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.
The Ronda Rousey Situation
Can Ronda handle the WWE Universe?
Maria Elisa kicks off her Chairshot career with a look at the state of Ronda Rousey in WWE!
I am probably not the first to say this but when WWE signed Ronda Rousey, I was skeptical if this was a good idea for wrestling. Several questions went through my head
- Can she actually wrestle?
- Will the WWE be a good environment for her?
- Will her ego and personality get in the way of making her successful in this business?
- Is wrestling even a good move for her?
UFC and wrestling are two extremely different businesses. The norm is anyone can be a wrestler however, you need to put in the time, dedication and training. This is something I knew Ronda will be able to do however, one thing I am still not convinced is whether she can wrestle. The past year every single match she has been in has been in my opinion somewhat dry and lacking in technique.
Let’s be honest, the only reason she was getting by in this business is the fact when you speak the name Ronda Rousey, there still comes to mind the bad-ass, dominating persona that we all saw in UFC. To fans like myself, that still gives us an incentive to sit down and still watch her matches. She is still an imposing figure whether you like her or not. Another thing that I am not sure she could handle is the WWE Universe.
The WWE Universe
WWE Universe is not exactly like any other sport fans. They cheer who that like and they will boo who they do not like. If a wrestler has a slump or has a bad match, the crowd will eventually let them know “hey, you suck”. That is just the way this particular universe works. This is why character development, story line writing, gear change, entrance music change, or turning heel or even baby face keeps a wrestler marketable and in touch with the WWE Universe.
However, Ronda is somewhat different. She left the UFC after coming to terms with two things: 1) She cannot handle losing and 2) Her technique and fighting skills in the UFC just did not help her cut it with opponents like Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes. We all saw this when Holly Holm exposed her by simply fighting fist to fist with her and avoiding submission card Ronda always plays.
We are now seeing this emotional side in which she cannot handle certain outcomes or reactions from the crowd in the WWE. Ronda Rousey coming into the Staples Center for Survivor Series against Charlotte Flair, who was handpicked by ‘THE MAN” Becky Lynch to represent Smackdown, turned her into the automatic enemy to the WWE Universe. You can see the reaction on her face coming into the ring that being greeted her to boo’s was not a reaction she expected. Even through the acting, she could not phantom why the fans were booing her and you can tell, it bothered her on a personal level.
I do not feel that Ronda has completely learned from the devastating losses she experienced in the UFC.
It took Ronda a year to come back to UFC after the first loss and even then so, the results of her comeback weren’t any better as Amanda Nunes knocked her out in the first round.
So if the rumors are true that Ronda is leaving the WWE after WrestleMania 35, it only solidifies that Ronda cannot handle losing or the WWE universe for that matter. She is used to winning and having the crowd and when someone with her ego hasn’t had enough experience with being critique on a negative basis or most importantly, with losing in their respected sport, they can react emotionally and irrationally. In turn, it shows they cannot handle the situation. Take The Miz for example, who embraces his heel and uses it to his advantage. I mean look at where he is now and it is possible he might be going to WrestleMania as a baby face. I actually prefer seeing THE MIZ a heel than a baby face, but either one, he embraces it and it shows through his promos.
Can Ronda Be The Top Star?
Ronda is great but not enough to carry the company in my opinion. There is a lesson that should be taught to every child while growing up and that is “the great ones treat failure as a necessary part of their journey. It’s not win or lose. It’s always win or learn”. Quite frankly, I do not feel Ronda has fully learned from her failures. This is what separates her in this business from the Becky Lynch’s or Charlotte Flair’s or Sasha Bank’s.
It will be interesting to see after the heel turn last night on Monday Night Raw, where Ronda takes this change. However, by the look of the crowd last night, It looked like they were not convinced. Her promos were a little too shaky and one could even argue that some things were spoken out of truth to what she is really feeling about WWE from a business perspective. But again, it will still be interesting to see where this goes leading up to WrestleMania 35.
As far as where I would like to see her, I honestly would like to build Ronda’s character after WrestleMania. I would love for her to stay and have WWE put her in the “underdog” category and see where she can flourish. I have always said that for certain wrestlers, character building should start from the bottom and work their way up. Great example of this, Stone Cold Steve Austin. The way he began was terrible but him being able to stay true to self and basically not give a damn, developed a character that the WWE Universe could relate to. I would love for WWE to develop her into a great heel similar to what they did with Becky. I would love to see her develop more technique in her wrestling that could boost her confidence and see her in some solid one to one competition. One thing I can agree on is her leaving WWE after WrestleMania can only do damage to her character and perception of the WWE Universe.
Andrew’s WWE Raw & SmackDown Live Ratings & Analysis (3/18 & 3/19/19)
Andrew tries not to gauge his eyes out during WWE Raw. But that’s why Vince invented SmackDown right? Right? Please?
Andrew tries not to gauge his eyes out during WWE Raw. But that’s why Vince invented SmackDown right? Right? Please?
Batista told us what he wanted, what he really really wanted last week. McIntyre is on a mission to single-handedly break apart the Shield and Kofi is going to literally be put through the ringer. So there’s a couple big points to keep both shows interesting.
Or well, there should be.
Let’s just see.
- Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush vs Finn Balor & Braun Strowman: Strowman wins via Running Powerslam – ** ½
- Elias vs No Way Jose: Elias wins via Drift Away – * 1/2
- Kurt Angle vs Chad Gable: Angle wins via Ankle Lock – ** ¾
- Sasha Banks vs Natalya: No Contest – N/A
- Jinder Mahal vs Ricochet: Ricochet wins via 630 Senton – * ¼
- WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey vs Dana Brooke: Ronda retains via Armbar – N/A
- Baron Corbin vs Apollo Crews: Crews win via Roll Up – *
- Seth Rollins vs Drew McIntyre: McIntyre wins via Claymore – *** ½
Heyman says words, talks about how a match with McIntyre is stupid. So McIntyre comes out happy someone acknowledged his imposing force-ness…then the only slightly interesting part here was Seth holding a grudge and attacking McIntyre over and over again with a chair.
A tag match I don’t care about. I mean Braun threw around Lio. And much like I mentioned on Raw Reaction even though I dislike Lio and don’t mind seeing him get used like a chew toy…I equally don’t care about Braun. So when two bland forces of underwhelming meh collide, you can call me Captain Apathy.
Moment of Bliss with Elias. Alexa says this time they won’t get interrupted, they announce Elias as the musical guest and…then get interrupted. Apparently Heavy Machinery is leading Jose’s conga line, and it was a planned bit but they came out too early. So as Alexa scolds, the cheeseburger attacks Elias and reveals himself to be No Way Jose. WHY? It’s his music, his conga line, why did he have to go undercover as the Pentagon Burger, Cero Calories, but mucha mierda.
Now we get a match between Elias, who people used to care about, and Jose who really doesn’t matter. He’s a waste of space with dancers. Apathetic to this match too.
Kurt Angle makes the announcement no one wants to hear. I’m still hoping there’s a swerve at Mania where Angle squashes Corbin and then we get a real match that doesn’t suck. But Chad Gable getting a dream match on Raw is a nice moment.
The match was perfectly fine, would’ve been better with some more time to put together a bigger story and if Angle was 5 years younger, but for what we have to work with, I’m not mad.
This whole Sasha/Bayley/Divas of Doom/Samoan Slaughterhouse…I don’t care. Sasha and Bayley are great, but I have no nostalgic love for Beth Phoenix, Nattie is a charisma vacuum and the Samoans…ugh. Though I agree Nia is prettier than Beth, everything involving these women was painful.
Is it sad I look forward to Mojo screaming at a mirror? He’s one of the more consistent moments that haven’t sucked last few weeks.
Ricochet and Jinder are a prime example of the problem with WWE lately. Jinder has done nothing and most people don’t like or care about him, so fans disengage. Ricochet has no personality. All people know is he can do cool flippy stuff, but you know nothing else…unless you count not being able to cut a promo. So yeah, the crowd was so quiet I thought it was a Japanese show.
Another announcement of a largely worthless but WWE specific award we are supposed to care about. Neat.
Dana died, that’s the summation. Then we got Ronda’s husband laying out security and scooping her up with one arm cause he’s mammoth.
God even Batista’s promo was hard to watch cause Cole was so lame. Batista tried to carry it with tone changes and generally bad ass comments, but it just came off as not saying much.
Hey this was a solid match, and a rather meh episode at least rewarded people who didn’t click away or fall asleep. Rollins falls for the old wrestling trope of faces are weak to entrance music. It’s basically a Pokemon game. *Heel used Rival’s Entrance Music* *Super Effective! Face is confused!* *Heel uses Finisher* *Face Fainted*
Overall Score: 5.5/10
Average, meh, whatever you really want to call it. A few storylines moved forward, a lot of wheel spinning happened but at least Drew went over in the main event. So nothing was awful, but it was just a ton of apathetic…and just pathetic moments.
Expected a little more from a show 20 days out from WrestleMania.
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- IIconics vs Bayley & Sasha Banks: Peyton wins via Dirty Pin – * ¾
- Gauntlet Match: **** 1/4
- Kofi Kingston vs Sheamus: Kingston wins via Trouble in Paradise
- Kofi Kingston vs Cesaro: Kofi wins via S.O.S.
- Kofi Kingston vs Rowan: Kofi wins via DQ
- Kofi Kingston vs Samoa Joe: Kofi wins via Cradle
- Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton: Kofi wins via Roll-Up
- Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan: Bryan wins via Knee Plus
Miz is tremendous. This was one of the most impassioned promos he’s ever given and the crowd reacted correctly. Face Miz could really be where the money is at. Great way to start off the show.
Boss and Hug show up to actually answer the IIconics, go figure. The match is non-title and the IIconics pick up a cheeky win, so I guess we’re on the road for a 4 way…or maybe even more…ugh. We’re on the way towards a mess, that’s what we have to look forward to.
Dominick is so much taller than Rey…maybe Eddie really was his father.
KO Show was actually funny. Owens is great and playing them against each other to egg on the brawl, while being mindful of his position so he moves stuff and gets out of the ring. It was all great.
Kofi and Sheamus would’ve been a damn solid match alone, let alone kicking off the gauntlet. The sight gag of more and more faces crowding around the TV to watch was actually cool. The gauntlet played out really well, Rowan purposely getting DQ’d to inflict more damage with weapons made perfect sense as well. Just really really great stuff. Kofi beat the original 5 and then Vince continues to screw Kofi by adding Daniel Bryan at the end. So it’s all good story telling, a really good gauntlet and generally just great way to cap off the show. It was a gut punch to people rooting for Kofi, but also another wrinkle to overcome with a few more weeks til Mania.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Great show. SmackDown is the shining light of hope for WWE main roster. The promos, the stories, the wrestling, just everything flows better and feels more organic. It really does baffle me that there have to be similar people shared on the production teams between shows…and SmackDown feels like a completely foreign animal sometimes.
So even though I think Raw did beat SmackDown twice this year, when SmackDown isn’t slacking for a week it tends to blow Raw out of the water.
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