Friday, February 23, 2024
EditorialWWE 2024 New Year Resolutions: Title Reigns, NXT Call-Ups & More

WWE 2024 New Year Resolutions: Title Reigns, NXT Call-Ups & More

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It’s a New Year, yes it is!

Today is the day everyone tries to set new goals for themselves in the hopes they can change their life around just because the calendar changed. It’s entirely symbolic, but it’s as good a time as any to start making adjustments.

I’ve been writing up New Year Resolutions for WWE here at eWrestlingNews for the past few years, and this tradition continues as we head into 2024. The landscape for World Wrestling Entertainment is much different than it was at the start of 2023, as the company is now under the Endeavor umbrella and we’re still getting adjusted to how that changes the game.

So with new management in charge, some lessons hopefully learned from the past 12 months, and a potentially bright future ahead, what are some mistakes to avoid and things I’d like to see happen this upcoming year?

Let’s get into the ninth annual New Year’s resolutions that I have for what I’d like to see in WWE (AEW resolutions list posted later today as well). This includes general ideas, specifics about Superstars, title reigns I’m hoping for, and more.

Keep in mind that while some of these are serious and legitimate, many are just humorous or on the kayfabe side of things. It’s all in the name of fun and retrospection.

Don’t Drop the Ball with CM Punk, Jade Cargill or Lexis King + Keep Snatching Up AEW Talent

Obviously, WWE never WANTS to fail with any idea. Or, at least, you’d think that was the case, but you never quite know. But it should be outright stated that the way CM Punk, Jade Cargill and Lexis King are handled this year could have major implications for future recruits to the company.

Cody Rhodes has been treated like a true top of the line star since coming back. He hasn’t won the title, though. That could be seen as “close, but no cigar” to anyone thinking about jumping ship. More on that later, though.

CM Punk, Jade Cargill and Lexis King are the three others who have joined WWE’s roster after leaving AEW. While Punk obviously had his time in WWE before, Cargill and King were newcomers. So far, all three have been treated well, but WWE needs to make sure the ball isn’t dropped. If they’re actually consistently put in good spots, win some titles, etc, it could help entice others to come over to WWE just the same.

At one point, AEW was where the grass looked greener. WWE has a chance to turn the tides and capitalize on its growing momentum coinciding with AEW’s struggles with injuries and backstage problems. Make WWE look like its not only the clear and obvious “bigger company”, which has never been in question, but also, make it seem like it’s worth it both creatively and in terms of your push.

This, along with what should be a sizable check, should be offered to MJF, if he’s still on the market. WWE should do whatever it takes to snatch him up.

Coerce Dustin Rhodes back with a Hall of Fame induction. Get Malakai Black back so he can be on a better schedule with his wife, Zelina Vega. Maybe you can convince Miro to return.

And even the people who haven’t been there before and are on the lower end of the totem pole, be on the lookout for their potential crossovers, too. Clearly, not everyone will be a top main event talent, but that’s where a guy like Lexis King comes in. He’s working his way up. Don’t put him in a jobber role, or someone like Ricky Starks will be hesitant to trust he won’t be shoehorned into the same position.

Rehire: McKenzie Mitchell, Sasha Banks and More

On a similar wavelength, reconsider past releases and try your best to bring back some people who certainly have something to offer.

Mercedes Mone should be at the top of that list. Lately, I’ve been getting the vibe that it’s happening, and that we’ll see Sasha Banks back at Royal Rumble or so. Unless she’s asking for an ungodly amount of money that can’t be done, sign her. Make it seem like AEW couldn’t pull it off and that a star as big as she is could only be here, and places like New Japan couldn’t work out.

Bring back McKenzie Mitchell. I have no idea why she was released in the first place. She’s leaps and bounds the best interviewer out there. It seems like Shawn Michaels and others are baffled about this decision, too. So why did it happen? What’s the benefit? Just bring her back, realize you made a mistake, and fix it.

Is this a time frame where WWE needs more Performance Center coaches? Could someone like Tyler Breeze be a good fit for that? Or Oney Lorcan?

Matt Cardona needs a phone call. It’s time.

Do what you have to do to get AJ Lee back, too. It seems more likely than ever, but not a guarantee. Let’s see her have a run and face a variety of people she never got a chance to scrap with.

Cody Rhodes Beats Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 40

No more b.s. I don’t want to hear the excuses. We don’t want to see Roman Reigns retain the title again at WrestleMania due to interference from Solo Sikoa, then disappear for the rest of the year (not even an exaggeration based on 2023) only to say you dragged it out and he overtook Hulk Hogan’s record, and “wait for WrestleMania 41.”

