We’ve seen it time and time again; the WWE has made so many messes of talents that had success elsewhere. Finally, it seems like the company is turning the corner, and AJ Styles is a great example of an older wrestler finally being allowed to succeed on the WWE stage, despite his other successes outside of the company.
Though it'll be quickly apparent how many blatant failures the WWE managed to produce over the years with numerous talents on this list, saying they were taken for granted is an understatement. Other performers include Superstars that could never break the main event scene, and even a current star that nobody could have predicted would result in having such an impact on the business today. Can you guess who this guy is that the WWE took for granted? I'll give you a hint: he officially brought in the New Era as the face of change. Look for the answer in the number eight entry. Now enough of the talk and let us begin. Here are 15 wrestlers the WWE took for granted; we start with the initial master of the RKO: DDP!
15 Diamond Dallas Page
More times than not, the WWE struggled to book great talents that had thrived elsewhere. DDP is the poster boy for this notion. Page was a stud in WCW, becoming one of the most popular babyfaces on the entire roster. It was quite the accomplishment considering the nWo ruled all and the fans loved heels at that time.
DDP just had that instant connection with the crowd and the WCW promotion gave him that ball to run with. He became one of the most iconic faces in the history of the company, winning the World Title three times. His feud with the Macho Man is still referenced as one of the greatest of all time.
The WWE took him for granted and that’s a big understatement. As opposed to banking on his great previous gimmick, the company gave him a weird twist as motivational speaker and a stalker of The Undertaker’s ex wife. Goes without saying, the company most certainly took everything he brought to the table for granted. What a mistake this was.
14 Ken Shamrock
Had MMA been more of a thing back in the 90s, we’d be having a much different conversation. Nonetheless, the WWE knew they had something special in Ken Shamrock. Although the MMA world wasn’t as popular at the time, the company still saw the potential in Shamrock’s kayfabe demeanor as a vicious combat wrestler.
The WWE quickly gave Ken a push, as he’d win the King of the Ring in 1998, which was a big deal during that era. He would also capture the IC championship. Things however, would get a little bumpy later on, and according to Ken, backstage politics cost him a potential rise to the top. In terms of booking the company certainly missed the mark and took what they had for granted, as Ken had the potential of becoming one of the most dominant in-ring competitors of the 90s. What started off as such a promising future, diminished at the blink of an eye. A major mistake in the eyes of several wrestling enthusiasts.
13 Gail Kim
The WWE taking a female performer for granted is somewhat of a rarity. This list only includes Gail, along with another former WWE Superstar which we will discuss a little later. With the current climate of women’s wrestling hitting a new high, you can’t help but to think what an impact Gail Kim could have made. With a new emphasis on wrestling and not glamour, Gail represents everything the WWE is currently promoting.
At the time of her WWE run, this was not how the WWE viewed their female talent. Kim was taken for granted and despite her being far superior to the other women, the company overlooked her skillet and decided to push other females who were more fitting to the climate of the WWE at that time.
Her departure was extremely poor in terms of handling by the WWE. She left the company and took her talents to TNA where she thrived by using her terrific in-ring talents that were finally given a chance to be showcased. I truly believe the company would want a do-over pertaining to her situation. A major miss.
12 Lance Storm
During the 2000s, WCW was a sinking ship. In order to make it stay afloat, the company decided to usher in some fresh new talent in order to give the promotion a restart under a new umbrella that focused on the future.
Some failed miserably, while others actually thrived quite nicely; Lance Storm was one of these wrestlers. The WCW gave him a huge push. He made history quickly becoming the first wrestler in WCW to hold three Championships at once. His technical in-ring ability truly made him a standout performer.
The WWE would welcome Lance during the Invasion. After defeating The Rock and keeping his job, it looked like the WWE understood how much potential he had. Though, in typical WWE fashion they changed his entire demeanor and before you could blink, Lance became a wrestler providing the show with some comical relief. His technical abilities could have put him over a serious in-ring contender, but at the end of the day, man did the company take that for granted.
11 John Morrison
He had the look and the skills but at the end of the day, the company was not willing to push Morrison any higher up the card, and this eventually caused him to leave the company.
