In 2011, we saw numerous WWE talents rise to a level we thought they may never get to.
Just to name a few, Zack Ryder won his first-ever singles title in the WWE, Daniel Bryan shockingly won the World Heavyweight Championship and CM Punk had an unforgettable year from start to finish.
On the other side of the equation, however, there were just as many WWE stars who sat back and watched as other performers took the spots that could have been theirs. In some cases, these superstars may have still been getting on TV, but they weren't winning titles or finding themselves involved in high-profile story lines.
For whatever reason, they just weren't put in a spot to succeed. But I'm here to put them in the spotlight today.
Here are the WWE's 10 most underutilized and under-appreciated wrestlers in 2011.
The Marine 2 has really launched Ted DiBiase's WWE career, huh?
I'm kidding, of course, because DiBiase had an almost completely forgettable 2011 that was marred by both bad booking and a lack of TV appearances.
The only real notable things he did last year were serving as Cody Rhodes' lackey (and feuding with him) and then turning babyface before eventually feuding with Jinder Mahal.
DiBiase's new "DiBiase Posse" (where he tailgates with fans in the parking lot prior to WWE events) is a solid idea for a babyface, but the WWE has failed to capitalize on that in any real way.
That's a shame because DiBiase has a great look, is very underrated in the ring and brings the name value that not many other stars have.
DiBiase's been stuck in No Man's Land over the last year-plus, and unless someone on the creative team comes up with a good idea for him all of a sudden, I fear that he'll never get to where his talents could take him.
Sometimes in life, you have a problem and try a number of different solutions before you realize that the best solution was right there in front of your face the whole time.
Well, Natalya is the solution to many problems of the Divas division.
She's at least halfway decent on the mic, she looks great and she is arguably the most gifted female performer the WWE has on its roster, so why she wasn't given more opportunities in 2011 is beyond me.
Much like Ted DiBiase did for Cody Rhodes, Natalya has essentially served as Beth Phoenix's lackey when she could be the Diva who helps turn around women's wrestling in the WWE.
I'm not sure what it is about Natalya that has prevented her from rising to the top of the Divas division over the last year or so, but it's a minor travesty that that's been the case.
If she doesn't compete for the Divas Championship in 2012 (and Kelly Kelly does), I riot.
The WWE's tag team division sucks.
I'm sure you've heard/read that a few thousand times before, but it's not really beating a dead horse if it's the truth.
Now, as bad as tag team wrestling in the WWE has been over the last several years, the company actually has a number of talented teams under contract. They're just not utilized correctly.
I'm talking about tag teams like the Usos.
We've seen countless WWE tag teams form on a temporary basis when they've often made little to no sense, but Jimmy and Jey Uso are twin brothers who have stayed together throughout their WWE careers.
They are the most legitimate tag team in the WWE (yes, even more so than Air Boom) and they've improved drastically in the ring since debuting a couple of years ago.
I'm not saying the WWE has to try to make the Usos the next Hardys, but giving them a shot at competing on TV every week would be a nice start.
Sheamus is in a better position than about 95 percent of the WWE roster at the moment, but I still felt like he was held back in 2011.
He started the year off by dropping down to the mid-card and beating Daniel Bryan for the United States Championship, but the two had a title match that was relegated to the WrestleMania dark match.
The Celtic Warrior then moved over to Smackdown, where he only received one World title match all year (against Randy Orton on Smackdown). Though his baby face turn worked out really well, Sheamus had a feud with Mark Henry that never really got a proper ending and an incredibly lopsided rivalry with Christian.
Since then, Sheamus has been teetering on that upper mid-card/main event line, with no real feud and random mini TV feuds with guys like The Miz, Jack Swagger and Jinder Mahal.
Get this dude in the main event, please.
Sheamus has done an excellent job getting the fans behind him, and he's really stepped up his game in the ring. But he's been stuck without a storyline as of late and never got his much-deserved main event run in 2011.
Like I said, there are worse positions to be in than Sheamus's current spot, but the WWE dropped the ball on him this year by failing to capitalize on his great face turn.
If you've read most of my articles, then you know that I'm a big fan of Tyson Kidd.
He may not be very big or overly charismatic, but he's not as bad on the mic as people tend to think and is a better wrestler than a vast majority of the WWE roster.
