Let’s just be honest, busts are just a sad fact of sports and pro wrestling is no exception. There are guys that are slated for big and great things. They are given all the tools, all the opportunities, and all the chances… And yet they end up fading into obscurity instead of becoming the next Stone Cold Steve Austin or John Cena. This list is to commemorate fifteen of those people who was handed the world and quickly fumbled it. This is the Top 15 Busts in US Pro Wrestling!
NOW! I do have some rules on this list. First and foremost, this will NOT just encompass WWE, but other promotions in the USA. Second, I am excluding people on this list who had terrible runs with promotions, but had otherwise stellar careers. As such, people like Dr. Death Steve Williams, Kevin Nash under his Diesel run, Scott Steiner, Vader, and so forth will not be included on this list. Nor am I including those on this list who have had a career resurgence such as Drew McIntyre Galloway. With that being said, here are three honorable mentions.
Tank Abbott: Tank Abbott makes an honorable mention due to the fact that he was slated, during the height of Russo WCW, to be WCW Champion. This did not happen and he ended up with a silly boy band love gimmick. The reason he just misses the list… Because unlike others on this list that felt like wasted potential… We all knew Tank Abbott was not World Champion material and he was only potentially pushed hard because Russo was running the show.
Rene Dupree: Rene Dupree had it all going for him. He was the youngest champion in the WWE, claiming the Tag Team belt with Sylvan Granier at 19. He had a great physique, and had charisma. However, back stage politics and a bad attitude derailed him and his career never truly recovered. The reason he remains an honorable mention is because he was not pushed as heavy as some on this list.
Chris Sabin: This one is a tragedy as I love Chris Sabin. He is a great wrestler. But he was the unfortunate recipient of TNA pushes in their painful years that tried to make Sabin a star overnight… That tragically was not even remotely successful. Chris Sabin stays off the list because he still has a chance to salvage a little bit of his career and show off more of what he can do.
15 Ahmed Johnson
This one you can kind of understand and understand why Vinnie Mac loved him. Ahmed Johnson looked like a wrestling all star. He had the physique, the look, and in a time when Vince wanted to find big guys… That weren’t doped up after the scandal… Ahmed Johnson was a great selection.
However… Ahmed was not the greatest on the mic. His work wasn’t horrific. Just uninspired for someone who could be the next big thing. Mix in the fact that the guy was constantly hampered by injuries, and life would see Ahmed out of the WWE by the time the Attitude Era kicked into high gear.
14 Gene Snitsky
Honestly, the reason why Gene Snitsky is so low is probably due to the fact that the guy was doomed for failure. Wrestling is a weird industry and it sucks when you hit the bust spot. But Gene Snitsky was one of those guys that you could kind of see it coming. He was brought up from developmental too early because he was a large guy. But beyond that he didn’t have anything else to work with and what he was given wasn’t exactly stellar. His look was a little bizarre, his promos were weak, and his wrestling ability was minimal. After his feud with Kane, it was quick to see that Gene Snitsky did not have long for the WWE world and now is out of the business altogether.
13 The Renegade
It is hard to not feel bad for Richard Wilson, the man behind the Renegade gimmick. He truly was a product of the copycat bug of wrestling and overhyping without actually delivering. While I’m sure the Renegade was never meant to be anything big, he was the most obvious attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Ultimate Warrior that backfired spectacularly. The result tragically would lead to Wilson’s release which would later cause him to take his own life.
This one might be a little early to add The Big Guy on this list… But Ryback has all the signs of a major league bust without the sands of time to erode what little value is left in his in ring ability. Ryback had a look that would make men like Vince McMahon cream their pants. He was insanely big, had a great physique, and was the right amount of muscles to be pushed as a monster wrestler.
However, the man just could never get things going. He had pushes, sure, but they never really went anywhere. It is rumored that he was heavy on the botches that potentially injured wrestlers, he rarely was able to generate fan interest, and even his secondary runs with the US and IC belts were busts. Ryback is out of WWE right now and it is doubtful he will come back soon. But, unless he goes to TNA, AAA, CMLL, NJPW, WCPW or returns to WWE, he is going to go down as a major disappointment.
