I’ve already talked about the goodness of 2013, in writing about Daniel Bryan and CM Punk’s ten best matches of 2013 for Camel Clutch Blog.
Now let’s get to the garbage. The Crap, if you will.
While all of you will get to cast your vote in the 2013 Gooker Award balloting, I’m fortunate to have the forum to expound upon the badness of the year. Make no mistake, here at WrestleCrap, we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t sort out all of the ill-advised flops and flubs of the calendar year. Not to pile on any further, but relegating this list to just fifty items was a challenge unto itself.
This list will not be without controversy; some of you will find things you disagree with on this list, while some will argue about the placement of certain gimmicks, events, and concepts. A select minority will still rail against me for inducting WrestleMania 27 to this site almost two years ago.
You know who you are.
Otherwise, this list will do one of two things, if not both: tickle your funny bone as you recall some of the more absurd occurrences you were subjected to in 2013, or you’ll be inflamed by this list putting you through the nonsense once more. You may experience both feelings as you read along, which should allow you to sympathize with the Miz; a man who has turned from face to heel and back again in recent weeks with seemingly no provocation, other than possibly to teach audiences not to judge a bipolar wrestler. We should be tolerant, unless we have a chance to pass around a cartoon of a diva living sexually vicariously (allegedly) through a childhood hero, in which case, WWE says it’s fair game.
WrestleCrap is to present the WORST in wrestling, and thus, here now, the WORST of 2013.
What better way to kick off this list than by rehashing a concept that failed in WCW over twenty years ago? It’s novel, but the novelty wears soon enough, and it’s distracting from the match at hand. Mounted cameras are only useful if you’re trying to prove Apu is selling spoiled merchandise.
49. Nikki Bella distracts Natalya with a duck call
Before the ladies bonded over the experience of working together on a mindless reality show, Nikki Bella was apt to distract Ms. Neidhart, and confuse the crowd, by using the ol’ Duck Commander during a match. Why? Because Natalya’s the ugly ducking! It’s actually a step up from flatulence, though.
48. Bad News Barrett
Get the sense there will be mixed feelings about this. Although Barrett has the subtle smugness to pull this irregular idea off, it’s cartoonishly broad, designed for cheap heat and little else. Now if Wade had said, “I saw everyone’s drug test results and I’ve got bad news!” then THAT would be must-see TV.
47. WWE promotes No Name Calling Week
Yep. I agree that the company should encourage children not to use words to hurt the feelings of anyone they perceive to be antagonistic in their life. Follow the heroes on TV, particularly John Cena, Sheamus, CM Punk, and the Raw announcers, who would never THINK of doing such a thing.
46. Raw 20, Old School Raw feel kinda regular
Nostalgia-grabs are a modern staple of WWE’s, as older fans have shunned a product that has passed their sensibilities by. While events like the 2010 Old School Raw and the 2005 Homecoming were fun, these shows were basically the modern product splashed with an occasional hue of yesterday.
45. Antonio Cesaro yodels
The newz sites claimed at points this year that WWE found Cesaro ‘boring’. Not sure why they didn’t come to this conclusion about others they’ve heavily pushed, but Cesaro certainly isn’t boring. His strongman-of-superiority routine made him a natural villain. Screw it, let’s have em yodel!
44. Aces and Eights kidnap Kurt Angle
Even though Vince Russo had long since been removed from TNA, this hardboiled Attitude-Lite development popped up at Destination X. It took Angle a while to escape from these sinister clutches, even though just simply hopping out of the truck bed at a red light would suffice.
43. Baltimore fans chant “HUSKY HARRIS” at Bray Wyatt
Sometimes, a hip-to-the-room crowd makes the show better (see: Raw, eighth of April). Sometimes, they can diminish an awesome moment by needing to convey their inside knowledge. Yes, Bray Wyatt was once Husky Harris. Chant “CHAVO’S CADDIE” at Dolph next time, then.
42. Bo Dallas
Long-reigning NXT Champion has been criticized for a lack of personality, and has received overwhelming jeers in spite of his babyface alignment. To WWE’s credit, they’ve tweaked the character a few shades smarmier, as they apparently feel no need to take the belt off of Dallas.
