete. Six-foot-six, nearly 300 pounds, chiseled, with agility to spare. He could be throwing his opponent across the ring one minute and himself over the rope the next. He was at the height of his fame and potential glory during his reigns as ECW world champion. But after jumping to WCW, where he was given silly gimmick after silly gimmick, and being completely ignored by the WWE during his tenure there, he found himself tired and burnt out by the politics of the business.
1: With his blend of dazzling aerial assaults and an unpredictable nature that earned him a degree of infamy and the nickname “The Loose Cannon”, Brian Pillman is a great, but not nearly as great as he could have been. Despite having never held a title in WWE, he did have two reigns as a tag team champion in WCW with the future “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, a reign as United States champion, as well as two reigns as the Light Heavyweight champion, all of which were between NWA and WCW. With his raspy voice, controversial behavior, and undeniable ring ability all pushing him unavoidably to the top of WWE, it all came crashing down before his light could truly shine.
Honorable mentions: Lance Hoyt, Monty Brown, Kenny Dykstra, Orlando Jordan, Rosey.
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