We’ve all had those days. It doesn’t matter what we do or say. Everything seems to go wrong, whether it’s waking up on the wrong side of the bed, your breakfast burning, car not starting, or your alarm not ringing. It feels like when it rains, it pours. For ten specific wrestlers, their bad days outweighed their good days. A forgettable year for most fans would be losing your house, getting divorced or losing your job. A forgettable year for these athletes would consist of everything from not being used, to having a career-threatening injury, facing a scandal, being elevated to the main roster only to not be built up the same way, having your push squandered or… losing your job.
The difficult part for each of these wrestlers is that they are all very talented in one way or another. They have either made you laugh or made your blood boil, but this year just didn’t work out how they had anticipated. For some of them, maybe they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for others they were in the worst place at the worst time. The end of the year was probably something a number of them were looking forward to, and when you read below you can see why. We can only hope that 2016 will be an improvement, at least for their sake! Here are the 10 wrestlers that had a year to forget.
10. Bo Dallas
We wished Bo’s year would be un-bo-lievable, but unfortunately it was not. His time on screen was sporadic, and often not very noteworthy. Part of what made Bo so successful was that his annoying and over the top positivity nauseated fans. Dallas suffered an injury the previous year, but when he returned he wasn’t in a major program or part of a push. He came out and was made to look like a fool on different occasions, and nothing more. Either he was receiving a scorpion death drop at the hands of Sting on the night after WrestleMania, or being beaten to oblivion by Brock Lesnar, or he was non-existent.
He was recently a part of the Survivor Series pre-show in the traditional five on five match. Even when he was on television more often, it was so easily forgettable that he may as well never have been there. Much like Curtis Axel, Dallas has a family history in wrestling that is rich and would certainly allow for him to succeed, but it hasn’t.
This is a very perplexing case. Within the span of a year, Rusev went from dominant monster heel and United States champion to someone who is used to back up Sheamus. In the midst of all of this, we had his kayfabe relationship come to an end while his real one became public consumption. As Rusev’s year began, he was in a feud with John Cena that ultimately resulted in a loss of his United States championship, and the end of his on-screen relationship with Lana. After this happened, Rusev suffered from a broken foot, cutting short his feud with Dolph Ziggler.
Rusev was relegated to having to build up the feud by talking down to Lana while Summer Rae was on his arm. When he returned, the feud he was part of was awful, as he was made to look foolish. This once fierce beast was now relegated to being beaten down emotionally and made to look incredibly sensitive. It just didn’t fit well. He has since had to deal with another injury and is now being used to back up current WWE World Heavyweight champion, Sheamus.
An athletic and talented female wrestler that flies under the radar – that’s the best way to describe Naomi. Her skill set is remarkable, but all she needed was a little edge to put her over the top. After her husband was written off television due to an injury, it was the most logical time to have her character do a complete 180 and go heel.
At first it was great, as she was convincing in her role, and certainly made a name for herself as she changed her look and aligned herself with Tamina. The problem was, the change in character didn’t result in winning the Divas Championship. She contended for the title, but a number of fans would have liked to see it result in something more; unfortunately it didn’t. Add to this fans constant chanting for Team BAD member Sasha Banks whenever Naomi is wrestling and it feels as though Naomi’s year could have been better.
7. The Ascension
If there was ever a team that went from completely dominant in one place to a complete afterthought in another, it would have to be The Ascension. Their entire gimmick is built on being big, imposing, threatening, and destructive. When they initially were brought to the main roster, they were immediately used. It was great that the longest reigning NXT tag team champions were now on the main roster, and set to make an impact.
But even after make up was added to their face, and leather to their entrance gear, their transition didn’t resonate. Add to this their entire focus was on teams that came before them. Whether it was the Legion of Doom, Demolition or the Powers of Pain, the idea was to get The Ascension over by trying to make other long-gone teams look bad. The result was the team being pummeled by The New Age Outlaws, APA and the nWo. It was a far cry from how The Ascension was supposed to look when they came up. As it stands now, they are nowhere near challenging for the tag team championships.
6. Curtis Axel
From the department of incredibly talented, second generation wrestlers who went from Intercontinental champion to completely obscure, we have Curtis Axel. The son of the late Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig and grandson of Larry “The Axe” Hennig, Axel was given the “Axelmania” gimmick, which saw him claim to have never been eliminated from the 2015 Royal Rumble. Of course, he never got INTO the match either, so you can’t quite be eliminated from something that you never competed in.
