Ryback makes his entrance.
Throughout 2013, we've witnessed some of the most memorable moments in WWE history, including Daniel Bryan capturing the WWE Championship, the debut of The Wyatt Family and Dolph Ziggler successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
All in all, 2013 has been a solid year for WWE, especially from an in-ring standpoint.
However, the year has had its share of moments that most of us would like to forget or have forgotten already, due to their minimal significance or horrendous booking. Occasionally, backstage officials begin an angle that they eventually don't follow up on, which confuses viewers and insults our intelligence.
Here, I've composed a list (in no specific order) of 25 moments, angles, Superstars and more that qualify as the biggest epic failures of 2013. If you can't recall some of the following things ever happening, I don't blame you whatsoever.
Ryback loses at WrestleMania 29.
One week removed from WrestleMania 28, Ryback arrived on the WWE scene, decimating anyone and everyone who stepped in his path of destruction. He went undefeated for six straight months and headlined multiple pay-per-views with CM Punk for the WWE Championship.
He went on to lose almost every one of his PPV matches in 2013, even losing to Mark Henry at WrestleMania 29 in lackluster fashion. With The Rock out of action with an injury, WWE officials opted to turn Ryback heel instead, having him betray John Cena the night after The Show of Shows.
The two engaged in a forgettable feud that lasted three months, and Ryback was still unable to capture the WWE title. Once that rivalry wrapped up, he was left directionless for most of the summer before being revealed as the newest "Paul Heyman Guy."
Just when it appeared The Big Guy was on the verge of getting pushed again, he lost two back-to-back matches against Punk on PPV and was left to fend for himself once Heyman dumped him. He has since randomly formed a partnership with Curtis Axel, but they have not had any sort of success together.
Ryback, at one point, was one of the most over guys in the company with his "Feed Me More" chant, but why WWE decided to abandon that in favor of a terrible heel run is beyond me. Turning him back face might not even be enough to salvage any credibility or popularity he once had.
Don't get this mixed up with Bo Dallas' recent reign as a heel NXT champion, which has been a blast to watch. Rather, this slide is referring to his brief run on the main roster earlier this year.
Prior to Royal Rumble, he won a tournament to earn an entry spot in the annual Rumble match. Surprisingly enough, he lasted a whopping 21 minutes (longer than half of the other competitors) and even eliminated then-Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett.
Barrett called him out the next night on Raw, which led to the NXT rookie defeating the British brawler in shocking fashion. Barrett continued to ambush Dallas backstage in subsequent weeks, seemingly building to a title match between the two, either at Elimination Chamber or WrestleMania 29.
However, the program was dropped all together in a few weeks' time, and Dallas hasn't been seen on WWE TV since. As previously noted, he is doing quite for himself in NXT at the moment, but what was the point of bringing him up to the main shows for such a short period of time?
In September 2012, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow formed an alliance to chase then-WWE tag team champions Team Hell No. They were the perfect team, considering neither guy had any direction as singles competitors.
However, they were unsuccessful in winning the gold time and time again. Following their latest loss to Daniel Bryan and Kane at the Royal Rumble, they decided to part ways and focus on their singles careers.
Sandow and Rhodes were still entertaining as a tandem at the time, so having them split up boggled the mind. Plus, they weren't doing much better on their own, as they constantly came up short to the likes of Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and others.
After about a month or so, WWE Creative realized its mistake and put the two back together in the tag team division without even acknowledging that they broke up in the first place.
During Wade Barrett's massive flop of a reign as Intercontinental champion, a tournament was scheduled to be held on WWE Main Event to determine the next No. 1 contender for the title. As announced on the Jan. 28 edition of Raw, it was called the Intercontinental Cup and was going to feature a wide range of WWE Superstars.
However, none of the matches for the tournament were taped at those Tuesday's tapings. Barrett revealed on Twitter that he ordered a "complete cancellation" of the Intercontinental Cup, and it was never spoke of again.
Of course, this would be the first of many instances that WWE would advertise something for Main Event and not deliver, but this tournament actually had potential to bring back prestige to the title. Reportedly, it was called off so Barrett could feud with Bo Dallas over the strap, but as previously established, that never ended up coming to fruition, either.
