Especially on the Internet, it often seems like the absolute worst of wrestling is the part of the industry fans talking about the most. Sure, live arenas might lose their mind at euphoric victories or shocking angles, but fan blogs and YouTube are forever ablaze with discussion of the ridiculously horrible angles where almost everything went wrong. Perhaps part of the reason for this obsession is that the WWE Universe has conditioned fans to believe the absurd and strange can often be the best sort of wrestling as well, meaning the only thing that went wrong in these much maligned angles was who they cast in the leading roles.
Time and again, Vince McMahon has struck gold with the weirdest storylines, producing television that would absolutely only work in sports entertainment. The catch is that the wrestlers involved need to be able to sell it, both on the microphone and inside the ring. Not all of them can do this, leading to baffling disasters that make no sense and leave the audience wholly uninterested.
The plus side is that there are always second chances in pro wrestling, so if the company waits long enough, they can always try some of these weird angles again and prove there was a kernel of wisdom within them all along. Keep reading to learn about 15 failed WWE angles that could have worked with different wrestlers.
15 James Ellsworth Becomes Carmella’s Errand Boy
When James Ellsworth made his WWE debut as a peppy challenger to the monster Braun Strowman, fans generally assumed he was making a one and done appearance. Surprisingly, the company was paying attention to audience responses for once, hiring the “Chinless Wonder” for an immediate main event feud against WWE Champion AJ Styles. There was nothing wrong with any of this, aside from the fact Ellsworth had nothing to do when it was all over, and he was immediately slotted into a go-nowhere role that ruined his character. After months of being the number one go-getter, Ellsworth became infatuated with Carmella and started doing whatever she said, entirely ignoring his own career. The idea of a weak newcomer becoming obsessed with a female talent is entirely believable, but the two had no chemistry whatsoever, and before long, it destroyed Ellsworth’s value as a performer. Had he been given a better partner, or another wrestler been placed in the role, at least no one would have gotten fired.
14 The Undertaker Fights Himself
Looking back at the nearly 30 years Mark Calaway has spent as The Undertaker, the most shocking part of his career is how stupid the angles were as it began. After four full years of monster of the week feuds without any rising action, Undertaker’s only opponent left…was himself. Or, well, an impostor, hired by Ted DiBiase to fool the fans into thinking the Dead Man sold out. The only problem was that the “Underfaker” as he was later known looked nothing like the real deal, standing a solid six inches shorter and having absolutely no facial resemblance. He was also nowhere near the caliber of the man he was ripping off inside the ring, making the one match between them at SummerSlam 1994 one of the worst in history. For all the downsides, had a wrestler who looked more like The Undertaker been in the role, it could have been a whole lot better, or at least not a total disaster.
13 Sting Is The Vigilante Against The Authority
From the second Triple H and Stephanie McMahon started asserting their backstage power as The Authority, it was inevitable some major outsider would need to step in and set them straight. On paper, for said all powerful force to be Sting was actually an inspired choice, allowing the last icon of WCW his long awaited opportunity to debut in the WWE Universe. However, there was a major problem in that WWE was completely unable to get past Sting’s history and actually focus on what the feud was supposed to be about. This became abundantly clear during the big blow off match at WrestleMania 31, when the announcers completely ignored months of build and focused entirely on the war between WCW and WWE. Suddenly, everything Triple H had done as the big bad face of the Authority was irrelevant, and it was entirely because of the person chosen to knock him down a peg from that position.
12 Bray Wyatt Corrupts A Hero
If nothing else, the next entry proves that every other idea on the list has a second chance to happen, because WWE already tried this particular terrible idea twice, albeit with brief variations. That said, there was basically no difference between Bray Wyatt’s attempts at corrupting Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, aside from the fact the second angle lasted much longer, and therefore failed on a significantly higher scale. The first one had more potential to succeed, anyway, with the main idea simply that Bray Wyatt’s Family was looking to expand outwardly and forcefully brainwash a top WWE superstar. It wasn’t a bad idea, but Bryan was just way too popular at the time to be involved in such a gimmicky feud. Bryan’s character was also so straight laced that it wasn’t all that believable for him to switch sides through a few simple words. With Orton, the build made a little more sense, but the problem was just that the ultimate matches were atrocious. Maybe the third time will be a charm.
