2018 has been an incredible and utterly crazy year for pro wrestling, filled with memorable moments, scale-breaking matches, and star-making performances. With this historic year almost over, let’s look ahead at what treats we have to come in the next twelve months. Here are my Top 10 Things to Look Forward to in Pro Wrestling in 2019.
10. The Improvement and Globalisation of New Japan Pro Wrestling
In January 2018, New Japan’s streaming service, NJPW World, saw a huge spike in subscribers from around the world in preparation for their biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom. With this big increase in non-Japanese fans that they’ve cultivated over the last few years, NJPW have been making efforts into making their product more accessible to a global audience. We’ve seen this with more shows outside of their native Japan, far more live broadcasts with English commentary, and a lot more English language out of ring content on both NJPW World and their YouTube channel.
Heading into 2019, Wrestle Kingdom will be available to watch on Fite TV for the first time ever, making their biggest event of the year easier to access for curious fans unsure of how or if they should subscribe to NJPW World. On top of that, AXS TV will be showing matches from Wrestle Kingdom on the very same day it broadcasts live for the first time ever.
Going forward, it seems likely that NJPW will make even more leaps into ensuring their content is more inviting for English-speaking fans. For a start, New Japan has expanded it’s English language commentary team, adding the fantastic Excalibur to its ranks, and as of January, their weekly AXS TV broadcasts will feature much more up to date content, and the fantastic commentary of Kevin Kelly and co.
With more English language documentaries, commentary and features, NJPW World will continue to become even better value for money, as well as attract more and more fans. When good pro wrestling can become more popular and easier to watch, that’s something to get excited about.
9. Continued Growth of IMPACT Wrestling
Throughout 2018, IMPACT has gone from strength to strength, rebuilding the reputation it once had after several years of misdirection and mismanagement. Thanks to an array of amazing talent, both behind the camera and in front of it, IMPACT has brought back many scorned fans, and created some brand new ones. Along with crafting some of the most creative, interesting and often violent content on wrestling television, IMPACT have put on some of the best pay-per-views of the year.
As we look ahead to 2019, we already know we will see the return of Ultimate X at IMPACT’s Homecoming show in January, but what else will 2019 hold for the company? Personally, I can’t wait to see more from the likes of new roster members Jordynne Grace and The Rascalz, IMPACT forming more bonds with other companies, and employing even more fantastic talents from around the world.
8. The N-e-XT Big Stars for NXT
Over the last few years, NXT has sat at the top of weekly wrestling shows. It’s consistency for quality pro wrestling content is stunning, and their TakeOver shows are almost unrivalled when it comes to start-to-finish excitement. With NXT stars always leaving for the main roster (for better or worst), new stars always have to fill in those spots and put on those incredible matches we’ve become so accustomed too.
Heading into 2019, it’s clear that some of NXT’s newest additions such as Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, Mia Yim and others will be there to step in as the next big main-events, and hopefully people such as Donovan Dijakovic and Fabian Aichner will get their TakeOver moments too, but which other world-class free agents will sign with the yellow brand next year? I for one cannot wait to find out.
7. NXT UK Takes Over
So far, NXT UK has been a great addition to the WWE Network’s weekly schedule, with at least one stellar match taking place on each episode. As we know, the brand’s first TakeOver show will take place in January, and with such a big stage to show off their skills on, I’m sure this superbly talented roster will take this huge opportunity to show off just how good many of us know they are.
With rumours of the likes of WALTER are signing with the company now, it looks like NXT UK is going to get even better in the near future. What will the landscape of NXT UK look like once TakeOvers are involved? I can’t wait to find out.
6. Wrestle Kingdom
Some have said that the line-up for the upcoming Wrestle Kingdom 13 appears to be weak, and in the early stages of the event’s formation, I did have my worries, yet now I could not disagree more. Just look at the potentially amazing matches we have:
ZSJ vs. Ishii, Tanahashi vs. Omega, Okada vs. White, Ishimori vs. KUSHIDA, Naito vs. Jericho, Ibushi vs. Ospreay, Junior Tag Triple Threat, etc.
Wrestle Kingdom is always one of the best shows of the year, and with what will probably the biggest worldwide audience ever for the event next year, I can’t wait to see how many people, myself included, the talents involved blow away.
5. PAC is BAC-k
PAC returned to pro wrestling in late 2018 to the major delight of fans around the world. The moment those GIFs of him returning to Dragon Gate hit the internet, you could feel the tremors in the ground from mass marking out.
Having only had a couple of months so far to make an impact, PAC is set to do big things in 2019. No doubt the former Neville will make a gigantic splash on the UK independent circuit, and just think of all of the amazing dream matches that could potentially bring. We already know he will definitely be facing Zack Sabre Jr. for RevPro in January, as well as Will Ospreay in February, and those alone are worth an entry on this list.
Wherever PAC ends up and whoever he may face, it’s inevitable that 2019 will be the year of BASTARD PAC.
