Power in Numbers: Case Studies from a Decade of WWE’s Misbooking of Groups by Jake Thomas

There is nothing better than a good trio or stable. Simply mentioning these words bring back immediate flashbacks to memorable groups like the NWO or DX. How could anyone forget the formation of the NWO at Bash of the Beach 1996? Or DX invading Nitro during the Monday Night Wars? Groups can help create everlasting moments like these that will never be forgotten. Sometimes, a group is created to provide opportunities for wrestlers, allowing each member to shine in their own role. The Shield gave opportunities for Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to shine, whilst being able to hide the shortcomings of a developing Roman Reigns and make him look like a star. Fans love groups, which is why it makes it all the more frustrating when they fail through poor bookings.

Tragically but perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s more common to find a poorly booked group than one that has reached its full potential. For every group like DX, there is the Nexus. For every trio like The Shield, there is The Straight Edge Society. What has often seemed like straightforward booking paths, have been roadblocked by mindboggling decisions that have often permanently derailed a group’s momentum. Usually, it involves matches, when one side should’ve clearly been booked to pick up a victory and continue gaining momentum. Other times, a group just isn’t featured prominently enough to make an impact. Whilst the WWE has had some success this decade with groups like The Undisputed Era, The Shield and The New Day, there have been far more groups with sky high potential that have faltered.

The Nexus

When you look at missed opportunities and poor booking of stables in the WWE, The Nexus stand out as one of the biggest examples of WWE misbooking in general. Back in 2010, SuperCena syndrome was still running deep through the WWE. So when 8 NXT rookies led by Wade Barrett jumped the barricade in June 2010 and launched a sickening assault on John Cena, it created a lot of buzz. They also attacked the ring announcer (that led to Daniel Bryan being fired for a few months), commentators and the timekeeper whilst tearing the ring to shreds. They followed this up with more attacks on the WWE roster, Hall of Famers, Bret Hart and even Vince McMahon. In a time when it seemed like WWE was struggling to create new stars, with the help of one of the hottest angles in WWE history, it seemed like The Nexus were destined for stardom.

It looked like the angle couldn’t fail. After months of tormenting members of the roster, Cena formed a team to take on The Nexus at Summerslam 2010 in a 7 on 7 match. With Team WWE featuring highly respected main eventers like Cena, Chris Jericho, Edge and a legend in Bret Hart, everything was set up for The Nexus to gain major credibility by defeating some of the WWE’s top stars in their first test as a team. Until they didn’t. Originally booked to defeat Team WWE, a late push from Cena would involve changing the match finish, instead having Cena overcome a 2-on-1 disadvantage to eliminate Justin Gabriel and Barrett to win the match for Team WWE. Despite heavy protests backstage from The Nexus and Jericho and Edge, the change was made and The Nexus failed in their first major match on the WWE roster.

This would arguably be the beginning of the end for The Nexus. Many members would leave and join, with Cena joining the group after being beaten by Barrett due to outside interference from new members Husky Harris (Bray Wyatt) and Michael McGillicutty (Curtis Axel). Barrett would fail in three title matches on pay-per view, before “firing” Cena after he refused to cheat as the guest referee in Barrett’s match against WWE Champion Randy Orton at Survivor Series 2010. Cena began to harass members of The Nexus, regularly interfering in their matches despite being fired, forcing Barrett to give Cena his job back. Barrett would later lose to Cena at TLC, before Barrett himself was then exiled from the group by CM Punk, with Punk renaming the group “The New Nexus”. This officially ended the tenure of the original Nexus, with some remaining in the new group whilst others joined “The Corre” on Smackdown with Barrett. That group didn’t have much success either.

Where did it all go wrong? How did WWE manage to botch one of the hottest angles in modern memory and halt the pushes of 8 young and upcoming stars? The Nexus simply shouldn’t have lost as much as they did, especially not the big matches. As much as The Nexus won, they never quite got over losing that match at Summerslam. Their leader Barrett couldn’t even gain a clean singles win over Cena.

The Nexus should’ve been a dominating force that ran all the way up to Wrestlemania and potentially beyond. Instead, most of the original Nexus had left the group by the start of 2011. Today, only two of the original Nexus remain with the WWE in a wrestling capacity, Daniel Bryan and Heath Slater. WWE’s misbooking of The Nexus not only caused the stable to fail, but also prevented the making of 8 potential stars in the process. Had The Nexus succeeded, it’s likely that the WWE could’ve created a highly memorable program and elevated the 8 members of Nexus to a position in which most would still be with the company today.

