WWE is the most successful professional wrestling company of all time. However, that doesn’t mean the promotion hasn’t made a few mistakes along the way, including a number of mistakes that limited the heights of its own potential, denied fans what they wanted, or simply made things more difficult than necessary. .
Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s fair to say that WWE may not have necessarily understood all the mistakes they made at the time they occurred or until the long-term ramifications played out. However, there were undeniable times when it wasn’t outside forces or chance, but WWE’s own decision-making that made life more difficult for them.
10 Mishandling of the invasion
There’s a true case that the business was never hotter than in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The fight drew huge viewership ratings and arguably surpassed the heights of pop culture relevance it reached on the pinnacle of WWE’s Golden Era.
The idea of WWE buying out WCW and ECW and getting the chance to book all kinds of dream matches seemed like a must-see scenario. To be fair, WWE was held back by several top WCW stars sitting out until the end of their contracts. Several of WCW’s top stars signed deals with WWE in 2002 or 2003, though WWE might have waited and correctly booked WWE vs. WCW (and possibly ECW) at the time. Instead, the company delivered a watered-down Invasion, starring Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon among the main representatives of the WCW/ECW Alliance.
9 Not properly booking Hulk Hogan vs. ric style
In 1991, Ric Flair signed with WWE. The Nature Boy had been the definitive world champion for the NWA and WCW for the previous decade, and WWE found itself with a unique opportunity to book him against Hulk Hogan in a legitimate dream match, with both men in their physical prime and popularity peak. . .
The narrative that WWE has told is that they tested Hogan vs. Flair on the home show circuit and it wasn’t a draw. This storyline, at best, feels like a chicken and egg situation, because WWE had yet to build a story behind this matchup to get fans excited. This match could have headlined WrestleMania 8. Instead, WWE let it slide and WCW booked the first PPV matchup between them at Bash at the Beach 1996.
8 Resisting Daniel Bryan at the top
There are times when Vince McMahon has been able to see the big picture in ways that the fans can’t. These cases include pushing Hulk Hogan as the face of the company during WWE’s national expansion, or recognizing the importance of constantly pushing John Cena or Roman Reigns to get them to the point where they feel like the all-time greats. when they really became his thing. .
However, in the case of Daniel Bryan, WWE had an extremely talented fighter with a remarkable connection with the audience. WWE dragged their feet to push him through to his climactic moment at WrestleMania 30. From there, after Bryan returned from injury in 2015, WWE refused to stick with him until the end. Perhaps Bryan’s McMahon was right not to put all of his eggs in Bryan’s basket due to his health issues. However, when the company had such an organically popular babyface, management needlessly complicated things by not pushing him.
7 Reserve Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar too many times
There are ways in which Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar makes a lot of sense. First off, Lesnar was the dominant monster heel for the new hero Reigns to conquer. Later, Lesnar was the overwhelming babyface force that returned to go after Heel Reigns.
The problem with Reigns vs. Lesnar is that, in general, they did not organize very good fights. His WrestleMania 31 main event largely exceeded expectations, but he is best remembered for his mid-match cashing of Seth Rollins. Their SummerSlam 2017 match was pretty fun, and their SummerSlam 2022 blast is probably the consensus pick for their best outing together. However, in between came WrestleManias 34 and 38, not to mention The Greatest Royal Rumble PPV and Crown Jewel 2021, disappointing matches after mediocre builds.
6 Billing advantage vs. Randy Orton as the greatest wrestling match of all time
Edge and Randy Orton had a reasonably hot feud in 2020, between the news of Edge returning to the ring, Orton’s talent, and the shared history between them. When Backlash turned around, he announced their match as “The Greatest Wrestling Match of All Time”.
While most fans took billing in stride. The two were working without a live crowd and Edge was still shaking off ringside rust. Plus, it was almost impossible for this fight to objectively top the consensus picks for the greatest fights ever, like the 1989 Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat trilogy. By choosing this marketing campaign, WWE invited critics to criticize and appreciate this match less than they otherwise would have.
5 Launch of NXT 2.0
While the original black and gold NXT wasn’t everyone’s favorite brand, it was beloved among hardcore fans with a more indie sensibility and a great complement to what WWE pushed on the main roster. However, in the fall of 2021, WWE rebooted its developmental brand as NXT 2.0.
The changes distanced loyal NXT fans and also failed to excite fans who weren’t already following NXT. It wasn’t until the temporary retirement of Vince McMahon another rebranding positioned the brand more in the middle between its previous vision and 2.0 that things seemed to settle down again with an NXT that a larger portion of the audience was familiar with. less satisfied.
At WrestleMania 7, Randy Savage lost his career in a match with The Ultimate Warrior. WWE moved him into a broadcast role for a few months, before they made a big deal out of him returning to the ring to seek revenge against Jake Roberts.
Despite having a well-received feud with Roberts and reigning as WWE Champion for half of 1992, The Macho Man found himself back in the commentary for most of 1993 and 1994. While specific accounts vary, understanding The general is that Vince McMahon wanted to take control. company in a younger direction and keep Savage on color commentary while he featured younger talent. To bench one of the greatest wrestlers of all time when he could still get into the ring, and most wanted to, was a huge waste of resources. He also set Savage up to defect to WCW.
3 Derailing Karrion Kross’ momentum
When Karrion Kross debuted for NXT, he had a lot of buzz around him. He had a great look. He was capable in the ring. The icing on the cake was his carefully orchestrated introduction, including an entrance into the theatrical ring.
It was largely inexplicable why WWE chose to debut Kross without any of his bells and whistles on the main roster, concurrent with his time as NXT Champion. Without him or Scarlett Bordeaux entering his corner, not to mention him losing his Raw debut match to Jeff Hardy, Kross felt like “just another guy.” WWE went on to release him. Although Triple H brought him back with much of his NXT performance, he hasn’t regained the momentum he once had.
2 Couldn’t build a women’s tag team division
It made sense for WWE to introduce a women’s tag team division as a way to better showcase the talents on their women’s roster. That’s not to mention that having a women’s tag title further established that women are on an equal footing with men in WWE.
However, WWE didn’t actually build a women’s tag team division. Most of this title run has been defined by one makeshift team after another coming together for the purpose of challenging and sometimes briefly reigning with the championship, then going their separate ways. Consequently, it’s hard for fans to accept titles as believable when there’s little reason to accept a team’s chemistry and mutual understanding that makes them great.
1 Building unrealistic expectations for Hell in a Cell
Hell in a Cell represents WWE’s ultimate matchup. It’s a dramatic stage because of the impressive structure involved in the match, not to mention there’s a history of big points inside or, more specifically, outside the top of the cell.
However, as much as Hell in a Cell still inspires awe, there’s a real case to be made that early iterations, in particular Mankind, are thrown off the top, so through the roof, setting the bar too high. WWE had to reduce large potholes in the interest of safety, but as a result it has meant that more modern Hell in a Cell matches just don’t feel as epic as their predecessors.