If you showed WWE fans a snapshot of what the wrestling world looks like now a year ago, none of them would have believed you.
With new faces in the main event and noticeably different attitude in general, the world’s biggest wrestling company has taken a string of massive – and often shocking – steps into the future.
Daily Star Online can now reveal the eight factors which have changed the WWE forever.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin — 529 days as champion
BROCK LESNAR PULLS UFC DOUBLE DUTY
Amateur wrestler, turned WWE legend, turned UFC megastar Brock Lesnar is the probably pro-wrestling’s greatest sporting export.
This year Lesnar did the unthinkable when he fought at UFC 200, only to then fight multi-time WWE champion Randy Orton at Summerslam.
Appearing at the peak of combat sports and the top of sports entertainment within weeks of each other opens to door for incredible crossovers featuring stars such as UFC stars Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
WWE boss Triple H revealed McGregor is one their radar while speaking exclusively to Daily Star Online.
SHANE MCMAHON MAKES SHOCKING COMEBACK
Being the son of the Vince McMahon, you would have expected daredevil Shane O’Mac to have had a bigger role with WWE.
But he did not appear on wrestling programming for seven years as he struck out alone on his business ventures in China.
Fans exploded when he came back to WWE at the beginning of this year to wrestle The Undertaker – and went crazy when he was thrown off the top of the Hell in the Cell cage at Wrestlemania 32.
Shane O’Mac’s return heralded the reintroduction of the brand split between Raw and Smackdown which means two separate crews of wrestlers now work the two different shows with two world champions.
GOLDBERG BEATS BROCK LESNAR
Bill Goldberg’s return shocked the world – and he dethroned Brock Lesnar’s status as untouchable at the top the company.
The WCW legend – a megastar of the 90s – returned after 12 years away to beat Lesnar in little over 90 seconds.
Goldberg’s return opens the door for a host of other wrestling legends and proves even after more than a decade away the champs of the past can still go.
His shock victory also shows WWE is happy to throw twists into their stories which prove even their biggest stars are not safe from shock defeats.
JOHN CENA TAKES A BACK SEAT
Since 2005, WWE’s superman John Cena has been pretty much unstoppable – rarely losing matches and constantly holding the championship.
Carrying the company on his back for more than a decade, the now 39-year-old appears to be stepping away from wrestling and letting the young guns take over.
Being 15-time world champion, Cena has not held the top belt since 2014, and is appearing less on Raw and Smackdown.
He is now a reality TV star and has a budding movie career – meaning the WWE could be Cena-less for the first time since his debut in 2002.
AJ STYLES WINS WWE TITLE
Wrestling “hottest free agent” at the beginning of 2016, few believed AJ Styles would join the WWE and even fewer believed he would be champ in his rookie year.
The 39-year-old famously turned down a WWE contract in 2002 and spent 14 years honing a legacy on the independent circuit and in Japan.
When he finally appeared in WWE, he has rocketed to the top and is now one of their biggest stars – being their champion and leading the roster into 2017.
His success put an end to pundits commentary that WWE would never let a self-made superstar hold the biggest championship in the company.
WOMEN’S WRESTLING ACTUALLY MATTERS
Bra and panties matches and lingerie pillow fights featuring fitness models are now a thing of the past in WWE.
After years of calling their women wrestlers “Divas”, WWE officially killed the term at Wrestlemania 32 when they revealed the inaugural Women’s Championship.
Responding to pressure from fans using #GiveDivasAChance on social media, WWE appears to be focusing of women’s wrestling matches rather than cringe-worthy catfights.
Stars like Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss and Bayley are leading the way in the company’s newly revamped women’s division.
UNITED KINGDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
For the first time ever, Britain will have dedicated champion in the WWE.
Triple H revealed the new red and gold belt at a press conference at the O2 Arena – informing Britain there would a 16-man tournament to crown the WWE United Kingdom Champion.
Budding independent wrestlers will be able to compete for the new belt – paving way the way for a host of new Brit bruisers and bashers to follow in the footsteps of stars like William Regal and The British Bulldog.
In a shock move, WWE reinstated their long dead Cruiserweight Division – designed to give smaller and more agile wrestlers a place to shine of the world stage.
For years wrestling was the land of the giants, with body-builders like John Cena, man mountains like Brock Lesnar, and monstrous mammoths like the Big Show.
WWE’s Cruiserweight title was retired in 2007 after its final champ was cartoon leprechaun wrestler Hornswoggle.
But now the division is back, and filed with a host of young talents – with the current champ being Rich Swann.
Source : Daily Star