Sometimes when you are watching wrestling, you can spot some signs in the crowd that say “Who booked this crap?” Much of the time, this is a legitimate question that needs to be answered, because some of the angles that have been booked in wrestling history have been just that...crap.
Between huge egos, storylines that don’t make any sense, or killing off the momentum of a hot superstar, wrestling has been the victim of some terrible booking over the years, and it’s not just how the matches end.
Booking in wrestling used to be a lot simpler. Traditionally, a promotion would have just one booker in charge of putting matches together and coming up with finishes. Now, in the WWE at least, a team of writers, agents, and officials all are thrown together in a room to come up with a plan. When there are too many cooks in the kitchen that's when things tend to get messed up and in the end, many decisions don't make a whole lot of sense. Sometimes it's better to do the simple thing, and do it right. Sometimes decision makers will overthink or they won't pay enough attention to how fans will perceive every decision.
What were the worst booking decisions in the history of professional wrestling, though? You might notice that a certain company that is no longer around with us these days is toward the top of the list quite a bit, and the WWE has had their fair share of bad booking as well.
Here are the 15 worst booking decisions in wrestling, starting with a very recent decision that caused fans to jeer a wrestling legend:
15 Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
The main event at WrestleMania 31 was saved when Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The original plan to have Roman Reigns possibly go over Brock Lesnar on the grandest stage, however, was an unmitigated disaster. The match came off pretty well considering everything, but the storyline and feud just didn't generate the kind of buzz you would want for a WrestleMania main event.
The WWE has made it clear that they want Reigns to be a main eventer, but the crowd wasn’t quite ready. Reigns winning the 2015 Royal Rumble and being booed despite having The Rock raise his hand was an embarrassment.
14 Vince McMahon Wins WWE Championship
What better way to have your hottest heel at the time drop the title than to lose it to the boss? Triple H was in the middle of an angle where he had just won his first title and was quickly rising as the most hated man in the company. The evil Triple H then had a WWE Championship match with his father-in-law on an episode of Smackdown in September of 1999 to settle the score with Vince, who had recently returned to WWE programming as a face, with Shane McMahon acting as the special guest referee. McMahon won the match and title with the help of his former nemesis Stone Cold. He then vacated the title six days later, only for Triple H to win it back at Unforgiven. What was the point, other than to have the boss get his moment in the sun?
13 CM Punk Only Misses One Raw
One of the most memorable feuds of the past decade was when CM Punk won the WWE Championship over John Cena at the 2011 Money in the Bank pay per view. The angle saw CM Punk leaving the WWE after his contract expired with the company’s biggest championship in tow. Instead of vanishing for a few weeks, or months even, Punk only missed one episode of Raw before coming back to square off with Cena once again. They really should have had fans waiting longer. The angle soon lost most of its buzz and completely fell apart once Alberto Del Rio cashed in on Punk, pushing the hottest star in the business to the side.
12 Triple H “Wins” Title
When the WCW was bought by Vince McMahon and the WWE, they brought over a lot of their talent and their biggest title, the World Heavyweight Championship. Eric Bischoff became the General Manager of Raw and could have set up some sort of interesting tournament to see who would be the first one to hold the reintroduced title in the WWE, but where’s the fun in that? Bischoff simply handed it over to Triple H in September of 2002 to make him the first one with the title, unifying it the next month with the Intercontinental Title.
11 Donald Trump Buys Raw
There are a lot of people out there that don’t like Donald Trump, and that includes wrestling fans. For some reason, he was always a babyface when he was brought into the wrestling world. The feud between Trump and Vince McMahon was basically just another out of touch way that the WWE has tried to cross over into the mainstream. Trump appeared on an episode of Raw on the Titantron that said he purchased the show...but not the company. Many people thought it was real, and the stocks dropped by seven per cent the next day, forcing the angle to die a quick death and McMahon to back pedal.
10 Triple H/Kevin Nash/CM Punk Feud
We fins ourselves in a continuation of entry no.14 and it shows just how badly the WWE messed up Punk's fantastic summer of 2011. CM Punk was coming off of his feud with John Cena as one of the hottest wrestlers in recent history. Some say that Triple H gets too involved with hot stars, and this is the example that they always point to. Instead of having Punk stick around in the title picture, he got into a head-scratching feud with Kevin Nash, Triple H’s real-life pal. Nash ended up failing a physical, so two babyfaces in the forms of Triple H and Punk squared off at the 2011 Night of Champions. Punk didn’t even win, and John Cena won his title back from Alberto Del Rio in the match before, wasting Punk’s summer momentum.
