9. Brian Pillman
Of all the faces (and heels) that had substantial coverage on WWE television in 1997, Brian Pillman was one of the few that would have fit in just fine during the drastically different following year.
'The Loose Cannon' was years ahead of his time in 1996. Two, to be exact. Pillman had the incomparable attitude to believe in himself at the expense of others - and common sense - but knew the ideology was so bizarre that he'd have to be cast as unhinged just to get it over.
Spotting the move away from the kayfabe era later exploited by both WCW and WWE, Flyin' Brian's 1995 metamorphosis into the man that strode out of a WCW deal via the ECW Arena into a fat WWE contract was one of the most remarkable career turnarounds in industry history.
Deft to a fault, Pillman lived the gimmick as he played it, and rode his luck and timing throughout until both ran out on him. Horrific injuries sustained in a car accident didn't diffuse the WWE deal, but destroyed the career he was meant to have. His personality was such that he remained over the the last year of his life despite the obvious pain he felt every time he wrestled. But it wouldn't have mattered had he made it beyond 1998. The company was only just coming round to his way of working when he tragically passed on.