41. Fandango’s push dies off
The April 8 Raw crowd playfully mocked Fandango’s music with an index-finger dance, and a fad began to hatch. Sadly, because it’s WWE, they choked the life out of the fad by claiming parentage of it, and within weeks, Fandango was just another midcarder without any direction.
40. Pancake Patterson
Eyebrow-raising alter ego of Titus O’Neil’s, playing his own ‘uncle’ for some reason or another, as he escorted Darren Young into slaughter at the hands of John Cena. Absurdist humor only works if you can connect the dots into a punchline. This was just random for the sake of random.
39. Raw commentators take a selfie
In spite of what the Be-A-Star bumpers have advised you, it is perfectly okay, at least in thought, to imagine what it would be like to pour bleach into all six of those eyes, and break in your new titanium driver on their teeth. Executing said actions would be wrong, but that’s why we have imaginations.
38. Alberto Del Rio as a babyface
Another pet-peeve to long-haul viewers: wrestlers who turn for seemingly no reason. Del Rio allegedly went face with Rey hurt and Sin Cara unreliable, because Vince wanted a strong Latin hero. With no motive for him to earn a hero’s love, the crowds went unresponsive, and he soon turned back.
37. Cobra charming
I’m sure some of you would list this higher, but the number’s appropriate, since it was the wrestling equivalent of Dante’s ex, Veronica. Apparently, Santino’s Cobra sock is controlled by flutes played by two Middle-Eastern wrestlers, whom the company has forgotten are kayfabe relatives. My head hurts.
36. Great Khali, Hornswoggle, and Natalya
It was never understood why these three came together, or why the admittedly beautiful Natalya was stuck with two human oddities. Then again, the company sees her as such, probably because she’s not a size negative-three. Rarely would scripted reality garbage be seen as a lifeboat.
35. Brad Maddox
The idea of a rogue referee was due to be unearthed, and Maddox seemed smarmy enough for the role. Once past that, he’s lingered like the stench of death, except death can serve a purpose. Maddox seems doomed to roam the Rawscape for eternity as a voiceless spectre without form.
34. TNA releases Jesse Sorensen
Suffering a nasty neck injury while on the clock in early 2012, Sorensen recovered enough to take a token office job before his release this summer. TNA’s explanation, that he was paid too much for his position, makes a little sense, but the company that never gets good PR didn’t help their cause here.
33. Dixie Carter action figure, with “Where’s Dixie?” campaign
If they sold enough of these figures, maybe they could have justified keeping Mr. Sorensen on board. Kidding aside, Dixie would have to be pretty removed from reality to think fans would willfully participate in the silly attention grab. The depth of that cluelessness will be evident much later.
32. The Brogue Kick Hotline
It’s baffling how WWE has bungled Sheamus, a quality big-man wrestler with a unique look and a more-than-believable style. As if making him a smiling hypocrite wasn’t enough, we got damage control in the form of ‘1-800-FELLA’. Mean Gene on the WCW Hotline predicted this would flop.
31. Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger, World Title Match at WrestleMania XXIX
The match wasn’t terrible or anything, but the fact that it *happened* is baffling. One’s a lukewarm babyface who turned without cause, and the other’s a less-than-lukewarm heel. Throw in a mashed-button xenophobe angle that invokes Tea Party rhetoric, and ta-da: title unification, the argument for.
30. Jay Briscoe’s tweet against homosexual indoctrination
The then-ROH champion plainly stated that he’d ‘f–king shoot’ anyone who taught his kids that same sex marriage was okay. And you all thought the Phil Robertson quote was bad; at least the Duck Dynasty patriarch didn’t threaten violence. The quote ended up marring his hard-earned ROH title reign.
29. Jerkass Sheamus
As indicated before, WWE has seemingly had difficulty in booking Sheamus. That, or too many inept cooks have spoiled an already fine soup. Case in point: his constant cheap-shotting of heels, i.e. Mark Henry and Damien Sandow, when the heels were engaged in fair play. I mean, why?
28. Iron clad….what does it mean?
Remember in the summer of 2012 when John Laurinaitis imbued Big Show with an unbreakable contract? That was just 18 months ago. Now, Show’s fighting for his job feuding with The Authority, and actually was ‘fired’ at one point. Drew Barrymore from 50 First Dates is possibly the head booker.
