The art of the wrestling storyline is the most important aspect on a wrestling show. Fans ultimately want to see conflict with a resolution at the end of the day. Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels both credit their storyline together as being one of the biggest accomplishments of their careers. Batista’s slow turn on Triple H in Evolution to win his first World Championship put him on the map as a top star. The evil Vince McMahon trying to stop Steve Austin’s ascension as the new face of WWE during the Attitude Era is what made his popularity reach new heights.
It's fascinating to watch the twists and turns in a storyline building towards a culmination. Unfortunately, not all stories in wrestling get the perfect ending to wrap it up. There have been quite a few instances of WWE and other wrestling promotions just quitting on it. Some storylines were not working, others had poor writing fail to end it properly and a few just ended cold turkey. We'll take a look at some of the more interesting stories in wrestling through the years that actually started on television and went on for a while without having an ending.
15 Vince McMahon's Lockbox
The return of Shane McMahon provided an incredible moment but ended up having a horrible storyline attached to it. Shane wrestled The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 with the stipulation of Shane having to give up a lockbox that he was using to blackmail Vince McMahon. It was discussed as something horrible that made Vince nervous enough to put up control of WWE in the match as well.
After a few weeks, WWE stopped referencing the lockbox and started selling the match around conflict between Shane and Undertaker. Shane ended up losing the match at WrestleMania 32. Vince stated he regained access to the lockbox and that was the end of it. WWE didn’t even have anything planned about the most mysterious part of the storyline. Shane ended up getting control of SmackDown anyway proving nothing of note came from the stipulations.
14 Brock Lesnar Vs Shane McMahon
A Brock Lesnar WrestleMania match was changed for the second consecutive year heading into WrestleMania 33. The end of SummerSlam 2016 featured Lesnar brutally beating Randy Orton to uncomfortable levels until SmackDown General Manager Shane McMahon came out to protect his star. Lesnar then took his anger out on Shane beating him up.
The second biggest show of the year ended with Shane in pain and Lesnar walking away with a smile. It was done to set up a match between the two at WrestleMania. Lesnar allegedly did not like this idea and pitched his own story. That led to Goldberg defeating Brock at Survivor Series 2016 in shocking fashion before a big rematch at WrestleMania 33. WWE has not referenced anything regarding Brock and Shane since switching plans back in November.
13 Vince's Illegitimate Child
The storyline of Vince McMahon’s mysterious illegitimate child on the WWE roster had an ending but it didn’t really count in the grand scheme of things. It was revealed McMahon had a child he did not know about working for him. The reveal was teased for a long time with plans for a huge aftermath. WWE wanted to elevate Mr. Kennedy into a main event position and was slated for the spot.
Kennedy would get suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy and it forced the company to quit on their planned ending. It ended up becoming a comedic moment of Hornswoggle being the son of Vince. WWE tried to get some mileage out of it but it clearly was not the actual ending given the lack of importance it delivered.
12 Nexus Attacks The Undertaker
The Undertaker and Kane had their final feud back in 2010 for the World Championship. It culminated in a Buried Alive match at Bragging Rights. The shocking ending of the match featured the Nexus faction coming out of nowhere to attack Undertaker and help Kane bury the legend. Nexus was on Raw and the Brothers of Destruction were on SmackDown making it even weirder that they intertwined.
The assumed reason for this was that Nexus leader Wade Barrett would face Undertaker at the following WrestleMania show in an attempt to get him over as a top new star. Barrett instead saw his momentum fade away. Undertaker eventually returned to start a feud with Triple H and there was never any mention of Nexus burying him alive in his prior WWE appearance.
11 Just Joe
One of the more random characters during the Attitude Era that showed no purpose was Just Joe. Independent wrestling standout Joe E. Legend was signed for the role of a backstage instigator starting drama between many top wrestlers. For example, Just Joe would tell Triple H that “the boys” were talking about Kurt Angle making a move on Stephanie McMahon and then go back to Angle claiming Triple H was verbally abusing Stephanie to get them to fight.
The character had some charm and humor that could have become something more. Just Joe was around for many years appearing in the backstage segments with top names. A rumor went around that WWE wanted to build him up to become the Light Heavyweight Champion but everything was dropped. Just Joe disappeared from television with no real explanation for his actions or motives and eventually was released from the company.
10 WCW's White Hummer
WCW was home to many of the dumbest ideas in wrestling history. One that never even had an ending featured Kevin Nash getting brutally attacked. Randy Savage and his ladies lured Nash into a limo. Savage drove the limo away with Nash locked in alone before running off. A mystery white hummer appeared to slam into the car multiple times badly hurting Nash. The identity of the driver was a huge angle for the summer of 2000.
This mystery man was advertised as the bodyguard of Savage. We would see the hummer a few more times with no reveal. WCW randomly just dropped the storyline never referencing it. Eric Bischoff appeared many months later coming out of a white hummer making many believe he was the driver. There was no mention of it by WCW and Bischoff could not be the bodyguard of Savage. We’ll never know who it was supposed to be.
9 NXT Redemption
The early incarnation of NXT featured a competition between developmental talents to win a main roster contract. Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, Bray Wyatt and AJ Lee were just some of the stars to start their television careers in WWE on this show. Many of the losers that were placed in the NXT Redemption season getting a second chance.