4. Future of The Elite
Will The Elite go to WWE or will they stay in New Japan? If they do go to WWE, will they immediately take over or will they be misused in quick fashion? Will there be an All In 2? Will All Elite Wrestling actually become a real promotion? Will Being the Elite continue if they do go to WWE? Will the gang be able to attend Marty’s New Year’s Day party? With so many questions yet to be resolved, 2019 will no doubt provide some very intriguing answers.
3. Injured Wrestlers Returning
Injuries are sadly a part of pro wrestling, and they suck. So many incredible talents are currently on the shelf, yet no doubt when they return to action in 2019, they will return to even bigger and better things:
- Joey Janela will go back to being one of the most creative and popular members of the independent scene, putting on unique and interesting shows with Game Changer Wrestling.
- Hiromu Takahashi will return to New Japan to one of the biggest reactions you will ever hear. Be prepared for the Earth to shake when he emerges once again.
- Rosemary will continue to be involved in some of the most interesting and often strange story lines and segments in IMPACT.
- Joey Ryan will keep on flipping people with his penis, to the delight of many.
- Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will both come back to massive reactions, whether they’re good guys or bad guys.
Sadly there are many more pro wrestlers on the shelf right now, and at any one time, there always will be, yet if we look on the bright side, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and when all of these performers return in 2019, we all hope they will become even more popular because of it.
2. The Man Main-Eventing
In the latter half of 2018, Becky Lynch became arguably the hottest person in WWE thanks to her captivating personality, wrestling ability, character, and promos. When she held her SmackDown Women’s Championship above her crimson-smothered face after a bloody in-ring brawl on Raw, she established herself as a major star.
Becky Lynch is presenting herself and placing herself in situations and story lines in a way we’ve rarely seen from female talent in WWE. Her feud with Charlotte has been fuelled by enthralling themes of competition and violence rarely seen in modern WWE, and the overwhelming response from fans towards their feud, as well as Becky herself. have already began to impact the way other members of the women’s division are being used (e.g. the amazingly brutal Rousey vs. Charlotte).
Branding herself as The Man, Becky has made a point that being the best does not have anything to do with gender. She is obliterating gender roles and establishing that the man no longer has to be a man. Becky Lynch has sparked a major shift in WWE, and for one cannot wait to see how that all plays out in 2019, with one match in particular peaking everyone’s interest.
Whilst Lynch was changing the game on SmackDown, the newcomer, Ronda Rousey, was putting on surprisingly impressive performances and dominating the Raw division. During the build between the much hyped main-event worthy match between Becky and Ronda Rousey, Becky was unfortunately injured by the hand of Nia Jax. Now although I would never wish injury upon any performer, the silver lining may be that this cross-branded brawl could now take place on an even bigger and much more important stage.
Rousey vs. Lynch is a WrestleMania main event worthy match if I’ve ever seen one. With months left of build and plenty of ways to ignite hype, WWE could have tens of thousands of fans inside MetLife Stadium (myself included) exploding with excitement even after seven or so hours of matches, promos and Pitbull performances. If WWE are smart enough to put this potentially great fight in the main event of their biggest show of the year, it would mark a significant step forward in their Women’s Revolution, a recognition for what fans truly want and have been begging for, and a well-deserved reward for somebody who took the ball and ran with it further than most could have expected once given the opportunity.
Even if this match doesn’t take the main-event spot, it will still be the talk of the wrestling world, and will hopefully deliver in every way it possibly can. As long as they allow for this feud to be presented in the way it deserves, powered by intensity and the strive to be the best, we will all be in for some truly special.
New Ring of Honor Stars
More NWA Shows
Fight Club Pro in Japan
More Heel Daniel Bryan
WWE’s New TV Deals
New Stars Stepping Up on the British Indies
- New Japan and Ring of Honor Invade MSG
When an arena show sells out in less than a day, you know you’re in for something special.
For the first time in over fifty years, Madison Square Garden will host a non-WWE wrestling event, which marks a major step forward in the globalisation and popularity of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Teaming with Ring of Honor, the two companies will put on one of the biggest highlights of WrestleMania weekend inside the world’s most famous arena.
As well as being a huge achievement for New Japan and ROH, G1 Supercard is a massive landmark in pro wrestling in general. Following on from the major success of All In, G1 Supercard will continue to show that there are very viable options for both fans and performers away from WWE, and that the state of pro wrestling globally right now is outstanding.
With this show being such a special occasion, it’s fair to say ROH and NJPW will bring out their best talents in some blockbuster matches to ensure that this show is the talk of the pro wrestling world. With five-star bout machines such as Tetsuya Naito, Kazuchika Okada, The Elite (maybe), Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki, Jonathan Gresham, Tomohiro Ishii, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Taiji Ishimori, and more all in the same building, it’s not too wild to say we are in for something special. Plus, such a huge stage could be a fantastic platform for launching new stars like Brody King and my favourite person in the world, Cheeseburger, which is always a huge bonus of any show.
On April 6th, we will witness a true piece of history, whether on NJPW World, Honor Club, or live and in person like I am. Trust me, every pro wrestling fan owes it to themselves to make sure they catch every second of G1 Supercard.
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