It’s straightforward to be destructive and important of the WWE product. All of us need the product to be higher. I’ve by no means been the sort of man to be that whiner, although. If I used to be, then I wouldn’t be a WWE fan for over 30 years and a man that has written concerning the enterprise for 20 years. I all the time attempt to discover the positives in every part as a result of it retains me going in all features of my life. At present, in the spirit of American Thanksgiving, I would like to be constructive about WWE by making a listing of some things I’m thankful for as a part of the WWE Universe.
Contemplate this one thing of a look again at WWE in 2018 as nicely as some things that excite me concerning the future. The order doesn’t matter. It’s simply a take a look at 18 things I’m thankful for as a WWE fan. Why 18? As a result of it’s 2018. Easy sufficient, proper? Let’s get to it.
1. The rise of Becky Lynch as Smackdown Ladies’s Champion and a major occasion degree performer
Who else? I do know I stated the order doesn’t matter, however I had to start this column speaking concerning the Smackdown Ladies’s Champion, “The Man” Becky Lynch. It sucks that she is on the shelf proper now with a damaged nostril (or “broken face” as WWE referred to as it) and a concussion, however everyone knows she’ll be again quickly.
It’s been a pleasure to watch Becky go from simply one other face on the Smackdown model that was racking up wins over the summer time to the most effective general characters in the corporate. Lynch didn’t all the time get the promo time or the eye that she deserved. At SummerSlam, when she turned on Charlotte Aptitude after failing to win the Smackdown Ladies’s Title, Lynch obtained the ovation from the followers that she had earned. Since then, Lynch turned Smackdown Ladies’s Champion for the second time and the ovations grew. Not solely that, however the followers chant “Becky” for her even when she’s not on the present! That’s some good star energy.
I feel a case might be made that Lynch is WWE’s Celebrity of the Yr, and that features the lads. The truth that she had top-of-the-line matches of the yr with Charlotte Aptitude at Evolution solely helps her case. I hope the momentum continues all the best way to subsequent yr’s WrestleMania and a match with Ronda Rousey.
2. The limitless potential of Velveteen Dream
It might be too early to predict who will be WWE’s wrestler of the yr in the subsequent decade, however based mostly on those that labored for the corporate proper now, the identify Velveteen Dream comes to thoughts. The rising star that debuted on WWE TV on Robust Sufficient (utilizing his actual identify Patrick Clark) two years in the past is just 23 years previous and almost gained the NXT Title this previous Saturday. Each time I watch him wrestle, I’m impressed by how good he’s for his age. Nearly as good as he’s proper now, he’s solely going to get higher as a result of in the wrestling enterprise, you get higher with repetition.
The rationale Dream is so profitable is that he understands it’s necessary to get your character over as a lot as your work in the ring. Should you simply go on the market having nice matches, that’s wonderful, however you want to do extra. Dream elicits large reactions from the followers as a result of he’s in a position to pull off extravagant seems whether or not he’s dressing like Prince from 30 years in the past or like Hollywood Hulk Hogan from 20 years in the past.
There are not any limitations on how far Dream can go. If he’s not a important roster important eventer in the subsequent three years, I’ll be very stunned. It’d occur before that.
three. The New Day remaining a workforce with no indicators of breaking apart
It has been 4 years since WWE determined to pair up three wrestlers to type a group recognized as The New Day. The trio of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Huge E began off as faces, morphed into annoying heels, after which turned so in style that they’ve been locked in as faces for the final two years. Alongside the best way, they’ve gone on to win 5 Tag Staff Titles and have proven no indicators of slowing down.
The rationale I needed to embrace them in right here is as a result of it’s uncommon to see a profitable secure final 4 years with out having any issues or teases of a cut up. It looks like yearly, followers will marvel when is Massive E going to get that huge singles push or when will all of them turn into singles wrestlers once more? It doesn’t seem to be occurring any time quickly and I feel that’s nice. The group is superior collectively, so I hope it continues for years to come. Let this be that uncommon wrestling secure that doesn’t break up. It can solely add their legacy if they’re in a position to proceed as a group properly into the subsequent decade.
four. Drew McIntyre’s rise to major occasion standing on Uncooked
It was round a decade in the past when Vince McMahon stood in the ring and proclaimed that Drew McIntyre was going to be a World Champion in WWE. Should you have been watching on the time, you in all probability keep in mind the “Chosen One” nickname as McIntyre racked up wins over WWE midcarders. He didn’t attain that important occasion degree and in 2014, after a failed run in the comedy group recognized as 3MB, Drew was gone from WWE.
