With 2015 winding down, it’s a joyous time to both celebrate and eviscerate those who had a quality or dreadful year in pro wrestling, plus it’s a great opportunity to recap ideas that did and didn’t work in the previous twelve months. This list will focus on those who either were downright bad, or initially, had high hopes that weren’t realized before the year was up.
The tricky thing with wrestling is that much of an individual’s success, or failure, is based totally on how they are portrayed, pushed, and which stories they are put in by the creative team. With that in mind, the criteria for this group will include how they handled the situations they were given, if they improved over the year, and if fans actually enjoyed seeing them on their TV. This group will also only include those who spent a good chunk of time on WWE’s main roster, no one from NXT will be included, since that’s still a development promotion, and it’s tough to really criticized gimmicks that are always evolving.
So let’s get right to the list and see which wrestlers made the cut, from jobbers to those in the main event, nobody is safe, and everybody is at risk of being one of the most disappointing WWE wrestlers of 2015!
10. Bray Wyatt
For a guy that’s so popular among fans, he still hasn’t been able to breakthrough the glass ceiling of becoming a main event staple, rather than a jobber to the stars. Losing most of his major feuds in 2015, it seemed like Wyatt’s main job this year was to put over Roman Reigns and The Undertaker, not once, but twice when it comes to the Dead Man.
Sure, you could say the fact he’s been in these bigger matches means he had a good year, but just being in the ring with big names doesn’t necessarily improve your stock, if the same pattern occurs over and over: cryptic promo that eventually targets an individual, mind games, maybe win a small battle on Raw, then lose at the PPV – wash, rinse, and repeat.
9. Brie Bella
Back in 2014, Brie Bella became one of the more popular women in the division, partly thanks to her relationship with Daniel Bryan, but she also improved her in-ring skills to the point where she eventually got a feud with Stephanie McMahon. Things were looking up until she and her sister split up briefly (with Nikki turning on her) but no worries, in typical fashion the WWE put them right back together without much explanation.
Once they were back together in 2015, Brie pretty much took a backseat to Nikki, who won the WWE Divas title and held it for a record breaking 301 days. During this entire time, Brie did nothing notable in terms of a feud; she actually regressed in the ring, and continued to push her incredibly annoying “Brie Mode!” brand. In a matter of one year, fans literally flipped with these two, as Brie went from being loved to pretty much despised in 2015.
8. The Big Show
If this was a straight forward “worst of 2015” list, than Big Show would be easily number one, based mostly on how little fans want to see him wrestle these days. It’s incredibly rare to ever see anyone say anything positive about his work, although his Last Man Standing match against Roman Reigns was indeed a highlight of his 2015.
No pun intended, but the biggest issue with the Big Show is how often he appeared in main event stories, mostly with The Authority. As one of their cronies, Show ended up becoming one of the top heels in the WWE. Again, in the year 2015, Big Show was one of the top heels in the WWE, with so much talent on the roster, that’s so incredibly wrong.
7. Damien Sandow
Absolutely hate to put him on this list, because Sandow’s start to 2015 was so fantastic, thanks to becoming Miz’s stunt double, known as Mizdow, he ended up being one of the most over wrestlers in the entire company. Then it all came crashing down when he broke away from the Miz, and what should have been a fantastic feud between the two, was treated as just an afterthought, what a missed opportunity.
Sandow eventually returned to mock Curtis Axel (who took on a Hulk Hogan impersonation gimmick) by coming out as “Macho Mandow.” The two became a tag team, and pretty much did nothing during their existence, that was until the real Hulk Hogan was let go from the company for his racist rants, which thus killed Axel’s gimmick. Sandow has now reverted back to his “Intellectual Savior of the Masses,” but all that momentum he had earlier in the year is completely gone, such a waste.
6. Rusev and Lana
Rusev was another wrestler who was trending upwards earlier in the year, but due to some terrible booking, weak stories, and an untimely injury, Rusev went from being a dominant U.S. champion to being involved in a TMZ-like love story that just never clicked with fans.
