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  • Connor Ewens

11 worst booking decisions of 2023... so far

How did Wrestlemania 39 manage to put on one off the best nights of wrestling in WWE history, then also one of the most disappointing nights in WWE history? 2023 has been mostly a good start to the year for wrestling. Vince McMahon antics aside, there has been some excellent wrestling matches, shows, promos and moments. Wrestle Kingdom 17, AEW Revolution, Wrestlemania 39 Night 1. Omega vs Ospreay, MJF vs Danielson, Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte. However, it hasn't been perfect. Now of course I don't watch every single product of wrestling so this list isn't completely inclusive, but I cover the major bases. Not in any particular order, here are 11 of the worst booking decisions of 2023...so far.


1) Something, Something, Cody Rhodes


Everything that I could say has already been said so I'll keep it brief. Yes, I'm sure Cody Rhodes will win the World Championship some point in the near future. Yes, the match was still a really excellent main event match. Yes, Reigns currently is having one of the greatest title Reigns in recent history. But, I dunno, it just felt right, didn't it? The downfall of the Bloodline all in one night, the 3 babyfaces all celebrate at the end of the show a la Wrestlemania 20. If this was the plan, they could have got away with it if it was on night 1. It was such a deflating way to end the show, everyone just left the arena unlike night 1 where the crowd stayed to chant and sing songs. It's truly a great moment reaching 1,000 days as a world champion, but the 900+ is still an impressive feat. The thing that's stings the most, is the family in the crowd. Seeing Brandi Rhodes, Their daughter, his sister, his mother, even the son of the late Brodie Lee almost guaranteed to me of a title change. Maybe its my fault that I'm disappointed, maybe this was the right decision. We'll see, but right now as we stand, it feels like the wrong call was made.


2) Shooting the Gunn early


The Acclaimed caught fire in late 2022 for AEW, as they cranked up the scissors with the help of 'Daddy Ass' Billy Gunn. So much so that they meteored through the rankings and into a number 1 contender spot. After failing to defeat Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland, where we truly saw how over the Acclaimed are, they won a rematch on AEW Dynamite in September to be crowned Tag Champions and well-deservingly. They had success defences against teams like Private Party, Butcher & Blade, Varsity Athletes & Swerve in Our Glory. They then feuded with the Gunns aaaaand, lost? Why? They got the Kofi Kingston treatment. Give em a night moment then a mediocre title run. No offence to those teams mentioned, but they're all not the greatest in the division. They beat teams that they should be beating. Where's Young Bucks? Where's the Luchas? House Black? Blackpool Combat Club? Hell even any of the teams they could have borrowed from ROH or New Japan? There were options, they chose safe ones. I did want the titles back on FTR eventually, but they could have just built up the Acclaimed as a top team up until Double or Nothing next month, then have a big FTR win. The Gunns are talented, they have some bright futures if they continue to progress but I don't think they're champion material just yet. This was the Acclaimed's time. Fun fact, only two teams have had reigns that exceed 200 days. Those teams? Young Bucks, Omega & Hangman. Weird that.


3) "Hi, look at my trophy" / Poor Miz


When we heard that Bray Wyatt had fallen ill and unable to compete at Wrestlemania, that was unfortunate and its never nice for a performer to be injured in any way. However, I was relieved we ain't getting Wyatt vs Lashley. Unless it was going to be a Firefly Funhouse match, I wasn't interested. This gives Bobby Lashley something else to do. Maybe he faces Brock Lesnar instead of Omos? Maybe he's added to the match so it's a triple threat? Maybe he's added to the IC Championship match? Maybe he faces someone else like a one-off appearance by Chris Masters? What does Bobbly Lobbly get to do?? He wins the Andre the Giant Battle Royal on Smackdown, then gets to stand and wave on the stage of Wrestlemania, showing off his new trophy. Wow, that's rewarding. Seriously, yous could have given him something to do. Even if he just squashes someone. It's a bit shit for him to just have no appearance on the card? It would have been fine, and actually compatible with storytelling, for him to be a part of the Lesnar vs Omos match.


It was made even more infuriating when we had TWO matches where The Miz was squashed by someone. I like Pat McAfee as much as the next guy but my Wrestlemania experience isn't going to be boosted or ruined by his appearance. It was even worse on night 2. They had Shane McMahon return for an impromptu match with The Miz. He got a loud crowd reaction from the fans as well, as if we didn't have years on contrived booking decisions involving him. The segment didn't even pay off it just ended up with Shane channelling is inner McMahon and tearing his quad, so they improvised and bloody Snoop Dogg won. Snoop Dogg has a fucking pinfall victory over WWE's only 2 time Grand Slam Championship. Waste of time that. Lashley could have had a match, LA Knight is also a super over wrestler left off the card that really should have had SOMETHING. They were actively filling time on night 2 by showing highlights from the previous night. Why?! Poor Miz, Poor Bobbles, poor LA Knight, poor Stephanie McMahon who is destined to tear her quad further down the line.


