Booking is a strange thing in wrestling. To be fair, bookers have to put up with a lot of pressure from the fans, not to mention wrestlers not wanting to go along with the planned finish. They have to try to satisfy the fandom with these moves and figure a good way to end a match. It can be tricky as you never know if something in a bout like an injury will shake things up. Thus, it’s easy for a fan to play “fantasy booker” when they don’t have that experience. That said, it’s also pretty obvious how so many times, the fans can book a far better finish to a match than what the “professionals” come up with.
There have been slews of terrible finishes over the years, many undoing an otherwise great match. Others have topped off a bad match and just aggravated fans. The wrong guy going over, a terrible cheap ending, a “swerve,” all combine to drive fans crazy. WWE are the main culprits over the last decade but TNA and even ROH have given their fair share of bad endings as well. They serve to drive away fans and make the product look worse and amazing they were conceived, let alone put on TV. Here are 15 of the worst booked finishes since 2006 and it just shows how bad wrestling can get.
15 Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena - SummerSlam 2013
It’s still astounding just how badly WWE tried to deny the fans wanting Daniel Bryan as champion. A key example is this as Bryan was the obvious crowd favorite with thousands of “YES!” chants across the arena as he came in. Cena was booed hard as they battled with Bryan in control, a great match going back and forth and teasing near-falls several times. After 25 minutes of excitement, Bryan finally hit the running knee to take Cena down and get the pin. The place went nuts as he celebrated with the title, the ending everyone wanted and the fans loving it.
Then Triple H attacked Bryan, hit a pedigree and allowed Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to pin Bryan for the title. While WWE might have felt a great way to push Triple H and Orton as heels, to rob Bryan of his great moment so soon was bad for him and the fans and yet another sign of his struggles to the top.
14 Sting vs. Triple H - WrestleMania 31
It boggles the mind how WWE could drop such a sure-fire thing as Sting finally coming to the company. The one major icon who had never worked with WWE before, he was sure to be a hit, even at his age still having the fire and aura to be a star and elevate a bout nicely. His match with Triple H promised to showcase that as surely Triple H would give Sting the rub with the conflict and let him win as why would WWE hire him only to job him out? As it turned out, that was exactly what happened as we got liberal interference from DX and the New World Order, an up and down battle of Triple H shrugging off Sting’s finishers and finally getting the pin, the complete opposite of what everyone expected.
It was simply petty to push WWE over WCW, a conflict that had been over for 15 years and to waste Sting’s potential like that marks one of the worst decisions WWE has made in a while.
13 Bully Ray vs. Jeff Hardy - Lockdown 2013
Even when a “swerve” can be seen coming from a mile away, it doesn’t make it any better. For months, TNA had been dealing with Aces & Eights, a biker gang intent on taking over the company. Their leader had apparently been shown to be D-Von but most thought that a distraction for the real reveal. Meanwhile, Bully Ray was set up as a TNA hero, not only fighting Aces & Eights but also engaged to marry Brooke Hogan. He won a series to face Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Title in a cage match and talked of his respect for Hardy and the company. As they fought, Aces & Eights surrounded the cage and tossed a bat in. In no shock to anyone, Bully used it to beat down Hardy and win the title, revealing he was the leader of the gang and bad-mouthing Brooke.
To be fair, Bully did do a great job as the heel champion but that didn’t make such a contrived ending any better as most predicted it way in advance preventing it from being effective.
12 John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis - Over the Limit 2012
It’s still completely ridiculous that with CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan on the card, WWE had this be the main event. Far past his wrestling prime, the former Johnny Ace was actually set to get some offense on Cena and we did have amusing bits like them in the announcer booth and the attacks on Johnny overall. However, it was still stupid to have to waste so much time on a feud the fans hated badly. But the ending was worse than expected as the Big Show entered, seemingly ready to attack Johnny only to blast Cena with a punch and turn heel, siding with Johnny Ace. A terrible ending to a bout that marked a feud no one cared about and yet WWE insisted on pushing it over its truly talented stars. It also drove a wedge in their relationship with CM Punk, as it sent the message that even if he was champion, it was all about pushing Cena.
No wonder the company was in rough shape this year.
11 Jeff Hardy vs. Kurt Angle vs. Ken Anderson - Bound for Glory 2010
This was when it became completely obvious the Hogan-Bischoff-Russo era of TNA was a total disaster. For weeks, talk was made on a mysterious "THEY” coming, Abyss warned everyone of their arrival and trying to organize resistance to them. It hung over the show with Hogan wanting to aid Abyss against this force. The main event had Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and Ken Anderson battling for the TNA title when Bischoff came down with a chair, supposedly to attack Hardy. Hogan came on crutches with Bischoff grabbing one…then handed it to Hardy who used it to beat down Angle.
