10 Things About WWE In 2018 That 2008 Wouldn't Believe

They've signed who?!

We've come so far, and we've reached so high
And we've looked each day and night in the eye
And we're still so young, and we hope for more...

We've come a long way
But we're not too sure where we've been
Tudutu
We've had success (Tudutu), we've had good times (Tudutu)

I've got to admit, I'm incredibly tempted just to post the complete lyrics of Take That's 1995 hit Never Forget as it perfectly describes WWE's journey over the past 10 years. I won't though because that would be a bit too lazy.

WWE had a great year in 2008. If you're thinking 'but this was after the Attitude Era therefore it had to be rubbish', this was the year when Jeff Hardy jumped off the Raw stage onto Randy Orton, the year John Cena made that return at the Royal Rumble, the year 'I'm sorry I love you' became a meme, and the year Floyd Mayweather legitimately popped The Big Show's nose.

In terms of society, 2008 was a year where everyone with a tiny penis wore Kanye's shutter glasses, the year vampires became your favourite pastime, and the year Mike Ashley sold James Milner and bought a load of rubbish over Kevin Keegan's head, forcing the Messiah to walk out on my beloved Newcastle United for the second time.

A lot has changed since then. Let's have a look at 10 things our 2008 selves wouldn't believe were possible but are actually happening right now in WWE...

10. Shane McMahon Can Have A Better Match With AJ Styles Than Kevin Steen


WWE


WrestleMania 33: AJ Styles and Shane McMahon open the show but put on what was undoubtedly the match of the night.

SummerSlam 2017: Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, with Shane as Special Guest Referee, disappoint in a high-profile match where the story of KO vs. Shane 'O' got in the way of the action.

If you were to place these two matches side-by-side and showed them to wrestling fans who had no idea who the three men involved were - if that's even a thing that could possibly exist - they would undoubtedly choose the 'Mania opener as the superior match.

While Shane vs. AJ was the culmination of a feud, despite taking place on the third biggest event of the year Shane vs. Owens was a match put on to build to another match. The special guest ref on the night took away from the action while adding to another developing story - admittedly, a very difficult balance to keep in check.

The fact remains, however, that 47-year-old Shane McMahon had a better match with AJ Styles than Kevin Owens did in what has to be his prime - an unfathomable thought 10 years ago.

Back in 2008, Kevin Owens was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest names on the Independent scene with his size the only thing seemingly between him and a move to WWE - oh how times have changed for the better in that respect. While Mr Steen was tearing it up for the likes of CZW, PWG and Ring Of Honor, Shane McMahon was a bit part player on WWE television, working alongside his sister Stephanie as Interim Raw GM.

Just looking at the two men and their prospects in 2008 makes this fact all the more bizarre. The thought of a fellow the size of Owens making it to WWE back then was fanciful. We were deep in the body era if you want to call it that, where guys with a belly simply weren't welcome - unless your name was Viscera, Trevor Murdoch or Umaga. And secondly, while one man was well on the way to becoming one of the best on the planet back in 2008, the other was heading towards middle age and a seven-year hiatus from all things WWE...


9. WCW Artefacts Playing Major Roles In WWE


WWE


Kendo Sticks on a pole, WarGames, and a Starrcade event back on WWE's calendar - 17 years after its death WCW is taking over what was their biggest competition once again.

Traces of WCW's influence on WWE start at the Performance Center. While WWE rightfully lauds over their mecca of all things wrestling and fitness, WCW had one a long time before them. WWE is essentially WCW these days - minus the huge financial losses and Vince Russo, of course -  the damn copycats. It's no real surprise when you see the likes of the late, great Dusty Rhodes, Triple H, William Regal, Finlay, and others synonymous with WCW with such prominent positions backstage in recent times.

Where does it stop, WWE? Where does it stop?

8. Brock Lesnar, The Miz, The Hardys, Big Show, Kane (And Potentially The Undertaker) Are Still Here


WWE


I know, I know, The Undertaker is barely here but rumours of a WrestleMania showdown with John Cena refuse to go away and there are rumours The Big Show's contract expired at the end of February - we don't really know where we stand on either of these issues so let's just throw their names in here for the sheer lols of it all.

