Ever since the end of the Monday Night Wars, wrestling as a whole has seen a decline in popularity and the WWE is a clear example of this. Simply comparing the quality of WWE today to the Ruthless Aggression Era will demonstrate how far the WWE has fallen since then. Monday Night Raw, while still retaining its title as the biggest wrestling show in the USA, has seen decreasing ratings year after year. Friday Night SmackDown, which at one point outshined Monday Night Raw, is now another wrestling show the likes of WWE Main Event or Superstars. The roster of 2006, that was packed with multiple main-event level talents like John Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Edge, Batista, Randy Orton, and Rey Mysterio has been reduced to a show with a handful of active main event wrestlers while the rest of the “main eventers” are upper midcarders at best.
Overall, aside from the quality of women’s wrestling and the emphasis on legitimate tag teams, the WWE of today is nowhere near the WWE of the last two periods of wrestling. Both the Ruthless Aggression Era and the Attitude Era were greater periods of enjoyment for wrestling fans the world over. While they both lacked certain qualities, they still produced better storylines, promos, and occasionally better matches than what the WWE does now. And while many would claim that this is the fault of the wrestling talents themselves, it would only make the most sense that this be an indictment of the WWE and their failure to create superstars.
Over the last ten years, countless opportunities to make small names big and make big names bigger have been wasted and it has ultimately resulted in what we see today. This current roster with a weak main event scene is mostly a result of the WWE making odd decisions and neglecting to elevate talent. And to further illustrate this point, this article will focus on some of the biggest booking mistakes that the WWE has made over the years that has ultimately crippled their main event scene and resulted in a lack of interest in the current product. Sometimes it’ll be one particular storyline, other times it can be an entire PPV, and in the worst cases it can be a sustained period of negligence.
Let’s take a look.
25 WrestleMania XXVII
Perhaps one of the most disappointing WrestleManias of the modern era. A promising United States Championship match moved to the pre-show, the multi-man tag match was a joke, the celebrity guest match was unnecessary, the main event was a clustered mess, and perhaps the biggest waste of time was the Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler match. Despite all these travesties, this WrestleMania did have some great things going for it like the Triple H and Undertaker match, the CM Punk and Randy Orton match, and the Edge and Alberto Del Rio match. Unfortunately, these matches wouldn’t be enough to save this PPV. The rest of the card was either filled with missed opportunities or utterly pointless matches.
24 Brock Lesnar Returns, Then Loses
Even though he lost the match, the WWE did a good job of making Brock Lesnar look like the strong MMA badass he was in the UFC. With that being said, it was still a dumb decision. After making his return the night after WrestleMania, Lesnar was booked for a match against John Cena at the Extreme Rules PPV; a match he would lose following a steel chain to the skull and an Attitude Adjustment to the steel steps. For what reason, we have no clue. Lesnar had just came back after an 11-year absence and for him to lose to Cena in his first match back served no purpose except making Cena look good.
23 Neville Losing the King of The Ring Finals
After making his debut on Raw, the WWE placed Neville in the King of the Ring tournament. This would’ve been a good first accomplishment in his WWE career and would’ve been something kinda big that the commentary team could mention all the time had he won the match. Instead, Wade Barrett won the match and all Neville has going for him up to this point is a Slammy Award for “Breakout Star of the Year,” an award that realistically should’ve been given to Kevin Owens. The King of the Ring already didn’t mean much when this tournament was announced, but it meant even less when Wade Barrett won considering the fact that he just lost the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania after a boring championship reign. You don’t give a loser an accomplishment and expect him to make compelling television out of it.
22 CM Punk’s 434 Day Championship Reign
21 The Shield's First Loss on SmackDown
20 Christian's Two Day World Heavyweight Championship Reign
19 The Wyatt Family vs. The Brothers of Destruction
18 Triple H and Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXV
A feud with an excellent buildup that had years of animosity coming to a head is the perfect description of the Triple H and Randy Orton feud heading into WrestleMania. Orton won the Royal Rumble that year, Triple H became the WWE Champion later, and the table was set for a feud that would’ve been made greater with a no disqualification match of some kind.
