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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - Seven Vince McMahon Decisions in 2017 that Indicate it's Time for The Chairman to Step Down
By Super Chrisss
Dec 23, 2017 - 4:46:56 PM

Tom Jenner rocks!

DISCLAIMER: Every year, I try to look back at all the good things that happened in WWE and NXT over the past 365 days; however, 2017 gave us plenty of solid evidence that it's time for Vince McMahon to step down as the ultimate and final decision-maker. From a head-scratching decision to revive the XFL to the Chairman's never-ending fascination with Roman Reigns, Mr. McMahon showed a lot of people this year how "out of touch" he really is. Granted, the 72 year old did have some cool moments this year, such as when he put his body on the line last October to firmly establish Kevin Owens as the SmackDown brand's number one heel, but the bad outweighs the good – by a lot. As a result, here are seven of the worst decisions made by Vince and his "Creative" team in 2017...

7. The booking of John Cena from February to November

2017 was a very strange year for John Cena. He kicked it all off with a bang, making history by defeating AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble in what many consider the best overall match of 2017 and in the process, tying Ric Flair for that elusive 16th world championship reign. In fact, WWE teased us with a potential John Cena vs. Randy Orton WrestleMania main-event at one point. But after the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View, Cena's booking – along with SmackDown – went to shit. Look at Cena's 'Big 4' (excluding the Rumble) PPV resume:

-Competed in a completely forgettable tag team match at WM33, which made The Miz look horrible
-Wrestled (and buried) Baron Corbin in a terrible, even more damaging match at SummerSlam
-Was essentially a non-factor at Survivor Series, joining a match that was all about brand warfare...despite being a free agent that shows up on either brand whenever he so pleases

Factor in a very good build-up to a 'dream match' between himself and Roman Reigns that was rushed and wasted at No Mercy and ended up being extremely underwhelming (to say the least), and you have a more-or-less wasted year for one of the greatest WWE wrestlers of all-time. With Cena's in-ring days numbered at this point, you're telling me there wasn't a more efficient way to utilize John Cena? Come on, Vince. Cena was once – and still is – your cash cow. He helped stabilize your company during a transitional period; he did everything you asked of him; he constantly found ways to return from injury WAYYYY sooner than any normal human being should have been able to. You owe him better than the way you booked him for 11/12 months this year.

6. The booking of the entire Royal Rumble match

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of rewatching the 2017 Royal Rumble, which featured some very good bouts including the aforementioned Styles vs. Cena gem, Neville vs. Rich Swann (crazy how both those guys might never wrestle for the company again), and a very underrated Reigns vs. Owens match. As a matter of fact, the weakest part of the PPV was the match that both casual and hardcore fans go crazy over: the Rumble match itself. All things considered, this will probably be remembered as one of the worst Rumbles of all-time, despite the massive hype going into it. Here are some of the reasons why:

-The first half consisting of pretty much nothing but upstarts, midcarders and jobbers. I'm pretty sure Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin and Chris Jericho were the only major names in the Rumble for a good thirty minutes or so.
-Saving all the part-timers for the final five-six entrants. Way to suspend our disbelief, Vince. Also, to make matters worse, no one got over by eliminating the part-timers: Goldberg eliminated Brock, Undertaker eliminated Goldberg and Reigns eliminated 'Taker. What a joke and a waste of using the past to build up new stars.
-Speaking of Reigns, allowing him to be entrant number thirty and having a near-exact repeat of 2015. It's like WWE refuses to learn from their mistakes. Two years ago, Philadelphia booed mercilessly as Reigns overcame the odds against the heel tandem of Big Show and Kane. Two years later, Reigns was once again the last babyface standing, this time against the heavily-protected Wyatt Family (Bray & Randy Orton). The scary part is Reigns almost won again, and WWE used that fear to trick the San Antonio crowd into popping for an Orton Rumble victory.

All in all, the 2017 Rumble match came nowhere close to living up to its potential and in all honestly, whoever booked that match should have been reprimanded, if not fired. But when you're the boss, I guess you can get away with that kind of shit, can't you?

