Quick note from RD: Gooker voting will begin next Monday, January 5. To prep yourself, here’s Justin Henry’s recap of what was a pretty dang horrible year in pro wrestling.
2014 was a year of Daniel Bryan overcoming the corporate leviathan, a developmental territory becoming must-see television, the number two wrestling promotion finding a cable home that intends to make them the network’s tentpole, the WWE Network finally finding launch with a treasure trove of old and new content, a new international entity headed by Jeff Jarrett that has acquired the iconic Jim Ross for American commentary, and the debut of Sting in WWE.
This list will cover none of those things.
No, here at WrestleCrap, it’s our duty to cover the WORST in wrestling. It’s more than just a tagline ya know.
A year ago, I cobbled together the 50 worst wrestling items of 2013, quite the polarizing list. At this time, I would like to apologize for the following entries:
-48. Bad News Barrett. Much more awesome than it should have been, thanks to Barrett’s natural enthusiasm.
-21. Ethan Carter III. The former Derrick Bateman stood out in a sea of poor booking as a more-than-acceptable villain.
-5. CM Punk stealing the urn. I still think it’s a bit hokey, but hearing Jim Cornette say on Jim Ross’ podcast that ‘Percy woulda loved it!’ dampens the shoehorning a bit.
A year from now, I may be apologizing for some of the entries below. As a perfectionist, I sincerely hope not! Here are, in my opinion, wrestling’s worst ideas, gimmicks, angles, and incidences of 2014.
A harmless entry, but it serves as our benchmark. WrestleMania XXX guest host Hulk Hogan was so wrapped up in nostalgia, namely his WrestleMania III win over Andre the Giant, he referred to the Superdome as “Silverdome” twice. Steve Austin soon after called him out on the gaffe.
49. We Stopped Bo-Lievin’
Lo and behold, WWE had something in once-mindless Bo Dallas: a human motivational poster, imparting his wisdom in a shrill, mousy voice. Dallas’ bit had potential, complete with undefeated streak. He was then hastily fed to a cold R-Truth, and has since been lost in the shuffle.
48. Give it a Girl’s Name
What a weird 2014 for Cesaro. There will be other entries involving this man later on, but this place is for the halving of his name. Cesaro had his “Antonio” removed this year, reportedly due to Vince McMahon believing the first name sounded ‘feminine’. Wonder how that makes Antonio Inoki feel?
47. Layla, Summer Rae feud over Fandango
What an odd feud. WWE has been attempting to get Summer Rae, star of their next Marine installment, over with fans, but her ‘Talk to me, talk to meeeeee” entrances were received with silence. Fandango dumped Summer for the saucier Layla, and the battles were easily forgettable.
46. We do as we’re told
In February, Jim Ross took part in an interview on Opie and Anthony’s radio show, revealing a story about Vince accidentally ‘sharting’ his pants before a Raw around 2001. On the March 3 Raw, JBL went on an unprovoked tirade about how Vince was a better announcer than ‘non-English speaking’ JR.
45. Yes, Young, Yes!
Not to discredit Eric Young at all; the man has been an underrated talent for years. However his TNA World Title win on April 10 far too much mirrored the underdog rise of Daniel Bryan. Young was even presented as a plucky, lovable champion with a trademark scraggly beard by creative.
44. Three of one, a trio of another
I’d like to think the choices in this poll are just a rib by WWE, since they’re all essentially the same kind of match. They’ve presented the choices before, mind you. Of course, there’s the hint that WWE holds its audience in a low regard, and doesn’t think the core base would know the difference.
43. Paige vs. AJ Forever
On the surface, the Paige vs. AJ feud was fine. Two Divas who can actually wrestle and are mostly respected competing for the gold provides few faults. That is, until you take away any semblance of a storyline, and just have them wrestle for months non-stop while taking a backseat to certain other Divas.
