In many ways, 2017 has been a wonderful year for WWE.
Their UK Championship Special has been a success, with many fans being invested in the characters of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate.
NXT has been bringing in stars consistently, with Drew McIntyre and Kassius Ohno both returning to the company.
They have built a star in Braun Strowman as she manages to get the loudest pop on Raw.
The Roman Reigns hatred has been getting better despite his (allegedly) retiring The Undertaker.
WWE has managed to bring back The Hardys, who were the hottest team in professional wrestling last year.
The push that Neville has earned has made him relevant again while Jinder Mahal’s out-of-nowhere push has got the WWE Universe talking.
Aiden English has become relevant while Elias Samson has become one of the hottest talents on Raw.
The Miz, Alexa Bliss, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt continue to be excellent.
The company even managed to produce an excellent WrestleMania that only a very small demographic disliked.
However, every decision that they have made so far has not gone their way for many decisions have proved to be busts. The following article discusses the 15 biggest mistakes the McMahons have made in 2017.
Despite nitpicking being most wrestling fans’ pastime, I confess that I could have written about the 15 best decisions they have made this year with much more ease. If you think we have not included any other mistake that qualifies as a big one, you can point those out in the comments’ section.
16 Putting the World Championship on Bray Wyatt
The WWE Universe has been clamoring for a Bray Wyatt push but, after the WWE making the Eater of the Worlds job to John Cena, The Undertaker, Kane, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, even his marks stopped taking him seriously. When he finally lifted the WWE Championship in February, many began cheering for him again.
However, they refused to build on the momentum as they chose to make him a transitional champion only for their poster boy Randy Orton to win his 13th WWE world title. With Wyatt’s moving to Raw without his aides, he now cuts a silly figure as every WWE fan now knows that he will only be used to put over other main-event talents.
While putting the title on him seemed a welcoming move, knowing what we know now, that it was only meant to be a transitional reign, they may as well have held off on giving him a title and done it only when he could get a proper reign.
15 Making 205 Live follow SmackDown Live
In order to give SmackDown Live live audience the three-hour experience, the McMahons have elected to air 205 Live soon after the Blue Brand shuts shop. However, their decision to start the show that hardly has a respectable fan base while the fans had already spent all their energy cheering for AJ Styles and co. has proved a bust so far.
The live crowd hardly generate an atmosphere, with the show looking lackluster despite the plethora of talent the division boasts. Additionally, fans have been complaining about WWE’s not airing Talking Smack immediately after SmackDown Live. It is not a secret that the Renee Young-hosted Talking Smack has been one of the best shows on the Network, but altering the timings of their favorite neo-kayfabe show has not gone down well with the WWE Universe. Additionally having the 205 Live superstars appear on Raw also waters down the division as the fans seem contented to catch up on Monday nights.
WWE can only improve 205 Live ratings if they make the show follow or precede UK Championship Special or NXT.
14 Wasting 205 Live talents
Recent reports suggest that Cruiserweight Classic had managed better ratings than NXT while 205 Live hardly manages to be amongst the 20 most-watched shows on WWE Network. It is safe to say that they have failed to build on the momentum CWC had built.
After talents such as Kota Ibushi had made CWC a must-watch show on the Network, WWE elected to weaken the product, slowing down the tempo of the cruiserweight matches. With CWC setting the bar high, the 205 Live wrestlers have struggled to woo the fans as much as they did in the tournament.
With the company looking adamant not to let the cruiserweights outwork the main roster, their chances of proving relevant figures under the WWE umbrella seem thin. Jack Gallagher, Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar, Rich Swann, TJP, and most importantly, Gran Metalik all hardly command the relevancy they rightfully deserve now.
12 Failing to hand Enzo and Cass the Raw belts
Enzo and Cass, after moving to Raw, looked like serious title contenders, with their first feud with The Dudley Boyz proving they could hang with the big boys. Although their ring awareness and other in-ring attributes needed fine-tuning, the hype around them should have sufficed to put the tag-team titles on them.
However, the WWE’s decision to make The New Day break Demolition’s record meant they never managed to hold the gold. Even with the company hot-potatoing every title except for the mid-card ones, they never felt the need for boosting Enzo and Cass’s merchandise sales. With stronger teams such as Sheamus and Cesaro, The Hardy Boyz and The Club now wrestling for tag-team belts, the odds of The Realest Guys In The Room lifting gold are slim, especially with the ship having sailed already.
11 Making American Alpha look bland
American Alpha looked the real deal shortly after being promoted to the main roster. Given their NXT success, many expected them to be treated like The World's Greatest Tag Team. The prediction came to fruition on December 27 last year as they defeated The Wyatt Family to earn their maiden tag-team titles.
