Top Five Bad Booking Decisions

Brian Damage, Lowlife Louie Ramos and Amerigo Diehl

What were some of the worst booking decisions pertaining to pro wrestling? Whether it was a loss or a win involving a title or a high profile match that you feel should have gone the other way.

Brian

Sting Loses WWE Debut to Triple H

The match itself at Wrestlemania 31 was entertaining, but overall did not make too much sense for Triple H to go over Sting in this contest. Even though Sting was past his prime, a big victory at Wrestlemania could have done wonders for the character moving forward. It just seemed that Vince McMahon wanted to make a statement concerning one of his former rival WCW’s top stars.

Brock Lesnar Ends Undertaker’s Wrestlemania Streak

At first, I wasn’t against a beast like Brock Lesnar being the one to end the Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak. As time has gone by, I think it would have been more beneficial if a younger star get that “rub” so to speak. Lesnar never needed to beat the Dead Man due to the fact, he was already a big marketable individual. Someone like Roman Reigns doing it could have benefitted him a lot more moving forward, although it all eventually worked out for all involved.

Kevin Nash Ends Goldberg’s Undefeated Streak

Bill Goldberg was the hottest star WCW had and his undefeated streak within the company put Goldberg at the very top of must see moments at a time when other things were getting stale. Having Kevin Nash beat Goldberg and end the streak was stupid and senseless and did a lot of damage to both the aura of Goldberg and for WCW as a whole.

Triple H Successfully Retains World Title Against Booker T

The rivalry between the champion Triple H versus the challenger Booker T was really well done leading up to their big match at Wrestlemania 19. While it had plenty of racial overtones to it, the booking was well done in making Booker look like a legitimate threat to beat the Game. Then the match happened and Triple H unnecessarily pinned Booker T to end the feud. I feel Booker T should have beaten Triple H and should have had a babyface run with the World title.

The AWA Doesn’t Pull The Trigger on Hulk Hogan

For me, this had to be in the number 1 slot. Hulk Hogan was a fast, rising star in pro wrestling and would have done wonders for Verne Gagne’s AWA promotion if he was champion. Instead, they booked his matches against the champion Nick Bockwinkel very poorly as documented here and basically allowed Hogan to walk away. The rest as they say is history.


Louie

Man there have been some bad ones

Honorable mention 

Warrior beating Hogan

AWA not letting Hogan win the title

Turning Steve Austin Heel

The Gobleddygooker

Turning Sgt Slaughter Iraqi sympathizer

Goldberg over the Fiend 

5) Royal Rumble 2000

Title match HHH defends the strap vs Cactus Jack , in a hardcore match, in the hometown of Cactus,  NYC inside MSG. The legendary story of Mick Foley,  hitchhiking to MSG as a teen would have come full circle, history would have been made. In an era where title changes were the norm, a loss here would have not hurt Hunter,  the fact it was a Cactus style match in his backyard should have been enough to explain the loss, the rematch a month later inside the cell coulr have served and the comeuppance for HHH, regaining the championship.  There was no need to him to win both. Silly booking here.

4) The finger poke of Doom

As WCW began losing the ratings war, they began to lose their grip.  And this booking here just showed it. The undefeated streak of one Goldberg,  which was one of the few reasons to watch the product at this time, had just been ended by Kevin Nash, under shady circumstances.  So no harm really there. On the Jan 4th Nitro following starcade, Nash and fellow NWO member Hollywood Hogan, who he was having issues with faced off for the championship.  What happened next is one of the worst decisions ever. Hogan actually pokes the 7 ft 325 pound Nash with his index finger, Nash drops like he had been shot ,and Hogan covers him. To now have the belt. A very stupid way to end a streak, and a title reign.

3) Not giving Punk the main

C.M Punk, at one time was one of the hottest things in pro wrestling.  Great in the ring, verbally eloquent on the microphone, and always finding a way to blur the lines .His championship reign during this time was historic, if often booked sideways.  He managed to have amazing matches with everyone,  especially arch nemesis and face of the company..John Cena. 

Cena and Rock had already main evented Mania the year previous  . No reason to revisit that well. The main event of that years Mania should have been Punk defending the gold vs Cena. Cena wins the strap, Punk has his main event.. All would have been right.

2) Batista Roman 2 rumbles in a row.

Man this one stretches to not 1 but 2 events, similar to the previous entry . 

Batista,  one of the biggest stars in company history,  returned before the annual January battle.. at the time Daniel Bryan was riding an incredible wave of momentum and one of the most over men on the roster.  Roman was the enforcer for the Shield,  a group that had run roughshod and was immensely popular. At the end of that rumble. The fans had totally turned on Batista.  With Roman being the last man in there with him, an audible should have been called, as the fans totally blasted big Dave’s win.. A year later the fans would feel the same type of force feeding. As this time it was Roman on the ill will of the universe.  Not even his immensely popular cousin, the legendary Rock…could get him over…both botched bookings..

