10 WWE Wrestlers Called Up Too Soon

2/26/2024 11:27 AM

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10 WWE Wrestlers Called Up Too Soon

10 WWE Wrestlers Called Up Too Soon

February 26, 2024 11:27 AM
10 WWE Wrestlers Called Up Too Soon

Not everyone is ready for the main roster.

10: Matt Morgan

It’s often the case in WWE, that a wrestler is pushed predominantly due to their appearance. In 2003, Matt Morgan debuted on SmackDown, and whilst Morgan had a great look, his in-ring work was subpar, and he failed to connect with the crowd. At this point in 2003, the crowd firmly wanted wrestlers who had interesting characters, but could also have classic, stand-out matches, and Morgan had neither of these traits.

WWE quickly realised that Morgan wasn’t cut out for the main roster, so another run in their developmental territory, OVW would follow, before Morgan would eventually re-appear on the main roster in 2005.

Sadly, Morgan’s second stint on the main roster was even more underwhelming than his first, and Morgan had failed to develop any of his skills during his time in developmental. Morgan would be released from the company, which didn’t exactly come as a surprise, yet thankfully, Morgan would eventually find his feet in TNA, and he even went through a period of being one of the top babyfaces, a role in which Morgan exceeded all expectations.

9: Mason Ryan

Similarly, to Matt Morgan, Mason Ryan was given a notable push upon arriving on the main roster, and the push was mainly down to his looks. Ryan had a great look, yet it was apparent that Ryan was being placed in a featured role because he looked like a clone of Batista. It was also rather suspicious that Ryan would debut in the year following Batista’s WWE exit, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Vince McMahon firmly believed that the company could replace the Batista character.

Ryan was given a monster push on the main roster, and he was given every opportunity to become a household name. Ryan would debut as part of The New Nexus, and he worked closely with the legendary, CM Punk, yet this did little to highlight any of Ryan’s strengths, as he often looked completely lost during his matches.

Eventually, WWE decided to send Ryan back to developmental, which was the right move, and there were rumours at the time, that Ryan may have been re-called up, that’s if his NXT run was a success. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and whilst WWE did indeed try to present Ryan in numerous roles in the black and gold brand, it just didn’t work, and WWE cut ties with the Welsh-born star in 2014.

8: Mark Henry

Before WWE had official developmental systems such as OVW and FCW, they didn’t truly have a legitimate developmental system for new talent. This meant that either WWE liked to hand-pick talent from different territories, or they would train them in-house, meaning that they would basically learn on the fly.

This was the case with Mark Henry, who debuted in WWE with little to no experience, and this was heavily detrimental to Henry’s career early on.

During an interview with Sportskeeda, the WWE Hall of Famer discussed what it was like early on during his WWE career:

“There was no such thing as the developmental system. When I came into wrestling they picked the best wrestlers from different territories, and Vince [McMahon] said that he wanted to cultivate his own talent the way that they wanted to do business, and I was the first one...”
“They had a warehouse that was half-empty, and they put a ring in there and hired a wrestling coach and I was the first student. We went to the warehouse every day, me and him, until The Rock came. Then The Rock moved in with me and he and I trained for about a year and then we both went to the Memphis territory for Jerry Lawler and worked for that territory. But there was no system. It was like, “We’re going to train Mark Henry and The Rock, they’re going to be our first two guys.” It’s funny that the first two guys ended up as Hall of Fame guys…”

It was obvious as a viewer at the time that Henry was learning as he went along, as much of his work during his first-few years wasn’t exactly great. Thankfully, Henry worked endlessly to get better, and by the time 2011 came around, a critically acclaimed World Title run would be awarded to Henry, which justified WWE putting so many of their resources into making Henry a top-star.

7: Kronik

When WWE acquired WCW in 2001, several of the WCW talent who came into the promotion struggled to grasp the WWE style.

Brian Adams and Bryan Clark, who were in a tag-team known as Kronik struggled considerably to grasp this style, as their wrestling style was outdated, and they looked atrocious in the ring, especially when wrestling top names such as The Undertaker and Kane.

The duo had one of the worst PPV matches of all time in 2001, as the two took on The Brothers of Destruction at the Unforgiven PPV, and the match was so horrendous, that it would have career-altering ramifications for both men.

Sometimes, a wrestler has a match that is so bad that WWE has no choice but to send them down to developmental, and this was ultimately the case for Kronik.

In relation to Clark, he was informed he needed to go to developmental for further training; Clark outright refused, and he was subsequently released. When it came to Adams, to his credit, he did begin working in the HWA, yet Adams showed no signs of improvement, and he was released from the company in late 2001.

6: Eva Marie

Eva Marie would make her main roster debut whilst still training at the WWE Performance Center, and this type of privilege is insanely rare in the modern era, and only a select few rookies have been given this nod of approval.

The main reason why Marie was placed on the main roster was to promote the E Network show, Total Divas, and when Marie received significant heat during her debut segment, WWE saw dollar signs, and weren’t going to stop until Marie was a major player for the women’s division.

Whilst All Red Everything herself did attract decent heat as a performer, when the bell rang, she fell apart. Her in-ring work was laughable at best, and it truly made the WWE look like a phoney wrestling company whenever she stepped foot in the squared circle.

