As 2017 slowly but surely is coming to an end, the VultureHound team was asked to express what they wish for wrestling in 2018. Each of the writers has his dream match, his favourite wrestler, a promotion he wants to favour. But in the end, in the two parts of this huge list of wishes, you’ll notice they all have the same desire in mind, continue to love and enjoy wrestling, wherever they are, whoever they love. The VultureHound wrestling team is a bunch of passionate people, their wishes are its perfect reflection. Let’s find out what they have to say…
2017 was a year seemingly fragmented over the last two decades of pro wrestling, with the likes of AJ Styles and Goldberg permeating the top-tier. The independent circuits of pro wrestling have become more accessible than ever before, for stars and audiences alike. While there was a lot that went right in 2017, there was an awful lot that could have gone better. Seeing the Shield reunite after three years apart melted this ol’ gal’s precious heart. Yet it was only a matter of days before I envisaged Ambrose seeking vengeance and turning on his brothers in arms. The Shield reunion has restored Dean to his character’s former glory, and I hope that he can ride that wave of momentum into the new year, cementing his place on the roster as a top heel.
With the return of Paige and a handful of NXT debutants making their presence known in WWE’s women’s division, bookers missed the mark with the potential for women’s wrestling in 2017. From the highs of the Women’s Money in the Bank match, to the lows of multi-woman squabbles and make-shift title bouts, here’s to hoping that 2018 ushers in storylines of substance for women. Feuds and grudge matches worth watching will do more for the overall product and wrestling world than any tagline can.
Finally, on a more personal note, I hope that we might see more Australians pervading national wrestling borders in 2018. With the success of promotions like Melbourne City Wrestling attracting eyes from abroad, and our boys making appearances at PWG, who knows what’s in store across the pond for us true blue Aussies?
Over the past few years, we really have seen a shift in the world of Women’s wrestling. With the women of NXT starting a revolution we as fans saw a huge change in the way the women’s division was run. For the first time in years women were being given the opportunity to prove just how talented and skilled they actually are and in time we really did start to see women given identical opportunities to the men proving once and for all they really can hang with the guys. 2017 was yet another huge milestone year for women’s wrestling in the WWE with the first Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, more main-event spots and bigger opportunities but as we approach the new year there is one thing I want to see more than anything and that is the continuation of the Women’s revolution.
I want to see boundaries pushed even more, women given even bigger opportunities and more history-making moments and matches. While we have seen so much change already, including a Women’s Hell in a Cell match, in 2018 I want to see more! If we can have female talent compete in Hell in a Cell and Money in the Bank matches, then this coming year I would love to see women given the chance to compete in their first Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber matches. Two big matches but with the division expanding on both RAW and SmackDown Live the numbers are there as is the passion and interest. It’s these matches that elevate women in the company to new heights. It makes WrestleMania feel as big of a deal for the division as it is for the men and also showing women are capable of competing in those more dangerous matches.
Beyond the obvious that I would really like someone to pay me enough money to go to all the shows (high-pay, low-hour employers, if you’re reading…), what I’d really wish for in 2018 is for everyone to continue to get better and more popular. Yes, we can see NJPW getting record ticket sales for Wrestle Kingdom 12, PROGRESS playing Wembley and even The Bullet Club looking at running their own arena show, but I don’t want just a few examples, I want more indies to get bigger, I want New Japan and ROH to keep being big names, I’d like Impact to be as good as it was around 2006.
The reason that WWE was at its creative peak during the Attitude Era was because they needed to try harder to get the audience’s attention, they had competition. I want them to have competition again. I want them to have to work harder and as much as that, I’d really like them to commit to building some new stars, not just keep making me watch Kane and Shane and other people ending in ‘…ane’. If that’s all too much to ask for, I’ll settle for Rev Pro booking Tomohiro Ishii against Mark Davis. Though if that does happen, we go back to point one about the money…
My suggestions are solely centred on WWE considering that’s what I cover for this publication. Firstly, I expect 2018 to be yet another successful year for Matt Hardy as his broken gimmick has been #WOKEN for a WWE audience. He’s set to feud with Bray Wyatt which I would love to see culminate in the deranged pair joining forces. This will all happen of course after the two face each other in separate compound battles of ultimate deletion. God that sounds insane but it could actually happen! I imagine we will get a WWE Championship match between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. You could even make that a Triple threat featuring Sami Zayn after he pulls off a shock Royal Rumble match win.
