Craig Wilson, Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow
In a nod to Thanksgiving, today we do our Top Five turkeys of 2015: a list of the top five garbage things that have happened/we’ve seen in wrestling this year. Last year’s Top Five Turkeys, which can be read here, featured, amongst other things, the return of Batista, the WWE Network’s belated UK launch and the 2014 Royal Rumble. So what will make this list this year?
5. Sting: After his memorable debut at last year’s Survivor Series, I had high hopes for the Stinger. Although never a big fan – owing to always being a WWE guy – he made a bang with his arrival and surely that boded well Right? Well, instead he lost his debut match against Triple H in a clunky affair then a few months later, out of absolutely nowhere, he landed a title shot against Rollins. That match saw Sting injure himself and we’ve not seen or heard from him since. That’s 0 for 2 though.
4. The Royal Rumble: Second year in a row that the event features in the Turkeys Top Five. For me, the event was hurt badly by predictability. In many years we have a good idea the 30 man Rumble match is between X, Y and Z. This year there was only one likely outcome and it was the one we eventually got.
3. Survivor Series: The outcome of this year’s Survivor Series posed more questions than answers. Why were the traditional elimination matches so throw away, what next for the Wyatts after another beating at the hands of two superstars towards the end of their careers and is a superstar like Sheamus, who had been languishing in the midcard, really the right guy to carry the company forward? A 2 out of 10, at best, for me this year’s Survivor Series. A sorry state of affairs and followed up the next night by a new record low rating for Raw – but more of that later.
2. The Hulk Hogan scandal: A scandal that saw Hogan go from being the face of the company’s 80s expansion to having his face wiped from the WWE website, it’s cost the Immortal one dear.
1. Raw Ratings: You would have to live under a stone not to have noticed just how badly the WWE’s flagship show is doing. Long gone from breaking records of a good kind, it’s now setting record lows in terms of viewership as fans tire of the same old product week in, week out spread over an increasingly unwatchable 3 hour slot. Something really has got to give.
5. TNA Wrestling: I’m rooting for TNA to flourish….I really am. I just think that years of bad booking decisions have really cost the company any real chance of succeeding. Wrestlers and staff aren’t being paid on time and despite the rumors of Impact being cancelled in early 2016…TNA President Dixie Carter has remained silent…keeping her employees and fans in the dark about the promotion’s future.
4. Dolph Ziggler/Rusev/Lana Storyline: Perhaps the worst, drawn out storyline of 2015 that did absolutely nothing for any of the participants involved. In fact, all it did was make them look weak and stupid.
3. The WWE’s Creative Process: They seem to book things more so for what they themselves would like to see instead of listening to what fans want. Examples include shoving certain wrestlers down the throats of fans like John Cena, Ryback and Roman Reigns instead of wrestlers who have grown organically with fans ie Dolph Ziggler, Damian Sandow et al. Because of that ratings have suffered in a big way.
2. The Fall of Hulk Hogan: His racist comments from a few years earlier caught up with Hogan and he has seemingly been wiped off all WWE history books a la Chris Benoit. Of course Hogan himself deserves part of the blame…but I also blame the WWE for removing him from all of its network library. After all, he was and is one of its greatest stars.
1. Sting in the WWE: After years and years of build up and anticipation for the WWE debut of Sting…what does the company do? They make him lose to both Triple H and Seth Rollins by pinfall. Shouldn’t they have protected that character a little better than just having him lose?
5. John Cena defeats Kevin Owens at Battleground
This was just wrong. The pair had traded wins on the previous PPVs, but Owens should have won this and taken the US Title. This loss killed Owens’ momentum, to the point that he is only now starting to regain some as IC Champion. Cena’s excellent US Open Challenge seemed tailored towards putting someone from the undercard over. Instead he ploughed through every opponent before dropping the belt to the one person above him on the kayfabe ladder; WWE Champion Seth Rollins. Cena then regained the title and dropped it to returning former WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio. It should have been Owens.
4. The Relentless Push of Roman Reigns
I’m not knocking the man himself, he has actually produced some good matches this year. However, WWE’s relentless efforts to push him as a top babyface are starting get embarrassing. The company’s vision of him contrasts with fans’ when it really needs to harmonise. John Cena divides opinion, but he’s a long established star and it works for him. Yes, some fans like Roman Reigns, but many don’t. At this stage in his career Roman Reigns needs to establish himself in a clearly defined role, but WWE’s insistence on booking him as a babyface knowing that he receives boos has not allowed for that this year.
3. The ‘Divas Revolution’
A good idea poorly executed. The one good thing I shall say is that WWE appear to have sustained their interest in featuring women’s wrestling more prominently, and so they should. However, why is the ‘Divas’ division nothing like the rest of WWE? Why where they split into three teams for seemingly no reason? Why was the ‘revolution’ instigated by an Authority figure? Why are the ‘Divas’ not integrated into the rest of the show? Why, just as before this ‘revolution’, is there only ever one feud at a time in ‘Divas’ division? Basically the ‘Divas Revolution’ is patronising as fuck. Oh, and the word “diva” is not a flattering term either…
2. The Rusev/Lana/Ziggler/Summer fiasco
Oh my, what the holy hell happened here? I honestly don’t know, but it confused the shit out of me. I love that WWE kept going with it too. This angle was dead in the water before Lana and Rusev revealed their engagement, but in true WWE style they carried on regardless.
When Sting showed up in WWE this time last year top of the list for many fans was a match, or at least an acknowledgement, between him and The Undertaker. We never got it. Instead ‘The Icon’ jobbed to Triple H and Seth Rollins. So to get this straight; a year ago loads of folk were wetting themselves over a potential Undertaker/Sting match, but now – despite both men being sparingly used and kept apart in angles – nobody is fantasising about Sting vs. The Undertaker. Well done WWE, you fucked that right up!
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.