Just because it’s deemed “creative” doesn’t always mean it’s going to be good – just ask Vince Russo. And for every great feud, or well-executed story line, the major wrestling promotions also make mistakes. Some aren’t so bad; a few others require major direction shifts. Read on to find out our picks for “Creative Misfire of the Year.”
Brian Fritz (@BrianFritz): The booking over the past year has been lacking all over the places with several misfires. Brock Lesnar stands out although I still support putting the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on him but more should have been done to point out that he was the champ to keep the title in the spotlight. Still, I’m going to Batista’s return to the WWE after a four-year hiatus. Everyone — and I mean everyone — knew it was a mistake to have him return as a babyface, a role that Big Dave has never been comfortable with. But that didn’t stop him from being booked that was when he came back in January and went on to win the Royal Rumble to a chorus of boos from the crowd who wanted Daniel Bryan to earn the main event slot at WrestleMania. Just think about it — WWE’s plans were Batista to come back, be cheered (despite being a heel the last time he was with the company) win the Rumble and then go on to defeat Randy Orton at WrestleMania 30 and become champion which would please the audience of young and old, men and women. Wrong. Luckily, it got corrected but there was no way that would have worked and could have been much worse.
Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman): I’m torn – on the one hand having Brock Lesnar end up as a vacant champion has made WWE television and pay-per-views mean a lot less over the last few weeks. On the other hand, refusing to let Daniel Bryan win the Royal Rumble (or even put him in the dang thing) shows a level of ignorance and pigheadedness that leaves me baffled almost 12 months later. I honestly don’t think Dave Bautista was the problem; he came back and tried to do things the right way (got back in ring shape, wrestled at house shows, etc.). The problem was WWE over-anticipated its investment in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ star. For whatever reason, Vince & Co. had already crowned him WWE’s reigning, defending movie star champion… fortunately, the way they worked the story out (with Bryan needing to beat both Triple H and win a triple-threat match in the same night) proved to be that much more satisfying. Still, the company made a mistake that at one point had me convinced Wrestlemania 30 was going to suck. Thank goodness it didn’t.
Josh Lopez (@JoshLopezCSR): My creative misfire of the year award is going to be Brock Lesnar becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I didn’t like the idea in the first place and I think putting the title on Lesnar wasn’t going to do the product or the fans any favors. If you wanted to have Brock Lesnar go into WrestleMania 31 as champion why couldn’t Lesnar have the type of title reign that The Rock had in 2013. Having Brock win the title at SummerSlam literally painted the words in front of the fans ‘we’re going on autopilot to the Royal Rumble’. Plus what has Brock done for the title? He hasn’t even go on any of the late-night shows to promote the fact that he’s champion. All we’ve seen of Lesnar is his appearances at a local Jimmy Johns or at University of Minnesota volleyball games taking pictures with the mascot, yea that’s your WWE Champion.
Danny Bixby (@DannyJBixby): Without question, it’s the misuse of Brock Lesnar. I was totally on-board with booking Lesnar as the beast of the WWE, and building toward a huge babyface victory over Brock at Wrestlemania 31, the storyline has fallen flat. Even the genius of Paul Heyman couldn’t overcome the negative consequences of an absent champion. Having Lesnar appear on monthly Network events could’ve been a great draw for the fledgling online endeavor. Instead, Brock has been absent, and doesn’t even show up on the occasional Raw. The WWE title has lost its luster, and the ending of the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak seems insignificant.
Justin Kendall (@JustinDKendall): It’s hard to pick just one since WWE, namely Raw, has been a three-hour wreck this fall. But WWE’s stop-start booking of Cesaro after WrestleMania stands out. The fans were beginning to rally behind the Swiss Superman. He’d slammed the Big Show out of the ring to win the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It seemed to be a WrestleMania moment and a launching pad for Cesaro’s WWE career. He received an endorsement from Hulk Hogan and became a Paul Heyman guy. His Cesaro Swing was a fan favorite. But by Money in the Bank, Cesaro was just another guy thanks to losses to Big E and Kofi Kingston. If that wasn’t a low enough point, Cesaro was tossed out of a battle royal for the Intercontinental Championship by Heath Slater. And Vince McMahon wonders why his mid-card superstars aren’t getting over.
Did we overlook a major mistake? Or do you think our picks about summed it up? Tell us in the comments below. Then, when you’re done, catch up with our entire Best of 2014: Professional Wrestling series!