42. Kane Goes to Hell: The Final Monday
If you needed further proof that WWE never intended to put the gold on Daniel Bryan, check out his post-WrestleMania feud with suddenly-a-demon-again Kane. Brie Bella took the role of helpless scream queen while Bryan fended off Kane’s attempts at Voorhees-ian carjackings.
41. Samuel Shaw threatens suicide
Shaw’s Dexter Morgan-meets-Patrick Bateman character is slightly buoyed by his natural iciness, but his stalking of Christy Hemme was comically absurd. At Lockdown, Shaw threatened to leap off the cage if Hemme didn’t appear. The fans encouraged him.
40. WWE turns Mr. T’s sincerity into a joke
Upon his induction into WWE’s Hall of Fame, Mr. T did go into overdrive praising his mother, to the point where it drew some unintended chuckles. Mr. T was insulted when Kane, as rodeo clown, cut off the speech. Wonder how he felt when the company made a viral video out of the ordeal?
39. Alicia Fox is crazy!
Suddenly, without warning, Alicia would begin doing bizarre things after matches, like clang the ring bell, or steal JBL’s cowboy hat, or snatch a ringsider’s beverage. There was never any explanation for the incidents, and Alicia became a normal babyface later on.
38. Slammy voting rigged?
The graphic depicts an illuminated shot of how the WWE app “Superstar of the Year” ballot reportedly looked. Assuming it isn’t tampered with, it suggests that votes for Ambrose went to Cena, and those for Bryan went to Reigns, the declared winner. Makes you go hmmm.
As the temporary mascot of ‘Slater Gator’, Hornswoggle becomes a mini gator and wrestles El Torito before a Brooklyn crowd that is just having none of it. If only they could have heard Michael Cole’s laughter, they too would have known that this was supposed to be hilarious.
36. Putin power
Xenophobia will always exist in wrestling, and WWE is all too excited to exploit it. Bulgarian Rusev packed up his things and moved to Russia, all so the comely Lana could hail Vladimir Putin before all of his matches. Cheap heat, yes, but if nothing else, Lana makes it all seem so sexy.
35. Sandow in costume
Before settling upon his amusing role as Damien Mizdow, the one-time intellectual savior began an odd run of dressing in random outfits, such as NBAer Lance Stephenson, Abraham Lincoln, and Bret Hart, among others, with no payoff other than to be squashed like a bug in said segments.
34. Kathie Lee and Hoda waste everyone’s time
Ever one to cling to celebrities like pompadour’d barnacles, WWE brought in Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb during Pinkwashing Month. The two shilled wine and caroused with Adam Rose’s unruly band of misfits. Little wonder why ‘NXT’ has become an en vogue chant.
33. Tables, Ladders, Chairs, and Stairs
The roster tasked themselves with trying to top NXT’s R-Evolution event, and largely failed due to creative handcuffing. Each proceeding gimmick bout was more lackluster than the previous, and the show thudded with a bad ending that we’ll visit later in the list.
32. Michael Sam invited to Raw
Sam is a pioneer in sports – an open homosexual in a world not always receptive to them. After being cut by the Rams, Sam was invited by Stephanie McMahon to Raw to speak, solely for media attention. Sam ignored WWE completely, and the company quietly rescinded the invite.
31. Adam Rose, The Bunny, and The Rosebuds
A Russell Brand wannabe, an anthropomorphic rabbit, and some Lets Make a Deal rejects run around harmonizing while waving their arms. That is the most coherent synopsis of a midcard act that makes little sense. Rose could gain mileage from his self-absorbed musings, though.
30. The Menagerie
Mike Knox takes over the family carnival and brings the posse with him: a one-note clown, Rob Terry in a hood, and the charming ampleness that is Rebel. Awful circus music plays throughout their bouts, similar to New Jack’s ECW brawls, without the benefit of excitement or wild mayhem.
29. WWE fires Emma
After forgetting to pay for an iPad case at a Walmart self-checkout line, Emma was arrested. She was soon fired by WWE, which drew outrage from internet fans who tweeted about other wrestlers keeping their jobs following run-ins with the law. Hours later, she would be rehired.
