Over the history of professional wrestling, only a relative handful have been good enough to be World Champion. It takes skill, support from fans and those in charge, and more than a little luck. It’s an exclusive club, and whenever something is so hard to attain, there are a lot of worthy competitors who, for whatever reason, just didn’t reach the top of the mountain. Maybe they didn’t have the exact set of skills, maybe an injury sidelined them before they could reach their goals, maybe they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But for any of the wrestlers on this list, the fact that they were never a World Champion seems like the one missing line on the list of their career achievements, the one thing that it’s almost unbelievable that they never attained.
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re only counting the entire lineage of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (which includes the WWWF, WWF, WWE, Undisputed, World Heavyweight, and WCW Championships). We understand that this may seem unfair to some people, so if you want to argue what classifies something as a “World” title, feel free to let us know in the Comments.
12. Wade Barrett
From the moment he made his debut on the first season of NXT, pretty much everyone knew that Wade Barrett had “it”. A well-built, good-looking wrestler with good skills and a seemingly endless well of charisma, many picked him right away to win a WWE contract and eventually become World Champion. Well, they were half right, as Barrett did win the competition, but everything else about his WWE career was pretty much a disappointment. As the top man in the Nexus faction, Barrett had several opportunities to win a World Title, but the booking did him no favors, and he was unsuccessful every time. Several times over the years, Barrett would look like he was about to set off on another massive push, only for terrible booking or badly-timed injuries to completely derail his career for months at a time. Eventually, allegedly tired of the circular path his career had become, Barrett asked for his release. The door may be open for him to return one day and finally reach the top of the mountain, but at this point, it’s looking fairly unlikely.