It’s time to look into the crystal ball with Steve Cook and see what will be the Top 5 WWE Stories for 2019!
Last week, we took a look back at what I thought the top stories of 2018 would be. We all had fun comparing what I thought would matter to what actually ended up happening. Since we did all that, it only makes sense for me to do the same for 2019.
These will be the Top 5 WWE Stories of 2019.
5. It’s All About The Money
I’m going to have a tough time not making the Top 5 Non-WWE Stories of 2019 all about All Elite Wrestling. It’s really tempting. AEW’s goal is to Change The World, and there’s at least one way I see that happening. Wrestlers will see it in their pay envelopes.
In case you haven’t noticed, WWE has been raking in all kinds of money lately. The billion dollar deal with Fox. The huge deal with USA. Not to mention the Saudi Arabia thing or the huge gate they’ll get from WrestleMania. Even if ratings are down, live event gates are down or whatever, WWE’s making more money than it ever has.
This should translate to the wrestlers making more money. It doesn’t always work that way, especially more recently. It seems like wrestlers that have come up during this century have been too happy to be employed by WWE to make much of a ruckus. There haven’t been many other places to go, so one can understand why talent might not demand much in the way of money, or in the way of things to do.
Now that somebody is out there making offers, and WWE is making tons & tons of money, wrestlers would be stupid not to ask for as much as possible. The amount being mentioned as part of that “fantastic offer” Kenny Omega has reportedly gotten might seem extreme, but is it really? If WWE is making tons & tons of money, why shouldn’t the talent be getting the kind of money that Omega’s been offered?
If they can’t get it out of WWE, they might get it somewhere else.
4. WWE’s Next Top Star…will there be one?
One thing we’ve noticed ever since Roman Reigns’ departure from WWE television to battle leukemia is the lack of a top star to take his place. The main guy dominating Raw camera time in the episodes after Roman’s departure was Baron Corbin, which nobody outside of the Corbin family would argue is a good idea. To be fair, Braun Strowman also got knocked out of action around the same time, so we couldn’t get over an hour of Braun talking & doing things to start a show.
People tell me that this is the most talented roster that WWE has ever had. But where’s the next top star? When Chris Platt asked me who would challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania during a recent podcast, I had no good answer. Some really want to believe it’s Seth Rollins, and I’m not morally opposed to it. I just need to see some better efforts in major matches before I buy in. For a “workrate” guy, his non-Raw matches come up short more often than you’d expect. And it’s not like he off-sets this flaw by being a great promo, as his next big money promo will be his first.
WWE needs to find the next Hulk Hogan, or the next Steve Austin, or the next John Cena. Or maybe the next Roman Reigns. As much as we like to say that the brand is the draw, there’s always somebody on top that’s a little bit bigger than the brand. Well, there isn’t right now.
Will they find one outside of WWE? A certain former IWGP champion who’s said to be elite?
3. What will the women do next?
2018 was the Year of the Woman in WWE. So many firsts that it’s tough to keep track of them all. First Women’s Royal Rumble. First Women’s Elimination Chamber. First Last Woman Standing Match. First Women’s TLC Match, which main evented the show because of the people involved, not because it was the First Women’s TLC Match. First all-women’s PPV/WWE Network event. Other stuff that I’m forgetting.
One has to wonder how they will follow this up in 2019. There aren’t a lot of firsts left. First WrestleMania main event has generated a lot of discussion lately, as people say it’s been promised to Charlotte Flair. She deserves it, so I’d have no issue with that. There’s also the idea of the women getting their own show, which wouldn’t be a first unless you ignore GLOW or WOW, but I would assume that WWE women’s divisions could put together a better show than those feds. Well, except for the GLOW Netflix show, I’m not sure WWE can top that one.
There will at least be new Women’s Tag Team Champions, and that should be very interesting to see play out.
2. Roman Reigns’ Future
This one goes without saying, right? Reigns is the one megastar WWE has made in the last few years. He’s the one man among the current wrestlers that seems to have an effect on ratings & other metrics. As much as people online didn’t like to admit it, the Big Dog was a Big Deal.
Roman Reigns was the top draw for the women & children throughout his time as a singles star, and it’s not like the men were turning the TV off. A Roman Reigns Return would be huge box office, and would automatically be a more meaningful story than anything else coming out of WWE in 2019 or whenever it happens.
I think it happens this year. I have no reason to think this. It’s a gut feeling. The only question I have is how long it’ll take for the men to turn against him again. My guess is after he wins a championship in his first match back.
1. SmackDown’s move to FOX
October 2019 will bring massive changes to WWE as we know it. That’s when SmackDown Live makes the move from Tuesdays on USA to Fridays on FOX. SmackDown started its run on network television with UPN, but FOX’s status in 2019 & UPN’s status in 1999 are two different things entirely. The money involved is also exponentially higher, as FOX is paying WWE over a billion dollars over a five-year period.
When you’re paying somebody that kind of money, you want results. You want an A product. FOX doesn’t want a B show, which is what WWE has treated SmackDown as for most of the time that’s passed since the first brand split. They want something special. They want the big stars & the big matches.
WWE’s used to putting everything big on Raw. The fans are used to Raw featuring the stuff WWE actually cares about, while SmackDown showcases the stuff that’s probably more popular with hardcore fans than casual fans. There’s going to be a shift towards the end of 2019. Greg’s talked about how the shows could have different feels.
The situation surrounding SD’s move to FOX & how WWE adjusts things heading into it will be the most interesting WWE story of 2019.