It’s been one heck of a year for WWE. WrestleMania was huge as it always is, legends like the Dudley Boyz returned, new stars like Neville and Kevin Owens were born and made while the WWE Universe were treated to some great matches from Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker to John Cena vs Seth Rollins. However, it’s not always been sunny for Vince McMahon and company. This year also saw RAW reach its lowest TV rating in 18 years while an injury crisis plagued the roster towards the end of the year as well.
However, the biggest challenge WWE have had this year was the criticism of their booking. With fans joking on social media that the rivalry of the year was between the creative team and the fans, it’s not been the best year when it comes to booking decisions. For all the good that WWE have done like Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank at WrestleMania or giving New Day a push, there will always be negatives that outweigh the good by some distance.
WWE cannot be perfect after all and there have been bad booking decisions in the past, even in the Attitude Era or Ruthless Aggression Era. However, 2015 had them in bulk. And so, this article takes a look at 15 of the worst booking decisions of 2015. Tell us if you agree or disagree in the comments!
15. Constant House Shows
Technically, this isn’t really a booking decision but given the recent injuries that have occurred in the roster, the question must be asked – are wrestlers being overworked? House shows are important as they lead to exposure and allow wrestlers to test gimmicks and moves. But are there too many house shows in WWE considering they travel all around the world from Saudi Arabia to Italy?
Seth Rollins got injured at a house show in Dublin in a match with Kane which ultimately ruled him out for 6-9 months. This put storylines WWE had in place in complete chaos. With Cesaro, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan also injured, maybe WWE should cut down on the amount of house shows?
14. U.S. Open Challenge
Hold on now! This might be controversial but what was the point of the US open challenge in essence? To build up stars. John Cena would put his title on the line to face a variety of different wrestlers, with the hope of elevating them to the next level. Cena had some great matches ranging from opponents like Cesaro to Dean Ambrose to Neville and the open challenge was one of the best things about RAW for months.
However, it became stale. Cena would come out, greet the audience, say he’s the man to beat and [insert city] is the place to be, before going on to retain his title. A title change on RAW was never happening so half the excitement was gone in these matches. Other than Kevin Owens (who was given a major push anyway) and maybe Cesaro, did anyone really benefit from facing Cena? Not really.
13. Sheamus Winning Money in the Bank
Money in the Bank 2015. You have Neville, Kofi Kingston, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Kane and Dolph Ziggler. Oh and Sheamus. Who wins the briefcase? Sheamus. Alright, he was the champion recently after cashing in at Survivor Series but he definitely was the most underwhelming champion in recent times. It took him five months to cash in and during those five months, it was sometimes even a struggle to remember that he was Mr. Money in the Bank. And as much as cash-ins are exciting, we all deep down didn’t want Sheamus as a champion. There was a silver lining as Sheamus was hated enough as a heel to get Roman Reigns over but still, Sheamus. Bloody Sheamus.
12. Charlotte vs. Paige Feud
Charlotte vs Paige started off as a feud with the Nature Girl as the clear cut face. She won her first Divas championship before Paige got jealous of her and started attacking her. WWE decided to add some fuel to this feud with Paige mocking Charlotte’s dead brother, Reid Flair — an angle which has since been ignored by the WWE — during a contract signing. No matter how you felt about the comment, Paige definitely got heat from it.
However, fast forward to TLC and Paige was somehow the face in the feud with Charlotte slowly adopting her father’s notorious dirty habits when it comes to cheating to win. Charlotte definitely seems better off as a heel rather than “woo-ing” every five seconds but what has transpired in this feud right from the start has just been outright shocking and confusing. Hopefully in her future feuds, Charlotte can maintain some consistency with her character.
11. Kevin Owens Losing to John Cena at Battleground
When Kevin Owens debuted on RAW earlier this year, he had some debut. Answering John Cena’s U.S. open challenge, he attacked Cena before a match was announced where the two would square off at Elimination Chamber. Owens impressively won clean in his debut. It was clear that the creative team saw huge potential with Owens.
A rematch happened at Money in the Bank where Cena would triumph to make it one all in the rivalry. One final match would occur at Battleground but this time, Cena’s U.S. title would be on the line. And it ended with Cena winning (LOLCENAWINS), getting Owens to tap to the STF in the process.
Simply put, Owens should have won the United States title that night. It’s not like he’s been buried since the loss, far from it, but he would have benefited far more from emerging victorious as he would have taken the ball from Cena — who did a great job in elevating the title’s importance — and rolled with it. Instead, Cena eventually lost it to Alberto del Rio who isn’t doing much at all with it. This leads to the next point.
