The direction of the WWE is always an exciting road to travel. From backstage news to what we see on television to what is hinted at on social media: the WWE always keeps us guessing for better or for worse and it is always fun even to make some money from it with the help of sports betting sites. 2018 was a huge year for the WWE in terms of them putting on great PPVs and really elevating the platform for the women in the company. Was everything a home run? No. Could they have done better? Yes. Where can they learn from their mistakes?
For me, the most exciting part of the year happened in January 2018 at the Royal Rumble event. We had our first women’s RR match and Asuka kicked butt and won it. Her victory cut short by the debut of Ronda Rousey, who has become a great worker, but still cut into a well-deserved moment of triumph for Asuka. Nakamura winning the men’s Rumble was great, too. We had great minority representation in the WWE to start the year with 2 Japanese wrestlers making history. All the more disappointing when both would go on to lose at WrestleMania. Asuka and Nakamura both have built huge names for themselves, had great odds and prove to be some of the best workers the company has. Both deserved those huge WrestleMania wins, although the matches were great.
In another great build up and little payoff, we had John Cena finally going toe to toe with The Undertaker. The “will it or won’t it” was really fun to follow and even got as far as that last bit of hope dying as Cena took on a regular match at WM. When Taker finally showed up, it was a squash match.
Those two examples alone are why WWE needs to just take a step back, take a deep breath, and really put effort into some strong builds and give us those payoffs we’ve been so desperately craving. We need more of those we love. Vince sometimes will give the fans what HE wants them to see just to prove a point he’s Vince McMahon and no one can tell him what to do. I just hope he pays attention. He is hitting a gold mine right now with Becky Lynch and she, as well as a few other women, are going to be the reason we have more women in main events on television and PPV.
2018 will always be a year where we think about Roman Reigns. The man busted his ass, and his face, to give us some amazing matches this year, mostly with Brock Lesnar. I would always hold my breath when he fought Lesnar, wondering how Lesnar will stiff him and bust him hard way. Then there was cancer. Roman announcing his cancer was back was one of the most real and emotional TV moments in a long while for WWE. Giving us that raw sincerity really drove me to realize why this product is so special. Storylines come and go, people eventually retire, the world goes on. But being able to be on top of your game and seconds later being forced into a hiatus (hopefully not too long, fingers crossed) is so real and jaw-dropping. And in our benefit, that moment brought us Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose becoming some of the most must-see characters on television.
WWE rarely makes actual news, but this year brought them into the headlines with their double trip to Saudi Arabia. We won’t go in to the politics of it, we all know what’s right and what’s wrong, but it really helped get the WWE name marketable and out there. I believe that’s what helped resurrect the XFL.
The new breed is coming. All the people soon to be called up to the main roster are all must see entertainers with such a wealth of talent. Pete Dunne is one I’m really keeping an eye on.
I exit 2018 and enter 2019 with the same optimism I’ve had every year for over 30 years watching the WWE. You want to take what they give you and make it better. I want to see more focus on a strong singles division. I want to see women headlining more events. I want to see the people who deserve the titles to win them. The company is in a weird transition phase now where a lot of the huge stars are now taking it easier and getting older. Cena is less and less in the picture. Orton isn’t getting younger. Reigns is ill. Strowman can’t keep healthy. There is change and it’s coming quickly. I hope 2019 brings us everything we deserve as fans.