Shock-value will always get eyes on your product, but sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you would expect it to. Let’s check out 10 times WWE tried to shock everyone but it backfired. Click here for the video on YouTube
10. The Seth Rollins beat-down
After Roman Reigns stepped away from WWE to battle his returning leukemia, there was a vacuum left at the very top of the promotion. For years, the Big Dog had been the unquestionable face of the company, regularly wrestling in marquee matches and contending for or winning top championships on a seemingly monthly basis. The vacuum that Reigns left was eventually filled by Seth Rollins, who went on a fantastic run as Intercontinental Champion and his momentum carried him all the way to a Universal Championship win at WrestleMania this year. But once he became champion, things quickly went downhill. The Architect quickly became bland and boring and his on-screen pairing with real-life girlfriend Becky Lynch did nothing to endear him in the eyes of the WWE Universe. Before long, he lost his Universal Championship to Mr. Money in the Bank Brock Lesnar and he is back in chase mode now. But there is a big difference now; audiences are starting to turn on him. There have been reports that WWE is actively trying to make Rollins look ‘cool’ again, but the way things are going, it seems like he is going to get the pre-leukemia treatment Roman Reigns got for years. WWE naturally decided that a brutal beat-down at the hands of The Beast would get audiences on Rollins’ side, but that isn’t what happened. After a brutal beating and spitting up blood, Rollins was left writhing in pain while fans were chanting ‘One More Time’, which isn’t the response WWE was looking for. The shock value of seeing Rollins spit up blood didn’t work, instead it left audiences asking for more, as WWE supposed top face is rapidly losing fan support.
9. Jason Jordan is Angle’s son?
American Alpha was one of the most promising tag-teams in NXT and while they weren’t as hot on the main roster, the team of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan was immensely promising. Gable and Jordan were both strong performers in the ring, but just in a couple of months it was beginning to seem like the company had run out of ideas for the team. While American Alpha was on Smackdown Live, WWE started up a storyline involving Kurt Angle. It all started with Corey Graves having serious conversations with the Olympic Gold Medalist. Over time the company unveiled that Angle had an illegitimate son he had no idea existed. The WWE Universe began speculating almost instantly, as any Superstar linked to Angle would definitely be pushed to the moon. As the anticipation built up, WWE dropped the ball by unveiling Jason Jordan as Angle’s son. It was an underwhelming choice and audiences lost interest almost instantly. Jordan was far from the ideal choice, his own tag-team partner Chad Gable would have made a better choice, with his amateur wrestling background and the fact that he even looked a little bit like Angle. A couple of weeks after the news broke, it became obvious that the company had no idea about what to do with Jordan. He ended up becoming a weekly annoyance on Raw, and the angle was a resounding disappointment overall.
8. “I did it for The Rock”
‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin needed some time away from WWE programming to undergo rehabilitation for a neck injury back in 1999. Instead of just having the company’s biggest name disappear for months without any reason, WWE wrote him off programming by having a mystery person run him over at Survivor Series that year. After more than 9 months out of action, Austin returned at Unforgiven and started looking for the person who attacked him. Just a few weeks later, Mick Foley forced a confession out of Rikishi, who stated that he had run over Austin, and that he had done it for The Rock. His explanation was racially charged, calling Austin WWE’s “great white hope”, while the “island boys” were being held back. Rikishi was being positioned as the company’s next big heel at the time, so the reveal made sense. But then Austin decimated Rikishi at No Mercy and the year-long angle was done. A little while later, Triple H revealed that he was the one who had masterminded the attack, as WWE desperately tried fix one of the biggest fails of the year.
7. Vince McMahon: Hornswoggle’s father
Pretty early into his WWE run, it became obvious that Mr. Kennedy was being prepared for great things in the company. He was fantastic on the mic, decent in the ring and was one of the most charismatic Superstars ever. He seemed to be the total package, what could go wrong? Well, everything went wrong. WWE was running a storyline that would have resulted in Mr. Kennedy being revealed as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son. Being booked to be the Chairman’s kid would have catapulted Kennedy to the main event almost immediately, as pretty much any association with Vince guaranteed a strong spotlight on WWE programming. But unfortunately, a Wellness Policy violation and a month-long suspension derailed those plans. Instead of choosing another rising star to be his son, WWE decided that it would be a good idea to have Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son be Hornswoggle. Sure, he was Cruiserweight Champion at the time, but he was still a sideshow comedy act, and couldn’t really speak English. It was a terrible reveal and WWE knew it, as just a few months later, JBL revealed that Hornswoggle was actually Finlay’s illegitimate son, so that’s that.
