Good and bad booking decisions are a part of the wrestling industry. Everyone from Vince McMahon to every smart fan with an opinion makes a mistake in judgement of how to build a wrestling storyline. When WWE makes the right choices, the best of pro wrestling comes out. Often times, a bad booking decision doesn't even hurt anyone and can be fixed. However, there are times when WWE has made their booking choice and they've made the wrong one.
When WWE simply just gets it wrong, it's a rough pill to swallow because it's up to the performers to fix it, the crowd to acknowledge it, or WWE to actually admit they made a mistake. The latter rarely happens, but wrestling continues on despite bad decisions and everyone moves on eventually. The thought in the back of everyone's mind is, "What if?"
What if that booking mistake hadn't been made? What if the WWE powers that be had decided differently? What if WWE got it right? Those are always the questions that lead a lot of smart fans to question a lot of choices WWE creative make in their storylines. It's the source of a lot of fan's complaints.
A clear example of this is last year's Royal Rumble. Roman Reigns won to much chagrin from the smart Philadelphia crowd. On one hand, booing Reigns out of the building is their right, but on the other hand, a smart crowd that knew he was chosen for the victory months beforehand gave them ample time to come to terms with it and just enjoy the show.
The argument against Reigns winning is that he was forced down the collective throat of the fans, despite his lack of experience and injury prone 2014. Many thought it was a case of Reigns being the right guy, at the right place; at the wrong time. However, he would main event WrestleMania with Brock Lesnar and put on a physical battle, before Seth Rollins would cash in Money in the Bank for the WWE Championship that he still holds today.
Many would argue that Roman Reigns winning the 2015 Royal Rumble was a case of WWE getting it wrong. That's just one example. Here are another 25 cases where WWE could have gotten it wrong.
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25 Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker - SummerSlam 2015
Paul Heyman will remind fans all the time about how his client, Brock Lesnar conquered The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania XXX. No one else will ever be allowed to have that title, but the one who beat the one in 21-1 was something that many were willing to try to do. Brock Lesnar did not lose via pinfall, or submission since conquering The Undertaker's Streak until SummerSlam two months ago.
The point of someone finally breaking The Streak is that now the balance of power had shifted and that man was unbeatable. Brock Lesnar was unbeatable, until he lost to The Undertaker on a technicality. That means that no one gets to hold the title of truly beating The Beast unless you're John Cena or Triple H. That's really unfair to a lot of performers and something that WWE booking took away from them. WWE got that one wrong.
24 Damien Sandow vs. The Miz
The Andre Memorial Battle Royal is a booking nightmare. Winning it doesn't have much value, but it could have changed if Damien Mizdow had finally turned on The Miz and won the Battle Royal in front of over 70,000 people.
Part one of that, we saw and it was an amazing moment. It had been building for far too long, but Sandow turned on Miz for a special WrestleMania moment, but was eliminated by Big Show, who did nothing with the momentum. Sandow beat The Miz and hasn't been featured on WWE television seriously since. There wasn't even a followup match on a PPV between the two. Sandow was one of the most over men on the WWE roster in 2014. Look at him now.
23 Orton Cashes in on Bryan - SummerSlam 2013
The first major swerve in the Daniel Bryan saga. Bryan beats Cena clean at Summerslam 2013 to become WWE Champion, but then Triple H turns heel and Orton cashes in to become the face of the WWE and its champion. WWE's booking gave fans what they wanted, but quickly took it away. It was a great long burn that culminated at WrestleMania XXX with him truly becoming champion.
Bryan would get hurt shortly afterward and is still on a string of injuries that may keep him from ever wrestling again. In hindsight, it may have been better for Bryan to keep the title at SummerSlam and have his run there. The fans wouldn't feel so incomplete.
22 Batista Wins the 2014 Royal Rumble
Speak of the devil, Batista was right in the middle of the Bryan saga. Batista returned believe it or not as a fan favorite in 2014. The difference was the fans didn't get what they wanted with Daniel Bryan in the Royal Rumble as the 30th entrant, so they complained very loudly and hated anyone that wasn't Bryan, including poor Rey Mysterio.
Batista just came back from being in between Guardians of the Galaxy and James Bond. He felt forced and he wasn't Daniel Bryan. Batista would have been over if Bryan had just won the Royal Rumble. Batista was booked to fail and WWE didn't even know it.
