WWE Hall Of Famer and former AWA and WCW star, the Living Legend Larry Zbysko used to refer to wrestling as the Human Game Of Chess. He might not have known it at the time, but all of the other promoters were playing checkers while Vince McMahon was the only true chess master in all of wrestling. Now with the business really just being between the WWE and a very vibrant Indy scene and New Japan all vying for a distant second; the Chairman has been playing chess with himself for nearly 20 years now. But not every move the boss makes is a good one.
Plus, thanks to the internet, every move he makes is wildly criticized by marks and dirt sheet writers, and just about every type of fan there is. Obviously, the WWE can't get everything right and in fact, a lot of their best moves came after realizing their mistakes and correcting it. A problem in WWE today though, is they can push their own agenda despite fan backlash or apathy. Back in the days of the Monday Night war, the WWE couldn't afford to have fans lose interest, because they had other options. Now, they may complain, but they keep coming back for more. Still, that doesn't mean WWE never listens to fan reactions.
Even Vince himself probably rethinks some of his decisions. With that in mind here are 10 Recent WWE Roster Moves Vince Already Regrets (And 10 Smart Moves).
20 Regrets - Turning Becky Lynch Heel
Every so often, Vince McMahon must miss his hearing exam. How else would he explain clearly not hearing the crowd at Money In The Bank erupt every time Becky “Balboa” came close to grabbing the case. Becky turned heel on Charlotte at SummerSlam after Flair stole her bestie’s thunder. Guess what?
The fans agree with the “heel” in this case; it was definitely Becky’s time to shine after working so hard to get back to the title.
Hopefully, the turn works one way or the other and doesn't kill any more of Becky’s thunder, perhaps having her finally win the title again at Hell In A Cell might satiate fans and then we can boo her for being a smarmy heel who cheats to keep it.
19 Smart - Dolph Ziggler To Raw
To be a fly on the wall during Dolph Ziggler’s last contract negotiation... He went from irrelevant to right where he belongs - at the top of the card, paired up with Drew McIntyre in a throwback to HBK and Diesel. It seems like the WWE brass are again willing to give the Show Off the ball. With Ziggler on SmackDown for so long now, and drowning in a sea of less than Show Off caliber performers, the move to Raw, IC title runs and pairing with McIntyre has completely rejuvenated his career. Maybe now it's time to let him really loose to - pardon the pun - show off.
18 Regrets - Asuka To SmackDown
The Game once asked his father-in-law to keep Asuka in NXT as she was the cornerstone of the NXT Women's Division. Vince acquiesced and waited to bring her up. When he did, fans were worried that she wouldn't allow Asuka to flourish the way Triple H had. But then she won the Royal Rumble.
The stage was set for The Queen vs. The Empress at WrestleMania.
But Charlotte, who didn't need the victory was booked to win, and there hasn't been much of a Tomorrow Empire ever since with Asuka floundering on the main stage and all of her mystique gone.
17 Smart - Calling Drew McIntyre Up
If you doubt the power of the indies, look no further than Drew McIntyre. Debuting as the Chosen One, not living up to that moniker, then being regulated to a low card comedy player, McIntyre was released back in 2014 and returned less than three years later to NXT and called back up to the main roster not even a year after that.
The time away paid off in droves, now McIntyre is back and well on his way to proving Vince right - he might just be the Chosen One and a WrestleMania main eventer within a few years.
16 Regrets - Waking Up Matt Hardy
One of the loudest pops at WrestleMania 33 was when the Hardys returned. After setting the Indies ablaze with the entire Broken Universe, the Hardys were back to their WWE personas. But that was a small pond, and of course the WWE is a humongous ocean. On WWE TV however, the whole act already felt stale by the time Hardy started working it, now as Woken Matt. Besides being off TV rehabbing an injury, (and unlikely to return) Vince more likely than not sees no interest in wasting more TV time on a gimmick he's not willing to go full tilt on.
