Follow TV Tropes



Go To

For the video games, see WWE Video Games

    open/close all folders 

  • Archive Panic: WWE Raw has over 1200 episodes, WWE SmackDown over 1000 episodes, Superstars over 380 episodes, WWE NXT over 340 episodes, and Main Event over 200 episode. And that's just the current programming. They have a ton of older shows, as well. At the time of launch, every pay-per-view up 'til the end of 2013 and the entire WCW and ECW PPV libraries were available to view on the WWE Network, along the previous two years' episodes (plus a few classics) from Raw and SmackDown. Three months later, several years' worth of classic Raw episodes had been added, with the recent ones being added a month after airin; the newesr PPVs air live on the Network and are immediately archived. They're gradually uploading the out-of-print documentaries and DVD releases, and Network-exclusive original content has begun airing. Thankfully, each show is bookmarked in case you want to watch a specific match or segment again, so you can search by the name of the wrestler involved.note 
  • Badass Decay: A persistent trend in WWE is that, when a wrestler gets over, said wrestler is given a heel turn/face turn which makes no sense and/or gets stripped of everything that made them get over in the first place. Some notable examples are:
    • The Tag Team division as a whole. CWC was a tag team company, and Antonino Rocca's tag team with Miguel Perez turned a popular face who happened to be disliked by many more legitmate wrestlers who wouldn't agree to make him look good one on one, and another wrestler who simply had bad heat with the fans, into the top draw of the United States. They tore it up not just in CWC but when in danger of getting stale got fresh pops in Championship Wrestling From Florida, Jim Crockett Promotions, Capitol Sports Promotions and more accross the country. But where Vince Sr's biggest mistake was thinking Rocca and Bruno Sammartino would do more money just because Sammartino was a bigger star than Perez, Vince Jr came to believe breaking up tag teams for the sake of it was a good thing after only one wrestler (Shawn Michaels) became a star out of The Rockers breakup while the other faded into obscurity(Marty Jannetty). Not one team or singles wrestler coming out of a team's breakup has come close to Rocca and Perez together since...except The Road Warriors, who were already approaching them before they entered the WWF and ended up in danger of stagnating once in WWF.
    • Fans liked the technical hardcore highflying "best damn wrestler in the world" Harley Race of the NWA a lot more than delusional king Harley Race of the WWF.
    • When brought into the WWF, Dusty Rhodes settled into his new gimmick, whatever it was supposed to be, a lot better than Race, but fans still consider the bunkhouse brawling "Bull of the Woods" of the NWA to be superior to the dancing goofball of the WWF.
    • "The Crippler" Rip Oliver was a notorious traveling Bounty Hunter who broke the bones of babyfaces across the territories and was the top heel of Portland, Oregon, until the WWF hired him for the purpose of jobbing on the midcard.
    • In the territories Kamala was a terror who wrestled bears. He lost a fair bit, but usually not before leaving the other guy busted open. It didn't take long for the WWF to turn him into a clumbsy goof.
    • In Puerto Rico, Savio Vega's Los Boricuas Power Stable are thought of as legendary badasses. In the WWF's gang wars angle they were jobbers who in no way stood out from one another.
    • Doug Basham and Damaja were one of the most distinct and promising tag teams in professional wrestling. Damaja had cardio comparable to that of CM Punk and a better physique to boot. Doug Basham had a better physique still and was a great on the microphone. They beat people up and were fawned over by a parade of would be valets. WWE's first order of business was turning them into Tag Team Twins, removing their distinct look. The second order of business was having them lick down and dance while getting whipped in the ass by a dominatrix. The third, of course, were scripted promos, which Danny(Damaga) especially struggled with. Between the twin switch and valet interference the Bashams couldn't beat any team with any credibility without an excessive amounts of cheating, and though they did make Los Guerreros look like a million bucks, that in of itself wasn't hard to do because Eddie and Chavo had been known as great talents for years. No one took the Basham Brothers as serious threats. Doug Basham tried going back to his old gimmick immediately after the team broke up but it no longer clicked with audiences who had seen his Smackdown tag team run.
    • Shelton Benjamin was a rapid case that people didn't get over for decades. He came to Raw, beat perennial World Heavyweight Champion Triple H clean, went on a winning streak that saw him beat Triple H twice more and then got a random Intercontinental title shot against Randy Orton and lost. That was the start. Then he got injured and returned as basically an enhancement talent who occasionally got a mid card push.
    • Eugene Dinsmore was getting bigger pops that the main-eventers using basic moves like airplane spins, sledges and ax handles. He made short work of former Ohio Valley Wrestling rival Rob Conway and dominated World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit. Then he came out on the losing end of a feud with Wrestling/Triple H during which Trips used a move that separated Dinsmore's shoulder. From there Eugene slowly transitioned to jobber status.
    • The monster Kane became the weaker half of a tag team with Rob Van Dam and lost his mask to Triple H. This was briefly rectified by him unmasking and repeatedly dominating Van Dam but then quickly made even worse when his next feud treated him as an equal to Shane McMahon and then a promising program with Goldberg was again derailed by Triple H.
    • Right before the 2004 diva search WWE was promoting Victoria as the best woman wrestler on the planet. After the 2004 diva search she was being repeatedly pinned by people with virtually no wrestling training who weren't ready for matches in gyms with an audience of 40, much less a national TV taping.
    • Hornswoggle underwent both Took a Level in Badass and Badass Decay: When first introduced in 2006, he was stereotyped as a cowardly, demented sort of Mini-Me for then-heel Finlay. He eventually turned face when he entered the Cruiserweight Championship Open in the summer of 2007 and won the championship belt from Chavo Guerrero Jr., after which he enjoyed a brief surge of notoriety when it was incorrectly believed that he was Vince McMahon's bastard son. By 2008, however, the Cruiserweight Championship had been Hand Waved out of existence and Hornswoggle was reduced to an Ugly Cute mischief-maker.
    • Wrestlers from NXT who get called to the main roster get hit with this hard. Big E Langston,note  Bray Wyatt,note  Seth Rollins,note  Bo Dallas,note  Emma,note  Adam Rose,note  Xavier Woods,note  Tyler Breeze,note  The Ascension,note  Adrian Neville.note  Out of all the previously mentioned, only Wyatt, Rollins, and Owens managed to escape this to varying degrees, while Big E and Woods managed to re-increase their badassery again thanks to The New Day. It's no wonder people are now begging the NXT stars to stay as far away from the main roster as possible.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Triple H is probably THE best example of this in professional wrestling. Depending on whom you ask, he is either a glory hound who's accused of using politics to secure his position as one of top wrestlers of his generation and hold back those he feels are a threat to his position, or he did have the genuine merits to have said top position during the Attitude Era (especially when he became one of the last wrestlers from that era still active), and does put over people, such as when he lost clean as a whistle to Chris Benoit, Batista and John Cena.
    • It's the age-old question: With Stephanie McMahon always talking down to the wrestlers and making them feel small, instead of larger-than-life characters, was she doing her job well by making the marks hate her, or did the writers build her up as a too powerful heel to the point of being omnipotent? The latter is a special point of contention in that, since man-on-woman violence was largely phased out after the end of the Ruthless Agression Era, retribution similar to one that could get dished out otherwise to a male heel can't be applied to her by male wrestlers. (In comparison, male characters aren't afraid of Triple H at all.)
    • Brock Lesnar and his part-time status during his second WWE run. He gets criticized by some for his repetitive matches and the fact that he disappears from Raw for months at a time with the WWE or Universal Championship, finding that his routine of "show up 5 times a year, punch the clock and collect my check" is getting disrespectful. Others argue that Lesnar is consistently on fire during the big PPV builds, and while nobody is a fan of his 1-2 minute squashes, they also argue that when WWE forces him to work for over 5 minutes, he often times delivers.
