10 Precise Moments Wrestling Fans Rejected Internet Darlings

Wheeler YUTA and HOOK beware - buzz doesn't necessarily equal being over forever...

Bray Wyatt Spooky Lil Kid
WWE.com

Like everything else, pro wrestling fandom is susceptible to fashion and recency bias.

In fact, wrestling is probably more affected by this because it never bloody stops, and because it never stops, there's always something to herald as the TV match of the year or the best promo you've heard MJF cut. The worked shoot was considered a career high, but was it really better than his manipulative supervillain origin story?

Or did it just happen more recently?

This also swings in the other direction; because wrestling never stops, it's rather easy to get bored by even exceptional things. Remember when the Blackpool Combat Club, a total blood-soaked triumph of a star vehicle, worked one too many trios matches and it all threatened to get a bit meh?

Are fans fickle? Or does the lack of an offseason accelerate the expiration date of wrestling itself?

It's an interesting notion. How does ardent support - so fierce that these fans dedicate so much of their time endorsing their favourites online in the hope that management will somehow listen - wither away and just die? Does this process happen over time, so much so that you barely notice it until it happens?

Sometimes - but there are defining moments...

10. Johnny Gargano - WWE NXT, November 7, 2018

Bray Wyatt Spooky Lil Kid
WWE

"You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

This is

A) What actually happened to Johnny Gargano midway through his programme with Tommaso Ciampa from 2016-2020

and

B) The plagiarised purpose behind his heel turn; NXT attempted to turn an excellent grudge feud into a sprawling saga of comic book movie scope, and the results were risible.

The ambition was beyond pretentious.

Wrestling fans simply wanted to watch the babyface wrestler triumph over the heel wrestler in a storyline that justified its length. It all went to sh*t by the end with the masturbatory parody of an "epic" match that was 'One Final Beat' in April 2020. It was an unintentionally hilarious story of two former friends agonising for an hour about what they had become, but what they'd really become were poor actors. By then, it was already over for Gargano.

It was effectively over on the November 7, 2018 NXT, when Gargano cut an excruciating tweener promo under the delusion that he was the Winter Soldier when in fact he was Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3. The story was so removed from what it was that Adam Cole evolved into the fan favourite role. Gargano's incredible performance at TakeOver: New York was a blip; he was never the top babyface ever again.

To his credit, Gargano sensed this, too, and reinvented himself as a comedic goober - only deliberately, this time - as the leader of the Way faction towards the end of his WWE run.

Contributor
Contributor

Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and surefire Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!