Alternatively, it could all transpire that Finn Balor not being “over” is all a work and he wins the Royal Rumble to go on and be the underdog in a Fatal-4 Way match for the Universal Championship. Who’s in that match you ask? Let’s go for Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. Making Balor the ultimate underdog. I also expect to see 2018 as the year Daniel Bryan returns to in-ring action. With or without the WWE. They surely don’t want to miss out on that cash cow so we may even see a retirement match between Angle and Bryan at WrestleMania.
Pro Wrestling, Sports Entertainment, whatever you want to call it, is great at the moment. The independent scene is thriving, and WWE is doing some great stuff as well. The last couple of years have been a good time to be a wrestling fan (ok, nothing’s perfect, but it’s pretty good). My biggest wish is to see the continued growth of wrestling as a whole, but let’s get a bit more specific. Aleister Black as NXT Champion for a very long run. Mustafa Ali as Cruiserweight Champion. Tye Dillinger with a US title run, at the very least. More Usos vs New Day, but Breezango to get a run with the SmackDown tag titles. I would like WWE to do more with the Shield before disbanding them. Shield versus SAnitY, and Shield versus Authors of Pain, with whoever really, but I’d love to see Samoa Joe with them.
On the subject of The Shield, I don’t think it’s necessary to implode them when there is nothing for them to do. A loose alliance could work for all of them long-term. I might be in a minority of one there though. The women’s division has to get more equal treatment. It’s all well and good talking about a women’s revolution, but the women’s divisions are still significantly smaller than the men’s, and all too often we still get ultra-short women’s matches. We frequently still only get one women’s match per show. It’s going the right way, but that’s not good enough.
Closer to home (I’m UK based), I have PROGRESS wishes. I want to see Jack Sexsmith win the Progress title, preferably at their biggest ever shows, at Wembley arena. And I’d like to see Dahlia Black with the Women’s title. For myself, I just want to get out seeing more live wrestling. I’ve seen some amazing shows, and met some wonderful people. More of that next year please.
A new year brings with it a raft of minor wishes: Rev Pro shows will sell out slightly less quickly, Progress will work larger venues more often, and I’ll develop a routine for properly watching New Japan shows. The principle, overriding wish though, one that could provide wrestling fans worldwide with no small amount of comfort, is that some semblance of common sense spontaneously breaks out at WWE’s corporate headquarters. WWE finds itself repeatedly punching below its weight, despite boasting almost infinite resources and a genuinely fantastic roster. Its booking, its management and, apparently, its entire approach to entertainment appears to come from a bizarre, Lynchian mindspace, like a Black Lodge of wrestling where people talk backwards, hot talents on the verge of greatness stall, and weekly shows feature a minimum of wrestling despite a punishing three-hour length.
So next year, all things being equal, my wish is for the WWE to get its brain in gear and actually make good on its claim of being the world-leader at this peculiar and peculiarly hypnotic nonsense. Simple things like wrestlers being allowed to feel-out their own characters and promos, rather than falling back on hideously-scripted drivel; matches that spotlight ingenuity not shenanigans; and a commitment to pushing those individuals who show endeavour and a connection with the audience, rather than those who fit a spurious and arbitrary mould. That, and an actual plan for the UK Championship. My hopes aren’t enormously high, but if Die Hard has taught us anything, it’s that Christmas miracles do happen.
My wishes for 2018 in the world of wrestling are simple. For WWE to let go of some of its most underused talent and allow them to go free. We’re just not getting the best out of so many incredible talents as they flounder in an overcrowded roster, one that continuously seeks part-timers and nostalgia acts to fill out their biggest calendar dates, sending us the message that some of their best wrestlers don’t matter. Otherwise, I want to see this new-found friendship between Owens and Zayn end with a Rumble victory for either.
I want to see the MVP of WWE in 2017, AJ Styles, rewarded with a main-event WrestleMania match with either or both of the Canadian connivers. I want to see at least one British indie event every couple of months. I want to see the Tokyo Dome show live, for once. I want to see another promotion sell out a 10,000 person arena show. This is getting closer and closer thanks to Cody Rhodes’ ambition and Progress booking up Wembley. What I am trying to say is, want competition for WWE because monopolies are bad in any industry and we should all be able to enjoy wrestling without the glare of one all-powerful company dominating the landscape. I think in 2018, we might just get a little closer to that.