4) Return to sender, booking plans unknown


Sticking with WWE, this one is more of a long-term complaint but it's relevant to the past few months. Trips I'm glad you rehired these wrestlers but are you actually going to do anything with them? Let's run through the one by one. Karrion Kross, had a decent feud with Drew McIntyre, teased a feud with Roman Reigns, I think he feuded with Rey Mysterio? But it all doesn't really live up to the dominant force he was painted as during his time in NXT. Hit Row, aka shit row. Without Isaiah 'Swerve' Scott they are an uninteresting faction, with even Michael Cole burying how crap they are, and he's right. Gargano & Candice LeRae have done very little upon their return, at least they finally had something to do for NXT Stand & Deliver but on the mains roster they've just been floundering around the midcard. Dexter Lumis, had a feud with the Miz that started great but long overstayed it's welcome, he helped Indi Hartwell win at Stand & Deliver, also just floundering in the midcard. Dakota Kai & Braun Strowman have both done some good with their respective teams I will admit. But there are two very big blunders that have peeved me.


First, where the fuck are Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. I mean I can see them, they're following around whatever a 'michin' is, which I also think is an unnecessary change to a star like Mia Yim. I assume Style's injury affected things, but man they were hot from departing New Japan to come back and now they're just doing house shows and being a part of multiman tag matches. That isn't even the most depressing, that would be Bray Wyatt. I love Bray Wyatt's storytelling just as much as the next guy, I'm always intrigued to see him on the screen. Although I can say I have mostly enjoyed what we've got since his return, it has been a bit disappointing when the hopes were so high. His debut at Extreme Rules? Flawless. The build since then? Intriguing and creative, but ultimately long winded and a bit pretentious. I dunno, like all of the things in this list maybe I'm being too quick to criticise, maybe if I'm patient this will all pay off. But as a wrestling fan, it's hard to maintain a positive attitude to all long term booking.


5) The Uncrowned Mad King


We continue the trend of disappointing PPV endings with Ring of Honor's Supercard of Honor. Another case of it feeling like the right moment, but not capitalising on it. Eddie Kingston's path to the world championship was 15 years in the making, and after losing his world title matches in AEW this felt like the time Eddie finally reaches the potential that he is capable of. Except, Claudio beat him, clean. I said this during my review of ROH:SOH, I appreciate AEW have brought a lot of well needed long-term storytelling into mainstream wrestling, but sometimes the shorter stories are best and the correct ones to tell. Similarly to Cody, I'm sure that Kingston will get his crowning moment in the future, but will it be as impactful and meaningful as it could have been? Time will tell. I just hope this doesn't take too much heat off Eddie. He's amazing. To be honest, having Eddie lose here and win at a later date would have been forgivable it it wasn't for...


6) why the FUCK did Mark Briscoe lose?


Same problem, but with significantly more weight. Mark's brother Jay Briscoe tragically died earlier this year. Mark has little singles success contrary to his brother who was a former 2 time ROH World Champion. Mark has been trying and failing to win the TV Championship for YEARS. Neither Briscoe has been able to beat Samoa Joe on their own. This was the moment to pay off all of that. They had Mark's fucking family in front row. They had a very good match, and again Mark loses clean. Change your fucking plans AEW. Even if you just hot potato the title back to Joe soon after. They shouldn't have booked this if the decision wasn't going to be what we all want. No one cheered or booed, it was dead silence, as if everyone's reaction was just "wait, that's really how this ends?" Shocking. Just bad booking. This is only my opinion, I could be wrong, but this really didn't sit well with me. Hopefully Mark does get his big win sooner rather than later.


7) Huge Brown Plaster


Why have New Japan forgotten how to make beautiful Championships? The Intercontinental Championship was beautiful, the United States championship looks excellent, the Junior Heavyweight title looks nice, the world title used to be the best looking belt in wrestling today, until they changed it for god knows the reasoning. The Tag Championship were always okay but could be better but the recent ones they've churned out, my god. All of the NJPW Strong titles look a bit crap, the KOPW title is an eyesore and the world championship just doesn't look as excellent as it should be personally. The women's title is alright but I feel looks a bit tacky. The most recent addition to the ugly roster of championships is the new Television Championship. I don't mind the fecal strap colour, and I'm not even against a rectangular shaped championship but it looks fucking huge. It looks like a boot strap. A big massive rectangle front plate, kinda similar to the shape of a traditional TV, with "NJPW WORLD" written on the front in big letters. I know that this isn't really a booking decision, however to roll out championships that look ugly, it reflects poorly on the division. Why would someone want to win a championship that looks like it belongs on a camel? I just want my beautiful IWGP Heavyweight Championship design back. You know which one.


8) 'Coz I'm TNT, I'm dynamite


Remember when the TNT Championship was introduced but it wasn't fully completed due to Covid-19 so they had that tacky prototype? That was funny. What was less funny and more excellent was the title reigns and storylines thar surrounded it after it's introduction. The inaugural tournament was great, Cody's open challenge was excellent, Darby Allin & Brody Lee making it feel like a big deal, Miro's unstoppable reign, Guevara had a nice run. It actually felt like an important Championship within AEW. Now it just feels like another belt on the roster. I don't know how much that is down to AEW's ridiculous amount of championships on TV, or due to the booking of the belt.