He got the pin as Hogan, Bischoff, Hardy, Abyss and Jarrett revealed they were the mysterious “THEY” all along. In other words, the PPV ended with the creation of another take on the New World Order to dominate TNA, Hardy going heel for no reason and yet another annoying ending to a TNA PPV, something the company seems to excel at.
10 John Cena vs. The Miz - WrestleMania XXVII
Leave it to WWE to use the main event of the biggest show of the year to promote the next year’s show. The Rock’s run as “Guest Host” for 'Mania wasn’t as great as hoped, too much on promos and his presence taking away from the card. Cena was believed to be the favorite to regain the title over The Miz with a match that wasn’t too bad overall. They went back and forth for a bit before they were both laid out and the match seemed to end in a double count out.
That brought The Rock who somehow had the authority to overrule the GM and declare the match to continue. It did with The Rock then hitting a Rock Bottom on Cena to allow The Miz to get the victory. That was then followed by The Rock hitting Miz with one as well and thus Mania ended with The Rock standing over the two full-time wrestlers, capping off a terrible show in as bad a way as possible.
9 Jeff Hardy vs Ken Anderson - Against All Odds 2011
This was an ending that came off so badly fans were convinced it had to be a botch. However, it’s been indicated that it was always the plan and just made it look even worse. After some time feuding, Hardy and Anderson were set to go at it in a ladder match and it promised to be a good one. They had some good spots and great moves going about with the climax having Anderson set up his Gut Check to send both men flying off the ladder and Hardy grabbing the title on his way down. Instead, both men plummeted together, a nasty fall. Jeff didn’t sell it for a second, popping right back up to scale the ladder and win the match.
A bit of a botch but even so, having Hardy just shrug off the attack to keep the belt was a bad move and marred an already rough period for TNA as Hardy’s entire title reign was hardly something to be happy with.
8 The Rock vs CM Punk - Royal Rumble 2013
If WWE wanted to have The Rock and John Cena battle at 'Mania again, fine. In no way did they need to have it be for the WWE title as well. But that’s what happened and it was to the detriment of CM Punk who had held the belt for over a year and done a great job as champion. He and Rock went at it at the Rumble in a hard-hitting battle with The Rock ready to hit a People’s Elbow but then the lights went out. When they came back on, The Rock was laid out with the indication The Shield did it and Punk got the pin. Wait, it gets worse. Vince McMahon came out and threatened to strip Punk of the belt but Rock insisted the match be restarted. It was and Rock finally got the pin and the title he didn’t really need. Having his lengthy title reign end in such ridiculous circumstances no doubt played a major role in Punk’s decision to leave WWE and a bad start to a rough year for the company.
7 Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles - January 21st, 2010 Impact
As soon as Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came into TNA, it became obvious the duo were intent on replicating the success of the late 1990s….by doing pretty much the exact same stuff. As part of this, AJ Styles, the most over guy in the company, was turned heel by beating Kurt Angle and a flunky for Hogan. The two had a rematch on Impact, a great battle thanks to their skills and Angle seemingly having things in control with the Ankle Lock. However, Styles managed to get out of it and then reversed it to put the Ankle Lock on Angle. As soon as the hold was applied, Earl Hebner rang for the bell and awarded the match to Styles, despite how it was obvious Angle didn’t submit.
That’s right: TNA was doing the Montreal Screwjob in 2010 and making it sound like a massive deal. It wasn’t of course, making Styles look a weak champion needing obvious help and Angle a loser for falling for it. It just showed once more TNA’s obsession with replicating WWE rather than more creating something original.
6 2015 Royal Rumble
When you can ignite one of the biggest backlashes in modern history with one match, that’s an epic feat. In 2015, fans thought it was perfectly obvious what should happen: Daniel Bryan winning the Rumble and then going on to WrestleMania 31 to get back the title he had to give up and it made total sense. But WWE messed it up beyond measure as Bryan was shockingly eliminated early, a move that killed the entire crowd. When Roman Reigns entered, he never had a chance, the announcers trying to push him as the giant worker and hero despite how the fans were booing literally every move he made. As if intending to piss the fans off more, the booking made sure Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler, both far, far more over than Reigns were dumped out by old vets Kane and The Big Show. Roman managed to toss both out to face Rusev and the fans cheering the Russian heel on and booing when he was dumped.
