World Wrestling Entertainment has a long history of sticking with characters and with performers even if those performers fail to click with audiences and are not all that good in the ring and on the microphone. There are numerous examples of when this stubbornness paid off for the WWE. Remember when John Cena was a clunky mess during matches? Cena turned out alright in the end. The WWE is now hoping to once again strike gold with Roman Reigns even though Reigns does not have the promo abilities had by Cena. Maybe, as Cena did over a decade ago, Reigns will improve and become a fan-favorite.
Unfortunately, there are some WWE superstars who are beyond saving as of March 2016. One reason this is upsetting is that those running the company can only look in the mirror if they were to try to find explanations for why certain talent has failed to get over. Here is a bit of advice for the members of the WWE creative team: If a character or gimmick seems to be a ridiculous idea that is from decades ago, it probably should never see the light of day let alone be featured on NXT programs that are meant to cater to more diehard wrestling fans and not to casual viewers who watch Raw.
10. Curtis Axel
We will give the WWE an “A” for effort by trying to turn midcard acts such as Curtis Axel into something meaningful via the “Social Outcasts” faction. It isn’t happening, guys, and the group has “turn-the-channel heat” heading into WrestleMania 32. The WWE tried to make Curtis Axel into a top heel in NXT years ago. The company even linked Axel with Paul Heyman before seeing the light and giving up on that experiment. We are sure that the son of Curt Hennig tries his best and is a great guy behind the scenes. This character cannot be saved, and it’s time for the WWE to move on.
9. The Ascension
You get two for one here. The problem here is that the WWE doomed Konnor and Viktor of The Ascension when the company blatantly made the tag team a ripoff of the Legion of Doom and of other tag team acts from the 1980s. It was campy and yet it worked when presented in front of NXT audiences, but the gimmick had no chance of getting over among casual WWE audiences. The time for the WWE to move on from this act arrived at some point in 2015. There is no chance that The Ascension can be saved, and the WWE needs to read the writing on the wall.
8. Mojo Rawley
We have no reason to believe that Zack Ryder is ever going to become a massive singles star in the WWE. The WWE teased pushing Ryder years ago for a brief period of time, and the former “Internet Champion” has never again risen to such heights. With that said, Ryder being teamed up with Mojo Rawley is not doing anybody other than Rawley any favors. Rawley has a ton of charisma, and he is a great athlete. Those attributes do not, however, always make for a good wrestler. We would be hyped to see the WWE realizing that the Mojo Rawley character cannot be saved.
7. Adam Rose
Adam Rose is the second member of the “Social Outcasts” who makes the list. One could understandably feel a bit bad for the guy, as he has been saddled with awful gimmicks since his days in NXT. The character who partied, wrestled and then partied some more was met with blank faces in arenas after Rose was called up to the main roster, and Rose playing some type of gossip columnist has also fallen flat. Maybe, had things gone differently when he was in NXT, Rose could have become something halfway decent in the WWE. That didn’t happen, and his current character is going nowhere fast.
6. Tyler Breeze
Anybody who has watched Tyler Breeze work in NXT and as a member of the WWE roster knows that Breeze could have been an entertaining performer even if he never made it as a main event wrestler. The WWE buried Breeze almost immediately after he made his debut appearance on the main roster, though, and the character has become a forgettable figure who makes appearances on Main Event now and again. Not only is Breeze beyond saving before WrestleMania 32. The company does not seem at all interested in saving the character. Breeze deserved better than what has happened since he moved up from NXT.
5. Jack Swagger
If you are anything like us, you are probably at least a little surprised to still see that Jack Swagger is still on the WWE roster. Swagger is an above-average wrestler who has, in the past, produced entertaining matches. He possibly could have become a main event heel had he been paired with a manager who was nothing more than a gimmick that touched upon political issues. Swagger is now relegated to Superstars programs. You probably couldn’t remember the last time he was on Raw without looking it up. Swagger is beyond saving unless the company wants to send him down to NXT.
Remember when Fandango debuted at a WrestleMania and subsequently defeated Chris Jericho – yes, that Chris Jericho – in his first ever match? That seems like it happened in a different lifetime. The Fandango character always had a short shelf life. It expired even earlier than some may have imagined following Fandango’s first live appearance on WWE programming. There is no saving Fandango, as he will eventually go down as a footnote and an example of how the WWE squandered a talented performer. We wouldn’t be shocked to see Fandango cut by the WWE before 2016 comes to an end.
3. Dolph Ziggler
Opinions vary among diehard fans and among wrestling journalist as it pertains to Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler is over with some pockets of fans, but Ziggler has also been widely criticized for how he sells and works during matches. The WWE has essentially gone out of the way to tell fans that Ziggler is never going to be a World Champion, and Ziggler has been turned into a “jobber to the stars” who loses to The Miz. Ziggler cannot be saved, and the way that his character was treated by WWE Creative is why that is the case.
2. Bray Wyatt
All the WWE had to do to make Bray Wyatt into the next top “supernatural” character was to have him break the Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak. The storyline wrote itself. Brock Lesnar did not need that victory, as he was already over because of his past in the company and because of his Ultimate Fighting Championship background. Wyatt has instead been squandered by the WWE since even before the Wyatt Family first broke up for no reason whatsoever, and that group has no meaningful storyline heading into WrestleMania 32. This character is beyond saving, which is a shame because the performer is so talented.
1. Elias Samson
Fans who follow the NXT product on a weekly basis turned on Eva Marie before she “returned” to the developmental brand. Eva Marie may not be the best performer signed by the company, but that has actually helped her become the most hated heel among all of the women in NXT. It’s tremendous. Elias Samson, known as “The Drifter,” has what wrestling fans call “go-away heat.” Samson’s matches give viewers an opportunity to take bathroom breaks during those hour-long programs. Samson would have been better off with a better character, but this one needs to drift far away and never return.