After not being involved in anything notable for most of his babyface run, The Miz finally sparked a feud with then-Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett early on in the year. He defeated Barrett in a non-title match on the March 25 edition of Raw to earn himself a title match at WrestleMania 29.
On the 'Mania pre-show, Miz submitted Barrett with a figure-four leglock, winning his second Intercontinental Championship in the process. The British brawler invoked his rematch clause the very next night on Raw, but very few fans expected him to reign supreme.
Regardless, Barrett shocked the world when he knocked The Awesome One out cold with his patented Bull Hammer elbow to regain the prestigious prize for the third time in his career. Miz's reign was cut short at only 24 hours, but why?
Miz left WWE TV shortly thereafter to film Christmas Bounty, but if officials were already aware of that beforehand, what was the point of taking the title off Barrett to begin with? Did they want to keep his "undefeated" streak at 'Mania intact or something?
Jack Swagger's mugshot.
Following a four-month hiatus, Jack Swagger returned to WWE TV in late January with a new look, entrance theme and mouthpiece in Zeb Colter. Despite all this, no one expected him to emerge victorious in the annual Elimination Chamber match, where the winner would advance to WrestleMania 29 to face Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship.
In the match's final moments, Swagger eliminated Randy Orton to become the new No. 1 contender. For the first time in nearly three years, he was on top of the world...before receiving a DUI mere days after the event.
Although he violated the WWE wellness policy and was technically supposed to serve a suspension of 30 days, he didn't. Officials instead decided to brush the incident under the rug and moved along with their WrestleMania plans.
Apparently, Swagger's punishment was not being able to receive an entrance on The Grandest Stage of Them All. He was unsuccessful in winning the prestigious prize that night and hasn't been taken seriously as a legitimate threat on the main event scene since.
At Money in the Bank, Damien Sandow accomplished what few people believed he was capable of: He emerged victorious in a seven-man Money in the Bank Ladder match to earn a contract for a World Heavyweight Championship match. This meant that he could cash in his briefcase for a shot at the title at any time and place of his choosing.
After he had great matches with Randy Orton, Sheamus and others, WWE appeared to be testing the waters for a Sandow world title run. However, similar to the last two Superstars to hold the blue briefcase, he lost almost every match for the next three months.
WWE's philosophy is that if a Superstar loses enough matches, it will come as more of a surprise when he eventually cashes in the contract. In a way, that is true, but it doesn't help the credibility of the future world champion.
One night removed from returning to the ring and winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, John Cena opened Raw to address the WWE Universe, only to be interrupted by Sandow. The Intellectual Savior of the Masses proceeded to brutally beat Cena down at ringside and decided that the time was right to cash in his contract.
Despite the fact Cena was a one-armed man after coming back from elbow surgery, he still managed to defeat Sandow and force him to become the first Money in the Bank holder in WWE history to lose his title match via pinfall.
I am not saying that this was a bad decision by WWE, especially since Cena gave Sandow the best match of his WWE career to date, but how the aftermath was handled was crucial. Sandow could have been a star coming out of this match, but WWE instead opted to continue treating him like an enhancement talent.
There is still plenty of time for WWE to right its wrongs with Sandow, but it is a shame that officials didn't capitalize on this amazing opportunity to make him a main event player sooner.
WWE held its historic 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw on July 23, 2012, and it surely was an epic occasion. Thus, many fans had their hopes up for something similar with the show's 20th anniversary this past January.
Unlike with Raw 1,000, WWE didn't do much advertising for its 20th anniversary show aside from one vignette that aired on the New Year's Eve episode. It indicated former stars would be returning for the show in some capacity, but it was never made official by WWE.
Reports indicated that WWE had completely changed the direction of the show and decided not to bring back any alumni at all. With the exception of The Rock and Mick Foley (both of whom had appeared on Raw weeks prior), no other former stars made appearances.