    • Ryback usually got good, if not great, reactions as a babyface. However, he'd also gotten his share of "GOLDBERG" chants, mostly from fans who saw him as a poor man's Goldberg. This was especially true during his uninspiring runs as a midcard heel. It didn't helped much that Ryback was accused a few times of being an unsafe worker. Most notably, Ryback was heavily criticized by CM Punk in his notorious shoot interview with Colt Cabana.
    • John Cena. Two words— or rather, two chants: "LET'S GO, CENA!" "CENA SUCKS!" Acknowledged in-universe too. There are a lot of divisive figures in WWE history, but Cena stands out. This is particularly because dislike of him has nothing to do with him personally — by all accounts, he's a lovely guy and doesn't engage in the backstage politics that taint the reputation of other wrestlers — but some people still think he's the worst thing ever to happen to wrestling, while others love him or at least think he deserves his spot as number one guy in the company. There's also the belief of many that anyone he's ever feuded with who wasn't Randy Orton has been shoved down the card and the priority list because of him - either because he wanted it or it was just the end result of the feud, as if that feud would be the biggest highlight of the wrestler's career.
    • Randy Orton also qualifies. There are those who like him for his ruthless aggression and latent wrestling skills, not to mention the ever-powerful RKO, while others hate him because they claim that his "The Viper" Soft-Spoken Sadist character comes off as absurdly boring (especially in comparison with his more lively "Legend Killer" gimmick in his younger days). His hellraising attitude behind the scenes has also exacerbated the latter.
    • To many, Hornswoggle represented every bad comedy skit, every awful joke, and every ridiculous impulse of the WWE writing staff combined. To others, while obviously none of his storylines were critical successes, they would point out that those weren't his ideas, but they clearly meant a lot to him and he had fun getting over with the kids.
    • The Bella Twins. They ushered in the so-called "Reality Era" where Reality TV dictates the direction of the WWE product. They couldn't act, they were green in the ring, weren't particularly atheltic, showed little to no legit amateur skill and showed little motivation for their actions. Nikki's infamous "I wish you died in the womb!" promo (which incidentally even Nikki detested) was handed WrestleCrap's 2014 Gooker after she was Easily Forgiven for all the terrible things that she said or did to Brie, and it was arguably the reason why the whole "Woman's Revolution" rehabilitation occurred. All the same, Total Divas got almost as many viewers as TNA in it's heyday and All Elite Wrestling when it runs unopposed, so there was clearly a reality audience, even if it wasn't quite as big as WWE would have people believe. And when the Bella Twins got their own reality show it did well enough to remain on air, so it seems they were a major reason for Total Divas having a million viewers.
  • Character Tiers: On both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown themselves, this trope is in effect every week. You're guaranteed to see, on average, five or six matches each episode, and usually only two of them are true crowd-pleasers. In order of importance, the basic match types will be: main-event match (featuring the world champion or someone of his caliber going up against another prominent opponent); midcard match (often revolving around the Intercontinental or United States Championships, which are more likely to be contested away from the pay-per-view events than the two world championships); storyline match (in which two popular wrestlers, usually a face and a heel, act out a non-title feud in order to settle a fictional or non-fictional grudge); tag-team match (usually concerning the Tag Team Championships, although in theory any match can be held under tag-team rules); women's match (usually only a few minutes in length); and (if time allows it) "joke" match (which can feature anything from slapstick with comic-relief characters to a monster heel quickly defeating a "jobber").
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Given the immense overacting and the insanely high levels of Serious Business, not surprisingly.
  • Cult Classic: A case could have been made for Ohio Valley Wrestling back when they were still in the NWA but when they left the alliance in exchange for WWE handling 30% of their operating expenses with Jim Cornette at the helm, a joke on Obsessed With Wrestling and Online World of Wrestling was that WWE should stop broadcasting WWE and put OVW on TV instead. OVW remained successful, if mostly confined to its titular region, even after WWE pulled out.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
    • 2015, while initially showing promise around the time Seth Rollins became champion, eventually caused this as Rollins' title reign caused him to be booked incredibly weak, even for your standard Dirty Coward Smug Snake champion. WWE's constant need to protect their chosen golden boys at the expense of burying Ensemble Darkhorses, and refusal to do anything new or spontaneous in spite of the fans making their opinions very vocal has caused many to become rather jaded and bitter with the product and the direction of the company as long as Vince McMahon continues to be at the helm. Some have become so cynical that they admit they continue watching so they can see how the company screws up the booking come WrestleMania time. A good indication of this is how dead the crowds have gotten on Raw. Even Chicago, a city whose crowd skews toward the smarkier portion of the fan base, was dead. To say nothing of the falling ratings, which have reached lows not seen since before the Attitude Era. The company was successful in completely beating their fans into submission, and now they don't care about anything — even the most popular wrestlers barely get half-decent pops. WWE is now in panic mode in trying to fix the problem that they caused, but what they don't seem to get is that they're doing everything except the one solution that would work: giving the fans what they want and pushing wrestlers they actually like.
    • An indication of how bad the fans had this was shown when Dean Ambrose finally won the WWE Championship in 2016, breaking the chain of heel and/or disliked champions that held it ever since Daniel Bryan was forced to vacate it due to injury in 2014. While the fans were very happy that he won it (absolutely ecstatic, to be exact), the company had beaten them down so much that many were convinced he was a transitional champion and that Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns would win it back soon. A part of that was due to Ambrose's own booking, where he had come frustratingly close to winning the title many times — so many times that many thought that they would never pull the trigger on him. It wasn't until Ambrose pinned both men clean in the space of a week to retain the championship that the fans realized that Ambrose had become a permanent main eventer, and that they were getting a long reign with the first true Face champion since Daniel Bryan.
  • Dork Age:
    • The New Generation Era (1993-1997). 1995 was the worst fiscal year in WWE history. To paint a picture, the Monday Night War still didn't happen just yet. WCW was little better than the WWF in '95: they had just signed Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, but they were just playing the same characters they played during the WWF's Golden Age in the '80s, which was already seen as played-out at the time. Kevin Nash a.k.a. Diesel was champ during an especially directionless time. This was the year people remember for the hokey, uncool gimmicks (albeit those began in '93), the insufferable Todd Pettengill, Mabel winning the King of the Ring tournament (becoming "King Mabel") and being pushed as a world title contender, and Raw being held in high school gyms. And, of course, Diesel's World Title reign.
    • The post-Ruthless Aggression PG-era qualifies to most older fans.
    • Michael Cole also became a poster boy for another Dork Age in WWE's history, the year 2011. The Miz was an unpopular world champion. There was an abortion of a feud between Jerry Lawler and Cole; it contributed to sinking WrestleMania XXVII, which was already overloaded with guest spots, Gimmick Matches and low-quality wrestling. The Nexus had devolved into "The Corre" which was embarrassingly bad. Edge's career came to an abrupt close, and the anonymous Raw GM ("MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE...") angle was at its pinnacle: A Mysterious Employer would send emails containing all the matches and stipulations during the show, and Cole would read them out. Summing up how nonsensical the anonymous Raw GM was, at one point, Edge began to destroy the laptop and it cried out for mercy—as though the broken laptop was transmitting the sensation of pain to the anonymous Raw GM. The anonymous Raw GM would end up becoming the WWE equivalent of WCW's Black Scorpion: The company booked themselves into a corner and they couldn't think of an outcome which would live up to expectations, so they would later reveal that it was Hornswoggle around a year after the anonymous Raw GM's run had ended.note  It was so bad that Vince personally apologized to Lawler for involving him in the feud with Cole, and it sort of killed the idea of commentary for many. No wonder why the Summer of Punk caught on as it did. WrestleCrap "awarded" their 2011 Gooker to Cole's interminable heel run.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • It is said that WWE's biggest stars all got over on their own. Hulk Hogan got over in the AWA and then became a big star after Rocky III. Stone Cold was supposed to be the top heel but he became white-hot the crowd as an anti-hero. The Rock got his initial push as Rocky Maivia, as a bland "blue-chipper" babyface like Vince wanted, but when he bombed badly, he turned heel, cut loose on the mic and the rest is history. Even John Cena was floundering before he found the Thuganomics gimmick, and even then he was a midcard comedy heel. But he got over with the crowd and earned his spot.
