The month of September is almost over and as we look ahead to what’s next for World Wrestling Entertainment, the months of October and November will be very busy with four pay-per-view style big events on the horizon. All of them will air live on WWE Network.
The next major WWE show is called Super Show-Down on Saturday, October 6 from the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia with an estimated attendance of over 60,000 people. The show will air live on WWE Network at 5 a.m. ET/2 a.m. PT, so if you’re watching it in North America. you may choose to go the on-demand route instead of a live viewing due to the time difference. The key match on that show is Triple H vs. The Undertaker for the “Last Time Ever” as well as The Shield vs. Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, and AJ Styles defending the WWE Title against Samoa Joe one more time. I’ll have a full predictions column about that show up here on The Comeback in about one week’s time.
There’s also WWE Evolution on Sunday, October 28 from Long Island, New York in the typical Sunday night time slot where they will compete against a primetime NFL game. It’s the first ever all-women’s WWE event featuring matches like Trish Stratus vs. Alexa Bliss and Lita vs. Mickie James. There’s a rumor that Ronda Rousey will defend her Raw Women’s Title against Nikki Bella, and I expect Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair to have another Smackdown Women’s Title match at that show.
#UniversalChampion @WWERomanReigns will defend his title against @BrockLesnar AND @BraunStrowman in a #TripleThreat Match at #WWECrownJewel in Saudi Arabia, streaming LIVE on @WWENetwork Nov. 2! pic.twitter.com/X6UkgL7wCC
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) September 18, 2018
On Friday, November 2, WWE heads back to Saudi Arabia for the WWE Crown Jewel event from the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. That event will air in the afternoon for those of us in North America. The likely main event of that show will see Roman Reigns defend the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman in a triple threat match. It’s also expected that Shawn Michaels will have his first match in eight years when he teams up with Triple H against The Undertaker and Kane, which would be a matchup of part-time legends. Just like at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in April, no women’s wrestlers are expected to be at the show due to laws in Saudi Arabia. The main reason WWE is doing it is that they reportedly get around $40 million for every Saudi Arabia show, which makes it a very profitable event. As Ted Dibiase used to say…everybody has a price.
The 32nd edition of Survivor Series takes place on November 18 in Los Angeles. For the last two years, the theme has been Raw vs. Smackdown matches. We don’t know if that will be the case this year and with three major shows before Survivor Series, I don’t know if WWE will be able to make Survivor Series seem like a big deal. Anyway, there’s plenty of time to build that show up.
For now, I’m here to do a WWE Mailbag column where I ask people on Twitter to fire wrestling related questions at me and I do my best to provide a thoughtful reply. You can follow me on Twitter @johnreport where I mostly tweet about wrestling along with sports (go LA Rams) in case you aren’t already. Let’s get to it.
1. From @offenderer:
Will Rusev ever be a World Champion? Why is WWE afraid to pull the trigger on him? He is the second most over guy behind Bryan on SD.
I hope so. If this was a few years ago, I would have said for sure, but now it may not happen because there are a lot of people on the roster that may be ahead of him in terms of being a long term champion. I’ve always liked Rusev and I think “Rusev Day” is silly, but it works. Sometimes silly works well in wrestling as the “What?” and “Yes” chants have shown us. I would not rank Rusev ahead of AJ Styles as the most over guys, but he is after Bryan and Styles. I thought Rusev did well against Styles at Extreme Rules, even though he lost the match.
You would think that WWE would want to push a guy that came through their system, was a typical foreign bad guy, and then turned into a popular face. I just don’t know if they see him as being a WWE Champion kind of guy. He may be in the upper midcard for the most of his career. While I personally hope it happens for Rusev, at this point I would probably say I doubt that he gets to be WWE Champion.
2. From @Oofman21:
Are these international PPVs making the storylines better or worse? I tried to get into HIAC but Taker/Hunter made for better TV and that was for Super ShowDown.
I think the build for Taker/Hunter has been okay, but in the end, it’s not that big of a deal because it’s two part-timers that may have more matches. Who knows? I legitimately thought The Undertaker was done at WrestleMania 33 in 2017 when he lost to Roman Reigns and left his gear in the ring. Instead, he’s come back for more. Triple H will probably wrestle once in a while well into his 50s (he’s 49) because he’s in great shape. It would be nice if WWE promoted the current stars as bigger draws because I think relying on guys in their late 40s and 50s is not the way to go.
As far as better or worse goes, I think the Smackdown feuds and matches at Super Show-Down are better because they have personal rivalries that are interesting, which I wrote about in a column yesterday. With Raw, it just feels like just another show with a bunch of tag team matches. Raw is frustrating right now.