 

The Straight Edge Society

Coming off heated rivalries with Jeff Hardy and The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship in the second half of 2009, CM Punk’s career was at a bit of a crossroads. Whilst the matches he had wrestled with Jeff Hardy were given critical acclaim, Punk’s feud with The Undertaker had a different effect. Punk’s main event status was damaged considerably as he was made to look like a chump in all of his matches with The Deadman. Punk at best could only manage a meek “submission” victory over Taker in an effort to repeat the Montreal Screwjob again at Breaking Point 2009. This would lead to a rematch inside the cell at Hell in a Cell 2009, in which Taker almost squashed Punk, taking his World Title and leaving him directionless.

In danger of being lost in the shuffle, Punk smartly chose to reinvent himself. He began leaning even more into the straight-edge aspects of his persona, turning himself into a cult figure who proclaimed he needed to “save” the fans from themselves. Punk recruited Luke Gallows, known as Festus at the time, to his cause, before beginning to shave the heads of fans in attendance at WWE shows. At this point, Punk recruited Serena to his team, a woman in the audience whose head Punk had shaved on Smackdown. The three would become known as The Straight Edge Society, a unique trio with a gimmick that hadn’t been done before in the WWE.

The Straight Edge Society didn’t do a lot during their time as a group. Punk would try to recruit various superstars to the group, trying several times in the Royal Rumble in 2010. Not long after this, The Straight Edge Society entered a feud with Rey Mysterio, which involved Punk creepily singing Happy Birthday to Mysterio’s daughter on an episode of Smackdown. They traded wins at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules, before Joey Mercury later joined the group. Mysterio then took the definitive win in the series at Over the Limit, forcing Punk to shave his own head. Punk continued on to a feud with The Big Show, who beat The Straight Edge Society in a countless amount of matches. They would officially split up in September after Serena, Mercury and Gallows had all been released. There were rumors of Serena not “living the gimmick” and drinking booze in public, which led to WWE putting an end to the angle.

Could more have been done with The Straight Edge Society? Absolutely. Punk mentions this on his DVD when he states the reactions they were getting from the fans should’ve led to a bigger push for the group. Should they have wreaked havoc across the WWE like The Nexus? Probably not. But to say the maximum potential was taken from the group wouldn’t be true. There were more unique opportunities to tell stories with a cult-like gimmick such as this one. Perhaps Punk could’ve actually recruited some superstars into the society who weren’t doing anything on TV like Zack Ryder or Trent Barreta? Whilst a group doesn’t need to win all the time, regular squashes by The Big Show didn’t help with their development.

Even though it didn’t have to nor should it have been the star attraction, The Straight Edge Society could’ve been more than a fodder for babyfaces that was regularly overcome with no wins coming the other way.

Unfortunately, this is only scratching the surface when it comes to the countless examples of poorly booked stables in the last decade. The Nexus had everything going for them during their run in 2010. The crowd was reacting to them, they had a fresh look and were dominating other wrestlers on the roster. The WWE could’ve and should’ve been done with them to help turn them into stars. The Straight Edge Society, whilst on a different level to The Nexus, should’ve been more than fodder for faces to beat for credibility. With such a unique gimmick, there was a place in the WWE in 2010 for The Straight Edge Society to thrive.

Both The Nexus and The Straight Edge Society stand out as missed opportunities that could’ve been used to tell memorable and unique stories.

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Hello there! My name is Jake Thomas and I’m one of the many new writers joining the TJRWrestling team. I’m from the land down under in Melbourne, with my fellow Aussies Buddy Murphy and The IIconics killing it in the WWE. Wrestling is a big passion of mine and I’ve been following TJR since I first started watching wrestling around the Summer of Punk in 2011. Since then, I’ve tirelessly caught up on my wrestling knowledge and I’m really excited to contribute more articles on the site as time goes on.

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WATCH: Hell In A Cell Preview Video Features The Firefly Funhouse

WWE has begun promoting its upcoming WWE Hell In A Cell PPV this week, sending an official video package to PPV providers.

The video, as you can see below, excellently uses the Firefly Funhouse, with Bray Wyatt being a key part of the advertising.

The post WATCH: Hell In A Cell Preview Video Features The Firefly Funhouse appeared first on ProWrestling.com.