15 Smart - Samoa Joe To SmackDown
With so many top tier talent on Raw, and so little room at the top, if you're not an Anoa’i, then you're seemingly a second-class Samoan. Samoa Joe has been one of the best wrestlers in the world for the better part of a decade now.
While he has had amazing matches with so many performers across the globe, he's had phenomenal matches with AJ Styles.
So why not put him and AJ together for their current blood feud and really let both guys cut loose? That is exactly what Vince is letting these two world-class performers do and it's paid off with a great feud.
14 Regrets - Bringing Back Bobby Lashley
Didn't WWE already try to strap the rocket on The Dominator, Bobby Lashley? Umaga, Vince’s hair, Extreme Chamber…any of this ring a bell? He left for TNA and made some decent waves and competes in MMA and is just the kind of specimen Vince falls in love with. He must have fallen hard for Bob, but just like the first time, there's just something missing about the guy? The charisma that top guys need in the WWE just doesn't seem be there for Lashley. Everything comes so naturally to the natural athlete, but for some reason it doesn't come across well on TV. We'll see if his recent heel turn helps him.
13 Smart - Reforming The Shield
The Shield is the most over act the company has had in the past few years. Both singularly and collectively. Had their initial run not be so brief and we'd be having a different conversation, but the group was kept together for the perfect amount of time before tearing them apart. They reunited last year, but injuries to both Dean and Roman curtailed the feel good moment. Since the well hasn't quit dried up yet, Vince went right back to it the night after SummerSlam. Besides, while Roman gets crowd reactions, with his brothers, he gets the intended one.
12 Regrets - Calling Up Bobby Roode
Other than Nakamura strutting and sashaying, or the Demon stalking to the ring, Bobby Roode has the best entrance in the company. Inside the ring, he's as crisp as any other performer, probably one of the best on the current roster. So why is he being regulated to less than the mid-card.
Bobby is proof that just because you are more than ready to be called up, if there's no real place for you, then you should probably stay in NXT.
Now Vince has a top-notch performer with all the tools needed to succeed on his hands that doesn't seem to fit in anywhere in the current plans.
11 Smart - Turning Nakamura Heel
Smackdown somehow seems to a sea of faces, doesn't it? With the exception of a few Of heels, even most of them on the show get tremendous respect and love from the crowd. That left a gaping spot to fill this past spring. Why not shock the world and turn someone? Which is what happened at WrestleMania after the dream rematch from Wrestle Kingdom 10 with AJ, Nakamura did just that. Since then, as one of the true heels on SmackDown Live, the Artist has been on a tear, first in a lengthy program with AJ, and then with Jeff Hardy.
10 Regrets - Giving Braun Money In The Bank
He won the Greatest Royal Rumble and had one of the happiest if not most divisive WrestleMania moments ever. Braun is exactly what his moniker is, an absolute monster! Monsters don't need Money In The Bank briefcases, do they? The MITB Briefcase used be and should be used to elevate guys to the next level, which Braun already has reached. It's also a good opportunity for someone to cash in as heel opportunist. It would've been nice to see a heel like KO get the case, if all Braun was going to do was challenge for the belt with weeks notice.
9 Smart - Natalya To Raw
At this point, Natalya is the elder statesman and general of the Women's Evolution. Growing up in the business and being around the world for over 15 years between the indies and WWE, she's one of the most respected veterans male or female. She's a tremendous asset to an any roster. But on Raw, she's a perfect fit for the current climate.
As Ronda Rousey’s buddy and frequent second to the ring, there's someone Ronda can travel with and learn via the long car rides.
In the ring, she'll pick up things real quick from Stu Hart’s granddaughter. Of course there's also a ready made feud when she makes the eventual jealous turn.
8 Regrets - Keeping Finn Balor On Raw
Why in the world is Finn Balor being wasted as mid-card in a pointless feud with Baron Corbin? The crowds absolutely love this guy. Triple H had him as the face of NXT for nearly two years, but Finn is floundering. The guy was the first leader the Bullet Club for cryin’ out loud. Keeping him on Raw and meandering in pointless feuds is not befitting of the first ever Universal Champion, no matter how many times the announcers want to remind us that he was. Put him on Smackdown where he belongs feuding with Daniel Bryan, AJ, Nakamura, and Jeff Hardy.
