Not everyone can be a champion in WWE.
Although there are currently ten active championships on the main roster, there are often at least four times as many WWE Superstars vying for the same title. Couple that with WWE’s narrow-mindedness with regard to pushing the same group of performers, and it’s easy to see how there are so many yet to achieve their first main roster title victory.
For example, Liv Morgan’s victory of the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Money in the Bank marked the first time since 2017 that the blue brand’s Women’s Championship changed hands in a match not featuring a member of the Four Horsewomen. That it took WWE five years to achieve that is living proof of their reliance on the same batch of talent, albeit seminal talent, time and time again.
Note, the following WWE Superstars haven’t won a championship since joining the main roster – this means former NXT and NXT UK champions awaiting their first taste of glory on Raw or SmackDown DO count. Additionally, previous holders of the WWE 24/7 Championship are counted as former main roster champions, regardless of WWE’s lack of care for the green belt; this means no Rick Boogs, Angel Garza, Doudrop, et al.
Finally, Gable Steveson and Logan Paul, both of whom are classed as main roster WWE Superstars, will not be included. In Steveson’s case, he’s yet to officially debut on the red brand while Paul, despite wrestling two matches, is a part-time performer. If WWE wants to gain some mainstream attention, then they’ll likely strap up either of the cross-platform stars but alas, there’s no need for their inclusion here.
The majority of these names will, at some point, etch their name into WWE history books and off this feature, particularly with the new creative direction of the company under Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque. Until then, they’ll be waiting in the wings…
Aliyah is a curious prospect in WWE. The Canadian had been with NXT since 2015 but yet, she never held a championship in the brand, let alone the main roster, joining the SmackDown roster as part of the 2021 Draft. Instead, she’s typically used to elevate the career prospects of her colleagues, regularly losing to the likes of Shayna Baszler, Natalya, and Shotzi.
She’s currently in the semi-finals of the ongoing Women’s Tag Team Championships tournament, teaming with Raquel Rodriguez as they eliminated Shotzi and Xia Li from the bracket, so Aliyah’s fortunes may soon turn around. Until then, though, she’s one of the unlucky few on WWE’s main roster.
The Brawling Brutes
Given WWE’s outrageously stacked doubles division on Friday Night SmackDown and The Brawling Brutes’ recent formation, it’s easy to see how The Brawling Brutes – outside of Sheamus – are yet to capture a main roster WWE championship. Butch only joined the duo this past March, while Ridge Holland aligned with ‘The Celtic Warrior’ last November; they haven’t exactly had a chance.
With Paul Levesque heading up creative, however, there’s a strong chance that Butch will ultimately step out into his own again, perhaps even regaining his old Pete Dunne moniker. For now, though, he and Ridge Holland are waiting in the wings for their chance to dominate the tag team division, led by Sheamus, a five-time Tag Team Champion in his own right.
Ciampa is going to be a main roster champion one day, possibly even a World Champion. His established relationship with Triple H is going to get him far on Monday Night Raw. If this wasn’t immediately evident from the way in which the two-time NXT Champion has thus far been presented since ‘The Game’ took over from Vince McMahon, then it will be in the months that follow.
‘The Blackheart’ was positioned perfectly against defending United States Champion Bobby Lashley, having earned the opportunity by defeating AJ Styles, and then dedicating the title clash itself to the late Harley Race. WWE appear to be biding their time with his inevitably major push, but it’s a good thing; allow the new era of WWE under Triple H to settle in before you push his prodigal son towards his first championship on the main roster.
Much like The Brawling Brutes, DAMAGE CTRL‘s Dakota Kai and IYO SKY are still new to the main roster and, therefore, haven’t had the opportunity to win their first championship. Flanked by Bayley, the pair debuted at SummerSlam, and are favourites to win the vacant Women’s Tag Team Championships. They’re already in the semi-finals, where they’ll meet Clash At The Castle adversaries Alexa Bliss and Asuka in the next round, so it looks likely that they will indeed lift the gold.
Both were featured heavily throughout NXT while Triple H was in charge of the brand, so as with Ciampa, they’ll be booked positively moving forward. After all, Kai wasn’t even signed to the company at the time of him becoming WWE’s Head of Creative, while the then-Io Shirai was also possibly departing. That both are now not only back on programming, but in one of the main storylines speaks volumes for their futures.
Another recent returnee, Dexter Lumis was one of NXT’s hottest stars through his association with Indi Hartwell and The Way. On the main roster, however, it’s unknown how he’ll fair. Thus far, he’s been presented as his typical mysterious self, being dragged out of the venue on the past two Raw episodes. What comes after this era of his career will determine how successful he is on the red brand.