McIntyre re-invented himself on the indy scene and have become one thing of “Scottish psychopath,” as WWE likes to name him. In 2017, Drew was again in WWE as a part of NXT, he turned the NXT Champion and after an damage, he re-joined the primary roster earlier this yr on Uncooked. Now at 33 years previous in the prime of his profession, McIntyre is poised to break via as a essential occasion wrestler and turn into a WWE Champion (or Common Champion) subsequent yr. Give him a lot of credit score for busting his ass to attain that degree after the place he was 4 years in the past. It’s superior to see the emergence of McIntyre.
Shoutout to Dolph Ziggler as properly for feeling recent once more on the Uncooked roster thanks in half to his pairing with McIntyre. They work nicely collectively.
5. The greatness of NXT Takeover occasions
One of the best exhibits that WWE places on yearly are NXT Takeover occasions. This yr, there have been 5 of them with Philadelphia in January, New Orleans in April, Chicago in June, Brooklyn in August, and WarGames (Los Angeles) this previous Sunday. It was the perfect yr in Takeover historical past, which is saying a lot as a result of years like 2015 and 2016 had some excellent exhibits too. This previous June, I wrote about why Takeover occasions are the perfect product that WWE has to supply and I keep that opinion in the present day.
For those who’re not watching NXT often, what’s incorrect with you? No less than be sure to are watching the Takeover occasions. It ought to be a precedence as a WWE fan as a result of it’s a peek into what the way forward for the primary roster goes to seem like and the exhibits are higher than the primary roster on a constant foundation.
6. The constant greatness of Seth Rollins on Uncooked and AJ Types on Smackdown
In case you have been to ask me who one of the best general male performers are on WWE’s roster proper now, it will be robust to decide only one as a result of two guys stand on prime of their respective mountain. On Uncooked, it’s present Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins and on Smackdown, it’s former WWE Champion AJ Types. They’ve nice matches extra typically than anyone else and I feel typically their consistency is missed. They’re the most effective in the present day, however they’re additionally in a position to carry out at a excessive degree that may make the all-time greats proud.
You understand what I might love at WrestleMania subsequent yr? Seth Rollins vs. AJ Types. It could possibly be like Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21 in 2005 when Shawn was a Uncooked man and Kurt was a Smackdown man. They used the Royal Rumble to set it up. On this case, it will be between two prime faces. Rollins might be busy with Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania, however I’d relatively see Rollins vs. Types on the grandest stage of all of them.
7. Ronda Rousey’s means to have good matches so early in her WWE profession
One of many largest tales in WWE this yr is the arrival of Ronda Rousey on the Royal Rumble and her emergence as a good wrestler very early in her WWE profession. When Rousey debuted on the Rumble, it wasn’t that a lot of a shock as a result of her UFC profession appeared to be over. At WrestleMania, when Rousey greater than held her personal with Kurt Angle in a victory over Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, she impressed a lot of individuals. It was arguably the most effective match at WrestleMania, which is unimaginable for a lady in her first match. Did they follow and put together for it for months? Positive they did and that helped a lot, however its’s nonetheless up to her to execute it.
Rousey went on to win the Uncooked Ladies’s Title at SummerSlam, which was not a lot of a shock as a result of WWE needs to push her as the face of the ladies’s evolution. Talking of that, Rousey headlined the ladies’s solely PPV Evolution when she beat Nikki Bella and adopted that up with a rivalry with Becky Lynch that ought to lead them to WrestleMania subsequent yr.
