Sometimes you hear about WWE planning the next WrestleMania main event a full year or even two ahead and you wonder how they can possibly be that forward thinking. Other times, you hear about Vince McMahon rewriting their weekly shows at 5pm hours before showtime and you wonder how they even get the lights on in time. Between those two extremes ideas are chopped, changed, abandoned, revamped and re-cast as needs be, meaning that there's tonnes of near-miss storylines to sift through. Storylines that could have been amazing compared to what we ended up with, or insane and painful to contemplate having to sit through.
We’ve heard from former writers over the years that getting Vince to buy into their ideas at all, let alone keeping them in some recognizable form from the original pitch is a feat in and of itself. Between Vince’s penchant for childish toilet humor (Drake Maverick’s current predicament) and mercurial regard for wrestlers day by day, plans changing is the norm rather than the exception.
To counteract the flow of abandoned or altered actions I'm going to propose an equal number of proposals that by my reckoning would make WWE more interesting, fun, wacky and weird in all the good ways we fans crave. One of the good things about Vince McMahon's playground is that the 'creative envelope', as he once called it, allows for not just sports stories, but drama, comedy, revenge, redemption, tragedy and triumph alongside the incredible athleticism, and that's what we're going to shoot for.
20 Almost: Sasha Banks & Bayley Breakup
It simmered, it boiled, and it even seemed to kick off when Sasha 'Scar'd' Bayley's Mufasa off of the Elimination Chamber pod, but it ultimately went nowhere. WWE seemingly has no plans on ever utilizing either of these two women as well as they were down in NXT and their solution to the "problem" of people supporting their wrestlers was to leave them in limbo teasing something they had no intention of paying off. Sasha Banks must be incredulous with the missed opportunities despite still arguably being the best overall woman they have and Bayley is all-smiles probably because she hasn't been let go yet.
19 Should Do: Chad Gable; Patriotic Champion
There are few things more tiresome to an international audience than a jingoistic pompous American patriot UNLESS what he's standing for are the ideals and morals of the country rather than just blindly declaring it #1. That sort of humble, enthusiastic, hard-working gimmick still has some merit for certain types of wrestlers and Chad Gable is that type.
Effortlessly charming in a goofy way, he could set his sights on the United States Championship and hold it with the type of legitimate grit and determination that actually makes sense for all fans to cheer for. A series of hard-fought, eye-catching title defenses and this underutilized talent could be primed for bigger things.
18 Almost: Finn Balor Vs The Beast
Everyone was clamoring for this battle when Finn's Demon was seen as unbeatable (ignoring Samoa Joe's win in NXT) and Brock Lesnar held the Universal Championship that Finn never lost. As everything seemed to be ripe for their confrontation heading into the 2018 Royal Rumble, plans changed inexplicably to Kane of all people being thrown in Brock's way instead.
Finn Balor, much like Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, seems the best type of opponent for Lesnar to have actual good matches with these days. WWE fans missed out on the collision these two could have produced, and now Finn isn't even seen as a viable contender.
17 Should Do: Brock Lesnar Becomes Beatable Again
He's been nigh untouchable since his debut in 2002 and again since he ended The Streak, and now it's time to cash in on that literally unrivaled dominance by showing that this generation of hybrid talents can match him in the ring. Whether it's Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, or someone else who gets that first clean win over Brock, it needs to happen, and soon. It allows so many more storytelling tools to be utilized around the Universal Championship and Raw, and will finally legitimize a current roster instead of forever holding stars from the past at an artificially higher tier.
16 Almost: The Broken Universe
Everyone wanted it, the legal department couldn't let it pass, and eventually the buzz dimmed until the closest we got to a true Broken Universe was that one compound match with Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy's new WWE Network shows. The Broken Universe wasn't just the hottest act in independent wrestling, it was spanning the wrestling globe and getting real tangible momentum everywhere it went.
Matt Hardy's odd creation should have exploded once it hit WWE, but they did as they often do and fumbled so badly that everything special about it disappeared. Now with Matt fundamentally retired, the window is closed unless they inspiringly let him loose as the new Raw GM.