    • The midcard has a few, with some of the biggest examples being Dolph Ziggler and Zack Ryder.
    • Ever since the inception of the "Rusev Day" gimmick, Rusev (and by extension, Aiden English) turned into one of the brightest examples.
    • The Headbangers were not booked very strong for champions and didn't have a very long run with the WWF belts, but chances are if any fan remembers the period, they remember it fondly. Most seem to be thinking of their slightly longer and all around more impressive NWA Tag Team Title run, which is understandable because most of it was still on WWF television.
    • Anyone who follows wrestling knows what happened with Daniel Bryan. In turn, his success is crediting with making "Can we do this with Dean Ambrose? Cesaro? Kevin Owens?" a frequently asked question on internet wrestling forums.
  • Epileptic Trees: Bray Wyatt has generated a few of these, in regards to the "whatever happened to Husky Harris" question. The "Husky Harris" chants during The Wyatt Family's Raw debut didn't exactly quell this, either. It's been said that a fan once held a conversation with Wyatt and asked him whatever happened to "the Army Tank with a Ferrari Engine" (this was Husky's Red Baron). What was Bray's response? "Oh, he's still here. He's my vessel now."
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Unfortunately, Rey Mysterio of all people veers toward this on occasion. It's got so bad that he begun spouting Gratuitous Spanish and once entered the arena at a pay-per-view dressed like an Aztec chieftain.

  • Fanon Discontinuity: For many fans, the company's change of name was the worst thing to ever happen, as it started the Lighter and Softer product that exists today.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • WWE is attacked relentlessly by three separate but equally vocal groups. The first are older fans of the company with a Nostalgia Filter for the Attitude Era who claim that the PG rating has killed wrestling. The second are fans of other wrestling promotions who spend nearly as much time criticizing WWE as they do loving the promotions they like to watch. The third are fans of mixed martial arts who hate the very idea of professional wrestling and simply criticize WWE because it is the only promotion they are familiar with. That's not to say WWE has done nothing to deserve a little (or a lot of) criticism.
    • In 2011, "CENA SUCKS" chants started to ring out during the shows of NWA promotions that never have and probably never will book Cena, spontaneously, without any effort to work the crowds into it. Even moreso after Cena stated he will never wrestle for another promotion, claiming it would be an insult to the WWE Championship during his hot feud with Daniel Bryan. While some people took the quote as refreshingly honest, others resented him for it.
  • Forced Meme: Fans have gotten silly things over on their own, wrestlers have gotten silly things over on their own, managers, commentators but the minute Michael Cole says anything, it becomes passé. He's like the anti-J.R. "HEY EVERYBODY IS FANDANGOING. DO THE FANDANGO!!" Just him saying "Cesaro Section" turned it into a meaningless buzzword. He made "SUPLEX CITY" sound uncool by repeating it multiple times in every segment Lesnar is in. That's classic WWE marketing. It's not exclusive to Cole: Stephanie's "Diva Revolution", The Rock shouting "WHAT A WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT!" every ten seconds at 'Mania...
  • Franchise Original Sin: The awful cat-fighting, hair-pulling, bitch-slapping style which dominated WWE women's wrestling originated with The Fabulous Moolah. She essentially owned the women's division, didn't train them properly in the first place, and was the champ by default due to lack of credible challengers. She reigned for so long because no one could touch her.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • WWE got their second popularity boom in Indonesia in 2007, though it was nowhere near the level the Attitude Era got in the West. It was probably caused by how it was the first time where SmackDown, Raw and ECW got their slot in the same channel (the first boom, during the Attitude Era, only had SmackDown).
    • The promotion has historically had bewildering success north of the border, despite Vince Jr nearly destroying its wrestling circuit when he gutted Stampede. When Bret Hart won the World Championship he practically became a national hero. By contrast, the majority of wrestling fans south of the border (aka Mexico) are only vaguely familiar with WWE and much more interested in local (CMLL, AAA, IWRG, ect) and Japanese feds (New Japan, Zero 1, Toryumon and such)
    • Despite theoretically having more immediate access to a wide variety of Spanish language shows, WWE is usually second only to the local product in Bolivia, and not a particularly distant second.
    • A fandom example rather than a region; women's wrestling fans make up the majority of viewers of shows like Main Event and Superstars. With Raw and SmackDown flip-flopping on how much time the girls get, these shows always give the women decent amounts of time to wrestle. For a lot of fans of the women, the highlights of the week are the matches on Main Event and Superstars.
    • Roman Reigns is loved in India, where children write his name in graffiti. The huge numbers are largely from developing countries like that.
    • Matt Bloom had a pretty unremarkable career in WWE from 1999 to 2004 under the names Prince Albert, Albert and A-Train, with perhaps the most memorable accomplishment from it being to have inspired "Shave your back!" chants during the latter run due to his Wookiee-like pelt. He would then go to Japan, do as the fans asked (and gotten himself some badass chest tattoos to boot), and go on to gain some serious popularity during his time wrestling in that country under the name Giant Bernard. Unfortunately, WWE's booking spoiled his chances of rehabilitation in the West.
  • Growing the Beard: TV-PG WWE seems to have finally found its niche, mostly by getting rid of the stupid comedy characters and making fun of the PG rating itself. While it still has its fair share of stupid, its significantly better than it was the previous year.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: A lot of things WWE mocked WCW for (not making any new stars and relying on past their prime Ring Oldies, doing things simply for shock value, taking up time with lengthy promos and segments) became true of late 2010's WWE. Added to that is WWE pulling WCW's old trick of signing wrestlers but doing nothing with them, just so that no other promotion could use them, something Kenny Omega called them out for.note  That a number of popular wrestlers (Samoa Joe, Finn Bálor, Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura) have pretty much floundered in the company, combined with them not trying to make any new main eventers and sitting on the contracts of wrestlers who actively want out or literally stop being booked lends some credence to this.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
    • It's not that uncommon for a heel and face to feud, then feud again several years later. But sometimes they will have both switched sides before the second meeting, and now the previous face is getting boo'd, even if they weren't as bad as the new face was to them in their prior feud.
    • The news Lenda Murray was getting a WWE tryout (which didn't go anywhere) wasn't too well received because she was a champion bodybuilder and fans were leery at the idea of black women being billed as butch and "physical" while one had to go all the way back to Chyna to find a white woman WWE didn't initially push as a sex object. After five Diva Searches and slew of swimsuit/fashion models getting on TV? Fans were overjoyed to see a butch black woman in Kharma (otherwise known as Awesome Kong).
  • Ho Yay: This being wrestling, is a given. But WWE being the most famous professional wrestling promotion in the world, it has its own page.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!:
    • A common criticism of any other WWE TV show that isn't WWE Raw, WWE's flagship show, is that it basically offers the same matches (yet at the same time watered down) that are already featured on Raw. SmackDown has come to be viewed as only ever really working when the vast majority, if not all, of the creative and production decisions were left in someone else's direction (Paul Heyman, Road Dogg, etc.), as to really sell the idea of them being an alternative, Vince would have had to let go of all creative and production decisions and let them recruit their own talent instead of getting A-show cast-offs.
