You're fired!!!WWE has a mixed track record for creating stars. They do tend to try (albeit pathetically in some cases) but things don’t work out. Where WWE goes wrong in most cases is giving up on talent not named John Cena or Roman Reigns and letting them be forgotten entities in the footnote of history.WWE created industry defining stars – Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock etc. but not all stories work out. In this list I will look at the top 10 performers that WWE severely underrated and subsequently released without giving them a fair shot. With the current vacuum at the top of the card due to injuries, WWE’s lack of star-making abilities are exposed for the first time since the mid-nineties, when Mabel was 'King of the Ring'. The company could've given the following a longer rope and helped established a stronger backbone and upper card to deal with such situations.Without further ado....
#10 Gail Kim
Gail Kim – one of the biggest wasted opportunities in WWE. She is arguably one of the finest wrestlers in the world between the Trish-Lita-Victoria era and the four Horsewomen era.
She won the WWE women’s championship in her first match (Paige did it with the Divas title) which gave the impression that WWE were serious about her. Her first release in November 2004 was shocking and ‘cost cutting’ was a pathetic excuse as WWE began moving to the model atheletes as wrestlers which saw the likes of Kelly Kelly become champion...
Kim stated in an interview with The Sun that she was not happy with her time in WWE due to the feeling that the female talents were being held back while also vowing never to re-sign with the promotion.
It's hard to argue with that because Gail Kim was one of the most talented wrestlers of her generation. She would find solace in TNA where she was the inaugural and became a five-time Knockouts champion, but alas her WWE tenure will be remembered as a huge disappointment. For heaven's sake, Kim won the PWI Female Wrestler of the year award in 2013 and all WWE saw her fit for was ‘dorky’ Daniel Bryan’s girlfriend.
#9 Low Ki
One of the most beloved performers of the independent scene, many were genuinely excited for Low Ki when he got signed by WWE. Unbelievably, WWE insisted he started out on NXT (game show version) which was weird and stalled his momentum.
Although he won the competition, his character ‘Kaval’ was completely forgotten about around 3 months after he debuted on Smackdown. The man never got the push or even the chance to properly display his talent as his stiff style was cut down on by the WWE.
#8 DOC Gallows
The man who recently caused a storm as he was rumoured to join WWE from NJPW alongside A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and ‘Machine Gun’ Karl Anderson and a former member of the memorable ‘Bullet Club’ in Japan and the disastrous ‘Aces and Eights’ in TNA, Drew Hankinson has played a variety of roles in WWE. He played the ‘dim-witted’ giant Festus which was a waste of his talent (see: Matt Morgan stuttering) as he is quite handy in the ring and a decent talker as well.
He has been successful outside of WWE as an IWGP world tag team champion in New Japan Pro Wrestling and a winner of the world tag league in the same promotion (both with ‘machine gun’ Karl Anderson).
Gallows has been showcasing his talent as an excellent tag team competitor but the potential is there for him to break out on his own as well. On an unrelated note, he main evented a GFW show recently and is expected to return to WWE and American wrestling by February. WWE may be correcting their mistakes by retiring Gallows, but they should have never released him in the first place.
#7 Matt Morgan
Standing at six feet ten inches tall, Matt Morgan was a muscle bound freak that could actually work in the ring and was unsurprisingly signed up by WWE in a developmental deal in 2002.
The man would be promoted to the main roster in two different spells; 2003/4 and in 2005 when he would become a stuttering bodyguard to Carlito which was a huge waste because the man was a very good promo and had a degree in public speaking. His talents were wasted showing that despite his love for big giants, Vince Mcmahon does not know how to book them effectively.
Morgan would be released in mid-2005 and move to TNA (back when it was up and coming) after he excelled and improved in Japan showing he was willing to put in a shift to improve.
He was pushed to the main event in TNA in feuds with the likes of Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson and Abyss, being a constant fixture in TNA’s upper mid card and an occasional main eventer. He also had the odd distinction of being the sole TNA tag champion, holding both belts as a lone wolf.
#6 Mickie James
Originally signed to a developmental contract in 2003, Mickie James spent 7 years with the WWE before being released. During her run, she was a 6-time Women’s/Divas champion and was involved in one of the most famous Divas feuds playing the obsessed fan of Trish Stratus.
As one of WWE’s better all-around talents – in the ring and on the mic – \Mickie was a critical piece to the women’s division when others like Lita and Trish retired from wrestling and held the division together. Then, the Piggy James storyline happened and I cannot stress this enough, Mickie was not fat. AT ALL.
Despite suffering that abomination of a storyline, Micky became a popular star elsewhere- she was one of the leading lights of the Knockouts Division when it was at its peak. As a three-time Knockouts Champion, it’s safe to say that Mickie enjoyed a successful post-WWE career.
She’s a two-time PWI Woman of the Year award winner and won one of those the year prior to her WWE release, making it all the more baffling. It would later become clear that WWE basically wanted models and didn’t want to focus on wrestling.
She’s currently back in the WWE and is busy playing the veteran’s role on RAW.
