As a WWE fan you see many superstars come and go over the years, with some being god awful and forgettable, and others being exceptional talent who just weren’t able to succeed in the WWE system. Some of those wrestlers go on to have successful careers outside of WWE, proving they could’ve been huge successes if the company had just given them the chance they deserved. Here are 5 Superstars WWE Missed the Boat On:
Discretion: This list is strictly opinion based, as it can be argued that most superstars who were released were deserving of big pushes or improved relevance in their WWE career. This list is also only going to focus on main roster talents, so performers who were released during their time in developmental won’t be considered.
1. Cody Rhodes
There may not be a bigger star on the independent scene right now than Cody Rhodes. The Grandson of a Plumber worked for WWE from 2007 to 2016, racking up 2 Intercontinental Championships and 6 Tag Team Championships during his near 10 year run with the company. Rhodes was an immensely valuable talent in his own right, with stellar in-ring work and excellent mic skills, one can only question why WWE wouldn’t make a new main event star in Cody. Even when he was lumped with the Stardust character he did everything he could to show he was a team player and was an asset to the company After several failed attempts to convince creative to turn him back to Cody Rhodes on television, Rhodes asked for and received his release in May of last year. Ever since then The Star That Left Them In the Dust has been wrestling around the world for promotions such as Evolve, TNA, ROH, WCPW and NJPW, putting on some of the best matches in his career with the likes of Eddie Edwards, Zack Sabre Jr., Jay Lethal and Kurt Angle. Cody Rhodes has proved that you don’t need to be in WWE to be a professional wrestling superstar.
2. Wade Barrett
When Wade Barrett led the Nexus in their historic takeover and destruction of Monday Night Raw in 2010, it was apparent that these 8 rookies would become great superstars in WWE. Sadly this wasn’t the case, as the original Nexus members (with the exception of Daniel Bryan) wouldn’t go on to do anything legendary during their WWE tenures. It was widely thought that Barrett would be the sole beneficiary from the Nexus’ dissolution, with legends such as Chris Jericho and Edge repeatedly vouching for him behind the scenes to become the next big star, but the company just wasn’t seeing it that way. Always a great worker, Barrett put on solid matches with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler, not to mention his very entertaining run under the Bad News Barrett moniker, delivering bad news on a weekly basis to the WWE Universe and his opponents. While the Bare Knuckle Brawler went on to become a 5-Time Intercontinental Champion and 2015 King of the Ring, he was never able to get out of the mid-card and was ultimately released from WWE in May of 2016. Another great talent unfortunately wasted.
3. David Hart Smith
The son of the late great British Bulldog, the nephew of the legendary Bret Hart, this great athlete literally grew up in the wrestling business, so surely he would succeed in WWE, right? Unfortunately David Hart Smith never achieved the heights his uncle or even his father achieved in the company. As one half of The Hart Dynasty tag team with his cousin-in-law, Tyson Kidd, the duo put on great matches and would even become WWE Unified Tag Team Champions in April 2010. The duo split a few months later shortly after they lost the titles, and Smith would go on to have a lackluster singles run before being released from WWE in August of 2011. After that he traveled to Japan where he formed the dominant Killer Elite Squad tag team with fellow WWE alumni, Lance Archer, with the duo capturing the NWA World Tag Team Championships, GHC Tag Team Championships, and the IWGP Tag Team Championships two times each. As of 2017, KES is running through New Japan Pro Wrestling as members of the Suzuki-Gun stable after making their shocking return to the company on January 5th. At still only 30 years old there is no doubt The Canadian Bulldog’s career is far from over.