This has not been the best year in WWE by any measure. Sure, there have been some bright spots, standout performances, and even huge successes, and we’ll get to those. But today, we’re not here to celebrate the things WWE did right. We’re here to take a look at everything that went poorly for WWE over the last year, the low points, the poor outings, the stuff that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of day. A lot of hard work goes into putting on a good wrestling show, but as these examples will show, it’s so very easy to do something really, really badly instead.
10. Worst Announcer – JBL
Nobody will deny that WWE’s commentary team is best represented by a garbage fire falling off of a cliff into a black hole. In fact, we were tempted just to give this award to all of them and be done with it. But that’s not fair, there are bright spots, and even Michael Cole had a good showing when he did the Beast in the East live event from Tokyo. But for JBL, there have been no such moments of decency to point to. In his role as color commentator, JBL has spent 2015 buring talent, yelling over everyone, and being painfully un-funny at best. His commentary work is a severe detriment to whatever enjoyment can be found in the product, and his presence openly detracts from anything he’s involved in. There was a point in the past where JBL was a good addition to the booth, and delivered an actually informative and entertaining perspective, but that was years ago, and with Vince’s grip on the commentary growing ever tighter, it doesn’t seem like he’s a problem that’s going to be solved any time soon.
9. Worst Waste of Talent – Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt is an incredible gimmick backed up by a decent wrestler with potentially legendary promo skills. Which is why it never makes sense to us that WWE does almost nothing with Bray Wyatt and his Family other than have them lose all of the time. This ridiculousness may have hit a new high in 2015, where Wyatt started off the year by being briefly dominant in the Royal Rumble, before being unceremoniously dumped by The Big Show. His Rumble run existed solely to make Wyatt “ready” for a potential turning point in his career: a WrestleMania match with The Undertaker. With the Streak broken, the match was less meaningful, but did offer the opportunity to put Wyatt over as the new supernatural figure of WWE’s future. So, of course, The Undertaker destroyed Wyatt and won cleanly. Next, Wyatt briefly feuded with Ryback, which he did win, but at the very next Pay Per View, Ryback won the Intercontinental title, while Wyatt wasn’t even on the card. Over the summer, Bray feuded with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, and lost that feud in order to set up Roman Reigns for his winter push to the WWE World Heavyweight Title. And for Survivor Series, The Wyatt Family feuded with The Undertaker and Kane, who absolutely demolished them several times, despite the Family having a 4-on-2 advantage. It’s taken an extended feud with the aging remnants of ECW in December to allow the Wyatts to regain even the tiniest bit of credibility as a potential threat. For a young wrestler in a money gimmick that could be a huge part of WWE for the future, 2015 was a series of baffling decisions by WWE, who seemed intent on marginalizing the unique talent of Bray Wyatt as much as possible.
8. Worst News Story – Daniel Bryan
In this case, “worst” means both “bad’ and “heartbreakingly depressing”, as Daniel Bryan made his triumphant return to action in January, won the Intercontinental title in a great ladder match at WrestleMania 31, was put into the position of giving that title back some of its previous credibility…and then was forced out of the ring yet again, and did not return in 2015. A suspected concussion, piled onto a career of injuries, may have seen the end of Daniel Bryan’s WWE career, not two years removed from what was the peak of his wrestling career up to that point. Wrestling fans have spent the year torn between a desire to see Bryan doing what he does best in WWE, and a legitimate concern for his health and well-being, and as a result, everyone is upset. The lack of clarity on Bryan’s future has made things even worse, with conflicting reports about whether or not doctors are willing to medically clear him running rampant over the year. The only possibly happy ending to this story would be Bryan being able to continue his WWE career as normal, but the odds of that seem to get slimmer by the day.
7. Worst Pay Per View – Survivor Series
WWE would love it if we would forgive them for the abomination that was Survivor Series. They’d probably like us to believe that Seth Rollins’ injury two weeks before the Pay Per View threw their plans into disarray and resulted in the boring and uninspired show that took place in November. Unfortunately, we can’t do that, because when you look at Survivor Series, the only actual things that changed from the alleged original plans were Dean Ambrose losing to Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title instead of Seth Rollins, and Alberto Del Rio having to wait an extra three weeks to beat Jack Swagger at TLC instead. Heck, TLC, only had three weeks of build on TV and managed to be a better show! At Survivor Series, the wrestling was mediocre at best, with even anticipated matches under-performing. The traditional Survivor Series match wasn’t even announced before the Pay Per View. As we already mentioned, The Wyatt Family took it on the chin against Undertaker and Kane in a bad match that was one of the only ones that actually had a story going into it. Oh, and the Divas Title match was fought under the shadow of WWE making one of their stupidest decisions of the year, having Paige insult Charlotte’s dead younger brother the week before the Pay Per View. Top it off with a screwjob ending to the show, and this Pay Per View has the questionable honor of being one the dullest, dumbest, and worst Pay Per Views WWE has put on in some time.