Put the belt on Cody Rhodes. It’s not going to mean as much as if it were to have happened last year, but it’ll still get the job done. Roman can fight The Rock another time and it can be non-title. He’s already had enough records. Don’t risk Cody losing steam and never being able to recapture the magic.

Actually Do the King & Queen of the Ring Tournament

Remember how this was going to be a pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia, but it got changed a few weeks prior and converted over to Night of Champions?

Considering what was booked on the card, Night of Champions wasn’t even a good name for it, as it was more so “Night of Crowning a New Champion featuring some other matches”. But that’s beside the point here.

The graphics are already made. In 2024, King & Queen of the Ring should actually happen. Tournaments are fun, and this gimmick has helped save people’s careers.

From my point of view, I think this works best as a television tournament, with the finals taking place on a pay-per-view, rather than the full tournament taking place on a premium live event. When it’s one single show, it limits the amount of time that can be dedicated to the matches. That goes double now that there would be women’s matches, too. Unless everything is a 2 minute match, you’re not getting 16 men and 16 women competing. It just won’t happen.

But you can do that over a few weeks on television and really put effort into this being something people want to win, rather than 4-8 Superstars tossed in there for a rush job.

Depending on what happens over the coming months and when this would happen, some suggestions I’d toss out there for King of the Ring would be Drew McIntyre, Carmelo Hayes, Finn Balor, Austin Theory (top choice), AJ Styles, and, I’m not joking, R-Truth. Queen of the Ring options could be Chelsea Green, Liv Morgan, Natalya (Queen of Harts, it’d give her something to do), Shayna Baszler (Queen of Spades), Asuka, and my true favorite pick for this, Bayley.

Make Gunther’s Intercontinental Championship Loss Mean Something

I don’t want Gunther dropping the title in some stupid fashion. Don’t cop out and have him not get pinned in some Triple Threat or Fatal 4-Way or whatever multi-man setup it might be. For that matter, don’t have him lose a singles match through shenanigans that makes it seem like the new champion got lucky with a fluke.

That means no pulling the tights, no “it took outside interference and hitting Gunther with the belt and a chair” finish, or anything like that.

There’s an opportunity to make the Superstar who beats Gunther. This long, record-breaking title reign should be used to not only move The Ring General up to the next level, but cement his successor as someone worth a damn, too. Otherwise, the Intercontinental Championship will feel like it immediately downgrades.

I don’t know who that person will be. Hopefully, it isn’t just Brock Lesnar, who doesn’t need the rub. But let’s say it’s a guy like Chad Gable or Johnny Gargano. If they were to win in nonsense fashion, everyone will just cast them aside as not being as good of a champion as Gunther was. But if they beat him, they suddenly look strong.

And Gunther can take ONE loss on his way to becoming a world champion. That’s not going to ruin his aura if you book him well after that. All it takes is not sidelining him, or acting like the seal’s been broken and now, everyone can beat him (like what happened to Asuka). Have him lose this match, then go back to steamrolling his opponents.

Keep Vince McMahon Away

This one is rather simple. Just keep Vince McMahon out of practically every decision, seemingly. At the very least, keep him away from WWE Creative. He’s not going to help. I think we all know that by now. He’d only get in the way, cause plans to go haywire at the last minute to derail storylines, and put out some stupid ideas that are dated and only he’ll laugh at.

Learn from the Raw after WrestleMania. Don’t do that again.

Give Up on NXT Europe

Last year, I had “don’t mess up NXT Europe” on the resolutions list. This year, I’m flat out hoping WWE abandons the idea entirely. I just cannot see how this will end up working in the long haul, and I don’t even want them to waste the money, time and effort in trying for what will almost assuredly be a failure.

NXT UK just didn’t work, and WWE is in a state right now where they’re doing well with the foreign markets. Trying to make NXT Europe is going to cut into that, divert attention and resources into something that won’t be profitable for quite some time (if ever), and arise more discussion than ever that there should be an NXT Mexico, NXT Japan, etc. None of those are getting off the ground, either.

If there are talents in Europe that you’re interested in, just sign them to WWE. The time to buy out all the other indies and kill the non-WWE business passed by a few years ago. It could have worked in 2018 or so, but that didn’t happen. Now, everyone and their cousin has a promotion, and people are seemingly liking that. It isn’t the time to try to fight with the little guys and waste time squashing ants.

As far as I’m aware, there aren’t even enough super awesome talents out there that would make NXT Europe work. Will Ospreay, for example, is in AEW. There’s no way this brand could sustain itself by rehiring the schmucks from NXT UK that didn’t get over the first time and are older now.

