In pro wrestling one of the big selling points for fans are the storylines that are created that sew together the threads between a given number of performers. Even better is that these storylines can be as short as a month to as long as a year or two and if done properly, can offer the same amount of enjoyment and gratification upon their conclusion. Yet like with anything that we as viewers follow and enjoy, we begin to have our own expectations of where a storyline is supposed to go, but these expectations are usually met in a broad sense.
Then there are those storylines that seem like they are going to be fantastic but ultimately get royally screwed up by creative. These are the angles that leave fans feeling like their dreams of seeing a certain match or confrontation are never going to happen because the seemingly only chance of it happening was bungled so horribly that it causes them to lose faith in the product being presented to them. The reason for a storyline failing can be any number of things: creative adding unnecessary elements to an angle or removing vital parts from an angle, the egos of performers causing changes to a storyline to be made, changing wrestlers from face to heel or vice versa, among other things. Whatever the reason may be, the story ultimately suffers along with the fans whose hopes have been dashed.
So this article will rank the top 10 storylines that the WWE completely ruined for any variety of reasons. The ranking is based upon the expectations placed on the storyline, the lack of a sense of satisfaction from the conclusion of a storyline, and the overall magnitude of ineptitude in how an angle was handled, among other things.
So please read, enjoy, and let us know what you think down in the comments section. How would you have ranked these differently? Are there other storylines that you felt should have made the list or that one of the entries should be ranked differently?
10 Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole
Over the course of two years, fans had to bear witness to one of the most annoying and hated heels in the PG era, Michael Cole. Starting with Daniel Bryan but eventually moving on to fellow commentator Jerry Lawler, Cole slung venom at anyone who was not a heel. It would get increasingly uncomfortable as Cole would mention Lawler’s recently deceased mother and having his son come to the ring to disown Lawler, making fans salivate for the eventual moment when Lawler would get his retribution at Wrestlemania XXVII.
Unfortunately, Lawler’s win would be overturned shortly after the three-count by another tired WWE bit, the Anonymous Raw GM, giving Cole the win and the fans the finger. Lawler would eventually beat Cole at Over the Limit, but by that point the damage had been done and fans did not care as Lawler was robbed of his Wrestlemania moment and a win over Cole at an ancillary pay-per-view meant nowhere near as much as it would have been at Wrestlemania.
9 nWo Coming to the WWE
In a shocking turn of events, Vince McMahon would claim that he wanted to kill the WWE so that he would not have to share control of the promotion with Ric Flair, and his method of killing the promotion would be a poison in the form of the nWo. The three founding members would make their WWE return at No Way Out the following month and immediately made targets out of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Unfortunately, since the three had not been in the WWE for the better part of a decade, they received large cheers from audiences, especially Hogan. Also, the nWo brand had become so watered down over the years in WCW that the trio did not have the same dangerous feel as they had when the debuted at Bash at the Beach in 1996. The group would not last long as Hogan would be removed from the group a month after returning to the WWE and Hall would be released from the promotion shortly after WrestleMania. Nash would try to keep the group alive but to little success as fans did not care for a WWE retread of a dead WCW group.
8 Corporate Ministry and the Higher Power
Talk about an overbooked angle. In 1999 there was a budding feud among four entities: Vince McMahon’s Corporation, The Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Vince would eventually be removed from power within the Corporation and new leader Shane McMahon would join forces with the Ministry of Darkness to create the Corporate Ministry. With nearly 20 members in the group, it was too big of a group and gave off a feeling of the nWo when it became watered down with lesser talent.
Yet the final nail in the screw up coffin was the “higher power” that the group answered to. Many wondered who would have such power of a group of that size and would launch attacks on everyone from Austin to Stephanie McMahon. Eventually it was revealed that Vince McMahon was behind it all in an attempt to fool everyone and get revenge on Austin. In retaliation, Linda McMahon would step down as WWE CEO and make Austin the new CEO while Stephanie would give her stock to Austin making him 50% owner of the promotion. By this point it was beyond ridiculous and the possibility of Austin, The Rock, and Vince joining forces to fend off near impossible odds was thrown out in favor of playing into Vince’s ego and a liberal usage of soap opera tropes, rendering the angle laughably ridiculous.
7 Raw Anonymous GM
In June 2010 Raw fans were introduced to a new character that would play a huge role on the show for the coming year, the Anonymous General Manager. With Michael Cole reading apparent emails from the GM, the decrees from the computer usually favored heels and caused fans to wonder who was behind the computer. The emails would soon offer possible clues to the identity of the GM using catchphrases from various wrestlers throughout history, though these would all prove to be red herrings.
The GM would be replaced in favor of a power struggle between Triple H and Vince McMahon, leaving fans to wonder who the person behind the numerous emails was. Eventually it would be revealed that the GM was Hornswoggle hiding under the ring sending the emails, which was especially odd considering that he was a cartoonish face at the time. In the end it was just another example of the WWE not having an idea of how to end an incredibly long angle.
6 Daniel Bryan Post- WrestleMania XXX
Over the course of 2013-2014, Daniel Bryan become the most over superstar on the entire WWE roster. He would find himself under the oppressive thumb of The Authority who did everything that they could to make sure he did not hold onto the WWE Championship for any real length of time. After an incredible run at Wrestlemania XXX where he beat Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton in order to once again become the WWE Champion, it seemed like the sky was the limit for the bearded superstar. Unfortunately, injuries would sideline Bryan and he would be unceremoniously stripped of the title by Stephanie McMahon.