6. Worst Tag Team – The Ascension
NXT’s most dominant tag team admittedly weren’t the best wrestlers in the world, but since when has that stopped anyone in wrestling? After their record-setting reign as NXT Tag Team champions ended, The Ascension were prepped for a debut on the main roster, which happened on the very last Raw of 2014. As they had done in NXT, The Ascension initially came out and squashed jobber teams for a few weeks. Oddly, though, the WWE commentary desk spent most of The Ascension’s matches absolutely burying them for daring to claim that they were better than the legendary tag teams of wrestling history, which seemed to act contrary to any intention of actually making The Ascension something important in WWE. And then, one night on Raw, a bunch of retired wrestlers, representing those old tag teams, came out and completely beat the crap out of The Ascension. After that humiliation, The Ascension were basically forgotten, and rarely, if ever, won matches for the rest of the year. There was a brief spot of hope where they seemed to become aligned with Stardust as his minions, but they still continued to lose matches, and the partnership quietly dissolved as quickly as it came about.
5. Worst Promo – Roman Reigns
This award isn’t entirely fair to Roman Reigns, because the greatest orators of our time probably couldn’t have gotten over with the material that he was scripted. Also, the rest of the world already knows what WWE still hasn’t really figured out, which is that Reigns isn’t the sort of guy who should be cutting long promos. With that said, even though the material he’s working with has been terrible, Reigns’ clear weakness in delivering it in a believable fashion makes bad material even worse, and it’s arguable that his skills in that area are so lacking that it probably wouldn’t matter if the lines he was being given were any good to begin with. Reigns has delivered many terrible promos in the last year, but the worst by far has to be the infamous “Tater Tots” promo, which ended the final Raw before TLC, and will probably go down as one of the worst promos delivered with the intent of selling a Pay Per View main event the next week in recorded history.
4. Worst Story Line – Rusev, Lana, Dolph Ziggler, and Summer Rae
Just a warning in advance, trying to understand this story line will probably give you brain damage. With that said, few things were as ridiculously horrible and cringe-worthy as this seemingly never-ending angle. It started innocently enough, as Rusev dumped Lana because she kept costing him matches due to becoming really popular with fans and ignoring him. At that point, Lana began hanging out with Dolph Ziggler, creating an awkward couple who nobody believed actually even liked each other. Things spiraled out of control from there, as Ziggler and Lana began shoving their relationship in Rusev’s face, and the Bulgarian Brute went so insane that he paired up with Summer Rae, who began dressing like Lana for some reason. Next, there was a controversy where it seemed like Summer was also sleeping with Dolph, which WWE, of course, pretended was something straight out of the headlines of TMZ and everyone was entranced by this eye-rollingly embarassing series of events. Oh, and then Rusev and Lana’s real-life engagement went public on Twitter, and rather than ignore it, WWE tried to weave it into the ongoing story line, which made absolutely no sense and basically buried the entire thing, leaving everyone involved twisting in the wind.
3. Worst Gimmick – MexAmerica
Alberto Del Rio had, by any metric, a triumphant return to WWE. He showed fire, the crowd was happy to see him, and he defeated John Cena cleanly to become United States Champion on his first night back, with the only complaint being that the match was too short. The next night on Raw, however, all that momentum disappeared the very second it was revealed that for some reason, Alberto Del Rio had aligned with Zeb Colter, and was preaching the word of MexAmerica. What was MexAmerica? Nobody, not even those espousing its beliefs, seemed to know for sure, and with the confusion clear on everyone’s faces, the crowds simply couldn’t react to what they were seeing. Almost immediately, the gimmick was dead in the water, and Del Rio seemed to visibly give up, sleepwalking his way through matches, weighed down by the anchor of an old man, his motorized wheelchair, and a mythical country nobody cared about one way or the other. After over a month of MexAmerica dying a slow death, WWE finally put it out of its misery.
2. Worst Match – The Royal Rumble
There may have been other matches that were worse from a technical perspective, but for the combination of bad wrestling, bad booking, and just all-around horrible decision-making, which led to screwing up one of the few major gimmick matches in WWE that it is almost impossible to screw up, nothing was as big a mess as the 2015 Royal Rumble match. So many factors contributed to the general awfulness of the Rumble. There was the early elimination of Daniel Bryan, who was a complete non-factor despite fans salivating for his return and expecting this to be a “make-up” for WWE not having him even enter the Rumble last year. There was the extended dominance of walking representations of fan apathy Kane and The Big Show, who eliminated nearly everyone that the crowd actually cared about. And, of course, there was the winner, Roman Reigns, who did nothing of note during the match, only won by luck, and most importantly, wasn’t Daniel Bryan. The match was so poorly received that when WWE sent The Rock out to celebrate Reigns’ victory, the crowd booed him for endorsing the win.
1. Worst Wrestler – Eva Marie
We were originally going to split this award by gender, as is traditional, but with the rise of women’s wrestling to heights never before seen, we decided that it’s only fair to hold both male and female wrestlers to the same standard of awfulness (don’t worry, we’ll do the same, but in a good way, in our Best of the Year awards). And by any standard, Eva Marie should not be allowed near a wrestling ring. She was un-watchable when she debuted, and after moving down to NXT, taking months off for personal one-on-one training with former WWE Superstar Brian Kendrick, and having lots of time on Total Divas to showcase her new dedication to the business…she’s somehow even worse. She’s both sloppy and dangerous in the ring, she can’t perform her own finisher without visible assistance from her opponent, and unlike someone like Dana Brooke, who was similarly terrible when she debuted but has advanced at leaps and bounds since then, Eva Marie hasn’t improved a single iota. Her match with Bayley on NXT was a triumph of good storytelling that succeeded in spite of her lack of talent or wrestling ability. If she wants to be the woman who hangs out at ringside during Nia Jax matches, that’s fine. But please, please, please, WWE, keep her out of the ring.