WWE is full of great talent. Some of those talents are picked by WWE from the beginning to be top performers, based on the way they look or act. There are some who actually do well, but are often overlooked. Some even use their political power and influence to move up in WWE.
Then there are some guys that the fans get behind and never stop believing in, even if they leave the company. WWE loves a certain type and you have to do a lot to either “get over” or force WWE to believe in you to do well with them.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon runs a tight ship, and he may see things certain ways that the fans do not. That is why overachievers are not seen as often as we would like. WWE has loved to play an “underdog” story line with the likes of John Cena or Edge, but they were never seen as this by the fans.
You don’t have to be a small person to overachieve, as there are many who did well with WWE at various sizes when either fans or the company did not see them as much. The cool thing for fans today is seeing someone come from nothing and become something. If you want to truly become the next great overachiever in WWE history, there are at least 10 men you can look to for guidance. We at The Richest decided to list them for you. Enjoy.
I know what you’re thinking, X-Pac? Really? He was never a World Champion with WWE, nor was he ever seen as a main event level talent. While this is true, he did overachieve with WWE by winning championships over people he shouldn’t have. On top of this, his list of titles can be seen as quite impressive.
Sean Waltman is a two-time European Champion, two-time Light Heavyweight Champion, and a four-time Tag Team Champion. We should not forget his contributions to WCW where he won the WCW Tag Team title once as well as the Cruiserweight title twice. One of the Cruiserweight titles was actually won on WWE ground when WWE and WCW were doing their invasion angle. X-Pac ended up becoming the first man to hold the WWF Light Heavyweight title and WCW Cruiserweight title at the same time.
People did not care for X-Pac though, as he was getting thrown into title opportunities all the time. In fact, when he came on television there was said to be a lot of channel changing. A term called “X-Pac heat” came out of it, which is used for a person that is hated so much that someone will change the channel when they come on television.
9. CM Punk
Some would say that CM Punk should be higher on this list due to how WWE treated him during his run for so many years. However, it was not as if Punk was some really small guy that could not be believable as a champion.
The problem with Punk was his look. WWE never had a person like him. Once CM Punk left Ring of Honor, several people told him he would never succeed in WWE and many fans thought he wouldn’t do well, either. Contrary to that belief, he was quite the overachiever in WWE.
He won the WWE Intercontinental title once, and the Tag Team title once. On top of this, he was an ECW Champion. In addition to that, he won the World Heavyweight title twice and the WWE Championship three times. This makes him one of the few who won WWE’s triple crown.
His look was different and he did not quite get along with people in the back. He was seemingly always kept back until a promo named “The Pipebomb” went down in Las Vegas at WWE RAW in 2011. From then on, WWE took notice and so did the rest of the world.
8. Chris Benoit
While Benoit’s legacy will always be tainted due to the grizzly murders of his family before he took his own life, his career was certainly a great one in both WCW and WWE. You could even say he had a good ECW run, and some even talk up his NJPW career. However, if we’re talking just WCW and WWE time, he certainly had a special career.
He was a five-time United States Champion (three times in WWE), a four-time Intercontinental Champion, a three-time WCW Television Champion, a WCW World Champion, a two-time WCW Tag Team Champion, a four-time WWE Tag Team Champion, and a WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He was also a Royal Rumble winner in his career.
He even won the World Heavyweight title at a WrestleMania event and held it for a while. Clearly, Benoit had a great career, but it was certainly not easy. He was quite small and was certainly not a guy WWE would push as much. He managed to have a Hall of Fame career. However, he may never go in after what happened with his family. It has been almost confirmed that he had a brain issue called CTE, which has become a popular problem among many athletes. Despite this, he has been blackballed from WWE.
7. The Miz
The Miz may not be your favorite wrestler, but chances are you know him pretty well if nothing else. He has a lot of outside the ring experience. He has not landed a huge Hollywood role like The Rock or Batista, but he has made quite an impression outside the ring. However, he also made a huge impression in WWE as well. He is still going strong and his career may not be over yet, but he has already achieved more than anyone thought he would.
He was on The Real World, an MTV reality show that went on for way too long. Miz wanted to be a wrestler, but he was quite small and needed to develop a better look. He went on Tough Enough and managed to do well enough to secure a developmental contract where he would go to Deep South and eventually make his way to the main roster.
