WWE: The 15 Developmental Wrestlers Who Were Most Misused When Called Up
Sometimes, it just isn't the right time. In WWE, superstars in developmental territories are considered to be brought up constantly. For some, the timing is perfect and the superstar thrives at the next level.
There are other times, however, where it just doesn't seem to work out correctly. Perfectly good talent gets brought up to the big time, only to have their careers fall apart like wet newspaper.
It isn't always directly the fault of the superstar itself. Sometimes, the creative team just doesn't give them anything good to work with. Some can bounce back and continue to stay relevant, while many have their clips scattered across the Internet like it is the Island of Misfit Toys.
There have been some things done to certain talented wrestlers in recent years that looked pretty awful in the moment and seem even worse in hindsight. Here are just 15 of the instances where WWE's staff probably wishes they could turn the clock back a little bit.
That guy talking to Randy Orton is Manu. Manu is the son of Afa from The Wild Samoans. Manu is also the cousin of Umaga and Rikishi. Wrestling runs through Manu's Samoan blood. That is why it seemed so shocking that Manu didn't stick around for too long in WWE.
Manu was a member of The Legacy, the faction that included Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, Randy Orton, and even had another member, who will be on this list shortly.
Manu's stay on the roster was pretty short as well. Manu was there when the faction was coming together, but was thrown right into a match for initiation, which he lost. It kicked him out of the group and eventually kicked him out of WWE entirely.
I will give this much to WWE; Manu was a violator of the Wellness Policy before being given the name Manu, so it isn't like he was a true saint. Even still, judging by how most Samoan men are used upon debuting, this was a less than flattering way to use someone.
It all worked out for the best, but it doesn't take away from how misused Dolph Ziggler was at first. This is much more than just giving him one of the worst names I have ever heard.
Dolph Ziggler is actually the third gimmick used by wrestler Nick Nemeth on the main roster. The first one had Nemeth as a caddy for Chavo Guerrero's failed Kerwin White gimmick. Later, he was Nicky, one of the five male cheerleaders who made up The Spirit Squad.
Ziggler was Nemeth's last real shot. So, what kind of character or charisma was he given? His initial gimmick involved him introducing himself to people and shaking hands.
The rest of it, from the part about being perfection to now being known as The Show Off, was all earned from hard work by Ziggler. Despite being given so little to work with, Ziggler is considered one of the best workers in WWE today and seems to not be going anywhere any time soon.
I tried to keep a central theme of speaking on the microphone if possible with all 15 of these men. The problem is that a few of these guys, like Kizarny, never got to speak. Kizarny talked (sort of) in his vignettes, but that was about it.
Kizarny was a gimmick based on the old wrestlers from the circus sideshows. Wrestlers who did that would speak with an "iz" in the middle of the world, which would alter whatever they said and seemingly hide who they really were to the public.
Kizarny was supposed to be a wild carnival freak, which seems like a fun gimmick to have. The problem is that WWE seemed to have moved on from the idea far too early. After weeks of vignettes hyping his debut, Kizarny was officially involved in two matches on Smackdown.
He debuted right after 2009 began with a victory over a slumping MVP and then took part in a battle royal for a spot in the Elimination Chamber. Kizarny was eliminated early by The Brian Kendrick and was never seen again in WWE.
Not every legacy from a wrestling legend's next generation can be fulfilled. However, most of them at least get a good shot at trying to mirror who came before them. That chance was hardly given to Sim Snuka, the son of the legendary Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.
The long and the short of it is this. While he didn't need to wear leopard print and no shoes, Snuka could have started as something better than his original gimmick, which included him looking like an extra from Grease. Snuka's original ring name was Deuce, which is exactly what the creative team took when they planned Snuka's career.
After his dead end tag team with partner Domino, Snuka was drafted to RAW and revealed himself as Sim Snuka. Snuka had few matches and even fewer victories. His main claim to fame was trying to join The Legacy unsuccessfully and trying to fight against it, only to come up short.
Snuka's last act in WWE was posing as a cameraman at WrestleMania XXV during the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker match. Snuka was the man who was supposed to catch a diving Undertaker as he tried to fall on Michaels. He missed. How appropriate.
I know what you are thinking. How could a gimmick where someone is mentally handicapped not fail, right? Well, it shockingly did for Eugene. The character was portrayed by Nick Dinsmore, who is one of the most successful men to ever grace an OVW ring.
Dinsmore is a 10-time OVW World Champion and won tag team gold in the promotion 11 more times. Yet, all that many wrestling fans will know about him is that he played a mentally disabled person in WWE. What a waste of time with such a great talent.
Luke Gallows had his name come up over the summer when former tag team partner CM Punk mentioned him in a RAW segment. Gallows had been released and it really is hard to figure out why. It isn't like Gallows didn't do everything asked of him.
Need someone to dress up like a bad version of the original look of Kane? Gallows was your guy. Have this great idea for a stupid hillbilly gimmick where he is gentle until the ring bell rings? Gallows gets that assignment too.
Gallows would finally get a good gimmick, when he joined CM Punk's Straight Edge Society as a man cleaned up by Punk. However, Gallows rarely won and the SES was a big failure.
Eventually, Gallows was kicked out of the group as it was being disbanded. Gallows would win just once after leaving the group.
Ironically, his last appearance on WWE TV was standing in the hall as Kane walked past him.
Michael Tarver was not shown as such a great talent during the first season of NXT. I won't go on record as saying that Tarver was leaps and bounds better than the other rookies, but Tarver certainly got the short end of the stick.
