The WWE, in many ways, is like any other sport. While not a competitive game between two teams, professional athletes have to be on constant alert when it comes to the status of their contracts. Don't perform as a pro athlete and you may quickly be on the next bus out of town. WWE Superstars face a similar reality.
Vince McMahon and company only need WWE Superstars while their names and abilities are of use. For example, the WWE built its national status on the back of Hulk Hogan. The minute he became a liability, they got rid of him and disassociated themselves with his name. Stone Cold Steve Austin is rarely talked about unless he's hosting a podcast or making a special appearance, yet he was the hottest thing in wrestling for an entire decade. Even John Cena is on his way out as he builds his career in Hollywood, and the WWE phases his character off of full-time programming.
But, it's not always as black and white, and waking up one morning to realize you are out of a job is a possibility. Some wrestlers slowly find themselves on the next train out of the company. The WWE will continue to employ them, but talents will lose matches, get terrible storylines to try and deliver to the audience, or barely show up on WWE programming.
In the same respect, a WWE talent finding superstardom is not always quick. There are bumpy roads and hurdles to jump. In some cases, talents might not even realize the company is pushing them. Maybe the WWE doesn't either.
In the WWE today, there are a handful of WWE Superstars in an interesting situation. Some are being buried and might not see it. Others are becoming stars and neither the company nor the wrestler realize what they're on the verge of.
15 Unknowingly Buried: Seth Rollins
Poor Seth Rollins. At one time, he was on the fast track to becoming a great WWE Champion and singles competitor. Then, the WWE realized that Roman Reigns was bombing badly with the crowd, and the one way that was easy to make him a fan favorite was to reunite him and his former Shield members. Hence, the Shield reunion began.
Seth was teamed with Dean Ambrose, and they were teamed with Reigns. It would have been okay, except that injuries and illness have derailed their trio since it was first reformed. And now, Rollins is forced to team with Jason Jordan in an effort to turn Jordan heel. Rollins has clearly fallen from the top of the totem pole.
14 Unknowingly Buried: Mojo Rawley
Mojo Rawley should have been one of the WWE's next big heels. After a drawn-out breakup from his tag team partner, Zack Ryder, Rawley had a great moment when he turned his back on his former Hype Bros. partner. The result was the WWE completely ignoring that momentum and waiting two months before really revisiting the feud. Even then, it was a footnote in the WWE U.S. Title tournament.
Rawley might think he's getting an opportunity going out on his own, but it's not much of an opportunity if WWE turns you into a heel and then largely ignores you over the holiday season. He has great potential, but it doesn't look like the company is going to let him realize it. The shame here, too, is that Zack Ryder isn't benefiting from this either.
13 Unknowingly Pushed: Finn Balor
You wouldn't think that a wrestler who was pulled from the main event of the Royal Rumble, because Vince McMahon thought he wasn't popular enough to justify the spot, should he be considered a WWE star that's being pushed. But, Balor actually is, in a weird sort of way.
After the rumors surfaced that he wasn't "over," he began a social media campaign having fun with the term and trolling people who believed the speculation. WWE didn't hide any of his tweets or Instagram posts. It's been building up steam. Recently, they've reunited him with his former running mates from Japan in Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows to reform "The Club." If this was Vince pulling Balor, he might realize he did Balor a favor.
12 Unknowingly Buried: Aiden English
Aiden English is riding a sudden wave of popularity, thanks to the "Rusev Day" movement. But the reality is, English is the disposable piece in this puzzle, and sooner than later, he's going to be discarded. The popular part of this duo is Rusev and English is doing a good job at seizing the moment.
When the WWE finally realizes what they have in Rusev and how much the fans are digging his deal, WWE will dump English into another story and Rusev will go on to become a huge star. Unless English wants to be Rusev's manager–but the reality is, Rusev still has Lana and at some point–those two will reunite. English is going to have some fun for a while, but it just won't last, and he might know what hit him when it all comes to a halt.
11 Unknowingly Buried: Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss should be considered the best female talent on the WWE roster. She stole 2017 from everyone and yet somehow, no one is looking at her to have a strong 2018. She recently took a one-sided defeat to Asuka, and she's playing second fiddle to Nia Jax who the WWE is probably hoping will have a big year.
Even though Bliss is the current Raw Women's Champion, she's not being treated as a champion, and it's slowly hurting her status in the company. When Ronda Rousey debuts, Bliss might be all but forgotten about. Hopefully, WWE doesn't focus so much on the "shiny" new talents that they forget about the WWE Superstar who practically saved the Women's Revolution when talents like Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Becky Lynch falter.
10 Unknowingly Pushed: Curt Hawkins
How does a competitor who owns the longest losing streak in the history of the WWE get pushed in that position? Simple, he's becoming the most popular enhancement talent in the WWE, and there's good money in that. Hawkins could be just any other jobber but the WWE has decided to make sure people know his name because he loses so much. He's the reverse Goldberg, and there are fame and prestige in that.
When he finally picks up a victory, it will be a bittersweet moment for Hawkins who will have nowhere to go. He's not popular or talented enough to be a major star in the WWE, and if he's not the holder of the longest-defeated streak of all time, what exactly is he? His losing is keeping his name out there.
