WWE is expected to undergo big changes in 2018. The changing nature of the entertainment business, the impact of social media, and global expansion all necessitate that WWE keep on their toes and change with an ever evolving world. For the most part, WWE is able to change with the times enough to remain successful in their field.
Some rumored changes the company wishes to make, stand little chance of making their product more enjoyable for fans. On the flip side though, some of the rumored changes are long overdue and will only create a more engaging and exciting product for the WWE Universe. There are numerous reasons to believe 2018 will be one of the most significant years in wrestling history. At the very least, it will be the most significant in wrestling history since the late 90s and early 2000s when the WWE's popularity was peaking.
In this article, we break down 15 different rumored changes WWE plans to make in the next calendar year. We've broken them down into eight rumored changes we hope we see and another seven that we don't.
15 True - Ronda Rousey is "Full Time"
Shortly after her debut at the 2018 Royal Rumble event, Ronda Rousey and WWE announced the former UFC Bantamweight Champion had signed a full-time contract with the company.
The inclusion of the words "full-time" drew the interest of many. Rousey then, was not in attendance for Raw or SmackDown the following nights. With Brock Lesnar and other part-timers working different schedules, it is tough to know exactly what WWE and Rousey really mean when they say she is full-time. Does this mean she will be on television weekly? Or does it mean she will pop in for only the big Pay-Per-Views? What constitutes a full-time performer in WWE these days?
At the very least, Rousey is around often enough that it brings much mainstream media attention onto the women's divisions.
14 Untrue - Paige Not Medically Cleared to Wrestle Ever Again
Recently the rumor mill stated their belief that WWE has told Paige they will never medically clear her to wrestle again. Let's hope this rumor isn't true, Paige is only 25 and should have many years ahead of her in the wrestling industry.
According to the rumor, Paige has taken such a beating on her body since taking up pro wrestling when she was 13-years old that doctors have already told her there is too much damage done to her neck for her to continue. After re-injuring her neck at a live event, WWE officials are apparently reluctant to invest in Paige as a performer, considering her high injury rate. Also according to the rumors, Paige will stick around as an on-air personality for the remainder of her contract.
13 True - Main Roster Stars to NXT
In an interview he gave to NBC sports in mid-December, Triple H indicated a potential change to NXT booking in the near future. What Triple H suggested is WWE main roster Superstars being sent down to NXT to wrestle against the developmental prospects.
WWE had done this in the past but since the yellow brand became its own TV show, they have started to move away from it in recent years. This is something that could help NXT feel more important as even though the brand is well reviewed by fans, it can still sometimes seem too minor league in terms of star power.
This is also potentially a good move for main roster Superstars who have become stale on Raw or SmackDown. Performers such as Dolph Ziggler could be sent to NXT for a few months and given a chance to freshen up their character before returning.
12 Untrue - No Love for Bayley
The rumor that WWE has given up on Bayley, which began in 2017, continues into 2018; strengthened by the fact the company has done little with her in recent months.
It only took Bayley four months to win the Raw Women's Championship on the main roster but since then it's been a swift fall down the overall rankings. Bayley's character quickly lost the title to Alexa Bliss and then fell down the card. If you believe the wrestling rumor mill, the reason she hasn't been in the title picture for so long is because WWE has given up on her.
With all the kids in the audience wearing Bayley t-shirts and cheering her on as she performs, you would think WWE would have dollar signs in their eyes in regards to her gimmick but evidently, that is not the case.
11 True - Final Deletion Match for Matt Hardy
Lots of fans that enjoyed the "Broken" Matt Hardy storyline in Impact Wrestling are growing impatient with the slower pace the story is moving at in WWE. In response to this, Hardy mentioned in an interview that such fans should be patient and that a Final Deletion style match is in the works for the WWE programming.
For those unaware, Hardy helped produce four different segments while with Impact Wrestling which focused on matches that took place at the Hardy family compound. These segments were a bizarre style wrestling match. Many fans found them to be unique, entertaining, and something they want to see in WWE as well. For the sake of these fans, we hope this rumor is true and we do get to see the likes of Senor Benjamin preparing lawns for battle.
10 Untrue - Daniel Bryan Leaves WWE
Daniel Bryan has said he plans on resuming his in-ring career when his WWE contract is up in late 2018. According to Daniel and his doctors, there is no reason he can't return to wrestling.
WWE on the other hand, are more cautious when it comes to allowing him to wrestle again. While Triple H has said they are keeping an open mind to the idea, it will ultimately be their medical team that makes the decision. Considering Bryan's history with seizures, it's not looking likely they make the call for him to be cleared.
If that is the case, then Bryan has said he will leave WWE later this year. Whether he ends up in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, or somewhere else entirely is not currently known.
9 True - Big Push for Rusev
It is believed that "Happy Rusev Day" t-shirts are flying off the shelf and WWE is interested in making Rusev a big star as a result.
WWE Shop has even recently released a "Rusev Day Calendar" which features all 365 days in 2018 correctly labeled as being "Rusev Days". Perhaps it is finally time for a Rusev babyface turn, something he's never done on either the main roster or while in developmental.
Slowly but surely, fans have come to see Rusev as a truly entertaining performer. In addition to what he does on WWE television every week, Rusev has one of the most hilarious social media accounts in all of wrestling. 2018 could be a very monumental year for Rusev. He might even spend some future Rusev Days as WWE Champion.
8 Untrue - No More Great Balls of Fire
In 2017, WWE announced the best new name for a PPV in recent memory. The Raw specific event was named "Great Balls of Fire". According to the WWE rumor mill, however, there are no plans for the uniquely named event to return in 2018.
While many snickered at the name of the event, the show itself was worth the mild embarrassment the industry may have suffered due to its marketing. In the main event, Brock Lesnar defeated Samoa Joe in a match only the two of them could have put on.
Jerry Lawler would reveal on his podcast that Jerry Lee Lewis actually contacted him regarding WWE's use of the Great Balls of Fire term. Lewis had trademarked the term but a deal was worked out which allowed WWE to use the name and song for the show.
7 True - WWE Goes All-Out For a New TV Deal
You know how a baseball player in the final year of his contract tends to have a better year than he did immediately after signing the deal? The theory behind this phenomenon is that the player has more motivation to do well in the season before he becomes a free agent. Well, in its own industry, WWE is about to become a free agent.
2018 is the last year of WWE's contract with the USA Network. They are moving into television free agency. It is speculated that WWE will negotiate with Fox Sports, Amazon, and Facebook and the USA network.
If WWE wants to land a good television contract in 2019, they are going to have to go all out to get ratings on Raw and SmackDown in 2018. The real winners in all of this will be the wrestling fans.
6 Untrue - More Big Names Leave for the Independents
WWE is losing more big names to other promotions now than they have in any other period since WCW and ECW closed down in the early 2000s. This is mainly due to the burgeoning independent scene and the increased visibility of international promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Several stars in 2017 opted to leave WWE to compete elsewhere and rumors are there might be several others looking to do the same in 2018. Performers such as Jack Swagger, Austin Aries, and Cody have all made the decision that WWE isn't the right place for them. Performers haven't been making that decision in this industry for over 15 years. While this trend is good for wrestling overall, WWE fans might have a hard time understanding why some of their favorite performers are leaving to go elsewhere.
5 True - United Kingdom Division Show
Remember when WWE held a big tournament to crown an inaugural United Kingdom Champion? Then there were rumors the United Kingdom division would have their own show. Only the division's own show never came to fruition and most of the division's stars spend more time performing for independent promotions in Europe than they do wrestling for WWE.
According to recent rumors, however, WWE does plan to launch a UK division complete with their own network show to be filmed across the pond. While many of the top stars will appear on episodes of NXT and 205 Live from time to time, it would be nice to see them finally get their own brand. If successful, the UK division show could be the catalyst for other regions being given their own developmental territory as well.
4 Untrue - Miz Breaks Intercontinental Championship Record
The Miz is on-pace to become the greatest Intercontinental champion of all-time. As of this writing, the Miz is less than 90 days away from passing Pedro Morales for the record of most days (619) spent as Intercontinental Champion. It is a record that was set back in 1983. In just a couple of days as of this writing, Miz will pass Don Muraco for second in this category.
Miz is also just one title run away from tying Chris Jericho's record of nine total Intercontinental Championship title runs. He'll have to lose the title once more to tie Jericho, however, which points out a significant flaw in this metric being used to rank champions.
If everything continues as it has been going in 2018, Miz will erase all debate as to who the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time is by the time the year is over, something many wouldn't agree with.
3 True - More International Focus
When Vince McMahon first took over his father's promotion in the 1980s, his goal was to take the company from a regional territory to a global phenomenon. In 2018, the goal seems to continue with more expansion on the way.
We have already seen signs the company wants to gain a foothold in markets such as the UK and India, but in 2018 expect for this trend to increase. Already in 2018, we have seen two stars from Japan win the male and female Royal Rumbles. We've also seen the company heavily scout talent from other regions in the hopes of finding talent who can become a breakout star in their home country. We can expect the WWE scouting to remain in search of more global talent throughout 2018.
2 Untrue - Brock Lesnar Leaving For UFC
The big rumor that has most WWE fans concerned is that Brock Lesnar will leave the company again and join the UFC. Brock's contract with WWE expires after WrestleMania but it is said there are provisions in place which would allow both parties to extend the deal if they desire to. Some believe they will extend Lesnar's contract through to SummerSlam and then he will leave to once again fight in the UFC.
Lesnar was rumored to be linked to a super fight with Jon Jones. That neither fighter was able to pass drug tests related to their last fight has reduced the likelihood of this bout ever occurring, however. Lesnar's last victory in the UFC was overturned after it was revealed he failed a USADA drug test. Before the commission got involved, he had won a unanimous decision over Mark Hunt at UFC 200. Perhaps he'll be inclined to avenge this tough break and leave the WWE in the summer of this year.
1 True - Women's Wrestling Gets A Major Push
According to this rumor, WWE will be looking to put as much women's wrestling on television in 2018 as they can. Right now, the feeling is that their biggest mainstream star, Ronda Rousey, will be involved in the women's divisions so it only makes sense to elevate those divisions as much as possible with such a massive spotlight.
It'll be interesting to see how WWE handles Rousey over the next few months and years. We still don't know exactly how well Rousey can perform in the ring and this is what will determine much of how she is used. For now, all we know is that division is hotter than ever and that the WWE will keep the foot on the gas pedal with so much good press coming out of their push towards the women of their company.