After WrestleMania 34, the rest of 2018 is going to be monumental. Seriously, there are signs that WWE is in for their most important year since quite a while. Not only will it be an important year for WWE but professional wrestling as a whole is about to embark on a truly interesting and industry-changing period. Nothing this important has happened since WCW and ECW closed down in 2001.
Whether these changes are good or bad for wrestling will be anyone's guess. Most likely, some will be great for wrestling whereas others will be terrible. One thing is for sure though, wrestling is in its hottest period in over a decade and a half and there are no signs that will slow down anytime soon.
One of the themes which kept popping up while researching this article is that WWE faces more competition now than ever before. Granted, they are in a far better position to deal with competition now than they were when Ted Turner ran WCW. WWE has enough money that it would take something truly disastrous to cause them to go out of business (such things happen, however) but all the same, WWE will face more competition in 2018 than they have since they won the Monday Night War. Here are 15 which will dramatically change WWE after WrestleMania 34.
15 Main Roster Superstars to NXT
Late last year, Triple H told NBC Sports that we might see more WWE main roster Superstars sent to NXT in the near future. The idea here would be to give developmental prospects more veterans to work with and also give main roster Superstars who have grown stale a chance to freshen up their character.
14 Brock Lesnar Leaves WWE for UFC
Granted, we have seen this scenario play out before. Brock Lesnar gets down to the last few months of his current deal with WWE and all of a sudden the rumors start circulating that he could return to the UFC. It's easy to assume those rumors have been planted by Lesnar's team (cough* Paul Heyman cough) but that's what many thought last time and it turned out not to be the case.
13 Improved Cruiserweight Division With Triple H In Charge
A recent breaking story, Vince McMahon is letting go of 205 Live and giving the reigns to Triple H behind the scenes. Vince has stepped down and as of the writing, Hunter is now in charge of the program. That alone is huge and a big step towards the re-launch of the brand.
2017 was a rough year for the Cruiserweight division. First, they lost Austin Aries shortly after WrestleMania, then they gained Enzo and lost Neville, and then they lost Enzo as well. It's gone about as poorly as could possibly be imagined.
12 Final Deletion Style Segments
While some fans are growing impatient at the pace of which Matt Hardy's storylines are developing in WWE, Hardy has assured the WWE Universe that "Final Deletion" style matches and segments will debut in WWE later this year. It's possible we see the first one at WrestleMania but that's purely speculation.
11 Vince McMahon Focused on Football
While the XFL won't debut until 2020, some are wondering how much time Vince McMahon will take away from WWE to work on his new football project.
It's tough to know what impact Vince's new company will have on the current WWE product. Some feel Vince being away will have a massive impact on WWE programming and will lead to increased influence from Triple H. Despite being Vince McMahon's son-in-law, Triple H has a more old-school and traditional style of wrestling booking than Vince does, as evidenced by his work with NXT. Some feel that Triple H would be an improvement over Vince McMahon and are looking forward to him having more creative control.
Triple H has made no secret that he feels Ricochet is a can't miss addition to his NXT. Expect him to be put in a position to shine on TakeOver events for the rest of the year, at least.
What might disappoint some initially is that we are not going to get the Ricochet we've seen in New Japan Pro Wrestling or from Lucha Underground. WWE's developmental program will want him to tone his style down considerably. He'll be given long matches, however, with plenty of time to have amazing matches. Imagine Ricochet against Adam Cole or Aleister Black? He'll still do all his amazing moves, it's just Triple H will make sure he does them when it matters most.
9 Lengthy Roman Reigns Title Run
Brace yourselves. The time is now for the lengthy Roman Reigns Universal Championship run that Vince McMahon has been building towards for years. Reigns is his chosen guy and he's going to get him over no matter how much the fans boo him.
8 Part-Time John Cena
After WrestleMania, we won't see much of John Cena for a while. He's got some projects in Hollywood he wants to work on and now in his 40s, he's looking to reduce his schedule further. This means a lot of things, obviously. Cena has occupied the most visible spot on the roster for the last decade plus. In recent years, he's been sharing that spotlight more and more with Roman Reigns and now that Cena is moving into a more part-time position, Reigns is supposed to be the next in line at the top of the pecking order.
7 Triple H Gains Backstage Power
Triple H and Vince McMahon have different takes when it comes to the WWE product. Vince McMahon is the king of sports entertainment but Triple H is more of a traditional wrestling guy. He grew up idolizing Ric Flair and was trained by Killer Kowalski. His wrestling influence is evident in NXT, which seems to be booked with a much more traditional style than what is shown on the main roster.
6 Daniel Bryan Leaves to Wrestle Again
This is a tough one. If Bryan is healthy enough to continue wrestling like he says he is, then maybe it's good he wrestles again if that's what he wants to do. On the other hand, if it isn't safe for him to wrestle, then let's hope he doesn't end up doing so. It's really tough to know what to think of the idea that Bryan will leave WWE to go wrestle somewhere else.
5 Ronda Rousey in WWE Full-Time
While her definition of full-time might differ slightly from others, Ronda Rousey is in WWE and working on what appears to be a part-timers schedule (for now). Anytime she's on the-screen means good things for WWE.
4 More Indie Connections
WWE has been doing something in recent years that they generally stay away from, helping other promotions. In the past, WWE has developed relationships with organizations such as ECW, but that hasn't been the case since they invested so much into their own developmental program, however. There are signs this is changing though.
3 UK Division Finally Gets Their Own Show
It's going to happen, it just hasn't happened as quickly as many fans would like. What WWE won't be quick to bring up in regards to this division, is that they were forced to act quicker on it than they wanted. Local promoters were looking as though they could create real competition for Vince later, so WWE jumped the gun a little locking up talent. As a result, they have guys like Oney Lorcan, Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, and more signed to contracts with no real division for them to compete in.
2 Women's Wrestling Gets Major Push
In 2018, expect WWE to try and get as much women's wrestling on-air . The belief in the company right now is that their biggest mainstream star, Ronda Rousey, is going to be competing in the women's division so it only makes sense to center their programming more so around it. This is something that has been building in the promotion for the last few years. Possibly in anticipation of the megastar coming to their company, WWE has done a lot to increase the number of women on their rosters and improve the quality of matches performed by those women in recent years.
1 Expiring TV Contract Implications
WWE's television contract expires in 2019 which means they will be in negotiations for a new deal starting later this year. To ensure their company gets the best deal they possibly can get, expect Vince McMahon and WWE to go all out for the remainder of the year to ensure that ratings are high.
A Vince McMahon program that is motivated by ratings is a big win for the WWE Universe. We've all seen what Vince McMahon can do when he's motivated to boost ratings in the short-term. This is the guy who won the Monday Night War despite having less money to compete with Ted Turner for talent.
Rumors are WWE plans to negotiate not only with the USA Network but also with Fox Sports, Amazon and even Facebook as different types of companies are now looking to acquire content rights.
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