Kevin Owens' recent blue brand return saw him walking along a red carpet rolled out by Vince McMahon himself as 'The Prizefighter' strolled off the injured list and into a WWE Championship match. Weeks of presenting him as an everyman didn't exactly prepare fans for such esteemed recommendation from the deluded Chairman, but it's the closest Owens has come to feeling as relevant since he first strode onto a main roster stage back in 2015.
There, he bantered John Cena for daring to big-league him, then brutalised 'The Champ' ahead of a heated and shocking victory over the industry icon in his very first pay-per-view match. As NXT Champion at the time, Owens presented himself on the United States Champion's level regardless of the implied status gulf between them. In backing up his words with a win, he was theoretically made. But like a lot of modern era WWE, it was all better in theory.
In spite of 'KO's best efforts, everything slid south after entering at such a height. Owens lost rematches and the actual feud to John Cena, bounced around the midcard for a year and wasn't even received as a true heel threat when he became Raw's figurehead and Universal Champion just a year after his main roster arrival.
Headbutting and bloodying Vince McMahon a year after that was another false dawn, so forgive the cynicism about this latest reemergence. His fall from grace won't be the last, nor was it the first...
10. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho's owned himself for some of the silliness he just about got away with going "one on one with The Great One" on his historic debut, but others in the dressing room weren't quite as willing as The Rock to help him over the early hurdles.
The pop from the Chicago crowd upon seeing "JERICHO" splash across the TitanTron extracts goosebumps 3.6million views later, but there's less love for a SmackDown sequel a few weeks removed from the buzz. His official in-ring debut drew derision backstage from opponent Road Dogg and his D-Generation X buddies, foreshadowing his cards being marked by a failed series with locker room litmus worker X-Pac.
It was enough for Vince McMahon not only to reign 'Y2J's push in but to suggest his "contract wasn't worth the paper it was printed on". Like the Attitude Era itself, Jericho moved rapidly and with great force to remedy his early wrongs, but early proofs of the WrestleMania 2000 poster highlight the gulf in where he was due to be versus where he ended up.
A decade on from the disappointment, Jericho scooped up The Big Show from another failed singles push and made him a doubles destroyer as part of Jeri-Show. In 2000, 'The Big Nasty B*stard' was relegating the 'Millennium Man' to the midcard.