(Photo Credits: India Today)
History was made, streaks were broken, and friendships ended and brutal rivalries were ignited. WWE’s 2018 was an eventful year packed with action, drama, historic success and controversies of a global scale.
However, these extreme highs and lows are the things that make professional wres…no, pardon my insolence, sports entertainment such a unique and ever exciting spectacle.
So now that the year has almost come to a close, let us closely inspect the ups and downs that Vince McMahon’s WWE went through in the year 2018.
HIGH: The Complete Evolution of the Women’s Division
For the longest time, WWE’s attempt at a Women’s Evolution felt more like a systematic promotional ploy to yield more profits than a genuine struggle for equality in their roster.
However, with the dynamism of the current women’s roster, the earth shattering debut of Ronda Rousey and the emergence of The Man – Becky Lynch, has certainly proved that 2018 was the year where WWE absolved itself of it’s past sins.
The year saw an entire list filled with “first-ever” events that saw participation from the lasses of the WWE.
Furthermore, the first-ever all women’s pay-per-view – Evolution – received critical acclaim and mainstream attention from various prestigious media houses and sports journalists.
Definitely a high.
LOW: Roman Reigns’ Exit from the WWE
Love him or hate him, one cannot deny the fact that Roman Reigns has a humongous and remarkable presence within the WWE.
For the past 4 years Reigns, widely regarded as Vince McMahon’s Chosen One, has found himself in a spot that was once occupied by names like Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and John Cena.
This larger than life spot has been a blessing and a curse for the Big Dog for the longest time. Fans did not rally in support for him when he went over their favorite wrestlers and main evented pay-per-views regularly.
Reigns was booked to attain some of the biggest achievements a Superstar could have in the WWE and yet, the WWE Universe booed him out of the building despite him being a babyface.
However, on the October 22nd episode of Monday Night RAW, the Big Dog came out to the ring and announced that he’s been battling leukemia for the past 11 years. Reigns, who was the Universal Champion at the time, relinquished his title and announced that he’d be taking an indefinite leave of absence to resume his battle against the disease.
Following this announcement the entire pro-wrestling community came together to support and send out their best wishes to the Big Dog – and just like that, all the negative feeling towards him from the audience melted away.
HIGH: The Saudi Arabia and FOX Deals
Cue Shane O’ Mac’s theme song because here comes the money!
In 2018, WWE signed a big multi-year deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that eventually produced two mega-shows in the country – The Greatest Royal Rumble in April and Crown Jewel in November.
This deal made the WWE a lot of profit and even proved to be beneficial for the Superstars involved in both the mega-events.
Although it also generated a lot of controversy (which we’ll talk about soon) and landed the company in a tight spot, it ultimately became a source of heavy income for the WWE for the years to come.
In addition to the deal with KSA, WWE also signed a whooping billion-dollar deal with FOX and gave them the TV rights to air SmackDown LIVE starting October 2019.
The globally famous TV Network will be the new home of the blue show on Friday Nights. With FOX, WWE has the opportunity to once again gain significant attention from the casual fans and have an increase in their TV Ratings.
LOW: The Crown Jewel Fiasco
WWE found itself in between a political controversy that involved the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the USA.
After the death of journalist Jammal Khashoggi, whose murder in KSA was said to have been politically motivated, the WWE was asked to cancel it’s pay-per-view that was scheduled to take place in the country around the same time.
However, WWE still went ahead with the show and as a result, received a lot of criticism and backlash from everywhere.
Company stalwarts like John Cena and Daniel Bryan also protested and backed out of their respective matches due to the controversy that surrounded the pay-per-view.
To no one’s surprise, WWE’s stock prices took a major hit after this fiasco. The show itself received a lot of negative reviews, even with a blockbuster main event tag match between the teams of Triple H and Shawn Michaels and Kane and the Undertaker.
HIGH: The NXT Takeover
If there’s one thing that this year has made crystal clear then it’s that NXT is the place to be.
Takeover after Takeover, the yellow brand has outperformed its red and blue counterparts with its compelling storylines and breathtaking match-ups.
In 2018 alone, NXT has put up three matches that have received “5-star” ratings from The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
The current roster of the yellow brand is stacked with the who’s who of the independent circuit from all around the world.
Furthermore, 2018 also saw the inauguration of NXT UK, the British branch of WWE’s esteemed developmental brand.
NXT is going from strength to strength – and if it is a sign of things to come (when Triple H eventually takes over from Vince McMahon), the fans will enjoy every bit of the ride.
LOW: Major Decline in TV Ratings
Unfortunately, 2018 has also been the year where the ratings have reached an all-time low.
Currently, RAW and SmackDown both suffer from record low ratings. Audiences cannot be blamed for not tuning into the weekly episodes of these shows because their quality is downright obnoxious.
The good thing is, the head honchos of the company are now clearly worried about the situation and are taking some efforts to overcome this problem.
If this leads to a better product, then it is a win for all.
All in all, 2018 was a sweet disaster…like it should be in pro wrestling,
Let us hope that 2019 brings out top-notch entertainment paired with some historic moments that’d keep us, the wrestling fans, satiated.