Don’t Mess Up Damian Priest’s Money in the Bank

I have my doubts that something good will happen with this. Too many years have gone by with terrible Money in the Bank cash-ins for me to think otherwise. That gets magnified when the titles are on people who clearly aren’t dropping them until predetermined moments far in advance.

I don’t think Priest should lose his cash-in. Even though I’m in the minority, I would rather see him win a cash-in on something like the Intercontinental or United States Championship, successfully, than to go for the 3 world titles and fail. But I’d like to see him actually win the World Heavyweight Championship so he has that on his list of accolades.

Depending on the plans for WrestleMania, I could see a cash-in being the means to steal the title from CM Punk after a month or so as champion, to avoid having the belt on Punk too long. After all, the year-long contract would be coming up pretty soon at that point and I don’t want Priest to lapse without a cash-in.

Fix the Free Agents Concept from WWE Draft

This past WWE Draft saw about a dozen or so Superstars classified as “free agents” instead of being sent to Raw or SmackDown in any official capacity. Somehow, after all this time, a few of them are STILL without a brand.

This is even more confusing when you look at someone like Von Wagner. He became a free agent, only to show up strictly on NXT. Why wasn’t he just kept as an NXT star, then?

What happened with Xyon Quinn and Odyssey Jones? They were drafted as free agents and haven’t shown up on ANY of the shows more than I think twice? What gives?

Some people work best as floaters. Omos doesn’t need to be on a particular roster if you’re only going to have him wrestle as a special attraction once in a while and you don’t want to just release him. Brock Lesnar never needs to be an official Raw Superstar, as he’s better off bouncing between shows wherever he’s needed.

Some people also work well being classified as free agents to drum up suspicion of where they’ll go. It makes for an interesting angle if they haven’t signed yet and they have to make a decision. Plus, if you aren’t sure where they’d be best utilized, then sure, keep them in the pool to pick from without having to do a trade or a random “Why are they now on the opposite brand?” situation. But don’t wait 9 months and still not make a decision about people. If that’s the case, that means you just don’t care about them enough to put in the thought, and it speaks volumes and just kills that person’s career.

Specific NXT Call-Ups & Demotions

As far as people that I particularly want to see graduate to the main roster from NXT, or go from Raw or SmackDown back down to NXT in 2024, I have a few ideas in mind:

  • Blair Davenport
  • Bron Breakker
  • Brooks Jensen, Josh Briggs and Fallon Henley
  • Carmelo Hayes (and maybe Trick Williams)
  • Cora Jade (after an NXT women’s title reign)
  • Gigi Dolin
  • Ilja Dragunov – I think he’d fit well in Imperium as the midcarder, while Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci stay the tag team and Gunther is the main event Superstar.
  • Meiko Satomura (if she’s even still around)
  • Roxanne Perez
  • Tiffany Stratton
  • Tyler Bate

Don’t Botch Randy Orton’s Remaining Time

WWE has a notorious habit of being blissfully ignorant to how time actually works and the fragility of some of the roster. How many times do we need to not get something like Undertaker vs. Sting because “there will be time in the future”, only for it to be no longer an idea that can happen? Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen never happened, for instance.

Edge wasted so much time feuding with the whole Judgment Day angle for nearly an entire year plus. He could’ve had other storylines. Bray Wyatt passed away after months of dawdling with his stories. Don’t make the same mistake with Randy Orton.

All parties are lucky he was able to return to action after what could have been a career-ending injury. Cherish that time. Put him in worthwhile feuds, pair him with talent we might never get another chance to see (ie, I want to see Orton against Carmelo Hayes, don’t you?) and don’t just act like he’s a given to be wrestling another 10 years.

In my perfect world, Cody Rhodes is going to be holding the WWE Championship from WrestleMania 40 onward, like I said. That means we need to see Orton turn heel and feud with him. Make that the big thing for SummerSlam, maybe. Do the angle. Don’t just miss out on that opportunity and many others because you’re nervous that you’ll be left with no other ideas. That just means the writers need to do their jobs in figuring out what else to do to find more interesting ways to tell engaging stories.

Bron Breakker. CM Punk. Cody Rhodes. Gunther. Johnny Gargano. Tommaso Ciampa. LA Knight. Karrion Kross. Austin Theory. Grayson Waller. Even Cameron Grimes could be a fun short feud. That list alone is well over a full year’s worth of feuds if you dedicated 5 weeks to each story. Some could be even longer, but none of them would need to be 5 months long. And that’s just a few of the names Orton should work with. Don’t just stick him with Solo Sikoa from now until August and beat it into the ground to the point that we’re tired of it, like what happened with Edge.

Split the Unified Titles or Actually Unify Them Already

This is a carryover from last year. As mentioned before, I never would have unified the titles to begin with. At the very least, I never would have unified them in a way that doesn’t actually unify them whatsoever, and then, wait a few years to create a third world title that has the same name as 2 other titles but a different lineage. Insane.

