When Sheamus claimed the Money In The Bank briefcase it surprised many and the reaction since has mainly been one of apathy. It isn't that Sheamus is a terrible wrestler or that his heel character is unbelievable, but before Elimination Chamber many expected that he would win the Intercontinental title and few would have had trouble accepting that as his position in the company. What people are having trouble accepting is Sheamus being moved back into the top bracket as a main event star and WWE title holder. There is nothing at all wrong with being a solid mid-card performer and that is the level Sheamus should be realistically operating at. I can however see some logic behind the decision and it is nowhere near the worst or strangest decision of the year so far. In the first in the series of my half-year reviews I will list the angles and matches that have left me bamboozled.
3) The Reign Of "King" Barrett
Despite winning the Intercontinental title for the fifth time in his career at the turn of the year, Wade Barrett had a terrible start to 2015. During a ridiculous angle in the build up to 'Mania during which various superstars stole his belt from week to week, Barrett lost to half the roster in non-title matches. By Extreme Rules he had been relegated to the under-card where he lost in an entertaining match to fellow Englishman Neville.
However things looked like they were on the up for Barrett when he won the newly resurrected King Of The Ring tournament where he again faced Neville in the final. Bringing back the tournament was a move that many, were excited about and the tournament was enjoyable, if all over a bit too quickly. Using the name "King Barrett" I had high hopes for Barrett as he is a good talker and this was a perfect excuse for him to become even more of an obnoxious heel. It looked like his last few months as a jobber were behind him and he would be getting a push as "King" until an insulting finish at Payback was followed by a swift Elimination Chamber exit at the hands of jester-jobber R-Truth. The "King" has definitely been usurped from his throne and his career is dead in the water.
2) The Collapse Of Rusev
Since 26 January 2014 WWE had been building the Rusev character, an unstoppable force rising through the company. Coming into 2015 Rusev was holding the United States title and was runner up in the controversial Royal Rumble. He then successfully defended his US title at FastLane defeating John Cena. But now, 18 months after his main roster début, he seems destined for a regular spot on Main Event with the likes of Jack Swagger and Stardust.
Much like in his current feud with Owens and plenty before, it was inevitable Cena would win the rematch at WrestleMania and bring the US title back to the US. But what began the burial of Rusev was the build up to the rematch. Logical booking would have continued to build Rusev after the FastLane win, before the biggest match of his career to date, as a legitimate unstoppable monster with Cena as the underdog looking for his redemption. However on Raw prior to 'Mania he passed out to Cena in seconds with no resistance, then after being woken up with a bottle of water was tapping out in seconds like a worthless jobber, which served to completely destroy the persona that WWE spent over a year building.
After losing at WrestleMania Rusev then lost matches at the next two consecutive PPV events (both against Cena) just to make certain his mammoth undefeated streak was made a distant memory, then before Elimination Chamber the Bulgarian broke his foot. As if things couldn't get any worse the increasingly popular Lana has now left him (kayfabe) and joined forces with the much easier on the eye Dolph Ziggler.
1) The Continuing And Criminal Misuse Of Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt started the year with a win against the also (at the time) under-utilised Dean Ambrose to end their disappointing feud which had started promisingly but lacked direction. Wyatt was entered into the Royal Rumble itself but wouldn't wrestle on PPV until WrestleMania. In the build up to FastLane Wyatt was instead used to deliver a series of cryptic promos which were confirmed to be aimed at The Undertaker in a segment at the PPV. The match had been rumoured for months and it was left to "The New Face Of Fear" to single handedly build and promote the match. He finally received an answer from "The Dead Man" on Raw in the form of a supernatural message. Smoke spewed from an urn and a rocking chair was set on fire by a pyrotechnics display, it was an exciting segment.
The promos continued in the build up to WrestleMania but as talented and captivating as an orator Bray is, it just became plain boring. This was not the fault of Wyatt, but someone in creative should have realised that the weekly monologues would soon become repetitive and would lose their initial impact. This was compounded by the fact there was no further input from The Undertaker, no videos, messages or special effects. When the match came around a non-kayfabe injured Wyatt clearly tried to put on a good show but was defeated by "The Phenom". Only then for an exhausted looking 'Taker to disappear again from WWE and the whole thing never to be spoken of again in WWE programming. If the idea of pairing the two was to raise the profile of Wyatt then it failed, miserably.
Next up WWE decided to...have Bray Wyatt speak in some mysterious promos! This time there was slightly less excitement when the latest "victim" was revealed to be the mid-card meandering Ryback. Wyatt did pick up the win when the two faced off at Payback but it was a short and pointless feud which again did nothing to benefit Wyatt short or long term.
In the hands of the WWE creative machine Bray Wyatt has never really recovered from the battering he received last year from WrestleMania through to Payback this year. Even his victory in the cage match at Extreme Rules 2014 was totally demeaning to Wyatt. He has so much potential as a character and I have no doubt he could be a game-changing superstar for WWE. I hope there is something more worthwhile being planned for him in the second half of 2015 and that WWE do not continue to waste a unique talent before it is too late.
Notable mentions; The Royal Rumble fiasco, The pre-'Mania build of Brock vs Reigns, The creation of Macho Mandow and Curtis Axlemania
Let me know what decisions have baffled, confused and infuriated you so far this year, and what you would like to see put right in the second half of the year.
In part two later this week I will be counting down my favourite moments of the year in WWE so far.