Wrestling fans are conditioned to never say never in WWE, and now that the brand split is back in full effect and there are two live, weekly television shows with hours of airtime to fill, fans are hoping that mentality means some old stars will be returning to the company to flesh out the rosters. Nothing is quite as exciting as the surprise debut of an old favorite, but on that same turn, nothing is quite as disappointing as when an old dud comes out through the curtains again and subjects us to their boring matches once more. Recently, WWE has been achieving a pretty good batting average in terms of fans actually getting excited about the superstars they’re bringing back, but that hasn’t always been the case.
Sure, lots of people are happy to hear Shelton Benjamin is making a comeback, but how many people remember when Brian Christopher made his big return in 2011? Probably not a whole bunch, and those that do remember he was met with dead silence and a confused crowd, possibly worried they were stuck in some sort of time loop. It’s unlikely the company will be looking towards the Lawler family tree when they need to expand their ranks ever again, but they still might look to the well of diminishing returns and beg one of the following superstars out of retirement or their hiatus. Keep reading to find out why we hope against hope that won’t be the case, with our list of 15 terrible former WWE employees nobody wants to see make a comeback.
15. Linda McMahon
Linda McMahon is in many respects the co-founder of modern day WWE, having been in control of the business end of Titan Sports, Inc. since her husband created that company in the late 70’s. When Titan Sports purchased WWE from McMahon’s father, she likewise ran the business end of the sports entertainment enterprise as their President and later CEO. Linda also appeared in front of the camera on numerous occasions starting in 1999. She decided to enter politics in 2009, and left her various wrestling positions behind her as a result.
Honestly, if Linda wanted to make her return to a WWE executive office, more power to her. By all accounts, her grasp on business is what helped WWE keep up with the rapid expansion her husband worked so hard to make the company achieve throughout the 80s. However, there was never a time fans actually wanted Linda McMahon in front of the camera. Her acting is wooden, she often comes off as emotionless, and for a McMahon, she has absolutely no energy or ability to entertain a crowd. The surprise return of Linda’s son Shane may have been the most shocking moment of 2016 for many fans, but this is one area in which the apple fell far from the tree.
14. Rey Mysterio
To be entirely fair to Rey Mysterio, he wasn’t always terrible. In fact, terrible is kind of a harsh word for Rey, as he absolutely still has the ability to deliver in the ring under the right circumstances. However, the fact is those circumstances will never again exist for him in WWE. Whenever Mysterio was on screen for the past two or three years, it was clear he was getting exponentially slower and sloppier in the ring, and fans were downright upset whenever he appeared, despite his long continued status as a babyface.
There was a time when Rey Mysterio was the most exciting and innovative superstar in professional wrestling, but those days are decades behind him now. His name still has a certain value, but that actually goes against him in WWE, as he would only serve to cloud the main event scene that should be getting filled with new and upcoming superstars. It might sound like a good idea to have Rey work with a rising star and give them the rub, but chances are the rising star could just have a better match with someone else at this point, and the whole thing would be more meaningful if Mysterio just wasn’t involved. Rey seems to be doing well in Lucha Underground these days, so let’s just hope he stays there.
Much like Rey Mysterio, there was actually a time when Sean Waltman was pretty great, too. Notice we didn’t say X-Pac, though, since Waltman hasn’t had too much left in the tank since way back in the day when he was The 1-2-3 Kid. He himself would admit drugs played a pretty huge role in that, and that his talents have diminished significantly over the years. That in mind, X-Pac is still very outspoken about his beliefs about wrestling on Twitter, and is known to be a close friend with Triple H.
X-Pac still wrestles extensively on the independent scene, and is technically signed to WWE through a legends agreement. Luckily, his agreement doesn’t include an on-air role, and if Triple H knows what’s best for business, it’s going to stay that way. Although X-Pac definitely played an important role in wrestling history, that role is long over. The connection with Triple H is especially concerning when you consider X-Pac has been known to use his political clout in the same negative manner Triple H is infamous for doing.