1) Hogan vs Flair Wrestlemania 8

The match had been announced,  the press conference made, where president Jack Tunney announced the Hulkster the number 1 contender. The dream match if all dream matches was to main even the biggest show of the year. 

Mistake 1..letting Hogan and Flair touch each other in singles matches on house shows previous to Mania. Tag team matches, sure..build that program.  But dont give away the match..

Mistake 2. Even if Hogan vs Flair as the main would have been a dud match it would not have mattered.  It was a vastly different era, and the fact that it would have the legit 1st time the faced off would have erased all other nuances. 

Hogan pinning Flair to end Mania would have shown the fan base that WWF and their champion was superior to the competition.  

Ball totally dropped


Amerigo

5. Hulk Hogan stealing the spotlight at WM9- 

Time to pass the torch, time to move on. Ok, what do you have in mind? Yokozuna wins the belt from Bret Hart, then we continue to build him into a monster heel who takes on all babyface comers. Great idea!!! but how about we have his reign last 5 seconds and then Hogan comes back out and pins him, stealing the spotlight from everyone??? Does that sound good??? NO, NO it does not. Once again like some of the other times on these lists Hogan’s backstage politics take center stage and ruin the moment.  

4. Starcade 1997- 

The stage was flawlessly set. The Monday Night wars were in full effect, Sting has spent a year building the crow character, coming to the rescue and running the NWO off at every turn. Now finally we get Sting vs. the NWO leader Hogan. This is going to be amazing!!!!!  Ummm well… Here’s what happened. So we are supposed to get a repeat of the Montreal ScrewJob as our introduction to Bret Hart in WCW. Except there was no fast count, and no one cheated. So what we ended up with was a full year build up to Sting looking weak, Bret Hart looking like a whiner and Hogan looking like he had to tamper with the planned finish once again. Just imagine what could have happened if the finish had gone down the way it was intended. Sting comes across strong, Hart looks like the new no nonsense “sheriff” in town, and Hogan is still strong, because now he needs to revamp the NWO to deal with Hart. 

3. Russo/Arquette Winning the WCW title.-

Your heavyweight championship is supposed to be the marque piece of your promotion. It is the ultimate prize that you work for all your life as a wrestler. In one swift move, the bookers took all the prestige of the likes of Thez, Race, Flair, Rhodes, Funk etc and flushed it down the toilet. Now it looked like any fool could win your biggest prize. Yes, but this time kayfabe was gone, but there are those of us who know it’s pre-planned but don’t care. We want to see our heroes, and only the best heroes come away as champions. 

2. McMahon takes the belt off of Superstar Billy Graham-

During the first 20 years of the WWE, heels were made champions to serve really only as a short transition until a new babyface could take the belt back. Graham was different. He was a hated heel, but unlike Koloff, Stasiak or the Iron Sheik, he drew huge crowds and big money. Graham was equally loved and hated and by the time Backlund took the belt off of him, he was growing in popularity. Back in the day it was pretty hard for heels to draw full houses and big gates but Graham did it. Had he been allowed a longer reign who knows where things might have gone. 

1. Verne Gagne refuses to put the belt on Hogan- 

After he was fired from the WWE, Hogan landed in the AWA. Fresh off his run in Rocky III, Hogan was insanely popular and drawing huge crowds. It was at this time he was beginning to develop the persona that would later become the Hulk Hogan that we all remember. Verne Gagne was still living in the 1960’s and felt that only wrestlers with amateur wrestling backgrounds were worthy of holding the title. The crowd was growing restless and tired of being teased with false finishes. When McMahon came calling Hogan jumped to the WWE and launched hulkamania, and made the WWE a nationwide sensation. What if Gagne had given him the title? Perhaps no national expansion, no Wrestlemania, no anything that we now know. 

15 thoughts on “Top Five Bad Booking Decisions

  1. Wow…

    From my time as a wrestling fan…

    1. Not having Hogan vs. Flair for WrestleMania VIII
    2. Not giving CM Punk a WrestleMania main event as he should’ve fought both Cena and the Crock.
    3. Brock Lesnar losing to John Cena in his 2012 return which is bullshit. Lesnar should’ve just won and made Cena tap out as a lesson about the fallacies of “never giving up”.
    4. HHH beating Booker T at WrestleMania XIX… fucking bullshit!
    5. HHH beating Sting at WrestleMania 31

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    • Hogan vs. Flair didn’t happen because Hogan decided to take a sabbatical after Ma nia and there was no timetable for his return. They couldn’t put the belt on him under those circumstances and there’s no way they’d have him lose to Flair or get a cheap win via DQ or countout. It wasn’t so much a booking decision as it was real life circumstances that prevented the match from happening.

