2016 has been a year of transition for the WWE. The company has all but completely undergone a total overhaul this year and the experimental ventures seem to continue. Like any successful company, changes are a necessary part of everyday business and those changes have been aplenty this year. Some changes have been questionable at best, while some have come along at the perfect time. For instance, this year was a prime year to go forward with a brand-split. Smackdown was seemingly struggling to get anywhere at all and Raw had appeared to get into a stagnant phase of sorts. So with that in mind, the idea was to revamp the entire television experience and insert some new blood into an old body, so to speak.
It appears that the roster split was indeed a great move, or at least it's working so far. But with every positive change made, there's bound to be some hiccups along the way. That's what brings us to the focus of this column. Today we take a look at the biggest mistakes WWE has made in 2016, thus far.
5: Premature NXT call-ups
With the draft, there was an obvious need to dig into the NXT cupboard and call up some of the great talent in Orlando. With names like Bálor, Nakamura, Bayley, Alpha and the others that were available at the time, the pickings were prime for the picking...or were they?
With all the mentioned names and then some, who did the company call upon to join the main roster? None other than Nia Jax. SERIOUSLY? Nia Jax went to Raw with the 25th overall pick. Not only that, but Mojo Rawley and Eva Marie were also called up as well.
Folks, I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who make their living by entertaining us, the fans. However, a blind hermit can see Eva Marie is a gazillion miles away from being even remotely ready for the main roster. I can see Apollo Crews, Finn Bálor and guys like Enzo and Big Cass getting the call, but some of those other picks were extremely ill-advised.
4: Alberto Del Rio
Same song, second verse and Alberto Del Rio is out the door once again. This is such a tremendous letdown. I can still remember how excited I was when Del Rio came back at last year's Hell in a Cell to defeat John Cena and capture the Untied States Championship. The crowd was electric that night and all signs pointed to a happy return, with a promising future. Well, not quite. As we all now know, that title win was about it for Alberto. After that reign, the company once again threw one of Mexico's greatest stars, back into midcardville USA.
I'm not sure what the exact details were, leading up to his departure, but it's obvious that he wasn't happy and I'm certain that he knew in his heart that he's worth more than what he's been given this go 'round. At the end of the day, this was a huge mistake on behalf of WWE and someone else will capitalize on said mistake.
3: Legacy slips away – Cody Rhodes
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to determine that Cody Rhodes comes from wrestling royalty, with his father being one of the true pioneers of the sport. Similar to the situation with Del Rio, I'm not exactly sure what the specifics were, leading up to his departure. BUT, this is one departure that should have never, ever happened.
While I don't know the details, as I previously stated, I feel comfortable in saying that one contributing force to Cody leaving, was the Stardust gimmick. True, he had fun with it for a while and yes, he made it work. However, the company just wore it out. I honestly believe it got to a point where Cody wanted to get things back to normal, but for whatever reason, Vince and his minions decided to beat the dead horse until Cody had enough.
2: The Paige Saga
There's an old saying that says "where there's smoke, there's usually fire" and that's possibly the case with Paige and the drama surrounding her right now. While there's been no official word as far as if she's in fact, leaving WWE or staying, the Alberto Del Rio situation could be an indicator of the worst scenario, which is Paige leaving.
No one knows exactly what's going on with Paige right now, nor do we know what's led to the way things being as they are between The Anti-Diva and the WWE. But it's obvious that there's a rift in the relationship between talent and management. Could it have something to do with her relationship with Del Rio? That's a very real possibility and it's also possible this is all on Paige. However, it's important to remember that the WWE's most important and valuable asset, is the talent.
For all we know, Paige is just being a primadonna but at these gals weren't referred to as "Divas" by mistake. Sometimes as a company, they just have to bend more than they want to and cater to the wants of their superstars. After all, Paige is only 24 years old, so there's a TON of money left on the table to be made.
1: Sandow released
Each year, there's a time period known as "black Friday." It's a time in which WWE trims the fat, so to speak and cuts costs by releasing superstars that they deem to be easily replaceable or maybe just not needed at the time. This year was a puzzling year, in the minds of many fans. WWE released several superstars, including one star who had a world of untapped potential. That superstar was known as Damien Sandow.
Sandow was adored by the fans and during his run as the Miz stunt double, his stock went through the roof. So, what exactly does WWE do with someone who could potentially provide a plethora of quality productivity to the brand? Well, they let him go and wish him well on his "future endeavors."
When he was released, Sandow instantly became the most in-demand free agent in wrestling and today, he now calls TNA his new home. Once again, WWE's loss became someone else's gain.