    • "X-Pac Heat" Trope Namer Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, who was so hated that "X-PAC SUCKS" chants were heard at house shows he wasn't even booked on. Following a successful run as an underdog babyface, he turned heel and rejoined DX for no discernable reason. Then when DX broke up, he didn't evolve his gimmick, continuing to wear his now-defunct DX gear long after the fact. And although his role was that of a midcarder, he almost never lost matches, to the point that recapper CRZ named him "X-Pac doesn't job in singles matches".
    • The so-called "Reign of Terror". True or not, HHH came to be viewed as a tired act from the Attitude Era when said era was no longer relevant, and one who only became relevant in the first place thanks to the people he surrounded himself with.
    • Main Event: Had trouble attracting a viewership because it didn't offer people anything they hadn't already seen on Raw or SmackDown. The latter two shows add up to 5 hours of programming per week, which is more than enough to satiate even the hardcore—especially if it's the exact same lineup as Main Event. One of the reasons why NXT gets better ratings on the Network is because people enjoy seeing unique characters and wrestling styles. To their credit, when the Network was first launched, Main Event became a live show. So a couple of midcard elements were more likely to happen there than on SmackDown — which suddenly became a lot more redundant.
    • This eventually came to bite WWE in the ass in 2018, as stagnant matchups and anti-climatic blowoffs to feuds took a toll on the viewship. Fans voted with their remotes, forcing the entire McMahon clan to come out on the December 17 edition of Raw and tacitly acknowledge the constant repetition, promising a change in direction.
  • Love to Hate:
    • It was a testament to Vickie Guerrero's mic skills that she is one of the most-despised heels in wrestling history despite being the widow of one of the most-beloved wrestlers of all time. There was no way she could get an indifferent or positive reaction after "EXCUUUUSE MEEEE." Vickie never got "BORING" or "WHAT?" chants; the fans were 100% invested in booing her, unlike most General Managers. Granted, it got unduly-nasty sometimes ("THE WRONG GUERRERO DIED"). The boos were so loud they'd drown her out and one could barely make out what she was saying, even when she was shrieking at the top of her lungs. She is one of few characters in recent memory to actually get a one-up on Stephanie McMahon.note  Vickie came put to Eddie's music, lost her retirement match and got fired—but still threw Stephanie in the mud and did Eddie's little shimmy.
      Vickie: There is one name in this industry that people respect more than McMahon, and that is Guerrero.
    • The famous "YOU SUCK" chant sung in-beat with Kurt Angle's theme. Then there was that time he kept re-doing his entrance because of the "YOU SUCK" chant.
    • The only reason Cena still draws the dueling "LET'S GO, CENA" / "CENA SUCKS" chants is because it's practically tradition.
    • Even when he's an unrepentant, slimy heel, Paul Heyman is outrageously good on the mic. People want to listen to him. Heyman commands attention in ways very few people can.
    • Bray Wyatt in his cult leader persona. Instead of talking like every other scripted wrestler, he sounded like a priest giving a sermon. He changed his rhythm to confuse people. It had the added benefit of being a pretty good promo, overall.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Between stuff like torpedoing the planned 2005 Cruiserweight reboot and replacing them with dwarves, to combing through swimsuit catalogs to find Divas, John Laurinaitis sounds like he was doing everything possible to water the product down. It took over 10 years to get any sort of development system up and running thanks to him. In actuality, he tried bringing in legitimate talent. He's always been a big proponent of Japanese wrestlers who've made it in the U.S. (Kenny Omega credits Laurinaitis for sticking up for him), and Lance Storm owed his brief-but-tremendous run in WCW (where he became the top heel and held three championships at once) to him. Vince Russo didn't understand the appeal of a Canadian who wrestled, but Laurinaitis stuck to his guns and even told Lance off for giving his opponents too much offense. Years later, Ryback told a story about how, even when Laurinaitis considered firing him in 2011, Laurinaitis still went out of his way to give Ryback contacts from his Japan days. There's a story floating around about Laurinaitis showing Vince McMahon a tape of a Japanese wrestler who was really good. Vince had no interest, told him to look elsewhere, and... well, Laurinaitis did. Also, they were big into hiring fitness models, which is where Trish Stratus and Charlotte Flair started. They had the bonus of being athletic. But afterwards...seeing as how Vince signed off on all of those swimsuit models, it's hard to say that Laurinaitis was wrong in doing so.
    • Nobody had any complaints about Michael Cole back when it was just him and Jerry Lawler on SmackDown during the Attitude Era, and later on when the show was being managed by Paul Heyman. Cole called the match where Mankind won the WWF Title for the first time on Raw. He used to do really good play-by-play on Sunday Night Heat with Michael Hayes, then he was partnered with Tazz and was incredible. The issue is him being overproduced and having way too many buzzwords to spout nowadays ("It's Boss Time!", "OH MY!", etc.) Vince has always been in control and in their ears, but with more sponsors and a PG rating, things have changed. There's a famous smoking gun on YouTube: Cole responds with a subdued "Yessir", presumably after getting an earful for swearing at Vince McMahon.
  • Narm: WWE has its own folder on the Narm subpage for professional wrestling.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • To Canadians, Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon, and referee Earn Hebner will be forever-tarred for "screwing" Bret Hart out of the WWF Championship. They would chant "YOU SCREWED BRET!" whenever they appeared in Canada. Bret and Shawn reconciled years later and WWE has done an OK job of presenting Bret in the positive light he deserves.
    • Triple H is still seen to this day as "that guy who buries his opponent." There's also the timing of his ascension to main event status, which makes him seem as a stop-gap between "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock and John Cena. NXT has done a lot to repair Triple H's reputation, but even now, fans side-eye him when he actually gets in a ring. He's still a pretender to a lot of people.
    • The whole controversy with Lita made Edge's career. Unfortunately, instead of her awesome moves and Hall of Fame status, most people will bring up this angle and that stupid "Live Sex" segment where she and Edge made out in a bed in the middle of the ring. Lita said in an interview that she went to Vince and several of the writers to try and get the angle changed, but it was too profitable. Lita would go on to retire at Survivor Series two months after Trish did, and got mocked by Cryme Tyme on her way out. You will never see anyone more more angry at the live crowd than Lita during her retirement speech: she was furious at them for crapping on her moment.
  • Older Than They Think
    • Night of Champions was an event of the Canada based New Brand Wrestling first, though it's likely WWE picked it up second hand from USWA.
    • The NWA had an NXT for younger wrestlers before WWE did, but given NWA had been struggling to maintain an audience of any kind for about two decades at that point, and didn't do anything as attention-grabbing as the "NXT Riot" that gave birth to The Nexus, it didn't generate nearly as much buzz.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Vince has a documented history of taking mismanaged and underused guys from other promotions, shining them up, and making stars out of them.
    • Old timers may remember the Honky Tonk Man as one of the top midcard heels of his era, and the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion in history. What they may not know, however, is that he actually got his start in the WWF as a babyface. Reportedly, Vince McMahon thought that with the rise of radio channels suddenly playing classic rock n' toll songs, an Elvis Impersonator would automatically be a babyface. This may have actually been the first instance of the company bringing in someone as a babyface who the fans rejected so hard that they turned him heel: There was a series of "Vote of Confidence" promos, and an actual call-in survey asking fans to give their opinion on whether or not the Honky Tonk Man should be kayfabe suspended. While the results didn't matter, they were negative enough to get the Honky Tonk Man to change his attitude. He got cockier for a week, and then Jimmy Hart was paired with him to complete the heel turn, even though Honky didn't actually turn on anyone.
    • Mick Foley. While he did have success in WCW, ECW and Japan, he was never considered a main eventer until his WWE career (and even then it took a few years).
    • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - A WCW perennial mid-carder who had a small degree of popularity as a cocky heel, but fell victim to a Hogan-mandated hatchet in favor of his own buddies. A pissed-off Austin eventually found his way to the WWE and the rest is history.