Rusev was absolutely crushed by John Cena (losing three straight matches) and was temporarily split away from Lana, which was probably the worst thing WWE could have done to his already tired gimmick. 2016 should be a better year as he’s been involved with a top heel stable (The League of Nations) and has been paired back up with Lana. Speaking of Lana, she didn’t fare any better when she was put with Dolph Ziggler, a wrestler she had zero chemistry with, painful stuff to watch. Lana also fractured her wrist, while training for a potential match, that kept her out for the past couple months, she’s recently returned to TV.
5. Wade Barrett
Wade started out the year as the Intercontinental champion, but after another lack luster run, he dropped the title at WrestleMania 31, and eventually fell down the card, as creative slowly stripped away his somewhat popular “Bad News Barrett” gimmick. The King of the Ring tournament eventually came around and Barrett ended up winning, giving him a new “King” gimmick to work with.
Of course, he was jobbed continuously and the thought of him being a king became laughable in a hurry, so they tried to team him with Stardust, which didn’t last long, and now he’s a member of Sheamus’ League of Nation Stable to give him something to do. Overall, Barrett muddled aimlessly around the midcard for most of 2015, which is a far drop from someone who was once pegged as a potential world champion.
4. Bo Dallas
Thanks to a foot injury that kept Bo out of action for four months, he didn’t even get to show his face in 2015 until the WrestleMania 31 Pre-Show. A former NXT champion, Bo’s transition to the main roster has been a tumultuous ride to say the least. Even though fans have taken to his “power of positivity” (which has now been transferred to New Day), Bo has become basically a comedic act that has replaced the likes of Santino Marella.
His 2015 highlights included getting Scorpion Death Dropped by Sting and receiving a true beat down that included multiple suplexes, and an F-5 from Brock Lesnar. Hopefully, his 2016 will get off to a better start, but it seems like he’s resigned to being comedic fodder, so why not just team him up with his real life brother, Bray Wyatt, and get him in the Wyatt Family?
3. Dolph Ziggler
There are times when creative books Ziggler like a God among men, and other times when he looks no better than just simply talent enhancement. At the end of 2014, he was booked amazingly at Survivor Series by outlasting multiple wrestlers (while not having any teammates) to eventually become the soul survivor. Maybe WWE was ready to get him back in the main event scene?
Nope, he lost his Intercontinental title right off the bat, played second fiddle to fighting against The Authority, wrestled in a “Kiss My Arse” match against Sheamus, and was in a painfully bad love story pitting himself (along with Lana) against Rusev, and eventually Summer Rae. Now in a feud against Tyler Breeze, things are looking up, but unfortunately it was another middle of the road year for a talent that could be so much higher up the card. Tough to put a lot of blame on Ziggler, but it’s disappointing, nonetheless.
2. Adam Rose
After getting over with the NXT crowd, this party leader was moved up to the main roster in 2014, unfortunately the gimmick didn’t quite work as well on a bigger stage all the way until he turned heel in 2015. The gimmick ended up coming off more annoying, so turning heel was probably the best decision, especially when a person dressed in a bunny costume got over more than Rose himself.
WWE tried to put Rosa Mendes with him, tag him with Brad Maddox, and even go with a “Party Pooper” gimmick, all of which didn’t last very long. Now he’s some kind of “gossiper” that talks about other wrestlers like he’s on E! It’s fair to say he’s had one of the worst runs on the main roster, and we’re at a point where maybe they should just go back to the Leo Kruger gimmick and give that a chance. It can’t be any worse than what he’s been given to this point.
1. The Ascension
One of the most dominant tag teams ever in NXT, these two held the NXT tag titles for an amazing 364 days before eventually being moved to the main roster, right at the beginning of 2015. These guys went from studs to duds in an incredibly short period of time, but it wasn’t totally their fault. For whatever reason, creative decided not to give these guys a solid push right from the start, instead, they lost some initial matches, and got beat up by some old wrestlers, which really made them look, well, stupid.
Add to that, their promos were a terrible rip-off of Legion of Doom, and they eventually turned into “we’re better than Legion of Doom!” It shouldn’t be a big surprise that fans didn’t latch onto these guys. Over the course of the year, they basically became the jobbers of the tag division, and with nowhere to go, they were put with Stardust to form “The Cosmic Wasteland.” Being Stardust’s lackey has been their best role thus far, but being in development for so long, these two should have been a bigger part of bringing the tag division up a level.