Hype isn’t always a good thing for a new WWE wrestler. Sometimes too much hype can create unattainable expectations from fans. The cream doesn’t always rise to the top in these instances as these 10 busts can attest to.
Falling flat in the WWE isn’t necessarily reflective of your skills as a professional wrestler. Some of the most talented wrestlers in the world for different reasons, failed to live up to expectations set by management and fans. I came up with a list of ten who as Hulk Hogan would say, “couldn’t cut the mustard” under the big lights and heavy spotlight of the WWE.
Diamond Dallas Page – DDP was arguably the biggest signing to come over with the purchase of WCW. While Page always had his doubters, expectations are always going to be large when you are pushed that heavy by the opposition. Unfortunately Page couldn’t come close to meeting those expectations. His debut feud with the Undertaker was an absolute dud and it was a downward spiral from there. I don’t think you can find a much bigger bust during the invasion than Page.
Ted Arcidi – Arcidi was a pet project of Vince McMahon’s in the mid-1980s. Arcidi was a well-known powerlifter and one of the strongest men to ever step foot into a WWE ring. The vignettes leading up to Arcidi’s debut showcased a man that was promoted to be the next big star. Instead what WWE fans got was a guy who was clearly in over his head and lacked the charisma to make a successful transition.
Karma – As I said above, a lack of talent isn’t always the mitigating factor between success and failure in the WWE. Unlike Arcidi, Karma clearly had the skills to live up to her hype. For Karma, outside of the ring issues got the best of her. A few months after debuting she told the company she was pregnant. She reportedly lost her baby and returned as a big surprise at the Royal Rumble. She claimed that she was given her release after she was unable to meet a deadline for returning to the ring. True or not the only thing I can confirm is that she quickly disappeared from the WWE, earmarking her as the first big flop under the Triple H regime.
Sin Cara – Let’s stick with the Triple H regime shall we. The former Mistico came into the WWE with a ton of hype and was the first big signing of Triple H. The WWE held a press conference in Mexico and Mistico was targeted to be the next big star among kids and the Latino market. It wasn’t talent that prevented this but attitude that kept Mistico from reaching those heights. His lack of interest in learning English and reported bad attitude put him quickly in the dog house. The WWE certainly gave him enough chances yet in the end he was never a good fit for the company.
Waylon Mercy – Dan Spivey had all of the tools to become one of the biggest stars in the industry. The only thing he lacked was character and charisma and with Waylon Mercy, he got both. Mercy had a ton of promotion prior to his debut and developed something of a cult following quickly among hardcore fans. Unfortunately Mercy never lived up to his hype. I interviewed Dan Spivey a few years ago and he told me he was so beat up with injuries at the time that he just couldn’t get going. It wasn’t talent or motivation in Spivey’s case, it was just bad timing.
Kerry Von Erich – Speaking of bad timing I don’t think there is a bigger bust that epitomizes poor timing than Kerry Von Erich. Kerry was targeted for several years by Vince McMahon going back to when Vince would air his matches in the early days of All-Star Wrestling on the USA Network. Unfortunately the Kerry I watched on Sunday mornings on the USA Network was not the same man who came into the WWE in the early 1990s. Kerry was hampered by injuries, an addiction problem, and only had one foot by the time he signed. He was clearly not the same guy most of us had watched on tape or World Class television by this point. While Mr. Perfect carried Kerry to some very good matches, he never had a chance to live up to his expectations.
The Widowmaker – When you really think about how successful Barry as the Widowmaker could have played out you can’t help but wonder how this went so terribly wrong. Barry Windham was arguably the best worker in the United States at this point in his career. He had just finished up the best run of his career with Jim Crockett promotions that saw him tear down the house night after night. Yet for some reason he just never clicked in the WWE. It wasn’t as if they didn’t try as there were reportedly big plans for a feud between him and Hulk Hogan. He was even booked for the first few months with an undefeated streak yet out of the blue he left the company just as he was about to get to the upper mid-card. If you look back at Barry’s career he seemed to be his own worst enemy and I can’t think of a guy sabotaging his career more than he did when he left as the Widowmaker.
Lex Luger – I may as well stick with the theme for former JCP stars who failed to click with WWE fans. Some have called Luger the biggest bust in WWE history. I don’t know if I’d go that far. What I will say is that predicted Luger to be Hulk Hogan’s heir apparent just weeks after he debuted in Florida. He had the look and he had enough skills in the ring to get by but he lacked the one intangible needed to be the man in the WWE and that was charisma. He never clicked with WWE fans the way he did in WCW and that was evident from the start. Even after Vince shoved him down fan’s throats with the Lex Express, the fans still never truly bought into the Total Package. I will always wonder if the motorcycle accident he had upon signing was the difference here.
Vladimir Kozlov – It’s hard to forget about Kozlov. Koslov not only has the honor of being one of the WWE’s biggest busts, he also has the honor of being one of many reasons Jeff and Jerry Jarrett had a falling out. Jerry shopped Koslov to the WWE and was photographed on the WWE website at the same time Jeff was running TNA which didn’t go over well with Double J. Regardless, in the ring Koslov was beyond terrible. The WWE gave him plenty of chances and big pushes with feuds against Triple H and the Undertaker. In the end he just never got it and the WWE eventually cut their loss.
Tom Magee – Like Luger, Magee is often referred to as the biggest WWE bust of all-time. I don’t know if I’d go that far but he may be the most famous case of a flop. Vince McMahon loved bodybuilders in the 1980s and was extremely high on Magee. Magee, a former bodybuilder and Strong Man champion had one of the best wrestling bodies to enter a WWE ring at the time. Dave Meltzer described Magee at the time as having the “greatest combination of strength and agility that the business had ever seen.” Magee debuted in the WWE against Bret Hart in a match completely carried by Hart. Hart was so proud of the match that he asked for it to be included on one of his DVDs. The reason Hart was so proud is that Magee was absolutely terrible, yet Hart carried him to a great one. Upon seeing the Hart vs. Magee match, Vince was reportedly set to groom Magee to take Hogan’s spot. Unfortunately for Magee he couldn’t wrestle Bret Hart every night and was quickly exposed. A new wrestler with an equally good physique came into the company and the Ultimate Warrior quickly made Vince forget about Magee and his failed experiment.