If you can believe it, 2018 is over and another year has gone by, which means its time for us to look back on everything that happened over the past 12 months and assess the damage all around, including in WWE.
My game plan originally was to make a 3-Count list of the top three biggest flops and pops of the year, breaking down the bad and the good and really narrowing it down to a bronze, silver and medal award. Then, I started making a preliminary list of the bad and found myself with far too many options to pick from.
Hence, we’re switching it up a bit, and in the first part of this two-part recap, I want to take a look at what I consider to be the top 10 biggest mistakes, flubs, mess-ups, bad booking decisions and so on that happened in WWE in 2018 (in no particular order).
Let’s just dive in…
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Goldberg beat Kevin Owens so he could drop the Universal Championship to Brock Lesnar so that he could hold it another entire year and drop it to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania….and he didn’t.
The entirety of 2017 was built around leading up to a match lots of people didn’t want to see and WWE decided to just drag that nonsense out even longer by having Lesnar retain at WrestleMania, then again at Greatest Royal Rumble, and then book the two against each other again at SummerSlam.
After something like their ninth match in this feud that wasn’t good from the start several years ago, Reigns FINALLY won and the title was FINALLY going to be used on Raw on a regular basis, and WWE’s first idea with it was to turn the most over babyface on the brand into a heel, in Braun Strowman.
This killed Strowman’s momentum, rendered his Money in the Bank briefcase pointless, and did him no favors. Then, Lesnar came back just to ruin it all another time, and poof, Reigns is forced to relinquish the title because his leukemia has returned.
WWE’s answer to that was not to correct those mistakes from Strowman, but to go back to the well again with Lesnar, and now, we’re stuck in the midst of another pointless drag of a title reign with Strowman being set up to lose to Lesnar for the second year in a row at Royal Rumble, and for something like the seventh time in general.
This Universal Championship is cursed, particularly when Lesnar is involved and the company’s only goal is that if it can’t be used to push a babyface Reigns, it has to stay on The Beast Incarnate, and it’s amazing to think two full years and three wrestlers were wasted because of that one story’s stubbornness.
Saudi Arabia Controversies
At the beginning of the year, WWE took several events out of the pay-per-view schedule, with the idea in mind being that there was an overabundance of shows and having less of them would make for better storytelling.
Then, they announced the Greatest Royal Rumble, which sounded ridiculous from the start, and immediately drew criticism because of where it was located.
Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the most well-beloved practices and after all of the talk about the Women’s Evolution, going to an area that refused to allow women to participate caught the company some flak, but they went ahead with it.
It was kind of a dud, with a titular match that meant nothing and another stall of the Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar situation.
Then, the build to Crown Jewel started happening and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi went down, sparking even more controversy.
Long story short, John Cena and Daniel Bryan pulled out of the event, forcing plans to change, and it seems like the original ideas weren’t any good to begin with, as the whole event went down in terrible fashion not only with Shane McMahon winning the World Cup tournament, but Brock Lesnar winning the Universal Championship yet again and Triple H getting injured and the tag team match with DX and The Brothers of Destruction being much worse than it should have been.
This event proved WWE had no good ideas, cared more about the money than anything else, didn’t want to put in the effort to figure out anything better and wanted to stick with their own stubborn plans no matter what.
Of course, they’re doing this all again next year, despite 2018 being an awful disaster for the WWE and Saudi Arabia partnership.
AJ Styles Stuck on a Loop
It should be an impressive feat to hold the WWE Championship for an entire year, but at the end of all this, what good does AJ Styles have to show for it?
His feud with Shinsuke Nakamura was dragged out several matches longer than it should have been, and not even in an impressive fashion to keep the story interesting. They just kept hitting each other in the balls and then Paige or Shane McMahon would announce another match in several weeks.
Then, the Samoa Joe feud was multiple months long and dragged out past its expiration point just because WWE didn’t have anything else in mind.
Then, Daniel Bryan started his feud with Styles, mostly revolving around another low-blow.
Basically, this year, when it came to booking Styles, the creative team had one idea in mind: kick him in the nuts and try to stretch everything as long as possible so we don’t have to think of anything else.
The Raw Tag Team Division
At the start of the year, we had a replacement team as Jason Jordan was not supposed to be the reigning champion alongside Seth Rollins. That spot was meant for Dean Ambrose.
That experiment failed, so they traded the belts to The Bar, who then started to feud with Braun Strowman and dropped the titles to him and….a 10-year-old named Nicholas.
They vacated the titles the next night and the next champions were the fledgling team of Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt, who failed to really do anything to get the audience to care.
The Deleters of Worlds lost to The B-Team of all people, proving how useless their tag title reign was, as the belts were now on two people with a gimmick surrounding how they’re losers.
They dropped the belts to Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, who held them just because it was supposed to help further the angle of The Shield against “three guys, doesn’t matter who”
Ambrose and Rollins won, and it seemed like WWE basically came full circle back to this point last year, as immediately, their team dissolved and they’re now feuding, since they had to drop the titles.