However, their momentum wore off as the much-acclaimed SmackDown Live writers struggled to write compelling storylines for them. They are now nowhere to be seen on the Blue Brand as The Usos and Breezango have established themselves as the two most entertaining teams on the roster. The New Day has now returned to SD, meaning American Alpha will likely take a back seat.
It is safe to assume that they have faded into obscurity; despite their early hype and undoubted talent, they now have to reinvent themselves without much help from the creative team, lest they become irrelevant jobbers.
10 Killing Luke Harper's momentum
By the looks of things, Bray Wyatt needed The Wyatt Family more than the rest of the faction needing its leader. Braun Strowman has become a bigger star than the Eater of the Worlds while, in the words of five-time (five-time five-time five-time five-time) world champion Booker T, Erick Rowan "looks real jacked baby."
It looked as though Luke Harper would follow in their footsteps having got the monkey off his back. He ditched the white undershirt in favor of a badass black one, got into shape and even began grooming himself better. The WWE Universe were behind him as they hankered for witnessing the 6-foot-5-inch brawler's receiving a push.
However, WWE elected to not lend an ear to the fans' demands as they just fed him his former teammate at Backlash when everyone expected the former Intercontinental Champion to go over Erick Rowan. A feud with a notable face like Tye Dillinger would have done him good as his character currently seems devoid of direction despite the fans looking ready to cheer for him as he lifts the United States Championship or SmackDown Live Tag Team Championship.
The ship has not sailed as he can still manage a decent push, with the WWE Universe being open to seeing him become a relevant figure on the Blue Brand.
9 Creating no credible female NXT talent
NXT, besides offering the main roster Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, and The Wyatt Family and The Shield members, fed it The Four Horsemen, Alexa Bliss, Emma, Paige and Naomi. While the Yellow Brand is all set to nurture Bobby Roode, Drew McIntyre, Roderick Strong, Aleister Black and Kassius Ohno, not many female talents look ready to set the main roster alight.
Given WWE's obsession to make Asuka cut a devastating figure, they have failed to build convincing talents. They had the opportunity to carve out women's division's next torch bearer in Ember Moon, but her inability to topple the Japanese Goldberg makes her look second tier. Only Peyton Royce and Billie Kay seem to have connected with the fans, and the duo will need at least 12 months before they can be taken seriously thanks to Asuka's domination.
8 Limiting interaction between 205 Live talents and the main roster
While the WWE has been demeaning the 205 Live division involuntarily, they have also been depriving themselves of the excellent booking opportunities by preventing interaction between 205 Live talents and the Red and Blue rosters.
Austin Aries and Neville, thanks to their pre-205 Live fame, have been crusading to legitimize the show; however, denying them the opportunity to hang with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins is bringing down the legitimacy of the wrestlers, thereby making them look minor league.
For an instance, even a throwaway tag-team match that sees Austin Aries team up with Dean Ambrose to take on Neville and Elias Samson is certain to elevate the kayfabe statuses of the 205 Live main-eventers.
While constant interaction between the brands is certain to make the divisions look a joke, an occasional match is required to make the WWE Universe care about the Purple Brand.
7 Botching returns of Finn Balor, Seth Rollins and Mickie James
Wrestlers' returns still remains a major factor that makes wrestling an engaging hobby. The returns of The Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels all had the crowd cheering at the top of their voices. However, with the WWE's desire to pull viewers in, they often announce the returns of wrestlers days, if not, weeks in prior, thereby taking away the shock factor that comes with wrestlers' returns.
Additionally, the global leader in sports entertainment has been botching returns by absurdly booking their returns.
While they failed to capitalize on the sympathy Seth Rollins had been garnering by turning him face upon his return last year, they have only booked the returns of Finn Balor and Mickie James rather underwhelmingly this year. The former teamed up with Seth Rollins to take on Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe in a throwaway tag-team match on Raw. With the dull return coming after his relinquishing the Universal Championship, one wonders if WWE will ever book a return right, especially since they also botched five-time Women's Champion and one-time Diva's Champion James' return earlier this year.
6 Making SmackDown Live the B-Show
Many expected SmackDown Live to be treated as a B-Show when the WWE first announced Brand Split last year. However, with John Cena, Randy Orton, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose assigned to the Blue Brand, there was hardly any difference in quality between the rosters. Even B+ wrestlers such as The Miz and Baron Corbin elevated their respective statuses to the next level having capitalized on the opportunity they had been given.
The McMahons, however, elected to dent SmackDown Live's momentum as they let Raw raid its kayfabe competitor in the Superstar Shakeup, bringing down top-tier heels The Miz and Bray Wyatt, and Shane McMahon's first draft pick Dean Ambrose to Team Red. Thanks to the raid, SmackDown Live has been forced to push Jinder Mahal out of nowhere to keep the ball rolling. SmackDown Live faithful have now pinned their hopes to see Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin and Rusev to evolve into main-event heels. The women's division was also not spared as Raw took the most entertaining female talent on the Blue Brand, if not, the WWE in Alexa Bliss in exchange for the currently bland Charlotte Flair.