To sum all of it up, Rousey has been a pleasure to watch and has gained over the WWE Universe due to her arduous work. It helps that she can also be a real wrestling fan moderately than anyone that’s simply doing it as a result of it’s a good paycheck. Rousey ought to proceed to get higher in the months and years forward too.
eight. The affordability of WWE Community
That is a type of things that I convey up every time I’ve to cope with a WWE fan that bitches and moans about a pay-per-view type occasion. If the occasion is dangerous, it frustrates me too, however the constructive factor about it’s that WWE Community is ridiculously low cost. I feel we’re possible overlooking that it solely prices $9.99 (that’s US dollars), contemplating we used to pay anyplace from $40 to $50 for a common PPV occasion. If there was no WWE Community proper now, WrestleMania would in all probability value $75 or extra on PPV. Who needs to pay that?
We’re spoiled by the worth that works out to be about 33 cents per day, particularly when you think about the large archives which might be included. I’m at present going by means of a interval the place I’m watching and writing about each present from my favourite WWE yr ever in 2000. It’s a blast to watch it once more. If this was a decade in the past, I might have had to order the DVDs off some dude on Ebay. Now, I can do it at my very own comfort.
Subsequent yr might see a change in WWE Community with tiered pricing for much more content material, so we’ll see in the event that they do it. It’s been rumored for a few years. The $9.99 worth isn’t altering, although, so I feel we should always take a second to be thankful for how low cost it’s.
9. Daniel Bryan as WWE Champion once more
On January fifth, I wrote an article proper right here on The Comeback about Daniel Bryan’s wrestling future, which was a massive matter going into the yr. In March, he was cleared to wrestle once more, then about a month in the past, he re-signed with WWE and earlier this month, he turned WWE Champion for the fifth time. It’s an unimaginable story that makes me happier than something that has occurred this yr.
Should you would have informed me again in January that in December, we might get a heel Daniel Bryan as WWE Champion dealing with off towards AJ Types at TLC in a few weeks, I might have advised you that you simply have been loopy. I didn’t assume Bryan would ever flip heel once more, however after his promo on Smackdown this week, I like it already. I’m so enthusiastic about his future.
Will I all the time be apprehensive concerning the well being of Daniel Bryan? Completely, as a result of I’m a fan of his. I’m additionally going to smile once I watch him as a result of I do know he’s dwelling his dream once more. Fortunate for us, we get to watch him cement his legacy as he does it.
10. Paige discovering happiness and success as Smackdown GM after retiring at a younger age
One of many saddest tales this yr was the information of Paige not having the ability to wrestle due to a critical neck damage. She stood in the ring at 25 years previous (she’s 26 now) on the Uncooked after WrestleMania to inform the world she will’t wrestle anymore. It was robust for us to watch and harder for her to say. It’s all she has recognized in her life. The subsequent night time, she turned the Basic Supervisor of Smackdown Reside. Since then, she has completed a nice job in the position as a result of she’s a nice talker that doesn’t mess up her strains. Plus, being popular with the followers definitely helps her trigger.
As well as to her position as the GM of Smackdown, Paige has additionally launched a profitable style enterprise at TheSarayaStore.com as nicely. There’s additionally a film about her life referred to as “Fighting with My Family” produced by The Rock and WWE that’s popping out in February, so she’ll get a lot of consideration for that. I’m very completely satisfied for her.
11. The rise of Japanese wrestlers in WWE…although it might have been even higher
It was a nice yr for Japanese wrestlers in WWE. The obvious picks to win the Royal Rumble matches have been Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka. Each ending up profitable, which had a lot of individuals excited. Sadly, Nakamura failed to win the WWE Title and Asuka failed to win the Smackdown Ladies’s Title. I don’t assume it’s truthful to say that that they had disappointing years, however I want they have been booked higher.
As well as to Nakamura and Asuka on the primary roster, I’m actually impressed by Kairi Sane in NXT. She will be a massive star very quickly in the event that they play to her strengths, which is promoting as a babyface and making these spectacular comebacks. One other Japanese NXT wrestler named Io Shirai goes to flip some heads subsequent yr too. I’m glad that WWE are using Japanese wrestlers higher than ever. Right here’s hoping they work out how to use Asuka the suitable method, although. She wants a greater position.
