Steve Cook is here to set the table for WWE in 2010. What will be the biggest company’s biggest stories?
Last week, we took a look back at what I thought the top stories of 2019 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 2020. These will be the Top 5 WWE Stories of 2020.
5. The Network Tier System
Ever since WWE Network debuted in 2014, there’s been speculation of when it would be more expensive than $9.99 per month. It’s a day that I’ve been dreading, because who wants to pay more money for something? It seems to be coming in 2020, kind of. There will be three tiers: one free with the live stream on it, the $9.99 tier, and a $14.99 tier that will feature more of…something. Apparently some EVOLVE, PROGRESS & some other indy stuff, and maybe they’ll move some other shows there. It’s all speculative right now.
The problem: Network subscriptions have been going down lately anyway. The current product is turning people off, there was a good number of people that tapped out over the Saudi stuff, and technical issues have been more prevalent since they changed hosts or whatever technical thing they did. Will a relaunch with tiers help business?
4. NXT on the Move
NXT is reportedly contractually obligated to hold their Wednesday night shows at Full Sail University until the end of March. Beyond that, the debate starts. Should NXT take their TV show out on the road like everybody else does these days? On one hand, people are annoyed with the regular Full Sail crowd and some of the things they do. On the other hand, it’s easy to produce television there. It’s a generic looking venue, but it’s not a bad looking one. There’s also the fact that they don’t have a problem filling it. Will NXT weekly TV sell tickets the same way their TakeOver events do? And if they don’t, how many pictures of empty seats will we be subjected to?
I can see both sides of this argument, and I’m really interested to see which way it goes.
3. Who Will Come Back?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past several years, it’s that it pays to leave WWE. Brock Lesnar has reaped the biggest windfall from this policy, but are plenty of other part-time talents from back in the day making some serious bank working shows in foreign markets. Some of them come back full-time…Rey Mysterio went straight to main event angles after spending years outside the company. The time away made him fresh again. Heck, CM Punk came back in 2019 to be a panelist for an FS1 show. WWE wants to keep these people away from potential competitors that might have more liberal standards for clearing people to wrestle.
So who will be back in 2020? John Morrison, at some point. Edge keeps telling us he isn’t coming back, but nobody believes him. I keep waiting for Steve Austin to come back because he starts drooling whenever he hears about those Saudi show payoffs. Goldberg will probably squash somebody around WrestleMania time. And of course Undertaker will make his yearly appearance. The usage of old talent by WWE isn’t going away anytime soon. Will they be able to exploit it to its full potential?
2. The Re-Birth of the Roman Empire
Last week in the 2019 Revisited column we talked about how Roman Reigns didn’t quite have the in-ring year we’ve come to expect. He spent a lot of time tooling around in the mid-card with the likes of Shane McMahon & King Corbin. Some Shield stuff. Reigns was easing his way back into things after returning from leukemia, which is understandable. You wanna make sure everything’s going well and not quite go full-speed into the fire.
2020 feels like a different story. Reigns will be featured on FOX on New Year’s Eve. He’s the betting favorite to win the Royal Rumble. It seems like the time for the Big Dog to return to the top of the card. Will the WWE Universe approve of it this time around? Personally, I’d like to think so, but one never knows for sure.
1. Outside Distractions
I’ve always believed that a major part of the reason that the WCW/ECW Invasion failed and the Attitude Era began to tail off was the fact that Vince McMahon was consumed with too many things. At the same time all this stuff was going on, he was trying to start a football league. The XFL was a disaster that also had the effect of taking Vince’s attention off of what should have been a license to print money. While Vince could have been thinking of ideas to utilize WCW talent, he was trying to figure out how to keep the XFL up & running.
The XFL returns in 2020. Allegedly, Vince has more help this time, with Oliver Luck as the CEO & Commissioner. He’s a former NFL quarterback, his son is named Andrew, he has experience in the sports executive field. Whether he needs Vince’s help or not, he’s going to get it. Do we really think a control freak like Vince isn’t going to be right in the middle of every single XFL decision? While still being right in the middle of every WWE decision? That’s a lot for a man of Vince’s age to handle.
Put it this way: I don’t expect the XFL to have a positive impact on WWE business-wise or creatively. Unless Vince completely goes away from the wrestling side and the young folks get some time to build things…but that sounds highly unlikely.
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