After this past year, picking the worst wrestling stories of 2019 is kind of like picking a needle out of a haystack.
With so much trash to sift through, how can you possibly pick out the worst?
Then again, pro wrestling is often an art form defined by its lowest of lows. The Shockmaster, the steroid trial, Vince Russo.
The year 2019 gave us no shortage of lows. And as one particular legend once said, the cream always rises to the top.
Here are the ten worst wrestling stories of 2019.
(Dis)Honorable Mention — The Year Of The Shane
Shane McMahon’s matches are usually events to look forward to.
Well, 2019 took care of that.
The moment he turned on the Miz in the lead-up to WrestleMania 35, Shane McMahon became insufferable.
He had tons of TV time, which meant that actual wrestlers — ones that work more than twice a year — didn’t.
His feud with Roman Reigns was pointless, and his issue with Kevin Owens seemed like it would never end.
Not bad enough to make the top 10 worst wrestling stories of 2019. But bad enough that we still can’t wash the taste of it out.
10. WWE Airlines
It may be repetitive to say that Vince McMahon is human garbage, but, well, Vince McMahon is human garbage. And it must be a nightmare to work for him.
The man calls his subordinates at 4 in the morning to go over the plan for TV. When he gets to TV, he tears up the script five minutes before going live.
Occasionally he’ll leave you behind in a country run by despots after collecting his blood money.
Following this past fall’s incredibly successful and highly entertaining (ahem) Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia, the WWE roster had a little trouble getting home.
The reasons still aren’t clear, but several WWE superstars were left sitting on the runway due to mechanical trouble for around seven hours. But not to worry, because Vince McMahon prides himself on not asking his wrestlers to do anything he’s not willing to do himself.
So he was sitting right there on the tarmac, side by side with his boys. Just kidding. He took his own private jet home and left his suckers – I mean employees – to fend for themselves, stranded thousands of miles from home.
And made them star players in one of the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
9. AEW Fyter Fest
This one doesn’t get talked about all that much. It’s largely been forgotten, actually. But I still consider AEW’s June special, Fyter Fest, to be among the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
By and large, the wrestling on this show was great. What wasn’t so great was Kenny Omega’s insistence on making it a parody of the Fyre Festival scam.
For some reason, Omega thought this was just the funniest thing, and the show’s momentum kept getting dragged down by it.
It was full of sketches that weren’t funny, cultural references whose relevance long since expired, and it was proof positive that Kenny Omega as a goof is just – well, goofy. And not at all funny.
The show was saved by Jon Moxley’s attempted murder of Joey Janella, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. Bad enough that I consider it one of the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
8. Cody: Get Over It
Just to dispel the notion that we’re AEW shills, here’s a second consecutive offense from All Elite Wrestling.
I’m a self-professed mark for Cody, but even I can’t deny some of his antics this year earned a spot with the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
Since leaving WWE, Cody has been both the ROH and NWA World Heavyweight Champion. He spearheaded 2018’s All In show, toured the world and, oh yeah, he’s an executive and top star for the biggest upstart promotion in a generation.
But somehow he just can’t get the bitterness of how he was treated in WWE out of his craw.
His match with his brother Dustin Rhodes at AEW: Double Or Nothing was an instant classic. But his prematch destruction of a very familiar-looking throne – in hindsight – smacked of an unnecessary shot at his old bosses.
You’re on top of the world, Cody. There’s no reason to be hung up on WWE. Instead, here you are, on a list of the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
7. Super (Embarrassing) Showdown
That’s how bad a year it’s been for WWE. This absolute fustercluck of a show only clocked in as the number 7 out of the 10 worst wrestling stories of 2019.
Super Showdown was a complete and utter disaster.
Of course, there has yet to be a single WWE show from Saudi Arabia that hasn’t been a complete and utter disaster.
But this one takes the cake. Not only did the Undertaker and Goldberg, at a total combined age of Methuselah, put on one of the worst matches of all time.
Goldberg almost wound up killing both of them.
Honestly, it isn’t even fun to make a mockery of. It was sad and embarrassing and – did I say sad? Because it was extremely sad.
The punctuation mark of the Undertaker’s legacy should not be, “After he turned 90, the dude would do anything for a buck.” I couldn’t care less about Goldberg’s legacy.
But it’s a crummy state of affairs when, 20 years after their prime, they find themselves as one of the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
6. Rollins Should Listen To Punk
2019 started off as a year of such great possibilities for Seth Rollins.
He found new love with Becky Lynch, won the Royal Rumble match, and defeated Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35.
Then Rollins became a punchline. All because he doesn’t know how to handle the “top guy” spot, and because he can’t handle himself on social media.
The guy has spent the year getting into Twitter wars with Will Ospreay, WWE fans, and – wait, this can’t be right. CM Punk? Seth Rollins tried to get into a Twitter war with CM PUNK?!
Yup. That happened.
And he learned almost nothing from it. In the case of Ospreay, he did apologize for bragging about the size of his bank account. But when it came to fans who told him he “wasn’t cool” after Hell In A Cell 2019 (we’ll get there), he basically just melted down on them.
And in the case of CM Punk, who now works for Fox as part of their WWE Backstage recap show, Rollins seems content to just stand there and ignore all the egg on his face and pretend everything is fine.