Morrison had tremendous upside and the WWE was well aware. The company decided to give him the ball with the ECW brand and see what he could do. Eventually, many believe the emergence of CM Punk hurt Morrison and caused him to lose some steam. Once his contract was coming to an end, John demanded creative freedom to his gimmick. The WWE would not allow it and the former IC Champ would take his talents elsewhere. Since leaving he has thrived as the face of Lucha Underground. Looking at his current work as a prominent player, it’s safe to say the company took him for granted. Don’t be too surprised if the WWE tries to go back on this mistake by bringing him back to the company in the near future.
Oh, the curious case that is Raven. Did you know he actually started off in the WWE working as a creative writer? Well, after that was up he took his talents in the ring and become a tremendous undercard performer for the WCW promotion. His skill set was so unique and ahead of its time, it was like planting Bray Wyatt into a 90s wrestling ring.
He later transferred his talents to the WWE, and things just went downhill from there. McMahon himself didn’t even know the company signed the talent. When he saw Raven, McMahon uttered the iconic line: “Who the hell hired Polo?”. The company had no clue what they were dealing with, and Raven failed to gain any type of recognition and became a lower-card wrestler in the hardcore division which was packed with useless talents at the time. His credentials were far too great for this role. The company messed this one up really bad.
9 Cody Rhodes
The entry of Cody Rhodes is the most recent example on this list. His WWE run finally came to an end after the veteran had no interest in pursuing a Stardust gimmick any longer.
His talent was extremely apparent. He is the most talented of the entire family when you consider his in-ring work, which is far superior to his brother and father. With a recent brand split, you’d think the WWE would benefit from having such a vital piece on a roster but the company overlooked this and let Cody walk.
Looking at the state of SmackDown, you find it hard to believe how the company could not just give Rhodes some freedom by resurfacing his gimmick on the brand. After all, he’s earned the right to do so, being a workhorse for several years prior. At the end of the day, his talents were taken for granted and we seriously hope the best for Cody and his future.
8 Shane McMahon
I think his father could even attest to this, as I’m sure nobody behind the scenes was expecting such a thunderous reaction to Shane following his return after a seven year long hiatus from the wrestling business.
The WWE was craving to push the restart button. They’d promote the notion of a new era constantly, but it just didn’t feel like one; enter Shane. His impact brought an entire new dimension to the program, and all of a sudden Shane was the face of change. His promos and words gave the fans hope that things were actually going to change and on the upswing.
His involvement and impact spoke volumes to how valuable he really is. The impact he made was so profound that it caused the WWE to change the script and let Shane run the place despite his WrestleMania loss. With the brand split in place, I think it’s safe to say his impact has changed the landscape. Anyone behind the scenes would be lying if they told you they saw this coming. Nobody did.
7 AJ Lee
AJ is the second female to enter the list of stars that the WWE took for granted. AJ arguably started the so called “Divas Revolution”. The talented performer not only brought it in the ring, but she also made her voice known outside of it. Like her husband CM Punk, Lee set off a pipe bomb of her own discussing how women’s inequality is a major problem in the wrestling business. She discussed a lack of time given to the females and later touched up on how despite having one of the best merchandise sales on the entire roster, she was still making a fraction of the salary in comparison to male wrestlers. Her statement was actually recognized by the WWE; Stephanie acknowledged it and claimed she agreed with what AJ had to say.
Nonetheless, following WrestleMania, Lee announced her retirement. Changes were not made while she was there but began to emerge once she left. Her contributions will always be taken for granted, and she was a massive catalyst for change.
6 CM Punk
Love him or hate him, it’s an understatement to say that CM Punk was taken for granted by the WWE (you can make the argument that he should be number one on this list). Punk rose to fame at a time where the WWE roster was thinner than ever. The product was extremely complacent and stars were not emerging. Punk was by far, ahead of the other class at that point.
His demeanor spoke volumes to what he represented. Punk was a catalyst for change and demonstrated that with an Attitude Era-like persona. Instead of banking on his brilliance, the company most certainly took him for granted and instead of giving him a WrestleMania main event match for his tremendous work, the company gave the torch to a wrestler that was non-existent, The Rock. Punk went on to leave the company and still to this day, fans are wondering: what if?