The show had its moments, with Kaitlyn winning her first Divas Championship and John Cena facing Dolph Ziggler in a steel cage match, but it just didn't feel like a special occasion with any familiar faces in attendance. To say it was a disappointment for this viewer would be a massive understatement, especially after the spectacle that was Raw 1,000.
During Damien Sandow's time as Mr. Money in the Bank, rumors ran rampant as to when he would cash in the contract. Since Alberto Del Rio was the world heavyweight champion around this time, it was only logical that Sandow would be feuding with him over the title before long.
On the Oct. 11 edition of SmackDown, Sandow showed face tendencies for the first time in his career during a segment with Del Rio. The two met each other in a one-on-one matchup later in the night, which was won by the Mexican aristocrat.
The very next week, Sandow went back to working as a heel and showed no signs of being a fan favorite at all. Granted, he is better suited as a heel, but turning him face for one night was rather random, don't you think?
For the better part of 2013, Daniel Bryan was embroiled in a bitter rivalry with Randy Orton and The Authority over the WWE Championship. Orton and Bryan traded victories multiple times on pay-per-view, with their final encounter occurring at Hell in a Cell.
To ensure there would be no interference in the Hell in a Cell match, Shawn Michaels was appointed the special guest referee. Besides, he was the mentor of Bryan who had no desire to cost him the championship, right?
Right when it looked like Bryan was going to close in on the title, Michaels blindsided him out of nowhere with a scintillating superkick heard around the world. HBK offered an explanation for his actions the next night on Raw by saying that he was only trying to stick up for his good friend Triple H, whom Bryan had hit with a running knee during the match.
Bryan couldn't have cared less and locked HBK in the YES! Lock instead. The two briefly crossed paths at the 2013 Slammy Awards, but that was about it.
So, if this wasn't being done to set up a match between the two at WrestleMania 30, then what was the point in turning one of the most beloved babyfaces of all time in Shawn Michaels into a heel?
After Extreme Rules, Brock Lesnar took another leave of absence following his win over Triple H at the event, and CM Punk was taking time off to heal nagging injuries. Thus, Paul Heyman was in need of a new client to maintain his spot on WWE TV.
From Ryback to Rob Van Dam, fans speculated about who he would enlist to be the newest "Paul Heyman Guy." Much to everyone's surprise, it was Curtis Axel, the artist formerly known as Michael McGillicutty.
Axel went on to defeat Triple H later that night (albeit via forfeit) as well as then-WWE champion John Cena on two separate occasions via count-out. At WWE Payback, he won his first Intercontinental Championship as a tribute to his dad Curt Hennig on Father's Day, no less.
The future looked bright for him now that he had Heyman in his corner. However, Axel soon stopped being featured on Raw as prominently once Heyman started feuding with his former associate CM Punk.
In their three-month feud, no one could honestly tell you how many matches Punk and Axel had against each other. It would have been different if the two had traded victories, but Punk emerged victorious in every encounter.
This ruined any credibility that Axel had as Intercontinental champion. He dropped the strap to Big E Langston on Raw Country in mid-November and has been nothing more than a glorified jobber since.
For most of his tenure as the SmackDown general manager from August 2012 to July 2013, Booker T butted heads with his assistant Teddy Long on more than one occasion. The tension being teased between the two seemed to indicate they were set to feud, but why?
Long took the reins of the blue brand when Booker was sidelined with an injury following WrestleMania 29, which seemed to irk the newly inducted WWE Hall of Famer upon his return. The two continued to clash even after Vince McMahon fired them in July, but no one seemed to know why.
Thus, precious time was spent building toward a Booker T vs. Teddy Long feud that never ended up happening. That brings me to my next question: If both individuals are technically out of a job at the moment, then why do they continue to appear on WWE TV?
After months of various vignettes, Fandango finally debuted on the March 1 edition of SmackDown. He didn't make his official in-ring debut until WrestleMania 29, where he shockingly defeated Chris Jericho in clean fashion.
One night removed from The Show of Shows, he competed against Kofi Kingston on Raw, but the live crowd couldn't have cared less about the contest. Instead, they hummed his entrance theme and stuck their fingers up in the air the entire time, thus giving birth to the phenomenon known as "Fandangoing".
