Another year is in the books for WWE! This has been a fantastic year for the professional wrestling company on both the main roster and NXT. Given the fact that we’re in an era of long reigns, there weren't many title changes in 2023. There have been several notable reigns that began and ended within the calendar year.
However, there’s also been a couple of disappointing runs in 2023. This list narrows down the five most disappointing reigns in the promotion. Whether it was RAW, Smackdown, or even NXT, these five men or women had (or still have) a very disappointing reign due to a lack of great matches or memorable feuds.
WWE Tag Team Champions - Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (April 2, 2023 - September 2, 2023)
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn should’ve been a slam dunk as tag team champions. And for the first few months, they were. These two mixing it up with various teams was quite fun. So was the Night of Champions main event where Sami and Kevin got some sort of revenge on Reigns and Solo Sikoa. But their title reign fizzled once the Bloodline chapter was closed.
When it comes to in-ring work, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were always on their A-game. Sadly, there wasn’t much story given to them that came close to reaching the heights of their feud with the Usos. Perhaps that’s an unfair comparison because no other WWE story has been able to get that close. But the main issue is that they weren't given much to do other than defend the belts.
Sami and Kevin are elite talkers. Plus, with the Tag Team titles headlining WrestleMania for the first time, it genuinely felt that the division would be given more stories that bring out the best of tag team wrestling. Kevin and Sami’s reign is far from terrible, but it should’ve been so much more than it was.
WWE Women’s Champion - Asuka (May 27, 2023 - August 05, 2023)
Asuka was a huge wasted opportunity. WWE’s decision to turn her back into a dark and crazed character that she played in the indies was great. So was Triple H rebuilding the dominance she once had. However, WWE failed to create a proper story to build towards Belair/Asuka.
Still, these two had a great match and it was genuinely shocking that Asuka beat her for the belt. You would think the company would’ve taken advantage of this by having Asuka dominantly run through the division, but she ultimately became the third wheel of her title feuds. Asuka’s reign consists of no contest and disqualification wins against Belair and Flair. There wasn’t much attempt to capitalize on her character dethroning the longest-reigning modern women’s champion in history.
There also wasn’t much development on the new character itself. It seemed that Triple H and company just weren’t that interested in making Asuka the star of the division, which is odd, because Triple H did such an incredible job with Asuka’s first reign down in NXT. An extremely disappointing reign that sadly feels like the norm for Asuka.
WWE United States Champion - Austin Theory (November 26, 2022 - August 11, 2023)
When Theory’s character moved away from that annoying selfie gimmick, it was a much-needed change that finally put him on the path of being a main event star. But creative ultimately put him in the chickens**t heel role that didn’t do him any favors. Then John Cena happened.
John Cena buries Theory in one promo. Ideally, this means that Theory would go over strongly proving the veteran wrong. What transpired was a lackluster match that further buried Theory. John Cena would’ve won if the ref bump didn’t happen.
Instead, Theory reverted to chickens**t heel antics and got a cheap and forgettable win. This was not a star-making performance. Even worse, Theory’s reign barely had any substance following his “big” win over John Cena. He disappeared for some weeks and cut generic arrogant heel promo every time he was on the mic. That John Cena program did more harm than good. But his entire title reign was plagued by a creative team who didn’t seem too interested in giving Theory a good push as a future main eventer.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champions - Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler (May 29, 2023 - July 1, 2023)
Oh boy. This has to be the most unnecessary title reign of 2023. If Ronda Rousey gave WWE Summerslam as her final wrestling date, why not just focus on building a rivalry between Shayna Baszler and Rousey? Their brief reign as champions didn’t help elevate the division.
The “turn” itself made no sense and didn’t help the new champions. It’s clear that Rousey and Baszler desperately wanted the division to be better, but the women’s tag division has always been filled with makeshift groups who aren't in singles programs. Women’s tag team wrestling does have the potential to be something great, but booking like this is why no one takes it seriously.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion - Charlotte Flair (December 30, 2022 - April 1, 2023)
The purpose of Flair’s reign was to simply drop the belt to Rhea Ripley. That does make sense because these two do have a rich history, but Flair’s character has been stale for quite some time. The build to their match was very lackluster, though their match at WrestleMania was fantastic. Other than that, Flair’s latest reign was nothing more than a forgettable transitional champion.