3. From @Jason617:
Who do you think will be the next big call-up to the main roster, from NXT, and will they go to Raw or Smackdown?
There are so many because NXT is stacked right now. I think this might be the best year in WWE’s NXT history since they started doing Takeover events on WWE Network in 2014 when the network launched. I loved 2015 a lot and into 2016 too, but 2018 has been on fire thanks to some great rivalries as well as so many incredible moves.
In terms of main roster call ups, they likely won’t make any moves until Survivor Series at the earliest. Maybe The Undisputed Era goes up to Smackdown as a group of four. I think Shayna Baszler to Raw would be cool because of her friendship with Ronda Rousey, so that could be a feud. I’d love to see Velveteen Dream up there because he’s ready, but the argument against it is he’s still under 25 years old, so what’s the rush? They have time. Aleister Black doesn’t need much more time in NXT although they’ve got that mystery injury angle. I can see guys like Ciampa and Gargano succeeding very well on the main roster, but maybe they will still be in NXT until WM season. If you have a really good thing going in NXT, why end it just to end it? That’s how I look at it. There’s just so much talent that it’s hard to point to who it should be, so it’s a tough one to answer right now.
4. From @Jake_afcb:
Is USA Network’s insistence on handing WWE hundreds of millions of $ for Raw making the creative writing lazy and repetitive?
I am sure there are some fans that will think that since WWE is going to get $1+ billion from USA Network over the next five years (starting in October 2019) that there may be some complacency from the creative team. It’s easy to get lazy when you know the money is coming in, but I don’t like that excuse. It’s not like USA (or Fox with Smackdown next year) would be happy with WWE ratings dropping, so WWE’s creative team should feel the pressure. There’s no way for us to know without actually being in WWE’s offices and their creative “bubble” so to speak.
I think WWE’s creative team with Raw has gotten lazy because they are afraid to take risks and to make big moves. As a result, they keep the status quo intact because they feel like there is no reason to take those risks that maybe they had to take in the past. I’d love for them to think of the big picture better and think outside the box more. Today’s wrestling isn’t like 20 years ago when WCW was competing with, and even beating, WWE at times. When you have nobody pushing you, it’s easy to get complacent.
5. From @millerobert:
With lots of interesting “slow burn” storylines on Smackdown, Bryan/Miz, Lynch/Flair, Rusev Day, Aj/Joe, and Raw with (in my opinion) more rushed storylines like The Shield reunion, Braun heel turn, Rousey in WWE, who on the Raw side could benefit most from a slow burn story?
The first name that comes to mind is Finn Balor because in his two plus years on the main roster, he really hasn’t had an interesting story yet. I think he’s a guy who has a connection with the crowd and could really use a hot angle to help his career. Kevin Owens is another one, although I think he has had good stories both with Jericho on Raw and Shane/Sami on SD in the last two years. I’m just saying that on Raw, he hasn’t had much to do. Bobby Lashley could really use an interesting story. Elias rarely has anything to do, and something for him would be good.
There are bigger names like a Rollins or Ambrose that could certainly benefit from more of a story instead of wrestling in a bunch of repetitive tag team matches. They need to tell the story of Rollins going after the Universal Championship because he’s spent most of this year in the Intercontinental Title picture and that is fine, but a guy like him should really want to be in main events again, right? So let’s see Rollins get that push again. I’m sure we could all sit here looking at the Raw roster and pointing at guys that could use something interesting because there is a lot of boredom when we sit through that show on Monday nights lol.
6. From @givaldizhafran:
In your opinion, who are the best three superstars (in ring and promo) on the current WWE roster? For me it’s AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Seth Rollins.
I think it’s probably those three as well. Seth Rollins is likely the leader in terms of best overall performer on the main roster this year. He’s not in main events and isn’t the Universal Champion, but he’s been amazing all year. I think AJ had better years in WWE in 2016 and 2017 although he’s still…wait for it…phenomenal. I had to! Bryan isn’t fully at the level he was in 2014, but still consistently great. They had that one match on Smackdown, and I hope they have another one.
I would seriously consider putting Miz in that top three group although he’s a bit behind the others in terms of in-ring, but his promos are as good as anybody right now. Kevin Owens is high up there too, but he hasn’t had great stories this year. Finn Balor is a tremendous all-around talent that may be lacking in terms of promos. Samoa Joe has had a really good year. If you looked at NXT, guys like Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano are very talented too.
7. From @JarOfTripsis:
When is Aleister Black likely to be promoted to the main roster?
I think Black’s a guy that is clearly ready and would do well due to his unique look and his offensive style. He’s 33 years old with a lot of experience. I hope Vince “gets” his dark, brooding style of gimmick, but who knows if Vince will like what he can do? Vince doesn’t seem to get behind some NXT talent. They probably have to pay off his injury angle first. What I would do is have Black beat whoever attacked him in a Takeover match at the Nov. or Jan. event and then have him debut as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble. He would come in hot for WrestleMania season.
