We’re just 15 days into 2019 and it seems like the wrestling business was caught in a hurricane. Kenny Omega is done with NJPW, All Elite Wrestling was born, WWE will crown Women’s Tag Team Champions, NXT UK Performance Centre is officially opened… But we still have over 300 days to dream. That’s what the VultureHound team was asked to, express what they wish for wrestling in 2019. Each of the writers has his dream match, his favourite wrestler, a promotion he wants to favour. But in the end, 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…
Twenty years ago, Meiko Satomura was the head trainer at the GAEA Dojo and was the focus of a BBC Documentary GAEA Girls. During that film, she said something prophetic that has stuck with me ever since; “you have to represent Professional Wrestling in the best way.” As I write this she is about to headline a card on the 7th of January at Korakuen Hall as she has done hundreds of times in the past, but this time it is for a British company, Fight Club Pro that has been built around her and their work with BJW and amazingly the WWE. She is doing what she said she would do, giving the best representation of Puroresu she can, as she always does, For her own promotion, Sendai Girls, Stardom, Oz Academy, Pro Wrestling EVE, Chikara and WWE just as she did for GAEA and WCW. My wish is for all of us in wrestling fandom and the wrestling media is to be a bit more like Meiko and represent our chosen platform in the best possible way. We need to show that there is more than the obvious choice. New Japan has opened the door for people to Japanese Wrestling and its culture as has the English language options with World Wonder Ring Stardom, but there is much more to Puroresu and Joshi. This year I aim to watch more puro, write about it more, podcast more about it, inform and enlighten as much as my limited talents will allow and help grow this highly influential and beautiful art form that has given me so much joy and that I want others to enjoy too. We can be better and we shall be better.
Rox‘s wishes (were written before this week’s episode of RAW)
A new year is upon us and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in WWE land. First up, Royal Rumble. In an ideal world, Finn Balor will win the Rumble, catapulting him to the main event of WrestleMania. Braun Strowman will defeat Brock Lesnar for the Universal title at this event too and at some point leading up to Mania, Seth Rollins will take the belt from Strowman. This will give us Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor for the Universal Title on the grandest stage of them all. I look forward to the introduction of the Women’s Tag Team Titles. I’m hoping The Iconics are the inaugural champions and the belts move back and forth between the RAW & SmackDown Live shows. There’s a lot of speculation about Kenny Omega and what his future holds, I for one would love to see him in WWE, tearing it up with the likes of AJ Styles, Andrade “Cien” Almas & Mustafa Ali. Rising stars of 2019 will undoubtedly be EC3, Almas and Ali. RAW needs a fresh face to be thrown into the mix and I see no reason why it couldn’t be a returning Sami Zayn. Kevin Owens plays the perfect ‘inbetweener’ character and he will bring a dynamic depth to a Raw roster that has lacked this in recent months. I look forward to the day Brock Lesnar disappears off into the sunset never to be seen again. Becky Lynch, I think will also have an interesting year as she continues to break through as WWE’s hottest commodity. New matchups, new faces, a company that are finally listening to their audience and Triple H taking more control, it should be an exciting year for fans of WWE.
If a wrestling genie popped up to me today and gave me one wish for 2019 in the world of grappling, I know exactly what I’d ask for. And that’s for British wrestling fans to just calm down a little. Britain produces the best wrestlers in the world. Any list of the planet greatest right now would have to include the likes of Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Will Ospreay and Zack Sabre Jr., to name just a few. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that WWE has shown an interest in nabbing some of the UK’s biggest names, first for tournaments and then for the new WWE UK brand. But this is a net positive. Whatever your thoughts about WWE manoeuvring to snuff out the competition – of course, that’s what they’re doing, they’re a business – you have to acknowledge that this is a great thing for those now working for WWE. They are capable of earning a steady living doing the job they love on the big stage. It’s a mammoth opportunity. Pete Dunne, for goodness sake, has main-evented NXT pay-per-views and may well find himself on the main WWE roster in the next 12 months. The British scene, meanwhile, is absolutely fine. The WWE UK talent may have limitations on their ability to work indy dates, but that frees up space for a whole new generation of Brit talent to fill the void. If there’s one thing the UK has proven it can do, it’s produced outstanding wrestlers to make the whole world sit up and take note. The performers you admire are making money living their dreams, while the British scene continues to thrive in the spotlight. In 2019, we all need to keep calm and enjoy the madness.
