WWE makes a lot of mistakes.
Going to Saudi Arabia is one. Being pally with Donald Trump is another. But I want to talk about their creative mistakes. I could write a book on it, but I’m going to narrow it down to the 10 biggest blunders of 2019 for brevity’s sake.
Say what you will about Jon Moxley, but he knows how to get over and stay relevant. Many thought it was a mistake for the former Dean Ambrose to quit WWE for pastures new, but the mistake lies at Vince McMahon’s door for not seeing his potential and talent and keeping him around. Moxley is a tremendous performer, one that should still be plying his trade with the biggest wrestling company on the planet.
WWE botched Moxley’s heel turn by making him wear gas masks, mock Roman Reigns’ real-life illness and be generally goofy. It killed what passion he still had for WWE. He couldn’t wait for his contract to come to an end so he could join AEW where he has been incredible. If only WWE had realized what they had in Moxley. They should’ve catered to him, nurtured him and made him this generation’s Stone Cold Steve Austin as opposed to Doink The Clown.
Who’d have thought we would ever be complaining about WWE not pushing Roman Reigns? But that’s exactly what I’m going to do. After he returned from his life-threatening illness, the fans were solidly on his side, and there was no better time to have him inserted into the WrestleMania main event and finally defeat Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship in a Triple Threat Match along with Seth Rollins, which would also have been a nice callback to WrestleMania 31. Instead, WWE decided to ignore the feel-good story and have him mix it up with Drew McIntyre in a throwaway rivalry instead.
I’m not sure what Vince McMahon was thinking here. For the longest time he has tried to get fans to love Reigns, and it finally happened. Rather than run with it, Vince put on the brakes and cooled Roman off. Since then, he’s faded into the background and is now an afterthought. He is penciled in to challenge The Fiend at WrestleMania but it’s all a little too late.
Fresh of the biggest wins of their careers at WrestleMania, Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins were riding a huge wave of momentum until their next challengers were revealed. The green Lacey Evans and the obnoxious Baron Corbin, respectively. Not exactly inspiring choices, and it killed everything good Lynch and Rollins had going for them. The mixed tag at Extreme Rules was particularly painful to watch.
It was a strange choice to go with Evans and Corbin when the obvious choices were staring them in the faces. Keep Brock Lesnar around another month, and have Rollins overcome him in a Last Man Standing clash to solidify him as the top guy on Raw. As for Lynch, soften the blow of The Boss losing the Tag Team Championship by having Sasha Banks turn heel and take out The Man. Would’ve been much better.
WWE actually managed the feat of dropping the ball with Kevin Owens twice in one year. They first had him return as a listless heel despite weeks of vignettes showcasing his everyman gimmick, then they had him turn babyface to take down Shane McMahon and mercifully remove The Boy Wonder from our screens in the summer. This should’ve been the turning point for Owens’ career, but instead, he was quickly drafted to Raw and forgotten about.
He is now in the midst of a main event feud with Seth Rollins which will undoubtedly end with KO flat on his back. For whatever reason, McMahon will not run with Owens as his top guy. It’s a shame because we all know what he is capable of.
Some will disagree with this one, but I truly believe if Vince McMahon took a step back and handed creative control to Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff we would be watching a much better product right now. Instead, McMahon refused to release his grip, and give Easy E his marching orders.
Heyman is faring a little better on Raw, but he still has to answer to McMahon which means the Lana storyline will continue to run and run. Look how good NXT is without Vince’s input. Raw and Smackdown could be the same, but we will never know as the evil chairman of the board will not relent his power until he is dead.
Oh boy, Goldberg vs. Undertaker was bad. On paper, pitting Goldberg against The Undertaker looked incredible…until you remember we aren’t in the 1990s any longer. The two aging warriors almost killed one another in a botch filled contest that should never have been booked in the first place.
I’m all for nostalgia, but did we really need to see Goldberg and Undertaker attempt to wrestle each other for over 10 minutes in 2019? I’m not sure how much the Saudi Prince paid to showcase this battle, but he must have had buyers remorse as this was the drizzling shits.
WWE trying to imitate reality never works out well. So when they tried to implement an NFL style draft to shake up the Raw and Smackdown rosters, I feared the worst. I was right. The 2019 WWE Draft was a calamity from start to finish. From the parody of the war room to the monotony of Stephanie McMahon hosting, this was a disaster of epic proportions.
All WWE had to do was the sports entertainment way of doing things – fun and dramatic. Just have a “random” draft where names are picked out of a tombola. It’s always been the most fun and entertaining way to do these things. Just calling out names sucks all the enjoyment out of it.
All they had to do was have The Fiend go over Seth Rollins and leave Hell In A Cell with the Universal Championship. Instead, they had him beaten so badly that the referee was forced to call a stop to the contest which led to a mass walkout from the fans in attendance while they chanted “AEW”, amongst other, more unsavory things. Christ almighty, what on earth was WWE thinking when they booked this crap?
Apparently, it was Vince McMahon’s call to have that finish which says, more than anything, that he hasn’t got what it takes anymore. He is a tired mind who doesn’t know what works in today’s world. Yes, he saw the error of his ways at Crown Jewel, but by then the horse had already bolted the stable and Bray Wyatt has been unable to recover from the debacle.
When Kofi Kingston realized the dream of a lifetime by reaching the WWE mountaintop at WrestleMania following a barnstormer of a bout with Daniel Bryan, I was waiting for the moment when Big E turned on his New Day brother and took the WWE Championship away from him, embarking on a long run with the gold as a singles headline act.
None of that happened. Kingston spent months beating mid-carders and Randy Orton, before dropping the title to Brock Lesnar in 10 seconds. Big E still hasn’t turned, and now it might be too late. The crowd was hot for him and anticipated the turn, now it will come across forced. Another missed opportunity for WWE was staring them right in the face.
Finally, let’s talk about Seth Rollins. If it were me, I’d have booked him to turn heel the night after WrestleMania. No one would’ve expected it. I’d have had him face an enraged Brock Lesnar in the night’s main event, only to be tossed around like yesterday’s salad, before AOP emerge on the scene and completely decimate The Beast, gifting The Architect the cheap win. In one swoop, WWE would’ve turned Lesnar face, Rollins heel, put over AOP as a monster tag team, and created a dynamic new faction.
Sadly, we got months of Rollins defending the Universal Championship against Baron Corbin, before slaying The Beast in a farcical contest at Summerslam. He followed that up with an overbooked win over Braun Strowman, and that infamous Hell In A Cell victory against The Fiend. Yes, Rollins is a heel now and seemingly aligned with AOP, but I honestly don’t think the fans care anymore. They should’ve struck when the iron was hot.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3. Thanks for reading!