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It is the most wonderful time of the year! It is time for Festivus! (Editor’s Note: Festivus is technically on December 23, but I wasn’t able to post it then, so you get it today instead!)

Since Christmas has gotten so commercial in the last hundred years, I have always enjoyed other holidays around my winter break from teaching. I have enjoyed the great holiday of Festivus so much in recent years, I literally made a video about it at my teaching job. Seriously, if you search my name and Festivus on Youtube you will find a video I created in 2011. I have been teaching for a long time.

 

My favorite part of the Seinfeld-based holiday is easily the “Airing of Grievances”. As you set down to Festivus dinner tonight, it is very important to lash out at your family and the rest of the world. Share all the ways the world has wronged you in the last year. That is why in my now 4th Annual wrestling article for the Festivus holiday, I set my sights on the WWE.

I know a lot of us that are part of this TJRWrestling community consider the WWE to be part of our extended family. We spend thousands of hours a year with it, plan vacations around attending live WWE events and feel more than close enough to criticize its numerous faults based on the excessive time we spend together. I believe a good venting of frustrations is what is really needed around the holidays. It is the time when families are generally getting together after all. So on December 23rd each year, I turn my focus back to my WWE family yet again.

With that in mind, it is time for the 2018 “Airing of Grievances”. In the words of Frank Costanza, “I got a lotta problems with you people, and you are going to hear about it!” Here are some of my biggest grievances in the unique year that was 2018.

International Super Shows


I want to state right off the bat I have no issue with the having pay-per-views outside North America. International fans deserve a major pay-per-view without being given glorified live events and absurd booking. Naturally, there are many major issues of the three International events this year: Greatest Royal Rumble, Super Show-Down and Crown Jewel.

The Greatest Royal Rumble was nauseating. It played like a four-hour informercial for the supposedly progressive nature of Saudi Arabia. For any wrestling fan with even the slightest understanding of world events, we knew of Saudi Arabia’s vile record of human rights. To celebrate the fact they finally allowed women to drive in 2018 was ridiculous. The matches themselves served little purpose and the Rumble itself contained some superstars who we haven’t seen before or since. I wonder where that green Rumble belt is now?

Super Show-Down certainly didn’t have any of the issues of Saudi Arabia. I believe Australia deserves a lot better quality. A major issue with all three of these international shows is their over-reliance on 50-year-old wrestlers to sell the show. The WWE is struggling for ratings and they decided the best solution was to sell the main events of the last two international shows was base them around four wrestlers with the combined ages of 206 years (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Kane). It led to slow and boring matches by wrestlers well past their primes.

Crown Jewel was naturally the worst. This time there was no way you could ignore the vile human rights violations of the Saudi Arabia. The cold-blooded murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was an international scandal. It was the thing that most made me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan in the last ten years. If your wrestling company has no morals at all, what does that say if you support them?

For some reason, I still decided to actually watch Crown Jewel. It is the only time I actually regret my choice. The WWE tried to pretend they were not in Saudi Arabia by refusing to say it publicly. It didn’t help they put on the worst booked show of the year as well.

I will admit if there is a thing that might get me to stop watching the WWE in 2019 it would be its support of Saudi Arabia. I love wrestling, but I also hate the idea of my time and money supporting a company that works with a country like Saudi Arabia.

Shane McMahon

“I am sure the McMahon family will continue to anger me in 2018.”

That was a line from last year’s article. I guess it was too easy to assume the McMahon family will hog the spotlight and take away from their very talented roster. Stephanie had her moments, like having to take the spotlight on every important announcement for Women’s Wrestling. Triple H decided to main event many important shows. But it was Shane McMahon that takes the annoying prize for the family.

I think the biggest issue with Shane McMahon is he still remains the most fleshed out babyface character in the WWE. The problem is he really doesn’t act like a real good guy. Kevin Owens complained a lot this year about the interference of Shane McMahon in their feud. The thing is, Owens was right. Shane constantly interfered and cost Owens matches, put Kevin in impossible feuds and threatened to fire him on multiple occasions. I hate when the heels are justified in their whining.

The biggest grievance of all is Best in the World. Shane McMahon, who wasn’t even part of the tournament, inserted himself in a tournament where he pinned Dolph Ziggler and became the “Best Wrestler in the World”. It made the whole tournament pointless and Shane continues to stand toe to toe with some of the biggest names in the WWE. His flying elbow knocked Braun Strowman out of the Survivor Series match for a long time. Yes the 48-year-old Shane McMahon was one of the rare superstars to get one up on Braun in 2018.

I wish for a year without the McMahons in the spotlight, but we know that isn’t going to happen. After all, the new leaders of Raw and Smackdown are the McMahon family. They are going to give the fans what they want despite the fact they are the ones who caused the problems in the first place. Sigh.

The Treatment of the Universal and WWE Championships

It might seem a bit predictable at this point, but I am sick of Brock Lesnar. His 504-day title reign with the Universal Championship was infuriating. Raw was clearly the worst show in the WWE Universe in 2018 and one factor was clearly the lack of a main title for the Raw Superstars to fight over. I certainly don’t blame Brock Lesnar for making the big bucks and defending the title on television a grand total of six times in a year and a half. It is nice work if you can get it.

I certainly wonder if the point was that we would be so sick of Lesnar’s reign that we would be happy to have Roman as the Universal Champion. But with the tragic illness of Roman, you were faced with a real choice. Do you finally have a new main event superstar or do you go back to the absent champion again? Vince and the powers to be decided on Brock again. My grievance is clear and Raw suffers for it.

The WWE Championship didn’t fare much better, in my opinion. At least AJ Styles was a defending champion in 2018. He defended it constantly in this calendar year. But my issues are more with the importance of the title and its placement on the card.

The WWE Championship was an afterthought the entire year. It was constantly in the middle of the card always losing out to the likes of an Intercontinental Championship match, a Universal Championship Match or the Smackdown Women’s Championship. I am not saying some of the choices were not justified but it is weird to see the WWE Championship, supposedly the most prestigious in the company, always an afterthought in 2018. It shows the general lack of respect for Smackdown in general.

The matches and feuds were generally disappointing as well. The series of AJ/Shinsuke matches certainly never lived up to the hype we were promised. A majority of their matches had absurd finishes. I mean who has heard of a No DQ match ending in a double countout?

AJ’s second major feud of 2018 wasn’t much better. Samoa Joe could certainly talk a wonderful game but most of his matches with AJ were overshadowed on the card as well. And most importantly, why does AJ insistent on never wearing a cup. I mean how many times can you be hit in the balls Styles? That is on you at a certain point.

I believe the WWE Championship is looking up with Daniel Bryan as champion at the end of 2018. Heel Daniel Bryan seems to be bringing out the best in AJ Styles as well. However, it was surprising to see both major championships be such an afterthought for a majority of this year.

Conclusion

Those are some of my biggest grievances about 2018 in pro wrestling. This list certainly took a bit of a darker tone in 2018. I don’t want you to think that I am simply one of those fans that complains about everything. I could think of many more things I have enjoyed this year (Becky Lynch, NXT Takeovers and WWE Evolution). In fact, I think I am a positive fan overall. But the real point of fandom is you can always view the good and bad in your chosen hobby. I am sure many other things will bother/anger me in 2019 as well.

I hope you have a good Festivus and wonderful holiday season!
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Feel free to contact me at lasher@pacificu.edu. Additionally, I have my Twitter account @WWEBNRL as well. I would love to hear your thoughts about your grievances about WWE in 2018. What was I missing that I should have been angry about?

 

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