12. The distinctive attributes that Ricochet brings to the desk that separates him from everyone else
In the event you requested me to listing my favorites wrestlers in WWE proper now, I’d in all probability rattle off a number of the extra widespread names like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and AJ Types, however then there’s additionally one different man close to the highest of the listing: Ricochet. The high-flyer that debuted in WWE earlier in this yr after wrestling everywhere in the world for a decade has taken NXT by storm as the North American Champion. This previous Saturday at Takeover WarGames, he did this double moonsault off a cage onto the others in the ring that was unimaginable. We’ve all seen the unimaginable work of men like Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy, however Ricochet takes it to one other degree.
The 30-year-old Ricochet ought to be a primary occasion expertise on Uncooked or Smackdown inside the subsequent two years. If that doesn’t occur then anyone received it flawed. This man is just too good to not be showcased as among the best general performers in WWE. Does he have to work on promos a bit? Positive, however he’s ok proper now. Push this man, WWE. He’s going to be a draw when it comes to bringing in new followers as a result of individuals will need to tune in to see what he does subsequent.
13. The model extension continues
When WWE began the model extension 2.zero in July of 2016, it was as a result of USA Community needed to make Smackdown a stay present on Tuesday nights. It was additionally as a result of the WWE is ridiculously giant with over 200 wrestlers underneath contract, in case you rely the primary roster and developmental. There simply isn’t sufficient time for everyone. Even with the manufacturers being cut up into two, you can make a case that over 80% of the roster is underused.
The best way I’m placing a constructive spin on it’s by saying thanks to WWE for maintaining the model extension lively. I actually hope it doesn’t go away as a result of they want it to proceed due to how many individuals they make use of as lively wrestlers. If it have been to finish, that may imply we might get the identical individuals on each exhibits, which suggests even much less time for the midcarders and tag groups that want a probability to exhibit what they will do.
What I didn’t like this yr was WWE deciding to merge the Uncooked and Smackdown expertise on each pay-per-view occasion. I do know that it makes things simpler for them, however I feel it hurts the wrestlers as a result of it means much less wrestlers will be on the most important PPV exhibits.
14. Smackdown remaining a two-hour present with no plans to run longer than that
An enormous story that passed off this previous Might was when it was introduced that Fox goes to pay WWE over $1 billion in the subsequent 5 years to air Smackdown reside on Friday nights. Not solely was it a big leap in cash for WWE, however additionally they get to go from being on cable to USA Community to one of many massive 4 networks.
The information additionally meant that Smackdown will stay two hours, in contrast to the three-hour runtime that Uncooked has on USA Community. To me, that was the most effective information in all of this as a result of I used to be apprehensive that USA Community or another community would pay WWE a lot of cash to make Smackdown three hours. I’m glad that didn’t occur as a result of Uncooked is just too lengthy at three hours whereas Smackdown feels good at two hours.
It’s going to be very fascinating to see how WWE promotes Smackdown come subsequent October when that huge Fox contract kicks in.
15. Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves on commentary
There are a lot of excellent announcers in WWE proper now, however my two favorites are NXT’s most important play by play man Mauro Ranallo and the Uncooked/Smackdown heel announcer Corey Graves. Regardless that they’re my two favorites, these males aren’t presently engaged on the identical present collectively. Most of WWE’s different announcers do a good job. I don’t thoughts Michael Cole (Uncooked) or Tom Phillips (Smackdown) as play by play guys. I’m additionally completely satisfied Renee Younger is full time on Uncooked too. I simply really feel like Ranallo and Graves are the perfect proper now, so I needed to shine the highlight on them a bit.
Ranallo brings the type of pleasure that you really want to hear on any wrestling or sports activities present. The identify that comes to thoughts in the sports activities world is Gus Johnson, who primarily does school soccer on Fox today, however actually made a identify for himself doing school basketball video games on CBS. Ranallo is like Johnson in phrases of being excessive in a means that doesn’t annoy you. He comes throughout as a fan that loves the enterprise as a result of that’s what Mauro is. Proper now, Ranallo is WWE’s NXT announcer and can probably stay in that position as a result of that’s what’s snug for him. If he was in a position to step up to the primary roster once more that might be nice, but when not, that’s advantageous too as a result of he’s good for NXT.
