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When it comes to the art of telling a good story the WWE is one of the best, not just in wrestling, but in the entertainment business as a whole. Who could forget the Austin/McMahon saga, Macho Man crushing Ricky Steamboats throat with a ring bell, or the rise to WrestleMania glory of the ultimate underdog, Daniel Bryan? But sometimes even the best can get it wrong or, as in these examples, just totally lose interest….
5. The Daniel Bryan/Wyatt Family Situation
During the early part of 2014, Daniel Bryan was right in the middle of a hot angle where he played the underdog against the might of the Authority. He took a short break from this feud however to battle what seemed at the time to be an even bigger threat, The Wyatt Family. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan cast a dominant, dark shadow across the WWE. They quickly zeroed in on the former American Dragon and over the following weeks proceeded to break him physically and mentally with vicious beat downs and creepy, cryptic promos. Eventually, when Bray was sure he had “broken” Bryan, they carried him away up the ramp and the WWE Universe was a buzz with what was going to happen to arguably the most popular talent in the company at that time…and the answer was pretty much nothing! Bryan appeared once on TV and on a handful of house shows as “Bry Wyatt”, complete with a swamp dweller style, grubby jumpsuit and vacant expression. Brainwashed by Bray and a tool for his bidding. The plan was for the angle to run for a while but Vince McMahon didn’t like the idea or where it was going and it was very quickly dropped. Just like that. No reason. No babyface fightback. No rescue. Just plain ol’ Daniel Bryan back on TV the following week. It could have been an intriguing story that would have really tested Bryan and Wyatt’s acting chops and in ring skills, but sadly it never came to be.
4. The Anonymous Raw GM Fiasco
Anyone who watched WWE TV during 2012 will remember Michael Cole and that damn laptop. A faceless, anonymous general manager was running Raw and making all kinds of crazy decisions. Although Cole’s extremely irritating “May I have your attention please? And I quote…” bit became instantly annoying the angle actually opened up some interesting possibilities of who could be controlling things. Fans were talking about who the mysterious figure could be. With guesses ranging from Shane McMahon to Eric Bischoff to Bob Backlund and every possibility in between. WWE did a really good job of keeping the identity 100% secret. The reason being they didn’t even know themselves!
With changes being made on the fly they never actually got around to figuring out who the mystery GM was. It has been said by many people, including ex-WWE creative writer Matt McCarthy, that Vince McMahon flat out lost interest in the story and wanted to unceremoniously drop the entire angle all together because he didn’t think anyone cared who it was anyway. But the writers fought for there to be at least some payoff from an almost year long angle and so the decision was made and in a quick 5 minute segment the anonymous GM was revealed to be none other than….Hornswoggle! What an anti-climax that was…
3. The GTV Mastermind
During the Attitude Era there was a period for over a year where the usual programming would be interrupted by short snippets of cctv footage. Showing various superstars in comedic, incriminating or embarrassing situations and were always followed by a mysterious GTV title card implying that someone was behind them and speculation was running rampant among the fans about who it was. Most people speculated it was Goldust however, many years later when asked in an interview, Chris Jericho said it was actually comedian Tom Green who was the mastermind. Green was going to be a big part of WWE programming going forward. That is until Mr McMahon saw Tom’s work, decided he wasn’t funny and literally dropped the entire one year build over night. Are you starting to notice a theme here?
2. The Death of the Nexus
The debut of the NXT originated stable, The Nexus, has to be one of the best and most shocking first appearances in modern wrestling history. The team made up of NXT hopefuls including leader Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, Ryback (as Skip Sheffield), Darren Young, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga and Justin Gabriel made a huge impact on their June 2010 debut. Invading the main event of Raw. Laying waste all in their path including John Cena and CM Punk and making an instant impression on the WWE fans, they spent the next 9 months causing havoc in the WWE with many saying this was the shot in the arm the roster was looking for. However, as we’ve seen so often before, after a great build and some excellent matches and angles that really built the story well, the story just kind of…fizzled out. The story became somewhat convoluted, members and leaders started drifting in and out of the group (although CM Punk taking over and re-naming them the New Nexus was a highlight) and the story just sort of ended. No big pay off. No big final match. The group just disbanded and they all went their separate ways (most of them straight to the lower card jobber section) which was a shame because the months preceding the break up was some of the best television of the modern era.
1. The Shield Paymasters
The Shield was awesome. Let’s get that out there from the start. I personally put their 2012 debut among some of the best there is. In fact, their entire 2 year run cements them as one of my favorite factions ever with some incredible angles and matches. Everything about them was booked extremely well. Aggressive, dominant and ruthless, they were exactly what was needed at the time for WWE. People started to ask questions though. Their attacks seemed to always benefit certain individuals, including the Authority and most notably CM Punk and his representative Paul Heyman. It was implied several times that the Shield were perhaps not the vigilantes they first seemed to be but rather a team of mercenaries, willing to go to war for the highest bidder. There was even a shadowy vignette of a figure looking very much like Paul Heyman actually handing over payment to the Hounds of Justice although he vehemently denied any involvement. It became the focus of Raw’s programming for many weeks as we all tried to figure out who was controlling the Shield. But then, all of a sudden, the Shield became the good guys and started helping those they once attacked. No real explanation of why that was and absolutely zero closure on who the Shield’s puppet-master had been. Although the Shield went on to continue having some excellent matches and angles it still sticks in the craw a little that the hottest story featuring the hottest team in the WWE and which took up literal weeks of TV time got no closure whatsoever.