    • The Undertaker - Went through a slew of territories and forgettable gimmicks before McMahon gave him Paul Bearer and the urn.
    • Scott Hall - Journeyman wrestler who never got over with the fans as a face or heel until the Razor Ramon gimmick.
    • Chris Jericho - Considered a cruiserweight midcarder for life in WCW (and is still to this day not considered main event material by Eric Bischoff). Has become a six time champion since joining WWE.
    • Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were dubbed the "vanilla midgets" by WCW brass for their small size and perceived lack of charisma (yeah, Eddie Guerrero supposedly had no charisma) and were thus relegated to midcard hell much like Jericho. They jumped to WWE a few months after Jericho alongside Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko. They were immediately injected into the main feud of the time (DX vs the top heels) and inside of two months, Benoit got the IC belt and Guerrero the European belt. Controversies surrounding their last days aside, both were world champions by WrestleMania XX.
    • The Rock ran into this early in his career as Rocky Maivia. While contrary to popular belief, he was never pushed as a main-eventer under this gimmick (he wasn't pushed higher than a mid-carder), "Blue Chipper" Rocky Maivia was still given a fluke Intercontinental Title win over Triple H only four months after his debut, didn't get over, lost the title in two months to Owen Hart, and disappeared due to injury for three months before returning as a heel. The fact that he was still very green in the ring and was the failson of Rocky Johnson didn't help his popularity. After he received a Face–Heel Turn, which added some edge to his character and allowed him to cut loose with his formidable mic skills, The Rock skyrocketed into a true star. The heel turn is a rare example of the WWE (then-WWF) actually playing to the X-Pac Heat. The week after The Rock's heel turn, he cut a promo addressing the chants, being the kayfabe reason he joined The Nation of Domination, naming the actual chants he was getting. He recycled this promo somewhat when he joined The Corporation a year later. Prior to the heel turn, Jim Ross even addressed his concerns about them on air, saying that he wasn't able to understand the reasoning why the fans were giving him such heat. An article in WWF Magazine also addressed the chants as did an interview with him about them.note 
    • Mark Henry has been on WWE television since 1996. He's had some good matches, he's had some stinkers. He's been involved in some great angles (his "retirement" speech where he flattened Cena}, Bryan's title win) and he's had some truly awful ones ("Sexual Chocolate", that weird racist gimmick they did with him and Teddy Long). For about a decade he seemed like a waste of space since they were paying him a lot of money and he wasn't great. (Because every time his career started to go someplace he hurt himself and ended up missing a year.) He was to the midcard what Big Show has transitioned into for the main-eventers: a gatekeeper who keeps getting inserted into storylines because of his size and loyalty to/standing within the company. Whenever someone rose up the pecking order, they had to beat Mark and then Big Show. He caught as much crap as Big Show for the ludicrous amount of face/heel turns; he'd switch back and forth between smiling "just happy to be here" Mark Henry and angry "gonna whoop your ass" Mark Henry way too often. Then "Hall of Pain" Mark Henry freaking ruled, and made up for much of that. "THAT'S WHAT I DO!"
    • The same thing happened to Edge during a triple threat match against Jericho and Batista during his face run after his neck injury. WWE wised up and made Edge the brilliant heel that would wreck shop in WWE for years. Toward the end of his career, he also became an example of a longtime heel who ran its course and began cashing in his fans' built up commitment to him by turning face, done over the years by several wrestlers who were in the company long enough to do it.
    • Lawler's on-air heart attack forced Cole to go back to being a face. He somehow maintained his composure on September 10, 2012 after witnessing the near-death of his friend, and kept the audience in the loop on Lawler's condition minute-by-minute. That was essentially the end of his heel persona, as nobody felt like booing him afterward.
    • Bo Dallas (Taylor Rotunda, real life son of Mike "Irwin R. Schyster" Rotunda and brother of Windham "Husky Harris/Bray Wyatt" Rotunda) got a lot of this through 2013. In January, he was entered into the Royal Rumble where he proceeded to eliminate Wade Barrett (the reigning Intercontinental Champion at the time), got into a feud with Barrett about this, and proceeded to go over him clean in a singles non-title match. While WWE tried to recreate Maven's infamous elimination of The Undertaker and push Dallas right out of the gate, most fans saw him as a generic, incredibly green babyface who made Barrett look bad. WWE did catch onto this after a while and took him back to NXT. Bo Dallas was already over in NXT, but as soon as the Full Sail crowd started turning on him and their ace Big E. Langston was leaving NXT for good, WWE had Bo win the belt from him and turn into this oblivious heel who believed the fans loves him even though they hated his guts. Since returning to the main roster in 2014, Dallas was booked quite effectively as an annoying motivational speaker who told fans and other wrestlers to "BO-LIEVE!" while simultaneously being patronizing and condescending.
    • The New Day were launched in late 2014 as a babyface stable featuring Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods. Their gimmick is that of an overly optimistic stable that claps their hands and dances before, during, and after matches. The gimmick, however, went down very poorly with fans, who had, by early 2015, taken to booing them and, whenever one of the members would yell "NEW DAY ROCKS!", shouting "NEW DAY SUCKS!" instead. Like Bo Dallas, New Day turned into oblivious heels after the crowds took a massive dump on them. Ironically, their creatively hammy and hilarious heel personas were so popular that they ultimately became faces again. In addition, the fact that Woods hosts Up Up Down Down, a YouTube channel where he plays video games with celebrities and other wrestlers, only adds to his individual popularity. The New Day's escape from X-Pac Heat also launched Kingston into main event status, culminating in his 2019 run with the WWE Championship.
    • Ever since the mid-2000s (and some would argue before that) the Women's Division has consisted of 2-5 minute matches, women who were not properly trained and basically served as jiggle fests, to the point it was common to refer to their matches (and not without reason) as "piss breaks". Ever since #GiveDivasAChance trended on Twitter in February 2015note  WWE seems to be treating its women's division more seriously. While it took them a while to get it going, the change became apparent in July 2015, after they brought in several fan favorite women from NXT, teamed them up with the most popular and talented main roster women and allowed them to put on longer matches thus kickstarting the Divas Revolution/Women's Evolution. NXT would eventually book a 30-minute Iron Man Match between Sasha Banks and Bayley as the main event of a special in October 2015. To say the match was well-received would be an understatement.
    • It didn't take long for people to condemn CFO$ when they took over Jim Johnston's job of music composer. But some time later, themes composed by them started becoming objectively better, featuring more diverse styles. This has culminated in two themes that many consider their magnum opus: "The Rising Sun" and "Glorious", which officially has rescued them from the Scrappy Heap.
    • Carmella was destined to be be an internet punching bag after somehow winning a feud with Asuka—but WWE turning her face and pairing her with R-Truth saved her. Many were impressed by her comedic abilities, in addition to her improved in-ring performances. No one guessed that after she, Enzo and Cass all got called up that Carmella would be the last one standing.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
    • Any heel worth their salt these days. Edge. Chris Jericho... no matter what CM Punk does, he'll always have somebody cheering. In fact, some of things he does is likely to make them cheer even MORE. Kevin Owens draws such reactions as well.
    • Once the "X-PAC SUCKS" chant began, WWE mistook it for good heat and compounded their mistake by giving him his own stable: X-Factor. It was only when The InVasion Angle began in 2001 and the chants continued that WWE realised something was amiss, since he was the only member of the WWE faction who was getting booed; all of the other heels turned face or joined the WCW/ECW Alliance.
    • Poor Cena drew this for a long time during his first three reigns as WWE Champion, to the point where he was once booed out of the building in his own hometown. Cena himself admitted back 2006 that he's wanted to drop down the card and turn heel, but management wouldn't let him.