17 Bobby Lashley Loses the ECW Championship to Vince McMahon
16 December to Dismember
Remember that downhill spiral that the ECW brand was experiencing, well it all started here folks. A regular tag team match that had nothing to do with ECW, a pointless match with Balls Mahoney and Matt Striker wearing tights three sizes too small, another pointless tag team match with Elijah Burke, a boring mixed tag, and a terribly booked main event made this event one of the worst PPVs in WWE history. The fans were chanting for CM Punk all night heading into the main event, only for him to be the first person eliminated from the match. Ironically enough, both Paul Heyman and then-ECW Champion Big Show were advocating for CM Punk to win the ECW Championship, but McMahon said no in favor of Bobby Lashley; a man he would later screw out of the championship just to put it on himself. McMahon also wrote Sabu out of the match too, which only angered the ECW fans heading into the main event.
15 Seth Rollins' WWE Championship Reign
How WWE turned the biggest and most surprising Money in the Bank cash-in of all time into a boring championship reign of a weakling who could do little to nothing on his own is beyond me. Almost everything after Rollins’ Money in the Bank cash-in failed to make him look like a genuine star. His first title defense would be in a steel cage match with the RKO banned against Randy Orton. The match would end after Rollins got the help of J&J Security and Kane to help him win the match. This one title defense would mark the beginning of Rollins’ booking as a weak champion who would look worse as the championship reign progressed. After months of looking like a joke of a champion, Rollins would be forced to vacate the title due to injury.
14 Triple H defeating Sting at WrestleMania 31
13 Ryback losing to CM Punk at Hell in a Cell 2012
12 Alberto Del Rio Beats John Cena for the US Championship
11 The World Heavyweight Championship Money In the Bank Ladder Match of 2013
10 Everything About Cesaro at WrestleMania XXX
All that momentum that Cesaro had after winning the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal practically spelled it out for WWE that they needed to turn Cesaro face and let him be the upper midcarder that fans wanted him to be. Instead, the WWE kept him heel and paired him with Paul Heyman who was getting heat at the time for always mentioning how Brock Lesnar broke The Streak. They also changed his entrance theme to what can only be described as a collision of sirens and seemingly made him decrease the amount of times he would do his signature swing.
9 The End of the John Cena-Kevin Owens Feud
8 Ending The Streak With No Payoff
7 Bray Wyatt Loses to John Cena at WrestleMania XXX
6 Ziggler Never Regaining the World Heavyweight Championship
5 The 2015 Royal Rumble Match
4 Summer of Punk
3 The WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament of 2015
2 The Return of The Authority
By the time Survivor Series 2014 came along, The Authority had run its course in the WWE and wasn’t adding anything of value to the show besides two inconsistent characters who were heels one minute and faces the next. So after The Authority fell out of power, it was greatly welcomed by the fans. Then, for no real justifiable reason, The Authority made their return after one month of being out of power. And as a result, we have seen storylines way to similar to each other occur each year. First Daniel Bryan fought against The Authority, then Big Show, then Daniel Bryan again, then John Cena, then Dean Ambrose, and now we have Roman Reigns fighting to overcome the odds heading into WrestleMania. These shifts of wrestlers fighting The Authority would be welcomed if the babyfaces got longer championship reigns and The Authority changed some of their tactics, but they haven’t changed anything in the last two years of their existence.
1 The Nexus
In a rather mundane year for the WWE, they managed to shock the world with the debut of a deadly rookie group called The Nexus. They attacked current rosters members, legends, and any other WWE personnel they could get their hands on and looked like a legitimate badass group who could go on to win all the titles and be completely dominant. Then they lost at SummerSlam, kept losing and gaining members almost every month, only won the tag team championships, and eventually split into two lesser groups called The New Nexus and The Corre; neither of which ever really accomplished anything of real importance. A group with the potential to reach nWo levels of success was rendered to a midcard group and a flash in the pan. A true travesty.
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