It looks like 2018 could herald some big changes for the E’. With Vince McMahon’s attention occupied on launching new broadcasting endeavors outside of wrestling, the stage might be set for some radical changes to emerge from the vacuum of creative control left in his wake. With some hotly anticipated as-yet-unseen matchups and burgeoning talent owed a shot at the title belts, the stage could be set for some fireworks as long as creative doesn’t leave fans with so many damp squibs. With the 25th anniversary of Raw under the company’s belt, now could be the time to drag the franchise into the present.
NXT Call Ups Stabilise
Whilst a little optimistic, 2018 could well be the year the E’ figures out how to pay Paul without robbing Peter. The fallout from the 2016 Brand Extension is still evident, as Bayley and Balor continue to flounder in the face of being overtaxed towards no appreciable end goal.
However, NXT itself is looking strong as it’s ever been at the moment, and if management can hold back from uprooting up and comers before they’ve been allowed to realize their developmental growth, the synergy between the two promotions could prove mutually beneficial.
The Network Hike Their Prices
Vince McMahon’s financial maneuvering has gone into overdrive recently. He’s apparently sold of some of his WWE shares to the tune in something of the region of $100 million , ostensibly to raise the money to start up Alpha Entertainment LLC, which bills itself as exploring non-wrestling related commercial ventures. Trying to compete with the NFL seems as foolhardy now as it did then, even if McMahon can capitalize on the racial unrest that’s been making headlines recently.
It’s a shame because if the company succeed it could occupy Vince’s attention enough to the point where he might finally begin relinquishing primary creative control of the main product allowing some fresh ideas to see the light of day.
The Cruiserweight Division Takes its Leave
The cruiserweight division has been living in limbo practically since its inception. 205 Live has struggled to gain traction with the fans, and the whole undertaking seems to be defined by its lack of purpose and redundancy within the rest of the product. And the color purple, of course.
The talent, resources and air time could clearly be better spent elsewhere, and if NXT maintains its quality and the main roster improves, the cruiserweight division’s failings will become even more glaring.
The Undertaker Returns… Again
Taker’s slow-motion departure from the business is yet to run its course, so it’ll be fair to say he’ll probably be back at some point this year as he takes another couple of tenuous steps towards the exit door. Who he’s going to be wheeled out to prop up this year is open for speculation, but a showing against Reigns at Mania is probably on the cards.
Strowman Fails to Win a Title
Despite tearing the top of the card in 2017, Braun’s trajectory looks like it might be approaching something of a plateau this year. Following his defeat at the hands of Brock Lesnar, it seems that his title hopes are to be shelved for the time being. Much more likely is the possibility that he becomes HHH’s plaything to keep the fortunate son in the picture while “The Beast” and Reigns fulfill Vince’s big man championship quotient.
HHH Succeeds in Winning a Title
Just when fans thought Trips had managed to get out of his own way for once, Survivor Series showed the second in command putting himself back into the spotlight per his usual worst instincts. It’s looking like he’ll be hovering around the top of the card come Mania, so brace yourselves for business as usual.
Daniel Bryan Makes a Return to the Ring
Given the rumblings from Bryan himself, a return to the ring at Wrestlemania shouldn’t be ruled out. He’s voiced his ambition to wrestle again upon his release, which is a rather cunning way of putting the onus on management to ensure that, should he return, it’ll be with the E’.
There’s no shortage of rival promotions who would pay top dollar for Bryan to perform with them, and his possibly unrivaled appeal to casual fans could be far too tempting for Vince to pass out. He’s asserted multiple times that he’s got a clean bill of health to grapple again, plus his feuding as commissioner with rival Shane McMahon leaves the stage perfectly set for a dramatic return.