Who Had the Worst 2019 in WWE?
2019 is drawing to a close, and as such, it's important to reflect back on the past 12 months and assess the damage from all angles, good and bad.
It's easier to receive bad news first, so before highlighting the positives of WWE in 2019, let's address the negatives.
Like nearly every year, WWE Superstars had their share of health scares, injuries, legal nightmares, creative struggles, losing streaks and many other troubles. Some just happened to have more than others.
Let's take a look at some of the wrestlers who had the worst 2019.
Shorty G has to be mentioned somewhere on this list just because that's his ring name and gimmick.
Chad Gable has all the talent in the world, but instead of spending the year as cruiserweight champion or winning a midcard title on Raw or SmackDown, he was mocked for his height. Now, he goes by that pseudonym and wears ring gear that looks like he's a cartoon basketball player from the 1990s.
The Miz had one great thing in 2019 with the announcement in February that he and his wife Maryse were expecting another child. Everything else hasn't gone as well.
His feud with Shane McMahon was horrendous. He lost at WrestleMania and Money in the Bank and was never able to get his revenge. For months after that, The Miz had little to no direction.
Most recently, his TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs match against Bray Wyatt wasn't even for the universal title, but it didn't matter anyway, as he lost and was quickly pushed aside in favor of Daniel Bryan.
On paper, Cain Velasquez went from having a massive debut to losing his first match in a relatively short time, evening up the score against Brock Lesnar. He has since been injured, so it was all downhill from the start.
There are also plenty of Superstars who did nothing at all this year but get called upon once in a while to lose on Main Event, such as No Way Jose, Eric Young and Mojo Rawley. All of those were lucky enough to do anything at all, but that isn't saying much.
Superstars on the Shelf
Any time a single WWE Superstar is injured, it's a bad thing. Whether it takes them out of the ring for a single show or months on end, there is nothing positive about the situation.
Plenty of Superstars spent a good chunk of 2019 on the shelf dealing with some sort of injury, many of which aren't likely to heal until well into next year.
Nia Jax is recovering from knee surgery. Ruby Riott is still out after her shoulder surgery. Xavier Woods went down with a torn Achilles in October, and Ember Moon suffered that same fate in September.
It's been months since Jinder Mahal was in the ring. The list keeps going on with Mickie James, Samoa Joe, Tamina, Johnny Gargano, Velveteen Dream and many more all having some sort of injury that got in the way of their potential success.
While more stars will have spots elsewhere on this list for other reasons on top of their injuries, these Superstars can all be lumped together as having a bad year just from being sidelined for a good portion of it, through no fault of their own.
The Hardy Boyz and The Usos
One of the injured talents who has also had other problems is Jeff Hardy. If it were just knee problems keeping him away from WWE, that would clear up and The Hardy Boyz would be back on top of the tag team division in no time.
However, he was arrested in July on suspicion of public intoxication and then arrested again in October on suspicion of driving while impaired. There's no indication of how the arrests will affect his future.
Matt Hardy sat out many of those months, for seemingly no reason, when he could have at least been doing something as a singles competitor.
The Usos ran into a similar problem when Jimmy Uso was arrested in February. Originally charged with disorderly conduct, he agreed to a plea deal in March and pleaded no-contest to interfering with a government employee. He, Jey Uso and Naomi have been off television ever since this all started.
Both teams are among the most talented performers in WWE and spent the year dealing with issues beyond the ropes, rather than achieving the success everyone knows they're capable of.
Out of nowhere in 2018, Mustafa Ali was moved over to SmackDown with some serious momentum on his side. He was putting on good showings against WWE champion Daniel Bryan and other big names.
It seemed as though it was guaranteed he would win at least a midcard title in 2019, but that never came to pass. In fact, almost nothing happened at all.
He was set to have a spot in the Elimination Chamber that supposedly would have put him on the map and featured him rather heavily. Then, an injury took him out of the equation.
Rather than becoming a focal point, he watched on the sidelines as Kofi Kingston replaced him and gained so much support from the WWE Universe that it translated into a WWE Championship victory at WrestleMania.
It has to be hard for him to see that and not think it could have been him in that role had the injury not happened.
Sadly, after taking time off to heal, Ali returned without picking up where he left off. The momentum was gone, and he had to start all over again.
It's been months, and he's yet to bounce back. He was made fun of going into Survivor Series as the weak link Team SmackDown, which didn't help his reputation at all.
Now, he's been saddled with Shorty G in a makeshift tag team that will probably go nowhere and is just happening to give them something to do and fill out the division.
At least Ali got his first name back this year, but he'd probably gladly trade that for the parallel universe where he was the one winning the WWE title at WrestleMania.
Many months ago, it seemed Eric Bischoff was heading in the direction of having a great year in WWE, as it was announced he had been hired as an executive director of SmackDown.
Considering the big move to Fox, this was a huge position and a job that countless people would have begged to even sniff at.
Bischoff moved from Wyoming to Connecticut for seemingly nothing.
No official word has ever been spoken about what his job entailed and how he performed. Fans were left to their own imaginations that he could be responsible for anything on screen or just hanging out in catering.
Then, out of the blue, Bischoff was fired. All of the hassle of moving was pointless.
At least he's in a good enough spirit to poke fun about it, releasing shirts for his podcast 83 Weeks parodying the affair.
