Greetings one and all, and a happy and prosperous 2019 to you, TJR Wrestling faithful. I hope you enjoyed the festive period and, like me, are seriously contemplating joining a gym while whilst eating the remaining chocolate bars in the house. I didn’t catch much of the WWE shows over the holiday period, but caught up on the action via John’s reviews on this site and various WWE online channels. So, now that the holidays are over and a somewhat ‘normal’ schedule is beginning once again, I wanted to take a look at some WWE stars and what the coming year may hold for them. Rather than go for the easy targets, like Becky Lynch, I looked across the roster and came up with some stars that should have an interesting twelve months ahead of them.
Ronda Rousey – The best beginning to a WWE career in recent memory? One of the most successful debut years in professional wrestling? The plaudits are aplenty for the former UFC star and it’s safe to say that Rousey has settled in extremely well in the WWE. It was a slow start and nobody expected her to wrestle week in, week out from the outset, but it’s encouraging to see her have more in-ring time as the months pass. Her Wrestlemania match, alongside Kurt Angle and against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, was much better than many anticipated and was one of the better matches of the event. Rousey more than held her own and credit to all involved for making her look like a star.
Her ascension to the top of the Raw Women’s Division has been quick, but not overly controversial in that wrestling fans disliked her rapid rise to the top or found her an ‘unbelievable’ champion. I think WWE have played it extremely well by having Rousey deliberately separated from Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Asuka for the majority of the year, only briefly coming into contact with one another, if at all. It bodes well for the future and ensures that Rousey will not be short of challengers going forward. It also gives Lynch, Flair et al to have the opportunity to really cement their position as a top woman in the company by having Rousey as the pinnacle and challenge that must be toppled to be considered one of the greatest of all time. Whether Rousey will depart in 2019 to start a family or hang around for a while longer, it cannot be denied that she has made a huge impact since arriving and I hope she continues to do so.
Drew McIntyre – A resurgence to finally be recognized as the ‘Chosen One’ once more? McIntyre has been enjoying steady progression since his return to WWE; a brief stint in NXT was quickly followed by a return to Raw where he struck up a good partnership with Dolph Ziggler. Their pairing suffered the inevitable breakdown and Drew has been made to look like a star by the human selling machine that is Ziggler.
Where to now though, for the giant Scotsman? Firmly established as a heel and formidable as most on the roster, McIntyre surely must be looking for mid-card gold in the coming months. A solid run as Intercontinental Champion could put him in a good stead over Wrestlemania season and solidify his role as someone to be feared in the men’s division. With the (hopefully) likely exit of Brock Lesnar in the coming months, WWE will need more heels vying for the WWE Universal Championship on Raw. Both Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman have been presented as good guys and alongside Finn Balor and an absent Roman Reigns, Raw could certainly use a really tough heel to be in the mix for the top tile. Can McIntyre be that man? We’ll have to wait and see.
John Cena – Acknowledging he’s in the autumn of his professional wrestling career, I have been very pleased to see Cena enjoying himself since his return to action. The smiles, the jokes with the audience and the fun interactions with other talent just goes to show that he doesn’t need to be holding a belt to be an important member of the roster. I’ve always thought Cena is a better character and performer when he’s been on Smackdown Live, as their writing and storylines appear to be less rigid and more creative, allowing for a level of improvisation and ad-libs for their stars, something Cena benefits from massively.
Do I see him overtaking Ric Flair’s championship title record? No, but it is certainly possible if there was a speight of injuries among the top talent or a bout of sickness cuts through the roster at some point. Cena is a worthy champion and a tough man to wrench the belt from for any wrestler. His name also gives the potential challenger a lot of credibility by defeating him. I fully understand why WWE want to keep him on the roster given the wealth of experience and the star power his name carries, although I fully expect him to work a lighter schedule than recent years and be involved in more non-WWE projects. Hopefully he can gain some success outside of WWE in 2019 and carve out another career in acting to follow in the footsteps of The Rock and Dave Bautista.
Chris Jericho – I honestly don’t know what the future holds for him, and frankly, I don’t want to. Jericho continually surprises us and millions of wrestling fans across the globe. Whether it’s more matches in NJPW, the building of a new wrestling federation, another cruise or a brief return to WWE, whatever Chris Jericho decides to do, rest assured he will give it 100% and it’ll be something many people will talk about for a long time.
What do you think? Who will shine in the coming year and what do you want to see? Will Ronda Rousey taste defeat in the coming twelve months? Will Drew McIntyre rise to the top? Where will Jericho pop up next? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.