9 Unknowingly Buried: Nia Jax
You can tell the direction change has already hurt Jax and her status. The WWE was keeping Jax away from Asuka to build the idea of the two of them facing off. But for some unknown reason, they threw Jax in an unannounced match with Asuka two weeks before the Royal Rumble. This kind of booking will hurt Jax, not help her.
8 Unknowingly Buried: Bayley
It's all over the Internet right now that WWE has given up on Bayley. The hugger who was so popular in NXT hasn't seen nearly the same level of success on the WWE main roster, and the company appears to be at a loss. Even if the WWE hasn't come out and told Bayley she's not a part of the future plans for the women's division or the title picture, she's being treated as such.
She's often used to put others over in their matches and she's rarely (if ever) the center of any feud. She's more second fiddle to Sasha Banks who, in her own right, is struggling in the WWE right now. What will the WWE do with Bayley? Probably just keep her right where she is, that's what. And everyone knows that if you're not moving, it eventually means death in the WWE.
7 Unknowingly Pushed: Braun Strowman
When you think Braun Strowman is being pushed as the next big thing, you end up questioning yourself because he loses clean to a guy like Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns. It's like for every few steps forward, he takes a step back. Then you realize, it doesn't really matter if Strowman loses because no one cares.
Fans are still totally into him, and he doesn't need a title to be a huge star. When he tips an ambulance over or pulls a stage down onto his opponent, he jumps right back up to the front of the line and he doesn't even need a match to do it. It seems clear that the WWE has him slotted in at the third or fourth highest spot on the roster, but they are unknowingly making him the biggest star in the company despite placing guys like Reigns and Lesnar ahead of him.
6 Unknowingly Buried: Matt Hardy
The return of "Broken" Matt Hardy or, in this case, "Woken," should have been all Hardy needed to elevate him up to the next level and make him a star. The only problem is WWE has no idea what to do with his character. They're too busy trying to overwrite his appearances and not letting Hardy's creative juices dictate where his gimmick goes. As a result, it's coming off on WWE programming as campy and boring.
The company had a huge opportunity on their hands to take Hardy and make him a household name for WWE fans. They've blown it and, at the same time, are taking Bray Wyatt down with him. Unfortunately for Wyatt, he was already dealing with a terrible 2017 calendar year. WWE needs to wake up (pun intended).
5 Unknowingly Buried: Bobby Roode
He was a massive star in NXT. In fact, he's perhaps the best heel character in the brand's history. It made absolute sense to bring him up to the WWE's main roster. Inexplicably, the company did so and ditched almost everything that made him so great as a bad guy. They kept his theme, perhaps thinking that was all it was fans were in love with and stuck him in feuds that went nowhere.
Now, Roode is on track to win the U.S. Title, which is good. But, if the WWE doesn't turn him into a heel character, then what's the point? Fans don't like him nearly as much as they did when he was too "glorious" for anyone and anything. Now, he's merely a puppet pandering to the crowd on a regular basis. It's going to fade and the WWE just doesn't see it.
4 Unknowingly Pushed: The Miztourage
Yes, they are nothing more than sidekicks to The Miz, who might be WWE's best mic worker right now. That said, they're being beside him, and coming along for the ride as he rises to the top of the WWE is actually good for them as the WWE fans are starting to dig that they are simply attached.
Unlike other talents where the single's star goes on to be a big deal without his sidekick, The Miz is the type of talent who could always have cronies and it wouldn't get tiresome. This is the perfect spot for Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel right now, and it gives them some creative room to become surprisingly popular underdogs. Basically, what we're saying is that The Miz does make everyone around him better.
3 Unknowingly Buried: Elias
Another wrestler being primed for the big time, Elias is still a chosen one of Vince McMahon who is rumored to absolutely love "The Drifter" character. The problem is that while Vince is trying to get him on television, the writers (likely including Vince) have. He's moved Elias away from what made him popular and have written horrid comedy songs that make him more of a laughing stock than anything else. In the meantime, they're teaming him up with people which is kind of besides the point of being a drifter.
Elias is the type of talent the WWE wants to use and because he's on TV often and picking up victories, it seems like he's being pushed. But while he's getting some of the spotlight, what they're writing for him isn't working.
2 Unknowingly Buried: Enzo Amore
Enzo might be the most in denial WWE Superstar on the roster. He had a good thing going as part of a tag team with Big Cass, and then he burned that bridge when the WWE tried to push Cass. He's talked so much and caused so much trouble backstage that he's alienated himself from the entire locker room. WWE decided to ship him off to 205 Live and the Cruiserweight Division.
Enzo has talked himself into this being a promotion when he knows full well that it isn't. 205 Live is dying a slow and painful death, and he's going to be blamed as the leader of a show that never worked and couldn't draw fans. When Enzo goes down, it could get ugly. And with Amore, it's only a matter of when and not if.
1 Unknowingly Pushed: Neville
Neville and the WWE are not getting along. But, he's still under contract, and every once in a while, the company and the talent try to get together and iron things out. So far, at least from what we know, it hasn't worked. But, it's not a total loss.
This is the kind of situation that fans pay attention to. The more he sits out and there is talk of him returning, the more impact it will have when he eventually does. If WWE is upset with Neville for walking (assuming that's what's going on here), they aren't making him less of a star by keeping him out of action and not releasing him. They have every right to do what they're doing.