While the WWE has succeeded on numerous occasions, it has also failed on numerous occasions. From signing wrestlers who either struggled to perform, failed to connect with their audience or wore their welcome behind the curtains thin, the world’s greatest wrestling corporation has certainly whiffed on talent. Further, its failures extend beyond its stars’ performances. On many occasions, the company’s creative team has steered a character’s storyline in a bizarre direction, causing that character to take part in unfitting moments that either destroyed their career or put the company under a heated microscope.
This list contains both superstars and infamous moments because they often go hand-in-hand. Some wrestlers hurt their careers because they were unable to effectively wrestle, but others saw their livelihood wither away because of the awful moments they were placed into. Other moments just plain hurt the company’s immediate image.
Some may argue the company’s failures were actually good for business. Did these so called failures really hurt the WWE or did they propel the company to seemingly once unreachable heights? After reading this article, you might think the WWE had collapsed under the mounting weight of its own blunders; yet, if anything, the opposite was true. No matter the type of creative disasters that went live, they always seemed to rebound and grow stronger. And that growth would have never happened if the WWE had not learned from its mistakes.
Without studying why it failed, the WWE may have never become the global phenomenon it is today. It would have never won the Monday Night Wars, invaded Hollywood (figuratively speaking of course) or launched its own global network. Companies get rich by taking risks and the WWE has always pushed the boundaries of reality TV.
So, with that being said, let’s delve into the major mistakes that initially hurt, but actually made and continues to make the WWE one of the most watched programs on the planet.
20 RAW Guest Hosts
19 Mae Young Gives Birth to a Hand
18 Michael Cole, The Wrestler
17 Outback Jack
16 Dr. Death Steve Williams
15 The Great Khali
13 Scott Steiner
12 The Miz
11 Stone Cold Aligns With Vince McMahon
Stone Cold had always been the anti-hero—someone who balanced the WWE universe when either the faces or heels grew too strong. Austin’s one constant was how he always rebelled against authority figures, which makes his heel turn in 2001 all the more shocking.
9 Vladimir Kozlov
7 Sin Cara
6 Mr. Kennedy
5 Brian Pillman Takes Shots at Stone Cold
We can categorize this angle as a short-term bust for a couple of reasons. First, Pillman and the WWE had to apologize profusely for swearing on live television. Soon after the incident, Vince McMahon received a phone call from the head of the USA Network, and to ensure the network didn't cancel the weekly program, Pillman argued the profanity “slipped out.”
3 Tom Magee
2 Vince McMahon Fakes Death
This storyline couldn’t have gone more wrong. On an episode of Monday Night Raw, the WWE decided to dedicate the entire night to honoring the chairman. Instead, however, wrestlers took to the stage and disparaged the billionaire owner. The events led to McMahon walking and climbing into his limo, which then exploded as he shut the door.
1 The WCW/ECW Invasion Roster
While the WCW/ECW Invasion angle became one of the most engaging and subsequently last storylines of the Attitude Era, that’s all it became—an angle. Because most of the bigger WCW stars were contracted under Time Warner, it would have cost the WWE a substantial amount of money to buy those contracts out. So, instead of seeing upper-tier WCW and WWE talent battling it out, fans had to watch WWE superstars destroy WCW's midcarders.
Other factors helped kill a potential, new long-term rivalry that could have lasted the better part of the 2000s. Right before the Invasion storyline took off, Chris Benoit and Triple H sustained major injuries that kept them out of action. Also, rumors unsurprisingly suggest that McMahon’s ego obstructed his former enemies from sustaining any long term success over his own wrestlers. Shortly after the invasion, Team WWE beat its rivals in a “Winner Take All” match and the WCW/ECW were officially no more.
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