Over the years there have been many storylines in WWE that have really captured the imagination of its worldwide audience. McMahon vs Austin, the summer of Punk, the Undertaker's streak and Austin vs the Rock are just a few examples of memorable stories that have stood the test of time.
However not every angle lives up to the hype and there have been many down the years that have been underwhelming. The ones that work the best are able to elicit an audience reaction and the ones that don't often fail to connect to the viewer on an emotional level.
Storylines can fail for a number of different reason; an injury, poor booking decisions, a superstar failing to get over or confusing character development. Sometimes angles were destined to fail and other times they begin in a promising manner but fall apart.
Here are five WWE storylines that failed.
#5 nWo - 2002
In February of 2002, Vince McMahon stated that he would inject the WWE "with a lethal dose of poison" in order to "kill" the WWE so that McMahon would not have to share power with Ric Flair. This led to the hiring of Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as thugs who would run roughshod over everyone just as they did when they debuted in WCW.
However, the group was tame in comparison to what they were in WCW and only stayed together as a trio for a month. At WrestleMania, X8 Hogan lost to the Rock and Scott Hall lost to Steve Austin, Hogan left the group after his match whilst Nash and Hall teamed up with X-Pac in the subsequent period.
Only briefly when Shawn Michaels was announced as leader of the group did the faction re-emerge as a serious team, but it was short-lived as Nash would tear his quadriceps and the group disbanded shortly after.
The group certainly didn't dominate in the WWE as they did in WCW, they were not involved prominently in the McMahon-Flair ownership feud as expected and their losses at WrestleMania were clearly very damaging, as was Hogan's departure. If the nWo had terrorised all within their path, including the owners McMahon and Flair, they could have reached the heights they once did in 1996.
#4 The Nexus - 2010
On the June 7th episode of Raw, a group that consisted of eight rookies from NXT debuted in the main event, they began attacking everyone and tore up the ringside area. The group consisted of Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga, Daniel Bryan, Michael Tarver, Darren Young, Skip Sheffield and Heath Slater. They called themselves the Nexus and they had one of the most memorable debuts in WWE history.
The Nexus' momentum was killed in a similar to way to the nWo's. At SummerSlam 2010, two months after they debuted, Nexus lost their 5-on-5 Survivor Series match after John Cena eliminated Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel. This was a damaging defeat for the Nexus, especially since the match was 2-on-1 at the end.
Although Barrett would go on to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship from John Cena, the group itself never reached the heights that they set on their first appearance. If the group had maintained the momentum they set when they debuted, they could have gone on to big things, but as it was the group was never booked to be as strong as it was on their debut night on Monday Night Raw.
#3 The greater power - 1999
The biggest WWE storyline in the spring of 1999 revolved around the Undertaker's ministry of darkness. The ministry was a satanic cult group that performed sacrifices and rituals during episodes of Raw and on pay-per-views. The ministry would kidnap talent and this included Stephanie McMahon, who the Undertaker tried to make his unholy bride on an episode of Raw.
The group would go on to be known as the corporate ministry after Shane McMahon joined. A big subplot to the storyline was who Undertaker's greater power was, on the big reveal episode of Raw on June 14th, 1999, a mystery man stood in the ring covered in a cloak. It was Vince McMahon underneath, he then screamed down the camera "it was me Austin, it was me all along" which is now one of the most iconic lines in WWE history.
Whilst this moment is memorable, it killed the storyline and the corporate ministry. It simply did not make sense for Vince McMahon to be the greater power given what had happened to his daughter Stephanie. The moment was also overshadowed by Steve Austin being announced as the new 50% CEO of the WWE.
The corporate ministry would disband shortly after, it was clear that McMahon taking control of the group diluted Undertaker's power and the main focus became McMahon vs Austin again.
The greater power had the potential to be one of the most intriguing storylines in WWE, but McMahon's involvement and the shift in a direction completely killed its momentum.
#2 Who ran over Stone Cold? - 2000
Almost a year after he was run over on Survivor Series in 1999, Stone Cold Steve Austin returned with a vengeance to the WWE in the autumn of 2000 to find his attacker. After confronting a number of potential suspects, it was eventually revealed to be Rikishi driving the car that ran over and put the Texas rattlesnake out of action for close to a year.
All though initially the idea of having Rikishi helping out his cousin the Rock, by putting Austin out of action, made sense, it was an underwhelming culmination of the storyline. Rikishi had previously been one of the most over babyfaces in the company and there wasn't a long way he and Stone Cold could take their rivalry.
Austin did get his revenge on Rikishi at No Mercy in 2000 and afterwards, it was revealed that Triple H was the mastermind behind the plan to run Austin over. This shift in plotline was clearly WWE realising they had made a mistake and that Rikishi was not right for the role.
Clearly, the WWE missed a golden opportunity with this storyline. If the mystery diver had been revealed to be someone like Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle or Undertaker then there could have been a bigger rivalry built. It was a disappointing end to an intriguing story.
#1 Invasion - WWE vs the Alliance - 2001
The invasion storyline which pitted the WWE up against the Alliance had the potential to be the biggest and best storylines in history, however, it failed to live up to anywhere near this standard.
From the outset, this rivalry appeared to be a feud between the McMahon's. Shane McMahon, who had purchased WCW in March 2001, took his brand onto WWE television in the summer of 2001 along with ECW led by Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman to form the Alliance. Stephanie did not represent ECW brand very well and you could have been forgiven for forgetting she was the leader at all.
Another problem was that many of the faces synonymous with WCW were not there. Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Sting and former president Eric Bischoff were all missing and ECW talent was instead used to make up the numbers. What's more WWE stars such as Steve Austin and Kurt Angle jumped ship to join the Alliance in order to make up for their lack of big-name talent?
Another problem with the angle was that Stone Cold Steve Austin was a heel. Fans just didn't want to hate Austin and yet he was billed as the leading villain of the Alliance. When he initially returned to help the WWE fend of the Alliance, he received one of the biggest pops ever heard, but he turned heel soon after at Invasion 2001 costing team WWE the match. It would have made more sense for a natural heel like Chris Jericho to join the Alliance, rather than one of the most popular stars in WWE history.
This could have been the classic confrontation but it was flawed from the start as none of WCW's top talent from their heyday featured whatsoever.
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