The 2004-2007 generation
By generation I mean the people who debuted on the main roster around that time. Please help me out here, because I'm positive I'll forget someone.
Btw, not gonna mention The Hearthrobs or The Dicks because they're pointless. Also, I'm sure I've forgotten someone or included someone who debuted before 2004, so please correct me if I'm wrong. It's been years and can't remember everything in detail. I'm also not gonna mention a veteran like Finlay who obviously was never gonna be a future star but just a vet putting over younger talent.
So, the point of this thread, you might ask? This generation ended up mostly serving as a supporting cast for Cena and, to some degree, to Orton and Batista as well. And I wanna know if you guys think they were wasted, or at least some of them. Who do you think could have become a star?
Carlito: Won the US title from on his debut and then got drafted to Raw less than a year later where he won the IC on his debut from Shelton Benjamin as well. Carlito was kind of a modern day version of Razor Ramon. He was good on the mic and solid in the ring. He would team up with Masters until he eventually turned on him thus turning face in the process... and that's where Carlito starts losing his direction.
Chris Masters: The Master Lock challenge went on for too long and ended up being broken by Lashley iirc? Also, the highlight of his WWE career was getting shut down by Vince on a mock court in a Raw where Bischoff would end up getting fired. He'd eventually return to WWE a few years later with improved ring skills. He had some nice matches on Superstars around 2010-2011. Overall, I've never seen much in Masters beyond midcard level.
Ken Kennedy: Oh man, this guy. I was a MASSIVE fan of him upon his debut. A guy who introduced his own entrance and repeated his name, for some reason, was the shit for my 15-16 year old self. And most of my friends in HS dug him as well. Kennedy had some solid mic skills and even got to feud with Undertaker rather early in his WWE career. Me and many others thought it was only a matter of time until he'd become a world champion and expected him to have a HOF-worthy career. But he was injury prone and both Orton and Cena didn't like the guy much. Kennedy has gone to TNA afterwards and it doesn't seem like he became a big star there either, so maybe he just didn't have it in him, after all?
MVP: Silly looking Power Ranger attire aside, MVP was a pretty solid mid-card talent. I remember him having great chemistry with Kennedy and some people even compared him to The Rock and Kennedy to SCSA. MVP wasn't that young anymore when he debuted in WWE iirc. I think he had an OK career all things considered and was never really meant to be a top guy. Don't recall him being pushed like Kennedy or Lashley were.
Nitro/Morrison: Was part of MNM alongside Mercury and Melina. He'd eventually become a singles competitor and change his name to Jon Morrison. Morrison was solid in the ring but wasn't very charismatic and never really learned how to cut a good promo. So I wasn't surprised that he never went beyond a mid-carder level talent. Not everyone has the tools to be a main eventer, so that's OK.
Mercury: I don't remember him wrestling anymore since MNM broke up. Fast forward to like 2015 and he's playing the role of an on screen security guard and arresting Vince McMahon lol. He's always been the least interesting and least focused on of the MNM team, anyway.
Elijah Burke: This guy was the leader of the New Breed faction on WWECW. I remember liking his role at the time, but I feel like we never got to see enough of him.
CM Punk: No need to get into this. We all know the story.
Marcus Cor Von: I knew he was Monty Brown on TNA. But I didn't watch TNA. Still, he was a rather known name in the wrestling world at the time and I expected WWE to do something with him, but I don't remember what he did exactly other than being a member of the New Breed stable. I've never gotten to warm up to him or get to know him better, so I dunno how to feel about him and if WWE wasted a chance with him or not. You guys tell me.
Gene Snitsky: He was a rather big guy who debuted in a veryyyyyy distasteful storyline with Kane and Lita. That being said, I always laughed when I heard the "IT WASN'T MY FAULT!". I think he was good at playing a comedy monster. Never expected him to become a huge star or thought he could be one, but he was an entertaining midcarder for a while.
Matt Striker: A wrestler wit ha teacher gimmick seemed very interesting at first, but he ended up doing commentary instead A bit disappointing, really. I liked his segment with Carlito.
Bobby Lashley: Well, he was pushed strongly since day one. He was obviously on his way to become WWE champion or WHC one day, but he left because his gf Krystall Marshall argued with Michael Hayes. I remember Lahsley being referred to as "Black Lesnar" by fans online. He was pretty green in the ring still for someone with such an impressive amateur background. Also, his promos sucked and it was hard to take a guy built like a tank with such a high pitched voice seriously. Wasn't a big fan of him myself, but if he had stayed around, he'd be a much bigger star these days.
The Great Khali: made a hell of a first impact by manhandling Undertaker, but we quickly saw how horrible he was in the ring. He won the WHC when SD! was plagued with injuries, but oh well at least he drew in India! By the time he lost the WHC I no longer have a damn about him.
Spirit Squad:A lot of fans online had high hopes for Kenny Dykstra and Johhny Jeter, but the breakout star of that faction was Nicky aka Dolph Ziggler. I wonder what went wrong with Kenny and Jeter, though. And whatever happened to Mitch and Mikey?
Umaga: OK, he debuted in like 2002-2003 as Jamal, but he came back with a completely different character in 2006, so he counts, imo. Anyway, he was basically WWE's answer to TNA's Samoa Joe who was on fire at the time. Unfair to just dismiss Umaga as a "Samoa Joe ripoff" though. They were both Samoans, but the two had completely different characters. Umaga was like a callback to the old days where characters were more cartoony and wrestlers from Asia, Africa, etc. were portrayed in very stereotypical ways and basically like brute savages. Umaga was pretty good for what he was and I while I didn't expect him to be a top guy, I expected him to become a solid upper mid-carder for year or maybe a transitional WWE champion at some point... but he died in like 2009 or so, so yeah...
Muhammad Hassan: This guy's been discussed to death, but let's do it one more time, shall we? Hassan was green af in the ring but was GOLD on the mic. Sure, his gimmick was rather cheap and all, but showed an interesting side of the fans and made them look like the heels. I used to think he was destined for greatness, but the gimmick was clearly too risky and the novelty would have eventually worn off. So I guess it's best that he didn't last for long in the company.
AAE: Umaga's manager and I loved the way he said his own name. Sadly, he was getting more over than Umaga, his client, so WWE didn't let him talk much anymore and eventually wrote him out of TV. I remember him becoming a singles wrestler and having a match or two and then disappearing.
Cody Rhodes: He debuted in summer of 2007. He would team up with Orton and Dibiase Jr. in he Legacy. And then would remain in the midcard with strange characters that he made the best out of. Now he's in AEW as we all know and doing well for himself. WWE is probably gonna regret letting him go. But perhaps it's for the best that he left. Otherwise he'd just rot in mid-card hell forever like many others.
I think this was the slow starting point of when WWE began losing their ability to make stars. After they build up Batista, Cena, Orton and Edge pretty well, it's like they forgot how to make stars and thought Cena was the only guy to get behind. I feel like most of the guys I mentioned were fed to someone like Cena sooner or later and then lost most of their heat. That or they got fed to someone like Triple H.
As for the women, well women are never as important as men in wrestling in the grand scheme of things, so not gonna write much about them. And tbh, Mickie James, Candice Michelle, Melina and Ashley Massaro(RIP) all did well enough in WWE. Christy Hemme left rather soon after winning the Diva Search, though. And Layla El would not become relevant until like 2010 when she teamed up with Michelle McCool. Michelle wasn't relevant before dating Undertaker either. Kelly Kelly also would become the face of the Divas division for a while. So I'd say the women who debuted in this time period generally did well with an exception or two. So I do not have much else to say in regards to that.