10 Wrestlers WWE Pushed At The EXACT Wrong Time

Pushing Bob Backlund in 1993 was like pushing Bob Backlund in 2023.

Bob Backlund Royal Rumble
WWE

The "selection headache" happens fairly often in wrestling.

It happened very recently, to much polarising conversation, when WWE had to decide who is set to dethrone Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39: Cody Rhodes or Sami Zayn.

Turns out, WWE fans were more than happy to cheer on two very different characters with two very different motivations. This echoed the dilemma faced by Gedo in 2018: should he have gone with Tetsuya Naito, the most popular star in Japan, or Kenny Omega, the man who had the potential to lead NJPW into a new era outside of its home domain?

Gedo went with Omega, who did in fact help lead the first significant competitor to WWE in two decades...

... as a founding member of AEW.

Still, Gedo, being very good at what he does, kept the fans invested in Naito who, when he finally did realise his Tokyo Dom dream, posted a record gate for the NJPW equivalent of a B-level show (New Beginning in Osaka '20) as IWGP Heavyweight champion. He was primed for a monster of a run before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Let's see if Triple H (or let's face it, Paul Heyman) can book as well as Gedo.

Tony Khan has struggled with this question of "when" over the last year. Daniel Garcia and Wheeler YUTA, while immensely talented, weren't ready. Conversely, he wasn't bold enough to go all the way with Wardlow.

WWE is of course no stranger to a promotional botch, either...

10. Bob Backlund

Bob Backlund Royal Rumble
WWE.com

Bob Backlund might as well have been the reanimated corpse of George Hackenschmidt in early 1993.

This is a man who worked Razor Ramon at the Ancient Rome-themed WrestleMania IX, but more closely resembled one of the first practitioners of grappling from Ancient Greece with his prehistoric mat-based style.

He was somehow only 44 years old at the time - younger than Sheamus, AJ Styles, and Bobby Lashley are now - but time actually moved forward in accordance with the general theory of relativity back then before Vince McMahon jobbed out Albert Einstein by making it stand still. 1983 actually felt like it had happened a decade ago in 1993.

When fans didn't connect with this character, despite Vince booking him to set a record of the longest stint in a Royal Rumble match, he was repackaged as an unhinged lunatic who was meant to be a man out of time and couldn't sanction the values of the world he now occupied. It was a far better idea than booking an artefact and deeming Randy Savage too old at the same time (!), and Backlund was very convincing as a maniac - an underrated skill, given the dire form of SAnitY, Karrion Kross and Liv Morgan.

Still, while New Generation truthers can argue in favour of his character work in various underrated angles, the matches were sinfully boring and of no interest to the least amount of fans who ever watched WWE.

 
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Contributor
Contributor

Writer, podcaster and editor. Deft Punk. Author of Becoming All Elite: The Rise of AEW, which is available to purchase at the following link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-All-Elite-powerful-Wrestling/dp/B09MYSNT71