Creative staffs in WWE made Tarver have a boxing background, even nicknaming him "Mr. 1.9," due to that being how many seconds it apparently took for him to knock someone out. There was just one big problem with that: they never had Tarver knock anyone out.
Tarver was also one of the better rookies on the microphone, but it was Tarver who was the rookie who purposely covered his mouth, refused to talk and barely participated. Even when with Nexus, Tarver was rarely given a chance to shine.
It's a hard sell to say that Michael Tarver would have been successful, but it is very simple to argue that, had his gimmick and booking been handled more delicately, Tarver would still be employed.
Kenny Dykstra was incredibly young when he made it to the main roster as a member of The Spirit Squad. From the get go, WWE made it pretty clear that Dykstra was the leader of the group. That is why when the rest of the group was sent back to development, Dykstra stayed up.
The problem, however, may lie upon the fact that Dykstra was still in his early 20s when he was on the roster. He was just too young to handle the rigors of the big time, especially without a true gimmick.
Once a male cheerleader, Dykstra was.. well, just a dude. Unless your name is Bob Holly, it is hard to make a career out of doing something like that.
Florida Championship Wrestling has brought a lot of great and young talent into WWE over the last four years. There have been 13 different champions in the developmental territory's history and all but a few of them are on the main roster or waiting in the wings to debut.
Lucky Cannon was a champion in FCW and got two chances on NXT, which was a lot more exposure than Eric Escobar, the other Florida Heavyweight Champion to have been released.
Escobar seemed to get thrown onto the main roster too soon. He was given a spot in late 2009 and debuted on Smackdown's 10th anniversary with Vickie Guerrero on his arm. After a few weeks, Escobar lost an Intercontinental Championship match and Vickie turned on him.
Instead of having Escobar do his own thing, he turned face and could not connect with the audience. He was released weeks later. Vickie Guerrero has successfully garnered heat for every other heel she has ever represented.
The Eric Escobar era seemed to escalate way too early and it led to a misuse of talent.
Wrestling fans can complain all they want about how TNA handles business, but they gave a better gimmick to Elijah Burke than anything WWE ever gave him.
As D'Angelo Diniero, Burke may not be making the waves that some of his fans may want him to make. Regardless, his stint in WWE under his real name was one big shake of the head and wag of the finger.
Burke showed talent in the ring, but almost seemed afraid to actually show charisma. Burke spun his wheels for way too long on the ECW brand and never had much to show for it.
Burke could have done well from a switch of brands, but it just wasn't in the cards for him. The more that Burke does in TNA, the more that WWE fans will wonder what could have been.
WWE actually gave the "Black Pope" gimmick to Burke when he resurfaced in 2008, but he was released before he ever showed it on TV. I guess we can't give all of the credit to TNA after all...
Poor Jacob Novak. Nobody seemed to like him. At times, it was hard to decide if he even liked himself.
His ability to be the first man eliminated in both seasons of NXT he appeared on cements his legacy of being the single worst rookie in NXT history.
Novak had a few problems, but the biggest was that he literally had no gimmick. He wore white trunks, tied his hair in a ponytail, and wore a white blazer.
He was literally NXT's version of an empty canvas. I'm actually lacking of things to say about why Novak was misused, mainly because he was barely used at all.
I enjoyed Kevin Thorn's offense and thought Thorn could have stuck around for a while. Instead, Kevin Thorn will forever be remembered as that dude that the ECW brand dressed up as a vampire. Years before the Twilight series made vampires cool, WWE made a wrestler into a creepy goth.
What makes this even more odd is that Thorn was the same man who was packaged as Mordecai years earlier. Mordecai was basically the anti-Undertaker, wearing white and seeming like the bright light phenom.
The Mordecai gimmick seemed derived for the ultimate payoff of a feud with The Undertaker. However, that never really happened and not much ever happened for Thorn.
Johnny Curtis is a talented performer. Seriously. His gimmick just makes him sound like someone that you don't need to care about, which is exactly what he is. I should probably speak in puns, much like all of his bad vignettes, but I enjoy being relatively well-liked.
Curtis won Season 4 of NXT, only to never have his tag team championship shot with R-Truth. He also rarely is seen on television. He is, however, back on NXT, performing in a love triangle straight out of a soap opera.
I figured I would let you guys know about it. It isn't like anyone is watching or even cares.
Speaking of nobody caring, Titus O'Neil was booked early on during NXT Redemption to win the season, which would earn a spot on the following season of NXT.
That NXT season seems like it will never come actually come, which may only be to give experience to O'Neil. O'Neil had only months of training before he was selected for NXT.
After barking like a dog and telling us all to "make it a win," O'Neil was eliminated, but returned for NXT Redemption.
O'Neil was given a big lead in Redemption Points, which mean absolutely nothing at this point. I wonder if O'Neil even knows that he is in a competition anymore.
What a mistake.
WWE found Matt Morgan during a search for Tough Enough. He got injured and left the competition, but impressed in development and debuted in WWE in 2003. Morgan seemed like a part of the future, aligning with Brock Lesnar.
Morgan sustained a shoulder injury during the 2004 Royal Rumble, went back to development, and returned with an awful gimmick.
Instead of just being a big man and a rising star, Morgan was given the albatross of a stutter. It didn't work for Bubba Ray Dudley, so why would it work for Morgan?
Shockingly, Morgan got released and scurried over to up-and-coming TNA. Since 2007, Morgan has been a big part of that promotion.
While never being given a world championship and still being injury-prone, Morgan is still, in the eyes of many WWE diehards, the one that got away.
What makes it even worse is that, based on his opinions of his treatment, Matt Morgan will not be trying to return to WWE any time soon.