Worst 10 Of 2015
*Graphic by Angel Alcantara*
As we all know, not all pro wrestling storylines ideas are gems. There were times this couldn’t be more true in 2015.
Whether it was the overhyped, underwhelming “invasion” of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) by Global Force Wrestling (GFW) or the debacle that was the Slammiversary 2015 Pay-Per-View, there were countless moments that we’ll revisit so you can shake your head yet again.
Pro wrestling fans are plenty of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.
Check out our list of the “Worst” 10 moments of 2015.
10) Rockstar Spud Vs. Grado (TNA World Title Series, Group United Kingdom, Group Play, Impact Wrestling, 10/7/15)
The concept of the TNA World Title Series itself turned out to be a lifesaver for TNA – a company often falling victim to overbooked storylines and a tired format. The makeshift 32-person tournament to crown a new TNA World Heavyweight Champion featured a first round “group play,” with eight groups and their members facing off in individual matches. Things were off to a rocky start when we were witnesses to this forgettable match. My god, where do you even start? Spud had moments of greatness this year (winning the X-Division Championship, a breakout performance in a Hair Vs. Hair match with Ethan Carter III) and was subjected to this. The whole match was literally Spud and Grado imitating WWE finishing moves. This was trying to be comedy, but fell flatter than diet soda. Originally on our list for worst match of the year, we remembered nine more moments deserving of similar honors.
9) The Fall Of The Beat Down Clan
On paper, the faction – a badass heel take on The Wu-Tang Clan comprised of MVP, Samoa Joe, Kenny King, Hernandez, Homicide and Low-Ki – had potential. The group’s formation was the backbone of a heel turn by Joe and Low-Ki on the first Impact of the year for shock value purposes. MVP was an established promo cutter and carried them as far as they could go, even with King’s charisma/athleticism, Low-Ki’s constant angry faces and Joe’s “muscle” role. What killed this group in the end was a dead-end feud with The Rising, another stable with Drew Galloway, Eli Drake and Micah before the latter trio truly found their correct roles. Samoa Joe was the first to leave the company (and the group) in February as did Low-Ki in July. Hernandez briefly joined the faction when he gave TNA the impression his contract with Lucha Underground had expired when it didn’t. Thus, threaten of legal action by LU forced any footage of Hernandez appearing with the BDC to be cut out of future broadcasts. This incident upset MVP to the point that he also left TNA, with King following suit to return to Ring Of Honor in September. Homicide was quietly released following an injury. Imagine the potential that this group had when they were the forefront of programming earlier in the year, but their colossal implosion will forever regard the BDC as a metaphorical representation of what can go wrong when you tape shows months in advance.
8) The WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tug Of War (WWE Raw, 3/23/15)
The idea of a “go-home show” is a hardcore final sell of your Pay-Per-View card to fans – to give them the impression that they need to pay to see the desired outcome of their favorite storylines, no matter how hard you tease it. Past WrestleMania go-home shows gave us memorable moments, like Stone Cold Steve Austin hosing down The Corporation/Vince McMahon in 1999. Flash forward 16 years later and we received a moment not so memorable. You see, Roman Reigns was struggling to shake the image of “hand-selected face of the company” tattooed onto him by internet fans. They didn’t see him ready for the main event scene and felt he was being shoved down their throats. It was clear Vince McMahon made a hard push for fans to buy Reigns as a Championship contender, but unlike Daniel Bryan the year before, who was genuinely a nice guy who people wanted to cheer, Reigns came off more like a jerk. Case in point – this segment. In front of a clearly pro-Brock Lesnar crowd, Reigns snatched away the WHC from Lesnar when he simply showed it off to him. Lesnar then tried to take it back, giving us the world’s most awkward tug of war pose in history. This wasn’t a pretty way to head into WrestleMania, even though their match would suffice at the end of it all thanks to someone else. More on that in another post.
7) The “Tater Tots” Promo (WWE Raw, 12/7/15)
Speaking of bad “go-home” show moments with Reigns, the countdown continues with a worse moment prior to the TLC Pay-Per-View. With Creative stuck in a downturn more reliant on stupid comedy and lame storylines, the biggest focus was the Sheamus “5:15”-Reigns feud over the same Title that alluded Reigns earlier in the year. Hyped throughout the show as a main event segment where Sheamus would teach Reigns “a lesson,” we received instead possibly the worst go-home segment in history. The trick was that Reigns came out first to call out the Champ, using pretty metaphors surrounded by the tables, ladders and chairs around the ringside area to describe his desires to attack Sheamus with said weapons. When the Champ came out, this went down the crapper with an exchange that went something like this when Reigns gave us more cringe-worthy promo material:
Reigns: Come on, son. You gonna fight me or what? You have to fight me. You have tater tots.
