It’s tough sometimes to be a wrestling fan, isn’t it? We tune in each and every week and for every pay-per-view hoping to see some great matches or great segments that evolve from some great storylines and over the years, we’ve seen a lot of fantastic things. We watched as the MegaPowers exploded after an epic storyline with Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage played out over nearly two years. We watched as Stone Cold Steve Austin battled Vince McMahon during the Monday Night Wars. We watched the nWo become one of the greatest factions of all time. Wrestling has provided us with some great drama for so many years, but let’s be honest here, they don’t always get it right. In fact, they get it wrong….a lot. They don’t push who we think they should push. They give us a great build that leads to nowhere. They just can’t be perfect all the time and that’s okay, but sometimes it’s just really, really bad.
So here’s the plan for today. For the sake of argument, let’s just pretend that I am the primary person responsible for everything that’s happened in the world of professional wrestling. I’m the owner, the booker, and the promoter of all things wrestling. I’ve obviously made some mistakes in the past, but now I have the power to go back and right a few wrongs. From misguided heel turns to ridiculous storylines to creating an awful brand, these are 20 of my biggest regrets in wrestling history.
20. Hornswoggle Is Revealed As Vince McMahon’s Son
Okay, this entire storyline was just ridiculous to begin with. Even the idea of Vince McMahon having an illegitimate child is something that just shouldn’t have happened. Nevertheless, they were going to go forward with it, but the original plan was for Mr. Kennedy (you may know him as Mr. Anderson in TNA) to be revealed as Vince’s son. They even had him come right out and say that he would be the one, but with his pending suspension for a wellness violation, WWE had to go in a different direction and chose Hornswoggle. The reveal was made, a few laughs were had at his expense, and the storyline soon fizzled. In reality, this should never have been a thing at all.
19. The Vince McMahon Death Angle
The illegitimate child angle may not have ever been necessary had Vince been able to go through with the original story he wanted to tell. After the “Vince McMahon Appreciation Night” episode of RAW on June 11, 2007, in which he was basically bombarded with negative comments, his limo blew up outside of the arena. Now, I’m all for pushing the limits, but this was too much even for me. WWE.com played it up for days. The flags were flown at half mast and even the stock dipped because people actually thought it was real. They did the whole ten-bell salute and everything. But then Chris Benoit actually died (that’s a whole different kind of regret) and the storyline was dropped. It was insane to begin with and I would have never given that the green light from the beginning.
18. Triple H Handed The World Heavyweight Championship
I was excited when the WWE went to just one undisputed champion back in 2001 following the Invasion storyline. Chris Jericho was a great surprise call to be the first and the belt would change hands a few times, including the last title run of Hulk Hogan. But I don’t know if they got bored or what, but in September 2002, they went to two heavyweight championships. Brock Lesnar and his WWE Championship were exclusive to Smackdown and the Big Gold Belt, rebranded the World Heavyweight Championship, was put back on RAW. But instead of having a tournament for the title, it was just given to HHH. Wait, what? You have a vacant title that could lead to a series of epic matches with a loaded roster, but you just hand it to the main heel? Okay then.
17. Turning Stone Cold Heel At WrestleMania X-Seven
Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon had one of the greatest feuds in wrestling history. Austin had become the biggest star in the world because of it and would lock up once again with The Rock at WrestleMania X-Seven (it’s regretful that X-Seven and X8 were ever used), which ended up being one of the greatest events in history. However, the finish was just ridiculous. By his own admission, Austin regrets the heel turn at the end of the match and aligning himself with Vince ever happened. The bad thing was that it was actually his idea. He liked working as a heel more than a babyface, I get that. But he could still talk like a heel and act like a heel even when he was a babyface so the turn just didn’t make any sense. I’m glad he can at least admit that.
16. Hogan/Warrior Match In WCW
WrestleMania VI gave us one of the biggest main events in wrestling history. Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior told a great story in Toronto. It wasn’t often you got a face vs face match back then, but they made it work. Hogan took the clean loss and that’s definitely something that didn’t happen back then. Sure, they put the belt back on Hogan a year later, but it was still a defining moment in wrestling history. However, after Hogan jumped to WCW and became the ultimate heel in the nWo, he wasn’t going to let that loss go. Word is that Hogan convinced Eric Bischoff to pay Warrior a ton of money to bring him to the company so he could avenge that defeat. What we got was a terrible buildup to an even worse match at Halloween Havoc in 1998. Let it go, brother.