He wasn’t exactly beloved. In fact, “the boys” hated him so much at one point that he got kicked out of the locker room and had to change in arena bathrooms. His success was truly unexpected. When he won the WWE Tag Team titles with John Morrison twice, people took him a little better. Then, he won a United States title and eventually became a Money in the Bank winner. He then cashed it in and won the WWE Championship. He would go on to beat Cena in the main event of WrestleMania 27 … with a little help from the Great One.
All in all, The Miz has won six Tag Team titles with various partners, the United States title 2 times and the WWE Intercontinental title 4 times. This makes him one of the most decorated champions on WWE’s roster right now. How about that? On top of all of this, he married former WWE Diva Maryse. He is one of the biggest overachievers alive.
6. Chris Jericho
Like most on this list, Chris Jericho was certainly not the biggest guy in the world. Today he seems to be much bigger than the average WWE Superstar or potentially right at the same size. Today’s WWE Superstar is far different than the giants Jericho had to go up against. Jericho is really one of the only guys from the old era still around on a full-time basis. Jericho had to stand out multiple ways. He knew his size or look would never get him over.
He also knew when he first got to the WWE after leaving WCW that he had to prove his worth. This eventually led to his first WWE World title when he won the first ever WWE Undisputed Championship. He would go on to main event a WrestleMania with Triple H and become one of the most iconic stars of his era. He has done everything one could do and has set records. He is not only the first Undisputed Champion in WWE history but he also holds the record for the most WWE Intercontinental Titles with nine reigns .
On top of this he is a:
-WWE Hardcore Champion
-WWE European Champion
-Seven-time WWE Tag Team Champion
-Three-time World Heavyweight Champion
-Two-time WCW World Champion (when WWE bought WCW)
There are very few with the accomplishments of Chris Jericho. Jericho truly stood out in his era and still does today. Few have the same credentials as top guys in WWE history, so it is not a surprise that guys like Jericho are seen as overachievers.
5. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy has been one of the most popular wrestlers in the world the last number of years, but he wasn’t always the best investment. WWE liked Hardy and so did the fans, but Jeff’s issues with drugs made him someone WWE could not get behind for long.
Jeff has famously worked with both WWE and TNA, but his WWE time was stuff of legend. Whether he was working in the singles department or the tag team department with his brother, Hardy was seen as one of the best out there. He was always an interesting case and popular due to his risky ring style, but he was never a guy WWE could trust. He was suspended multiple times due to drug violations and even found his way out of WWE at one point due to WWE’s rigorous testing.
However, Hardy massively overachieved in his WWE time. He has been a:
-WCW Tag Team Champion (won in WWE)
-Six-time WWE Tag Team Champion
-WWE European Champion
-WWE Light Heavyweight Champion
-Four-time WWE Intercontinental Champion
-Three-time WWE Hardcore Champion
-Two-time World Heavyweight Champion
This of course excludes his TNA accolades. He left WWE in 2009 and made his way back to TNA in 2010, where he has been since. TNA didn’t seem to have the drug restrictions WWE had, which is why it seems Jeff wanted to leave again. In TNA, there was an infamous Victory Road PPV incident where Jeff showed up to the arena either drunk or high … or both. He was set for the main event against Sting in what was sure to be a fun match between two legends. Only, Hardy was unable to work due to his state. This led to TNA calling an audible and having Sting go over on him quickly. Hardy was forced to seek help and found his way and has reportedly stayed clean since then.
Christian has been a pretty popular performer with WWE for years, however he left WWE for TNA just like Hardy before him. He felt he was talented and deserved to be given a shot. He was always seemingly known as Edge’s tag team partner and could never stand out on his own at the time. WWE wouldn’t use him well and with Edge branching out as the next chosen one, killing it every night, Christian was on the outside looking in. WWE didn’t have room for him it seemed, so Christian left for TNA and did quite well. His return to WWE almost mirrored Jeff Hardy’s departure in fact.
WWE threw him on ECW where he ended up doing quite well. His return to WWE pretty much forced us to take him seriously. He won gold seemingly every other month with the company and continued to do so.