Sheamus: I am the Champion. I do not fight when you want.
Reigns: But son, you have to fight me. You’re like, scared. Tater tots, son. Tater tots!
Sheamus: But no. I am the Champion. I was not born yesterday.
Reigns: Son! Tater tots!
Sheamus: Not born yesterday.
How on earth did this push TLC in any positive way possible? Reigns resorting to cutesy kiddie punchlines already proved to be a failure earlier in the year and going back to this well wasn’t a good call especially at a time when WWE was missing star value (Cesaro, Seth Rollins, John Cena, Randy Orton, etc.) and they missed an earlier opportunity to sell Reigns as a main-event star.
6) 2015 Royal Rumble Match (WWE Royal Rumble, 1/25/15)
First signs of the fans turning on Reigns as a possible main-event player were evident in the 2015 Royal Rumble match, when the feared “handpicked face of the company” was chosen for a WHC push rather than the returning Daniel Bryan, who’d been gone since May the year prior. In front of a hostile Philadelphia crowd, this match would personify the stubborn creative ways of one Vince McMahon by ruining the match’s second half. The first half gave us some fun surprises, like the return of Bubba Ray Dudley. Things went strictly downhill when Bryan was eliminated after only being in the match for 10 minutes, drawing an eruption of boos from the Philly faithful. The Authority’s Big Show and Kane, already deemed as tiresome and boring heels, were dominating this match, eliminating other fan favorites like Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler. It came to the point where fans booed even other babyfaces coming out. This wasn’t a pretty time for Reigns to come out and sure enough when he did, the boos came down. If not for the fact that this similar scenario happened with Batista exactly a year prior – a “forced” babyface getting go-away heat from the crowd – it would’ve been forgivable. Rusev had a good performance in the match, but only served to be the guy who Reigns eliminated to win. It was telling when even The Rock couldn’t save his cousin Reigns from the boos once they figured out the real reason he came down to the ring.
Alberto Del Rio had a grand return at this year’s Hell In A Cell Pay-Per-View when he beat John Cena for the WWE United States Championship in seven minutes in the show’s opening match. Another surprise was Zeb Colter returning as his manager, giving us some slight intrigue in the idea that former rivals were now working together. The longer this alliance lasted, the more confusing it got. Colter described his relationship with Del Rio as “two nations working together,” actually going as far as to sew half an American and half a Mexican flag together. This grand alliance was called Mex-America, with two guys who made their own nation, not explaining how this was legally possible, but it was what it was. Another aspect of this storyline that made us shake our heads was the fact that most of the heat took place in America, whereas if WWE had shows in Canada or Europe, it would’ve been received better. One good thing to come out of Mex-America was a resurgence for Jack Swagger, which naturally started a feud over Colter’s services. Mex-America imploded before the payoff match though and all we can think of now when we hear “Mex-America” is a sad reminder of an old man in a mobile scooter screaming like a crazy person with two sewn-together flags that he was making his own country. All in all, this squandered Del Rio’s return momentum and was a waste of his character, despite the fact that he makes a better heel than babyface.
4) Eva Marie On NXT
When it comes to the intensely redheaded “Total Diva” Eva Marie, fans look at her and don’t see an athletic talent. Can you blame them? She never truly wrestled a match before and mooched off of the success of the “Total Divas” show to gain fame. Despite its regard as its own revolutionary brand, NXT is still development territory for many WWE talents and “the powers that be” felt that Marie had been training hard under the advisement of Brian Kendrick and earned a Championship push for possibly the company’s biggest Title this year based on the amount of talent elevated and well-regarded matches – the NXT Women’s Championship. Upon her NXT stint, Marie did things like mess up promos where she was drowned out by boos and never even bothered to play off them, forgetting to kick out at two during a match, also certainly not winning anyone over with her in-ring skills either. The peak seemed to be a Championship match with Bayley with the storyline she was “granted” the match by higher officials, but would lose that, but not without some heart attacks of teases of her winning the NXT Women’s Championship. Will the future change? Nobody knows for sure, but Marie hasn’t shaken the notion that she’s all hair and no heart.