7 Smart - Reinstating Daniel Bryan
The story certainly couldn't have been written any better. After retiring shortly before WrestleMania 32, Daniel Bryan would not just throw in the towel. He worked hard at finding a cure for his injuries. He had countless therapies and treatments from all corners of the world just to hear a few simple words - “you're cleared.”
He returned to in-ring action at the very event in the very arena the Yes Movement reached its apex - WrestleMania XXX, and now that the movement is back, it's stronger than ever, and so is D-Bry and SmackDown Live. It's only a matter of time before he is holding gold again.
6 Regrets - Breaking Up Jordan And Gable
With a tag team scene that has been rejuvenated as of late, you need a white-hot baby face team to keep fans’ emotions at a fever pitch. Jordan and Gable were that tag team, reminiscent of old school teams like the Steiners or the World's Greatest Tag Team.
Breaking them up also meant the beginning of the awful Jason Jordan as Kurt Angle’s son storyline, which was going nowhere fast.
Vince got a two-for-one deal here: he lost a great tag team that had the fans solidly behind them and started a terrible storyline in the process.
5 Smart - Calling Almas And Vega Up
The very instant, Zelina Vega was paired up with Andrade Cien Almas, his career in WWE took off. He had seemed to be on his way out the door, but with Vega at his side, there was nothing El Idolo couldn't do. He's still young, still hungry, and has been on an absolute tear on SmackDown Live. Often time a lot of the NXT call ups can seem like they're not sure of how to handle themselves on the main roster, but Almas has been firing on all cylinders in marquis matches with the likes of AJ and Daniel Bryan. Here's hoping the great run doesn't stop anytime soon and he takes full advantage of every opportunity he's earned.
4 Regrets - Having To Release Neville
When employees are disgruntled, Vince generally lets them leave. But the Chairman has two schools of thought - on one hand, he doesn't want and unhappy locker room, since unhappy wrestlers are bad for morale. On the other is the old promoter’s mentality of they’ll leave when the promoter allows them out of their contract.
Vince clearly had no interest in having Neville leave and must've regretting not coming to some terms to have him stay - he was one of the centerpieces of 205 Live. Otherwise he would've let him leave months ago instead of having him sit out the rest of his contract until recently getting to go.
3 Smart - Making Paige Smackdown GM
Despite what Sid Vicious, or Sid Justice, or Sycho Sid may think, this was the right move. After being on the shelf with an injury for about a year, Paige came back late 2017 with Sonya DeVille and Mandy Rose as Absolution.
She was gearing up to firmly re-establish herself as the true face of the Women’s Revolution when an errant kick would not only put her back on the shelf but forced her into an early retirement.
But instead of letting her sulk, or sending her home, Vince made her the new GM of SmackDown, and it's a role she has excelled at with both youthful and humorous exuberance, something a lot of her predecessors didn't have.
2 Regrets - Having To Release Cody
Conversely to not granting Neville his release, the instant, Cody asked to leave he was granted his release. Sadly, the second generation sensation wasn't doing much on roster and his suggestions weren't being given much consideration. Fast forward a little over two years, and other than Kenny Omega he's the most popular non-WWE wrestler in the world.
Vince is seeing what happens when a talent like Rhodes is allowed to reach his full potential and should regret releasing him. Time will tell just how much depends on all of his success now that All In was a smashing success.
1 Smart - The Miz To SmackDown
Whether or not The Miz moved to Raw a few years ago to get away from Daniel Bryan when there wasn't going to be a payoff match is debatable. But The Miz headed to Raw and just didn't make the same impact he had on SmackDown through 2016. Ever since the scathing promo he cut on Bryan on Talking Smack, he's just been on fire. In another era, this guy is a bonafide World Champion. Now with D-Bry reinstated, the in-ring feud has officially begun and both men are going to be able to elevate each other to who know what levels.