Episode 218: Top Ten Stories of 2018
Release Date: December 27th, 2018
Recap By: James Hayes
From New York, Sam welcomes you to the show!
This is the year in review show. Sam is breaking down the year in a top 10 list. It’s sort of an extended mega version of The State of Wrestling segment. So, you know, um enjoy.
Let’s just get right into it.
Raw Is Low Ratings
Sam says, “I don’t think it’s a matter of needing new talent. I do think getting rid of General Managers is a step in the right direction. What I do think we need, is to focus on creating great stories for the amazing talent that is there. WWE is in a position, where I believe there is more talent on the roster than they have ever, ever, had before.
It’s just a matter of showing that talent off. And really start to focus. It feels like people are taking per caution in terms of pulling the trigger on certain talent, and it’s almost like it’s any talent. We don’t want any specific superstar to become too big. Kind of like you have to allow them to. That’s what made The Rock and Stone Cold so great, that’s what made Hogan so great. That’s what made John Cena so great. You have to allow, when there is this great tidal wave, you have to allow it to take over.”
“The WWE acknowledged it (ratings) not only with the Baron Corbin thing but with the return of all The McMahons.”
“One of the things that came from this is Vince announcing to the world… The announcement is officially made in 30 seconds. And that’s a big reason why this story is number 10 and on my list of top 10, we get the official announcement that women’s tag team championships are going to be crowned in 2019.”
Hulk Hogan’s Back, Brother
“Hulk Hogan was washed away from the memory of WWE after some tapes came out of him using horrible derogatory racial slurs. Just about as bad a way you can think of. This year he made a surprise appearance backstage where he apologized to all the talent, spent a couple minutes shaking hands and kissing babies.”
(To be clear Hogan was told to apologize to the black wrestlers first. He refused and said he offended everyone, so he would apologize to everyone. Vince and Triple H should not have agreed to this. They should have made him apologize to the black wrestlers and then apologize again to the rest of the roster. They refused to truly hold him accountable. As usual. Also, Hogan later complained about some of the talent not forgiving him and not “understanding the brotherhood of wrestling” Yes, he actually said this.)
Sam continues, “Some were ready to forgive some didn’t care. Some not ready to forgive. I respect that WWE allowed the performers to speak out as they saw fit. At Crown Jewel, he made a surprise appearance as the host, which means he came out and cut a promo. He’s back in the HOF, he’s on the website again, they are selling Hulkamania t-shirts on WWE shop. They haven’t gone crazy with it, just the classic one in red and in yellow. It’s a very slow roll out. But the point is a relationship has been reformed. When Hulk Hogan did an autograph signing this year with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and Eric Bischoff, I think. It was the NWO reunion and the WWE help promote it. It was all over their Twitter and Instagram.”
“It was the greatest Royal Rumble, and probably the most noteworthy thing to come out of The Greatest Royal Rumble was Titus World-slide. It’s still being talked about. Gallows and Anderson premiered a new show on the WWE Network called Botch Club, where they did an investigation.”
“I feel like that clip will live forever. This botch transcended wrestling. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. That went down in April and it was the 8th best moment for me in wrestling,” Sam declares.
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano
Sam believes, “The Gargano/Ciampa story plays out like a movie than any other story in a long time. I think people should be talking about this on a Hogan/Savage level of storytelling. No story beats this. It’s told through Takeovers, really. I guess part of it is that NXT only runs so many Takeovers. It wasn’t about the tv. They went 5 for 5 in great Takeovers and a lot of that is because of this story.”
“An unholy alliance has developed. A dark version of DIY is starting to form and build a dark cloud over NXT. I think it’s great. When it’s all said and done this is going to be one of those forever stories.”
MSG and ROH
“In 2018 for the first time in decades, another wrestling company announces they will do a Wrestlemania weekend. And that company is ROH with the help of New Japan.”
“It’s also the story of WWE and how things are changing. WWE decided not to do television at MSG anymore. I’m sure if they wanted to… wouldn’t it be cool to see Takeover Madison Square Garden? But you are sacrificing MSG for another company to run and that’s what happened. I don’t know if WWE didn’t think it would happen or if they didn’t care, because they are running 4 nights at The Barclay and Metlife. It’s not like it’s direct competition. It’s a huge deal in the wrestling world.”
“The real story is because WWE is not running it. That’s the real big story. Wrestling will be there and it’s not WWE. It’s not bad for WWE it’s just different.”
Ronda Rousey brings her Bad Reputation to WWE
“The jury was out on Ronda. People were pessimistic on Ronda. But the minute she put on her on her wrestling gear, laced up her boots, walked down the aisle and had her match at WrestleMania where she teamed with Kurt Angle against Stephanie McMahon and Triple H she changed the opinion of the world. I went out to the audience for that match and everybody there… first of all leaving WrestleMania one of the major consensuses was that the Ronda Rousey’s match was quite possibly the best match of the night.”