15. Vince Russo Going To WCW
There’s plenty of things that WCW did wrong over the years, but bringing in Vince Russo may have just been the absolute worst. He had made a name for himself as the head writer in WWE and done some great things, but that certainly didn’t translate in WCW. He booked himself in matches with Ric Flair that made no sense and just put the finishing touches on what was already a dying company. He himself says that he regrets making the move down south and I don’t blame him.
14. Vince McMahon Winning Titles
It’s pretty simple. The owner and chairman of the company should not be winning titles. He shouldn’t be winning the Royal Rumble either, but that’s not the point here. Look, I understand that Vince wanted to be a wrestler growing up but his dad wouldn’t let him. However, if you want to be a wrestler, then be a wrestler. When he bought the company, he could have easily made that a reality. Yet, he chose to be an announcer and later the “Mr. McMahon” character, but if you’re going to do that, don’t put belts on yourself as a non-wrestler. He held the WWF Championship in 1999 and the ECW title in 2007 and neither should have ever happened.
13. Eric Bischoff Not Letting DX In The Building
I’m all for the “DX Invasion” that happened, but if I’m Eric Bischoff, I’m letting those guys in the building and I’m happy that he finally came out and said that he made a mistake. Can you imagine how great that episode of Monday Nitro would have been? That would have been the Monday Night Wars playing out in shoot fashion. Would Scott Hall and Kevin Nash have sided with their old Kliq buddies or with WCW? Would Meng, who has long been considered the actual toughest guy in the locker room, have given HHH and the boys a real beating? Who knows what could have happened that night, but it would have made for great television.
12. CM Punk Returning Too Soon In 2011
We all remember the CM Punk “Pipebomb” promo from 2011 and his great feud with John Cena, but it could have been so much better. After winning the title in Chicago and “leaving” WWE with the belt, he was only gone for a week. They didn’t give us any time to miss him before bringing him back for the unification bout with Cena and even after he won that, Alberto Del Rio cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and that was that.
Perhaps things would have gone down differently for CM Punk in WWE had they given him some time off and let him come back as the biggest threat that John Cena ever had. But I suppose that would have just been too easy.
11. Ending Goldberg’s Streak
It was hard not to get excited about Goldberg when he first debuted. He was a big, strong guy that was freakishly athletic and for more than a year, he ran through the WCW roster. He beat Hulk Hogan for the title (probably should have been a pay-per-view) less than a year after joining the company and was rivaling Steve Austin for the title of the biggest wrestling star in the world. The streak was intact and then Kevin Nash booked himself to end it. WHAT? Not only that, but Nash ended up dropping the title only a week later in an incident that began the downfall of WCW and I’ll get to that in a bit. But halting the momentum of your biggest moneymaker was an absolute mistake…and I don’t even really like Goldberg.
10. Not Having Hogan vs Flair at WrestleMania VIII
The next two items on this list could probably be interchanged, but I just went with the one that happened first to kick off the top 10. For years, fans had argued about who the biggest star in the world was, Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair. So when Flair came to the WWE in 1991 and cost Hogan the title, the inevitable match between the two at WrestleMania was finally going to happen, right? Nope. Granted, we did get a great match between Flair and Savage, but Hogan vs. Sid was dreadful.
It’s been said that the Flair vs. Hogan matches at house shows were getting poor responses, which is why the plug was pulled, but that’s an opportunity that was missed. We’d finally get the match when Hogan went to WCW.
9. Not Having Hogan vs Austin at WrestleMania X8
Ten years after missing out on Flair vs Hogan, another big opportunity presented itself at WrestleMania X8. Hogan was still one of the biggest names in wrestling and Steve Austin was still the biggest star in the WWE. It stood to reason that these two would finally clash on the grandest stage, but that didn’t happen, apparently due to neither man wanting to do the honors for the other. Austin had a very average match with Scott Hall and Hogan went on to have an epic encounter with The Rock. Austin and Hogan did square off in a tag match prior to WrestleMania, but we never got the payoff we were hoping for and never will.
