3. AEW Women’s Division
It’s hard to nail down one specific storyline in AEW’s Women’s Division that backfired this year, but while not every aspect of the division has been a disaster, it’s been by far the weakest part of AEW, which goes against promises before the company’s launch to have a top tier women’s division.
Despite a difficult hand being dealt with the pandemic forcing some of their talent to be stranded overseas, there was a severe lack of focus on the remaining female wrestlers, with the women putting on solid but unremarkable short matches some weeks on Dynamite, while in other weeks the women’s champion would be standing at ringside and wouldn’t even be identified with a namebar or anything.
It’s only with the inclusion of NWA talent such as Thunder Rosa and Serena Deeb that the women’s division has been given a little more focus, and even then it’s been by far the least cared about and least booked division in the company.
2. RETRIBUTION (& The SmackDown Hacker)
…sigh. Oh Retribution. You didn’t stand a chance.
It should have been amazing. Take NXT stars Dominik Dijakovic, Dio Maddin, Shane Thorne, Mia Yim and Mercedes Martinez? Yes, great, I like all of them. Put them all in a faction and have them invade the main roster? Cool, I like the sound of that! Make them all wear knock off costumes of villains that they bought from the shop down the road? Wait, what? Change their names to T-Bar, Mace, Slapjack, Reckoning and Retaliation? No, wait, stop. Have them lose consistently since their debut and have absolutely none of their story beats make any beat of logical sense with plotholes undermining every single action they take? …why are you doing this to me WWE.
Despite their lackluster introduction, with molotov cocktails and cinder blocks through windows, there was hope they would at least be pushed as a legitimate threat and taken somewhat seriously. But they weren’t. They were made into an absolute laughing stock, and there was absolutely no recovery, not even when Mustafa Ali joined the group and was revealed as their leader, and also the SmackDown hacker, a character who had been built up all summer which led to precisely nothing. Great stuff guys, really knocked it out the park.
1. Goldberg vs. The Fiend
Could it really be anything else? The Fiend character, while not necessarily making for the best matches, was WWE’s freshest and most unique character in years. Fans were drawn to the presentation of Bray Wyatt’s newest creation and despite some Seth Rollins-shaped speed bumps, it appeared as if he would enter WrestleMania 36 as Universal Champion to face Roman Reigns playing off their history together.
And then The Fiend hit a wall known as Goldberg.
Their match was set for Super Showdown in Saudi Arabia because why not, let’s have Goldberg face the top champion, and despite The Fiend’s constant no-selling of finishers up to that point, Goldberg beat him in 3 minutes, ending with a modified Jackhammer. And when I say modified Jackhammer, I mean a suplex.
To say fans were furious would be an understatement. This was the most perfect example of WWE killing a potential new star in favour of relying on stars of the past. After all, Goldberg is a 53-year-old man and Bray Wyatt is very much not. Goldberg ended up wrestling Braun Strowman at WrestleMania after Roman Reigns withdrew due to the pandemic, which Braun won and everyone went ugggghhhhh some more.
Goldberg and The Fiend did not interact at all after their match but many fans still point to this match as WWE’s worst decision of the year and as we’ve seen, that covers a lot of ground.