11 The Anonymous Raw General Manager
One of the most maligned storylines in recent WWE history, there was actually nothing wrong with the Anonymous Raw General Manager storyline when it began. After several months of random celebrities, the intrigue was actually a breath of fresh air, but it was soon revealed that there were two massive downsides to the idea. For one, WWE couldn’t have picked a more annoying personality than Michael Cole to serve as the soulless dullard reading the GM’s instant messages. Jerry Lawler or JBL would have been much better in the role, just to name a few possibilities. More importantly, the angle went way, way, way too long, lasting over a full year before the person behind the gimmick was finally revealed. As if that weren’t bad enough, the fact it was Hornswoggle was a slap in the face to anyone hoping there would be some payoff. Literally anyone else would have had potential in the role, especially if WWE blew the trigger about seven or eight months earlier.
10 Dawn Marie & Al Wilson
Because of the people involved, the marriage of Al Wilson and Dawn Marie will forever be considered the stupidest segments in WWE history, and for good reason. Surprisingly, though, the issue wasn’t simply that it was impossible to believe a gorgeous young woman would fall in love with a 70-year-old man. The real problem was Al Wilson’s total lack of charisma, making everything he said feel dull and emotionless. It also didn’t help that the angle’s point was adding fuel to the fire in Dawn’s feud against Torrie Wilson, and neither of these women were wrestlers. This meant there would never be a real payoff, even if Al were a good actor. Nowadays, however, it could actually be an interesting idea for a rising female wrestler to use her opponent’s fathers to get into their heads. The best opportunity would probably be for one of Charlotte Flair’s enemies to try dating Ric, but any scenario with a charismatic father figure could definitely work.
9 Animal Finds A New Road Warrior
In an age where nostalgia is seemingly everything, its no surprise WWE would simply try and bring back their more adaptable successful gimmicks of yesteryear and hand them to new wrestlers. Should the gimmick belong to a tag team where one of the members is still alive, even better. The company found itself in this position circa 2005, when Road Warrior Animal made a dramatic return to wrestling after the death of his longtime partner, Hawk. Though he originally claimed he wasn’t looking for a new partner, the former WWE Tag Team Champion took upon the rising star Heidenreich as his mentee. While Heidenreich had the right physique for the power and paint look, he didn’t have the right kind of charisma, nor the necessarily in-ring skills as a brawler. The group nonetheless became Tag Team Champions once more, and had someone other than Heidenreich been chosen as the new Road Warriors, they might have held the belts for more than a few critically maligned months.
8 Kane Tries Dragging John Cena To The Dark Side
Pretty much from the day John Cena won his first WWE Championship, certain fans have been begging for the former rapper to go back to his streetwise days and turn into a full-fledged bad guy. Given the stage he’s at in his career and the amount of effort he puts into granting Make a Wishes, this probably won’t ever happen, but this hasn’t stopped WWE from hinting at the idea on several occasions. The biggest example of someone trying to get Cena to “embrace the hate” came in late 2011, when Kane originated that phrase in response to T-shirts claiming the Face of WWE would always “rise above” anger. Almost immediately, fan reaction to the idea was harshly negative, entirely because they were already tired of Kane in high profile roles and knew the resulting matches would be terrible. Had any other big bad tried making Cena show his dark side, it could have lead to gritty and emotional matches, two things Kane simply doesn’t deliver anymore.
7 The Only Challenger Left Is… A Woman Better Than Jacqueline
In what almost feels like a minor contradiction, the fact WWE is embroiled in a women’s wrestling revolution means this next idea could never happen again. This is ironic, since the same scenario is theoretically exactly what the company needs to actually get it right. The business definitely wasn’t there back in 2004, though, when WWE Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero boasted he defeated absolutely every valid contender around, only for former Women’s Champion Jacqueline to prove him wrong. The problem is that Jacqueline was never respected for her wrestling skills, and the resulting matches only made Chavo look like a joke, without improving the status of women’s wrestling in the slightest. Imagine, however, if instead of Jacqueline, the woman answering the challenge was a genuine talent like Bayley or Sasha Banks. Not only would they make history once again by defeating men, but the matches could also actually be good, and make all women in the company look better at once through association.
6 Kevin Nash Cuts Off the Summer of Punk
It’s hard to think of a moment more disappointing to wrestling fans than when Kevin Nash suddenly appeared behind CM Punk at SummerSlam 2011 and ended the Summer of Punk before it even began. Mere months after the Voice of the Voiceless dropped the Pipebomb that made him the hottest superstar of the modern era, a wrestler most fans considered retired and out of shape suddenly made him look like a chump in a matter of seconds. It only got worse from there, as they engaged in a terrible feud that shattered Punk’s momentum week by week. While the Straight Edge Messiah ultimately recovered, the near disaster could have been avoided by picking just about anyone else for the Kevin Nash role. It certainly didn’t have to be a “legend,” as any midcard to top level heel would have actually been a much, much better choice, and it could have made a secondary star in the process. By using Big Daddy Cool, they just killed one.
