Wrestling is one of those things where one great idea, a really outside the box idea can make people invest a lot of time into the product. It happened a lot in the 90s. When WCW created the nWo, it changed the game forever. In order for a storyline to be successful, it needs a beginning, middle and end. You need a game plan for it to have the desired effect. There have been many in wrestling, that have had no game plan, they were put together and got people talking, but without the game plan, there was no big pay off for people to walk away happy about.
This list goes through 15 story lines in WWE, WCW and TNA Wrestling that had all the potential in the world to create something fresh and interesting, and for a little while all of them did, but a lack of pay off was what halted the interest, some went on and on with no change, and others faded quietly because the company had no other options.
From The Shield working for a mystery person, to The Aces and Eights and even The Straight-Edge Society .... all these had promise, and if they had something big at the end, this list would not exist.
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15 John Cena/Kane - Embrace the Hate
This one, like many started with a bang ...literally, Kane returned to Raw after being injured by Mark Henry. He returned with the mask again, looking like Jason-X. He proceeded to target John Cena, and for weeks told Cena he would 'embrace the hate', some thought this would lead to some pay off, like Cena turning heel before his WrestleMania match with The Rock. Instead this just went nowhere, with some boring matches. Kane then somehow ended up feuding with Zack Ryder and Eve Torres. What?
14 CM Punk & The Straight-Edge Society
CM Punk was the perfect guy to do a storyline like this, he was a legit straight-edge superstar. He recruited Joey Mercury, Serena and Luke Gallows. This seemed like it was going to lead to some big event, like Punk being crowned a world champion and his followers hoisting him up on their shoulders. Another possibility could have been a member turning face and feuding with Punk, but it just faded, as some of them got released, Punk went to Raw and became leader of The New Nexus ....and we will get to that blunder lower in this list.
Ryback and Curtis Axel, a tag team that in a way resembled the original Hart Foundation, the technique of Axel, and the muscle of Ryback. It had potential and seemed like they were on the road to tag team gold. Instead it just disintegrated to nothing, Ryback did a random walk around the ring during a match, but that was the only thing of note. It's sad to see something with potential not get the big payoff. Both were clients of Paul Heyman, but neither were able to thrive.
12 Kane & The Fake Kane
This is one most have probably forgotten by now, but it happened. During a match with Shelton Benjamin, Kane was interrupted by... Kane. In the original red suit and mask, new Kane came down and attacked Kane. It only lasted a few weeks, as the old Kane lost a match to the new Kane, who claimed he was the real Kane, at Vengeance and then it ended quietly. Fake storylines never work, but this one was kind of interesting, given Kane and his personality as a crazy man ... revealing that there was two Kanes all along would have been strange. The man under the imposter suit was the same man who later became Luke Gallows.
11 Chris Jericho/Goldberg - WCW
Jericho wanted to break through to main event status in WCW, so he started challenging Goldberg, the hottest thing in WCW. Eventually the crowd got behind it and signs were everywhere, Goldberg was scared of Jericho. The match was never made because Goldberg wanted to squash Jericho in five seconds, while Jericho saw money in a decent PPV match. Jericho left for WWE and Goldberg's heat soon faded away.
10 10.CM Punk/Triple H/Kevin Nash Conspiracy
When Punk was named the undisputed champion at SummerSlam 2011, he was power bombed by a returning Kevin Nash, and then ADR came out and used his briefcase to win the WWE Title. Punk claimed for weeks it was all a conspiracy by WWE officials to keep him from being champion, and it seemed like a storyline where they could have revealed some big power faction that hated CM Punk, similar to The Authority right now.... but it never happened, Punk face Triple H and it all ended pretty disappointingly.
9 Who The Shield was really Working for
This one was the worst to me, from the moment these three started attacking people, WWE made it seem like they were working for somebody, being paid to attack people. Their first shirt said 'Justice Isn't Free'.... I'm not sure it was ever revealed who they worked for because I don't think WWE planned it far enough to reveal anyone, and eventually they just stopped asking the question and people forgot. You should never start a storyline without an ending in mind.