First of all, Bryan was placed in yet another feud with Kane instead of a new heel stepping up and challenging the new champ. When Bryan was injured and removed from TV, they made another mistake.
There are so many things that could have been done instead of stripping Bryan of the belt. Worse is that there have been similar incidents in the past where the WWE has kept the title on a champion who could not wrestle for a given reason, including most recently Brock Lesnar who defended the WWE Championship on an irregular schedule. Plus the removal of Bryan from TV as he was injured makes no sense as wrestlers unable to compete have remained on TV before, like Steve Austin after injuring his neck or Ric Flair having an interview segment while waiting his non-compete clause run out.
Finally when Bryan did return, they completely brushed him aside, even though he was still the most over star on the roster. Fans wanted to see Bryan's redemption by challenging Lesnar for the title he never lost.
5 Goldberg’s Run in the WWE
In 2003, WWE fans were surprised and delighted to finally see former WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg make his WWE debut. After a strong win over The Rock it seemed like the WWE would finally start really pushing WCW stars against WWE wrestlers. Unfortunately this was short lived as the WWE felt Goldberg would be better suited with a personality rather than a silent and destructive force. This would be done with a stupid segment involving Goldust claiming to be related to Goldberg and making Goldberg wear wigs. It also did not help that once Goldberg won the World Championship, he faced off against lower card wrestlers, which only hurt his credibility. After losing the belt to Triple H, Goldberg was placed in a feud with Brock Lesnar that really did not go anywhere as both men were leaving the company, with Goldberg gone after only one year with the promotion.
4 CM Punk Leaving With WWE Title
In 2011 CM Punk would become the most talked about commodity in pro wrestling after his now infamous “Pipe Bomb” promo on Raw. He would state that his contract was up after Money In the Bank and that once he won the title, he would leave the promotion with it. Punk would end up winning the title from John Cena and leave through the crowd after blowing a kiss at Vince McMahon. Punk would then be off TV for all of eight days while the WWE found a new champion in a tournament that ended up being Rey Mysterio, though he would lose the belt that same night to Cena. It was at this point that Punk returned claiming to be the true champion and the two would have a match to unify the belts.
Punk's momentum was completely halted by losing the title to Del Rio via cash-in, doing a job to Triple H the next month at Night of Champions, a feud with Kevin Nash that went nowhere and a so-called 'conspiracy' that was never resolved. Even when CM Punk did win the title back, he played second fiddle to Cena on pay-per-views and still never got his sought after WrestleMania main event.
3 The Nexus
At the end of a June 2010 episode of Raw, fans bore witness to something unlike anything they had ever seen in pro wrestling since the prime of the nWo. It was this night that the rookies from the first season of NXT jumped the barricades and attacked John Cena, CM Punk, Luke Gallows, and announce team and ring crew for Raw. Along with that they completely destroyed the ring and ringside area as the audience live and at home watched in silence. The group, calling themselves The Nexus claimed they were going to destroy the WWE if they were not given contracts and attacked anyone who got in their way. It was something fresh and caused fans to tune in to see what would happen, for a few weeks at least.
Daniel Bryan was released after the initial attack due to choking Justin Roberts with his tie, then Skip Sheffield was shelved with a broken ankle, and then Michael Tarver was out with a groin injury. Even new recruits were removed due to injury like Husky Harris and Mason Ryan, leaving the group with fewer and fewer numbers. Eventually the WWE felt it necessary to split up the group, with one faction led by Wade Barrett and the other led by CM Punk. Near the end of their year-long run the group looked weaker and weaker as the weeks went by, and died a quiet death with less than a handful of members remaining in the group.
2 Ending The Undertaker’s Streak
For over 20 years the Undertaker was THE dominant force at Wrestlemania, beating all comers. So when it was announced that he would face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX, most thought it was a foregone conclusion that the Undertaker would got 22-0, since the WWE would never have him lose to a part timer like Lesnar. Vince McMahon had other ideas though as he would decide to have Lesnar beat The Undertaker after hitting him with three F-5s. The audience was understandably stunned at what had happened and many online were quick to voice their disapproval of the decision. It really is astonishing that the WWE would go this route with The Undertaker’s Streak, especially considering how loyal he has been to the promotion who made him a superstar in comparison to Lesnar who had initially left the WWE on less than stellar terms.
Taker defending the streak was a great run and always had fans pumped for WrestleMania. It was odd that the WWE would throw it all away.
1 The Invasion
In 2001 the Monday Night Wars ended as the WWE bought out its chief competitors WCW as well as ECW. Fans felt that they would finally get to see the various dream matches between the top stars of all the major promotions. Unfortunately, the WWE would select to pick up contracts for only a couple main event level wrestlers and most of the mid-carders, leaving out guys like Sting, Ric Flair, Goldberg, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. It was then decided that the Alliance of ECW and WCW would be led by Shane and Stephanie McMahon, rather than Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff, showing it to be another angle playing to the McMahon family ego.
Week after week the Alliance was bogged down with turncoats from the WWE, while at the same time making the WCW and ECW originals look like total weaklings and buffoons when they faced off against WWE performers. In the end, a storyline that could have lasted a long time and made the WWE millions ran for less than a year and pissed off fans for the incredible ineptitude displayed by the WWE. It also did not help that almost immediately after the Alliance was disbanded, Ric Flair returned to the promotion while Rey Mysterio, Scott Steiner, Goldberg, and other big names would join the promotion within the following year.
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