Last week, we talked about the top stories facing the non-WWE wrestling world in 2018. This week, we’re all about the E.
World Wrestling Entertainment will remain a dominating force in 2018. Barring a nuclear holocaust, this seems like a pretty safe bet. There will be plenty of interesting things to talk about during the coming year…here are the five that I feel will generate the most clicks & discussion.
5. Ronda Rousey in 2018: Yes or No?
The rumors of Rowdy Ronda making her way to WWE have been around since she was still undefeated in MMA. There was a teased Horsewomen feud during the Mae Young Classic that was seemingly aborted based on Vince McMahon finding out about it. Everybody expects it to happen at some point. Ronda vs. Charlotte, Asuka or even Stephanie McMahon seems like a WrestleMania match meant to happen.
Will it happen in 2018? Rousey will be busy during the first part of the year filming a movie. She’s scheduled to be in Columbia on the date of the Royal Rumble, making it highly unlikely she’ll be a surprise entrant in the Women’s Royal Rumble. There were reports that she was close to finalizing a wrestling contract, then TMZ went to Ronda & she rejected those claims.
It doesn’t seem likely right now. But we’ll be keeping an eye on it.
4. Where is WWE heading?
WWE is always looking for more ways to expand their worldwide imprint. They’re looking to see how they can increase revenue in markets across the world. Their desire to get more money out of India led to the Jinder Mahal Experiment on SmackDown Live. Their targeting of Japan led to pushes for Shinsuke Nakamura & Asuka.
Where will WWE want to expand in 2018? Will their United Kingdom show take off? Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne certainly did all they could with their performance in 2017 to demonstrate the viability of a UK-based WWE brand. Will there be more of a push in China? Russia? South America? Wherever WWE goes is a good sign of who will be featured in the future.
Will Bulgaria be targeted? Fans of Rusev Day certainly hope so.
3. Braun Strowman’s Push in 2018
The art of being popular with everybody is difficult to master. Wrestling fans fall into several groups with vastly different tastes. Very few can appeal to most of them. The Monster Among Men has become a favorite among smart & casual fans alike with his natural charisma & presence. What he lacks in workrate, he makes up for by being fun. He looks like he’ll be WWE’s next great big man.
What we all wonder is how WWE will screw it up.
Every rising star runs into some sort of difficulty put on them by WWE management & creative. Losing at the wrong time, or to the wrong person, or even winning at the wrong time or over the wrong person. There will be a misstep in Braun’s push at some point. How will he react to it?
2. Daniel Bryan’s Wrestling Future
It’s been a thing ever since Bryan retired in February 2016. He wants to wrestle again. He’s had doctors clear him for competition. WWE’s doctor hasn’t. Everybody thinks he’s going to get back into the ring. He certainly plans on it. The question is where.
Will WWE clear him & collect the money his return will draw? Or will they stand their ground & let New Japan or ROH or CMLL or whoever take their chances? Typically, wrestling promoters weigh money over risk, but WWE’s passed on guys they weren’t sure about before. Kurt Angle spent a decade outside WWE rings because they didn’t think they could medically clear him to compete.
Bryan’s contract expires in September 2018. If he isn’t wrestling in WWE by then, he’ll be wrestling somewhere else by the end of the year. Or perhaps January 4, 2019 will be the date & the place will be the Tokyo Dome? Hmmm.
1. Alpha Entertainment
Vince McMahon sold over $100 million worth of WWE stock last week in order to fund a new venture called Alpha Entertainment. There’s been reporting done by Deadspin & other outlets suggesting that the plan is to relaunch the XFL, Vince’s failed football league from the early-2000s that has served as a punchline ever since. Apparently, Vince sees a chance to get back into the marketplace now that the National Football League has had some negative publicity due to concussions, game quality, rules confusion & pregame activity.
There’s also talk that Vince is establishing another company with interests to prepare for an eventual sale of WWE. Vince has said he would listen to offers, and Disney is rapidly buying up everything in pop culture. There’s also the fact that UFC sold for $4 billion to consider.
And then there’s people that just think Vince is gaming the stock market to make more money. Which is always a possibility.
This brings up several questions we don’t currently have answers for: How will Alpha Entertaiment business affect Vince McMahon’s presence in WWE business? Will he have the same impact on the product that he always has, or will he be distracted by other affairs? Who would assume responsibilities that Vince vacates? How would WWE’s programming be affected?
Alpha Entertainment will have more effect on WWE’s 2018 than anything else we can think of right now.
Top 5: WWE Raw Superstars That Should Go To Smackdown In 2018
The brand split has given us two distinct rosters with their own faults. While both shows could stand to mix the rosters up, today we look at five Raw superstars that should come to Smackdown Live within the next year.
5. Apollo Crews (Titus Brand)
Since coming to RAW, Crews was able to find a mentor in Titus O’neil, and did get a few wins under his belt. With Reigns and Lesnar holding both singles titles, the best opportunity for gold lies with the tag team championships, and that doesn’t seem probable at this point. A switch to Smackdown Live, not only for Crews, but Titus Brand, would open up opportunities. Smackdown’s tag team division is the best it has been in a while, and with a new U.S. champion getting crowned Crews can be a viable challenger for the victor.