8 Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter, Real Americans
They filmed videos, and actually got the attention of politicians for their comments about the state of America. Their battle with Alberto Del Rio was fun to watch, something fresh. It should have lead to Swagger being crowned the Real American World Champion... but it didn't, and he was seen less and less on TV, him and Zeb soon recruited Cesaro, and it faded into a tag team. Perhaps Swagger getting busted with marijuana is what put an end to plans, but it's a shame this feud couldn't have continued longer. Swagger has never recovered.
7 Randy Orton/Hulk Hogan
This one started off well, as Orton mocked the reality show Hogan had. They had a decent match at SummerSlam, but Hogan got the win over the young star and it seemed like a rematch and possibly a third match was in the cards, but it never happened. Orton moved on and Hogan walked away. Perhaps this was just another case of Hogan being Hogan, as he had pulled out of a series of matches with Shawn Michaels the year before, citing a back injury. It never seemed to be an issue when he was booked to win though.
6 The Corporate Ministry/Higher Power
So, this one had a reveal, it was just not the reveal everyone hoped for ... it was Vince McMahon. The famous line, 'It's Me Austin!' ...that line was born in this storyline. To me, it seems like WWE could have made this something bigger and better. Having it be Vince was not much of a payoff, the guy whose daughter was taken by The Ministry, had been behind it all along... Really? This could have been a great opportunity for a new star to be made, or debut, but it just rehashed McMahon/Austin.
5 John Lauranitious/People Power
Johnny Ace, as some called him was one of the most annoying people in WWE, and People Power was ridiculous. The storyline managed to evolve into something that was interesting, similar to Austin/McMahon , Johnny and CM Punk seemed destined to have a long drawn out battle of boss and disgruntled champion, but instead it faded away into nothing, Lauranitious went on to attack Cena with help from Big Show. Seems WWE could have got a big time pay off with Punk and Ace. Although they did try, as Punk hit the GTS on him, it never hit the high point it needed to.
4 Triple H/Superstar Walk-Out
This was one of the more interesting stories of that year, as Superstars and staff started feeling unsafe with Triple H as COO, and they walked out during RAW. They even had footage of the roster protesting outside, but then for no reason, the next week they returned after Triple H was quickly relieved of his duties. It seemed rushed, and it seemed like they could have milked this to a much bigger climax. Perhaps instead, the roster could have been divided and end up clashing in a major tag match.
3 The New Nexus
By early 2011, The Nexus had fizzled away, members got injured, others got fired. WWE decided to change it up, as Barrett was removed, and CM Punk took over, after just being part of the Straight Edge Society. The addition of Punk was meant to reinvigorate the group, as they also added Mason Ryan from Wales, but it wasn't the same. It had potential, but when a whole group is decimated by Randy Orton alone, it pretty much loses its steam.
2 Aces and Eights - TNA Wrestling
The whole concept of this group was a new and interesting idea in wrestling, a biker gang that seemed to change members often to keep opponents guessing. The problem came when TNA refused to try and get an outside talent that was a big name to be revealed as part of the group. They got D'Lo Brown , which wasn't much. If they could have gotten a major star, then it would have had a huge pay off.
1 The Nexus & The 'Big Picture'
There are mixed feelings on how this group went, and how it should have been used on TV. Some think it was decent, as it gave us Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett, both top stars in WWE. The issue many have, me included, is that Barrett kept saying they were working for somebody, that there was a bigger picture. Many assumed it was Triple H, but there was never any reveal. I assume it could have been CM Punk as he later joined the group, but a big payoff is supposed to make things even better, not worse. WWE got a year and a half out of this. When it began it was compared to the nWo, but by the time it had ended with only David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty many were severely disappointed.
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