21 Sting Losing to Triple H at WrestleMania 31
Sting's debut at Survivor Series in 2014 was perfect. Team Cena versus The Authority was a great match and his involvement made Sting the perfect foil against The Authority. Their feud went all the way to WrestleMania where Sting would finally wrestle for WWE. However, the angle turned into WCW versus WWE with the nWo and DX being involved in the match.
Sting would go on to lose which diminished his momentum as a conquering hero, or so called, vigilante. Fast forward to now, Sting is sucking up to Triple H during his promos. Sting versus. Rollins could have been much bigger. Sting is now 0-2 in his WWE matches and we don't even know if he'll wrestle again.
20 Kevin Owens Loses Rubber Match to John Cena - Battleground 2015
John Cena built off Rusev's momentum and made the U.S. title arguably the most prestigious championship in WWE with the help of all men who participated in the Open Challenge, which includes Cesaro and most importantly, Kevin Owens. Owens was a mega heel in NXT and was really dominant. Owens came in to beat Cena clean, but then lost to him twice, lost the NXT Championship and failed to win the U.S. title.
Cena would go on to drop it to Rollins in a Jon Stewart interference angle and Cena won it back a month later. Meanwhile, Owens won the Intercontinental title. Wouldn't it have just been easier to keep Owens' momentum and give him the U.S. title?
19 Christian's World Title Reigns - 2011
This issue will come up again, but when something tragic happens in WWE, someone gets rewarded. For Edge's surprise retirement in 2011, that was Christian. At Extreme Rules, he defeated Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match (of course) to claim the World Championship Edge had vacated. That was a great moment.
Orton would beat Christian for the title exactly two days later (aired five days later). That crushed the fans of Christian, even though those two guys would have a criminally underrated feud in 2011 during the Summer of Punk. Christian would never have a real reign with a World Title in WWE.
18 Daniel Bryan Joining the Wyatt Family
After SummerSlam 2014, Bryan remained the hottest wrestler in the world. In a red hot feud with Bray Wyatt, Bryan would accept Wyatt's dominance over his life and gave up the constant fight of trying to prove people wrong. He became Daniel Wyatt and gave Bray Wyatt huge momentum. In storyline, Bryan was "pretending" to get the right moment to take out Bray Wyatt. It was a wasted opportunity because WWE brass was scared his momentum would cool. His stint in the family only lasted a couple of weeks, making you wonder what the whole point of the angle really was.
17 The Miz headlining WrestleMania XXVII
The Miz as WWE Champion was a good story for him. He was hot, but he was stuck as the third wheel between Cena and The Rock. The top heel in 2011 was CM Punk. WrestleMania should be the top face versus the top heel, a simple concept that's often lost. That case in 2011 should have been Cena versus Punk and their matches over the next two years would prove their chemistry. They deserved to be on that Mania 27 stage after following Triple H versus. The Undertaker. Miz would lose the title to Cena a month later anyway. Miz would have been better off not main eventing.
16 John Cena goes over The Nexus - SummerSlam 2010
The Nexus was the hottest stable since Evolution. Their dominance over WWE was absolute and Wade Barrett was a new foe for John Cena. He was a star on the rapid rise. However, when Nexus needed the win far more, Cena and his team would unintentionally squash the team's momentum after winning an elimination match at SummerSlam.
Nexus could have been a stable to have members coming in and out, but remaining dominant as the new generation's nWo. This loss stopped that from happening and more mistakes led to Wade Barrett never reaching the top of the mountain he deserves.
15 Rey Mysterio's World Championship Reign
Rey Mysterio is one of the greatest cruiserweights to ever wrestle. His aura of character and his legend are staggering. However, he deserved to win the World Championship on his own, not as a courtesy victory for the late-great Eddie Guerrero. The blatant misuse of exploiting a real man's death was a wrong move that no one should have actually acknowledged on WWE television.
14 Releasing Muhammad Hassan - 2005
Muhammad Hassan could have been the greatest foreign heel of all time. The U.S. was so up in arms after 9/11 that a character directly attacking the issue head on was created in Muhammad Hassan. A man of Arab descent simply wanting relief from the increased prejudice of the current events.
Hassan was so hated by the fans and the hate of terrorism was too strong in the American culture that the Hassan character was written off Smackdown after pressure from the UPN Network. What could have been if UPN hadn't gotten scared of a little backlash. The first instance WWE started going PG and stopped talking about real issues in our culture.
