WWE’s 5 biggest stories of 2018

Dec 30, 2018 - by Colin Vassallo

2018 was quite an eventful year for professional wrestling, especially WWE. While viewers might have tuned out, the money kept coming in and at least financially, WWE is more stable than ever. Here we take a look at the five biggest news stories of 2018 for WWE and how they happened.

There were a lot of stories that could have been included in this list but we feel these were the most important ones for the company over the past 12 months.

#5 – Daniel Bryan returns to active competition

Daniel Bryan must go down in history as one of the most loved WWE Superstars ever. His run leading up to his first WWE title win at WrestleMania XXX was perfect creative writing. Against all odds he did it. Unfortunately, Bryan had to retire from wrestling due to his many concussions and while still under a WWE deal, he was brought back as Smackdown General Manager.

Bryan never accepted the fact that he would not return to the ring. He made it very clear that if he is not cleared while in WWE, he will leave when his contract expires. Then, on March 20, the news that everyone was waiting for arrived: Daniel Bryan gets cleared to return to the ring.

Just three weeks before WrestleMania, WWE quickly added him to the card and in the same place where he won the WWE title four years earlier, Daniel Bryan returned to the ring, teaming up with Shane McMahon to take on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. His return wasn’t as wildly successful as everyone thought it would be though. Unlike his first run towards the WWE title, this time around, good creative writing wasn’t on his side. But Bryan still ended 2018 on a high as the WWE champion, having won the title from AJ Styles on an episode of Smackdown in November.

#4 – Ronda Rousey officially arrives

The rumors of Ronda Rousey joining WWE ran for years ever since she teamed up with The Rock at WrestleMania 31 in a surprise segment and took on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in THE WrestleMania moment that year.

Rousey continued her MMA dominance but after two bad losses in a row, she decided to hang up her gloves for good. She started appearing on WWE television and at NXT every now and then and even trained at the WWE Performance Center.

When WWE announced the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble, the rumors intensified that Rousey would be one of the 30 individuals to make history. The only problem was that Ronda Rousey traveled to Colombia to film a movie and documented her journey on her social media. Numbers 1 to 30 came out during the Rumble and Ronda was not there. But then, as Asuka stood in the middle of the ring with both champions to her side, “Bad Reputation” kicked in and out came the baddest woman on the planet. No words, just pointing at the WrestleMania sign.

And with that, the Rowdy one had arrived. She went on to have a memorable WrestleMania debut with Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, had a great match against Nia Jax at Money In The Bank, and at SummerSlam she won the Raw Women’s title from Alexa Bliss. She main evented the first-ever WWE women’s pay-per-view Evolution against Nikki Bella and also main evented her first Madison Square Garden show in December. All in all, a very successful WWE story and a terrific year for one Ronda Rousey.

#3 – WWE signs 10-year deal with Saudi Arabia

Often called the deal with the devil, WWE announced in March that they had signed a 10-year deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to present multiple events every year as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 festivities.

It’s very obvious why WWE decided to enter this agreement: money. Lots and lots of it. The first event, titled The Greatest Royal Rumble at the 60,000-seater King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, generated more money for the company than multiple WrestleManias combined. While WWE was criticized for even entering such a deal with a country that harbors one of the worst human rights records in the world, the criticism was mainly subdued…until Jamal Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi reporter who worked for the Washington Post and in the weeks leading up to the second WWE event in Saudi, he was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. WWE Crown Jewel, at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, was a touch and go but ultimately, amidst much more harsher and broader criticism, WWE forged ahead with the show, doing their best to avoid mentioning Saudi Arabia.

The 10-year deal remains valid and WWE will be going back to the country in 2019 for more shows and more money.

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