5 D-Generation X Take On A Bunch of Cheerleaders
No matter how a person feels about the group D-Generation X, virtually everyone is in agreement that the original installment was streets ahead of the PG-13 rehash that came about a decade later. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and whatever degenerates chose to join them were at their best as mischievous punks, a designation that was only possible in the Attitude Era. When they reunited in the twilight of their careers, everything felt like a pale imitation, and while the major players couldn’t logically change, in the very least, they could have had some better enemies. For DX to feud with the McMahons and Big Show was reasonable enough, but their secondary enemies in the Spirit Squad were the biggest scrubs ever to hit the main event. It’s extremely telling that only one of them, Dolph Ziggler, held onto his job when it was over, and that required massive character rewrites. Quite frankly, we’re not sure if anyone could have made the cheerleader gig work, but WWE definitely could’ve found better enemies to bring back DX.
4 Kurt Angle Has A Secret Son
When Kurt Angle made his surprising comeback to WWE as a new Hall of Famer and General Manager of Raw, fans were generally overjoyed at the homecoming. Unfortunately, all the good will flew out the window a few months later when Angle revealed a “bombshell” announcement: that Jason Jordan, former NXT Tag Team Champion in American Alpha, was his illegitimate son. Although some fans probably feel the angle would be in bad taste no matter who the fake son was, this is wrestling we’re talking about, so it’s not that crazy to think a star performer has a kid they don’t know about. The problem is that Jordan did not have the charisma for the high profile role in the slightest, not to mention the fact there was no resemblance whatsoever between him and Angle. Oddly enough, the solution was right in front of WWE’s eyes, as Jordan’s partner Chad Gable would have been a much better choice, and might have even made it work.
3 Vince McMahon Has A Secret Son
Once again showing WWE rarely learns their lesson after doing a bad idea once, almost 10 full years before the bomb that was Kurt Angle revealing Jason Jordan as his illegitimate son, company owner Vince McMahon went through the same thing on an even grander scale. Truly bigger in every way, although not better, the worst part about McMahon’s forgotten child was the payoff, as it was revealed diminutive superstar Hornswoggle had been his progeny. To the company’s credit, their original idea was a lot better. Instead of Fit Finlay’s little buddy, they were going to go with Mr. Kennedy as McMahon’s son, which could have given the rising heel a serious boost in credibility. Unfortunately, they changed their minds at the last minute for whatever reason, turning what could have been a huge moment into a total joke. This isn’t to say Kennedy had to be the child, but simply that it should have been anyone except for Hornswoggle.
2 Sending a Top Talent Back to NXT
Technically speaking, this next entry may not belong on this list, because WWE has pulled it off both successfully and unsuccessfully. The weird thing is that whenever the company does it right, they make little or no reference to what they’ve done. We’re talking about wrestlers appearing on the main WWE roster in relatively major roles only to later get sent down to NXT. In the case of Eva Marie, the reason was she couldn’t wrestle, a fact so evident it couldn’t be hidden. Because Eva never got better, it felt like the idea was a failure, with fans simply booing her out of the building every time she appeared. However, Drew McIntyre went through the same career trajectory without it ever getting pointed out, proving a demotion can definitely help boost a wrestler’s career if done right. Next time WWE makes it work, though, they should probably acknowledge what’s happening, because it adds an extra dimension of desperation to everything the former superstar does in the minor leagues.
1 The WCW/ECW Invasion
While some of the other items on this list may have come as a shock, number one with a bullet is an angle that on paper looked like it should have been perfect. When Vince McMahon purchased WCW after a 13-year war, the opportunities for dream matches and unthinkable scenarios were literally endless. However, rather than shell out the money for big stars or at least waiting until they were available, WWE totally blew the angle by using a bunch of forgettable midcards in all the major WCW roles. Instead of names like Sting or Scott Steiner leading the charge, the remnants of Monday Nitro were represented by…Lance Storm and Hugh Morrus. This made WCW look extremely second rate from the start, and “fixing” the problem by having high profile WWE superstars jump ship for absolutely no reason didn’t make any sense. No matter how bad it was, though, it goes without saying WWE could have had a serious hit on their hands if only the right talent was involved.