As for Graves, I’m thankful for him as a result of he’s the closest factor this period of wrestling has to a Bobby Heenan or Jerry Lawler sort of heel announcer that’s going to aspect with the dangerous guys whereas everyone else helps the dangerous guys. Graves doesn’t aspect with the heels as a lot as Heenan or Lawler did, however in most matches he’ll aspect with them. It’s necessary to have that stability. Graves additionally provides humor to the printed, nevertheless it’s unfair to examine him to Heenan in that regard as a result of I feel that “The Brain” was the funniest man in wrestling historical past. With that stated, I’ve an appreciation for what Graves does and his potential to be sharp even throughout 5 hours of stay TV each week as properly as 4 hour PPV broadcasts.
16. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa as the guts and soul of NXT
Johnny Gargano and present NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa actually stood out this yr whether or not it was in their matches towards eachother or towards others. The match high quality is thru the roof every time they’re wrestling at a Takeover. Gargano’s match with then-NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas at NXT Takeover Philadelphia was the primary match of the yr contender. He adopted that up with three extra towards Ciampa in New Orleans, Chicago, and Brooklyn. When Gargano had “Johnny Takeover” on his tights at this previous Saturday’s WarGames, it was sensible as a result of the nickname matches him completely. He has grow to be Mr. Takeover this yr identical to he was in the previous when he teamed with Ciampa as the #DIY tag workforce.
As for Ciampa, he is among the greatest heels in the corporate and backs it up in the ring as nicely. Whether or not he’s towards Gargano, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, or anyone else, you already know Ciampa goes to ship a memorable efficiency. Like Gargano, he’s not a massive dude as a result of he wrestles at round 200 kilos, however they each carry themselves like superstars and get the reactions that any wrestler would need. Ciampa is a lot of enjoyable as the present NXT Champion with the championship, which he calls “Goldie” as his prized possession.
There are such a lot of different greats on the NXT proper now whether or not it’s Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, Ricochet, Pete Dunne, The Undisputed Period or the ladies’s division led by Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane. Nevertheless, the leaders in 2018 have been Gargano and Ciampa. What a spectacular yr it’s been. Ought to they go to the primary roster? Part of me says sure, however I feel they might be nice in NXT for nearly all of their careers too.
17. The preventing spirit of Roman Reigns
When Roman Reigns stood in the ring on October 22 version of Uncooked to inform the world that his leukemia got here again, it broke my coronary heart. I do know I’m not the one one, as a result of even Roman’s harshest critics really feel sympathy for a man that has busted his ass for the previous six years in WWE as one among their largest names.
I’m thankful for Roman’s braveness at a time when everyone would have understood if he simply stayed at residence with out addressing what occurred. He didn’t have to go in the ring to pour his coronary heart out to the world. The truth that he did it exhibits that he needs to assist others and encourage individuals which will be coping with leukemia or another type of sickness.
Roman isn’t going to hand over. He’s going to proceed to battle. I respect him a lot. I want him good well being and happiness shifting ahead together with his life. If he’s in a position to wrestle once more in the future that might be nice, however all I actually need is for him to reside a regular life together with his household.
18. The true evolution of girls’s wrestling
This yr in WWE, there was the primary ever ladies’s Royal Rumble, ladies’s Elimination Chamber match and naturally, the Evolution pay-per-view in October that I assumed was one of the best PPV of the yr. For the previous 4 years, WWE has been shoving the phrases “women’s revolution” and “women’s evolution” down our throats. That is the yr the place they actually proved it by giving their ladies’s wrestlers the highlight that they deserve.
Subsequent yr, the ladies’s evolution may go to that subsequent degree that was thought to be inconceivable. I’m speaking about WrestleMania and the potential of Becky Lynch dealing with Ronda Rousey in the primary occasion. It’s the match that ought to be the primary occasion and if it’s not, I’ll be very stunned as a result of that’s the match the followers need greater than anything.
That’s all for this column taking a look at every little thing we should always be thankful for as WWE followers. I do know things can be robust typically when making an attempt towatch WWE programming, however it’s essential to keep in mind the great things and why you turned a fan in the primary place. Glad Thanksgiving.