We can always count on some things in the WWE to stay the same, no matter how much times change. The television matches will always lead to a big PPV. Wrestlers will treat World Titles as the biggest prize in the business. A variety of characters will fill up the roster. These are all positive things that we can count on in the WWE. One of the negative narratives that have become common place in wrestling circles is the criticism of the creative team. Vince McMahon and a group of writers put together the content we watch every week and it’s not always good.
In fact, most would agree the worst moments on the show are typically due to poor creative with boring segments or horrible decisions. The talent are often credited for their hard work but viewed as being held back by the ineptitude of the writing team in the company. Recent history in the WWE has proven that theory to be correct with many instances of the company harming the talent. We’ll break down some of the stories that unfortunately went down over the last five-to-six years. These are the top fifteen recent creative messes made by the WWE creative team and Vince McMahon.
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14 Batista’s Return
The return of a legend is supposed to be a huge positive for a wrestling show but it was the opposite when Batista reappeared in 2014. Fans rejected Batista and booed him out of the building just about every week until the company was forced to turn him heel and have Daniel Bryan win the WrestleMania XXX main event. WWE booked Batista into a corner by having him win the Royal Rumble in his first match back.
Fans were livid to see him stroll into the main event of WrestleMania while others like Bryan worked hard all year to a significantly lesser push. The character of Batista also failed with zero reasoning to cheer him. WWE didn’t give a lot of thought to it and expected the appeal of a former star returning to carry them. The road to WrestleMania was an absolute mess and WWE was forced to change plans on many different levels.
13 Shane McMahon’s WrestleMania 32 Loss
Shane McMahon returning to the WWE after many years led to a rare surprise which caused fans to react positively. WrestleMania 32 improved immensely thanks to Shane’s presence leading into his match with The Undertaker in Hell in A Cell. The McMahon son entered a feud with his father, Vince McMahon, and sister, Stephanie McMahon, demanding power to save the company from The Authority. Stipulations were made that Shane would get control of Raw if he could defeat Undertaker.
The match was exciting because it felt like either man could win. The problem is neither man could afford to lose. The Undertaker would have been forced to retire from WrestleMania competition if taking the loss, so Shane ended up doing the job. Once again in a creative mess, Vince basically killed the integrity of the stipulation by giving Shane power on the following night. Shane remained part of the WWE product and is now the Commissioner of SmackdDwn Live during the brand split. It all ended well, but the journey getting there was poorly booked.
12 Stardust Killing Cody Rhodes' Career
Cody Rhodes was once among the most promising talents in the WWE. The blue chipper appeared bound to become a top star for the company and carry along the legendary legacy of his father Dusty Rhodes. Cody delivered impressive outings through various character changes and believed he was on the verge of something special until Stardust happened. WWE wanted him to play the villainous version of his brother Goldust.
The gear, face paint and sinister personality made him stand out initially, but the gimmick ran its course after a few months. Stardust provided the kind of act that would connect at live events due to younger fans enjoying the theatrics of it, but getting rejected by the television audience.
Rhodes' career fell apart due to WWE continuing to book him as Stardust and Vince McMahon not allowing him to lose the gimmick. Cody eventually requested his release and chose to leave the company rather than having to be booked as Stardust.
11 King Of The Ring Winners
The King of the Ring tournament was one of the best ways to have new stars get closer to the main event level. Steve Austin, Triple H and Kurt Angle all went on to become legendary figures in the WWE and their big pushes started with King of the Ring victories. In recent years, WWE has failed to make the winners of the rare tournament relevant. Wade Barrett won the two-night event last year, but it actually harmed his career.
WWE made him carry around a scepter, while wearing a crown and cape, which just looked foolish. Fans laughed at Barrett rather than believing in him as a star. The same happened to Sheamus in 2010 with a ridiculous outfit damaging his credibility. The King of the Ring was a competition about bragging rights. WWE’s recent writing has indicated they think it is more about creating a silly costume that sinks the career of a winner.
10 Kane Getting Title Shots To Ruin Momentum
Kane is a legend and deserves respect for his past, but has no place in the main event picture today. WWE has a tendency to give him sporadic pushes for his tenure and reputation within the company. The problem is that fans no longer believe in him as a credible challenger. WWE has harmed the momentum of multiple stars by placing them in a horribly written storyline against The Big Red Machine.