5. Roman Reigns retires The Undertaker in the main-event of WrestleMania 33

There were a lot of mixed feelings about this year's WrestleMania card. Many people were excited for the undercard matches, as Austin Aries vs. Neville, the tag team ladder match, Owens vs. Jericho and even Shane vs. AJ Styles all seemed intriguing; meanwhile, many others weren't feeling the main-events, as Goldberg vs. Lesnar, Wyatt vs. Orton and Cena's aforementioned mixed tag match unleashed heavy feelings of apathy. But no matter what, the silver lining of this year's WrestleMania was that Roman Reigns wouldn't be main-eventing 'Mania for the third year in a row...

WRONG! Vince is so in love with Reigns that The Big Dog has transcended not one, but BOTH world championship matches. That's right – it appears having a match with Reigns now takes priority over both a Royal Rumble victory AND a Universal title match between two of the biggest stars from yesteryear. That's ridiculous. If that wasn't bad enough, Reigns and 'Taker put on an absolute STINKER! I didn't think Reigns could have a worst WM match than last year versus Triple H – wrong again! To make matters even worse, WWE heavily pushed the narrative that, "Reigns retired The Undertaker and it's now [Reign's] yard"...but kept Reigns a babyface. Asinine. Completely asinine.

It's time for Vince to accept that Reigns isn't "The Guy". He's not Cena-lite, or Cena 2.0. Reigns is basically mid-2000s Batista and pushed as the number one face because Vince doesn't have a full-time Cena, Stone Cold or The Rock on the roster. At least, Vince doesn't think he does. Vince needs to step aside and stop the Reigns Over Everybody mentality. Send Reigns to the upper midcard and push someone to the top who the entire crowd likes – not just the women and little kids. Guys like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Dean Ambrose come to mind...

4. The Superstar Shake-Up

(Side-note: This list isn't in chronological order, I swear!).

There aren't many things in professional wrestling we as wrestling fans can mutually agree on, but I think it's safe to say that we really didn't need a Superstar Shake-Up less than a year after the original brand split happened. While Raw was in bad shape, the issues lied more with the writing team than the superstars themselves. After all, remember when Raw put on two really good episodes less than two months after the brand extension went into effect? Moreover, everyone complained SmackDown got the very short end of the stick when it came to roster depth, but the blue brand quickly became not only the superior of the two shows in terms of quality and story-telling, but arguably one of the best week-to-week runs for that show in its history.

That being said, the Shake-Up did do a lot of good for Raw, but it seems like the real impact came from behind the scenes, as it felt like the main writers for each show swapped brands as well. Almost instantly, Raw became must-see while SmackDown became terrible and a shell of its not-so-former itself (a change that still exists as of this writing, to be honest). But I repeat: a Shake-Up was unnecessary! SmackDown had established itself as its own unique brand, and the superstars were part of that brand. Guys like AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Alexa Bliss and Bray Wyatt built that brand into a show capable of competing with Raw in the ratings. So what did Vince do? He stripped four of those six wrestlers away from the brand to help beef up Raw. What did SmackDown get in exchange? A Kevin Owens who was still recovering from the squash title loss to Goldberg at Fast Lane; a beyond-stale act in The New Day; a guy with little to no momentum in Sami Zayn; Charlotte (who they did nothing with for months); and, the cream of the crop: jobbers like Jinder Mahal and The Colons. What an awful trade. Just terrible.

In hindsight, the Shake-Up wouldn't have been as bad if a) they had waited until at least one full year had passed before mixing up the rosters and b) there was a much smaller amount of people being moved. When ten or more wrestlers are switching shows, you're going to eventually come full-circle with matches and feuds (i.e. Miz vs. Ambrose continuing on Raw). Had the Shake-Up moved no more than five wrestlers or teams, it probably would have been much better received and far less damaging. Let's hope Vince and the rest of his entourage have realized how much harm they've done to SmackDown since May and have a plan to rectify the blue brand sooner than later (but I doubt it).

3. Vince sells millions of shares to invest into a rebooted XFL

I won't go into much detail about this (please read my colleague Mr. Tito's recent columns if you need a better understanding of what the XFL was, why it failed and why it's a terrible idea to revive it), but I still can't believe it's actually happening. For YEARS, wrestling fans have always pointed to the XFL as one of Vince's biggest failures as he invested so much into his new side project only for it to cost him millions of dollars and profit. Hell, maybe that's why he's adamant at trying it again: Vince hates failure. Since he can't redo an ECW/WCW alliance/invasion, he thinks he can erase the stain of the XFL from the early 2000s to show that he is a genius in whatever he does.