In the week that followed, Fandango's entrance music became an instant hit worldwide and was one of the most downloaded songs on iTunes for a brief period of time. Similar to Daniel Bryan's "YES!" chant a year proir, Fandango was instantly over with the WWE Universe.
That is, at least his entrance music was.
As expected, WWE took something cool and shoved it down the throat of the fans the very next week on Raw by making a mockery of it. WWE showed countless clips of cheerleading teams and other organizations doing the "Fandango," and by that point, the craze had died down.
The Fandango dance has been solemnly done in WWE arenas since then, but it hasn't been nearly as over as it was immediately following 'Mania.
The Wyatt Family made their WWE debut on the July 8 edition of Raw and immediately set their sights on Kane. They continued to target The Big Red Monster in subsequent weeks, leading to an Inferno match between Bray Wyatt and Kane at SummerSlam.
After soundly defeating Kane at the event, The Wyatt Family brutally attacked him and dragged him out of the arena, seemingly kidnapping him. No one questioned this crime, either, and it was all forgotten about within weeks.
Kane eventually returned at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, having not changed at all. He even laid a beating on The Wyatt Family that night, so maybe they forgot to lock Kane's cage door before they left the compound?
Daniel Bryan was the latest Superstar to be kidnapped by The Wyatt Family on the November 25 edition of Raw, but stories of what actually happened to him differed. Some of WWE's "sources" stated he was found in a warehouse down the street from the arena, while others stated he was thrown in a van and his whereabouts were unknown.
Despite all that, Bryan returned in fine form the very next week on Raw to compete in a match against Erick Rowan. As one would expect, the kidnapping was never addressed again from that point forward.
Upon their arrival in WWE at 2012's Survivor Series, The Shield were unstoppable. They reigned supreme over everyone who stepped in their path including John Cena, Sheamus, Ryback, The Undertaker and others.
When it came to six-man tag team matches, they were the masters, remaining undefeated as a unit for a solid seven months. Aside from their disqualification loss to Cena and Team Hell No in late May, The Shield had an impressive undefeated streak that no one could snap.
On the June 14 edition of SmackDown, The Shield met Randy Orton and Team Hell No in six-man tag action only two days before they clashed in separate bouts at WWE Payback. No one expected the rogue trio to lose an unadvertised match on the B-show, but they did anyway.
The fashion in which Daniel Bryan forced Seth Rollins to submit to hand The Shield their first official loss was indeed epic, but why not promote the matchup beforehand so more people could have seen it? Worse yet, it was completely glossed over by the commentators on Sunday's pay-per-view and wasn't treated like the big deal it should have been.
Dolph Ziggler as World Heavyweight Champion.
In July 2012, Dolph Ziggler captured a contract for a World Heavyweight Championship match after winning a Money in the Bank Ladder match. With wins over Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and even John Cena, it was only a matter of time before Ziggler cashed in his opportunistic briefcase.
He cherry-picked his moment the night after WrestleMania 29, where then-reigning world champion Alberto Del Rio was left on the mat by Jack Swagger. He nailed a Zig-Zag on Del Rio for the three count and his second World Heavyweight Championship, receiving one of the loudest ovations in recent Raw history.
It was easily one of the most memorable moments in WWE this year, and Ziggler was definitely deserving of the honor. He worked hard for the moment and earned everything he was given up to that point.
One month into his reign, Ziggler suffered a concussion and was forced to back out of his title defense at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. He returned to the ring in early June and was set to have his first title defense against former champion Del Rio at WWE Payback.
At the event, Del Rio took advantage of Ziggler's health issues and relentlessly targeted his head with superkicks. This allowed the Mexican aristocrat to win back the world title, turning him heel while turning Ziggler face.
While the double turn was excellently executed, the aftermath wasn't. Ziggler lost both of his subsequent matches with Del Rio at Money in the Bank and the next night's Raw and hasn't been anywhere close to contention for the prestigious prize ever since.