This is not to criticize the hard work of Hornswoggle and El Torito, who ended up having one hell of a match with each other, a true sleeper of a bout. The midget commentary crew and the undercutting with ‘HA HA THEY’RE LITTLE PEOPLE’ narrative actually took away from an enjoyable showing.
27. You Can’t Do That on Episodic Television
The Dean Ambrose-Seth Rollins grudge felt more like a blood feud than anything else in WWE. Leave it to the company that cherishes visual gags to have Ambrose steal the MITB briefcase, rig it with Nickelodeon slime, and have it give Rollins a Barth Bukkakke when he opened it up.
The different-hashtags-for-different-matches deal that both WWE and TNA do can be irritating, but it bit the latter hard. In TNA’s last original match on Spike, that amusing spelling gaffe appeared. After nine years of seemingly more bad than good on Spike, it all ended with goddamn ‘crownded’.
25. Roman Reigns spikes the McMahons’ coffee
Okay, so WWE wants to push Reigns. He’s a silent killer with the might of ten men, and a scowl that could stop a bullet mid-trajectory. What does WWE do? See the slime-entry: they have Reigns lace Stephanie’s coffee, so that she pukes all over departed comic fodder Vickie Guerrero.
24. Florida Georgia Line at Night of Champions
Country duo shows up at a PPV, does half-assed commentary, and then beats up Sandow to the delight of hopefully someone. Kicker is when they promote the “Support the troops thing” which they say is very important to them. Presumably they meant Tribute to the Troops.
23. ‘Brass Rings’
McMahon’s appearance on Steve Austin’s podcast was a journey into uncharted waters. Among the thoughtful responses, however, Vince claimed that Cesaro does not connect with the crowd, which provided a headscratcher for those watching. Does Vince watch his own product?
22. WWE rips off Claire Lynch
At least when TNA steals from WWE, they knock off the GOOD ideas. Stephanie attempted to drive a wedge between Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella by claiming someone named Megan Miller, Bryan’s rehab trainer, was having an affair with him. ‘ClaireLynch’ actually trended as a result.
21. A New Day
Originally, Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods were to band together as a stern, militant faction. With recent civil unrest in America, the company went the opposite way, turning all three men into all-too-eager babyfaces that warble “New DAAAAAAY” while hopping to the ring.
20. CM Punk chants
Not since “WE WANT FLAIR” has there been such a groundswell for an MIA performer. Eventually, the chants grew old, and Punk admitted being uncomfortable with them, especially when directed at his wife when she’s trying to work. Still, they occasionally persist.
19. Growing Up Bella
Really now, who WOULDN’T want to hear Nikki Bella ramble aimlessly in several vignettes about what an awful person her sister Brie is? I thought Total Divas was quarantined over on E! so as to not infect the already unctuous Raw with more badly-acted drek.
18. Hologram Lantern
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were wrapping up a brutal Hell in a Cell match, with Ambrose in control, when the lights went out. A rambling incantation blared, culminating with a smoking lantern appearing in the ring. Then Bray Wyatt appeared for some reason.
17. Worst ref bump ever
TNA official Brian Stiffler was meant to be whacked by Bobby Roode during Bully Ray’s powerbomb lift. The two avoided contact by accident, so what does Stiffler do? He freezes, wobbles, and crumples to the mat in an act more business exposing than a primetime NBC special.
16. Ramblin’ Roman
Some people can make scripted lines work. Roman Reigns, to date, hasn’t been one of them. While convalescing with a severe hernia, Reigns made several satellite appearances, where his attempts to sound confident and powerful came off as wooden as Pinocchio’s jawline.
15. WWE Network delayed in the UK
Americans had it bad enough last February navigating the sign-up system. That gridlock was child’s play compared to the United Kingdom fans finding out 20 minutes before November launch that the Network would be delayed indefinitely. Fans during the UK tour expressed much anger.
