A major complaint of wrestling today is how things are too rushed. WWE are the biggest perpetrators of this with shoving programs fast, pushed by how they have a PPV (sometimes two) every month. Throw in the short-attention spans of many fans and it’s no wonder programs and feuds can start up out of nowhere and some fans complain that they can't get invested into any story because they're too short. However, there is a flip side to this strategy. That so many feuds and programs in wrestling history can drag on way too long.
Sometimes, it’s that horrible thing of promoters not knowing where an angle is going before it starts. Other times, they want to milk what looks like something successful, not realizing every gimmick and angle has a shelf life. Too many times, companies have done this through the years, keeping programs and feuds going long after they should have been put to bed. Slews of examples abound, not just for WWE but various other promotions. Here are 15 wrestling feuds or storylines that dragged on far longer than they should have and show how it’s hard to get that “less is more” much of the time.
15 Alex Wright and Disco Inferno
What’s worse than one annoying C-list guy eating up TV time? Two of them. Such was the case in 1997 when WCW had Alex Wright, a young guy whose wrestling skills were overshadowed by his horrible dancing and dorky look, pushed as a face. Fans hated him so he was turned heel. Soon, he got into a conflict with Disco Inferno, the goofy 1970s dancer (with Tony Schiavone speaking for fans with “let them knock each other out so we don’t have to see them dance anymore).
They soon began an actual feud for the TV title, the matches decent but still marked by them engaging in “dance-offs” with too much time wasted on their antics. It dragged on for quite a while and even worse was them forming a tag team that actually held the titles briefly, but were more into their dancing than any ring action. Wright would later get the crazy “Berlyn” angle but WCW pushing this showed fans only enjoyed the dancing when it was the Nitro Girls.
14 Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus
In 1989, WWE was putting a massive push into “No Holds Barred,” a big-budget movie starring Hulk Hogan. The plotline was him fighting the monstrous Zeus (Tony Lister). So, it made sense in an odd way to have Lister come out as Zeus for some bad blood against Hogan. However, instead of just a brief bit, WWE kept the angle going all through the summer and fall of 1989. Lister was visually impressive but utterly horrible in the ring and even teaming with Randy Savage didn’t help cover his issues.
WWE kept pushing him as this unstoppable monster and it just didn’t click as WWE wanted to push him beyond his abilities. This included teaming up the movie with a cage match PPV and then the Survivor Series to finally put the angle to bed. Lister was a good sport during it all but having a major non-wrestler in the main event for most of 1989 was not one of WWE’s better moves.
13 Claire Lynch
TNA actually was showing some good stuff in 2012 with Austin Aries getting a push as champion and the X Division showing off nicely. But they also had to put together the absolute worst storyline of any wrestling company that year. It started with Christopher Daniels and Kaz talking about AJ Styles having an affair with Dixie Carter. Both denied it as Daniels and Kaz then claimed Styles had gotten another woman pregnant. The woman came out, calling herself Claire Lynch and talking of how she and Styles had this affair, which he continued to deny. It was terrible seeing three talented workers trying to push something so dumb and came off horrible to watch, especially Lynch’s “acting.”
As bad it was, it could have been even worse as TNA planned to continue it for several weeks to set up a “custody” match. Before that could happen, the actress playing Lynch quit, unable to deal with the fans' bad reaction and went back to her old job…as Olive Oyl at Universal Studios (seriously). So a “lawyer” came out to say that Lynch made the whole thing up to drop the angle but the fact it went this long is one of the TNA’s stupidest moves.
12 Bella vs. Bella
While they’re great to look at, most can agree the Bella Twins aren’t exactly known for their great wrestling skills. That was showcased in their horrific feud of 2014 which kicked off when Nikki turned on Brie to help Stephanie beat her sister. This led to promos slamming each other with Nikki snapping she wished Brie had died in the womb. Bringing up old family beefs didn’t quite work out either, the two women coming off bad on the mic and the video promos just making it look worse as it continued on.
It finally built to the inevitable of Jerry Springer showing up to “mediate” a fight. Nikki then beat Brie in a match with Brie forced to be her servant for 30 days for terrible treatment. Just as it ended, Brie aided Nikki and the whole thing was dropped with no explanation. While each improved in the ring, watching this feud was truly painful for so long.