3) James Storm Pushes Mickie James Onto Railroad Tracks (TNA Impact Wrestling, 6/3/15)
Okay, don’t fret – Mickie’s okay. In actuality, this entire storyline stemming over Storm’s jealousy of his good friend being married to Magnus wasn’t terrible. We seen Storm do things like brainwash the crowd and everybody else that he was a changed man, buying James expensive gifts and securing meetings in Tennessee for the furthering of her country music career. Of course, it was all revealed to be an evil plan for Storm to attack James when she declined his offer to join The Revolution to make Magnus angry, but the way it went down was needlessly controversial and illogical. Security camera footage from the train station showed James unaware that Storm was about to push her onto the tracks below with the sounds of an incoming train off-camera, giving us the impression that she was struck by the train and “killed off.” This gave TNA the wrong kind of mainstream attention and made them an internet laughingstock, simultaneously ruining what was at the time one of the show’s better storylines. This angle was too much to overcome and even a satisfactory payoff with Magnus/James defeating James Storm/Serena in a mixed tag couldn’t shake this morbid image from our minds.
2) The Dolph/Lana/Rusev/Summer Love Rectangle
In a perfect world, we had a badass foreign heel duo of an undefeated Bulgarian brute named Rusev and his ravishing Russian mouthpiece Lana. Then reality hit. Rusev began losing matches and positive reactions for Lana along with his mistreatment of her began their storyline split. At this point, he tried to win her back but failed. To get revenge, he started dating Summer Rae and began to dress her like Lana in terms of attire and hairstyle. Lana flirted openly with Dolph Ziggler and the two made out on Raw. Ziggler fell for her even knowing he was only a rebound. At this time, Rusev suffered a foot injury that forced him to take time off from in-ring competition, now requiring footwear, but kept a presence on TV to further the storyline, also injuring Ziggler in the storyline with his crutch. Lana didn’t fare well in this either, as she donned ridiculous all-denim suits and it only got worse from there when this was one of SummerSlam’s main programs. At the end of it, it was the TMZ breaking story of Rusev and Lana’s real-life engagement that abruptly ended it. In the storyline prior to the story breaking out, Summer asked Rusev to marry him, which would lead to a wedding segment. This was obviously nixed and things returned somewhat to normalcy when we seen the new couples split up. Lana and Rusev have since reconciled, while Ziggler turned down an offer by Summer to get together. Even when you spell it all out, this was an utter waste of time and did nothing to help these four individuals, despite making Summer relevant and seeing how a Lana face turn would do. Let’s drink to forget this one.
The names Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were relevant with fans for months even before they made their main roster debut. Why’s that? All three developed their characters on NXT and put on some incredible matches. Charlotte was the confident, “genetically superior” daughter of Ric Flair. Banks was a brash, in-your-face heel with a unique style with the nickname “The Boss.” Lynch, who first emerged in the year as Banks’ ally, broke out into her own with a series of excellent vignettes that told the story of the perky Irish brunette-turned-redhead traveling all over the world to hone her craft, culminating in a breakout performance in a loss to Banks at TakeOver: Unstoppable. The internet clamored over these three ladies and wondered when they’d get a main roster call-up. In an attempt to “shake things up,” they were brought up in a memorable segment on Raw that introduced the world to these three characters. The follow-up however, completely squandered the momentum and Charlotte has been the only NXT woman to truly recover. The problem – upon the three debuts of these ladies came the assembling of three three-Diva teams: Team Bella (Nikki and Brie Bella, Alicia Fox), Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte, Lynch) and Team BAD (Banks, Naomi, Tamina) and longer matches. It was as if nine Divas debuted and it was too little time to focus on nine personalities. Athleticism was finally used as a selling point for the Divas, but behind excellent in-ring storytelling needs to be a reason to care about these characters and that was nowhere to be found. The Bellas constantly switched between heel and face, Charlotte was Ric Flair’s daughter, Lynch was the boring redhead, Paige liked to remind us that “this is her house,” Alicia Fox was a third wheel, Tamina was tall and scary, Naomi was “amazing” and Banks was “the boss.” There was no reason to emotionally invest in these ladies and all we got from this were countless Six-Diva Tag matches with good action, but no heart. After some time, fans were immune to it and #DivasRevolution sounded more like a cheap marketing tactic than a true progressive era for women’s wrestling. It was a lame attempt to mooch off the success of NXT’s women’s division by doing exactly the opposite of what NXT did – vague, catty characters with no personalities all hating each other. What a snooze.
Posted on December 31, 2015, in NXT, TNA, Uncategorized, WWE and tagged Alberto Del Rio, Alicia Fox, Becky Lynch, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Charlotte, Divas Revolution, Dolph Ziggler, Eva Marie, Grado, James Storm, Lana, Mickie James, Naomi, Nikki Bella, NXT, Paige, Rockstar Spud, Roman Reigns, Royal Rumble, Rusev, Sasha Banks, Sheamus, Summer Rae, Tamina, Team BAD, Team Bella, Team PCB, The Beat Down Clan, TLC, Zeb Colter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.