Daniel Bryan’s first and only title defense after winning the WWE World Championship at WrestleMania XXX was against Kane. The silliness took away from the one chance Bryan had to defend his championship before injury issues forced him to vacate it. Seth Rollins suffered the same fate by being forced into a pointless angle with Kane stalking him. The momentum of Rollins' title reign went down like the titanic and he would suffer an injury forcing him to give up the title. Kane is bad luck to the World Title picture in just about every way imaginable.
9 Branding The Divas Revolution
The perfect storm of events came together for the WWE to finally realize they could present women’s wrestling in a credible manner. Ronda Rousey, Serena Williams and other female athletes dominated their sports in 2015 helping influence change. The women in NXT stealing the show in highly competitive situations proved WWE could pull it off as well and they tried to initiate change with the "Divas Revolution."
They made a pivotal error by attempting to brand the movement instead of letting it happen organically. Stephanie McMahon basically told the fans she was giving us a revolution and introduced Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. WWE dropped the ball following the introduction and tried to push them as a movement rather than showing the stories of each performer.
The booking sabotaged the talented women until they allowed the division to grow naturally over the past few months. WWE gets in their own way sometimes and that was perfectly showcased by trying to force the Divas Revolution.
8 The Montreal Screwjob Returning
Another poor moment in the women’s division came recently during the feud between Charlotte and Natalya. Ric Flair and Bret Hart were in the corners of their relatives for the big match in Chicago at Payback. WWE had no idea what they wanted to do, so they went with the worst possible finish. Referee Charles Robinson called for the bell despite Natalya never submitting to relive The Montreal Screwjob once again.
Bret publicly complained about the lack of originality on his podcast and claimed Vince McMahon would not be talked out of it. That proved McMahon was the culprit here and deserves the blame for creating another mess in the women’s division. WWE goes with these foolish outcomes when they feel both competitors need the win. It gives them an out, but it really just hurts the viewer by giving us terrible content. Nattie's heel turn and Charlotte entering a feud with Sasha Banks luckily helped us forget about it.
7 Sheamus Winning MITB
The Money in the Bank briefcase is usually given to an exciting talent on the rise. A wrestler who has the ability to cash in for a title shot at any point adds intrigue, but the 2015 winner still haunts us. Sheamus won the briefcase and became the most irrelevant MITB winner in years. Most fans forgot Sheamus held the briefcase until they saw him come to the ring with it.
One problem with the MITB stipulation is you have to have the briefcase holder win most of the time due to the leverage held by the talent on-screen in the situation. Sheamus was not over enough to win the title, but cashed in by defeating Roman Reigns at the 2015 Survivor Series. The absolute mess created by WWE led to fans heckling both men by chanting for other wrestlers during their matches. WWE devalued the title with the decision of having another lackluster Sheamus title reign.
6 Cesaro As A Paul Heyman Guy
Cesaro is an underrated talent and he never seems to get the push he deserves. Fans support Cesaro for his spectacular skillsm but Vince McMahon clearly doesn’t believe in him. His accent likely is the reason WWE holds him back. Following WrestleMania XXX, Cesaro was given the honor of becoming the new “Paul Heyman Guy.” The promising talent was slated to get a fair chance to move up the card, but it was not in the cards ultimately.
WWE’s writing ruined Cesaro once again. The character change required him turning heel after gaining momentum as a face. Heyman was a heel and Cesaro had to follow suit. The promos cut by Heyman all focused on Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak. Cesaro was an afterthought and the emphasis on Lesnar made him irrelevant. This was the perfect case of management screwing over a talented performer trying to make the best of a poor situation.
5 Dolph Ziggler’s Title Loss
The Raw episode after WrestleMania 29 will always be remembered for the massive crowd response when Dolph Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Ziggler earned one of the biggest pops in wrestling history when the referee counted the pin fall and Alberto Del Rio did not kick out. Ziggler's momentum was at an all-time high and fans wanted him to become the next big star.
An injury would force Ziggler to sit out a few weeks and miss his PPV defense. WWE held it against him and had him lose the title in his first defense a month later to Del Rio. The move made no sense considering Del Rio received little to no interest from live crowds. Ziggler would move down the card and never truly recover from the decision makers ending his sole chance at making to the elite tier in the WWE.