Sammy Guevara & Scorpio Sky had a decent feud over the TNT Championship, but Scorpio's reigns is largely forgettable. Wardlow then deservingly won it and had a nice lengthy reign with but didn't really do much with it? Then it was hot potatoed to Samoa Joe, then Darby Allin, then Samoa Joe ahain, then back to Wardlow and now it's with Powerhouse Hobbs? I don't mind when the belt changed hands quickly but 5 title changes in 4 months between 4 guys? Excessive that Tony mate. No one really got anything out if it. Darby Allin got a nice moment in front of his hometown, we got to see Wardlow feud with Samoa Joe & Hobbs again in what just feels like lazy booking. The title just doesn't feel like it holds the same significance it once did and that's a real shame. How I'd fix it? Give it some rules like New Japan's TV Championship, or ROH's Pure Championship. Has to be defended on TV at least every 2 weeks, 15 minute time limits, maybe even add it can change hands via count out or DQ. Give it something that can differentiate it from the rest of the noise, rules can also create new ways to develop storylines or a wrestlers character. Something worth considering TK.


9) Jeri-go away


Chris Jericho is without a doubt one of the greatest to ever do it. His ability to evolve and change his moveset and character over the years has kept him relevant and on top of his game longer than most could achieve. That being said, the Jericho Appreciation Society might honestly be his worst work yet. I get the joke, and it was funny/entertaining for the first few weeks but it has quickly and increasingly grown tiresome. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm unsure why I dislike it so much. Is it because its the same wwe-targeted joke being told over and over again? Is it because they have the same type of promos every time that generate go-away heat rather than heel heat? Is it because they take legitimate great talents like Daniel Garcia & Anna Jay and reduce them to "I'm a sports entertainer"? It's a concoction of them all I think. They should just drop the sports entertainer bullshit, keep it as a weird Jericho fan club because that actually has legs. They can portray Jericho as some kind of Wrestling God who they worship and will fight for which can generate easy heel heat but also the potential to turn anyone, hell even the full stable, into faces further down the line. Options are always good in wrestling. Being a "sports entertainer" is annoying.


10) Why the fuck should we care?!


Why did WWE make the women's tag division without establishing teams for it. It's easily the dumbest thing they've been doing for a long time, I was reminded of it again recently. Why did Becky Lynch and Lita when them? They could have had their feud against Damage CTRL without that. There's not much to say that isn't repeating myself or other people's complaints about the women's tag division. If WWE don't treat the championships like they're worth anything, then we won't care either. But the tag championships are really just a small segment of a much larger issue, which is...


11) End of the Revolution?


Am I the only one who feels like Women's wrestling had taken a step back recently? At least in the mainstream companies. New Japan are beginning to finally have more spotlight shown on female performers. Impact Wrestling have always had a pretty solid Knockouts division. Our two biggest US companies though, things are a bit iffy. WWE first. I feel like the women are getting less time again, which genuinely has me asking myself "was Stephanie McMahon actually really integral to the Women's Revolution?". Like seriously, it makes sense to me that she pushed for more screen time and opportunity. It seemed like prior to and after her departure from the company that there had been a decline in solid booking of the women's division. Maybe its just teething problems under the new Triple H regime. But the issues are visible and are glaring. They lack a solid number of established female main eventers, the tag division is a mess and the book has less meat behind.


AEW had teething issues too, but they have yet to finally establish a consistently solid women's division and I can't really fathom how. They honestly have a women's division that could rival WWE's. The roster is STACKED with top female talent. Why does it still feel off? Well, similar issues. Lack of screen time and lack of consistent booking. Like, they'll have someone who they'll focus their attention on mostly, before getting bored and showcasing someone else then hopping around trying to give everyone the same level of attention so no one feels like a big star. That's my perspective anyway. Jade Cargill is having a dominant run, which I wouldn't mind but unfortunately she consistently has the worst matches on every major show. They're not like bad matches, but they rarely go above being just good.


I don't think there's intentional ill will from either side. I just think there's changes to be made. If AEW seriously don't have the women's division nailed down by year end, then they need to bring in someone with an eye for it. I'm hopeful that with their recent additions and booking that were approaching positive changes for the AEW women's division, we'll see how it goes. WWE just need to prove that they actually care about the talent that they have. Form women's tag teams and establish them for more than a couple of months, or just get rid of the title until you can do that. Introduce a secondary women's title, give the midcard women something to fight for and build their reputation off of. I look forward to the era of Rhea Ripley hopefully being another transition for women's wrestling, maybe WWE can reestablish the division as what it should be, one of the greatest bunch of female talent in the world today.


Thanks for reading, this is all just opinionated shit so you may agree or disagree, and that's okay. Lemme know what you think. Until next time, see ya!

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