A look at WWE’s success stories of 2019
WWE virtually has had no competition since the shutdown of WCW and continued to increase its revenue and market share in the last two decades. WWE is the worldwide leader in the sphere of professional wrestling and has become a billion-dollar empire. However, despite all of its achievements, Vince McMahon has continuously been criticized by the fans. The WWE Universe has often been critical of how the company operates and how storylines are played out.
Fans have disapproved the way some storylines have been handled while also lambasting the company for the continuous push of Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. There might be a plethora of problems plaguing WWE like decreasing ratings, reduced revenue, unhappy superstars and increased competition from organizations like AEW and NJPW. But 2019 also showed that WWE and McMahon always has an eye out for what the fans demand.
There have been numerous times when McMahon has altered the storylines on the fly to engage the WWE Universe. It has resulted in epic character creations, WrestleMania moments and breakout superstars emerging. So let’s look at the different times when WWE got it right with its programming in 2019:-
Bray Wyatt was often labelled as a failed opportunity by the critics and the fans. He was always an enigmatic character and was seen as a future world champion. But his booking was questionable as he continued to lose big matches with fans not taking his threats seriously. Everything changed in 2019. The year saw the birth of Wyatt’s alter-ego ‘The Fiend’. Since his debut at SummerSlam, The Fiend has wreaked havoc over the roster. He has taken out everyone in its way. Despite a horrendous booking call at Hell in a Cell, Wyatt captured the WWE Universal Championship at Crown Jewel. All of his storylines have kept the audience engaged while ‘The Fiend’ appearing in the arena has become a spectacle. A big credit has to go to Wyatt but the push given by McMahon cannot be denied.
Seth Rollins- The Leader
Rollins was booked to be the next big thing in the WWE in 2019 as he became the first man since Goldberg to defeat Brock Lesnar cleanly. This feat was not even achieved by the ‘superhuman’ Roman Reigns. But things fell immensely since WrestleMania 35 as Rollins became a villain in the eyes of the audience due to his posts on Twitter and win at Hell in a Cell. WWE recognized that Rollins was no more the fan-favourite and quickly changed his character. They kept every part of his babyface character to legitimize his new heel persona. Now Rollins is the leader of a dangerous faction with AOP and looks set to be a big player in the WWE in 2020
The biggest success story of the last year has to be Becky Lynch. The ‘Irish Lasskicker’ was tottering in the mid-card before her epic heel turn at SummerSlam. Since that moment, Becky has made it her mission to get everyone to notice her. The culmination of her epic push came at WrestleMania 35 where she defeated Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair to become ‘Becky Two Belts’. She even became the first woman wrestler to be the no.1 merchandise seller in WWE. A star was born and WWE gave it the platform to shine bright.
The push of WWE veteran Kofi Kingston came out of nowhere. Initially, Mustafa Ali was booked to be the ironman in the Gauntlet match on SmackDown but he got injured and Kofi grabbed his opportunity with both hands. All the cards were stacked against him and Kofi continued to defy the odds. McMahon recognized a WrestleMania moment and approved Kofi’s push at the top. Kofi winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35 remains one of the greatest moments of the WWE history.
Otis and Tucker were midcard players in the WWE since their time in NXT. Even in NXT, Heavy Machinery were never the top team and always came out second-best in title matches. But Vince McMahon recognised the comedic aspect of Otis. This year has seen Heavy Machinery becoming an attraction for the WWE with Otis getting extremely loud reactions from the WWE Universe. Fans just lap up everything that this team does in the ring. But if we look at the history of WWE, Otis might become the ‘R-Truth’ of the company and provide comedic relief on the shows.
The jury is out on the Lana- Rusev divorce storyline but it cannot be denied that their segments are getting a lot of reaction from the WWE Universe. It might be argued that the intelligence of the audience is tested by the storyline. However, looking at the crowd reactions and the Youtube stats, Lana-Rusev’s storyline is getting the desired effect. Lana gets booed out of every building while Rusev has become a firm fan-favourite. The only person left hanging is Bobby Lashley.
Roman Reigns’ handling since leukemia
Roman Reigns always polarized the audience in WWE. His never-ending push saw him headline four straight WrestleMania’s as fans continued to reject his push. But everything changed last year when Roman announced that his leukemia has resurfaced and he would have to take some time off to recuperate. It was thought that Roman might be out for a long time but he made his comeback to a vociferous ovation in February. Since his return, WWE have kept him away from the top championship while not making him the superhuman that he once was. He has lost matches to Erick Rowan and Baron Corbin this year as fans have started supporting ‘The Big Dog’. However, it has been reported that Roman is booked to win the Royal Rumble and headline WrestleMania again next year. So things might get a bit ‘rocky’ for Roman in the future.