    • Batista's promos pointing out that Cena only cared about kissing babies and hugging fat women.
    • Beating Triple H did nothing for Roman Reigns: the audience actually cheered Hunter at the start of their feud. In fact, Hunter doing the DX crotch chop taunt at Reigns at Royal Rumble 2016 drew cheers from the crowd, to the point Dave Meltzer reported that a lot of blame was placed on Hunter for Reigns not being over, blaming that incident in particular.
  • The Scrappy:
    • The Gobbledy Gooker, who was actually Hector Guerrero in a turkey outfit. In a vacuum, it was a harmless little skit. The problem is that the company built it up for months in 1990 as a game-changer, leading to all kinds of fan speculation as to what superstar would be making his debut at this big event. There was speculation in wrestling magazines and local newspapers that had wrestling columns. The egg was present at multiple TV tapings leading up to Survivor Series that year: it showed up at as early as 9/18 for a show which aired on 10/6. They announced that it would be hatched at Survivor Series, and it was discussed weekly for at least for seven weeks between that and the event. Everybody had a theory about who was in it. The reveal led to loud boos from the audience. To this day, WrestleCrap hands their annual "Gobbledy Gooker Award" to that year's most disgraceful segment or storyline in pro wrestling.
    • One of the oddest cases on record: Miguel Perez, a wrestler known less for his talent than his body hair, would inspire chants of "SHAVE YOUR BACK!" (the same chant that A-Train would later receive) every time he stepped into the ring.
    • In a mix of this and Never Live It Down, Terry Taylor would often recieve "ROOSTER!" chants wherever he wrestled after his embarrassing WWF run in the early 1990s as the Red Rooster.
    • Vladimir Kozlov. Creative gave him an Ivan Drago rip-off gimmick (20 years too late). He was among the many monster heels that WWE had built up their cred in the 2000s by feeding The Undertaker to them, by having him beat Taker with a single powerslam. Clean. Then Triple H vs. Vladimir Kozlov for the WWE Championship was an actual thing which happened at Survivor Series: it barely featured any wrestling moves, and Kozlov was dropped from the main event. Kozlov was hobbled from the beginning and was (mercifully?) put down after WWE realized what a colossal mess they made: they stuck him with Santino Marella because Santino seemed to be able to turn anything into comedy gold at the time. Which he did with Kozlov, but Kozlov was fired anyway. CM Punk cut a promo where he got cheered after mentioning it.
    • Poor John Laurinaitis. His voice was damaged from an injury, but it was grating to hear this guy who sounded like he has never coughed once in his entire life being a centrepiece of one of the worst periods of Raw. When he got fired after No Way Out 2012, the general sentiment was "Thank God."
    • Michael Cole's heel run from 2010-12. He basically had an orgasm any time The Miz said anything, treated fan-favorite Daniel Bryan winning the US Title as some sort of travesty, and shat all over the NXT Divas season. Having a heel play-by-play man took away from almost every single match on the card, being a nuisance on commentary, distracting from the actual show, and burying all of the wrestlers for 2-3 hours. They booked him as a credible heel, even working a comedy match at WrestleMania, at a time when the actual top heels were people like Miz and Alberto Del Rio.
    • Carmella's hated title run in 2018. Note that 'Mella didn't really get much hate when she cashed in her Money in the Bank contract against Charlotte Flair, despite the outside interference from The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce). But there were complaints about her pinning Charlotte clean in a rematch—and then Asuka came into the title picture. From that point forward, the dislike towards the character became more prevalent. Asuka's losses were the result of distractions and shenanigans from a chickenshit heel (James Ellsworth), while Asuka was also portrayed as having zero ring awareness, zero focus and zero intelligence throughout this whole feud. After having been an undefeated NXT Women's Champion with an historic winning streak (500+ days), she really should not have looked as big of an idiot as she did against Carmella. It did nothing positive for either party, and got a ton of negative feedback. The live crowd was strongly behind Asuka, and her beatdowns on James Ellsworth got a much bigger reaction than her matches with Carmella. Making matters worse, Carmella spent her reign in title defenses that consisted of lots of gimmick matches and screwjob finishes, before eventually dropping the title back to Charlotte (who had taken some time off), back to square one. (At least the rise of Becky Lynch happened immediately afterwards.)
    • Jinder Mahal, winner of WrestleCrap's 2017 Gooker Award, became the poster boy of booking for all the wrong reasons. After years of being barely beyond developmental level, they gave him the top spot, going from jobber to WWE Champion in the span of a month. WWE were happy to sacrifice the quality of their product just for what appeared to be an expansion project to India—which backfired on them since, according to the numbers, he didn't even draw there. They tried hard to make Jinder a credible main-event foreign heel, but the problem was that he was pretty poor in the ring, not great on the mic, and it seemed that he was only given said push because he had amassed a lot of muscle beforehand.note  so it all went downhill from there. It came at the expense of Shinsuke Nakamura, who was one of the most-over babyfaces in the entire company going in, and was made to look like a multiple-time loser coming out. In the end, as proof of how poor the whole experiment was, when WWE did finally go to India, Jinder ended up losing to Triple H.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The latter half of 2015 seemingly reached the boiling point of this. To give you context as to how bad the Reigns/Sheamus feud is going, the main event of TLC 2015, their TLC World Title match, was arguably the least-anticipated match on the entire card. People were more excited about the triple threat Tag Team Title match between the New Day, the Lucha Dragons, and the Usos. Hell, the Seasonal Rot has gotten so bad that the most anticipated match of that card was the Intercontinental Title match between Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, which A) doesn't have a stipulation, in a PPV centered around them and B) had its build completely shot when Owens got sick for a week midway the storyline before the PPV (there were only three weeks of build between TLC and Survivor Series). When a standard midcard title match with practically no build is more anticipated than the TLC-stipulated main event title match that has been the focus of every show not named NXT for the last three weeks, for the last PPV right before WrestleMania season, there is something seriously screwed up about the booking. The fans have no reason to care about Reigns and Sheamus, and the feud has failed to the point where two wrestlers who have been left on the sidelines without any meaningful storylines for the last six months and are basically relying on the popularity they got from their last major singles feuds are still more over than them. Hell, despite being Demoted to Extra Ambrose and Owens still remain the most over singles wrestlers on the roster who aren't injured — which attributes to their talent as performers, and management and creative's complete inability to get anyone else over.
    • The general consensus of those who actually watched WWECW is that the show suffered this from around late 2008 to its eventual end. ECW suffered a major blow when its two biggest stars, Kane (who was their champion at the time and would later drop the title to Mark Henry at the Night of Champions PPV that year), and CM Punk (winner of the MITB that year, who proceeded to win the World Title his first night on Raw) were both drafted to Raw, but still had The Miz, John Morrison, Matt Hardy and Mark Henry to help carry the brand, along with a great amount of interesting younger talent such as Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger. Then in early 2009 Matt went back to SmackDown for his feud with his brother Jeff, Miz and Morrison were drafted to Raw and SmackDown respectively, and Mark (along with Jack Swagger and Evan Bourne) were traded to Raw in the summer. By that point, the only reason anyone watched the show was for Christian, who returned in early 2009, William Regal, and Shelton Benjamin.
  • Shocking Swerve: Even without Trope Namer Vince Russo in the booking, WWE still has these infamous moments, like Rey Mysterio revealing that Kane was the one who put The Undertaker in vegetative state instead of one of the many heels in the roster.