I’m more and more convinced, as time goes on, that WWE has kept 2 belts on Roman Reigns (with the new “undisputed” third belt on top of that) because they just want to drive up his numbers in total, since they count separately. Eventually, maybe at WrestleMania 40, the next champion will end up splitting the belts in some way.

My hope is that the Universal Championship is abandoned. I was hoping that would continue rather than this World Heavyweight Championship, as I hate that one belt is the “WWE World Heavyweight Championship” and the other is the “WWE World Heavyweight Championship”. That’s just beyond stupid.

The WWE Championship is the one that needs to stay, and for that matter, clarify that the belt around the waist of Seth Rollins is a continuation of the old title, rather than a new history. Just simplify this nonsense already.

And do the same with the Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championship titles, too. This has gone on far too long with them being the “undisputed” and “unified” belts that are still carried around and treated as 2 separate titles for their lineage.

Speaking of which…

New Tag Team Championship Title Belt Designs

Every year, I have this on the list. Sadly, every year, I say that I feel like it’s finally going to happen, only for it to keep popping back up.

The Raw and SmackDown tag team title belts are hideous. I hated them when they looked like pennies. I’ve hated them while they look like nickels or quarters.

I don’t like the red and blue straps. They don’t even have removable side plates! It irks me to no end!

Either unify the belts properly with one set of titles, or truly separate them. But in any case, do not keep the sentinel head design. Go with something either like what the women’s tag team titles are, something closer to what NXT has going on, or a brand new design that is basic and just not so hideous. Put these belts out of their misery. They’ve been around for 13 years!

Title Reigns That Should Happen

Rounding out this list are some suggestions I’d like to see for title reigns to happen at some point in 2024. Some are just pure personal preference. Others are things I feel come to as close as objectively “right” decisions that you can get, if you polled the entire fandom:

  • Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa should definitely win some tag team gold.
  • I’d like to see Sheamus win that Intercontinental Championship to become a grand slam champion once Gunther drops it.
  • Chad Gable for United States or intercontinental champion? Eh? Maybe?
  • Gunther should win the World Heavyweight Championship or be the guy to beat Cody Rhodes for the WWE/Universal Championship.
  • LA Knight needs to win a midcard title. Ideally, I think he’s the best guy to dethrone Logan Paul for the United States Championship at WrestleMania.
  • I’d be down for Austin Theory and Grayson Waller winning the tag titles.
  • If he isn’t called up to the main roster first, Josh Briggs should win either the NXT Championship or NXT North American Championship.
  • Charlie Dempsey needs the Heritage Cup or North American title.
  • Lexis King for NXT champion.
  • Give that NXT Women’s Championship to Cora Jade, maybe Nikkita Lyons if she proves herself ready for it, and possibly Thea Hail.

Quick Miscellaneous Honorable Mentions

  • Turn Raquel Rodriguez heel. Give her more personality than “look at my back muscles.” Stop relegating her to super short tag team title reigns. It’s doing nothing for her.
  • Put the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal back on WrestleMania’s actual show. Ditch the “showcase” matches. Do a Chyna Memorial Battle Royal. I’m going to keep saying this. It just makes perfect sense. She’s The Ninth Wonder of the World. DO IT.
  • Keep it up with the special shows for outside markets. Having events like Backlash in Puerto Rico and such makes for hot crowds and fun pushes of people who wouldn’t normally get that treatment. And they clearly make the company lots of money.
  • Keep it up with the special episodes of TV, too. Do more things like NXT Gold Rush, WWE Day 1 Raw and so on. They’ll always draw a bigger rating and feel more special and it lets you use those trademarks that are backlogged. What happened to In Your House, for instance?
  • Create more women’s tag teams that aren’t just thrown together 2 weeks before they get a title shot.
  • Kevin Dunn’s gone? Cool. Can we stop with the tropes that we’ve all hated for years, like how they always have to do the same stuff when going to commercial breaks, and how interviewers have to just stare off to the side like idiots instead of saying “Back to you”?
  • Shit or get off the pot with this NIL stuff. Nobody seems to transition to an actual NXT Superstar. So what’s the point in paying these people just to let them work elsewhere?
  • Move WarGames away from Survivor Series. Do that only when it’s justified, not just because it’s November. Also, utilize the Raw/SD general managers for some true competition, be it some cross-branded battle for supremacy match at Mania or an event like Worlds Collide or Bragging Rights or Survivor Series.

Those are my suggestions, but what ideas do you have in mind, particularly for the wrestlers who didn’t make my list? Do you have any resolutions for yourself this year? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

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