Photo courtesy of WWE.com
Elijah Burke wasn't always overlooked.
After debuting in the WWE in July 2006 and having a rather forgettable stint with Sylvester Terkay, Burke made some noise when he jumped over to ECW and become a part of "The New Breed," which had a notable feud with the ECW Originals.
Burke became a staple of sorts on ECW as part of The New Breed, but once that group disbanded, his WWE career began slowly falling apart.
He would become the No. 1 contender for CM Punk's ECW Championship in July 2007, but other than that, he didn't do much. His storylines/feuds were few and far between, and shortly after WrestleMania 24, he wrestled his last match on WWE TV.
That wasn't Burke's last match in a WWE ring, though.
Prior to his release in November 2008, Burke wrestled a number of dark matches with his new "Black Pope" gimmick, which obviously never made it to TV.
Of course, Burke went on to debut in TNA in 2009 under the "Black Pope" gimmick (as "D'Angelo Dinero") where he would quickly make noise for the No. 2 wrestling promotion in the world.
In hindsight, it's very disappointing that the WWE let Burke go before he could get a legitimate opportunity to break out outside of ECW.
Burke was a big part of ECW during his tenure there, but the WWE seemed to give up on him once he was moved to SmackDown and missed a big opportunity by failing to utilize his "Black Pope" gimmick.
No one will ever know how far Burke could have gone in the WWE, but after some early success in the company, I'm surprised that the company didn't give him a little more time to grow beyond that show.
Although Burke isn't exactly main-eventing in TNA, I still maintain that he could have been a crucial part of the SmackDown brand beyond 2008.