11 The Dungeon of Doom
Quite possibly the most ridiculous heel stable in wrestling history, the Dungeon began with Kevin Sullivan tasked by the Wizard to put together a force to destroy Hulkamania. His bunch included Kamala, the Zodiac (Ed Leslie), the Shark (the former Earthquake), Meng, the Giant and a full-sized leprechaun named Braun. Their attacks on Hogan included goofy antics and the Yeti (which looked like a Mummy) attacking Hogan at Halloween Havoc after a Monster Truck Battle with the Giant.
It was the most cartoonish action imaginable, stuff that would have been laughed at in the 1980s, let alone 1995. That’s not to mention Hogan getting attacked to have his mustache shaved and going out in black outfits for nutty stuff. It finally ended with the Dungeon forming an alliance with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson for a horrible Doomsday Cage match to put to bed months of one of the dumbest ideas for a “heel group” any promotion has ever put together.
10 Doink vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Doink was a great character starting out, an evil clown, pushed as a dark heel and getting over well. But then WWE decided to turn him face with funny antics attacking heels with buckets of water and such. He pulled this on Luna Vachon, angering her beau Bam Bam Bigelow and kicked off a feud. At the 1993 Survivor Series, Bigelow got a team against Doink, which turned out to be Men on a Mission and the Bushwhackers in one of the worst matches in Series history.
The feud continues with Doink adding little helper Dink to annoy Bigelow more. Bigelow (who had no business being involved in a feud this ridiculous) would team up with Luna to face Doink and Dink at WrestleMania in a poor match. The feud dragged far too long for little payoff and showed why almost anything with Donk is despised by modern WWE fans.
9 Chavo Guerrero vs. Hornswoggle
Once, the Cruiserweight title was a big deal, giving the SmackDown brand some great matches and a way for lighter guys to show off. In 2007, WWE ended that by having joke character Hornswoggle win the title in a fluke victory. Former champion Chavo Guerrero didn’t take that well and made getting the belt back important. Sadly, the title would get worse stuff as the “feud” between him and Hornswoggle was a total joke. “Matches” included such things as boxing, Chavo forced to fight on his knees, wearing a cow costume for a bullrope match and more.
This grew into Chavo pulling out “traps” like a Looney Tunes cartoon character to try and get Hornswoggle, which always blew up in his face. It was a terrible thing for both guys and basically killed the title to rank among the dumber antics of WWE in some time.
8 DX vs. The McMahons
Leave it to the egos of those involved to think this should be the program to dominate RAW in 2006. After being attacked constantly by Vince, Shane and the Spirit Squad, Triple H decided to bring Shawn Michaels back to reform DX. The two spent months on end driving Vince crazy with antics like painting his limo and private plane, taking over his offices and performing various juvenile antics. They also got into various battles with the Squad for the tag titles, including some bad matches like a Hell in a Cell with the McMahons and Big Show.
While fans did enjoy some of the comedy, too much of it was bad like “impressions” of Vince and Shane and more antics that pushed adult humor a bit too much. It culminated in a Hell in a Cell match at Unforgiven with DX defeating the McMahons and Big Show to put the feud to bed, DX hanging around and showing what happens when the guys in charge want to dominate the scene a bit too much.
7 Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole
Long hated by fans for his bad commenting and annoying voice, Cole took it to new levels in 2010. After becoming the “announcer” for e-mails from the Anonymous RAW general manager, he boasted he was the “voice” of WWE. When Jerry Lawler faced The Miz for the WWE title, Cole interfered to cost Lawler the match. This led to them slamming each other on commentary and Cole even bringing up Lawler’s dead mother.
This set up their terrible WrestleMania battle where Cole actually got offense, and lost to an ankle lock only for the GM to give him the win because of interference. Instead of ending it, the feud dragged on longer with Cole losing a “Kiss my foot” match and still more of him acting the heel jerk for months on end. Wasting so much air time on Cole aggravated fans majorly and showcased a terrible feud that went too long.
6 Tommy Rich vs. Buzz Sawyer
Tommy Rich was a very promising young star who made history as the youngest man to win the NWA title. It was only a week long reign but still a big deal and seemed ready to boost him to fame. In late 1981, Rich was in the Mid-Atlantic area and soon clashing with Buzz Sawyer. Their feud would turn into an epic one, massive brawls and interfering in matches, each putting the other on the shelf with injuries and more. It lasted a stunning two years and while good business, forcing two men to battle it out that long took its toll.