Even a return by The Rock wasn’t enough to get the fans cheering for Reigns. That WWE couldn’t see from that moment how the” Roman Empire” wasn’t going to take off is astounding and how badly his push to the main event has been bungled.
5 Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler - WrestleMania XXVII
It’s really a shame that after so many loyal years with WWE, Lawler’s lone Mania match was such a debacle. It should have been a straight up butt kicking with Lawler beating the hell out of the announcer and winning easily. Instead, Cole was actually allowed to have some offense in the bout, taking it to Lawler in various ways and outside interference was plentiful. Lawler wasn’t even allowed to use his patented piledriver to get the pinfall but rather an ankle lock of all things. Still, at least he got the win…until the “Anonymous RAW GM” chimed in to say Lawler was disqualified due to abuse by special referee Stone Cold and Cole was declared the winner. Say what you will about Lawler but you had to feel for a legend disrespected so badly with such a bungled match at the biggest show of the year.
4 Bound for Glory 2011
There were a lot of issues with Hulk Hogan running TNA but this was one of the biggest. For months, the company had been setting up a series of bouts for a contender for Kurt Angle’s TNA World title and Bobby Roode won it. TNA obviously was going to have Roode win, doing videos of his career and showcasing him a good family man and the face of the company. But just a few days before the show, Hogan got on Twitter to say he didn’t think Roode was ready for this spot yet. For some reason, TNA listened to him and thus, after all that build, Roode ended up losing to Angle, who was supposed to take time off due to injuries. So to avoid his face turn on the same show being shown up, Hogan ruined what was to be the most important title change in the company’s history.
TNA then made it even worse by having James Storm beat Angle on Impact to win the title. A week later, Roode beat Storm by cheating and turned heel, ruining all the build of him as a face. While he did a good job as heel champion, it was still bad that because of Hogan’s ego, this crowning moment turned into a mess.
3 Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose - Hell in a Cell 2014
For some reason, bookers for WWE love to throw in “supernatural” stuff. It’s usually for The Undertaker but now and then they do it for others and this was a bad example of that. The match was a great one, champion Rollins against former ally Ambrose in a Hell in a Cell, a huge brawl that lived up expectations as a great fight. It was back and forth with Ambrose seemingly ready to win when suddenly the lights went out. A lantern showed up in the ring and then a full hologram of Bray Wyatt suddenly appeared to distract Ambrose with his weird sayings. Wyatt then emerged from smoke to attack Ambrose and let Rollins get the pin. It was stupid as hell, making Rollins look weaker and Ambrose a loser and ripped by fans as going way too far to ruin an otherwise good match.
2 AJ Styles vs Abyss - Destination X 2010
TNA had a lot of issues in 2010 but this had to be among the worst. For some reason, AJ Styles, a fantastic worker capable of handling himself, was made to be a new “Nature Boy” with Ric Flair as his mentor. He was defending the TNA world title against Abyss with the storyline of Abyss having “magical strength” thanks to Hulk Hogan’s WWE Hall of Fame ring. Yep, two TNA originals were the stand-ins for a Hogan-Flair fight. The match wasn’t too bad but rough as AJ as a Flair wannabe didn’t work out. It ended with Abyss hitting a chokeslam that collapsed the ring and the ref called the bout off.
Hogan entered to let Abyss celebrate with the belt but it didn’t make sense as the bout was a no-contest. Flair then came in a wheelchair for a brief fight that brought out Desmond Wolfe to get punched down before tripping over Flair and falling through the hole in the ring. Leave it to TNA to end a PPV with a vaudeville routine.
1 Cruiserweight Open - Great American Bash 2007
It takes a lot to kill a respected title in just a few seconds but WWE pulled it off in 2007. The Cruiserweight championship was still a big deal, giving the smaller guys in the company something to shoot for and home to some pretty good bouts. For the 2007 Bash, Chavo Guerrero defended the title against Jimmy Wang Yang, Shannon Moore, Funkai and Jamie Noble. Just as the bell rang, Hornswoggle, the goofy leprechaun sidekick, suddenly slid across the ring to the bafflement of everyone. The match was fast and furious but as the other guys fought outside, Hornswoggle raced into the ring, hit a tadpole splash on Noble and got the pin and the title. Yes, a three and a half foot tall comedy worker was the Cruiserweight champion. A terrible move that crushed the belt, it was retired soon after and a shame it had to end just for a nutty comedy moment.