8. WCW Giving Away Mick Foley’s First Title Win
Chalk this up to one of the biggest “Oops” moments in wrestling history. While WCW was trying to revive the nWo on January 4, 1999 (don’t worry, I’ll get there), Mick Foley was about to win his first WWF Championship on a taped episode of RAW. Eric Bischoff knew this and gave away those results as he’d done many times before. However, this one backfired in a major way as half a million people changed the channel. Foley’s career went into the stratosphere and the ratings began to shift in the WWF’s favor in the Monday Night Wars. WCW would be out of business two years later.
7. The Katie Vick Storyline
Oh, I’ve got an idea. Let’s have HHH, who was just handed a title, go into a storyline with Kane. Okay, I’ve got no problem with that, but the direction they went was absolutely terrible and outright disgusting. Again, I’m all for pushing the limits, but this was another instance that they just went too far. Seriously, they had HHH jump into a casket and pretend to have sex with Kane’s dead ex-girlfriend. Who in their right mind thought that was a good idea? Wow….just….wow.
6. The ECW Rebrand
I’m not exactly sure what the point of this was. I mean, did we really need a third brand at that time? RAW had a champion. Smackdown had a champion. Did we need the ECW name back, especially when we knew that it wouldn’t be what it was at its peak? I don’t know exactly what they were trying to do, but it’s no secret that Vince McMahon likes to win. Perhaps he resurrected it just to bury it again. Hell, he put the ECW title on himself, perhaps to prove that it wasn’t that big of a deal in his mind. Maybe I’m off here, but that’s what it always looked like to me.
5. The Fingerpoke of Doom
Finally, we arrive to an event that I’ve mentioned a couple of times already on this list. The dreaded “Fingerpoke of Doom” on January 4, 1999 on Nitro was the beginning of the end for World Championship Wrestling. Nash had ended Goldberg’s streak a week before and was supposed to have a rematch that night, but Goldberg was arrested and a returning Hulk Hogan took his place. The rest is history…and bad history. There had to be other ideas floating around backstage, right? If you want to revive the nWo, that’s fine. If you want to screw Goldberg, that’s fine as well. But come up with something better than this. The only good thing to come out of this was the Hogan-Nash vignette where they talked about the “match”. Otherwise, this was just garbage.
4. The Invasion Angle
What could have been one of the biggest and greatest storylines in wrestling history was nothing more than the WCW B-list coming over to try and take down the biggest stars in the WWF. Throw in a mix of ECW guys and a lot of twists and turns from WWE wrestlers that made absolutely zero sense and you have one of the biggest missed opportunities of all time. Had they just been patient and waited for Hogan, Hall, Nash, Flair, etc. to get to the WWE, you could have had some of the biggest matches that the world had ever seen. The Monday Night Wars could have played out in the ring and instead we were left with another “what could have been” scenario.
3. Putting The WCW Championship on David Arquette
Does that headline not say it all? While the WCW was probably already on their way to going out of business, this may have been the final nail in their coffin. In a desperate attempt by Vince Russo to grab mainstream headlines, he decided to put the company’s world title on an actor. If WCW wasn’t already considered a joke before this incident, this turned WCW into a circus and rendered the company’s richest prize as a meaningless prop.
2. Continuing “Over The Edge” After Owen Hart’s Death
These last two are intertwined, but both necessitate inclusion on this list. After Owen Hart’s fall at the Over the Edge pay-per-view in 1999, a decision had to be made. Continue the show or pull the plug. The wrong call was made. Look, I understand “the show must go on” mentality, but this was absurd and insanely disrespectful. There could not have been a person in that building that night in Kansas City that wasn’t in complete shock as the tragedy played out. I know that the guys who had to wrestle after the incident are professionals, but when a co-worker and a friend falls from the ceiling on the job, the workday is over. Storylines do not matter at this point. Pull the plug. End the show and do not put Jim Ross in the position to have to tell the world that Owen Hart is dead.
1. The Owen Hart Stunt
The decision mentioned above should not even have to be on this list because the stunt that ultimately killed Owen Hart should never have happened in the first place. The stunt wasn’t leading to anything big. It served no storyline purpose and was completely unnecessary. There’s not much to say other than that. It’s hard to say where the blame falls. Some say the stunt was Vince Russo’s idea, while others blame McMahon for okaying it. Either way, this incident was easily preventable.
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