14. ‘Recent current events’
WWE pushed a caustic button at Battleground, having Lana make faint allusion to a Malaysian airliner crashing in Ukraine, purportedly via shoot-down by Russian insurgents. Lana only went as far as to say ‘recent current events’, but the media connected the dots, blasting WWE.
The manifestation of Jeff Hardy’s darkest intentions came to life as a masked, umbrella-toting lunatic with a high-pitched loon’s laugh. After spewing meaningless riddles for months, the character vanished when Kurt Angle requested the presence of Jeff himself. The fans agreed.
12. Brock Lesnar, absentee champion
Lesnar as champion in and of itself is fine. Missing three straight PPVs and sitting out a span of 90 days is just wrong. It devalues the company when they put their eggs in a basket that makes so few appearances. Usually a 90-day no-compete doesn’t apply like this.
11. I wish you died in the womb!
If you’re going to invoke Traci Lords-esque acting in WWE, may as well throw in some hokey lines that nobody ever says. The Wiseau-level line-reading scraped new bottom when Nikki told her sister Brie that in hindsight, a partial miscarriage would have been just lovely. That would lead to….
10. The Bellas, hosted by Jerry Springer
Yes, 15 years after Springer was last a pop culture low-light, the host of the obviously-staged trash TV smorgasbord attempted to mediate this serious issue between the twin sisters. Naturally it ended in a fight. Betcha Steve Wilkos had ANYTHING better to do than be involved.
9. Demonic Wyatt child
John Cena single-handedly wipes out all of the Wyatt Family members at Extreme Rules during a steel cage match. During his attempt at escape, the lights dimmed, and his path was blocked by Jameson’s son, lip-syncing that ‘Whole World’ spiritual. But hey, at least Cena lost.
8. Grumpy Cat hosts Raw
Yes, an inanimate object was put in charge of Raw, the first since Brad Maddox mysteriously vanished. I’m sure WWE got a nice check for helping promote the insipid Lifetime Christmas movie, but the only solace was dumbass Michael Cole saying ‘Gumpy the Cat’.
7. Vince Russo revealed to still be in TNA
Spike TV did not want Russo, who had left TNA in early 2012, involved with the promotion. Dixie Carter swore he was gone, but this proven to be a lie. An e-mail in July confirmed once and for all that Russo was on board as a consultant, apparently rehired in October 2013.
6. Spike cancels Impact
The bad news broke in late July, shortly after the Russo leak. Without TV, the number-two American promotion was circling the drain while Dixie tried to spin everything. Fortunately, Destination America stepped in before Thanksgiving to save the day, thus saving the jobs of so many.
5. WWE fires Alberto Del Rio following backstage incident
You know the story: a social media employee deigned cleaning a lunch tray as ‘Del Rio’s job’, and the star wrestler confronts him physically. WWE fires Del Rio after a lawsuit is threatened, though the consensus sympathizes with him. The backstage culture takes some serious hits.
4. CM Punk makes serious allegations about WWE
Forget about the trashings of Vince and Hunter; Punk broke his silence this past November by lighting into WWE doctor Chris Amann, who he claimed misdiagnosed a life-threatening staph infection as a fat deposit. If true, Punk worked night in and night out with the infection for months.
3. Exploding TV
What is now an IWC running gag sees Dean Ambrose try to waylay Bray Wyatt with a plugged-in TV monitor to close out TLC, only for the cords to spark and smoke into his face. The ridiculous spot is followed by Wyatt cleanly pinning Ambrose with Sister Abigail to end the night.
2. WWE whores $9.99 price for Network incessantly
Desperation set in this summer. Network purchases hovered around 700,000 domestically, far below the profit line. To rectify this, Vince and company tried turning ‘9.99’ into a catchphrase. A great product like the Network now has the stigma of an annoying tagline rivet-gunned to it.
1. The 2014 Royal Rumble
An unwelcome Batista winning the match. Daniel Bryan being left out entirely. The Pittsburgh fans dumped all over the show following Bryan’s loss to Wyatt, with a Cena/Orton title bout being booed out of the building, along with the Rumble once it was clear Bryan was not entering.
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)