The history of WWE featured many interesting names being pushed, despite having many limited flaws associated with their careers. All-time greats like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Bryan Danielson and Becky Lynch struck when given their chances to deliver memorable moments. Unfortunately, this isn’t a path towards success for every WWE talent.
10 WWE Success Stories That Nobody Saw Coming
It’s always a win for WWE fans when unexpected gimmicks, wrestlers and storylines turn out to be a success!
There have been memorable moments for relatively weak talents that were viewed as bad wrestlers. Some of these memories were great times that showed they could accomplish some things. Others just had bad memorable moments or failed pushes. Each of the following WWE wrestlers would be considered the worst to still have a memorable moment.
10 Jinder Mahal Winning The WWE Championship
Vince McMahon Wanted A Truly Shocking Title Change
- Title Push Came After Enhancement Talent Role
- Fans Never Cared As Much As WWE Wanted
- Jinder Has Struggled To Find A Role Since Then
WWE made a shocking move when Jinder Mahal had the most random WWE Championship push of all-time. Mahal returned to WWE from his previous release and spent many months as an enhancement talent barely on television.
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While certain wrestlers didn’t care for their titles, others treated their championships with great respect and carried them with pride.
Vince McMahon became impressed with his work ethic and physique improvement to push him out of the blue. Even though Jinder had a badly failed WWE Championship reign and fell off afterwards, fans will always remember the shocking moment of him defeating Randy Orton.
9 Virgil Standing Up To Ted DiBiase
Babyface Turn Didn’t Have Any Chance Of Long-Term Success
- Virgil Helped Add To DiBiase’s Character
- Feud Between The Two Was Good On Paper
- Fans Never Viewed Virgil As Star
The duo of Ted DiBiase and Virgil worked well together for the act of the Million Dollar Man as a top heel. DiBiase thrived by using his money to get ahead, and Virgil was his bodyguard/manservant for a strong chapter of his career.
WWE eventually decided to tell the story of Virgil growing tired of following DiBiase’s orders and being bossed around relentlessly. Virgil even scored a victory over DiBiase after Roddy Piper inspired him, but the weak in-ring skills of Virgil made him hard to trust having actual matches of importance on his own.
8 Gillberg Winning The Light Heavyweight Championship
A Parody Of A WCW Wrestler Actually Won A WWE Title
- Gillberg Got Over Mocking Goldberg
- WWE Wanted To Give Him An Upset Victory
- Title Reign Didn’t Help His Career Much
WWE utilized Duane Gill in the comical role of Gillberg playing a parody of Goldberg. Fans loved the comedic aspect of that gimmick, but it doesn’t take away the fact that WWE intentionally portrayed him as a bad wrestler.
Gilberg’s entrances were the peak of his matches doing the entire Goldberg presentation to mock WCW. WWE did give Gillberg one crowning moment of an upset victory over Christian to win the Light Heavyweight Championship as fans cheered along for the big win.
7 Alex Riley Turning On The Miz
Mentor/Protege Feud Didn’t Go As WWE Planned
- Riley Debuted In NXT Season 2
- Became Miz’s Sidekick During WWE Championship Reign
- Failed In Singles Push Feuding Against Miz
WWE viewed Alex Riley as a potential future star when he debuted as The Miz’s protégé in NXT and moved to the main roster in that role. Riley was even ringside for most of Miz’s biggest WWE Championship matches against Randy Orton and John Cena.
However, the big moment of Riley turning face against Miz ended up being the peak of his career. Riley struggled to get fans to invest in his character and had some weak performances. WWE gave up on Alex and tried to move him to commentary.
6 David Otunga Winning Tag Titles With John Cena
Random Nexus Storyline Saw Otunga Winning Gold With Cena
- Otunga Was WWE’s Most Beloved Prospect In First NXT Season
- Cena Being Forced To Join Nexus Won Otunga Gold
- Lost Titles Right Afterwards As Part Of Nexus Angle
Another valued prospect from the original NXT concept saw David Otunga finishing second in the first season’s contest. Otunga found a main roster spot with the rest of contestants as part of the Nexus faction led by Wade Barrett.
