Those Who Wait
With so much talent on you roster, unfortunate injuries, and expiring contracts, it’s nearly impossible to grab the brass ring and score a perfect ten with your stories. That doesn’t excuse not bailing when you see that something isn’t working. WWE has habitually run with ideas past their expiration date and this is the focus of my writing today. Opportunities are presented to those who deserve and those who find themselves in the right place at the right time. Here are 5 missed opportunities the WWE didn’t cash in on.
The Lone Champ
Baron Corbin is in his early thirties and may play a big part in the future of the WWE. I group him in with The Shield guys, Balor, and most of the ladies. The one thing that separates him from everyone else I named is that he has never been on top. He was very close last summer when he won Money in the Bank. I can only recall seeing Corbin live once and that was during his time on SmackDown in 2017. He was part of an entertaining Fatal Four Way featuring AJ Styles, The Miz and Dean Ambrose. Corbin got the win when he hit the End of Days on AJ. Seeing that move live and in person is something else. He has a style that should prevent any serious injury so I expect to see him around as long as his heart is in it.
All that being said, he was set to cash in his MITB briefcase and become champion. Speculation says he rubbed a few of the higher ups the wrong way and he missed his opportunity. He went from holding the briefcase to failing to cash in and then getting beat by Super Cena at SummerSlam. The WWE also had this thing coming up with India so putting two and two together, Jinder Mahal as Champion made economic sense. Jinder wound up beating Shinsuke at SummerSlam and Corbin would eventually win the U.S. title from AJ in October.
The Land of Squandered Opportunity
AJ and Corbin had some pretty solid matches together. If Corbin had taken the belt off of Mahal instead of Styles, that would’ve been a way better feud than that racist crap WWE pulled with Mahal and Nakamura. We would be giving up the Lesnar/Styles match but honestly I could do without it. It was fun but did nothing in the long run. Baron Corbin deserved the title and would’ve made a more believable champion than Jinder. Having already pinned Styles and then the fact that he would eventually take the U.S. title from him albeit in a Triple Threat match, shows that there was something there. During this time SmackDown was heavily scrutinized for the way the Mahal run went and ratings dropped. Corbin/Styles wouldn’t have been the greatest feud ever but it would’ve most certainly been better than Jinder versus the World.
The Heel of Strong Style
Shinsuke won the Royal Rumble and then lost to AJ Styles at WrestleMania. Shinsuke turned Heel and is currently the United States champion. I like the direction the WWE is going and it took a while to get here. With that being said, I think they missed an opportunity to have Shinsuke as the Heel champion. At WrestleMania, it was a battle of Babyfaces that led to Shinsuke losing clean to Styles before turning Heel. I think that Shinsuke should’ve won that match. Keeping the turn but giving Nakamura the title would’ve done so much for their lackluster feud. It would’ve made Nakamura a Rumble winner and a champ and given AJ a reason to continue pursuing him. Why did Shinsuke lose a million times and continue to get chance after chance? It didn’t make sense that way. Just give him the title and have AJ chase to get it back. This one is pretty easy, no need to further elaborate.
A Broken Universe
I watched Impact Wrestling for a good year or so and by far the best thing they had to offer was the Broken Hardy gimmick. Watching the entire story unfold was brilliant. It was better than anything the WWE was doing at the time and there were many phases. I feel that it started off with Matt’s obsession with the World title. He just couldn’t beat EC3. Jeff Hardy and Matt’s wife Reby got into it and they made for great TV.
When word got out that the Hardys were returning to WWE, I, like most others that had been keeping up with both promotions were curious about the Broken gimmick. Who owned it? Would it die? Would we see a version of it in the WWE? The short answer is that Matt would eventually claim it and the WWE would waste it. Not only did the WWE drop the ball on this but they split the Hardys up entirely too soon, granted Jeff got injured. Matt started doing this whole Woken thing and it was set up nicely for Jeff to return as Brother Nero. I guess WWE just saw more dollar signs with the two separated. As much as I love Bray Wyatt, seeing Reby and Señor Benjamin prepare the Hardy Compound for a WWE event would’ve made my life. This was good enough for a run at the main title in Impact but in the WWE it would’ve topped the mid-card. To this day, fans still take part in delete chants but Matt and Jeff are on opposing shows, and Matt is for sure inching closer and closer to retirement.
The Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn Show
This is by far the easiest booking mishap to fix. Daniel Bryan helps his friends and turns on Shane. A fired KO and Zayn find work on RAW and win the Tag Team Title Tournament to face The Bar at WrestleMania instead of Braun Strowman and Nicolas. Daniel Bryan versus Shane McMahon at WrestleMania and KO and Zayn take the RAW tag titles. No vacation of the tag titles and we have a Heel Daniel Bryan back on the roster chasing a title. It writes itself.
What happened instead? The Bar lose the belts and move over to SmackDown Live. While I do appreciate the titles being used to elevate guys like Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel as well as Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, all these singles guys holding them is diminishing the value of the tag division as a whole. Sami and Kevin are a great individual workers but also a great tag team. They could’ve gone on a run that would keep them relevant without losing any steam to Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman.
A Legit Streak
Sasha Banks is one of my top five faves. It’s a crime how she’s been used since her feud with Charlotte ended. Scrap being forgettable, I can hardly even remember. I like some of the stuff The Boss has done with Bayley but the best moment where money was left on the table, was when Asuka was making her run. Asuka’s streak was in full force. She won the first Women’s Royal Rumble, she and The Miz won the Mixed Match Challenge, and she was sort of doing an open challenge on RAW every week leading up to WrestleMania. At some point, Asuka put her streak on the line against Sasha Banks. The match was one of the better RAW matches in recent memory and it should’ve sparked a rivalry. Asuka wound up winning the match and Sasha wanted a rematch. Asuka should’ve stayed on RAW and defeated Alexa Bliss at WrestleMania. Sasha chasing Asuka’s title would definitely spawn a Match of the Year candidate. More money left on the table while these two women have fallen from championship contention to afterthought.