For fans of the business who have been watching the product for decades, it’s a little weird to realize that there are younger professional wrestling followers who only know a world where a single company is on top of the industry. World Wrestling Entertainment was not always a multimedia conglomerate that churned out hours upon hours of television on a weekly basis while at the same time being the only true wrestling superpower in town. Fans did not always have to turn to WWE Network to watch other promotions that were based in different portions of the United States.
Due to the fact that the WWE is such a large wrestling promotion, it has had a long history of a revolving door of talent coming in and going out of the company. You thus may have forgotten about certain recognizable wrestlers who, at different points of their careers, appeared on World Wrestling Federation/WWE television programs. While these wrestlers made their names and also money while working outside of the WWE umbrella, each of them were for a time performing for the company. Maybe some of them could have even been stars in the WWE in another day; maybe.
10. Buff Bagwell
It is one of the funnier stories from the early days of the Invasion storyline that followed the demise of World Championship Wrestling. Buff Bagwell and Booker T were dying a death while wrestling a match on an edition of Raw, so much so that WWF performers were sent to the ring to awaken the crowd. Bagwell would prove to be not long for the feud and for the WWE, as he and the company parted ways not too long after his debut with the company. Just think of the different hats that he could have worn to the ring had he remained with the WWF up through the end of the storyline. Oh, what could have been.
9. The Fabulous Freebirds
The Fabulous Freebirds were a unique and revolutionary pro wrestling act for their time, and the team made enemies and fans in multiple promotions. Along with working in World Class Championship Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance, the Freebirds always completed a brief stint in the WWF as part of the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” period in the 1980s. It has been reported over the years that a backstage disagreement, one that may or may not have involved Andre the Giant, resulted in the Freebirds departing the WWF without making much of an impact. That would be a pretty good reason to head to a different territory.
Crowbar is an interesting case as it pertains to this piece because he had a couple of runs in the WWE that were easy to forget. He appeared on WWF television during the “Attitude Era” while working under the name Devon Storm before making the leap to WCW, where he worked up through the dying days of that company. Crowbar would receive opportunities to impress those running the WWE in dark matches after WCW closed its doors in 2001, but he never had what would be considered to be a successful run while working for the organization that stood alone as the king of the “Monday Night Wars.”
7. Great Sasuke
WCW had great success in pushing the Cruiserweight division once WCW Monday Nitro began airing, and the WWF tried to replicate that with a tournament to crown a Light Heavyweight Champion in 1997. Great Sasuke was one of several competitors brought in to have entertaining matches at television and pay-per-view events, and it has been rumored that he was originally thought to be the best option to win that title. That did not occur, however, and Sasuke eventually returned overseas after his brief run in the WWF. For what it’s worth, the WCW cruiserweight division was much better than was the WWF Light Heavyweight division.
6. The Public Enemy
The tag team known as The Public Enemy did well to stay busy during the 1990s. Fans were introduced to the duo while Johnny Grunge and “Flyboy” Rocco Rock were in ECW, and the two then performed in WCW and even won that company’s tag team championship for a brief amount of time. Public Enemy would then venture to the WWF, where the team did not have all that much success. The brief pitstop with WWE would be followed by Public Enemy featuring in both WCW and ECW before those companies folded. Both Grunge and Rock are unfortunately no longer with us.
5. Super Porky
Wrestling fans who have never had the pleasure of seeing Super Porky in action should stop reading this and look him up via websites such as YouTube. The WWE brought in the hefty Lucha Libre star as part of the company’s “Juniors” division in 2005, one that lived about as long as did Porky’s career with the company. Those running the organization quickly grew tired of the notion of pushing such performers, and thus Porky and others who were supposed to be featured in the Juniors division were no longer seen on WWE television. What could have been a fun change of pace instead became a forgotten part of WWE history.
4. Brent Albright
The WWE seemed to have a talent for the future when Brent Albright was making his way up through developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling. His WWE career started out strongly when, while wrestling under the name Gunner Scott, he earned a victory over Booker T. That would prove to be the high point of his WWE career, as Albright would be released several months after his debut. He went on to have success in Ring of Honor and in the NWA, winning championships in both of those organizations. Perhaps the WWE dropped the ball in not giving Albright a true chance to show what he could do while with the company.
3. Chris Harris
Chris Harris was touted as a top signing for the WWE when the former Total Nonstop Action Wrestling star joined the company in 2008. Harris, given the name Braden Walker, noticeably put on excess weight before he made his WWE debut, and he hardly impressed those working for the company or fans during the few matches that he had. It is easy to understand why anybody would forget that Harris worked for WWE. He looked like a different person than the Chris Harris that fans had gotten used to watching put on solid matches in TNA Wrestling.
2. Bobby Roode
The final two wrestlers featured in this piece are cases of the WWE apparently not knowing what the company had for a time. Bobby Roode – who worked under the name Bobby Rude (real original, WWE) – was with the WWE for literally years, and he was even featured in matches that aired on television broadcasts. Roode never got much of a chance to be anything outside of enhancement talent while with the WWE, but he would eventually find his feet and also a tremendous character in TNA Wrestling. Roode could have been a top heel in WWE had the company had a different way of evaluating talent at the time.
1. A.J. Styles
Timing is everything, and that was the case for A.J. Styles when he had an opportunity to perform on WWE television over a decade ago. Styles was unable to relocate to begin working within the WWE developmental system in 2002, and thus what could have been an impressive and successful career in that company was not to be. He eventually became “The Phenomenal One” working in Ring of Honor, TNA Wrestling and other promotions, and there is little doubt that he would be an instant star were he to be featured on the NXT brand at any point in 2015.