With both Asuka and Paige top contenders for Alexa Bliss’ Woman’s Championship, and Sasha and Nia waiting in the wings, Bayley doesn’t have much she can do. Smackdown Live’s Woman’s division is in need of new competition, with Becky Lynch and Ruby Riott being the freshest competitors to challenge Charlotte. Reports are coming out that WWE is giving up on Bayley, but a switch to the blue show could open up
3. Samoa Joe
Unless he wins the Intercontinental Championship, there doesn’t seem to be anything for Samoa Joe to do on RAW until Roman eventually gets the Universal Championship. Even then the likely candidate to be a worthy challenge to the Big Dog is Braun Strowman. A move to Smackdown Live would give the main event scene a big player heading into WrestleMania and could provide for some memorable dream matches. Joe is one of the few NXT call-ups that still has a good bit of his aura still intact, but moving to SmackdownLive could provide much more prominent role.
2. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel
While a trade to the blue brand might not do much for the Miztourage, a change of scenery could do them justice. Bo and Axe are two talents most fans believe to be underutilized, as Axel is the son of Curt Henning and Bo is a former NXT Champion. The Smackdown Live tag division is flourishing at the moment, and while the two may not be challenging for the titles, at least Harper and Rowan can have another team to destroy outside of Breezango.
1. Finn Balor
Like Joe, Balor will have to wait a while before getting the chance at one of the two singles titles on Monday nights. A plethora of challengers awaits Roman Reigns with both his I.C. and Universal Championships, and while Balor could be one of those challengers, it is unlikely he will take one of them. A brand change could open up a possible run at AJ Styles, as Balor has a victory over him. Not to mention, like Joe, the plentiful amount of dream matches that could come of this.
Official Rundown: The Chairshot 2017 Match of the Year
All of the voting is done, and we finally know the winner of the Inaugural Chairshot Match of the Year. We’d like to thank everyone who participated across multiple groups, we saw a total of 400 people express their opinion in the results. Each of the five matches brought something a little different to the table, and in most groups we had a difference of merely 3 or 4 votes between first and second place. However, one group tipped the scales significantly for the match that ended up winning.
So let’s see where each of the Top 5 ended up in the final rankings:
(t) 5th – The Usos vs The New Day – WWE Hell in a Cell – 17 votes
While many people enjoyed this match, the in ring quality wasn’t quite up to par with the other options, as well as people preferring one of the other matches between these two teams. Given the year both teams had, and how The Usos are most people’s tag team of the year…tying for 5th in this vote isn’t really an insult.
(t) 5th – Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Brian Cage – NOAH Summer Navigation – 17 votes
This match suffered from the lack of overall exposure to the general crowd. Brian Cage’s popularity in Lucha Underground helped to put this on some people’s radar but, Japanese companies not named New Japan still have issues garnering more fans. This match showcased a lot of Brian Cage’s ability not seen on Lucha Underground. So the fact it at least tied for 5th, instead of getting no traction, is a small testament for word of mouth still doing work in the social media age.
3rd – John Cena vs AJ Styles – WWE Royal Rumble – 56 votes
The WWE’s Match of the Year, finishes third, with a respectable number of votes. A very good match for WWE standards, had the uphill battle of following Wrestle Kingdom 11, and put up a good fight. Cena ties Ric Flair’s record 16 Heavyweight Title reigns with this match, but it sadly didn’t measure up to the caliber of our top two matches this year.
2nd – Tyler Bate vs Pete Dunne – NXT Takeover: Chicago – 91 votes
When this match ended and Meltzer’s ratings gave it less than 5 Stars, the internet wrestling community collectively lost their minds. NXT as a brand is highly beloved since it’s basically the WWE’s version of a Indy promotion, with better production values. The match was quite good and even won the vote in a few of the groups we extended the poll into. Definitely a well deserved Top 5 entrant, but still fell to the match that won over many critics and decisively won our vote.
1st – Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega – NJPW Dominion – 219 votes
Was there really any doubt? These two have put on enough classic matches this year to basically have a Top 10 of matches just including them. Not only did this match surpass their first bout, which was Kim Kardashian’s backside levels of breaking the internet, it immediately drew comparisons to Steamboat vs Flair thanks to the 60 Minute Broadway, which isn’t seen often, much less for the Heavyweight Championship. Regardless of where you lie on your feelings between the best match of the trilogy, or what trilogy is the best, or who the better wrestler is, the main fact is; without these matches capturing your interest, you wouldn’t have a basis for argument in the first place.
This vote caps off 2017 nicely as the year of New Japan. It became more visible to the public even before Jericho’s announcement and gives fans a plausible number 2 to try to rally behind. Would it be nice to see WWE step up their game a little? Yes it would, but it probably won’t happen yet. Should you be hopping on the Japanese Wrestling Hype Train and look into NOAH, Dragon Gate and All Japan? Definitely yes, at times those three companies put on matches that were better than New Japan and have stars that can easily compete with your favorites in NJPW.
Use your internet connection to educate yourself further…and Always Use Your Head.
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