15 Should Do: The Undisputed Nexus
A chance to re-do one of the potentially best storylines ever with a cast of wrestlers this time absolutely worthy of the mantle? It almost makes me giddy to imagine it. Right now in NXT there's a crop of wrestlers who have proven themselves completely, outside WWE and in NXT, and they're primed for main roster success. The Undisputed Era, Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee and EC3 would be my prime candidates. All accomplished, all able to steal the show in some fashion, and all chomping at the bit to break out in a way that makes their elevation to Raw or SmackDown momentous and unforgettable. It unclogs NXT and reinvigorates whichever show they explode onto.
14 Almost: Shane McMahon Turns Heel
WWE has toyed and teased Shane McMahon as a tyrannical despot ruling over Smackdown since he was butting heads with Daniel Bryan pre-WrestleMania but it came to nothing. Even his recent 'win' in the World Cup was supposed to fuel Shane's deluded image thinking he actually had become the best in the world, but with the cascading effects of Roman Reigns diagnosis, this was one of the plans that got shelved. Now it looks like The Miz will clash with Shane going into the new year, and between the two of them, they have plenty of fodder to get to WrestleMania without Shane's heel turn coming about.
13 Should Do: Power Re-Structured
Since the late '90s WWE has never been without intrusive power figures ostensibly controlling their broadcasts. It's time for a change. Purging the Commissioner and General Manager positions would put the emphasis back on the wrestlers interactions to create the drama. Matches would be organized prior to shows instead of seemingly needing a 20-minute opening promo and interruption to materialize a main event.
The journey to this new equilibrium would itself provide chaotic drama as the McMahon children scratched and clawed to retain control, and a consortium of Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and Eric Bischoff, allied despite their past, leading the proposal would be enthralling television.
12 Almost: The (Redacted) Club
Both AJ Styles and Finn Balor have interacted with Gallows & Anderson, The Good Brothers, regarding rekindling their famous cohesion that began in Japan in the infamous Bullet Club. Instead, WWE has deemed the bald tag-teaming brothers largely superfluous to their plans and you could argue that they only ever got signed to placate AJ Styles, such was WWE's need to sign The Phenomenal One. They've hinted at various times of an official teaming, the closest coming when AJ associated with them for a moment during his first feud with Cena, but besides that there's been little Easter Eggs and nothing more.
11 Should Do: The Boss Breaks The Bank
Sasha Banks is the most criminally underused women's wrestler in WWE, holding an edge on Asuka based on her promo skills, consistently high match quality, and ability to bring others up to her level. With that in mind, a heel turn of epic proportions is in order to revitalize her stagnant direction. Sasha's Bank Statement submission maneuver is the key, with her going on a tear of not releasing the move on opponents after making them tap out as she works through the Raw roster woman by woman. When confronted by Bayley over being too brutal, Banks destroys her 'friend' (probably to the delight of Corey Graves) and never looks back. Cue money.
10 Almost: AJ Styles Vs Brock Lesnar II
AJ Styles was literally days away from revenge against Brock Lesnar, fans salivating over the prospect of a match as good as the previous years encounter. When everything shifted to the left as a result of Roman Reigns needing to leave WWE for treatment, SmackDown's headlining situation got affected and it was Daniel Bryan who usurped the shot at defeating The Beast. Most people were looking at the match as a 'square-up' chance for The Phenomenal One to even the ledger between them, while others actually cite that WWE not wanting AJ to lose to Brock again was the reason everything changed so suddenly. Either way, opportunity lost.
9 Should Do: Zack Ryder, Grand Slam Champion
He's been mostly forgotten, completely swept aside since his peak in 2011, but dang it Zack Ryder could be used for something special. He forced himself off the WWE scrap heap with ingenuity, has held the Intercontinental, United States, and Tag Team Championships once each, and has sneakily become something of a battle royal specialist over the years. Put the WWE or Universal Title on the line in such a match and have Ryder an unlikely final two participant and watch fans explode when he throws out someone boringly predictable like Cena or Big Show. Tears, cheers, and a heck of a story are all but guaranteed, even if the actual reign is only measured in weeks.
8 Almost: Natalya Versus Rousey
This one is as fresh as they come from the abandoned storylines pile. Remember a couple of months back when Ronda and Natalya were buddying up seemingly out of nowhere? Well that was setting up a Natalya turn to be Ronda's main challenger for these current months of television before the Rumble and Road to WrestleMania, but real tragedy got in the way. Natalya's father, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart passing away meant WWE didn't want her to taking on a heel role because they felt she'd be too sympathetic and get cheered against Ronda, obviously not their plan. Thus, Nia Jax got the shot and her recent 'Face Breaking' antics only further ensured Ronda being cheered between the two.