12. Slam Master J
Jesse, or Slam Master J as he was also briefly known, was one of many wrestlers blessed with the curse of being born to a father who already had a great deal of success in the wrestling industry. Jesse’s real name is Terry Gordy, Jr, making him the son of one of the original Fabulous Freebirds. Gordy himself attempted to become a part of tag team wrestling history when he debuted as Jesse, a typical wrestling hillbilly with a deranged partner named Festus. Festus, played by current Club member Luke Gallows, may have been mentally challenged and always stuck his tongue out. The gimmick didn’t last long.
When Festus ditched Jesse to become straight edge, Jesse morphed into a gangsta rap inspired gimmick named Slam Master J. Slam Master formed a strange and short-lived tag team with Jimmy Wang Yang before disappearing from WWE and moving on to a career in law enforcement. Gordy did appear as part of his father’s induction ceremony into the WWE Hall of Fame, but quite frankly, that’s the only role we think Slam Master J was ever actually fit to perform.
11. Deuce n Domino
Deuce Shade and Dice Domino were a short-lived tag team of 50’s greaser throwbacks managed by the adorable Cherry Pie. They rode to the ring in 1950’s era muscle cars and even managed to win the WWE World Tag Team titles. Completing the throwback nature of their gimmick, the most notable feud of their title reign was against a series of legends represented by Tony Garea, Rick Martel, Sgt. Slaughter, and Deuce’s father, Jimmy Snuka. After a few months in the spotlight, the team had their requisite breakup and went their separate ways, with Deuce switching characters and renaming himself Sim Snuka.
Frankly, we don’t want Deuce n Domino or Sim Snuka to make their returns any time soon. The team was outdated and out of place in virtually any era aside from the one they claim to represent, and even that seems more like a parody of the movie Grease than anything from reality. Making matters worse, Sim Snuka was responsible for a horrible botch at WrestleMania XXV, when he was supposed to catch The Undertaker during a suicide dive while dressed as a camera. Snuka failed to make the catch, and was promptly fired as a result. It must have been horrible for Undertaker, but at least it means there’s little chance of these two ever appearing and blasting the tag division into the past ever again.
Maybe there’s some alternative universe where people are actually begging for Nick Dinsmore to make his return to WWE. Dinsmore was an extremely talented wrestler and one of the highest profile prospects from Ohio Valley Wrestling for many years when he finally made his WWE debut in 2004. Unfortunately, Dinsmore made that debut as Eugene, the mentally challenged nephew of then Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. Eugene would play into the worst stereotypes imaginable as he over excitedly interacted with his favorite WWE superstars and annoyed his fake uncle with increasingly manic antics.
Eugene actually became somewhat popular during his brief run with the company, but there’s absolutely no way to look at the gimmick for what it is without getting offended. Perhaps you’re a person who doesn’t get offended easily yourself, and that’s fine, but anyone can tell that most people would see Eugene in outrageously bad taste. Hopefully, WWE finally got the memo and won’t bring Dinsmore out from the woodwork ever again. He briefly worked for NXT as a trainer, and there would be no complaints from us were he to return to that post, but seriously, Eugene and gimmicks that patently offensive should be kept off TV for good.
9. The Heart Throbs
The Heart Throbs, or sometimes The Heart Breakers, are individually known as Antonio Thomas and Romeo Roselli. They only lasted two years in WWE, and did almost nothing of note during their time with the company. They challenged for the World Tag Team titles on several occasions, losing to incumbent champions William Regal and Tajiri. The Heart Throbs were so uninteresting and boring to crowds that they were almost instantly relegated to Sunday Night Heat, and this was during the era that show was rapidly being phased out of existence.
People complain about the way WWE ignores their tag division, and we admit we’ve raised our voices in that direction before. However, if the best tag teams WWE can find are on par with The Heart Throbs, maybe it’s better they just ignore the division altogether. To their credit, The Heart Throbs also had a brief run in TNA after being released from WWE, but the crowd in 2007 already reacted with dead silence, so we thankfully doubt they’ll get a second shot any time soon.