#5 Evan Bourne
Evan ‘Matt Sydal’ Bourne was one of the most exciting WWE superstars in a long time. His shooting star press finisher (the ‘Air Bourne’) was breathtaking and his high-flying offence was a breath of fresh air in the WWE.
His career sadly didn’t work out as injuries derailed his push, but it’s safe to say that WWE shouldn’t have given up on him. The man has become one of the most respected names outside of WWE as his performances as a former ROH world tag champion, winning the super tag tournament in NJPW and WWE tag team title reign has wowed audiences.
Bourne has always been a hard worker and he is used to working across various promotions to prove himself. His stints in NJPW, TNA, ROH, WWE, Dragon Gate, EVOLVE etc. have had varying degrees of success.
His stint in WWE was the most disappointing however because he was wasted in a throwaway tag team when he could have been a perfect underdog in the mould of Rey Mysterio and would’ve put on amazing matches with anyone up the card.
It’s shocking to consider that Bourne never got the chance to prove himself in singles competition instead being wasted in throwaway tag teams just because of the incompetence of creative.
#4 Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin was one-half of the World’s Greatest Tag Team, the man WWE signed with Brock Lesnar in 2000. Benjamin was never taken to have a future as bright as Lesnar’s, but he was a revelation.
In the ring, he was an innovator, providing us with the original Money in the Bank match spots that are now copied. Benjamin’s athletic nature meant the fans absolutely loved him, the only problem was his lack of mic skills. The solution was simple – a manager. The execution was pathetic (See: Big Momma).
Benjamin could’ve been fantastic for WWE in a much higher place on the card, but the US/Intercontinental title was his proverbial glass ceiling. Upon being released, he reformed the ‘World’s Greatest Tag Team’ with Charlie Haas in Ring of Honor, becoming a two-time ROH tag champ to add to his WWE ones.
He won three consecutive Wrestling Observer Newsletter Underrated Wrestler of the Year awards, but WWE failed to still make use of him. To Benjamin’s credit, he never gave up on his dream and is currently one of the leading members of the ‘gajin’ Suzuki-Gun stable in Pro Wrestling Noah.
#3 John Morrison
Also known as Johnny Nitro or John Morrison, he is the most successful Tough Enough contestant when he originally tried out for the WWE way back in 2002 (Sorry Miz, I hate you). His career spanned from 2003 to 2011 when he was eventually released.
According to Johnny, he left to heal up, act in a few movies and retrain for a possible return in the future. He was never re-signed which is probably for the best as his talents were largely wasted in WWE with no one being able to work his unique parkour-inspired style.
WWE’s loss has been Lucha Underground’s gain as Johnny Mundo has consistently been one of the best performers in the upstart promotion, even beating Alberto Del Rio (as El Patron) at the season 1 finale- Ultima Lucha in a fantastic match.
It's a mystery that WWE hasn’t attempted to re-sign the man who has made fans wherever he goes. He made tag teams with Joey Mercury, R-Truth and the Miz look fantastic... unfortunately, he could’ve done much more if afforded the opportunity.
With a penchant for stealing shows, WWE could do with having Morrison in a featured role especially with the injury crisis at hand because he also brings a certain credibility wherever he goes which WWE desperately needs. Also, the ‘Starship Pain’ finishing move is gorgeous.
#2 Drew McIntyre
He was pushed under the ‘chosen one’ gimmick so its hard to say WWE didn’t try but the fact remains that it was too soon for him. Since that ill-faited push, he hasn’t got a fair chance in the WWE and the ‘3MB’ was the endgame. There is simply no coming back from that. He won the intercontinental title, but was subsequently depushed and jobbed to almost everyone on the WWE roster.
The man now known as Drew Galloway has been fairly successful since leaving WWE, winning the EVOLVE championship but more importantly, quickly establishing himself as a major player in the TNA main event scene- he main evented TNA’s Wrestlemania in 2015- Bound For Glory and led the fight against both the invading GFW and the MVP-led Beat Down Clan showing his charisma as he got people to ‘stand up’ with him.
Thankfully, The Chosen One is now back in WWE in NXT and looks certain to be a major player going forward.
EC3. The man with the longest undefeated, unpinned and unsubmitted streak in recent memory, Ethan Carter has been a revelation in his role as part of TNA’s slow rise and eventually its top heel.
His relations with Dixie Carter meant he was hated as soon as he showed up, but his mic work has been a sight to behold. He has had the Impact Zone in the palm of his hands and is the perfect heel – the smug guy with a silly grin that we all love to hate.
It is hard to believe that someone as talented as the man formerly known as Derrick Bateman could slip under the WWE’s radar, only appearing on NXT (game show and the never ending redemption season) before being released without being given a fair shot.
Full credit to the man though as he has worked his arse off to ensure he improves and improved he has. His rise to the top of the TNA totem pole has been one of the most interesting stories around and unlike other heels, he has been booked to win the big one.
Now, EC3 has turned face as Tyrus abandoned him and sided with Matt Hardy and it remains to be seen where he goes from now. One thing is for sure, WWE regret letting this man go and with the current injury list at the top of the card, they could use some help... EC3 would have been perfect.