There is a lot of changes going on in WWE right now. Inside the company, it is preparing for Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live to end up on different networks owned by different companies for the first time in over a decade. It has two different NXT brands in two different countries and still promotes a cruiserweight show on WWE Network.
Meanwhile, a new company in AEW has started up with money behind it that Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling wishes it had and WWE actually has competition for signing talent in the U.S. With wrestling starting to look very different from the inside and out, here is a look at 10 changes we expect from WWE during 2019.
10 SMACKDOWN MOVES TO FOX
SmackDown Live moving to Fox is not a prediction -- it is a fact. However, what happens to SmackDown when it moves is a different story. The show is moving to Friday nights and it will remain live. This will change many things in WWE, from its touring dates to its weekend lineup for PPV weekends.
There are also rumors that Fox wants SmackDown Live to be more about the athletic competition and less about skits and comedy bits. The changes started with the Superstar Shake-Up but some changes expected did not happen and how SmackDown will -- or won't -- change is still to be determined.
9 NXT BECOMES THIRD MAIN BRAND
Johnny Gargano did some interviews after he won the WWE NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and he said that he does not like people asking when he will get called up to the main roster. He almost did a few months back with Tommaso Ciampa, but a neck injury to Ciampa ended that.
Now, Gargano said that he does not want to move up and wants to help turn NXT into a third main brand -- alongside SmackDown and Raw. Matt Riddle said something similar when he said that he would rather turn NXT into a major show than move to the main roster. In 2019, expect NXT to start to build its own brand as an equal -- and not as a pure developmental territory.
8 ALL WOMEN'S SHOW
Becky Lynch is the woman who holds both the Raw and SmackDown Live women's titles and she travels between the two brands defending each title. The women's tag team champions are supposed to be defended on Raw, SmackDown Live and NXT, although that was what Sasha Banks and Bayley said -- and before the IIconics won the belts.
However, with the women's titles moving between brands, there is a chance that they could finally get their own show. Whether it takes place on the WWE Network like 205 Live and NXT or is one of the new shows that FX1 has hinted at after SmackDown moves to Fox, expect the women to get their own show.
7 MCMAHONS DISAPPEAR AGAIN
When 2019 started, Vince McMahon showed up on television and said that the era of the general managers was over with and that is because they were listening to the fans. Then, with little surprise, McMahon showed up on Raw and SmackDown all the time -- screwing over Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston and working as the same evil authority figure the general managers did.
Shane McMahon even worked SmackDown Live before turning heel. If McMahon was serious about the changes, it is time for the McMahon family to step back behind the curtain again. They can come out when needed, but the need for general managers is passé and that includes the McMahon family.
6 CONOR MCGREGOR DEBUTS
After Becky Lynch won the Raw and SmackDown Live women's titles at WrestleMania 35, Conor McGregor popped up on Twitter and congratulated her. He said that it was amazing seeing what Lynch accomplished and then said he couldn't do it in WWE -- or could he?
That last question caused Stephanie McMahon to tell him that he will never know unless he tries. The problem is that McGregor is very small -- smaller than even 205 Live wrestlers. However, he has a huge personality and could be the main event attraction. With Fox wanting to crossover to other sports, and McGregor retiring from UFC, he could be the perfect crossover star on SmackDown Live.
5 SHAYNA BASZLER MOVES UP
Shayna Baszler has done an amazing job in NXT as the women's champion. What Ronda Rousey started to accomplish as a heel champion at the end of her tenure, Baszler perfected. With Rousey gone, there is a spot for a big, bad MMA styled women's wrestler on the main roster.
While Baszler is comfortable in her role as the queen of NXT, she has proven herself to be strong enough to come up and dominate on the main roster as well. With her connection to Ronda Rousey and MMA in general, she could be a perfect fit for SmackDown on Fox and could be the person to finally take one of the belts off Becky Lynch.
4 NXT: JAPAN
Not many people thought that WWE NXT U.K. would be a success. No one knew hardly any of the wrestlers there and there was not much of a fanbase in the United States. However, the important thing to remember is that America is just one country that loves wrestling. Anyone who watches NXT U.K. sees that there is a huge and loyal fanbase there as well.
Now, WWE is looking to expand again. There have been rumors of an NXT brand in Australia or China. However, professional wrestling is almost bigger in Japan than it is in America -- and while there is more competition there with NJPW, seeing an NXT: Japan pop up seems like a no-brainer.
3 UNDERTAKER ANNOUNCES FINAL YEAR
Undertaker just signed a new contract to remain in WWE. However, while this seems like WWE might be wanting him to wrestle more, that might not be the case. WWE just signed Undertaker to keep him from making more appearances at non-WWE events, such as the Starrcast before AEW Double or Nothing weekend.
Expect Undertaker to finally hang up his boots. Don't be surprised, now that WWE has Undertaker under a new contract, to see him announce a retirement tour, ala Kurt Angle, and finish off his career at WrestleMania 36 along with a future Hall of Fame induction.
2 INDIES ARRIVE ON WWE NETWORK
WWE has been asking subscribers to the WWE Network over the last year what they want to see on the streaming service. One of the things that WWE hinted at was bringing some indies to the WWE Network. There is a great batch of independent wrestling shows that WWE could easily bring to its streaming service immediately.
WWE has a relationship with EVOLVE in the United States. It has worked with Progress in the United Kingdom. It would not come as a surprise if WWE didn't reach out to some major U.S. indies like PWG or Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore and offer the companies weekly spots on the WWE Network.
1 UNDISPUTED ERA TAKES OVER
One of the biggest rumors of the 2019 Superstar Shake-Up was that the Undisputed Era would end up coming to Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live and immediately tear things up and take over. While the Viking Experience was the only major move up from NXT, don't think the Undisputed Era will wait much longer.
There is always a chance that NXT will play the disenchantment card with Undisputed Era as far as Adam Cole and Roddy Strong are concerned. However, Kyle O'Reilly said they don't see the group breaking up and they should be a major player in WWE on the main roster by the end of 2019.