      Not giving Punk the main event at WM29 was one of the worst booking decisions ever? The event grossed over $72 million dollars in one day – more than any other event in history! How exactly is that a bad thing?

      I agree about the other 3 decisions.

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      • Actually, Hogan vs. Flair didn’t happen because they did a bunch of test-run matches on house shows and it didn’t draw money. Plus, Hogan was already a target during the whole steroid scandal as it only made things worse as the WrestleMania VIII main event between Hogan and Sid was just… OK. Flair vs. Savage should’ve been the main event.

        As far as WrestleMania 29, Punk either should’ve had the chance to main event since he was becoming a draw despite Cena often main event every PPV or be the one to end Undertaker’s streak. Plus, the main event we got instead was shit. It proved that Crock just couldn’t hang anymore. Really, it should’ve been Punk vs. Cena for the WWE title at WrestleMania 29 as the main event and Punk was outselling Cena in merch.

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    • The idea that Flair vs. Hogan didn’t happen at Mania because of poor-drawing house shows is a myth. They had numerous legit sell outs in early 92. But even if you were to accept that as the reason, what reason is there to believe that Hogan vs. Sid would draw more? Sid was nowhere near as popular as Flair in 92. And how would a Hogan vs. Flair Mania title match have ended if Hogan was taking off for nearly a year?

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  2. Some of these weren’t bad decisions at all.

    Goldberg’s streak needed to end. It was cool at first but after nearly a year and a half it had run its course and fans were starting to get bored. Goldberg was actually getting booed at times in late 98 because there was no suspense to his matches.

    Hogan winning the belt at Mania 9 did something that Bret was unable to do throughout his entire first run – get people talking. I remember the next day at school and being shocked to hear people saying Hogan was the champ. How could Hogan be the champ if he wasn’t even in the title match? This was long before the Internet and even longer before impromptu title matches like Money in the Bank cash ins. I couldn’t wait to watch RAW and see if Hogan really was the champ. I hadn’t been excited like that at any point while Bret was champ in 92/93.

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  3. Hogan vs Flair Wrestlemania 8:
    It was a vastly different era, and the fact that it would have the legit 1st time the faced off would have erased all other nuances.

    C’mon guys, at least proof read

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  4. A top five of my own:

    1. Not turning John Cena heel
    2. Fritz Von Erich heart attack angle
    3. Shawn Stasiak post-ECWCW invasion
    4. Cena going over the Nexus at SummerSlam 2010
    5. Mega Powers v Dungeon of Doom/Horsemen

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    • Totally forgot the Fritz Von Erich angle. Yeah, after the real life tragedies, doing a stunt like that for an attendance boost was in very bad taste. Plus his need to never show weakness made it look ridiculous. He is kicking the collective butts of Gordy, Roberts, Iceman Parsons, and the Angel of Death, and only their combined attack can take down an elderly man who had not wrestled a full schedule since the early 1980s. Also, we better add Lance Von Erich in there as well.

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  5. Vince McMahon wanted Hulk, and was going to get Hulk. If he had to sell his soul to get him, he would. Everything he offered was more than what Verne could offer. A cut of merchandising money (with new revenue streams like action figures), the face of a national, not a regional, promotion (and Verne would never break the territorial boundaries), and most importantly, more money. A lot of it. Verne was stingy and often did not pay folks what they were worth. Would have been the same with Hogan. I feel if he had given Hogan the title, it would have been a bigger disaster. Hulk was still going to do that tour with New Japan, and meet up with Andre. And Andre was still going to say “Vince McMahon wants to talk to you.” Hogan not coming back was one thing, Hogan not coming back with the title would have been something else. How would Verne explain it? Phantom title switch? Paint Hogan as a coward who ran away? They would have looked even more foolish, Vince was hellbent it seems to crush Verne and nothing would stop him. What he offered Hogan was simply too good to pass up, AWA Champion or not.

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  6. goldberg/nash gets a bad rap…goldberg’s streak was going to end at some point and kevin nash made sense as he rivaled goldberg in overall popularity…so the i ask you if not Nash then who?

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    • Eh, Greg in the mid to late ‘80s gets knocked for being thin, but it made sense that he won with Brunzell in the High Flyers team back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, as guys weren’t that big back then and Greg was mostly face in peril.

      I agree with the other comment that said Hogan was leaving for WWF no matter what. All things being equal, Hogan still goes to Japan, still gets the big money offer from Vince, AWA title or not. As an aside, while the myth is that AWA immediately sunk after Hogan and the rest (Ventura, Dr. D, Heenan, Okerlund, etc.) left, they were still pulling good gates well into ‘86. What really sunk them was losing venues to Vince’s “ruthless aggression”. Losing the Civic Center in St. Paul and the Winnipeg Arena for AWA would be akin to WWF losing MSG in NYC and Maple Leaf Arena in Toronto or Crockett losing Greensboro Coliseum and The Omni.

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