The former Samuel Shaw will be intriguing to watch on Raw until then. He’s never been officially touted as a Triple H Guy, but the fact Lumis returned to the company once ‘The King of Kings’ was in charge should be very telling of what his future holds as a main roster WWE Superstar.
Like many listed here, Hit Row is yet to have had an official chance to taste main roster championship glory. Comprised of Top Dolla, Ashante ‘Thee’ Adonis, and B-FAB – and originally Swerve Strickland, then-Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott – the group was heavily favoured by Triple H throughout their time in NXT, so much so that their main roster transition made the most sense out of the few that occurred in the 2021 WWE Draft.
Their initial stint, however, lasted just a matter of weeks before they were cut from the company last November. Now, following their return on SmackDown’s 12th August broadcast, they’ve been back on the scene for even less time. Waiting will be a necessity for the trio but as with Triple H’s other re-signed former NXT Superstars, they’re more likely to win a championship than others who have stagnated on the roster for years.
That Humberto was never WWE Cruiserweight Champion should be an indication that WWE doesn’t value him as championship material. This was his best bet at being a WWE champion, outside of the 24/7 Championship, but with the title now being defunct after it was unified with the NXT North American Championship, Humberto may remain championship-less for the remainder of his WWE career.
He’s now just floating around the SmackDown locker room alongside Los Lotharios partner Angel Garza, having achieved very little on the main roster, bar a couple of tantalising Intercontinental Championship challenges vs. Ricochet this past spring. His fortunes may turn around with the new executive team in charge, but don’t bet on it.
Like Ciampa, Karrion Kross is going to be a champion on the main roster eventually. Not only was he brought back to the company after being cut last November, he was re-signed with his NXT presentation intact. Immediately added as the third wheel to the ongoing Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre saga, Kross hasn’t looked out of place at all. Compare this to his initial stint on the main roster; the difference is night and day.
The two-time NXT Champion was a divisive figure but the point still stood. He was a dominating main event star in the Triple H era of NXT because ‘Papa H’ understood Kross as a performer, so much so that he’s already undone everything Vince McMahon had done to the former Killer Kross. All that concerns him now is when – not if – he wins his first WWE World Championship.
In her defence, Lacey Evans did take an extended period of time away from the squared circle as she gave birth to her daughter. In the three years she had on the main roster before disappearing, though, ‘The Sassy Southern Belle’ was merely a repeat challenger for the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships. Coming back from her pregnancy with a new career trajectory should have put her on the right path but alas, she’s now gone from WWE programming again.
The ins and outs of her story aren’t known, but Vince McMahon was a big supporter of hers. Who knows if Paul Levesque is. Evans was hardly a standout of the NXT women’s division during her time there, which only make her late 2018 main roster call-up all the more surprising. It’s difficult to see where she’d slot into the picture just now, given her exclusion from the Women’s Tag Team Championships tournament, but don’t close the door on her quite yet.
Who knows, really, what WWE has planned for Ludwig Kaiser? The former Marcel Barthel was brought up to WWE alongside Gunther, but leaving Fabian Aichner – the now-Giovanni Vinci – behind demoted Kaiser to a managerial role for ‘The Ring General’. He has wrestled, but only to further Gunther’s storylines. Until he gets out of this role, he’ll never be a champion.
He’s hardly squandering on the main roster, but it’s a stark contrast to his pre-SmackDown body of work. You need only look back at his runs in both NXT and NXT UK to justify this. A two-time NXT Tag Team Champion alongside the aforementioned Aichner, Ludwig Kaiser felt, looked, and was promoted as being important. If he gets back to this stage of his career alongside Fabian or indeed anyone else, only then will he be within reach of a main roster championship.
Maximum Male Models
Depending on your wrestling taste, Maximum Male Models will either be the best or worst active aspect of WWE programming. Led by the Dupri siblings of Max and Maxxine, the combined efforts of ma.çé and mån.sôör have been an alluring aspect of Friday Night SmackDown for the last few weeks, but their lack of in-ring experience on the blue brand yields no opportunity for a championship win.
Before being signed to the modelling agency, the situation remained the same; neither MACE nor Mansoor was within reaching distance of a title. Triple H re-adding Max Dupri to the faction – thereby going against a direct Vince McMahon order made before his retirement – shows how much faith he has in the group, but how that translates when they actually wrestle together will determine their future.
How?! How has WWE failed to strap up Mustafa Ali in the six years he’s been with WWE? He never even had a chance at representing 205 Live with the now-defunct Cruiserweight Championship; that may have been his closest bet to being a WWE champion. It’s astonishing, considering how well Ali has performed each and every time. Hell, he even made RETRIBUTION somewhat bearable – and that didn’t come easy.