First of all, think back to 2008 and Brock Lesnar's relationship with the professional wrestling business. Four years earlier he turned his back on WWE as he was sick of the travel that came with performing for a global brand, and was starting out his journey with UFC - there was zero mention of the would-be UFC Heavyweight Champion and wrestling in the same sentence, never mind a chance he could return one day.

As for the rest, you know how old they are and how much of a minor miracle it is they're still performing in a WWE ring to this day. A special shoutout must go to The Miz, though. It's been well documented how much he was hated behind the scenes back in 2006/07 so a hearty pat on the back for weathering that storm and going on to become one of the best in the world today.

7. Kurt Angle Vs. Triple H Is The Biggest WrestleMania 34 Feud


WWE


I'm not downplaying Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon's involvement in this feud at all. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle is what got the ball rolling and it all started five months ago at Survivor Series. 

In terms of singles competition, Kurt Angle and Triple H's rivalry can be traced back as far as Unforgiven 2000. Naturally, their feud surrounded Mrs Ladyballs herself, Stephanie McMahon. Kurt had taken a liking to the Billion Dollar Princess and started to chat to her backstage - a jealous Triple H didn't like this, so the pair fought.

Their blood feud then continued following The Game's return from that injury at the start of 2002. Hunter won the Royal Rumble, he and Steph were going through with their divorce, she was desperate to take his WWF Undisputed Championship match at WrestleMania X8 away from him, Kurt Angle fought on her behalf - and defeated HHH, mind you - at No Way Out 2002.

Fast forward 15-and-half years and in the traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match, Team Raw's Triple H screwed his partner Kurt Angle out of the match. The pair are now set to face off at WrestleMania 34 in a mixed tag bout with Rousey and Stephanie on opposing sides with them in what is - so far - the hottest Mania feud of the year.

We're going round in circles...


6. An Active (ish) Roster Member Appearing For The Second Biggest Promotion In The World


New Japan Pro Wrestling


When it was announced that Chris Jericho was going to appear for NJPW at Wrestle Kingdom 12 every single chin in the WWE Universe hit the floor in astonishment.

It was an unprecedented move. While Y2J was certainly a part-time performer, in terms of his wrestling he was exclusive to WWE since 1999. He had just come off the best run of his career and was seemingly taking time away from the ring to focus on Fozzy once more.

Up until very recently, WWE have been very reluctant to mention other promotions from around the world. The influx of talent who made their respective names on the indies has seen a shift and a willingness to namedrop other big feds from time to time - but one of their own competing in what many consider to be the second biggest company in the world is absolute madness.

Many initially thought that Jericho must have gone behind Vince McMahon's back to secure a deal. There was seemingly no way McMahon, given his track record in promoting and dealing with other promotions, would sanction any deal, but he did. Chris told Old Vinnie six weeks before the match against Kenny Omega was announced and he was completely fine with it. Vince McMahon is mellowing at his old age and it's lovely to see.

Everyone won here, with Jericho being seen as 'the WWE guy' in NJPW spreading their name throughout Japan, and New Japan World subscriptions reportedly jumping up roughly 25,000 over WK12 time. The entire situation was good business all round that probably wouldn't have happened back in 2008.

5. The WWE Network


WWE


Imagine saying back in 2008 there would be a digital streaming service where every single WWE event EVER(ish) would be housed and available at the click of a mouse, the tap of a button, or the dab of a tablet - "what's a tablet?!," 2008 exclaimed.

We knew we wanted this back in 2008, but I don't think too many of us could picture what it would look like. Thankfully, in 2014, following in the footsteps of Netflix and the like, some boffins at WWE created the WWE Network and my goodness has it become a wonderful thing since?

The WWE Network, as a concept, is sheer madness and we don't realise how lucky we are to have it. Working in a field where you require screenshots aplenty, having an on-demand service at the tips of your finger is a godsend - and that's before you look at the tool as a fan.

