It seems the longer you’ve been a wrestling fan, the more likely you are to believe WWE has gone completely off the rails lately. The superstars are more diverse and talented than ever, the content is virtually endless, and each passing show certainly feels bigger, but they never feel better, and it’s reached a point where it feels like WWE is intentionally alienating and outright pissing off their own audience.
Most people familiar with Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment empire are well aware the man in charge has a tendency towards stubbornly resisting people who tell him he’s wrong. With a respectable track record any time he’s been taken to court, the one thing McMahon has lost is any concept of backing down, and that includes changing his mind when his viewers reject his ideas. More than simply unwilling to listen to endless arenas full of people begging for something he won’t give them, McMahon is dead set on proving them wrong for wanting it, and the results have been exponentially depressing as it becomes clear neither side will back down.
As with most trolls, the only way to make Vince stop aggravating his audience is for everyone to stop paying attention to him, which is hard to do if you have even the slightest interest in wrestling. For a glimpse at what the WWE Universe has had to put up with as of late, keep reading to see 15 insulting ways Vince McMahon is currently trolling his biggest fans.
15. Everything Roman Reigns
Getting the obvious out of the way fresh out the gate, no one superstar better represents how WWE hates it’s audience quite like The Guy, Roman Reigns. The more fans boo Roman, the stronger Vince pushes him as a babyface, forcing Michael Cole to repeat ad nauseam what a heroic and second-to-none athlete he is. Everything about Roman’s look, demeanor, and style screams that he does indeed have potential in the main event…as a heel. He’s already booed enough to be considered the most hated wrestler in America, bar none, and all WWE has to say about it is that audiences sure have fun playing around with our expectations. When fans thought it couldn’t get any worse than Roman beating Triple H for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 32, the company set in motion plans for him to take out The Undertaker with as little fanfare. The scary thing is it will probably continue going down from there.
14. Repeating Main Events Everyone Hated
Back in 2004, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg wrestled one of the most bizarrely fascinating matches in WrestleMania history. There were no titles on the line and the match was minimally built beyond both men being unbeatable monsters, who fans nonetheless resented because they barely wrestled and were known to be leaving WWE after the match. Lesnar and Goldberg were both mercilessly booed the entire match by a crowd that clearly just wanted it to get over with, not cheering until the guest referee Steve Austin beat them both up. On the road to WrestleMania 33, the only differences are that Austin isn’t involved, the WWE Universal Championship is, and both men are 12 years older. On top of that, based on the build, there’s no way it will last more than two or three minutes, leaving very little to look forward to. Speaking of matches that don’t give people time to blink…
13. Record Breaking Main Events (In The Worst Way)
Survivor Series 2016 hosted the shortest main event in WWE history, when Goldberg defeated Brock Lesnar in all of 86 seconds. The match was arguably the most hyped in years, certainly months, and fans were heavily anticipating Goldberg’s in-ring return. While it’s true his matches were never that long, they usually lasted a few minutes, and featured more than two moves, leaving plenty of fans feeling heavily shortchanged. Naturally, WWE shattered its own record not four months later, when Goldberg defeated Kevin Owens in 22 seconds, this time with the WWE Universal Championship on the line. Main events this short make everyone look weak, from Owens, obviously, to every single person he beat while champion, and even the 49-year-old Goldberg, who was breathing heavily after less than half a minute of exercise. What’s worse, the fans are left severely unsatisfied no matter who they wanted to win, because they barely even saw a match.
12. Fake Finishes In The Main Event
There was a whole lot wrong with the WWE Universal Championship match between Kevin Owens and Goldberg at Fastlane, such to the extent we’ve needed to break it down into two items on this list. It would have been bad enough if the match lasted less than a minute in virtually any circumstance, and the company nonetheless managed to go about achieving that result in the single worst way possible. The cliché of a rival’s music playing and distracting a wrestler into losing within seconds was overdone the very first time it happened, and everyone realized how outrageously stupid and weak it made the loser look. Even if Chris Jericho did interfere when his music played, Owens should have left the ring and made an attack, not stood around like a deer in headlights shocked by loud noises. This compounds the many ills of having a short match in general, making everyone look markedly weaker than we already described.