8. Vladimir Kozlov
Vladimir Kozlov made his technical debut for WWE in late 2006, but when the company realized how weak and unprepared the Russian monster was in the ring, they quickly forced him back into training for over an entire year. This should have been a sign that Kozlov wasn’t meant for fame, but as soon as he returned, the company once again pushed him into the spotlight, literally—he entered the ring without music, but with a bright light illuminating his path. Kozlov played the typical jobber squashing monster for several months, and quickly was inserted into a feud with then WWE World Champion Triple H and his top challenger, Jeff Hardy.
Kozlov luckily never won the title, but spent several years being taken seriously as a top contender, while still playing up the angry Russian gimmick. Rusev manages to make a similar gimmick work these days, but he’s done a lot more to tweak the gimmick than merely point out he’s Bulgarian and not Russian. Kozlov’s Russian was straight out of the 80’s, and that’s why it made even less sense when he turned face to goof around with Santino Marella. Santino might be a welcome return one day, but if WWE wants him to be successful, he better leave Kozlov at home.
7. Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn has all the same pitfalls as X-Pac with none of the upside. He’s used his status as a friend of Triple H to become a WWE Tag Team champion almost a full decade after he should have retired, and he did so in a team where the heavy lifting was consistently performed by his partner, in the first place. Gunn is one of the more confusing names in WWE history, as not only is he a friend of Triple H, but Vince McMahon also seemed to have been a huge fan of his over the years. Fans, however, never were able to get strongly behind the so-called Ass Man, and with decades of ring atrophy assisting that status, even less people would enjoy it if Gunn got back into the ring today.
Billy is probably best remembered as a singles competitor for being one of the worst King of the Ring winners, or maybe for being one of the least worthy WWE Intercontinental title winners. The pattern in these claims is evident, and honestly, given this information, we might even question WWE if they tried to bring Gunn back as a trainer or any kind of coaching position. He may have gotten popular thanks to timing and positioning, but Billy Gunn was the weakest link in DX by far, and would just drag down whatever new group he inevitably got paired in, since he clearly has never succeeded on his own.
6. La Résistance
La Résistance started off as the two person team of Sylvain Grenier and Rene Duprée, later joined with the addition of Rob Conway. The idea was that the two French Canadians and one American were annoyed by the United States’ decision to police the world in the wake of 9/11, especially considering the reputation that the French have received in response for their national decision to keep away from conflict. The cheese-eating surrender monkeys were huge heels at the time and managed to win the World Tag Team titles from the unlikely duo of Kane and Rob Van Dam, but they found they had an extremely limited shelf life only a few years later.
While none of the members of La Résistance were terrible wrestlers, the gimmick is the typical and nonsensical wrestling xenophobia that WWE should be staying far away from as they continue to globally expand. Duprée was individually noteworthy for being the youngest person ever to win a title in WWE, as he held the aforementioned World Tag Team titles when he was only 19. Now that Duprée is in his 30’s and the novelty has worn off, and none of his partners had any novelty to begin with, chances are WWE will resist temptation and let these guys stay in Canada or the NWA or wherever else they happen to be. Just not on Raw or SmackDown.
5. Mr. Kennedy
There was a point in time when Ken Anderson, best known for his time in WWE as Mr. Kennedy, genuinely seemed like he might be the future of the industry. He had the wrestling talent and charisma necessary to handle any role WWE was going to give him, and his gimmick as a man so conceited only he was worthy of so much as saying his own name got him over as a heel fast and in a major way. There were plans for Kennedy to be revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son which could have made him a main eventer for life, but reality went a whole lot differently when John Cena and Randy Orton both made complaints Kennedy worked unsafe in the ring, leading to his firing in 2009.
Kennedy continued his career in Total Nonstop Action where he became a two time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, but TNA also released him several years later after he failed an on-the-spot drug test. There’s no denying Kennedy had his time in the sun, but his success was the definition of flash in the pan, in that knowing what we know about him today, it could never be replicated. With the stigma of failed drug tests and working haphazardly, it would be in the best interest of WWE to keep their rings clear of Mr. Kennedy…Kennedy.