5 Failing to sign a surprise Royal Rumble entrant
This year's Royal Rumble was entertaining, to say the least. It featured a stare-down between The Undertaker and Goldberg while also furthering the feud between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg with wonderful storytelling. SmackDown Live's monster Baron Corbin eliminated Raw's monster Braun Strowman, and even James Ellsworth managed an appearance. On top of these, Tye Dillinger came out at number 10. From humor to star power, the Royal Rumble bout had it all.
However, the match failed to feature any surprise entrant. For a casual fan or an informed smart mark who only watches Pay-Per-Views, that move was a bummer as everyone was holding out for the return of Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Kurt Angle, or Rey Mysterio or the debut of Kenny Omega, Jushin Thunder Liger, Senor Benjamin or Adam Cole. The only surprise, sadly, was Roman Reigns coming out at number 30 and fans weren't thrilled about it.
4 Keeping Universal Championship off television
The Universal Championship has definitely gotten off to a terrible start. The WWE Universe first ridiculed its appearance and even though Finn Balor became the inaugural champion, plans were quickly ruined when a shoulder injury forced him to vacate the title after one day. Kevin Owens embarked on an underwhelming 189-day reign before Goldberg won it out of the blue. Brock Lesnar's winning it at WrestleMania looked like a promising move as he boasted the star power to legitimize the title.
However, WWE elected to keep him and the title itself off television for ages. They even aired Payback without the Beast, the title, or even a number one contender match for the title. Many Raw shows ended without any mention of the title or its holder. Just think, it took WWE 60 days to even hold a bout to decide The Beast's first challenger. Putting the title on the company's biggest draw certainly boosts the prestige of the title, but never featuring it or the champion for over two months has confused, if not, irked the fans.
3 Failing to purchase the Broken Brilliance gimmick
Now, 2016 was an exceptional year for professional wrestling. Chris Jericho set the WWE alight. James Ellsworth took the internet by storm. Goldberg returned to WWE. AJ Styles made his WWE debut. While most shocking and interesting things took place under the WWE umbrella, one man grabbed the attention of the industry.
Of course, Kenny Omega, indeed, had a great year, but Matt Hardy had a greater year. WWE shook the industry when they brought down The Hardys to further WrestleMania, but their inability to purchase the Broken Brilliance gimmick has made many fans unhappy. While most are happy seeing the semi-broken Hardys, every fan is craving for more.
Many reports suggested that the WWE was closing in on a deal to purchase the gimmick from Impact Wrestling, but it now looks as though their negotiations fell flat. There is little WWE can do if Anthem Sports are unwilling to part ways with the Hardys' creation, but we cannot help but blame the MeekMahans for not tabling an offer Impact Wrestling cannot turn down.
2 Dropping the ball on The Club
WWE has lately proved not just inept at booking returns for they also botch debuts big-time. However, it seemed as though the creative team were onto something fascinating when they had Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows annihilate The Usos on their Raw debut before aligning themselves with former Bullet Club leader AJ Styles to beat up John Cena. Feud losses to Enzo & Cass and The New Day all but destroyed their credibility, much to the dismay of those who had followed them in NJPW.
However, the turn of the year seemed to have done them more good than bad as the WWE chose to put the Raw Tag Team Championship on them. Dethroning Sheamus and Cesaro, who had ended The New Day's record breaking title reign, legitimized them, but a loss as tag-team champions to Roman Reigns in a 2-on-1 handicap match on Valentine's Day has punctured their status. With no one to feud with, they now look lost.
The McMahons have definitely dropped the ball on The Club as they have spurned the opportunity to create a badass faction for the first time in a long time. Perhaps, they intentionally made them look weak to make the Bullet Club look weak; you never know.
1 Mistiming the Superstar Shake-up
Nine months after the initial Brand Split, WWE decided to shake things up, announcing the Superstar Shake-up shortly after WrestleMania. While they managed to not kill the slow build between Dean Ambrose and The Miz, they ruined the fantastic feud Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt had been embarking on. With the latter being moved to Raw, the feud ended forcefully after a horribly booked House of Horrors match. Hardly anyone cared about the match as it had zero consequence on the future of either wrestler.
Either show now looked unsettled for weeks as the writers were forced to rebook many storylines. The United States Championship also looked a joke as WWE confused their audience by making complex stipulations about where Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho would end up. The Superstar Shake-up has definitely put more eyes on WWE's flagship show Raw, but its timing looked terrible as many feuds were brought to an abrupt end because of it.