11. Having No Idea What To Do With “Revolutionary” Women
While she reigned as NXT Women’s Champion, a word critics often used for Bayley’s connection with young female fans was “special.” What she lacked in polish and experience she more than made up for with her attitude, indeed forming a relationship with her audience similar to the one John Cena has with the larger male fan base on the main WWE roster. The main quality that sets Bayley apart is her positivity in the face of adversity, the same thing WWE has allowed countless male babyfaces to portray for decades. It isn’t surprising that it worked, nor is it surprising that Bayley is the latest victim of WWE turning standout female NXT athletes into the same generic “divas” they’ve been writing for decades. This became apparent at Fastlane, when Bayley spent all show convincing Charlotte not to let her friend Dana Brooke interfere, then stood idly by with a smile while her own friend Sasha Banks did the same. Bayley’s slow character death is sad to see, though not wholly unexpected, and merely a symptom of a much larger problem.
10. Giving Stephanie More TV Time In Response To Backlash
Next to so-called top babyfaces Roman Reigns and John Cena, the third most hated superstar in WWE may well be the Billion Dollar Princess, Stephanie McMahon. The reactions Stephanie gets aren’t always as harsh as the other two, but critics absolutely can’t stand her, specifically the way she consistently puts herself over virtually the entire roster. After years of slapping both men and women with no retaliation whatsoever, Stephanie took her annoying behavior to its worst extreme at Fastlane 2017 by calling in to chew out Mick Foley over the phone. Basically, WWE heard that fans don’t want to see Stephanie anymore, so they worked around and let her mock loyal employees while out of sight, having their cake and eating it, too. Should this trend continue, it might not be long before Stephanie simply leaves her mark all over the show with damning Post-It notes, just painful enough to bring The Big Show to tears.
9. JBL And Company Telling Fans They’re Wrong
It would be one thing if Vince McMahon and his executives were somehow entirely unaware that fans thought his product was terrible and kept going forward with his eyes because he believed everyone loved them. However, with Raw, SmackDown, and Pay-Per-View crowds all constantly agreeing that they hate the main event superstars and prefer chanting for wrestlers who don’t even work for the company anymore, it’s impossible for McMahon not to somehow acknowledge that what he’s producing doesn’t match what fans want to see. Rather than try and fix the problem, McMahon micromanages the hell out of his announcers, specifically instructing them to tell fans how wrong they are for booing people they’re supposed to cheer. JBL boldly lies on a weekly basis about how fans are havin’ fun out there – “havin’ fun” apparently a folksy Texas colloquialism meaning “starting to hate the sport they love.” Knowing JBL is merely the vessel through whom Vince gives his personal thoughts makes it significantly more insulting, the most powerful person in wrestling basically laughing in the face of those who give him money.
8. Emma To Emmalina To Emma To No TV Time
Completely removed from crowd responses, the career progression of Emma/Emmalina over the past year or so has been as much a textbook case of trolling as that of Roman Reigns. Fans don’t necessarily care as much about Emmalina as they do The Guy, but it became hard to ignore her as WWE ran vignette after vignette hyping her debut, slightly pushing it back for several weeks into months. Then, by the time fans actually just wanted to find out what the hell Emmalina was already, WWE instantly changed their minds and started hyping the re-debuting of regular old Emma. Reports have varied from Emma not being able to pull of the character to WWE never having anything planned for her, the whole thing being a joke at the expense of her fans from day one. Why they would hire a woman and promote her just to mess with people is a mystery to everyone, and the alternate idea that they started promoting it before thinking things through doesn’t make the company sound great, either.
7. Eva Marie Can’t Wrestle
Before Emma became Emmalina became Emma, the McMahons were already well versed in trolling fans of female wrestling through the continued existence of Eva Marie. Unlike Emma, at no point did fans actually want to see Eva, and yet that’s exactly why WWE kept pushing her down their throats, giving her exponentially increased air time each week. When fans started chanting “You Can’t Wrestle” at her, WWE decided to take the phrase literally, coming up with a series of comically escalating reasons she was unable to compete on a given night. It reached a fever pitch when she was suspended for breaking the Wellness Policy, which had fans wondering if the whole thing was real. Eva hasn’t been back on television since her suspension, and maybe she never will, only solidifying that WWE never intended on doing anything with her, merely wanting fans to boo her for being pretty and doing nothing.
6. Using Real Crowds To Hold Fake Matches
When The Rock announced he was going to make a film through WWE Studios based on the life of his part-time co-worker Paige, fans of both superstars were apprehensively excited about the prospect. Based on and named after the documentary Fighting With My Family, the movie will detail Paige’s family life as the daughter of wrestling promoters, and how her relatives dealt with her success in WWE. How exactly the film would be shot remained a question until February 20, 2017, when The Rock attended an episode of Raw shot at the Staples Center, recreating one of Paige’s matches after the show…with actors. As though it weren’t bad enough fans who probably just wanted to go home were now being directed on what to do, reminding them about superstars who weren’t in attendance they liked more than anybody who actually was understandably lead to loud booing and “CM Punk” chants from the live crowd. Similar events have since took place on SmackDown and 205 Live tapings, making us worry how far the trend could go.
