I don’t think I’m breaking any news here when I say that while the financials may be good, WWE has been struggling in many different ways in 2018.
It got to a point where I started compiling a list of everything bad that happened this year that I could think of, and it just kept growing larger and larger.
Of course, this list doesn’t feature every single bad thing. It would be impossible and downright maddening (and depressing) to keep track of every little minuscule error.
Plus, I tried to keep some of my personal bias out of the equation, as there are things that happened that I might not have enjoyed, but others were fond of. Instead, I tried to keep this mostly to the noteworthy things that the majority of the WWE Universe would agree points in the direction of 2018 being a somewhat cursed year for the company.
Without further ado, here is my assuredly incomplete list to illustrate just how much negative energy has surrounded WWE this year, in no particular order:
Roman Reigns’ Battle with Leukemia / Brock Lesnar’s Title Reign
Obviously, this is perhaps the biggest thing to bring up, and it’s not something WWE had any control over, so they can’t be blamed for it like they can with plenty of other things on this list.
Reigns taking his exit to undergo treatment for leukemia completely undermined the most important thing WWE had focused on for the entire year, which was this idea of Reigns being the savior from Brock Lesnar’s universal title reign.
Here’s where WWE can catch some slack, though: they never had to book that to begin with.
Goldberg never had to win the title just to drop it to Lesnar at WrestleMania 33, nor did WWE have to keep the belt on Lesnar an entire year with the damn near promise in mind that it would end at WrestleMania 34, only to drag it out until SummerSlam.
By doing that, when Reigns finally did win the belt, it was only 2 months before he had to relinquish it and it went right back to Lesnar as if that time frame didn’t even happen.
To put that into perspective, WWE spent over 504 days (over 530 if you count Goldberg’s run) building up the idea of Reigns as champion and then 64 days later, go back to square one and revert back to the status quo.
It’s impossible to know what would have been better or worse if Reigns was still holding the title, but WWE purposely put fans through something annoying for an entire year, dragged it out even longer, finally ended things in a way that was “good enough” and then their golden boy, once anointed, gets struck with something absolutely horrible that puts his career and life in jeopardy.
That’s perhaps the biggest sign of a black cloud being over WWE this year, but there are more things to talk about.
Greatest Royal Rumble and Crown Jewel
WWE made a lot of money from working two Saudi Arabia shows this year, but in the process, sold a bit of the company’s soul.
These events were political nightmares, with the latter making the former look like a walk on the beach.
Greatest Royal Rumble was met with controversy over the complete dismissal of all female talent. In an era where WWE touts itself as being progressive with the women’s division (even if they’re very late to the game), it was counterproductive to run an event in an area that refused to let any women be on the show.
That made it seem like WWE didn’t actually care about the Women’s Evolution, and that perception hasn’t dissipated even with the creation of the Evolution pay-per-view.
Greatest Royal Rumble was effectively pointless, as the only thing that actually happened was The Deleters of Worlds winning the Raw Tag Team Championship, but their title reign sucked, so that isn’t even worth having done it.
Then, Crown Jewel came along, and with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it became even more problematic to run a second show in Saudi Arabia, but WWE went ahead and did it anyway.
Daniel Bryan and John Cena refused to show up, meaning the card was adjusted to feature yet another match between AJ Styles and Samoa Joe as a lackluster replacement, as well as an injured Bobby Lashley in the World Cup.
That World Cup Tournament in itself was a bust, too. The Shane McMahon angle wasn’t well-received and instead of kickstarting the quick rush of a build to Survivor Series with something hot, people were just pissed.
But hey, we got Hulk Hogan back, right? Oh, yeah, that’s not really a good thing for the company’s image, either. Yeeeesh.
But hey, at least D-Generation X and The Brothers of Destruction were taking their feud to the next level, right? Oh, yeah, Triple H got injured and in the process, one of the big selling points of WrestleMania 35 is no longer on the table as he won’t be able to fight Batista.
And Shawn Michaels is officially bald now. Ugh. My childhood weeps.
The Fans Won’t Follow Orders
By this, I mean when WWE wants the audience to go along with a particular idea and the crowd isn’t accepting of it, which has happened a ton this year.
This is a good thing, in terms of standing up to WWE’s incompetence, but it’s a bad thing in the sense that WWE often acts very stubborn about this and crams things down our throats even more, in an attempt to prove that they are right, we are wrong, and for us to stop going against the script and acting like we know better.
Of course, “the customer is always right” and WWE eventually has to learn that lesson one way or another, which is why Rusev Day was being cheered for months with WWE adamantly denying a babyface turn for the group, until finally caving in. They waited until after he lost momentum to pull the trigger and he hasn’t been at the same level since then.
Then, there’s the Becky Lynch situation, where WWE tried to make her a heel and fans didn’t like it. They tried to make Lynch crap on the fans and they still cheered, and the game plan of heel Lynch and super sympathetic babyface Charlotte Flair started to become “we love Becky, screw Charlotte” instead. They likely would have tried to make Becky the heel against Ronda Rousey, too, and she up and got popped in the nose, changing that around.