FREE MATCH: Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt Hell In A Cell Match

WWE is continuing to promote the upcoming WWE Hell In A Cell PPV, showing a full match from a previous PPV between Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt.

Wyatt, who is scheduled to compete inside the cell once again this year against Seth Rollins as the Fiend, competed against the Big Dog back in 2015, which you can see in full below.

 

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Fiend or Faux? Should Bray Wyatt Win the WWE Universal Championship? – by Levi Jenkins

From ‘The Eater of Worlds’ to ‘Deleter of Worlds’ and now the devilish ‘Fiend’, Bray Wyatt’s go in the realm of sports entertainment has been nothing short of tumultuous. At a mere 32-years of age, Wyatt has already racked up an impressive list of accolades to his resumè including a Wrestlemania appearance as WWE Champion. Merit aside, is it time for the patriarch of the family Wyatt to reign supreme as the top champion of Raw?

After a lengthy eight-month absence, Wyatt emerged on Monday nights dressed to the nines moonlighting as a Mr. Rogers knockoff. The Firefly Funhouse not only became an outlet for Wyatt to shine outside of the ring, it also proved to be one of the few highlights of the entire summer across all WWE brands. Wyatt clearly has taken advantage of this outlet to slyly reference the shortcomings of his past booking woes all the while staying relevant without stepping between the ropes.

Of course, it’s sports entertainment and as entertaining as Wyatt has been of late, he hasn’t been actively competing in matches. You would need to rewind all the way back to August 2018 to find Wyatt’s last televised Raw match. Wyatt teamed with his partner at the time, Matt Hardy in a losing effort to The Revival and The B-Team. That’s right, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel defeated or deleted rather Wyatt into hiatus. Not exactly world champion contender competition, eh? In fact, Wyatt has a single match under his belt for the entirety of 2019. Even as the penultimate match at the second biggest PPV of the year, Wyatt’s under four-minute victory of Finn Balor was a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ unforgettable affair. That said, it wasn’t meant to be Flair/Steamboat ’89 and the crowd came alive for The Fiend after sitting on their hands for a majority of the night.

Before being announced as the next challenger for the Universal Championship, Wyatt dropped the champion’s name in back to back weeks inside the Funhouse. The first segment mentioning Rollins garnered 1.4 million views on WWE’s YouTube channel. Considering Raw pulled in 2.5 million viewers that week and with the NFL season historically slaughtering Raw in the ratings, Wyatt’s viral pull is a plus for him. There are often times I’ve missed Raw, but made it a point to watch the latest episode of the Firefly Funhouse. It’s amazing just how over puppets are in a wrestling show. Perhaps Ramblin’ Rabbit and friends will have a shiny new toy to play with after October 6th. The question is, should Bray Wyatt walk out with the belt around his waist?

The wrestling landscape is set to change with the Wednesday night wars on the horizon and the blue brand moving to Fox next month. In promotional material, ‘The Man’ Becky Lynch is heavily visible indicating a likely move back to Smackdown. It would seem a given that Lynch would effectively need to drop her Raw branded championship before this move takes place. Although not seen in advertisements, it is not out of the realm of possibility to see Seth Rollins drafted to Smackdown to be with his soon to be bride. If Rollins is indeed set to drop the Universal Championship, who on Raw is primed and ready to take his place? Baron Corbin tanked ratings this summer and belongs in the upper midcard. The trigger is never pulled on Braun Strowman despite an ample number of opportunities. Ricochet, Cesaro, AJ Styles and others flip flop victories and 50/50 booking does little to gain championship contender traction. Drew McIntyre is on the shelf and not booked much better. At least WWE won’t go the route of Brock Lesnar since he is likely taking Smackdown’s top prize hostage. That’s where Wyatt muscle man dances his way into the conversation.

It’s undeniable that Seth Rollins has had an amazing 2019 including toppling Brock Lesnar in two high profile matches at WrestleMania and SummerSlam. Where does the champion go from here? If he indeed stays on Raw, where else can he go? As champion, Rollins had a dream encounter at Money in the Bank with AJ Styles and then proceeded to dredge through the summer in a never ending feud with Baron Corbin. Smackdown will now be on a level playing field with Raw and this means several of the rosters top stars will be headed to broadcast television. Smackdown lacks a deep roster of top heels and with Elias injured and Daniel Bryan perhaps turning face after Erick Rowan beat him up multiple times, Rollins will not have any long term help from the draft.