Thankfully, it looks like he finally might be getting another crack at it with his recent six-pack challenge victory. It's a little late, but still well deserved.
5. Bray Wyatt's Direction
Everyone saw potential in Bray Wyatt when he made his first appearance on the main roster with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The Wyatt Family captured the attention of the audience with a unique gimmick, having us all wonder just how far they could go with it. Wyatt’s promos are the most important part of the act and he seemed ready to succeed in the main event picture of the WWE. They clearly view him as a future star, but have undermined his every push.
Wyatt has lost every major feud he has been a part of. The Undertaker, John Cena, Roman Reigns and even The Rock all made Bray look foolish at the end of their respective storylines. His character has taken a downturn with his words meaning nothing due to his inability to back it up. Wyatt was clearly something special but the creative stifling by the WWE has relegated him into just another wrestler on the roster.
4 Anonymous GM
The job of a writing team is to think of interesting stories that make sense and can keep the audience wondering. Fans need to care about an angle in both the short term and long term, with a payoff making it worthwhile. The anonymous Raw General Manager in 2010 pulled the strings of the roster by sending emails making matches and forcing Michael Cole to read them. Everyone had a theory on the reveal, but we would never get it.
The concept ran its course, but WWE continued to build it up despite not having a name in mind. After a while, the anonymous GM storyline was dropped and no one mentioned it anymore. A humorous segment a few years later claimed Hornswoggle was the GM all along, but we’ll never know who it was supposed to be. WWE waited too long and the reveal would have been a disappointment, so they just quit on the creative mess rather than fixing it.
3 Roman Reigns’ Mega Push
No one has been given a push as big as Roman Reigns in over a decade. The last time WWE protected a star this much was John Cena during his initial WWE Championship reign. Reigns is clearly not John Cena and has failed to connect with the fan base. The crowd boos him relentlessly every week. WWE shoving him down the throats of the viewers while slighting comparable talents made Reigns the biggest enemy of the fan.
The sad part is Reigns has talent and steps up in big matches against great opponents. Fans should be enjoying his work, but their writing has made him the most unlikeable star in the company. Reigns recently violated the company’s wellness policy and served a thirty-day suspension. Vince McMahon is finally giving up, or at least temporarily slowing down, the Reigns push as a punishment. Maybe fans will give Reigns a chance but it is unlikely after the damage done by Vince and the WWE creative team.
2 The Nexus Downfall
The Nexus was one of the best ideas in recent WWE history. A group of young wrestlers went against the company after being mocked in the original NXT season as a competition show. The wrestlers formed by appearing together on Raw and destroying the wrestlers, broadcasters and the set. Wade Barrett led the charge and the faction showed the promise to become the best invasion group since the days of the New World Order taking over WCW.
Barrett and company quickly understood the political negatives in the WWE. They took a huge loss to John Cena when he made Barrett tap out in a group match at SummerSlam 2010.
Cena would end up causing the group to dismantle by beating Barrett at almost every PPV. WWE booked them into a corner by trying to tell the story too quickly. Cena saving the WWE from the band of heels should have been a year or longer into the invasion, but instead it took place just a few months later. The Nexus will always be remembered as a colossal failure on the creative team. Yet another theme of a good idea booked terribly.
1 The Misuse of CM Punk
The wrestling world was turned upside down with the epic “pipe bomb” promo by CM Pun, when he voiced his frustrations about the WWE in a realistic manner. It was cool to watch the WWE again and the company should have had their next top star. Punk won the WWE Championship, defeating John Cena in the iconic Money in the Bank 2011 match and left the company. Instead of building the storyline up for a big match, Punk just returned weeks later.
WWE sabotaged him by having Kevin Nash attack him after the SummerSlam 2011 main event and Alberto Del Rio cashed in to win the title. Punk saw his momentum end just one month later thanks to getting attacked by a guy from Monday Night Wars and lost it to the most irrelevant champion in years. The idea behind the decision made no sense and it damaged Punk’s credibility as a threat to Cena as the top guy. Punk still vents about it to this day, blaming Triple H and Vince McMahon.
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