Most recently, another confusingly bad thing happened when WWE announced the New World Order would be in the 2020 Hall of Fame. Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were obvious members of that group, yet Bischoff was snubbed in favor of Sean Waltman.
It's as if 2019 was just a tease for Bischoff with no actual success, which is arguably worse than if WWE had never bothered calling him in the first place.
WWE started advertising Lars Sullivan's ascension to the main roster last fall, but it took longer for him to arrive than planned.
Sullivan was nowhere to be seen for the first four months of 2019 after reportedly having an anxiety attack in January. WWE held off on his debut until April, but the barrage of bad news didn't stop.
Misogynistic, racist and anti-gay comments he posted to a message board in the past surfaced in May. WWE fined him $100,000 and he was required to undergo sensitivity training.
Then, just as he started to make an impact in the ring, he suffered a knee injury in June and has yet to return.
Clearly, there were big plans for him, but we'll never know exactly how far he was supposed to go. Even if he's able to turn things around next year, this surely wasn't the plan for him back in November 2018.
When Goldberg returned at Survivor Series 2016, he destroyed Brock Lesnar like no one had done before.
He followed that by winning the Universal Championship from Kevin Owens at Fastlane 2017 before losing the title to The Beast Incarnate at WrestleMania 33.
It was well-received and a fitting end to his career, which led nicely into his Hall of Fame induction in 2018.
However, Goldberg decided to wrestle again in 2019 and had arguably the worst match of the year against The Undertaker at Super ShowDown.
It was a dream match that turned into a nightmare as both men struggled from the start and only narrowly avoided some extreme injuries along the way.
All of that goodwill he had built up was replaced with embarrassment—so much so that he quickly came back again to wrestle Dolph Ziggler just to wash the bad taste out of everyone's mouth.
In late 2018, EC3 was one of the Superstars advertised to make the jump from NXT to the main roster. He hadn't quite capitalized on his potential during his time on the black-and-gold brand, so Raw or SmackDown seemed like a major step up.
Then, weeks went by and he wasn't used and had no official brand home. It was as if WWE forgot he was on the list to debut or something.
Eventually, he started showing up, only to be put in a feud with Dean Ambrose that went absolutely nowhere immediately. Then, he spiraled down to becoming a jobber.
For months, EC3 wrestled almost strictly on Main Event—a show WWE cares so little about that it isn't even listed on the website. It's where careers go to die, and he wasn't even winning on a regular basis.
Here and there, he would pop up as part of the group that would chase after the 24/7 Championship, which he won a few times, temporarily, but none of that really mattered.
Lately, he's been out of action entirely after having suffered a concussion in September.
To say 2019 was a dud year for The Top One Percent is an understatement. Here's hoping 2020 is much kinder to him.
Most fans probably forget that The Colons are even still employed by WWE, as they haven't been on television since the kickoff of Survivor Series 2018.
Even 2018 was a dead zone for the team, as they only wrestled five televised matches all year, and three of those were Battle Royals, while the other two didn't feature them, either.
In 2019, Primo and Epico wrestled a grand total of seven times for WWE, all in dark matches or on house shows. They lost every single time, and the last one of those was in February.
You'd think WWE would release them, like The Ascension. Instead, Primo was suspended on December 10 for a Wellness Policy violation. He told Primera Hora (h/t Pro Wrestling Sheet's Ryan Satin) the violation wasn't because of a failed test but because he didn't show up for it, as he was in Puerto Rico, where he's been working for World Wrestling Council.
Talk about a slap in the face! To be forgotten about and not used is bad enough, but to be hit with a suspension at the end of the year during the holiday season as the only sign WWE hasn't completely ignored you seems almost spiteful.
Sin Cara and Carolina
Sin Cara was injured for nearly a year from August 2018 to June 2019 when he made his return to lose the 50-Man Battle Royal at Super ShowDown.
He then took nearly four more months off before coming back on Raw. He seemed rejuvenated but came up short against Andrade.
Sin Cara continued to lose every single match following that, mostly to Andrade.
He tried to bring in Carolina from NXT, but she managed to accomplish absolutely nothing. The tandem still couldn't pull off a victory.
All that happened was Carolina looked horrendous in her two outings for having failed so miserably to help him get a win. Her bad performance and lack of character got her nixed from the roster and sent back down to NXT for more training, while Sin Cara requested his release from WWE.
Upon getting his release weeks later, the first thing Sin Cara did was go to AAA using the name WWE still owns, per Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Wrestling Inc.'s Dan Yanofsky). This may create legal trouble for him going forward, especially since he is under a 90-day no-compete clause.
As previously stated in this post, it wasn't the best year for Sasha Banks.
2019 started off great when she and Bayley became the first WWE women's tag team champions, but nothing came out of it.
Their one pay-per-view title defense was just a rematch against two of their previous opponents, and then they lost the belts at WrestleMania.
For months, nobody knew what was going on. Eventually, she clarified on WWE Chronicle that this wasn't true and that she had taken time off because she was unhappy and depressed.
She made her hot return in August, only to fail to beat Becky Lynch twice and fizzle out.
Since then, Banks has been nothing but Bayley's backup buddy, rather than the head of the SmackDown women's division.
As long as she and Bayley are friends and both heels, she's not likely to become champion, either. She's more likely to eat another Woman's Right from Lacey Evans, which isn't sought-after.
Hopefully, things turn around for The Boss and she dominates in 2020, as she's more than talented enough to justify being on top.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.