This guy could be a generation-defining star. Instead, he’s taking up space on a “worst wrestling stories of 2019” list.
5. SmackDown Flops On Fox
Fox paid a billion dollars to air WWE SmackDown for five years.
Vince McMahon is laughing all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, the fans are laughing at (not with) one of the worst wrestling stories of 2019 in the form of WWE’s B-show.
And despite the major media push and the huge advertising campaign, SmackDown remains the B-show. Or, at the very least, just another wrestling show.
Fox had high hopes for SmackDown and sought a more sports-oriented approach to pro wrestling. Instead they got stuff like Baron Corbin making dog poop jokes and were visibly confused by the Firefly Funhouse.
— Big B (@BTuckerTorch) October 5, 2019
SmackDown has largely drawn underwhelming numbers, aside from its October 4 premiere which brought in 4 million viewers. More regularly, it struggles to get just a handful more viewers than it’s cable-dwelling big brother, Monday Night Raw and is often among the lowest-rated shows on Friday nights.
Maybe Fox can sell its WWE broadcast rights to Disney, too. Beats being stuck among the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
4. WWE 2K20 Gets Glitchy
Speaking of WWE making money hand-over-fist from a crappy product.
Here was another gigantic marketing campaign, with millions spent to plug the latest game in WWE’s partnership with 2K. And the general consensus is that it’s a big piece of crap.
The glitches would be pretty laughable if they didn’t render the game virtually unplayable.
And WWE’s response? Well, they don’t really have one.
As long as the checks clear, why should they care that players can’t get their characters out of the ropes. Or the fact that those characters, if customized, look like disfigured creatures from the deep?
They’re hauling big bags of cash from this deal (for now). Besides, one more appearance with the worst wrestling stories of 2019 is like a drop in the bucket at this point.
3. Eric Bischoff’s Wacky Summer
Eric Bischoff has a pretty successful podcast called 83 Weeks, but he should consider a new one called “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”
Back in June, WWE decided to shake up its creative (HAH!) by bringing in Paul Heyman as the showrunner for Raw and tapping Eric Bischoff to run SmackDown.
Bischoff’s run lasted all of four months, as just a couple weeks after SmackDown‘s premiere on Fox, he was fired from the job.
Backstage reports indicate that Bischoff wasn’t remotely engaged with the product and often couldn’t be found at the shows. He was absent to the point that notorious Vince yes-man Bruce Prichard ran the show and ultimately wound up taking Bischoff’s job.
It’s just such a weird final chapter in a career that includes leading WCW to prominence and nearly bringing WWE to its knees.
To be fair, I’m not super engaged with WWE’s product either, but I’m also not being paid to run their network TV show. I’m over here condemning those who are paid for that job to a spot among the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
2. Go Away And Stay Away, Jim Cornette
Jim Cornette is pro wrestling’s resident neighborhood grouch. If the Young Bucks superkick one more ball over his fence, he’s keeping it.
He’s gained a following by his absolute refusal to accept anything other than straight-laced heel-vs.-babyface, 1970s-style booking.
Cornette’s Internet fame has gotten him gigs in the past with TNA, Ring of Honor, and MLW, and it’s led him to a pretty successful podcasting career. But it’s his latest job, as a color commentator for the resurgent NWA Powerrr on YouTube that’s led him to his latest bout with infamy.
See, in trying to put over how tough Trevor Murdoch was on the November 19 episode of NWA Powerrr, Cornette made a pretty insensitive remark relating to fried chicken and its presence in an African nation full of starving people.
I’ll let you folks at home fill in the blanks.
Not surprisingly, he was fired. But its his indigence about his dismissal that drives me up the wall. If he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, that’s fine, but he’s completely oblivious to why anybody would think it was wrong.
Cornette has nine lives in pro wrestling, and he’ll land on his feet. Again. And since he’s learned nothing from this most recent instance of stuffing his foot in his mouth, he’ll get thrown out. Again.
Just keep being the living embodiment of the “old man yells at cloud” meme from The Simpsons and stay away from wrestling promotions, Jim.
1. Hell In A Cell Goes To Hell
Hell In A Cell is one of WWE’s most venerable gimmick matches.
And Bray Wyatt’s new persona of The Fiend is one of the most engaging characters WWE has created in a long, long time.
So how did a combination of the Fiend and the most dangerous match known to WWE end up among the worst wrestling stories of 2019?
Simple. Because WWE figured a comically large hammer is okay. But a regular ol’ sledgehammer? That’s crossing the line.
Seth Rollins defended the WWE Universal Championship against the fiend inside the cell at Hell In A Cell 2019. In the course of the match, the Fiend did everything he could to eviscerate Rollins. Chairs, toolboxes, and the aforementioned cartoon mallet were all fair game.
But when Rollins pulled out a sledgehammer and used it on the Fiend, the referee called for the bell.
Yup. A disqualification finish. In a Hell In A Cell match.
WWE can say all they want that the referee “stopped the match,” but I know a DQ when I see one.
In one fell swoop, WWE killed the momentum of their champion, stalled the progress of their new top heel, invalidated their most famous gimmick match, and left their fans chanting “bulls**t!” and “A-E-W!” to close the show.
A disaster through and through. And at the absolute rock bottom of the worst wrestling stories of 2019.
Feature image courtesy of WWE.