Both guys suffered real injuries going so all out and the battles became formulaic. It finally ended in 1983 in the famous “Last Battle of Atlanta” cage match where they bled buckets. Many believe Rich was never the same afterward, much of his drive tempered because of the conflict and thus dragging this feud out for two years may have cost wrestling a fantastic star in his prime.
5 Who Ran Over Stone Cold?
As the 1999 Survivor Series began, the big event was to be Stone Cold Steve Austin facing Triple H and The Rock in a triple threat match for the WWE Title. Austin needed neck surgery but WWE had wanted to promote them so they came up with the idea of having him run over by a mystery car. This led to the Big Show winning the title later that night. For a few weeks, they ran through an “investigation” into things but that died out.
When Austin returned the next fall, it was revived, weeks of Austin going around to figure out who did this to him. The solution: Rikishi, who claimed he was trying to help out The Rock “for our people.” It was a truly lame solution and WWE had to quickly say it was really Triple H behind it, which should have been the idea all along. To drag it out for a year was a stupid idea that just weakened the entire thing.
4 Aces & Eights
TNA has serious issues with their obsession over a major group of heels fighting for control of the company. They have gone to it over and over again but Aces & Eights may be the high point. It all started in 2012, when some masked men attacked Sting then started showing up in motorcycle gear. Soon, more guys joined them, a full gang based on the “Dead Man’s Hand” of card playing. They were attacking more guys, slamming against others and threatening to take over TNA. It built more with Devon apparently revealed as their leader as they threatened Hogan, his daughter Brooke and her “fiancée” Bully Ray. Their “wedding” was interrupted by Taz joining Aces & Eights and it kept being pushed as a “war for TNA’s survival.”
It dragged on months to Bound for Glory when Bully turned on everyone to reveal he was the real leader of A&E. This led to more months of them fighting it out but the fans were sick of this angle. The downfall was less because of creative and more because of members being cut due to TNA’s budget cuts as the angle dragged for over a year and a half.
3 The Black Scorpion
When Sting finally won the NWA World title in 1990, most thought he was in for a fantastic reign. However, booker Ole Anderson was making some terrible moves, pushing aside likely challengers like Lex Luger. Instead, he came up with the idea of the Black Scorpion, a mystery man with ties to Sting’s past. Ole obviously wanted the fans to believe it was The Ultimate Warrior and reportedly truly believed the Warrior would jump to WCW somehow. The Scorpion showed up in shady videos and then pulled wild “magic tricks” with fans as if somehow that would be a major idea to get him over.
It built up more and more through the year with impostor Scorpions until Starrcade had the big showdown. At which point, it finally dawned on WCW that they had no one to fit the role and so talked Ric Flair into posing under the mask for a bad main event. A terrible angle, worse by how long it ran and ended up making Sting’s first reign a complete failure.
2 The Anonymous RAW GM
When it started in 2010, it was a fun idea, a mystery GM for RAW who would “speak” via texts in a computer read by Michael Cole. It was often used for fun, sending up some of the wacky stuff and fans liked how Cole was mocked for his pompous introduction of the e-mails. However, it got more annoying with stuff like the GM overturning match results and a crazy bit of “talking” in an electronic voice for an interview with Edge.
It was dragged on, seemingly dying out in 2011 but kept popping up time and again. Finally, in 2012, Santino Marella announced he was going to do an “investigation” for several goofy bits. It ended with him finally revealing the man behind it all was…Hornswoggle. Yep, the joke leprechaun was the guy doing this just for kicks. A bad end for a terrible idea that just went on far longer than it should have to make its payback worse.
Make no mistake, the creation of the New World Order was a brilliant move by WCW. Bringing in Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as “outsiders” invading the company was terrific to boost things up. Then adding Hulk Hogan as a heel just made it even bigger and skyrocketed WCW to monster ratings and massive power. Adding in guys like the Giant helped and really did make the NWO the key reason to tune in to WCW. However, the company made the massive error in assuming the angle could run forever. Thus, they kept it up with more guys joining, and gave the group too much control. Eric Bischoff seriously wanted to split the NWO off into their own brand, thinking it would dominate the business.
The worst was in 1998 when the angle should have been put to bed but instead divided up into “Hollywood” and “Wolkpack” divisions. It continued to dominate when fans wanted something new and then got a big “revival” after Starrcade ’98. There were more revivals, each worse than the previous one, doing no favors but just eliciting groans. It was a fantastic angle to elevate WCW but the company’s refusal to let it go ended up ruining so much of its potential.