Oh what the hell was this? Characters based on series, especially directly based on series, never work. The only one I have seen is Tiger Mask. This was straight out of the cook book of minds like Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, and Vince Russo who brought a damn video game character to life. Suicide was not a good character and was not typically booked in the right way to look past the insane jump in believable logic. It was a stupid premise, a stupid character, and it was apparently supposed to do something.
10 Bo Dallas
Bo… Bo… Oh poor, sweet Bo. Bo Dallas’ career has been forever overshadowed by one title run. Strangely enough, winning the NXT Championship may have been the worst thing to happen to Bo Dallas. While Bo did look good during that time, the fact that he has been relegated to nothing more than enhancement talent and sidekick status has seen his career into a spiral that seems insurmountable.
Bo Dallas should have more going for him. He is the son of IRS, Mike Rotunda. His brother is Bray Wyatt. He did have an NXT Title run. He should at least be an upper mid card talent. However, due to his status as it stands mixed in with the fact that every other NXT Champion has had, at least, some degree of success. Yeah, it is certainly a damn shame.
9 Kevin “Mordecai” Fertig
How did anyone think this guy was going to be a big name? That is a little harsh. With the right booking and the right gimmick, Kevin Fertig could have been a solid mid card act. He would have some good moments and be remembered fondly as someone like Rikishi or The Godfather. A guy who was good at what he did as long as he remained in the confines of the mid card. But man… When Mordecai came out and when he was instantly pushed as the nega-Undertaker… That was the death knell for this wrestler. Sure enough, Mordecai was compared to the incomparable Mark Callaway and lost handidly. He didn’t have the charisma, the personality, or ability to compete with the Deadman. As such, he finds himself at number 9.
8 Andrew “Test” Martin
Isn’t this one just depressing? Andrew Martin tragically past away near the tail end of the 2000’s. So I will try to be respectful. But man his wrestling career did not pan out. I find it interesting that he is not considered a bust considering what Test was expected to do in WWE and in other promotions. In WWE he was slated for major storylines such as Stephanie’s husband. He was at least expected to be an upper mid card wrestler who never expanded beyond the mid card or low level tag teams… With the notable exception of a little too little to late run before he was released. His TNA/Impact/GFW work was nothing inspiring as well which means that Test finds his way onto the list.
7 Kenzo Suzuki
WWE has never been good with international talent. They just cannot help but dive into the racist subtexts and it always kills any momentum a wrestler has. Shinsuke Nakamura MIGHT be able to push past and win the title soon… But it is highly doubtful in the long run. Hideo “KENTA” Itami just barely missed this list and Kenzo Suzuki is the prime example of a WWE bust.
When Kenzo came out, he was immediately answered with a loud cone of silence as he tried to work the horrific “evil foreigner” gimmick that was played out even in the early 2000’s. It went over like a lead balloon that was not helped by the fact that Suzuki was absolutely terrible in the ring. He wasn’t shit tier indie wrestling bad… But he was a botch monkey to say the least for any of the major promotions like WWE, ROH, and so forth.
6 Tiger Ali Singh
Some might find this high… But when you really think who Tiger Ali Singh was and what was expected of him. The fact that he was such an utter failure is simply unforgivable. Tiger Ali Singh was the son of the most famous wrestler from India, Tiger Jeet Singh. With this lineage, he was already pegged for greatness or at least a solid mid card run on a major wrestling promotion. He had the physique to back it up as well… Unfortunately, that is all that he had.
Tiger Ali Singh came into the WWE at the start of the Attitude Era and quickly bored everyone around him. He had terrible matches, seemed loss on the stick, and at the end of the day was sent back to developmental where he was released in 2001 to no fan fair and no care given to the wrestler. From a second generation wrestler who truly had the look and the lineage to go far… He should have at least made the roster before getting cut on the practice squad.