13 Vince McMahon's Illegitimate Son Storyline - 2007
The angle that could have given a heel a fast break to the top of the WWE ladder. The question of who was Vince's unknown son led to a lot of speculation and could have built a new star directly tied to the McMahon name. A lot of people may even have accepted Triple H, but that would be weird with the whole Stephanie marriage thing. The original plan was for Mr. Kennedy to be the son, but a suspension resulted in that plan being scrapped. Why not just give it to someone else who could have used the break? The point is that anything would have been better than Hornswoggle. Instead of a new main eventer, it was comedy hour of watching Vince play and abuse Hornswaggle. A wasted opportunity for all involved.
12 The Build to End The Streak - 2014
There is always going to be debate about Brock Lesnar breaking The Undertaker's Streak, but that's another issue entirely. History is written and Lesnar did beat The Streak, but the build to that biblical and epic moment was lukewarm at best. Maybe, that is because WWE didn't want to give away the ending. Whatever the case, Lesnar versus Taker with The Streak ending should have been the biggest build up of the night. Their build to their recent SummerSlam match was far better, but you would have thought the build to end the biggest streak in wrestling history would have been epic.
11 Failing to push Ziggler - post Survivor Series 2014
Sting wasn't the only one coming out strong after Survivor Series 2014. The sole survivor of Team Cena vs. Team Authority was Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler went against three remaining members of Team Authority and eliminated most of the opposition and his momentum skyrocketed, because he outperformed everyone else in that match. Ziggler would go on to win his 4th Intercontinental Championship, but he would slowly lose his momentum in the firing storyline he was thrust into at the end of 2014.
10 The Summer of Punk in 2011
The Summer of Punk was the hottest thing in wrestling in many years. Punk had trail blazed his momentum to the stratosphere of WWE's world and was telling a deeper story than WWE wanted to tell. Money in the Bank was the first true establishment of Cena versus Punk. Punk would win the WWE Championship and "leave" the company with it.
WWE's value had an asterisk next to it while Punk ran free. This tension could have lasted for months and months. That could have built to WrestleMania XXVIII, but Punk returned barely over a week after Money in the Bank to build to SummerSlam. That could have connected the industry together, but WWE had to build and sell for quick PPV buys. Things derailed further from there, as Alberto Del Rio would cash in his MITB contract to beat Punk and the next month, Punk would lose to Triple H, taking serious steam off his run.
9 Rikishi's Heel Turn - 2000
Who hit Stone Cold with the car? Austin wasn't even on television for almost six months, but one of the biggest questions in WWE was, "Who ran over Stone Cold?" With unlimited possibilities to build a mega heel, Rikishi took the momentum because, "He did it... for The Rock."
When Austin returned, Austin versus Rikishi never had any real momentum and Rikishi wouldn't do anything major as heel, or in the main event picture. A missed opportunity for a fresh debut, or someone who could tell that story.
8 Triple H Beating Booker T - WrestleMania XXIX
Booker T made legitimate momentum as a face. The Rock had put him over in a no.1 contender Battle Royal and Booker T was set to be champion. It was huge underdog story with Triple H as the champion. It was the time for an obvious Booker T title run, but Triple H went over at WrestleMania XXIX. Booker T's career and momentum never quite reached that level again and it as been the elite example of how political Triple H can be and how he wouldn't put over anyone else.
7 Stripping RVD of WWE Title - 2006
ECW was making a massive comeback in WWE. One Night Stand had been so successful that in 2006, there was a second. The current Money in the Bank holder Rob Van Dam cashed in his contract against John Cena. In front of a passionate and mega pro-RVD crowd, RVD would become ECW and WWE Champion. Shortly after, RVD would be caught in possession of marijuana and he was charged. He would go on to lose both championships to Big Show and Edge respectively. A little weed wasn't a just cause to take away the lifework of RVD, when that was kind of something that was always apparent in his character. That's what RVD was about, it was a bad decision to take his prime away from him.
6 WrestleMania XXVIII: 18 Seconds
Daniel Bryan was heel in the beginning of getting the "Yes Chant" over. AJ Lee was by his side. Sheamus had won the Royal Rumble. They were set to lead off WrestleMania with a good physical match, except a "Good Luck" kiss between AJ and Bryan led to a Brogue Kick and a match that gave Sheamus the World Championship in 18 seconds.