6. The Ambrose heel turn
When Dean Ambrose returned to WWE after an extended lay-off, he was a new man. His shaggy hair had been replaced with a buzz cut and he seemed to have put on about 20 pounds of muscle. As soon as he came to the aid of Seth Rollins in his fight against Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, people worldwide began speculating when Ambrose would turn heel on Seth. The Lunatic Fringe’s much awaited heel turn took place on the night of Roman Reigns’ leukemia announcement as he beat the living daylights out of Seth Rollins after they won the Raw tag-team championships. That night was arguably the best night of his heel turn, because it was all downhill from there. Ambrose was forced to show up wearing a gas mask and was inoculated on his butt as a means of getting him heat. All it did was disillusion the man behind the gimmick, as he was also forced to bring up Reigns’ leukemia to get the crowd to hate him. None of it really worked, and once he announced that he would not renew his contract with WWE, the company lost all interest in him. He showed up to get involved with EC3 for a couple of weeks, and then turned face after Reigns returned. Now he’s gone and Dean Ambrose is dead. Long live Jon Moxley.
5. Cena’s “firing”
Nexus could easily have been one of the most dominant factions of all time, but they ran into a roadblock better known as John Cena. After Cena spent months on end systematically destroying what little momentum the faction had, Wade Barrett battled Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, with Cena serving as the special guest referee at Survivor Series in 2010. Just to make things interesting, the match stipulation stated that if Orton won, Cena would be fired, if Barrett won, Cena would be free from Nexus. Also, just FYI Cena was an honorary member of Nexus for all his troubles at this time. After Orton won the match and it was declared that Cena would indeed be fired from the WWE, he cut an impassioned promo that tugged at the heartstrings and just like that, the Face That Runs the Place was gone…for barely a week. It is almost as if WWE forgot what it meant when someone was fired, because Cena was back taking out members of the Nexus for fun. After that, WWE found a convoluted way to re-instate him and nothing from Survivor Series mattered. Cena was WWE’s resident Superman once more and Wade Barrett was left wondering what could have been, as were the rest of us.
4. Kevin Nash ruins the Summer of Punk
CM Punk had a lot of issues with how WWE treated him and his character, but even he cannot deny the fact that the Summer of 2011 belonged to him. He was without a doubt, the hottest star in the company, that is until Kevin Nash showed up. The big man returned to WWE to crew Punk out of winning the WWE Championship at Summerslam in 2011. He later revealed that his old buddy Triple H had texted him to help him out. Not only was Nash’s appearance weird in the first place, but things got weirder when it was later revealed that Nash had texted himself from Trips’ phone. Punk ended up being beaten by Triple H, who then went on to have a ‘Sledgehammer on a Pole’ match against Nash at TLC that year. It was a convoluted, messy debacle that derailed the best angle of the year.
3. Paige brings up Reid Flair
Paige and Charlotte Flair were gearing up to face each other at Survivor Series in 2015. On an episode of Raw in November, WWE booked a contract signing between the two women that left a poor taste in everyone’s mouths. To get under the Divas Champion’s skin, Paige brought up Charlotte’s deceased brother, Reid Flair. His tragic death had been extremely traumatizing for the family, and Paige flippant mention of his death was shocking to say the least. Instead of Paige getting heat for the comment, people turned on WWE, who could not believe that the company would stoop to such low levels in order to make a feud interesting. To make matters worse, both women were clearly extremely uncomfortable with the segment, as even Paige was holding back tears while delivering the line. Things get even more horrible when you realize that Paige herself lost a brother years ago. WWE didn’t even bother notifying Ric Flair that they would be mentioning Reid’s death live on Raw, so the Nature Boy was rattled by the segment. In an interview, Flair stated that he had no idea that WWE would mock his late son. The entire segment was an absolute disaster, and everyone came out of it looking worse than they did going in, especially WWE.
2. Jinder Mahal becomes WWE Champion
Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship was perhaps one of the most shocking WWE moments of the entire decade. Perennial under-carder, Mahal ascended to the main-event in a matter of months and defeated Randy Orton at Backlash to become the first WWE Champion of Indian descent. WWE was lauded for its willingness to take a risk, and Smackdown Live solidified its position as the Land of Opportunity in Vince McMahon’s company. But in just a couple of weeks, flaws in WWE’s game-plan became obvious. While the company tried its best to present him as a top star, Mahal’s slow, methodical pace in the ring and repetitive matches and angles soon resulted in the blue brand becoming a complete drag. Mahal’s reign lasted for about six months, because WWE couldn’t run the risk of people calling Mahal’s reign just a ploy to garner interest in the product. People around the world let out a sigh of relief when he ended up losing the title to AJ Styles.
1. Hornswoggle is Raw’s anonymous GM
Remember Raw’s Anonymous GM who would send updates on a stupid laptop that Michael Cole would then read from? The year-long angle had people wondering who the man behind the screen was, but when the anonymous GM was finally exposed, the entire WWE Universe groaned. The company threw away a year-long angle for the gag of having Hornswoggle be the Raw GM. It made no sense whatsoever and was an insult to the intelligence of fans around the world.