Mustafa seems to be a perennial challenger in WWE, holding previous unsuccessful chances at the WWE and United States Championships. Now in a tag team with ex-rival Cedric Alexander, it could be the time for Mustafa to lift his first taste of company gold but given the increasing standard of WWE’s doubles division across the main roster, they’re hardly the first choice to dethrone The Usos.
A top NXT Superstar at the time of her main roster call-up, Raquel Rodriguez has thus far struggled to find her footing in WWE, but she may be on track to amend this. ‘Big Mami Cool’ is currently involved in the semi-finals of the Women’s Tag Team Championships tournament, teaming with Aliyah. Their advancing to the finals will depend on if Toxic Attraction’s entrance in the tournament is a full-time call-up or not.
Other than this, Rodriguez’s SmackDown run has been odd, to say the least. She’s lost all steam, now just being another face in the blue brand’s women’s division. While this is hardly uncommon for NXT callups, it is odd for Raquel, given how well she was presented in the proverbial developmental system. A fix for this is needed before she becomes champion once more.
It’s weird, really, coming to the end of this feature and seeing the WWE Superstars left to discuss because, outside of maybe one or two, it’s unlikely they’ll ever be championship material. Shanky is the definition of this. He’d thrive in the New Generation or Golden Eras when being foreign was all you needed for WWE to promote you as a dominant heel – but it doesn’t cut it these days.
He dances now as well, which, while stupendous in execution, is hardly justifying his cause to be a champion. It’s never nice to wonder why someone hasn’t been released but for Shanky, it certainly seems to be a matter of when, not if, especially with the new regime prioritising professional wrestling over sports entertainment.
Shotzi is another curious example of someone who missed their trigger being pulled. The green-haired Superstar was once one of the most beloved members of the NXT roster, as her fiery attitude, enjoyable in-ring work, and prized miniature tank entrance combined to enhance the WWE Performance Center’s admiration for her.
Then, similar to Karrion Kross, she was brought up to the main roster, had her partner stripped away from her, and – worst of all – her tank was taken from her. She’s had one or two decent showings against high-ranking members of the SmackDown locker room, but Triple H desperately needs to make a turnaround with her presentation. Shotzi’s already teased the return of her tank; bringing it back will boost her popularity tremendously.
Though she’s not held a championship in WWE at all – the NXT women’s division was simply too good at the time of her tenure – Sonya Deville is walking evidence that you don’t need a championship to survive on WWE’s main roster. Everything she’s been asked to do, she’s done so with such conviction that she’s often outstanding to watch, both as an in-ring performer and when she was an on-screen authority figure.
The rocket can still be strapped to her in terms of championship success; there’s plenty time, considering she’ll only turn 29 in September. She’s a solid hand in-ring, as shown through a handful of her NXT bouts, and has the charisma to carry any scenario. If Triple H wants her to succeed in this ‘new’ WWE, she will.
T-BAR is a curious case to dissect at the time of this publication. Right now, it’s impossible to see him holding a championship – that includes the 24/7 Championship. On the other hand, though, reports suggest he could be saved by Triple H’s booking mechanics with an entire repackage.
In NXT as Dominik Dijakovic, he was a furiously agile big man, capable of some mesmerising things. Really, he was never used to his full potential in the then-black-and-gold brand, failing to even hold the NXT North American Championship despite an astronomical attempt vs. Keith Lee. On the main roster, he’s only been given one chance, that being against Damian Priest last winter. At that point, they were so high on ‘The Punisher’ that pushing T-BAR was out of the question. Now, it’s a main question for Triple H to respond to.
Who knows what’s going on with Veer Mahaan at this point? His re-emergence on the main roster following his split from Jinder Mahal and Shanky was hyped up week after week before, finally, he arrived on the Raw after WrestleMania. But what has he actually done? He’s destroyed Rey and Dominik Mysterio a handful of times and that’s it. He disappeared for a bit again, only returning on Raw’s 15th August broadcast.
WWE clearly don’t know what to do with him, hence why he’s floating around without any clear sign of direction. He’s not exactly making himself out to be a big deal either so unfortunately, much like former Indus Sher pal Shanky, he may not be around in WWE much longer.
Xia Li has followed a path not too dissimilar from Veer Mahaan. She was called up to the main roster as part of last October’s Draft, despite having only just gotten the hang of her NXT character. Now, ‘The Protector’ only appears when WWE needs a couple more bodies to fill open spaces on television.
At this stage, only a 24/7 Championship victory seems likely for her, but even that may be a stretch too far. A return to NXT may be her best bet; at least there, she was actually used in a somewhat captivating manner. Now, she’s the epitome of another face lurking in the shadows.