Kidd was relegated to NXT and Superstars for most of 2011, but he put on a number of great matches on those shows and could easily be a mainstay on Raw or Smackdown in 2012 if given the opportunity.
He had a storyline on Superstars earlier this year in which he was given a new manager every week, but nothing came out of it. That was really disappointing to me.
Give this guy a manager or a bodyguard for the long haul. Just give him something because his tremendous in-ring talents are going to waste.
Kidd could be a poor man's Daniel Bryan if booked correctly.
I was not much of a Chris Masters fan during the early portion of his WWE career, but he improved dramatically in 2011.
You wouldn't really know it because he almost never appeared on Raw or Smackdown, but Masters took his overall game to new heights in the early parts of the year.
Sure, he was performing primarily on Superstars, but that was the creative team's fault. Not his.
Masters went from just another big body to a guy who looked like he was in line for a serious push in the middle of the year, but that never came to fruition.
The WWE did what it always does when "creative has nothing" for a superstar and released Masters from his contract back in August.
Dumb move by the WWE.
Masters is still only 28 years old, was really starting to figure out his character and was arguably entering the prime of his career.
So much for that, though.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the WWE failed to utilize Gail Kim the right way during her second stint with the company.
Like Natalya, Kim is a great in-ring talent, but for whatever reason, the creative team never got behind her and often treated her like an absolute joke.
She sat back and watched (or even worse, jobbed) while women with far less than talent than she has received far bigger pushes.
It really shouldn't be that surprising that Kim eliminated herself from that No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal and then quit the company back in August.
Kim was going nowhere despite being an incredibly gifted wrestler, and she deserved better than the crappy booking she got from the WWE creative team.
After all, a romance storyline between Kim and Daniel Bryan wasn't really doing much for either person.
The "Barrett Barrage" is in full effect, as Wade Barrett is currently in the midst of his biggest push as a Smackdown superstar.
But let's not forget that Barrett's stint on the blue brand has been, well, horrible overall.
Barrett moved to Smackdown in January 2011, and what resulted was the formation of a terrible stable known as The Corre, a forgettable Intercontinental Championship run and terrible feuds with the likes of Ezekiel Jackson, The Big Show, Kofi Kingston and Sheamus.
Back in October, Barrett announced the start of the "Barrett Barrage" and has been getting a tremendous push ever since, but for most of the first 10 months of 2011, he served little to no purpose on Smackdown.
As I watched Barrett's stock fall all year long, I got angrier as the WWE creative team pushed other stars in favor of Barrett.
But those guys finally wised up toward the end of 2011, and Barrett is now where he belongs as one of the top stars on Friday Night Smackdown.
John Morrison started off 2011 with a bang by challenging The Miz for the WWE Championship in a great match on the first Raw of the year.
Then, it was all downhill from there.
Morrison was stuck in that ridiculous six-man tag team match with Snooki at WrestleMania, his former friend R-Truth turned on him and then he underwent surgery for a legitimate neck injury.
Morrison then returned in July, and gradually plummeted down the card as he basically turned into a glorified jobber.
As we all know, Morrison was written off of TV by The Miz back in November, and his contract expired, meaning he's no longer with the WWE.
Not sure I like the WWE's decision to just willingly let him go.
Morrison may not be a bona fide main eventer, but he's a very solid upper mid-carder who can contribute to the tag team and Intercontinental/US Championship scene and is incredibly over with the fans.
Perhaps Morrison will be back at some point in 2012, but for now, he's just another former WWE star whom the WWE seriously dropped the ball on.
No single talent was used worse in 2011 than Drew McIntyre.
The guy literally has everything you want out of a WWE superstar (great look, above-average mic skills, underrated in-ring abilities, size, etc.), but he found himself relegated almost exclusively to Superstars throughout the year.
I'm not sure if McIntyre had backstage heat or anything like that, but it seems like something had to be going on to prevent Vince McMahon's "Chosen One" from even getting on TV.
I mean, you could count on one hand how many times this guy appeared on Raw after the 2011 Draft, and you could probably do the same for his stint on Smackdown at the beginning of the year.
McIntyre just never got a chance to show what he could do last year, although he now seems to be getting an opportunity to do just that after his move to Smackdown last week.
Let's hope so, because McIntyre could be a huge part of the WWE's future. It's just up to the creative team to make it happen.