Roots of today’s WWE travel all the way back to the early 1950’s and the founding of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation. The public over 50+ years would watch Capitol Wrestling evolve into Vince McMahon’s WWE, a now publicly-traded entertainment company with a global influence. McMahons WWE dominates the professional wrestling industry and has redefined what it means to be a professional wrestler. While predetermined outcome or fixed combat entertainment existed long before McMahons birth, he currently controls the future of the entire field.
WWE has presented to the public countless spectacles around the world featuring celebrities from Donald Trump and Jon Stewart, to Cyndi Lauper and Kid Rock, to Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson. Now some of the most popular celebrities to work with WWE are home-grown talents that became household names, working with Vince McMahon himself (like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin). It is a wonder how WWE can have its own network, so much weekly television content and marketing power, and yet still miss the mark in creating a new superstar. Below we have listed four former WWE superstars that never really reached their full potential with the company.
Bobby Lashley and Donald Trump shave Vince McMahon bald
1. Bobby Lashley
Starting this list off strong (no pun intended), Bobby Lashley was arguably Vince McMahon’s perfect athlete. On Fitstays, his review explains how he got his physique of a world-class body builder, and a legitimate background in athletics. The college graduate, former US Army soldier, and accomplished amateur wrestler, signed with WWE and, early in his career, began working directly with Vince McMahon and main event level WWE superstars. Bobby Lashley was the first to break Chris Masters swinging full-nelson hold, the Masterlock. It was also Bobby Lashley that shaved the chairman of WWE’s head bald at Wrestlemania 23, alongside TV personality and real estate mogul Donald Trump. Lashley spent a large percentage of his time in the WWE working directly with Vince and is a 1-time US Champion and 2-time ECW World Champion.
Lashley would eventually earn his opportunity to challenge then-champion, John Cena, but would lose the match. Shortly after The Great American Bash, after years of major investments into the Bobby Lashley character, he would find himself injured, and, in February 2008, released from the WWE.
The legitimacy of his injury and why he was released by the WWE is still somewhat foggy. The former ECW champion never went on last at a Wrestlemania and he never won the WWE championship. Considering Bobby spent so much time of his time in the company in the main event picture, working with such big names, he should have had a lengthier career with WWE. Lashley currently works with Impact Wrestling and is an accomplished mixed martial artist; there is currently little hope for his return to the WWE.
2. Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre should have made a bigger impact working with WWE. In September of 2009, Vince McMahon himself introduced to the WWE Universe Drew McIntyre as a future World Heavyweight champion and was nicknamed “the chosen one.” McMahon’s on-air praise of McIntyre did little for his career. The 6-foot-5-inch Scotsman spent his career in obscurity and arguably was at his most popular as a member of 3MB, working with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal.
Yes, Drew is a 1-time Intercontinental champion and 1-time tag team champion, but I don’t think he reached his full potential. McIntyre never did win a world title and failed to main event a single Wrestlemania. Why McIntyre was unable to break through in WWE is debatable. Perhaps the Scotsman was just unable to connect with WWE fans or gain the attention of show writers, but he was eventually released by the WWE in June of 2014. Today, McIntyre works with Impact Wrestling and, while we never say “never” in this business, there is little hope for a return to the WWE.
Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio
3. Alberto Del Rio
Jose Alberto Rodriguez, known by his in-ring name Alberto Del Rio, is a legend in the world of professional wrestling. Rodriguez made a name for himself as Dos Caras Jr., and was also on track to compete in the 2000 Olympic games. Rodriguez joined the WWE in 2009 and is a former Mr. Money in the Bank, Royal Rumble winner, 2-time World Heavyweight Champion, and a 2-time WWE Champion.
On paper Del Rio had a strong, successful career working on both Raw and Smackdown with various opponents. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but “Mexico’s Greatest Export” was both talented and widely recognized in the WWE Universe. Del Rio played the role of a Mexican aristocrat. He would drive super luxury cars into the arena and was exclusively announced by a personal ring announcer by the name of Ricardo Rodriguez. At the height of Alberto’s popularity, accompanied by Ricardo Rodriguez, he was a legitimate main event-level superstar.
Not long after Del Rio and Rodriguez split did Del Rio’s popularity diminish, and on August 7th of 2014, the Mexican superstar was released from his WWE contract due to “unprofessional conduct.” Del Rio played the part of the bad guy very well and should have left a bigger mark in the industry. Perhaps we will see Del Rio make it big in the entertainment world, working for another company, because chances are low that he will ever return to the WWE.
4. AJ Lee
Perhaps AJ Lee’s career was over before it began due to a lack of focus on WWE’s Diva division. AJ signed with WWE in 2009 and is a 3-time WWE Divas Champion and a 3-Time Slammy award winner. WWE Diva of the Year in 2012 and 2014, AJ was also ranked #2 of the top 50 female wrestlers in 2014 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Like Alberto Del Rio, on paper, AJ Lee was an accomplished performer making an impact in the industry. The former Divas champion worked closely with the likes of Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and John Cena. Most faithful viewers can recognize that AJ Lee had a lot of untapped potential.
Perhaps it was a lack of attention by WWE management on the Divas division that led to AJ’s departure, or maybe her exit was related to her husband CM Punk’s negative experiences with the company. Regardless of why she left, we know that the former Divas champion was full of on-air charisma and technical wrestling ability that is very hard to duplicate and rare to find.
Do you think Alberto Del Rio’s career was a disappointment? Will Drew McIntyre ever return? Is Bobby Lashley better off in MMA and Impact Wrestling? Comment below and join the conversation!
Steven Kuhn II
Writer for the Christian Living section at Geeks Under Grace.
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