Once it was announced that Rob Van Dam would be returning to the WWE for the first time in six years at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, the WWE Universe nearly imploded with excitement. There were so many fresh feuds awaiting him upon his arrival, and the dream scenarios were endless.
His first official program didn't come until after SummerSlam, where he feuded with Alberto Del Rio over the World Heavyweight Championship. The only thing about it that left fans scratching their heads was the fact he had aligned with Ricardo Rodriguez, Del Rio's old ring announcer.
Sure, they both had a mutual hatred for Del Rio, but what else did they have in common besides that? It was a terrible combination that made very little sense, and it didn't help that they had zero chemistry together.
Rodriguez stuck by RVD's side for a whole two months before RVD departed the company in early October and Rodriguez was written off television. Fans were left waiting for Rodriguez to turn on RVD and rejoin Del Rio, but no such luck.
On the March 11 edition of Raw, The Bella Twins returned to WWE during a backstage segment with Team Rhodes Scholars. They ended up clashing with The Funkadactyls shortly thereafter, while Tons of Funk began feuding with Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow.
An eight-person tag team match was booked for WrestleMania 29, which would see Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins battle Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls. No one was particularly excited for the matchup, but it would serve as a nice buffer bout between the main event matches.
However, due to CM Punk vs. The Undertaker running longer than expected, the match was cut from the show. Punk vs. 'Taker was easily one of the best matches of the year, so maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that it was given more time, but it was a shame that Superstars such as Sandow and Rhodes weren't given the WrestleMania payday they were promised.
Granted, the match was held on the next night's Raw instead, but it wasn't the same.
Once The Authority took the reins of Raw following SummerSlam, he had Big Show do most of his bidding. From Daniel Bryan to Dusty Rhodes, Show knocked out everyone The Authority asked him to, and he blubbered about it on a weekly basis.
Many fans speculated that this would lead to a heel turn for Show at some point, but it never did, which made his actions even more illogical. He was eventually "fired" in storyline by Stephanie McMahon on the Oct. 7 edition of Raw after he interfered in the Battleground main event, he but returned later that night to lay Triple H out with a WMD.
On Oct. 30, HHH revealed in an exclusive interview with Michael Cole that Show had been banned from the WWE for life. Naturally, everyone expected The World's Largest Athlete to be back at some point, but to have HHH sign him back to the roster a mere five days later was asinine.
This is in addition to the fact the HHH vs. Show feud was never properly resolved, but in retrospect, that might be a good thing.
Since debuting on WWE TV in 2007, Vickie Guerrero has held eight different authority positions. Eight! That has to be some kind of record, right?
As great of a character that she is, you have to admit that she can be tiresome at times, especially since she has essentially been doing the same act for more than six years. Seeing her in a position of power constantly can also grow to be a bit of a nuisance as well.
That is exactly why I rolled my eyes when she was named the new general manager of SmackDown on the July 19 show. Booker T was doing a fine job in the role, so what was the point in replacing him?
May I remind you that Guerrero was named the SmackDown GM only a little more than a week after she had been terminated from her position of managing supervisor of Raw. WWE couldn't have waited a mere month at the very least until she was brought back to television?
To make matters worse, it has been all but confirmed that she has very little power as the GM of SmackDown due to the fact that she answers to The Authority and even Brad Maddox at times. It is time for WWE to do away with general managers, especially if the Brand Split is no longer in effect.
For weeks, we were treated to vignettes hyping the debut of Los Matadores. Many fans were already aware that it was Primo and Epico under the masks but were willing to give the gimmick a chance at a time when the tag team division had been resurrected.
They finally debuted on the September 30 edition of Raw, defeating 3MB in tag team action. They had a fun gimmick going for them and catchy entrance music, so I was willing to give them another chance.
They defeated 3MB in a rematch on that week's edition of SmackDown before facing them yet again the following week on Raw. Basically, in the last three months, the only true team that Los Matadores have faced has been 3MB. They have scored a total of eight televised wins over them in some form or fashion.
Los Matadores have also gone against the likes of The Real Americans and Los Locales (which isn't even a real team) and have emerged victorious, but they are only known for facing 3MB thus far. The sad thing is that after all this time, they are still undefeated in tag team action.