10. Night of Champions Debacle
Night of Champions — the pay-per-view where every title must be defended. Since Cena didn’t lose his U.S. title to Kevin Owens at Battleground and with Brock Lesnar facing the Undertaker at SummerSlam, there was no opponent for the WWE Champion, Seth Rollins to face. And so, he faced Cena in a title vs title match at Summerslam and triumphed. It was a great moment not only to see Rollins beat Cena but to hold two titles at the same time. However, this had consequences.
Cena had a rematch clause as all former champions do. Along with that, Sting challenged Rollins for his WWE title at Night of Champions, meaning Rollins had to fight twice that night. Rollins first faced Cena and lost his U.S. championship before facing Sting and retaining his world championship. What sense did that make? Cena beat Rollins cleanly but Rollins — who had to fight again — was able to beat Sting cleanly right afterwards? What does that say about Sting’s credibility kayfabe-wise? What did it say about Rollins — the “top guy” in the company — as this wasn’t the first time he was pinned cleanly by Cena? If Cena had just lost his title to Owens at Battleground, this whole situation could have been avoided.
9. Wade Barrett and King of the Ring
The King of the Ring has been irrelevant for a while but WWE’s insistence on making it seem relevant has really hurt Bad News Barrett who got a new gimmick as King Barrett. After beating Neville in the final, Barrett was resigned to giving boring promos about how he’s the King and everyone should bow down to him. All this while Barrett slowly dropped further in the card by consistently losing just about every match he was in.
Just another example of how WWE are regularly mishandling Wade Barrett who is now a pawn in a heel group with Sheamus as the leader. He deserves better.
8. Alberto Del Rio Teaming Up With Zeb Colter
When Alberto Del Rio returned at Hell in a Cell, he received a huge pop. This wasn’t only because he was gone for a while but with rumors of John Cena taking a break, we knew we’d be getting a new United States champion. But since then, Del Rio has become…dull again and teaming up Zeb Colter was a bizarre decision by the creative team. Forming MexAmerica, this new gimmick didn’t make sense and wasn’t received well at all. After a few weeks, the gimmick was disbanded off screen and so was Colter, with Del Rio joining the League of Nations. Just a disaster from the start.
7. Randy Orton vs Sheamus: Part ?
Randy Orton had two chances to get the WWE World Heavyweight championship from Seth Rollins and failed at Extreme Rules and Payback. Sheamus won the Money in the Bank briefcase but he wasn’t going to use it on Rollins. So what did WWE do? Give us another Orton/Sheamus feud for the gazillionth time. Just reeking of lazy booking, instead of giving these guys fresh opponents or angles, they were given yet another feud for us to witness, because the last few years clearly weren’t enough.
In fairness, they did put on a surprisingly entertaining fight at Battleground but come on, it’s bad enough we see them fight almost every RAW and then you give them a match on two consecutive pay-per-views?
Like Daniel Bryan, Cesaro was slowly and organically getting over with the fans in 2015. This started when he challenged John Cena for the U.S. title in June and put on one heck of a performance in a losing effort which was even acknowledged by Cena when RAW went off the air.
Many wanted Cesaro to get a push since he became only the second person to pin Rusev and took part in a feud with Kevin Owens. But since then, it’s been back to the drawing board as Cesaro was going nowhere creatively, appearing on Superstars, Main Event, pay-per-view kickoff shows as well as jobbing to the Big Show to make him look credible ahead of his encounter with Brock Lesnar at MSG. He did reach the quarterfinals in the tournament to determine a new champion following Seth Rollins’ injury only to lose to Roman Reigns. The Swiss Superman unfortunately tore his left shoulder rotator cuff afterwards. However, even if he wasn’t injured, it’s hard to see WWE taking him seriously as so much more could be done with one of WWE’s genuinely best wrestlers today.
5. Breaking Lana and Rusev Up
Rusev was hot. Lana was hot. But when John Cena beat Rusev for the United States championship at WrestleMania, cracks in their relationship began to form and they eventually broke up after Payback. Lana completed a face turn which was definitely coming as fans couldn’t get enough of her but in doing so, she lost everything that made her so likeable. From a commanding female who could control Rusev and wage a war of words on the mic, she became a giggling, scared parody of a little girl. Basically the stereotypical damsel in distress.