8. From @KickThe10Kid:
Pick one underutilized Superstar from each roster that you would give a huge push too, and why?
Finn Balor from Raw because he’s got that special connection with the audience that you can feel every time his music hits. Why not push the “Demon” version of Balor more? The response to him at SummerSlam was huge. Maybe it would be better to move him to SD to push him since they don’t get behind him on Raw. Chad Gable is another guy that I am really high on in terms of the Raw roster. So what if he’s small? Very good worker. I’d even support Elias getting a bigger push just because at least it’s somebody different. I like the idea of Drew McIntyre getting pushed a lot too.
Over on Smackdown, I’d love to see Cesaro get a singles push as a heel or a face. Either way would work. He’s done the tag team thing for a few years now and I don’t mind The Bar at all, but Cesaro has untapped potential as a face. I think Andrade Almas is another one too. I think he’s going to get that big push within the next year anyway.
9. From @soundinmymemory:
If / when Chris Jericho comes back to WWE, do you think WWE will acknowledge what he’s been up to? The cruise…All In…NJPW?
I doubt it. Why put over his other accomplishments in New Japan or his cruise that WWE has no affiliation with, but companies like Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling are involved with? I think WWE can say he was out conquering the world and focusing on Fozzy, but when he comes back, it can be a case of Jericho is “home,” whenever he does return. The amazing thing about Jericho is that he turns 48 years old in November and is still so productive.
10. From @jamessheehan199:
When do you think Roman Reigns loses the Universal Title? Raw feels really stale right now and I wouldn’t be mad if they did a shake-up at the top soon.
I guess they could have him drop the title to Strowman, perhaps at Crown Jewel, but it seems like it is too soon after building up Reigns to win that Universal Title for the past two years. Strowman could be a dominant heel champion, so that’s intriguing. I just have a feeling this will be a long run for Reigns going to WrestleMania season or longer.
Allow me to pose a question to you, readers. A lot of us think things are stale, but does Vince? I’m not sure if he does, and considering that Vince has spent so much time building up Reigns as a top guy, he may be a lot less reluctant to change the plans just because we may think things are stale. If I have to make a prediction I’d say Reigns holds that title for like 8 months or more. I would do a Shield triple threat at WrestleMania and have Rollins win it while Ambrose is a heel in the match.
11. From @LordJawann:
Why hasn’t AJ Styles been main eventing PPVs, especially during Lesnar’s absence, before he dropped his title to Roman? They trust him to hold the title for nearly a year, but not to main event? Might have helped his feud with Nakamura, for example.
They, meaning the decision makers in WWE, like Raw more than Smackdown and that’s been obvious for two decades now. Go back to the original brand extension in the mid to late 2000s and the Raw guys headlined more shows than Smackdown whenever they had a joint PPV. I think AJ should be main eventing PPVs too, but it’s not up to us. Could it change in a year’s time when Smackdown is on Fox and has a bigger profile? Maybe. We won’t know until October 2019 and beyond if WWE opts to make Smackdown the bigger show since Fox is on network television and Raw is on cable.
12. From @pjwalk85:
Hey John, love your insights and reading your site. Anyway, why does it seem like WWE likes to ignore the fans? E.g. Becky heel, no Rusev push. Plus, they seem to ignore NXT callups. E.g. Revival, Ascension, Tye, Asuka. I know you can’t push everyone at once, but listen to fans.
I don’t see much of an issue with Becky. They had her beat nearly every woman on Smackdown in the last few months. If they booked her as a pure face, she would be boring. Being a heel or being booked like a heel has been wonderful, so enjoy it for what it is. If you are fan of Becky, what’s there to complain about? Being a heel is a lot more fun to watch and she is likely enjoying it too. Be happy that she got a big push in the last four months or so because she was barely doing anything before that.
Rusev got a WWE Title shot at the PPV in July, so that was a push. It’s not all the way to winning the title, but at least he was put in that spot and hopefully there’s more to come. As for NXT stars on main roster, a lot could be used better, but you can’t push everybody when you have over 100 people on the main roster and over 200 people signed to deals in the company.
I think sometimes fans forget that some people have to lose the matches. What matters the most is telling good stories, not about who wins and loses all the time. Don’t forget that Steve Austin became a much bigger star at WrestleMania 13 in 1997 because he lost the match to Bret Hart. That told a better story than a win would have.
That’s all for now. Next week I’ll be back with some predictions for Super Show-Down and covering everything else going on in the wacky world of World Wrestling Entertainment.