5. Pushing Bullies To Be A Star
For everything bad people have to say about WWE, the company has also undergone a large number of charity efforts than nonetheless make them a somewhat respectable organization. Chief amongst their charitable endeavors has been the Be A Star anti-bullying campaign, acknowledging that young wrestling fans might be prone to violence and trying to get them to stop these tendencies. Despite this, for decades now, clear-cut bully characters have been pushed as some of the biggest threats in wrestling. It’d be one thing if these bullies ever got their comeuppance, but they don’t, and even worse, we aren’t talking about their in-ring characters. Men like Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton have repeatedly proven themselves to be backstage bullies, as well, and here they are poised to co-headline yet another WrestleMania. That they both got there on one of the most blatant in-ring examples of bullying compounds it all into a colossal failure, advocating the very behavior the campaign is supposed to curb.
4. Cena Wins, LOL
All right, let’s face it. John Cena is the most popular star in WWE, and thanks to how much children love him and how good he is at responding to that, it will stay that way for as long as he’s willing to wrestle. Along the way, he’s probably going to win more matches than he loses in order to stay relevant, and that’s fine. It’s also acceptable that he’ll keep winning WWE Championships and participating in main events, as long as someone else benefits from it in the long wrong. As is, no one benefits from wrestling Cena except Cena, regardless of the lies WWE tells you on the matter. Sure, matches against Cena are inherently the highest profile of a wrestler’s career, and looking good in that match can legitimize them in front of fans. If they win. They only people who care about how a wrestler looks in a loss are the hardcore fans who don’t like Cena to begin with, with casual fans only remembering the time Cena won and proved he was the best, yet again.
3. New Day Eat Ice Cream And Do Nothing Else
In spite of all the negativity we’ve been spewing on this list, there’s no denying that The New Day are one of the most popular acts in wrestling today with casual and hardcore fans alike. So, how are they also part of the problem? Only a few short months after ending the longest WWE Tag Team Championship reign in history, Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods have primarily been wandering around and talking about ice cream. Sure, the segments are entertaining to a degree, and all three members of the group are giving it their all, but there’s absolutely no payoff possible. The New Day are only in the spotlight anymore because they’re the hosts of WrestleMania, where they’ll continue to be mildly entertaining and… that’s it. No matches, no championships, maybe not even any wrestlers outside of the group. One of the most popular acts in recent WWE history might not even step in the ring, and that brings us to one of the most annoying issues of all…
2. Get A Pop, Get Demoted
Fastlane 2017 was a pivotal show for WWE, and not simply in the sense it was the last stop on the road to WrestleMania 33. No, Fastlane will always be remembered for the night of lost potential, when multiple rising stars were all killed at once for daring to get over. As already mentioned, there was the situation with Bayley we already mentioned, the speedy death of Kevin Owens, and the continued forced push of Roman Reigns at the expense of Braun Strowman. Owens’ case is no doubt the saddest of all, as his seven months of hard work as champion were thrown away in 22 seconds for a man who wrestled less than two full minutes in over a decade. Now Owens is being thrust down the card into the US Championship scene, which he probably won’t escape from until the winter, when all the part-timers are long gone. The more popular wrestlers are getting on their own, the less WWE is willing to push them, and the end result is pretty clear.
1. New Stars Are Built Up To Do Nothing
Because of how Vince McMahon has booked WWE over the past several months, fans can more-or-less guarantee that nothing will change no matter how loudly they cry. Similar to the theory of 1,000 monkeys with 1,000 typewriters, the amount of content WWE writers are forced to create means the wrestling audience may well occasionally enjoy some of it, though this will only make it hurt much worse down the line when the company pulls the rug on whatever idea people latch on to. This list has already mentioned the examples of Bayley, Kevin Owens, The New Day, and Braun Strowman a few times, and now we’ll add Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, A.J. Styles, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, Jack Gallagher, Dean Ambrose, Rusev, Dolph Ziggler, Alexa Bliss, Baron Corbin, Kalisto, Tye Dillinger, Shinsuke Nakamura and The Vaudevillians all to the long list of new talent slowly getting killed by start-and-stop pushes. Should Bray Wyatt lose to Randy Orton at WrestleMania, he’ll be right there with them. Big moments in wrestling are meaningless if they don’t lead to anything, and until WWE starts booking towards the future, their very existence will be a troll on the entire wrestling world.
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