Sometimes you have to leave to force WWE to know what they are missing. Christian wasn’t the biggest guy and he did not have a major character to work on. He was known as the tag guy and seemingly the Marty Jennety to Edge’s Shawn Michaels. His overachieving ways allowed him to pretty much take over in his comeback. Now Christian is as retired as one can get, as he has not wrestled for WWE in over a year. It doesn’t look like he’ll work in the ring any time soon. He’s an easy WWE Hall of Famer with his WWE career as well.
3. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio is known as one of the most popular underdogs of all time. He was certainly not a big man at all. In fact, his son now towers over him. He was one of the most popular stars in WWE, but he never got the chance to stand out due to his size.
Everyone back in the 90s and early 2000s thought you had to be huge to get a shot in WWE. Mysterio took steroids for a period of time and was pretty muscular but never could grow taller. Many guys never took that into consideration I suppose. When there was an infamous scandal that caught WWE Superstars with them, it seemed usage stopped a good bit.
The passing of Eddie Guerrero really put Rey in the spotlight. He was the most famous of the close friends and family of Guerrero in WWE it seemed. Without a big Hispanic star, WWE relied on Rey now, which led to a big Royal Rumble win for Rey and eventual World Heavyweight title. He has numerous WCW Cruiserweight titles, but also WWE Cruiserweight titles as well. He has won the WWE Tag Team titles and a few IC titles. He actually has three World titles to his credit in WWE, which makes him the most decorated pure luchador in WWE history.
2. Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero is a wrestling legend from a legendary wrestling family, plain and simple. The Guerrero dynasty is one full of great workers but Eddie stood above them all. Whether it was his ring work or ability to entertain us, Eddie was an amazing professional wrestler who deserves all the praise in the world. Despite all of his great accolades, WWE did not originally see him as more than another mid-carder for a while. The crowd kept on wanting more of him, which led to WWE slowly giving us more and more.
He eventually would show WWE what he was made of and won his first WWE World title at No Way Out in 2004 against Brock Lesnar, who was set to leave WWE after WrestleMania that year. It was a huge shocker and the fans loved every second of it. Sadly, Guerrero would pass away the following year due to a heart attack. This was right before WWE was set to potentially give him his second World title. His last match happened to be against Mr. Kennedy, now Ken Anderson in TNA. All on all, his career was a massive success.
He was a two-time WWE European Champion, a two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, a WWE United States Champion, a four-time WWE Tag Team Champion
and a WWE Champion, not to mention being inducted into the Hall of Fame, too.
1. Daniel Bryan
The recently retired Daniel Bryan is considered by many to be one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time, and he didn’t even work for the company for all that long. He was forced into retirement this year due to ongoing issues from head trauma. Doctors found a lesion on his brain where seizures tend to happen. Due to this, he simply cannot perform in the ring and remain safe doing so.
Interestingly, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was full-time almost as long as Bryan. He had a few years in WWE that he was part time and even a time in which he was also injured and left WWE over creative issues.
That being said, if people can see Austin as one of the best despite his time with WWE then Bryan has to be up there. The issue is the time and how long one was on top over the other. Unlike Austin however, Bryan was not gifted with a great look and body. He was not going to stand out with a fantastic promo either as Austin could wake up after a night of drinking and be dragged out in front of a live crowd and he still could deliver a fantastic promo because he was just that good. Bryan was small and had the term “indie wrestler” to his credit, which at one point was a dirty word in WWE. The promotion wants their own guys to be on top and their own guys to be seen as the best. Bryan was able to not only put a stop to that, but he was able to say that when he was active, he was the biggest star in the company.
Bryan won over the fans with his ability to be comical but also show that he was fun to watch. You could not miss a Bryan promo or match because something was going to entice you. WWE did not to use him at the top, but the fans forced them to due to how strong they felt for Bryan. This led them to giving Bryan a win at WrestleMania 30 in the main event where he captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It was a big moment for Bryan, but afterward his career went downhill. However, he still has a Hall of Fame career.
This is not even to mention his several independent championships or his numerous PWI and Wrestling Observer awards while with WWE. Bryan was able to not only survive but thrive in the land of the giants. He was able to get fans behind him when WWE was trying to force fans to forget about him. He became one of the most beloved WWE Superstars in history and his ability to connect to them is unmatched by almost any other performer. He was able to stand out when told no, because the world said “yes.”