They were actually allowed to have storylines and show more personality this time around. This however was due to WWE not caring at all about the idea. Darren Young, Derrick Bateman and Titus O’Neil were in the final three when the show just stopped without a winner. All three would end up on the main roster but we never witnessed it actually play out to see how it was going to finish. Maybe this worked out for the best given what NXT would evolve into.
8 Brock Lesnar Vs Bray Wyatt
Another storyline with no ending during WrestleMania 32 season featured Brock Lesnar feuding with The Wyatt Family. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan attacked Lesnar on an episode of Raw leading up to the Royal Rumble. During the actual Rumble match, Wyatt was responsible for the elimination of Lesnar obviously attempting to set up a WrestleMania match.
The match was rumored for months and WWE started the storyline. About one month later, they completely changed their minds. Dean Ambrose was deemed the new opponent for Lesnar at WrestleMania 32 leading to a very short storyline between the two. WWE had big plans for Ambrose in 2016 that saw the change take place. Wyatt and Lesnar never resolved their feud with minimal interaction since then.
7 Who Attacked Hideo Itami?
The write-off storyline for Hideo Itami after suffering a shoulder injury back in 2015 was meant to set up something for his return. NXT did a great job in setting up long term storylines. This was a rare case of one not paying off in the slightest. Itami was shown down in the parking lot after a brutal attack as Kevin Owens walked by making a snarky comment.
If it was meant to set up Owens versus Itami, we can understand why it never paid off. Owens was called up to the main roster shortly after and Itami remained sidelined longer than expected. The attack has been referenced but more so to explain why he was out for so long rather than continuing the mystery. NXT has cut their losses on trying to fix it by letting it go.
6 Samoa Joe Kidnapping
Vince Russo is known for having some of the most ridiculous ideas you’ll ever witness in the wrestling industry. One of them took place in TNA when top star Samoa Joe was abducted by ninjas. Joe was taken into a van and did not appear on television for a few weeks. Fans expected some sort of payoff with the identity of the abductors or a big change in Joe when he returned.
TNA just had him return as the mystery person in a tag match like nothing happened. No one referenced the abduction or the people that placed him in the van. Joe revealed in an interview that Russo wrote the horrible storyline and could not figure out a good reveal thus dropping it altogether and pretending like nothing happened.
5 King Of The Ring Flying Briefcase
The main event of the 1999 King of the Ring featured Steve Austin facing both Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon in a Ladder Match for control of WWE. Austin had the win a few times until the briefcase started moving around with someone having access to control the prize it was being hung from.
The distractions were used to help the McMahon’s get the cheap win and further their feud with Austin. It was teased that Big Boss Man was the one controlling the briefcase until that was proven wrong. WWE never revealed anyone as the culprit. That part of the storyline was removed despite playing such a pivotal role in the main event of a huge PPV. WWE could have easily made someone a bigger star by having them join The Corporation in such a manner.
4 Kane Vs Fake Kane
Kane has been a part of WWE for over two decades. The character has seen many ups and downs, including getting stale numerous times. At one point, WWE decided to spice things up by having another Kane character appear. During this time period, Kane did not wrestle with his mask and sported the bald head.
A mysterious person dressed in the old Kane costume with the long hair would appear to torment the real Kane. No explanation was given and it all ended with the real Kane beating the fake Kane easily and taking off the mask to send him out of WWE. It was never mentioned who this person was or why he was even there. WWE just stopped it by having the real Kane get rid of the fake impostor. We do know today fake Kane was played by current WWE star Luke Gallows.
3 Anonymous Raw GM
The long story of the anonymous Raw General Manager continued on for quite some time. Vince McMahon stated the GM would use email to break news and announcements. Michael Cole walked to a podium and read the emails to loud jeers from the fans every week. The character was clearly a heel and often used their power to punish the fan favorites.
WWE randomly just dropped the storyline by having Triple H and Johnny Ace take over the show. The anonymous General Manager was not referenced until a return a year later. Given control for one night only, WWE made the joke reveal that it was Hornswoggle all along doing the evil. It was meant to a humorous segment but just annoyed fans that were invested in the true identity. A former WWE writer has claimed the company had no idea and eventually gave up when realizing no name would be worth such a long tease.
Attitude Era fans will remember the mystery of GTV going on for many months. The hidden camera segments would show WWE stars in scenarios they did not want on screen. GTV revealed Eddie Guerrero cheated on Chyna, Big Show and Val Venis fighting in the men’s bathroom and other embarrassing moments. It was implied that we would eventually find out the mystery man behind the hidden camera.
WWE just stopped it one day with no explanation. The popular belief is that Goldust was supposed to be the reveal before leaving the company for WCW. Chris Jericho has claimed he’s been told it was supposed to be former MTV star Tom Green. According to Jericho, Vince McMahon actually watched the footage of Green’s show and quit on the idea not finding the comedian as funny as he was sold.
1 Who “Killed” Vince McMahon?
The shocking ending of an episode of Raw back in 2007 featured Vince McMahon slowly walking past all the wrestlers to get into his limousine before it exploded. WWE’s website reported that McMahon had died with someone planning to kill him in such fashion. They even claimed federal agents were looking into finding the culprit.
WWE would witness the biggest tragedy in wrestling history a week later when Chris Benoit killed his wife and son followed by taking his own life committing suicide. The heartbreaking story led to McMahon ending his storyline and returning to television. WWE could not have a fake death at such a time and McMahon had to address the Benoit story. Obviously, the McMahon death storyline would never play out. There’s no telling what WWE was trying to go for and we’ll never know.