“The Ronda Rousey match defied people’s expectations in the best way. She has not had any bad PPV matches. She hasn’t had any bad matches period. She wrestled on most pay per views. She’s wrestled on Raw. She’s wrestled on house shows. I wish I had the statistic in front of me. I want to figure out how many matches Brock Lesnar has wrestled this year and how many Ronda Rousey has wrestled this year.”
(Let’s just agree it was many more.)
“When she came in people were comparing her to Brock Lesnar. Ronda Rousey is not the Brock Lesnar of the female division. She is not a freak, not a monster who is brought in for special occasions as an attraction. Ronda Rousey is a role model champion for young women to aspire to be like. She is taking to it as a fish does to water.”
“I think 2018 was the year of Ronda Rousey.”
Daniel Bryan un-retires
Sam says, “Because of the way it played out we leave 2018, not so much talking about the return, as much as what he is doing now. When he, Daniel Bryan, returned to WWE it was almost like he never left. He was so, “ready to go”. He is so naturally gifted. And was so in shape. And the WWE really did not make that huge of a deal about it, right? And everything Daniel Bryan does in wrestling is gold. Think about it. Daniel Bryan goes from being the number one fan choice in pro wrestling. Four years ago he had one of the great WrestleMania moments of all time.”
“Because everybody watching knows that Daniel Bryan is like us. The fans chose Daniel Bryan. A year later he has had injuries. He opens the show and wins. Him on top of that ladder holding the IC title. Go forward a couple months later and he is gone. There are concussion issues. He becomes General Manager of Smackdown and is tremendously popular. He hosts Talking Smack and does great.”
“Out of the blue, he has tension with Shane McMahon. A week before Wrestlemania he is told he can come back. Then it’s almost like nothing happened. It happened so quickly. He’s back. It was not until this most recent heel turn that people started to appreciate that Daniel Bryan is back.”
“There is not much that is a bigger deal.”
All In was All Good
“It all started with a bet that was made between Cody Rhodes and Dave Meltzer. That bet has been pretty much forgotten about because of how big All In became and has become. It became like a Coachella of wrestling. Nobody used the internet to their advantage the way Cody and the Young Bucks have.”
“The pre-show was on WGN America-real broadcast TV. And cable PPV. I’m watching thinking it’s going to be interesting, they have never put out a PPV before. It was pretty close to flawless.”
“It was like fantasy camp for so many people. It was important because so many people in wrestling were like, ‘Who had any idea we could do this? Who had any idea this was even a possibility?’ And it is. And it was. And it happened.”
Two words: The Man
Sam declares, “I don’t remember a moment in wrestling that I loved as much as this one.”
“Becky at the top of the stairs, looking down at Ronda Rousey, bloodied and beaten, but unfazed. Goosebumps every time. Her face is just smashed, but she does not care. Having Ronda Rousey in that armbar… Oh, do I want to see that match!”
“The Becky Lynch story is one that was not supposed to happen, turning heel at Summerslam and having it not really work, and by the way, I’ve read criticism that she is being cheered, but she is a heel and heels are supposed to be booed, so Charlotte is better. Enough! Nobody has the kind of momentum that she has. She is crushing it!”
“I love The Man and I love everything she’s doing now.”
1. Roman Reigns Relinquishes
“I hate to end on a down note. The number one story is the horrible news we got from Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns wins the Universal Title from Brock Lesnar at Summerslam and within a couple of months is giving this speech.”
“We’ve never seen anything like that before. I do hope Roman Reigns is fighting through it. You forget sometimes when you watch wrestling that these are real people. We have to be there to support this man. I cannot wait until he comes back. It’s going to be fabulous.”
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
I must say this was a very good list.
It was well thought out and makes sense. Sam makes a great case for each spot. However, I do feel HBK returning, albeit in disappointing fashion, should have made the list.
I also would have put the All In PPV at the top. And I think the Crown Royale event should have been on the list. In fact, I would have it as no. 2. Very few WWE stories got more press (mostly bad) than Vince and his decision to go forward with the lackluster show.
I also would have given an honorable mention to Velveteen Dream for his series of great matches.
Happy New Year.
See ya next week!
Based out of New York, James Hayes is an independent filmmaker and podcaster, currently working on a true crime series focused on African American crime. When he needs a break from the seriousness of true-crime he turns to pro wrestling. James has 27 years of following the sport. Here is a link to his film credits https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2026980/, as well as His Twitter @JamesHa34395813.