Let’s not forget that Rollins has already held the top prize in WWE an impressive four times. Whereas Wyatt has only had one 49 day hold on the title. The less said about Wyatt’s first reign the better. I was in the crowd at Wrestlemania 33 in Orlando and sat baffled and disgusted at the visuals of that match along with 70,000+ next to me. Unfairly, Wyatt never had another opportunity to stay in the main event scene and drifted into obscurity after another odd encounter with Randy Orton inside the House of Horrors. Wyatt rebounded in a feud and subsequently tag team with Matt Hardy. Wyatt floundered in tag team obscurity and then after an injury took out Hardy, Wyatt mysteriously disappeared.

This might be the perfect storm for Wyatt to swoop in and win the gold. It’s adamantly clear that Wyatt doesn’t need the title, he’s always had an allure to him anyways. What does a Fiend title reign look like? Will we see the champion in the ring each week? Will we see Wyatt defend the championship in dress slacks and an argyle sweater or will The Fiend keep the mask on in his title defenses? One thing is for certain, Wyatt has already captivated the WWE Universe and this Firefly is on board.

The Fiend should slay The Beast Slayer inside the devil’s favorite playground. He’s already got the whole world in his hands and after Hell in a Cell, he will hold the Universal Championship too. Yowie Wowie!!! See you in hell!

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If you stuck around, thanks so much! I’m Levi, one of the new writers on the site that was lucky enough to win one of the golden tickets to write here. I fell in love with wrestling as a kid when I stumbled across the episode of Monday Night Raw following the Deadly Games Survivor Series and have been hooked ever since. I’ve been a long-time reader here and I am super excited to be a part of the team and share my views on this wacky world of wrestling.

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WATCH: Bray Wyatt Warns Of “Stranger Danger” In Latest Firefly Funhouse

Last night’s WWE Raw saw the latest episode of the Firefly Funhouse take place where Bray Wyatt warned fans about “stranger danger.”

Wyatt also changed a clock to the time of 11:19, which has had the wrestling world talking about what it could mean.

The post WATCH: Bray Wyatt Warns Of “Stranger Danger” In Latest Firefly Funhouse appeared first on ProWrestling.com.

WWE Files Four New Trademarks Including “Yowie Wowie”

PWInsider.com has reported that WWE has filed for four brand new trademarks recently, with two bein related to Bray Wyatt’s Fiend.

WWE has filed for the phrases “Yowie Wowie” and “Firefly Funhouse” with the popular catchphrase and WWE Universe chant being filed for the following reason:

“Good and Services: Clothing, namely, tops, shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, hoodies; outerwear, namely, coats; bottoms, pants, shorts, underwear, dresses, pajamas, lingerie, clothing ties, scarves, gloves, swimwear; Halloween and masquerade costumes; footwear, namely, shoes, sneakers, slippers, flip flops, boots; headwear, namely, hats, caps; wrist bands; bandanas.”

WWE’s decision to file for Firefly Funhouse has been for the following reason:

“Goods and Services: Entertainment services, namely, a show about entertainment, sports entertainment and professional wrestling rendered live and through broadcast media including television and distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; providing entertainment and wrestling news and information through broadcast media including television and distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; providing information in the fields of sports and entertainment through broadcast media including television and distributed via various platforms across multiple forms of transmission media; providing a website in the field of entertainment and sports entertainment information.”

The company also filed for the phrase “Legit Boss,” which is obviously in relation to Sasha Banks, noting it was for:

“Goods and Servies: Entertainment services, namely, wrestling exhibitions and performances by a professional wrestler and entertainer rendered live and through broadcast media including television and radio, and via the internet or commercial online service; providing wrestling news and information via a global computer network; providing information in the fields of sports and entertainment via an online community portal; providing a website in the field of sports entertainment information; fan club services, namely, organizing sporting events in the field of wrestling for wrestling fan club members; organizing social entertainment events for entertainment purposes for wrestling fan club members; providing online newsletters in the fields of sports entertainment; online journals, namely blogs, in the field of sports entertainment.”

Finally, WWE also filed for “Monster Amongst Men,” stating that one was for:

“Good and Services: Wrestling exhibitions and performances by a professional wrestler and entertainer rendered live and through broadcast media including television and radio, and via the internet or commercial online service; providing wrestling news and information via a global computer network; providing information in the fields of sports via an online community portal.”

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