27. Triple H smacks Curtis Axel during Axel’s re-debut
I have a theory about Hunter: because he was punished for the “curtain call” in 1996, and had to do jobs, nobody’s allowed to climb the ladder without being humbled, usually by him. Not that Axel is particularly exciting, but this misplaced alpha-male-ism is amusing, if awkward to watch play out.
26. Dolph Ziggler’s depush
Admittedly, Ziggler is a bit of a rogue, speaking freely from the heart on what he feels are foibles and inconsistencies with the company. It’s imperative that a company not give in to a verbal mutineer. On the other hand, the fans were basking in his World Title cash-in, and yet another hot star has gone cold.
25. Worst. Highlight Reel. Ever.
It started out terribly enough, with Barrett, Miz, and Jericho arguing over WWE Films relating to them. Then Brad Maddox came out and cut possibly the worst promo since the Diva Search. Then Michael Cole, under Vince’s gun, mocked everything and obnoxiously begged for a commercial.
24. TNA Gut Check Voting Fail
It seemed like an interesting way to debut fresh new talent. The company turned the Gut Check into a far-reaching online voting contest, and it wound up being such a farcical mess, that the online competition was scrapped. If you’re reading this, somebody probably voted for you at some point.
23. Kassius Ohno released
Ironic photo, seeing as “The Game” didn’t appear to have Chris Hero’s back. Although there could be more to the story, it seems that Hero’s physique, lithe as it is, led to Hunter making the ultimate example of him, first by benching him, then later axing him. For the time being, their loss is the indies’ gain.
22. WWE product placement
Sponsors pay the bills, I get that. WWE has fully embraced stilted meta-advertising, like they wish to corner the market on it. Hardees, Sonic, and Domino’s Pizza (with ORDER TRACKER DEMONSTRATION) have enjoyed making unquestioned fearless leader Vinnie Mac dance on the barrel.
21. Ethan Carter III
WWE castoff Derrick Bateman styled his wild mane of hair, and jumped to TNA as Dixie Carter’s monotoned nephew, Ethan. It wouldn’t have been so bad if not for the grandstanding hype for such a letdown of a character. At least it’s better than whatever the hell that “USA Guy” deal was supposed to be.
20. Los Matadores
Mostly harmless, but no less bound for induction (kinda like Repo Man), Epico and Primo were reborn this autumn as Puerto Rican bullfighters (the sport is illegal on the island), complete with Torito, a midget mascot. As bullfighters, shouldn’t they be trying to kill him in the ring?
19. Shilling of the WWE App
Have you downloaded the App yet? Here’s a full demonstration that detracts from the flow of the show. You get to watch kayfabe interviews that you can find on YouTube, and vote in lopsided surveys to determine tonight’s matches. Even if you’ve downloaded it, we still have to shill it toward those who haven’t.
18. Brooke Hogan
People took her State of the Knockouts Address about as seriously as the Boy Who Cried Wolf at the end of that tale. With Hulk gone from TNA, possibly for good, that means there’s no chance we’ll be subjected to, as comedian Louis CK wincingly called her, Hulk’s “grown-up cum” anymore.
17. Jack Swagger’s poor decision
Whether you’re for the weed or for its prohibition, you can at least agree that it’s not wise to operate a car while in an addled state. It’s also not good to do it when you’ve just been given a high-profile match at WrestleMania. Lesser men would have lost their jobs, though Swagger’s been an afterthought since.
16. Spoon with Sunny!
I know the poor woman’s apparently going through an illness at the moment, but 2013 hasn’t been her year. First, she was arrested and served nearly four months, and then resorted to offering fans a chance to have their photo taken cuddled up with her in bed. The fall from grace gets even harder to undo.
15. AJ Styles leaves TNA Wrestling as champion
The company’s fall back wasn’t there to brace any tumbles in December, as his contract expired and he wouldn’t re-sign for the pay cut. Although negotiations continue, someone in Dixieland felt giving him the belt (again) would be incentive to stay. It wasn’t, and his ascent angle was all a waste.
14. The Miz as a babyface
The undisputed champion of the Power Crappings, Miz’s baseless face turn, and utter lack of likability, made for one of the more peculiar runs in wrestling. He was perfect as an obnoxious villain, but someone saw his reality show ties and thought, “He’s a celebrity! Push him as such!”