If they aren't going to be used for anything meaningful, it is best to strip Primo and Epico of the silly gimmick and let them be themselves.
After being a heel for more than six years, The Miz finally turned babyface in November 2012. It was met with criticism from fans at first, but it was still too early to tell if he could successfully work as a face or not.
Although I thought he had potential to be a breakout babyface (I take the blame for that one), his character was so poorly booked over 2013 that it was hard to take him seriously as a competitor. He was involved in a number of forgettable feuds and didn't win many matches in the latter half of the year.
On November's Raw Country show, Miz reverted back to his villainous persona by turning on his partner Kofi Kingston. In subsequent weeks, The Awesome One acted as both a babyface and a heel in matches against Kingston, which confused fans even more.
A report indicated that WWE Creative forgot all about Miz's movie, Christmas Bounty, before it turned him heel, which was why he was back to being a babyface in late November. If that's the case, then why has Miz been acting as a face in recent matches with Curtis Axel and Damien Sandow?
If not all hope was lost for Miz's career before, it certainly is now.
At 2012's SummerSlam, Antonio Cesaro defeated Santino Marella to win the United States Championship, and he went on to have one of the longest reigns in the title's history. He defended the strap on a regular basis in the final few months of 2012 and won more matches than he lost.
However, that all changed in the new year, as he started losing more frequently and for no reason. From Randy Orton to Sheamus to Ryback, he came up short left and right, further diminishing the prestige of the U.S. title.
To make matters worse, The Swiss Sensation was saddled with a yodeling gimmick during the road to WrestleMania. Not only was it obnoxious and garnering him no more heat than he was before, but he still wasn't winning matches.
Cesaro's lengthy run with the star-spangled prize came to an end on the April 15 edition of Raw, as did his yodeling gimmick, thankfully. He has since been repackaged as a part of The Real Americans alongside Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter, which is a much better fit for him.
At Night of Champions, Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton to win back the WWE Championship that he never should have lost at SummerSlam. However, Triple H insisted the next night on Raw that the outcome was fixed due to a fast count from referee Scott Armstrong.
As a result, the WWE Championship was vacated, or as HHH put it "held in abeyance." A match was booked between Orton and Bryan for Battleground, where the winner would be crowned the new WWE champion.
In one of the worst finishes to a pay-per-view main event in years, Big Show interfered and caused the match to end in a no-contest. Thus, the WWE title was still being held in abeyance.
Orton and Bryan had one final match at Hell in a Cell to determine a true champion, which was won by The Viper following help from special guest referee Shawn Michaels. So, if putting the belt back on Orton was the plan the entire time, what was the point in taking the title off him and diminishing the belt's prestige in the first place?
Big Show "concussed."
In the final few months of 2013, Big Show was pushed in the main event scene on Monday Night Raw. He was set to contend for the WWE Championship against Randy Orton at Survivor Series.
Needless to say, Show and Orton had one of the most dreadfully boring pay-per-view main event matches in some time. The finish saw The Authority distract Show, which allowed Orton to follow up with his patented punt kick to pick up the victory.
The next night on Raw, Show paired with John Cena to take on Orton and Alberto Del Rio in tag team action. During the contest, Del Rio viciously targeted the head of Show, causing him to suffer a kayfabe "concussion" in the process.
Show was unable to compete for the rest of the matchup and was diagnosed with a concussion by WWE doctors later that night, as reported by WWE.com. The report also mentioned that he wasn't cleared for competition, so fans expected to see him out of action indefinitely.
Regardless, Show took part in a six-man tag team match against The Shield the very next week on Raw, showing no concussion symptoms at all. Either The World's Largest Athlete heals fast, or members of WWE's Creative Team had a concussion and forgot about this entire angle.
These 25 epic failures in 2013 demonstrate why hot-shot booking by Creative just won't cut it anymore.
Don't agree with something on the list? Think another angle is worthy of being added?
Feel free to drop a comment below with your thoughts and overall criticism of the presentation, as your feedback is always greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading and have a Happy New Year!
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.