With 2017 in the rear view and 2018 just beginning, it’s difficult to say who, among the active roster members of SmackDown Live is going to elevate themselves to megastar status. That said, it’s still fun to make early predictions.
There are some early signs that certain WWE Superstars on the blue brand are going to have a big year. Some had lousy 2017’s and others did much better but that all can change in a matter of a few shows and things in the WWE never stay stagnant.
Will AJ Styles stay the bright light of SmackDown Live or will a guy whose star is starting to shine take his place? Here are five wrestlers we think will be the focus of 2018 for SmackDown Live and give Tuesday nights a chance to compete as the premiere show for the WWE.
Something happened at the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 that is, simply, quite amazing. One of the most underutilized and unappreciated talents in the WWE found a way to get noticed. Rusev stumbled upon “Rusev Day” and the fans got to see a side of the former “Bulgarian Brute” that they’ve fallen in love with. The WWE has recognized what’s going on and look to finally be behind him.
If Rusev isn’t made into a joke with this gimmick, expect him to have a huge year. Who would have thought the way Rusev would get over is by being goofy a la New Day.
4. The Bludgeon Brothers
The tag division is going to be owned by Rowan and Harper for 2018. The first month will be the team just plowing through other teams that aren’t up to their level, but as the year rolls along, they’ll get some better competition and they’ll seemingly destroy their opponents there too.
WWE is looking to create a new team that is hands-down stronger and more impressive than any other in the past few years. The Bludgeon Brothers might be it and if so, look out. Right now, there’s no team that can even compete. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts. Since this list is about “wrestler” of the year and not “wrestlers”, we’ll pick Harper as the standout.
3. Chad Gable
As of late, Chad Gable has been putting on a display of in-ring magic and if he’s given an opportunity, could have a very big year in 2018. He’s got the look, the skills, a decent ability to talk and he’s, in many ways, a spitting image of Kurt Angle in his heyday.
If the cards fall right, he’ll either be one-half of the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions or he’ll get an opportunity with the U.S. Title.
2. AJ Styles
He won WWE’s “Wrestler of the Year” award in 2017 and there is a good chance he does so again in 2018. He’s going into the year as the WWE Champion and he should hold onto the title through the Royal Rumble and into WrestleMania where he’ll have a marquee matchup with a strong opponent.
There is nobody putting on better matches right now than Styles and there is still a strong assortment of matches he can have that WWE can label “dream matches”. Expect the “Phenomenal One’ to have another huge year.
1. Daniel Bryan
If, and this is a big if, Daniel Bryan is cleared to wrestle, he will immediately become the top priority for SmackDown Live and potentially all of WWE. There was no one more popular than Bryan and if he gets even five matches out of the 2018 calendar year, they will be some of the WWE’s biggest matches with the most power to draw in viewers.
He would win the WWE Title in what would likely be an epic match between he and AJ Styles and the “Yes” Movement would be in full effect. But, Bryan’s ability to wrestle again is still up in the air. His active role right now will make him one to watch as he is much more actively involved in the main event storyline than he ever has been since becoming general manager.
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