One of the storylines for Nexus featured John Cena being forced to join the heel group after Barrett defeated him. Otunga and Cena won the WWE Tag Team Championship together for a cool angle of forced partners, but Barrett then made them lose it to Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel to punish Cena.
5 James Ellsworth Defeating AJ Styles
Ellsworth Actually Scored A Pinfall Win Over The WWE Champion
- Funny Jobber Became Popular Act
- Played Huge Role In The AJ Styles Vs Dean Ambrose Feud
- WWE Couldn’t Find Much For Him Afterwards
Vince McMahon reportedly fell in love with the character of James Ellsworth when seeing him as a memorable jobber. The loss to Braun Strowman saw Vince wanting to bring Ellsworth back after having perfect expressions and a unique look.
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Ellsworth became a sidekick to Dean Ambrose and received his help to defeat then-WWE Champion AJ Styles. The title wasn’t on the line, but Ambrose causing his rival Styles to lose gave Ellsworth a great moment. WWE tried a few heel angles that flopped and ended his stint there faster than expected.
4 Mabel Winning King Of The Ring
Arguably The Worst King Of The Ring Winner In WWE History
- Vince Thought He’d Become A Top Main Event Heel
- Failed Push Led To Mabel Leaving WWE
- Returned With Multiple Lackluster Stints
WWE had a history of pushing monster heels that Vince McMahon loved due to their size. Mabel benefited from this when winning the King of the Ring tournament in 1995. Vince gave him the win to push into the main event picture for the rest of that summer.
Mabel’s most memorable moment ended up being his peak when the push led to his downfall. Sloppy moves injuring Diesel and The Undertaker doomed him since the fans weren’t even getting invested. The various stints of Mabel, Viscera and Big Daddy V saw him never getting back to the King of the Ring status.
3 Eva Marie’s “Wardrobe Malfunction”
WWE Couldn’t Make The Eva Marie Experiment Work
- Eva Finally Had Push Working In 2016
- Wardrobe Malfunction Added To Interesting Gimmick
- Eva Was Released Before New Gimmick Showed Progress
The signing of Eva Marie saw WWE expecting her to become a big star based on her look and upside. A lack of a wrestling background saw Eva struggling to get over and unable to receive a consistent on-screen push before her weaknesses caught up to her.
WWE reintroduced Eva in the 2016 brand split coming back to SmackDown after some time learning in NXT. The new gimmick saw Marie finding ways to get out of wrestling. One of these segments featured an intentional wardrobe malfunction that went viral with a lot of views, but WWE took her off TV her shortly afterwards for violating the wellness policy.
2 The Great Khali Squashing The Undertaker
Picked The Wrong Wrestler To Squash Undertaker In His WWE PPV Debut
- Vince Wanted Khali To Be Next Big Man Attraction
- Undertaker Was Sacrificed For Nothing
- Khali’s Push Never Worked For WWE
The Great Khali debuted in WWE by attacking The Undertaker in a one-sided beatdown in front of a stunned crowd. WWE doubled down with the desire to make Khali a star by having Undertaker once again put him over getting squashed by the newcomer in his first match.
Khali instantly showed his flaws as a slow-walking limited wrestler that couldn’t keep up in the ring or talk on the microphone. Future pushes winning the World Championship or feuding with top main event names always failed, as this was the most memorable moment so soon into his WWE career.
1 Brutus Beefcake Ending Mr. Perfect’s Undefeated Streak
Hogan’s Friend Ended WWE’s Most Underrated Undefeated Streak
- Mr. Perfect’s Undefeated Streak Was Wasted
- Beefcake Didn’t Even Benefit From Winning
- Hogan Helping Beefcake Get Pushed Led To Bad Decisions
One of the strangest booking decisions in WWE history barely gets talked about due to how far back it took place. Mr. Perfect had an underrated undefeated streak selling the gimmick of being a perfect wrestler by going over a year without a loss.
The first televised loss for Perfect came at WrestleMania 6 against Brutus Beefcake of all people. Beefcake often got pushed in WWE and WCW thanks to his friendship with Hulk Hogan, but this made no sense to get such a big moment at Perfect’s expense with nothing coming from it.