13. Bruce Prichard, worst executive ever?
Bobby Roode was working without a contract as Tag Team Champion. DOC was getting a push, and then vanished. Rob Van Dam up and went back to WWE. VP of Talent Relations Prichard was blamed for these egregious mistakes, but his brother, Dr. Tom, says the blame goes higher.
12. The lull in Daniel Bryan’s push
In spite of all of the garbage since SummerSlam, there’s still a realistic chance Bryan rises once more. Even then, given the crowd reactions for a new and enthusiastic face in the main event scene, it’s pretty inexcusable to make him second-tier to guys who’ve been locked in for nearly a decade.
11. Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson
TNA became a commercial for Bellator this summer, specifically a fight that never happened. Jackson joined the Main Event Mafia, Ortiz joined the Aces after a lackluster August 1 debut, and then things fizzled when Bellator pulled Rampage from Impact programming. And the fight never happened!
10. WWE Battleground
Outside of a fun six-man tag between the Rhodes Family and The Shield, it was a lackluster, ill-developed PPV that ended with a no-contest (Orton vs. Bryan for the vacant title), a slow Punk/Ryback match, among other non-PPV worthy bouts. This got 125,000 buys, second lowest in WWE history.
9. The Bellas as babyfaces
The Bellas hold the record for ‘most turns that needed to be explained to the audience.’ Their latest, going from snotty to ‘snotty, but you’re supposed to cheer them’, comes from WWE championing them as It Girls, based on the reality show they appear on. A pair of Trish’s they ain’t.
8. Zeb Colter shoots on Glenn Beck
When Zeb and Jack Swagger’s tirades resembled conservative parody, pundit Glenn Beck railed on it. In typical WWE fashion, they wasted time hitting back at a critique, with Zeb and Jack breaking character in doing so. You know it’s lame when CM Punk tweets about how unnecessary it is.
7. Michael Strahan’s Raw appearance
The All-Pro defensive end-turned-TV host helped rekindle the misbegotten notion of Raw needing guest appearances. Memories of the badness of Jeremy Piven and Buzz Aldrin surfaced, as Strahan, The Miz, and Titus O’Neil exchanged hip-tosses after a heated bit, and then celebrated together. Yeah.
Wanting to hear from the TNA constituents, Dixie Carter fielded questions during a Twitter chat session. Being that she’s not exactly well-regarded, tidal waves of vitriol and sarcasm crashed over her, providing hilarity for those reading, especially those with little interest in her empty promises.
5. CM Punk steals urn with the ‘ashes’ of Paul Bearer
It’s pretty damning of the company that they feel the need to incorporate a man’s death into a marquee WrestleMania match, but here’s the build for Undertaker and CM Punk. William Moody’s real-life son Michael, who okayed using his father in the angle, was disgusted by the presentation.
4. Dixie Carter, heel
Certainly, it’s more believable than TNA’s headmistress being a babyface, but who’s to say that Dixie needs to appear on television? The faction of her, Magnus, nephew Ethan, and Rockstar Spud is as menacing as a trident-less Brick Tamland, and without any of the charm. But hey, she’s got a wheel!
Because WWE can’t just say “vacant.” Those ten-dollar words really impress at the Board of Directors meetings. The title was held in ABEYANCE for six weeks with just two men fighting for it, ending with a screwjob at Hell in a Cell. Then Orton moved on to Big Show, who co-opted the “YES” chants for himself.
2. The Authority
Like the 1998 Corporation, without a charismatic champion, minus Vince’s over-the-top antics, and with no Stone Cold Steve Austin to fight the power. There’s no urgency to the angle, and the fans seem burnt out on authority figures. Like Green Day sang, we “don’t need your authority.”
1. WWE Total Divas
If you watch this show for unironic reasons, and you’re not reviewing it for a website, you really have no room to say WWE should do more with its harder-working women. Vapid reality trash pandering to the “Real Housewives” audience, my heart goes out to whoever has to watch this for induction.
Justin Henry is WrestleCrap's inquiring newsman, thirsting for knowledge always. He enjoys the art of satire, as you'll find in many of his works here at WrestleCrap. Drop him a line on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/jrhwriting)