It’s difficult to predict anything about indie wrestling right now. It feels like we’re at the tipping point where everything shifts into whatever shape it’s going to be in for the next few years. Contract restrictions, new promotions and affiliations, the new UK PC, there’s a lot going on and it will take time to see how it will all work out. WWE, if nothing else, is a constant. It should be Seth Rollins’ year. From where we are at the moment, he should be main eventing WrestleMania. I’d like to see the women’s division get a bit more screen time. Progress is being made, but there are still too many sub-five-minute matches and six-woman tags. With any luck, the introduction of the women’s tag titles will help rectify that. Like most people I have my favourites that I’d like to see get a push, Tyler Breeze, Nikki Cross, and Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch for example. But this year, I’m mostly just interested to sit back and see how everything pans out.
My first wish for wrestling in 2019 would be for more Japanese promotions to visit the UK. Fight Club Pro has provided the inverse by taking some of their best to Japan to perform alongside BJW wrestlers. These shows seem to have been a success so far so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to hope that the likes of Jun Kasai, Masashi Takeda and other stars of other promotions to take a trip to UK promotions to bring British audiences more of their unique style. Wrestle Gate Pro already looks to be trying to achieve this as they have events planned featuring DDT and AJPW talent.
My second wish would be to see all types of wrestling succeed. We currently live in a time where it seems more fun to try and tear certain types of wrestling down. Every year sees multiple styles of wrestling singled out for excessive criticism or hate for simply existing. As a fan that enjoys multiple styles of wrestling and watches many different promotions for what they offer this narrow-minded attitude is often infuriating. I’d love to see fans come together more often to celebrate what we love than gang up on something they don’t. Even now we see it with the Priscilla Kelly stunt. Wrestling should be allowed to do whatever it wants providing it isn’t unnecessarily dangerous. Instead of criticism let’s just work to appreciate the craft of wrestling regardless of style and ignore the stuff that we don’t want to see. Surely that must be easier than arguing why something “isn’t” wrestling?
As a WWE fan, that hasn’t seen a whole PPV for quite a while, I can’t help but ask myself who could dethrone Brock Lesnar as the Universal Champion? It definitely won’t be Finn Balor at Royal Rumble, probably not Braun Strowman. Because he stole the year 2018 as the Intercontinental Champion, Seth Rollins could be that man. Sami Zayn is on his way back to WWE, the Intercontinental Championship would fit him like a glove. 205 Live should continue to provide us with some stunning matches. While NXT UK is making its way to the top, NXT seems to be stagnant and losing its “educational” vocation to become a waiting room for future WWE stars. What do people like Matt Riddle or Ricochet have to prove yet, after all?
As the Impact Wrestling specialist of this website, I’m proud of what the company has become. Pentagon Dark, Fénix, Sami Callihan, Brian Cage or Johnny Impact are tearing the house down week after week. Killer Kross emerged in 2018 as one of the greatest heels we’ve ever seen in years. If his eyes were guns, the whole Impact fandom would have been dead for a while now. Impact Wrestling is now the first wrestling company the whole world can watch every week on its Twitch channel, that’s huge. May 2019 be as “nutcracking” as 2018 was for Impact Wrestling…
As a French and a woman, 2018 was a great year for wrestling in France as we now have the chance to be able to watch not only WWE, but Lucha Underground, ROH and NJPW. And it must continue in 2019… I can’t wait to see what Cody and The Young Bucks would do of All Elite Wrestling, because they really have a diamond in their hands that can shine so bright the whole wrestling business could be overshadowed. 2019 is definitely meant to be a great year for wrestling, the stars couldn’t be more perfectly aligned…
Only seven days into 2019 and it felt like I’d already got my wish in the form of Strong BJ vs Aussie Open. When the Fight Club: Pro – Project Tokyo VoD is available, you all will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t give it a try. Beyond watching some solid big lad fights, I think if New Japan doesn’t see that the potential of losing a lot of their main talent is an opportunity to pull the pin on Tomohiro Ishii – IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, they are fools. Also, mark my words, this is the year of Zack Sabre Jr and Shingo Takagi.
In WWE, I hope more of the Cruiserweight talent get more spotlights by which to show they’ve begun to live up to that ‘most exciting hour on television’ moniker, even if they aren’t technically on television but that’s a different discussion. Perhaps Buddy Murphy v Rey Mysterio at Mania?
Finally, my biggest wish would be for everyone to recognise Jonathan Gresham as the true talent that he is. Perhaps PWG could give me him vs Jeff Cobb for their title, that would be nice. Actually, on the subject of PWG, could you bring back the Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament? If yes, put The Hunter Brothers, CCK & Gym Nasty Boyz in, please?
All pics courtesy of wwe.com and rohwrestling.com