5 Kurt Angle
He won a gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck! Sorry, I just felt obliged to remind you guys of how great Kurt really was back in his WWE days (which is already a decade ago. Man, does time fly!). In the ring, the WWE certainly didn’t take Kurt’s abilities for granted, as he was given the ball for the bulk of his career becoming a four-time WWE Champion and the fifth Grand Slam Champion. When something was lacking, Angle was thrown into the mix. He was that good.
The problem wasn’t the company taking his talents for granted, it was taking Angle, the human, for granted. Kurt discussed how badly overworked he was at one point in time, working four shows a week on the regular. Despite his pleads for time off, the company looked the other way.
He had enough with the brutal travel schedule and left the company for good opting to join TNA, which taped its program in the same venue, so travelling was no longer an issue. Hard to believe that Angle’s requirements were not met after everything he did for the company. We hope to see him get some kind of redemption with one final run in front of the big WWE lights.
4 Bret Hart
When you read the title of this article, the first face you probably thought of was the Hitman himself. What infuriated so many fans and why they held a grudge for so long (including Bret) was because of how the WWE took everything Bret did for granted by slapping him in the face in front of millions of fans. At the time, if there was a single wrestler who didn’t deserve to be played like that, it was Bret.
His body of work spoke for itself. What made Bret sick to his stomach was thinking about all the shows he worked while being sick or extremely banged up. As a thank you, the company failed to comply to his demands and he was instead stripped of his Championship without even knowing. It caused tremendous backlash, not only with fans but behind the scenes as well, as several wrestlers didn’t even show up to the next show, including Mick Foley who was irate at the decision.
Thankfully, the situation is resolved now, but most fans will never forget this dark cloud that still hangs under the WWE banner.
We can’t say the WWE took his run with the company for granted, as he was given the opportunity to shine and was well received behind the scenes. Though, it’s a big time head scratcher when thinking about how long it took the company to finally secure Sting on the main roster. Should it really have taken all those years? Some believe the company took his talents for granted, and this is exactly what Sting feared for several years and why he didn’t want to join the WWE umbrella.
The Stinger's major concern was that the company would bury him not knowing how to use his character. Looking at this list, it’s not hard to find out why Sting thought this, with so many examples of the WWE destroying former talented stars. With this in mind, Sting should have been signed much earlier (probably a decade before he did, and the WWE should have made him the star that he was). With the company waiting for so long, you can’t help but to think they took what he was for granted. What do you think?
I think we can all agree that his WWE run was taken for granted and it all started with some terrible booking decisions. Like Sting had previously mentioned, he was afraid the WWE would not know how to use him; well, this is exactly what went down with Goldberg.
The company didn’t have a clue how to work with him and it caused tension between both sides. It was clear, the WWE roster was better, thus continuing his dominating streak was almost impossible. In terms of booking, the WWE needed to take a Brock Lesnar approach; make him a prized fighter, make his appearances rare and make him must-see television. All of these factors were not used, and the company instead shoved Goldberg down our throats and before you knew it, he was gone.
The WWE took what they had for granted and with a proper booking, he might have endured a terrific run which had the potential to still be discussed today. What a colossal fail.
1 Macho Man
You can make the argument for several performers on this list, but there was nobody the WWE took for granted more so than the Macho Man Randy Savage. His body of work is simply breathtaking. Rising to superstardom in the late 80s, Macho Man became the first heel to get cheered. He made bad guys look cool way before the nWo did so. His popularity sprung him to the top quickly and he’d become the face of the company, carrying the WWE Championship for over a year.
After a glorious run, Macho Man traded in his ring boots for a headset on the commentary booth. After a solid run as an announcer, Macho Man decided he wanted to get back in the ring. With a new emphasis on youth, the company looked the other way and told Randy this could not happen. Such a shame. The icon would end up leaving and joining WCW. Can you image a match between Michaels at his prime and a returning Macho Man? Even though the WWE took his talents for granted, we will never forgot how he changed the landscape of the wrestling business forever. Thank you, Randy.
Sources: bleacherreport.com, forbes.com, si.com
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