Even as a face, she could have retained her dominant qualities but she experienced a complete shift in character that made some of us not “want Lana”. Teaming up with Dolph Ziggler didn’t help her either as they both lacked chemistry and ultimately, WWE decided to bring her and Rusev back together (mostly because they got engaged in real life).
4. Booking of Bray Wyatt
The booking of the Wyatt Family has been a complete a joke for a while now but even more so for their leader. We get endless promos from Bray Wyatt about how he’s the demon or how the apocalypse is upon us and all sorts of things and yet, he’s not someone we can really fear. He lost to Undertaker at WrestleMania 31, started a mini feud with Ryback which he did win and then embarked on a long feud with Roman Reigns. Ultimately, he lost the feud as Reigns emerged victorious at Hell in a Cell, but then Wyatt targeted the Brothers of Destruction.
On RAW, he said he wasn’t done with Reigns but his focus was now on the Brothers of Destruction. He claimed to have consumed their souls and now had possession of their powers. So what happened next? Undertaker and Kane return proving everything Wyatt said was false. This feud culminated in a tag team match at Survivor Series in which the Wyatts jobbed to the legendary brothers. What happened next? A feud with the Dudley Boyz the next night on RAW as if nothing happened.
There’s just no consistency and while the Wyatts did beat Team Extreme at TLC, it might be too late in establishing them as a dominant force that can be taken seriously.
3. Divas Revolution
WWE decided to give Divas a chance by ushering in a Divas revolution. They did this by promoting the likes of NXT’s talented Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch in what should have been an exciting time for the company. However, with the creative team in charge, it became a directionless and cringeworthy movement. We had three different teams fighting every week. Literally every week, mostly in three on three tag matches. What was the point? What were they fighting for? Yes, Divas were finally getting more airtime but it’s redundant if it’s just for the heck of it with no purpose. During this period, it was like people even forgot Nikki Bella was the Divas champion. After all, wasn’t it her title that everyone wanted?
To add to this, we had a group called “Submission Sorority” — which was chalked off after a week (if you don’t know why, google it) — and a group which is still literally called Team BAD (Beautiful and Dangerous). And when the emphasis was finally on Nikki Bella with Charlotte challenging her for gold, Team BAD suddenly disappeared. Within a few months, people were already tired of the Divas. As they say, revolutions are supposed to be interesting, not boring and that’s exactly what WWE did.
2. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler Feud
As mentioned earlier, the decision to break up Rusev and Lana was a disaster but more so because it led to one of the worst feuds in WWE history. Lana randomly approached Dolph Ziggler after a match and made out with him, prompting a feud between The Showoff and Rusev. This might have been alright if Ziggler and Lana had any chemistry whatsoever but within a few weeks, they became intolerable together, giggling and holding hands like a high school couple.
The creative team then decided to give Rusev a new companion in Summer Rae and while the duo produced some funny moments together, it just made this feud more bizarre with Rusev dressing Summer up as Lana. But that wasn’t all. Ziggler — the face in this feud — then started flirting with Summer in true scumbag fashion while Lana was off television due to an injury. All this while Rusev and Ziggler competed in match after match with no real purpose other than to mock each other’s partners. And to top it all off, Rusev got engaged to Lana in real life forcing an unhappy Vince McMahon to scrap off this feud, which may have been the best thing the real life couple did.
1. Roman Reigns
When it’s all said and done, WWE’s booking of Roman Reigns has to go down as the worst booking of 2015. It’s bad enough that Reigns was shoved down everyone’s throats such that it was a foregone conclusion that he’d win the Royal Rumble but to do so with Daniel Bryan eliminated early on was a new level of stupidity for the WWE. By no fault of his own as a result, Reigns, a babyface, was booed throughout the Rumble and even an endorsement from The Rock wasn’t enough for the Philly crowd to embrace him as he emerged victorious.
To Reigns’ credit, he delivered a number of top quality matches since the Rumble debacle but his all round booking has just been dreadful. Despite being a powerful badass, he is still portrayed as an underdog. Whether it’s having to fight three matches in one night to earn his Money in the Bank spot or facing the League of Nations and emerging victorious in a four on one situation.
And while his booking has improved immensely since TLC, we have to consider — at what cost? WWE have tried to get Roman over so much and while they did succeed in the last week (with the help of Vince McMahon himself), they’ve made half the roster look weak in the process. Hopefully, things improve from here on out as Reigns clearly has everything to be the guy — he just needs to be consistently booked well.
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