Maybe that will happen. Maybe the XFL will work out this time...but I sincerely doubt it. It's not as if someone sabotaged the XFL all those years ago or something controversial happened, forcing it to shut down – it simply flopped. Big time. But as we have seen from pet projects like Roman Reigns and our number one on this list, Vince is stubborn and will keep trying something until there's no saving it. Vince thinks the XFL can be saved – let's just hope WWE's future won’t be in trouble after the XFL fails once again.

2. Doing the impossible: turning Shinsuke Nakamura from a superstar to a...body on the roster

Many people were excited to see Shinsuke Nakamura finally join the main WWE roster. While Vince's record with NXT call-ups have been less-than-stellar over the years, it seemed like a sure thing that Nakamura was untouchable, even by Vince's hands. He had the look, he had the charisma, he had the fans in the palm of his hand: all Vince had to do was keep Nakakuma's promo time limited, don't overexpose him and book him like the beast he was in NXT.

Naturally, in 2017, Vince did the exact opposite of all those things. On multiple occasions, he strutted Shinsuke out to the ring with a live mic and asked him to talk for several long segments. He was sparingly used at first, but then started being booked in random main-event tag team matches for no real reason. It didn't help that his first feud was with Dolph Ziggler, and the two of them didn't click, for some reason. Had the Shake-Up not happened, or been postponed, Shinsuke probably would have feuded with The Miz, whom he interrupted in his SmackDown debut – that would have been awesome (pun intended) and started Shinsuke off on the right foot.

Instead, after the underwhelming feud with Ziggler, they had Shinsuke miss over half of the Money in the Bank ladder match for some reason, defeat both John Cena and Randy Orton 100% clean on free television...only to lose TWICE to Jinder Mahal on PPV – and guess what? Nakamura has been ruined ever since those losses occurred. Imagine using two of your biggest stars from the past decade to get this new guy over, only to sacrifice said new guy to Jinder Freaking Mahal.

Thanks, Vince. Thanks for proving the doubters (you not being able to ruin Nakamura) wrong. You found a way to take a guy who had something special and make him into just another guy. All so that you could...

1. Put the WWE Championship on Jinder Mahal and destroy the SmackDown brand

I know, I know. You've heard me bitch and complain about the Jinder experiment since it began last May, but believe me when I say I can't wait to leave it behind going into 2018. Therefore, I'll keep it short.

No matter how you look at it, the Jinder Mahal push was a colossal failure. That's not up for debate. Here's what was 'accomplished' from May to November with Mahal as WWE Champion:

-Lowered SmackDown ratings
-Low attendance for TV tapings, live events and SmackDown-exclusive Pay-Per-Views
-Somehow a DECREASED amount of WWE Network subscribers in India
-The much-anticipated (*sarcasm*) Indian tour being SHORTENED from two days to one
-The ONE Indian live event not even selling out
-Randy Orton being booked to look like a dumbass and anything but a former multiple time world champion
-Shinsuke Nakamura being booked to look like a dumbass and a nobody
-Roster positioning and structure becoming a complete mess
-Much hotter, more talented acts like Styles, Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn being forced to take a backseat to the Mahal experiment

Long story short, the Mahal run as WWE Champion did worse than accomplish nothing: it actually cost WWE a lot of money and damaged the credibility of wrestlers who CAN draw money. I'm not entirely faulting Jinder (would YOU turn down that kind of push/promotion?), but Vince McMahon instead. His Jinder plan was an utter failure and if he wasn't the majority shareholder, I believe he would have been terminated after doing so much harm to the company.

All this to say that Vince, it's been a fun ride, but it's time to give up your seat, Sir. Let your son-in-law handle things, as his booking and handling of the NXT brand should be more than enough evidence to convince you that HHH is ready to steer the Titanic, not just the lifeboat. Even if he's not, I doubt Paul could do a worse job than you did in 2017, that's for sure.

Honourable mentions:

-Booking his son, Shane, far too often in matches and storylines

-Not calling an audible at least once by having either Samoa Joe or Braun Strowman dethrone Brock Lesnar as Universal Champion

-Not allowing Greg Hamilton to get the crowd involved with the "One Fall" part of in-ring introductions (really, dude?)


YOUR Two Centsss: What Vince decision annoyed you the most in 2017? Why, exactly?

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NEXT TIME: Counting down the seven best NXT matches of 2017...

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