I… I don’t know any other way to put this… But Heidenreich was just bad. I get it, that is what this list is for. But… Man he was just bad. It is just so weird that this guy was pushed to the extent that he was. What did Vince McMahon see in him? What did everyone see in him? He was tall, sure, and had muscles… But he was still odd looking. He had muscles, but his body could best be described as slightly lumpy. At least Ryback and Ahmed Johnson looked huge. Heidenreich was just tall and had power behind him. But that was it. His hair gave off the impression of a poor man’s Brian Bosworth… And that is saying something. His acting was LAUGHABLY bad, seen on full display with his horrific promo where he appears to sexually assault Michael Cole. Heidenreich justifiably went nowhere with his shot and was pushed far down the ladder until his eventual release.
4 Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones has had a far more fruitful career in acting then he has had in wrestling. Nathan Jones is the kind of guy you can expect to be a big deal. He was a big guy and had the look to be a monster heel. Similar to that of Kane. However… The guy could have done well to spend some time in OVW. However, he quickly came up to the top roster and it was quickly discovered the guy couldn’t even hit a convincing big boot. Not only that, the guy wrestled in a pair of athletic pants which gave him a schlubby look to boot. It made sense that he would not be long for the WWE world and, similar to Heidenreich and Mordecai, he was quickly out of the WWE.
3 Jack Swagger
What is the big difference between someone like Jack Swagger and someone like Nathan Jones, Heidenreich, and Gene Snitsky for the WWE? Jack Swagger actually won the World Title before reaching the full levels of busthood. As much as the majority of wrestling fans like Swagger as a genuine wrestler and a talented one at that, Jack Swagger has become something that is seldom seen in wrestling.
Swagger came into the WWE during a time when they did want to try new things, but weren’t exactly sure how to stray away from the John Cena comfort zone. I’m sure they were also looking for a more WWE friendly star aside from the then popular CM Punk. Jack Swagger won the championship and it was all down hill from there. His run was a bust and the following years after he lost the belt saw him plummet down the card with little reprieves. Swagger’s ascent to the top was matched equally be his descent. Soon after that he was a mid card, a low mid card, a low card jobber, and now he is out of the WWE for good.
What makes a person a bust, in particular a legendary bust? It is all about the build up to the poor conclusion. In any sport, a player can not perform well and be considered a bust. But what truly sets the worst apart from the others is the hype that can grow to monumental levels. Many would say that former quarterback JP Loseman was a bust in the NFL. However, he was not expected to revolutionize the draft or was considered a can’t miss prospect like Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Andre Ware, and so forth.
That was the problem with Glacier. The guy behind the Glacier gimmick could have been decent in pro wrestling. But after the ungodly levels of hype and money put into him… There was no way he could meet expectations. ESPECIALLY since he didn’t have much of the talent or charisma to back up his game.
Anyone who was fans of WCW during the 90’s remembers the Glacier promos. Those insanely cool promos that all but guaranteed that Mortal Kombat’s Sub Zero was going to make his way to the WCW. Glacier’s costume was one of the most expensive pieces of ring gear ever constructed and the man had insane hype behind him as everyone waited to see what was going to come from this.
It turns out a decently talented martial artist whose botches were intensified by the level of expectation centered around him. Complete with a bleach blonde flat top cut that made him look like a rejected super soldier villain in a Van Damme movie made the entire look a complete and total failure. Glacier may not have been the worst talent on this list. But considered what he was supposed to be… It was a massive let down to see the finished product fade into the mid card and then out of the WCW altogether.
1 Lex Luger
Oh, am I going to get some backlash from this one. Most of the people on this list are people that would generally be considered busts. Lex Luger could be considered to have a successful career in wrestling. He was a multiple time world champion, he enjoyed stellar success, and generally came across as a great talent. But considering what he was supposed to be… This guy was a monumental failure.
Lex Luger was supposed to be the next Hulk Hogan. He was supposed to be the golden boy that earned the wrestling world untold sums of money. Whenever Lex jumped ship to the WCW, it was the catalyst that kicked off the Monday Night Wars… And yet he was still an utter failure. He never held the WWE Championship. As the 90’s pushed forward, Lex Luger began to fade further into the background. He eventually became a nothing character connected with the nWo. This was the guy who was supposed to be mentioned in the same name as John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and so forth… Yet… He became nothing more than a bust on a different scale.
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