  • So Bad, It's Good: NXT season three, one of the rare cases where a show was designed to be this and succeed.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The main criticism towards WWE is not that it's really bad, it's just very... bland and samey. Most notably, the main event scene was virtually unchanged from 2006-2010, and the lack of building up new stars came back to bite them in the ass when all of sudden major players such as Shawn Michaels, Batista, and Chris Jericho (albeit temporarily in Jericho's case) left the company, and The Undertaker and HHH have to work reduced schedules either due to wear and tear or increased work backstage. As a result, WWE has been scrambling in order to find other vets to place up at the top of the heap with John Cena, Randy Orton, and Edge, with Rey Mysterio, The Big Show and Kane sitting on the fence between main event and upper midcard, and Sheamus being poised for a breakthrough; even then, Edge was forced to retire in 2011, Rey Mysterio is becoming increasingly injury prone, Big Show and Kane are nearing the end of their careers, and Sheamus is in limbo, leaving the only viable main eventers as John Cena and Randy Orton, with the only genuine main event talents established since 2011 being CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, the former who was already a multiple time world champion in WWE before then and the latter whose popularity exploded only after losing the World title, with various rising superstars such as Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Alberto Del Rio, and a few oldies like Christian and Mark Henry, being raised to the main event and dropped back down the card shortly afterwards. And then you have WWE's reliance on part-timers like The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and the aforementioned Triple H and Undertaker. All of this could be alleviated if WWE made room for the midcard talent. Essentially, it comes down to a combination of corporate unease (casual fans love familiar faces, so why fix it if it ain't broke?) and Vince McMahon's tendency to favor company men over newer acquisitions from rival promotions like ECW in the 90's and TNA and Ring of Honor in the modern times.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • In 2003, Chris Nowinski debated Scott Steiner over the Iraq War. Nowinski was supposed to be the heel because he was opposed to the invasion. Problem was, a significant majority of the fans even then agreed with Nowinski, and that number would do nothing but grow and grow as the years went on. This wasn't helped by the fact that Scott Steiner is really not known for his promo abilities and Nowinski ran verbal circles around him.
    • Every single CM Punk heel run has this in spades, to the point that he still receives cheers because he's not exactly wrong when he calls out Jeff Hardy as a terrible role model, Randy Orton being a vile person, and John Cena being a bully who hogs the main event even when he's not the WWE champion.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The April/May pay-per-view, Backlash (later Extreme Rules) typically consists of rematches from WrestleMania. Sometimes said rematches will be received better than the preceding 'Mania. For a full event example see WrestleMania XXVII/Extreme Rules 2011; for a match example see Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan from the following year.

  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • From the territories to the national WWF, from Rasslin' to cartoon characters, from cartoon characters to bird-flipping potty mouths, from that to the John Cena PG era, and now, changing their promotional name to "WWE, Inc." (the company is still legally known as World Wrestling Entertainment), which resulted in fans saying that the WWE is trying to drop "wrestling" from its product. And of course, the speculation that the PG-era changes were made to help Linda McMahon's political careernote  rather than to improve the product certainly hasn't helped. Really any time the company enters a "new" era, this trope is invoked. Although as for the name change, according to various WWE officials, including Triple H, they say that it's Not So Different from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Apple Computer, which changed their names to KFC and Apple Inc., respectively.
    • The "purpose" of SmackDown as a program. When the brands split it was hailed as the better show by most critics, if watched by less people due to not being live like Raw and then put in the Friday Night Death Slot. When the brand split ended it devolved into basically Raw recaps and a few inconsequential matches. Then the brands split again and SmackDown, once again, became hailed as the better show, even without Heyman's booking.
    • Even during the first band split the quality of the television shows went down with the decision to integrate the pay-per-views in an effort to get buyrates back up. This meant that both Raw and SmackDown were always building towards an event, which wouldn't have been so bad if WWE could do good build ups with any sort of consistency. Calls came to just go back to the core four pay per views, to give people relief. The Network signaled the end of WWE actually caring about buyrates, the commentators at least once calling anyone who bought a Royal Rumble instead of watching it on the network an idiot, leading to Raw and SmackDown getting separate pay per views again. Then WWE's decision to host the separate pay-per-views closely from each other (sometimes just two weeks apart, meaning that in most cases both took place in the same month) let to (admittedly understandable) complaints about overload, leading WWE to integrate them again.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Guys like Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Kamala, Shane Douglas, Vader, 2 Cold Scorpio, The Public Enemy, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, Taz, Raven, Diamond Dallas Page, Último Dragón, Low Ki, Místico and a slew of others who had great careers before going to WWE and weren't made to look anywhere near as good inside of it, and often they were actively made to look downright bad. On the whole, it seems like Vince and the WWF/E were always very good at taking guys who'd been underappreciated/underused elsewhere and turning them into superstars, but not quite as good at taking guys who'd made their names and been successful elsewhere and using them well. Sometimes, this is because of other factors (Taz's neck problems, Shane Douglas' attitude problems) that the WWE can't really help. Sometimes, it's simply because there's just too many damn wrestlers in the company to push people that deserve it (the period after the fall of WCW saw many former talent get crowded out of the spotlight.) Sometimes WWE was obviously trying but just did not know how to bring out the best in a guy (Kamala, Místico) Other times (Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes), there's really just no excuse.
    • There are a few exceptions to the above: When Ric Flair bolted from WCW in 1991, taking the NWA Title with him, McMahon allowed Flair to keep his "Nature Boy" gimmick, with the only difference being that he now also calls himself "The Real World Heavyweight Champion", as a shot at both then-WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and at Jim Herd, then-president of WCW.
    • Not just guys either. Mae Young had been wrestling since the days of Mildred Burke. You'd think the WWF could have gotten loads of angles out of that, but the best they could come up with is was her being an old gross pervert. Not even a role as a trainer or commentator, which would have been perfect when they revived Young's old home promotion, FCW.
    • Considering they hired a detective to hunt down Luna Vachon, who was making no attempt to get hired by the company, you'd think WWF would have more for her to do once they got her.
    • Pat Tanaka and Akio Sato's careers in the fifty states were going about nicely until they both got stunted after being signed to WWF, where they were largely dismissed due to their lack of size, leading to them being booked as the jobber lackeys of Mr. Fuji. Others still went on to have great careers, these two never fully recovered.
    • Dan Severn, the most decorated amateur wrestler to ever come out of the United States, a huge draw for rapidly expanding mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championships, an NWA World Heavyweight Champion, the man Goldberg, one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1990s, actively patterned himself after. What role does the WWF give him? A Glass Jaw Referee during the Ken Shamrock-Owen Hart feud.
    • In 2000, the WWF wanted another Chris Benoit. So they hired Brent Albright and told him to pattern himself after Benoit. In 2006, WWE fired Albright, now going by the name Gunner Scott, for being too much like Chris Benoit!
    • R-Truth went from a fairly popular rapping but somewhat bland face used to fill up the numbers when a group of faces were needed, to a paranoid heel who frequently blamed his problems on WWE's child audience, which he called "Lil' Jimmy". He became an Ensemble Dark Horse and even headlined a pay-per-view against John Cena. After coming back from an on-screen injury, Truth turned face again but retained the Sanity Slippage, but gradually fell out of focus, before quietly dropping the crazy guy gimmick and going back to the rapping persona. Hell, his rapping persona had a lot more mileage pretty much everywhere he went with it but here.
    • Paul Burchill adopted a pirate gimmick, channeling Captain Jack Sparrow and quickly got over with the crowd. Vince McMahon himself swiftly killed the gimmick after a few weeks, as he was unaware of the films and believed the character should think he was an actual pirate and act more like the Jean-Pierre LaFitte character from the early 90s, and felt the character wouldn't work as a face, despite the positive reaction Burchill received upon starting the gimmick.
    • Eric Escobar got the company's attention through his partnership/rivalry with the Colons but was seemingly called out of developmental just so Shawn Michaels and Triple H could mock his pre WWE career, as he was released without fanfare shortly after they did so. His most memorable moment beside that was being defeated in a two on one handicap match after insulting Vickie Guerrero.