9 John Cena Buries The Nexus
The summer of 2010 saw a hot new stable make their way to the ranks in the form of The Nexus, a group that consisted of Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, David Otunga, Skip Sheffield, Michael Tarver and Darren Young. Instead of giving them the rub that they so sorely needed, Team Cena was able to take them out at the SummerSlam pay per view when he went SuperCena to finish off Justin Gabriel and Wade Barrett at the end of the match, and The Nexus started to squander. Chris Jericho and Edge have revealed that they were of the opinion that the rookies should've gone over in the main event, but Cena had other ideas.
8 Hornswoggle is Vince’s Son
When Hornswoggle made his debut, he was the little leprechaun helper for the Irish wrestler known as Finlay. In 2008, there was a tease that Vince McMahon had an illegitimate son in one of the stupidest angles ever booked. It was revealed that Hornswoggle was indeed that son. Original plans called for it to be Mr. Kennedy which would lead to a push, but Kennedy found himself suspended for violating the wellness policy. While the angle was dumb in general, the very least the WWE could have done was find a good alternative to Kennedy and give someone else a needed push. Instead they flushed it down the toilet. This storyline led McMahon to book Hornswoggle in matches against people such as The Great Khali out of “tough love”. This eventually set up one of the more disturbing matches of all time when JBL whipped Hornswoggle with a leather belt.
7 Hogan vs. Warrior at Halloween Havoc
Back when they were two of the biggest names in the WWE, Warrior was able to get a victory over Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI. That was all the way back in 1990, and they wouldn’t have their rematch for eight years. The only reason that Warrior was hired, as many believe, in the first place was to get Hogan a rematch victory over his old foe and that it was an expensive piece of booking to do it. This is the match that Dave Meltzer famously awarded “minus five stars”, calling it the worst match of the year.
6 Jeff Jarrett’s 1,006 Days as Champ
Jeff Jarrett has always had a big ego, and has always believed that he is a much bigger draw than he really is. Jarrett was one of the owners of TNA, and held onto the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for far too long. Instead of helping his company to establish some new stars, Jarrett was more interested in trying to make himself a star yet again. Jarrett held the championship on six different occasions for a combined 1,006 days. Thankfully, he hasn’t won since 2006.
5 The Invasion
Where do you start here? In the spring of 2001, the WWE was able to acquire both the WCW and ECW brands. With a new pool of established wrestlers to choose from, many of them went to waste due to poor booking since they were the new guys. The Undertaker was notorious at this time for his burials of popular wrestlers such as Diamond Dallas Page. Booking the WCW and ECW wrestlers as fodder for the WWE superstars to beat them time after time, and it finally ended with a Survivor Series match in which Team WWE won.
4 David Arquette As Champion
The WCW was doing extremely well for themselves in the late 1990’s, but poor booking helped it turn into a nightmare. One of the worst examples of their poor booking was when actor David Arquette became too involved in a cross promotion with the film, “Ready to Rumble”. Arquette was given the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000 on an episode of “Thunder” when he pinned Eric Bischoff in a tag team match before dropping the belt to, wouldn’t you know it, Jeff Jarrett.
3 Twice in a Lifetime
Any WWE fan gets a little excited when they see The Rock make a return. He left during the height of his career, but has ended up having an incredibly successful movie career, so it’s hard to blame him. When it was announced that he would return for a match at Wrestlemania XXVIII, people didn’t really care who it was against, even John Cena. The match wasn’t anything that special, but it was billed as “Once in a Lifetime”. What we got was a rematch the next year for the championship, which The Rock held as a part timer to even the series between he and Cena. The interest wasn't there for a second match. While the WWE established attendance records and sky high pay-per-view numbers, it wasn't due to the rematch. It was The Rock's name and the fact that it was in the media hub of the New York/New Jersey area. As a result, we got one of the more forgettable WrestleManias in history.
2 Batista Wins the 2014 Royal Rumble
2013 was the year of the goat as Daniel Bryan established himself as the most over babyface in the company. It was expected that Bryan would end up winning the Royal Rumble in January of 2014 to take on Randy Orton at Wrestlemania XXX. Instead, Batista made his return to the ring in what appeared to be a cross promotion with “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Bryan wasn’t even entered into the match, losing to Bray Wyatt earlier in the night. Eventually, WWE did enough damage control to give the people what they wanted at Wrestlemania.
1 Fingerpoke of Doom
The beginning of the end for the WCW came with the Fingerpoke of Doom during Monday Nitro on January 4th, 1999. In another piece of bad booking, Kevin Nash defeated Goldberg to end his winning streak, and Nash was slated for a rematch for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Goldberg was arrested during the show (not in real life) for stalking Miss Elizabeth. Hulk Hogan made his return and challenged Nash instead, leading to Hogan poking him in the chest, pinning him and reuniting the nWo. While this nonsense was going on, Tony Schiavone made an announcement that Mankind would be winning the WWE title, causing hundreds of thousands of viewers to make the switch over to Raw.