As of this writing, Ryback technically still works for WWE, but is taking a prolonged hiatus as the result of a contract dispute. To put it bluntly, we’re with WWE as far as this dispute is concerned. It’s not that Ryback’s complaints—that on the whole, wrestlers aren’t paid enough, especially those lower on the card—are particularly unfounded. Perhaps WWE does need to pay their talent better, and they definitely need to work on improving their health care program. However, Ryback was one of the worst people to make the argument, in that fans have been complaining about his poor matches for years, and that’s regardless of where on the card those matches take place.
Ryback debuted as Skip Sheffield, a member of the Nexus, and transitioned into Ryback after undergoing ankle surgery in 2011. Ryback was kept consistently near the top of the card once he switched his names, even getting to work high profile feuds against John Cena and CM Punk. Fans never really connected with him, though, and were more often to chant for Goldberg than actually care about Ryback’s attempt at rehashing The Man. He’s probably most likely to make a return out of everyone on our list, so keep your fingers crossed that he keeps asking for more money than WWE is willing to give him.
3. Matt Hardy
Okay, we’ll admit it—there are still plenty of people dying for Matt Hardy and his brother, Jeff Hardy, to make their returns to WWE, and there probably will be for years to come. However, we are firmly of the opinion that those people just aren’t paying any attention. It’s true that back when they were known as Team Extreme, Matt and Jeff Hardy were wild and exciting in a manner few tag teams before or since have managed to be. They created poetry in motion as a team, and individually, both offered occasionally brilliant character work and consistently strong matches, and no fan would deny either of these things will always have a place in WWE.
Unfortunately, it seems like brilliant characters and strong matches are no longer in the Hardy repertoire. Despite the fact the two brothers are mostly feuding each other these days, we’re still putting more of the blame on Matt than Jeff, since Matt is the one taking credit for their bizarre, insane, and most of all, poorly contrived matches. Maybe Jeff could still offer something in the ring if he managed to keep sober, but Matt has been off the rails for years now, and a WWE contract would only help fund his madness.
2. Scott Steiner
As we noted for several superstars on this list, Scott Steiner wasn’t always terrible. He was, however, always terrible when working for WWE in the singles division, and since that’s the only position he could logically return under, we have to beg WWE and Big Poppa Pump to stay far away from each other from here on. Steiner revolutionized tag team wrestling with his brother, Rick, and invented a great deal of moves that still impress and amaze fans to this day, but he’s been a sloppy mess since his arms got larger than his brain, and he’s only deteriorated since his time in WWE.
Look no further than Steiner’s anti-classics against Triple H in 2003 for definitive proof WWE does not need him. The Genetic Freak may have wowed fans in WCW and around the world, but even in WCW he was responsible for multiple shocking and embarrassing incidents that should have gotten him blackballed from the sport decades ago. Steiner might be deserving of the Hall of Fame, especially if Rick is inducted with him, but we sincerely hope he doesn’t get a nostalgia run to go along with it.
1. The Great Khali
Plenty of the superstars on this list were at one point good, or merely a good wrestler stuck in a bad gimmick for so long we can’t see them as a potential talent anymore. The Great Khali was never good, and we’re pretty sure even he always knew it. Regardless of which point in his career we’re discussing, Khali has long been considered the least talented and most immobile athlete ever to become a success in WWE. Khali won the World Heavyweight title on SmackDown in 2007, and it’s hard to point to any other title reign as the nadir of the Big Gold Belt.
After he bombed as a monster, Khali attempted to inject some fun into his wrestling style by becoming the Punjabi Playboy. While you have to give the man credit for trying, the Punjabi Playboy was an even bigger dud than the mean Indian monster. Khali’s begrudging team with Jinder Mahal didn’t do him any favors either, merely proving he could drag down four men at once with his slags through the tag team ranks. Khali finally left WWE in 2014, after a short career that managed to drag down nearly every element of WWE. Desperate times with two live TV shows and dragging ratings call for desperate measures, but there’s nothing that could make us desperate enough we’d want a return from The Great Khali.