    • Zack Ryder was big around 2010-ish, which coincided with Jersey Shore being around, but his gimmick predated the show and was a tongue-in-cheek reference to Long Island "broski" culture. He made a self-deprecating YouTube show to connect with the fans which became popular thank to its bled of inside jokes (e.g. climbing a fence and shouting "I CAN'T GET OVER"), weekly episodes with storylines, and funny guest stars ranging from his dad and one of his friends to members of the roster. He got endorsed by all the big names for his effort: The Miz, Chris Jericho, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, and John Cena himself was a big fan. He was one of the most-followed WWE guys on social media, reaching more followers than Cena at one point. The Rock even gave him a mention on TV. Initially it seemed that the company would capitalize on it, as he finally started making appearances on Raw, and beating Ziggler for the U.S. title on pay-per-view. However, this soon took a turn to the bad with Zack losing his girl as she dumped him to try to get with Cena (who wasn't interested), and then a wheelchair-bound Zack was thrown off a stage by Kane. Supposedly this negatively-affected morale backstage as the company constantly tell talent to "grab the brass ring", but seeing what happened to Ryder made the locker room think twice. At Ryder's peak, he had merchandise all over the WWE shop. Shirts, sunglasses, foam fingers. It was selling near the top, but when they killed his momentum the sales stopped and his items were dropped from the shop. It seems his social media gimmick was something WWE weren't used to yet, and their historical reluctance to accept unconventional ideas hurt him in the end.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The Matt Hardy/Lita/Edge love triangle. WWE took a real story and turned it into a big storyline when, after initially firing Matt due to what they deemed unprofessional conduct on social media after he discovered the affair, they resigned him and had him attack Edge at ringside from the crowd, yelling that fans could watch him at Ring of Honor and so forth, confusing the fans and making them wonder if the whole thing was a work or a shoot. This made Matt became perhaps the most-over wrestler in all of wrestling at the time...and then Vince McMahon embraced him on-screen, killing his outsider status, and Matt cut a morbid promo about how he hoped Lita and Edge would die in a car accident. Weeks later, Edge cut a scathing response where he took Matt's car crash comment and used it against him, which some say buried Matt, as in the face of the morbid comment, Edge came off as someone who did have a valid point.
    • The centerpiece feud of the so-called "Divas Revolution", the rivalry among three factions: "Team PCB" (Paige, Charlotte, Becky Lynch), "Team Bella" (The Bella Twins, and Alicia Fox), and "Team BAD" (Naomi, Tamina Snuka, Sasha Banks), is considered to have been a dud of a storyline for several reasons:
      • While in kayfabe terms, the point of this feud was that Team PCB and Team BAD wanted to end Nikki Bella's reign as Divas Champion,note  the real failure of this storyline was that WWE's apparent real motive was that it thought it would be a good vehicle for the Bellas. While Nikki's in-ring performance improved over time, the fan perception was that it wasn't quite enough to justify holding the Divas Championship for over 300 days while many talented female wrestlers were still slumming in NXT. Notice that most of Nikki's appearances in wrestling matches during that time were all in tag team matches, in contrast with a lack of 1-1 matches. For months, WWE kept stalling with boring, six-woman tag team matches as it became clear that they were waiting for Nikki to break AJ Lee's title reign, the most believed assumption being that they didn't want to acknowledge AJ as the longest-reigning champion after she left due to her relationship with CM Punk, who had left the company in acrimonious terms.
      • The Bellas were portrayed as face and heel repeatedly: One week it would be clear that they were to be the heels to defeat in the storyline; the next one, Brie would be doing Daniel Bryan gestures in what appeared to be an attempt to get a face pop.
      • The other issue was that Stephanie McMahon appeared to want to be a babyface when it suits her. This was a big problem with the Divas Revolution storyline: not just the heels going over, but the weird uncertainty as to who is a villain and who is a hero. Steph came out as a babyface authority figure, recognizing Charlotte's victory, upholding the integrity of the rules, and stripping away the heels' biggest advatage. Then 15 minutes later she is telling the Big Show to go out and injure Sting in her role in The Authority, which didn't make any sense. It was painfully obvious that she wanted to insert herself into the Divas Revolution, even though her role for all intents and purposes indicated that she should be giving the Divas something to revolt against.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • The heel version of Doink the Clown, portrayed by the late Matt Borne, is well remembered, but when Borne left the company, Doink turned face and was portrayed by Steve Lombardi. Lombardi wasn't as good of a wrestler as Borne, and fans didn't find Doink amusing. However, even though Doink wasn't pushed per se, he received a lot of focus and a number of awful angles. (Allegedly, Vince thought he was hilarious.) By the end of Doink's run, fans were cheering the heels he faced and chanting "KILL THE CLOWN". Here's a Doink vs. Waylon Mercy match, with the chants starting at 4:40.
    • In his book, Bret Hart describes how paydays and gates went down under the Ultimate Warrior, and how he was relieved when Hogan came back. He also mentions how he and the other "boys" were grateful to Hogan for his drawing power. Wrestlers were jockeying to be on Hogan's cards, not Warrior's.
    • Diesel was pushed in a similar way to Roman Reigns: as in, they overdid it and tried to make Diesel all things to everyone, especially kids. A lack of quality opponents during this time hindered his reign, and he already wasn't a great wrestler (mostly due to knee issues) so that was always going to be an issue. Meanwhile on the undercard, you have Bret and HBK habitually tearing the house down. Bret was taken off TV for 6-8 weeks so Diesel could settle in as champion, then they brought Bret back and pitted him against Diesel at Royal Rumble 1995; the fans wanted Bret.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic
    • My goodness, how many heels have ended up this way in 21st century WWE? Just to cite one example: CM Punk, as WWE Champion, despite engaging in lively multi-match rivalries against Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan, never main evented a pay-per-view in 2012. Cena, instead, has main evented every pay-per-view in 2012. At first this was justified, because Kane was preaching The Power of Hate and seriously testing Cena's character heading into the match against The Rock at WrestleMania, then it was about said match with the Rock, then Brock Lesnar had just come back. But the pattern still continued after that…despite Cena facing John Laurinaitis, an authority figure with a largely unremarkable wrestling career that ended in 2000, and Big Show, who Cena beat a hundred times since 2004. Even a Money in the Bank ladder match became the main event of a show on the grounds of Cena being involved for the first time and thus declaring it a "historic announcement" — despite the fact that several other talents were competing in their first Money in the Bank match in the other such battle from that same night and no special attention was ever paid to this. Finally, on Raw 1000, Punk's WWE Championship title defense is finally the main event. But not only is this solely because Cena cashed in MITB to become his first challenger, but that same night The Rock, a part-timer mostly working in Hollywood these days, came out in the middle of the ring and told him he had a WWE title shot booked months in advance at the Royal Rumble. Yet according to Jerry Lawler, portrayed as a representative of the pulse of the WWE Universe, Punk attacking The Rock and demanding what many fans felt is his due respect for his work as WWE Champion means he's turned on everyone.
    • Abraham Washington, while managing his tag team the Prime Time Players, once made a joke alluding to rape allegations against NBA star Kobe Bryant in 2003 over sexual relations in a Colorado hotel. Despite the arena crowd not being very offended, despite The Big Show already making a joke about the same situation on the pretaped show Smackdown without it being edited out, WWE immediately apologized on-air for his comments, and his future in WWE was left in question. After continuing to be employed by the company, even long enough to help the Prime Time Players become #1 contenders, he was suddenly fired eleven days later due to a tweet of support to Linda McMahon's Senate campaign apparently being against WWE rules. This decision has been largely panned as hypocritical and backwards, resulting in the heel AW becoming more over as a baby face outside of WWE than he ever was a heel in WWE.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: