Welcome to another edition of eWN Round Table, where we gather some of the most active writers here on eWrestlingNews and share the platform to answer some questions surrounding a centralized topic, upcoming event, etc.
This is meant to showcase the potential for both a wide range of perspectives as well as how sometimes, there can be a group consensus no matter what your viewpoint is, so we also invite all of you to join in on the discussion by answering these questions yourself in the comments section below.
For this particular volume, we’ll be focusing on a general look forward to WWE in 2019.
Participants for this round = Anthony Mango, Richard Staple, Ethan Absler and Chris Holden.
1) “Do you think WWE will turn things around for the better in 2019, or will things continue down the same path or even get worse?”
MANGO: I really, really want to believe they’ve actually learned some lessons, but I don’t buy into it whatsoever. I think that whole apology was hollow with empty promises and we’re not going to see any changes whatsoever. Or, sadly, if they do implement changes, it will be for the worse and they’ll think the solution is doing more things like random title swaps and swerves for the sake of swerves and more. I hope I’m wrong.
STAPLE: Only time will tell if Vince McMahon’s prophecy of shaking things up will bear any fruit. I think Smackdown is in relatively good shape, but RAW won’t change until the core issues are addressed. No more repetitive segments. Give opportunities to different people. Create storylines that make sense. Develop characters. Give us a reason to care about your product and don’t make it feel like a chore.
ABSLER: I think 2019 seems like a really promising year for the WWE. As long as they take the title off of Brock Lesnar, RAW will inevitably improve, 205 Live will continue to amaze, and Smackdown will prosper. With that being said, WWE also has, in my opinion, the greatest wrestling roster of all time so it will be hard for the in-ring product of 2019 to not be spectacular so I think we’ve got a good year ahead of us.
HOLDEN: I don’t think things can get any worse than they were in November and the start of December. I like the concept of dropping General Managers, and I definitely like the instant rematch clause being written out. Those were two plot devises that have run their course, unable to spin out any more meaningful or different stories. I don’t feel a lot of optimism if they’ll be continuing with the same set up of their Creative Department. If there remains an insistence to “write” entire shows, the organic ways talent were able to connect with audiences get over will never return.
2) “On a scale from 0-10, how excited are you for WrestleMania 35 at this very moment?”
MANGO: I’m about a 6. I have so many reservations that they’ll book matches I don’t care about, like Brock Lesnar against anybody (particularly if he retains the title) and that they won’t be able to properly manage most of the talent and they’ll rush at the last minute to throw people onto the card. Once Royal Rumble goes down, I’ll have a better idea of whether that should be higher or lower, but they haven’t sold me yet.
STAPLE: Can’t say for sure since we don’t know what will be on the card as of yet. Speculation has suggested Seth Rollins will challenge Lesnar for the Universal Title, Lynch may battle Ronda for the RAW Women’s Title, and Bryan may be defending against the Miz. If those matches are on the card and a wonen’s match main events, put my excitement level at around a 7-8.
ABSLER: At this very moment, I am only a 3/10 excited, but that is because I don’t know any of the matches. As time progresses, I will get more and more excited until I spontaneously combust moments before the show stars. Wrestlemania is my favorite night of the year, I’ll be a 10/10.
HOLDEN: Just because it’s WrestleMania, the scale starts at 5 for me. Definitely excited to see Ronda versus either Becky or Charlotte in the main event, but aside from that, what match ups could anyone get excited about? Is there anyone that makes a credible opponent for Brock Lesnar at the moment? If Strowman wins the belt at the Rumble, who hasn’t he faced that would make for an interesting matchup at Mania? Daniel Bryan can put on incredible matches, but we’ve already seen him versus AJ a couple of times, him versus Miz more; Bryan vs Nakamura could have been great, but does Nakamura have any credibility left now? I honestly try to avoid thinking too much about Mania right now, because I can’t see the card being any less than disappointing. They’ve got time to fix things, but they have to have the will.
3) “Excluding those already announced, which NXT stars do you think will come up to the main roster in 2019?”
MANGO: After WrestleMania (or maybe even after Royal Rumble), I think at various points in the year, we’ll see Ricochet, The Undisputed ERA, Aleister Black, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke, and Kairi Sane.
STAPLE: I certainly think Velveteen Dream’s time will come sooner than later, and at this point, I think it’s a matter of time. However, I want him to have a run with the NXT Title first. Lord knows what will happen to him on the main roster, especially if he goes to RAW. I want to enjoy as much of him in NXT as I possibly can first. Maybe The Undisputed Era, but they feel so essential to NXT at this stage. Perhaps Aliester Black once his NXT Title feud is over.
ABSLER: I think there’s a good chance we see Kassius Ohno or Velveteen Dream called up in 2019. Both of those guys are ready for the glory and responsibility that comes with being promoted to the main roster and Velveteen Dream is sure to be a fan favorite.
HOLDEN: Velveteen Dream seems like a no-brainer. Tomasso and Gargano are both obviously ‘ready’. More important than who is called up will be the fixing the issue of knowing what to do with talent when they’re called up.
4) “Do you think NXT will expand in any fashion in 2019? Another hour? Another territory? Another title?”
MANGO: This all depends on what’s going on with FOX. If there’s a deal in place to do something with NXT on FS1, I think they’ll get a second hour in October. If not, no. No more titles and no more territories just yet, unless there’s something of a preliminary step like having an NXT Asian Championship Tournament or something like that like they did with NXT UK at first.