2016 was a breakout year for a number of stars on the WWE roster, from AJ Styles to Kevin Owens to Bayley, but there were also few major players who took a step back over the last 12 months. Here are 12 WWE stars who had a disappointing 2016:
Lesnar lost to a 49-year-old Goldberg in less than two minutes at Survivor Series - a loss that would sour anyone's year - but many of his matches in 2016 were disappointments (vs. Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania and Randy Orton at SummerSlam), and he's no longer the baddest man in the company. Lesnar's stock took a pretty huge hit in 2016.
Finn Balor fought through a major shoulder injury at SummerSlam to become the inaugural Universal Champion, but he was forced to give up the title the following day and has been recovering since. It was clear WWE had huge plans for him in 2016 after he was the 5th overall pick in the WWE Draft, but his injury derailed what could have been an AJ Styles-caliber year. The future is still incredibly bright for Balor, though, and he'll hopefully be right back in the main event picture whenever he's healthy.
Emma suffered a back injury in May just as she was launching an angle alongside Dana Brooke - and she's since been wholly transformed into a traditional "WWE Diva" named Emmalina, whose debut has been continually delayed into 2017.
It was a pretty great year for John Cena the entertainer, but not a great year for John Cena the wrestler.
A shoulder injury robbed him of any kind of serious involvement in the biggest WrestleMania ever, he lost his feud with AJ Styles, and he took a couple months off to work on his acting career. While Cena was involved in arguably the match of the year at SummerSlam, even he admitted he had a down year when he finally returned Tuesday night on SmackDown - but it seems almost a lock that he'll match Ric Flair with 16 World Championship reigns at some time in 2017.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Given the way Gallows and Anderson arrived in WWE, it seemed like they'd be bringing the dominant Bullet Club faction over from Japan and rule the tag team division. Instead, they split with AJ Styles did a lot of losing in the middle of Raw episodes.
Gallows and Anderson are still a highly entertaining team, but they've shifted in tone since their debut and seem to be stuck behind a few teams on the Raw depth chart.
The formerly inspirational Bo Dallas changed up his character quite a bit after the Social Outcasts split, and had a short run on Raw which saw him recite poetry before annihilating local talent. That never led anywhere, however!
Paige was once a leading woman in the WWE women's division, but she's been out for the entirety of the New Era due to a combination of injuries and back-to-back suspensions for violating the Wellness Policy (which she publicly disputed).
Alberto Del Rio
Paige’s fiance spent the early part of his year in a stable no one liked (The League of Nations), missed out on SummerSlam entirely, was suspended for 30 days and left the company in September before it was over.
These guys don't even get to do their extended entrance anymore.
Crews in incredibly talented and has a great look, but his "I'm just happy to be here" character never really caught on with fans, and he hasn't been involved in any meaningful storylines since he was brought up from NXT. He's got tons of potential, but just needs more time.
Earlier this week at Madison Square Garden, Curt Hawkins lost to James Ellsworth in 10 seconds. That's all you really need to know.
Honorable mentions who recently turned it around: Baron Corbin, Neville, Bray Wyatt
Neville, like Cesaro, is an amazingly talented wrestler beloved by hardcore fans who never really got a shot on the big stage, but he's now returned to terrorize the Cruiserweight division, which is a great fit for him.
On Tuesday night's episode of SmackDown, Baron Corbin was established as a main event player and looked like a monster against AJ Styles and Dolph Ziggler.
Wyatt, meanwhile, suffered a heartbreaking injury just as he started to get some momentum in April, but the Wyatt family has regained it's mysterious aura since Luke Harper returned and Randy Orton was shockingly added.