Marie would eventually be a common feature in the NXT brand, which was a better fit, yet despite WWE having some of the most successful wrestlers of all time training her, Marie just couldn’t grasp the fundamentals.

WWE even made the controversial call to bring Marie back during the COVID-19 era, and Marie had shown zero signs of improvement, and this run as everyone with an ounce of wrestling knowledge predicted, completely flopped.

5: Dana Brooke

In 2016, NXT star Dana Brooke was called up to the main roster. WWE’s idea for Brooke was a smart one, as they would book her alongside Charlotte Flair, and this instantly put a ton of eyeballs onto everything Brooke did.

The problem was that WWE didn’t truly commit to featuring Brooke in matches, and when she wrestled, she looked kind of out of place and awkward. Brooke was given the chance of a lifetime at the 2016 Hell in a Cell PPV, as she would take on Bayley. The match was heavily panned, and most of the blame fell on Brooke.

Instead of sending Brooke back to NXT on a permanent basis, WWE made the bold decision to keep Brooke on the main roster in a lesser role, and this would remain in place for several years.

In 2023, WWE finally made the call to send Brooke back to NXT for another run, which was a welcomed move, yet just months into this run, Brooke would be released from her contract in unceremonious fashion.

4: Nathan Jones

From the moment WWE saw Nathan Jones, they were adamant that Jones was going to be a big-time player.

Jones had a phenomenal look, and Jones would debut on the main roster in 2003, and was instantly propelled into a storyline with The Undertaker. This was going to lead to a featured match at WrestleMania 19 for Jones, as he would team with The Deadman to take on Big Show and A-Train.

At the last minute, it was ruled that Jones wasn’t quite ready for this type of match, so he would be removed from the match, yet he would still play a role in the closing stages of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania handicap match.

It took WWE too long to realise that throwing an untested rookie into a WrestleMania program with The Undertaker wouldn’t have worked. Jones would then be sent to OVW to improve his skills, yet when he returned to WWE TV in late 2003 with a new villainous persona, it could be argued that he had regressed. Jones lacked any sense of aura, and even pairing him with the iconic Paul Heyman failed to influence the crowd to care about him.

In December 2003, Jones quit WWE due to the burden of WWE's heavy travel, and according to Jim Ross on Grilling JR, the travel schedule was consistently a problem for the once-promising star, and he wasn’t totally shocked to hear that he had departed the company.

3: Mordecai

Two-years in a developmental territory, should be enough time to make a wrestler TV ready. Mordecai, after two-years in OVW would debut on SmackDown in 2004, and Mordecai had a fascinating character, that was basically the stark opposite of The Undertaker.

WWE had grand plans for the character, and there were even rumours that a 1 vs. 1 matchup between Mordecai and The Deadman was going to take place at a future WrestleMania event.

Ultimately, Mordecai failed to get over with the crowd. The execution of the character was bland and lifeless, and Mordecai’s in-ring work was the polar opposite of what fans had gravitated towards in the year 2004.

Mordecai would be sent back to developmental, and the infamous character would be dropped indefinitely.

Two-years later, in 2006, Mordecai returned to the revamped ECW-brand, this time portraying a sinister vampire known as Kevin Thorn. The presentation of this gothic character was somewhat better, yet the in-ring work still was a major flaw.

WWE once again sent him back to developmental, and he would eventually depart from the company in 2009 after 7 long years.

2: Lars Sullivan

When Triple H was running NXT, The Game had a great understanding of what the core NXT fan-base wanted to see. However, when he decided to push Lars Sullivan, fans assumed that he was taking orders from Vince McMahon, as Sullivan wasn’t receiving a noteworthy response from the crowd, and his matches weren’t lighting the world on fire.

In 2019, Sullivan was called up, and due to a range of reasons, ranging from his battles with anxiety, as well as offensive comments surfacing that Sullivan had made on an internet message board, his main roster run was doomed to fail.

Sullivan only had a select number of matches on the main roster, and during these matches, the crowd weren’t remotely interested in Sullivan’s work. Everything he did was generic, and it was the type of wrestler that fans had seen time and time again over the years.

If Sullivan was going to work on the main roster, then the focus during Sullivan’s time in NXT should have been to create a compelling, meaningful character that had a chance of success on RAW or SmackDown.

1: R-Truth

Long before R-Truth became one of the most over acts in all of WWE, he was a part of the Attitude Era using the name of K-Kwik. Truth had signed a developmental deal with the company in 1999, and by 2000, WWE believed that he was firmly ready to TV.

During this period, there were so many stars, and unfortunately, Truth just faded into the background, and his character had a lack of substance outside of being a rapper who was friends with Road Dogg.

Truth had potential during this run, yet he had yet to develop the skills that would become a custom to his career. Truth needed more time to evolve into the wrestler he would later become, and whilst it was appreciated that WWE gave the young star a chance in 2001, it was simply the case of too much, too soon.

Thankfully for the WWE fans, as well as Truth, when Truth returned to WWE in 2008, there was no looking back. Over the past 16-years, Truth has been one of the most consistent workers in the entire company, and his character work, particularly when it comes to comedy segments, has been nothing short of outstanding.