The fact is the Miami crowd was going to chant "Yes" no matter what happened. They were already doing it during Bryan's entrance. The fact that he lost in 18 seconds made the fans want to defend Bryan to the death. They didn't want to see his talent wasted. WWE got it wrong by booking an 18 second World Title match in the first place, but the fans fixed this one for the history books.
5 The Return of the nWo - 2002
At No Way Out 2002, the WWE was injected with a lethal dose of poison. The nWo returned with the original three: Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. Hogan would feud with The Rock and The Outsiders took on Stone Cold at Wrestlemania X8. However what WWE didn't anticipate was that a returning Hulk Hogan was going to be cheered by the WWE crowd no matter what he did. The nWo just couldn't generate heel momentum and the fact was, this 'invasion' came about six months too late. These guys should have been involved in the WWE's trainwreck of the "invasion" storyline. At least the WCW side would have been a credible threat to WWE.
WWE was quickly forced to change plans on this return by turning Hogan face. From there it went downhill with Hall being released due to drug and alcohol problems and Nash getting hurt. Before long, Shawn Michaels was trying to revive the nWo. This is one idea that shouldn't have transitioned from WCW to WWE. It just didn't work.
4 Stone Cold Turns Heel - WrestleMania X-Seven
Austin could share the blame with the company on this one, as he's admitted it was his idea to turn heel. As for the company, they should have shot this down.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was originally a heel. His gimmick was designed to be a heel persona, so there was no reason to think Austin couldn't handle being a heel. What made this the wrong choice was it was the last things fans wanted to see. The lack of faces on the same level as Stone Cold for him to to face were slim at that time, so the Austin heel character was just a bully, often times comical, rather than the mega heel he deserved to be. The only top face that could have presented a legitimate challenge would have been The Rock, but he was off shooting The Scorpion King after WrestleMania.
Comedy routines, or going to WCW in the Invasion didn't make sense for the Stone Cold character either. Stone Cold should have never been heel again after 1996.
3 WCW/ECW Invasion Angle
This is still the greatest idea for that time. WCW versus WWE was the biggest draw in the industry. If they could have done a crossover PPV, those numbers would have set company records. However, what we got due to contracts with Time Warner, was next to no major guys and a majority of the midcard wrestlers. The WWE wouldn't buy out the contracts due to the extremely high salaries, but they would have made all that money back in PPV buys and merchandise. This resulted in WWE mainstays Stone Cold and Kurt Angle having to join the Alliance to balance out power.
Essentially, WCW had a three month tryout for talent, instead of a genuine WCW versus WWF finale that it deserved to be.
2 CM Punk Losing to The Rock - Royal Rumble 2013
For 434 days, CM Punk was WWE champion. When his title reign began, he was the biggest face in the company. By the last day, he was the biggest heel in company. Cena hadn't beaten Punk in over two years. Punk was the best wrestler in the world without question, but for some reason they wouldn't let Punk be in the main event of WrestleMania, even though it was the only thing he really wanted.
A title reign of that was the lifeblood of CM Punk deserved to end in a WrestleMania main event. WWE could have built Cena vs. Rock II at SummerSlam that year. Instead, the pinnacle of Punk's career ended by putting The Rock over for a rematch with John Cena. That booking mistake led to the downward spiral that led to Punk being burnt out on the business. Maybe, if WWE gave the spot to Punk, he'd still be wrestling today. Or at least, he could have had a proper retirement angle.
1 Booking Brock Lesnar over Stone Cold on RAW
Although this match didn't officially happen, the booking plans for it are still regrettable as it led to the departure of the WWE's biggest star.
The booking mistake that led to Austin leaving from 2002 till 2003. The infamous 'taking his ball and going home' exit because Austin wanted to build Lesnar to a PPV. This situation was a combination of Austin not being able to handle his diminishing value to the WWE product and his body is breaking down.
Lesnar was fresh new and need a big win over an established star, but WWE could have easily built this feud to a PPV match. Why on earth would they want to waste Austin versus Lesnar on RAW, in a King of the Ring qualifying match? Once Stone Cold says no, that's that. WWE could have figured something out, an eight month absence of the Texas Rattlesnake didn't need to be the punishment for the rest of us.
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