The WWE Network is love, the WWE Network is life.

4. The XFL Is Coming Back


WWE


The XFL remains Vince McMahon's biggest flop so of course he's bringing it back. He's a stubborn old man who doesn't know the meaning of failure... unless it pertains to Lex Luger, WWF New York or... erm... the XFL.

I'm no expert on American Football but I do know there are issues off the field that Vince is looking to capitalise on. He's going to clean up the XFL compared to the utter car crash we saw back in 2001, with the bold move of only hiring players without a criminal record at the forefront of the rebrand.

I don't know why he brought it back. Seeing how badly the first version went I would have thought Vince would have been put off for life. Then again, people will watch anything these days - we live in a world that includes Geordie Shore for goodness sake - so all the bloody best to him and his ambition.


3. The Women's Revolution


WWE


WWE's women's ranks had some mighty fine performers back in 2008. The likes of Michelle McCool, Melina, and Mickie James are names that would be able to stand toe-to-toe with any of the GOATs from any era of the women's game.

However, with bikini contests, 'Diva Searches' and under five-minute matches still rife on WWE's television, it was clear for all to see that in terms of in-ring competition WWE didn't take the ladies seriously whatsoever.

Imagine watching a three-minute match between Kelly Kelly and Ashley - no offence, ladies - in 2008 and believing the ladies of today would be allowed to reach the heights they currently are. They're main eventing pay per views, and contesting a plethora of stipulations once exclusive to the men just as well as they do these days, something they would never have been given a chance to do 10 years ago.

We've come a long way since 2008 to a place not too many people would have imagined possible. Credit goes to all - and that includes the ladies who were laying foundations back in '08 - who got us here.

2. 'Indy' Stars Rule The Roost


WWE


Vince McMahon hates (what his muscular brain would view as) out of shape wrestlers - What is Kevin Owens doing atop WWE?

Vince McMahon doesn't see the smaller wrestler (in relativity, of course) as a main event player - What the hell happened at the end of WrestleMania XXX and beyond?

Vince McMahon hates people with a southern accent - How the hell is AJ Styles cutting 15-minute promos on SmackDown Live?

Vince McMahon doesn't like to push characters and gimmicks he didn't create - How on earth has Woken/Broken Matt Hardy managed to appear in WWE and seems to be on the cusp of using all of the things that made his Impact act so special?

Vince McMahon has changed since 2008. It's not all about the bodies anymore.

The likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan wormed their way into the system and ran rings around his company-made prospects in all aspects of being a WWE Superstar. Well done to those lads for breaking down barriers and proving Vince McMahon wrong; and well done to Vince McMahon for opening his mind and realising there is indeed real, self-made talent that belongs at the very top of his company out there and ready to be plucked from the smaller leagues.

1. John Cena Has Been Replaced


WWE


I know he's still around but WWE have finally found the heir to the throne of John Cena and his name is Roman Reigns whether you like it or not.

We've all seen it play out for years now, and I know a lot of you wanted to see the push end during that time. However, on an innocuous pay per view last Autumn, John Cena lost to Roman Reigns in a match that saw a passing of the torch. Hogan did it to Warrior at WrestleMania VI and Cena to Reigns at... No Mercy...

Heck, they tried it on the Grandest Stage of them All once and it didn't work, so we shouldn't be too surprised to see them trying it on a smaller one just to see if it works.

Back in 2008, we were in prime SuperCena territory. Match after match he would be beaten down and then battle back to win somehow. Even at the start of the year, he returned roughly 10 years before his expected return date after tearing a pectoral muscle. There was nobody that could beat him in the ring, and more importantly, nobody that could touch him in terms of popularity and merch sales.

While Roman Reigns still has a long way to go to get to Cena's peak, he's been earmarked by WWE so half the battle has won. We'll have to see over time if he can win the other half, the more difficult half - winning over the overwhelming majority of the WWE Universe.

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Ross Tweddell

Written by Ross Tweddell

Editor-in-chief of Cultaholic.com and presenter on the Cultaholic Wrestling YouTube channel. Email: [email protected]