While we get to the end of 2018, it’s time to reflect and see what happened. Steve Cook let’s us know the Top 5 moments of the year!
As we approach the end of 2018, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was. 2018 was certainly an up & down year for the pro wrestling business. Much like the stock market, wrestling saw some tremendous highs & some colossal lows.
Here are the Top 5 2018 Wrestling Moments.
5. Daniel Bryan kicks AJ Styles in the groin & wins the WWE Championship
2018 featured a lot more of Daniel Bryan than we were originally expecting. He made his in-ring return at WrestleMania, teaming with Shane McMahon to defeat Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. From that point on, Bryan was a singles babyface on SmackDown Live, feuding with the likes of Big Cass & The Miz while coming close to the WWE Championship but not quite making it.
He finally overcame AJ Styles to regain the WWE Championship on November 13, and he did it in a fashion that nobody was expecting.
Aside from acting like a bit of a dick towards Styles earlier in the evening, there was no indicaton that Bryan would be showcasing a new side of his personality. A New Daniel Bryan emerged once he kicked one man in the groin, and it reminded us of why we considered Bryan the best in the world for so many years. Styles’ 371-day reign as WWE Champion came to an end and SmackDown’s house had a new landlord. One that will be making sure those electric & gas bills stay down.
4. Ronda Rousey debuts at WrestleMania
The most compelling match heading into WrestleMania from where I sat featured Ronda Rousey teaming with Kurt Angle against Stephanie McMahon & Triple H. I wasn’t sure what the quality of the match would be, but it was going to be interesting to see how Rousey looked in the ring. Her first match on the WrestleMania stage could have gone really badly, especially with three people in the ring with her that had some ring rust on them.
As it turned out, it was one heck of a show.
Rousey’s performance at WrestleMania immediately established her as a big deal going forward in WWE, and she became one of the company’s biggest stars of 2018.
3. Cody Rhodes goes All In & wins the NWA Championship in front of over 10,000 people
The biggest non-WWE promoted wrestling event in the United States since the closing of WCW took place on September 1 in the suburbs of Chicago. Cody, along with Nick & Matt Jackson, took the challenge to promote a show that could draw more than 10,000 people. They sold the Sears Centre Arena out in less than thirty minutes. The night itself was a moment for the members of The Elite & independent wrestling in general, but I’d say the peak was when Cody won the NWA Championship by defeating Nick Aldis.
This night proved that on at least one night, Cody & the Bucks could promote a show that could compete with anybody. We might look back on it as the night that laid the seeds of WWE’s next competitor, depending on what certain people end up doing in 2019.
2. Becky Lynch leads the SmackDown Women’s Divison in a Raw invasion
Most of these Raw vs. SmackDown #UnderSiege events that take place around the Survivor Series are kinda fun, but don’t really stand out. We’ve seen so many invasions at this point, and the most famous one was an epic fail that broke one of my podcast partners when they tried to watch it. Hi Jeremy Lambert, how ya doin?
There was something different in the air on the November 12 edition of Raw. Becky Lynch led SmackDown’s women’s division in an ass-whipping on Ronda Rousey & some of her Raw cohorts. Becky came off like the next big thing here.
The blood obtained from a wayward Nia Jax punch added to the moment, though that would prove problematic later on. Becky had to miss Survivor Series due to a concussion, and one wonders if she’d be doing even better now if not for the injury. It’s also probably going to lead to a Becky vs. Nia match, which I have no interest in seeing.
On that night, however, the Man was in full control.
Honorable Mention: Various firsts for WWE’s women
We could do an entire column on the events WWE women took part in for the first time in 2018. Heck, maybe we will at some point. 2018 saw the first Women’s Royal Rumble Match, Elimination Chamber, Last Woman Standing & TLC Match, the last of which was the first women’s main event of a dual-branded PPV. Renee Young became the first woman to serve as a regular commentator on Monday Night Raw.
Oh, and we also had the first all-women’s WWE PPV event. I think the fact that two moments made this list and weren’t the first *fill in the stipulation* match also says a lot about the placement of women in today’s pro wrestling universe as a whole.
1. Roman Reigns announces he has leukemia & vacates the Universal Championship
Some moments are bigger than pro wrestling. Unfortunately, they’re usually sad ones, as was the case on the October 22 edition of Raw. Roman Reigns came out to start the show as per usual, and the WWE Universe was in the typical mood up until he announced that his real name was Joe, and his leukemia, which had been in remission, was back. Reigns promised we would see him again, and if I was a betting man I’d wager that we haven’t seen the last of him as an active competitor.
This would be the last time we saw Roman Reigns on WWE television in 2018. Few people would doubt there’s a connection between Roman’s absence and the decline in WWE’s ratings & other metrics towards the end of 2018. Yes, interest & viewership always declines during football season, but not to the degree that it did this year. Reigns’ departure from the Raw roster left a void that nobody’s been able to fill as of yet.
One of two things needs to happen for WWE in 2019: Either somebody needs to step up and become the ratings/hits/attendance draw that Roman Reigns was, or the Big Dog needs to come back & reclaim his yard. Ideally, both things happen.