As the weeks followed, he began to transform into a copy of Hulk Hogan. However, as Axel’s luck happened to go, the gimmick was dropped in light of the Hogan controversy. His time on television has been limited at best since then, and his tag team with Damien Sandow was nixed as well. It feels like the ball was completely dropped with Axel; Axel is another case of a talented wrestler in a bad circumstance, as he was getting a reaction from the audience, but now is left to sit and wait.
5. Damien Sandow
What a difference a year makes for Damien Sandow. As 2014 was drawing to a close, Sandow was between the hottest and most over characters in the WWE. As The Miz‘s “stunt double,” Damien Mizdow would capture the attention of audiences with his ability to improvise and imitate The Miz during any given match. He was one half of the tag team champions, carrying replica tag team titles to the ring.
As the gimmick was scripted, Sandow was “hired” by The Miz to do his stunt work; after his short feud with The Miz ended, with Sandow coming out on the losing side of it, he was paired up with Curtis Axel and would take on the role of “Macho Mandow.” While it was a clever play on words, the gimmick fell flat and was dropped. We’ll explain later why the team gimmick was abandoned. Sandow is a remarkable talent who unfortunately had all the momentum his character built in 2014 come to an end this past year.
4. Sami Zayn
Someone who was on the cusp of making it to the main roster because of the number of intangibles he carried with him was Sami Zayn. The former NXT champion, who “couldn’t win the big one” not only DID, but managed to do it in arguably the best match in NXT of 2014. Both Zayn and Adrian Neville fought tooth and nail to make this match what it was. It was filled with emotion, creativity and fan appreciation.
The problem was that as 2014 turned into 2015, Zayn lost the NXT title and then was out of action for nearly the entire year. So not only was he not used, he wasn’t able to build on the momentum he had built for himself the previous year. He was very much like Daniel Bryan as the consummate underdog who is held back because of one reason or another.
3. Daniel Bryan
Bryan‘s return to the ring was so highly anticipated toward the end of 2014 that the only thought that tended to resonate with fans was “Yes! Yes! Yes!” A single word seemed to catapult Bryan into a different league altogether. He entered the 2015 Royal Rumble but was eliminated rather quickly, leaving many watching stunned. Why bring back one of the biggest faces in the company only to quickly dispose of him in a match that was intended to set up the WrestleMania main event?
After losing to Roman Reigns at Fastlane, in a match to determine who would face Brock Lesnar for the title, the decision to not include Bryan as a part of the main event was evident. When the decision was made to have him win the Intercontinental championship, fans were at least grateful that this was happening. But after winning the title, Bryan would once again be sidelined with an injury. In the process he had to relinquish the Intercontinental title and has yet to compete since.
2. Tyson Kidd
In what may be the saddest case here, Tyson Kidd unquestionably had the worst year of his life. Kidd’s year was going so well initially, and his push was becoming something fans could easily get behind as well. Prior to this year, Kidd was once again cutting his teeth down in WWE developmental with NXT. It wasn’t because he wasn’t performing well or wasn’t convincing in his character, but as a means to re-establish the early-thirties WWE superstar after having to overcome the obstacle of a career-threatening leg injury. That injury saw Kidd out of action for almost a year.
Just as Kidd made it all the way back, and in the midst of a tag team title push with Cesaro, he suffered a neck injury that may cost him his career. The initial concern was whether or not Kidd’s life was at risk. After undergoing successful neck surgery, Kidd is now recovering. Whether or not he will ever return to the ring is unknown. We can hope he can once again make a full recovery and return to the ring.
1. Hulk Hogan
While he isn’t an active wrestler, to say that his year was forgettable would be an understatement. Hogan‘s legacy and accomplishments will go down in history. That is, if history isn’t re-written by the WWE. This past year saw recordings released of Hogan making several racist comments during an incident that took place years ago. The problem for Hogan was that this type of behaviour goes against the public image the company is trying to promote. At the time, Hogan was among the judges for the Tough Enough program, and when these tapes were released, so was Hogan from his contract.
Hogan’s termination considering what came to light isn’t a surprise; however, what was surprising was the company attempting to remove any mention of his entire existence for a time on their website and their network. It was as though the WWE was attempting to re-write history and act as though Hogan never existed. For a time, he was removed from the WWE Hall of Fame section. While that has since been changed and the company has become less cold towards Hogan, his year would undoubtedly be the one he would most like to forget.