7 Should Do: Rousing WrestleMania Fire
It's being whispered about, sections of the fanbase are clamoring for it, and it makes sense now that their match at Survivor Series was sidestepped by circumstance, people want Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey in a major WrestleMania encounter. Becky has for a long time been fans natural favorite on SmackDown, her likability only increasing with her recent metamorphosis, and she's carrying herself with legendary swagger to boot. Rousey, meanwhile, maintains her UFC credibility and she's transitioned into the world of wrestling almost as smoothly as Kurt Angle did. She'll have to cop the boos against Becky, but this match could legitimately headline as things stand.
6 Almost: Bray Wyatt's Sister
Ever since Husky Harris became Bray Wyatt he's alluded to his mythical sister/mentor Abigail and her teachings. We came ever so close to seeing a version of her live in WWE when Bray Wyatt began embodying her in his feud with Finn Balor, presumably to counter Finn's demonic side. Many fans didn't enjoy the cheaply manipulated voice or basic presentation of Bray with a veil so, on one hand, it appears somewhat of a dodged bullet. On the other hand, Bray Wyatt has disappeared from WWE TV since his tag team with Matt Hardy dissolved, and it's not too wild to expect Abigail's re-emergence to accompany him upon his return in some form.
5 Should Do: New Day; Kofi Boosters
They've said it in interviews multiple times, but it deserves a proper storyline on SmackDown where The New Day actively fight and push for Kofi Kingston to be in line for WWE Championship gold. Whether they have to turn heel for it to work or not, having Big E and Xavier Woods backing Kofi Kingston as he fights Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles or whoever holds the WWE Championship could provide some amazing matches that we haven't yet seen. Kofi may still be lacking a shade of promo chops but Xavier has him covered there and Big E provides an outside enforcer who could get Kingston over the final hurdle to a top title.
4 Almost: Dolph Ziggler Disappears
When Dolph Ziggler captured the United States Championship at the end of last year and immediately relinquished it and disappeared, people were both surprised and intrigued over the development. He'd been spinning wheels badly for most of the year and so this sudden elevation promised something of a plan. Well, that plan was actually to have Dolph spend a lengthy amount of time on the sidelines to build anticipation and ideas for his triumphant return, but instead, he merely came out in the Royal Rumble not two months later with no great revelation or sense. A wasted bit of intrigue.
3 Should Do: Remember Rusev? Daniel Bryan Does
Remember that entertaining, funny, capable, big dude who got way over and yet somehow has disappeared from SmackDown Live? Yeah let's fix that. Rusev is the perfect foil for newly turned WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. Daniel Bryan hardly needs it, but that's what makes it an interesting pairing. Daniel Bryan's last great heel run also had a lot of chemistry and comedy on the edges of it, and Rusev is excellent in that regard, and the upside to all of this is that Rusev's eventual turn against Bryan will help both men. Assuming Bryan makes it through WrestleMania still the champ, a Money In The Bank win for his heavy before splitting is a natural progression.
2 Almost: Bobby Lashley Vs Brock Lesnar
Bobby Lashley has wanted this match since well before he even returned to WWE, citing his extensive MMA experience (15-2) and legitimate credentials as reason enough for the super-match to take place. It looked like we might be getting that when Bobby defeated Roman Reigns on PPV before a Brock Universal Championship scheduled defense, but instead something changed and Bobby's shot at The Beast got put on the backburner. With Brock's priorities now split between UFC and only having a short-term contract that largely occurred because of, say it with me, the complications of Roman Reigns situation, this storyline is another needless casualty.
1 Should Do: Hairless Harper
A WWE superstar that many including me consider vastly underrated. 'Luke' Harper has been trapped behind an image since before he even debuted in WWE, and perhaps a complete overhaul could make something of him before it's too late. It's possible he'd be entirely unrecognizable sans hair and beard, and with those glassy eyes of his he could convincingly play a threatening psychotic force that matches up well against the technical wizards like Styles and Daniel Bryan on SmackDown. We got a glimpse of his singles talents around WrestleMania 33, and given another shot with an overhauled look he could return to challenging for the WWE Championship.