wrestling / Columns

20 Bold Pro Wrestling Predictions For 2018

January 17, 2018 | Posted by Justin Watry
CM Punk WWE

“I have been reading your stuff on 411mania and nodq.com for the longest time now and I have never felt inclined to email in. The general consensus of you not being most popular is harsh at times but also can be well-founded too. But I still read your stuff because I do enjoy your articles and find your perspective interesting most of the time.

That said, your article about your friend Megan and trip to Wrestlemania was the greatest thing you have ever wrote. Forget about the predictions you brag about getting right. This is your crowning piece. Maybe it is because I can relate as going to Wrestlemania is my ultimate dream and it will be happening next year. But I genuinely loved your article.

Thank you for the great stuff.”

Backstory

I went back and forth on posting my Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega column last week or this one you are about to skim. Since I figured the buzz for Wrestle Kingdom 12 was dying down, I chose that topic to go first. Now we can get to my BOLD predictions for 2018…

*NOTE: Some of these are just wishful thinking, while most are legitimate thoughts for the next 12 months.*

2018 Bold Predictions

1. CM Punk and professional wrestling – Might as well start out with a bang, right? A few months ago (on another website), I wrote about the fact that it is FINALLY time to start talking about CM Punk coming back to the world of wrestling. I did NOT say that in 2014. I did NOT say that in 2015. I did NOT say that in 2016…so no, this is not just me using a retread subject for the millionth time. Like a few months ago, I believe a reunion will happen at some point. Whether he continues with UFC or not is kinda irrelevant in my book. We already saw how that went. We know. It could be an independent show as a ‘guest.’ It could be the much talked about ALL IN event. Heck, it could even be a legends deal with WWE. CM Punk is bound to return to wrestling.

2. Two Royal Rumble matches will be successful – I admit it. I was skeptical of the Womens Royal Rumble talk. I own up to it. I just didn’t completely buy the rumors, nor the idea that two hour long bouts would be held on the same night (for a lot of reasons). When it was announced at the end of Raw last month, it was a genuine shock. Weeks later, I am all on board. With NXT and other surprises, this can work. I am not even worried about the male Rumble. I know that will be fun. Like Mick Foley stated, the key for the women will be finding and using star power to their advantage. I mean, long stretches of Lana and Tamina out there is not going to wow the Philadelphia crowd. They need a big name from the start and go from there. My confidence level is rising by the day WWE will be able to pull it off. An Asuka/Ronda Rousey win may be obvious, but it is also the correct decision.

3. New Orleans? – Last year when I went to WrestleMania in Orlando, it was 100% a one time thing. I had no intentions of going to New Orleans in April 2018. Nor did I even think about 2019, 2020, and beyond. Going to a WM event was on my bucket list of things to do in life, and I had done it. Now though? Man, it sure is getting to me. What if Rousey is on the card? What if The Undertaker does have one more match against John FREAKIN’ Cena? I actually loved the first and only Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar and would love to see an actual finish for their rematch. Ugh, the butterflies are returning to my stomach. I am getting that ‘itch’ to scratch for Mania. Doesn’t hurt that I have a week’s paid vacation to use up for work…stay tuned…

4. NRW – Ditto for attending WrestleMania. Last year, I crossed off another bucket list item of having a match. That was always planned to be a one time only return to the ring. Well, NRW went off perfectly last June. Do I pull a Christian and ask for ONE MORE MATCH? Tough. We still have all the materials needed and plenty of ideas. Not saying it WILL happen but like Mania in New Orleans, stay tuned!

5. Roman REIGNS at Mania in April – In case you haven’t been paying attention, Roman Reigns has yet to win the WWE Universal Championship since its inception in August 2016. My money is on that fact changing in three months. Unlike some, I WANT to see Reigns and Lesnar lock up again. This time, we deserve an ending…and yeah, that means Roman reigns in his empire. Mania should be all about the biggest and best stars wrestling each other, right? Well, there you go. There should be no arguments against this being a top match.

6. Shinsuke Nakamura VS. AJ Styles happens – If you have been reading my columns for the majority of 2017, you would I have had one constant: Nakamura vs. Styles at WM34. That has not wavered. Even during the Jinder Mahal Experiment, the end game was still always going to end up leading to Nakamura and/or Styles. WWE has teased the showdown enough. The backstage crew are not blind to the obvious matchup. They are well aware of the hype and have teased accordingly. I believe the trigger is pulled. As we sit here in early January, Nakamura is my Royal Rumble pick to face WWE Champion AJ Styles at WrestleMania 34.

7. A REAL Superstar Shakeup occurs – Despite getting most of the 2017 Superstar Shakeups moves correct in the leadup, it still ended up falling flat. A couple decisions were not too wise and led to a dull WWE product at times. Smackdown LIVE finally corrected course later in the year, and RAW found its footing more often than not. Still, a REAL shake up should go down with the rosters. The Miz, Braun Strowman, Randy Orton, and a few others come to mind immediately. These wrestlers could use a fresh start on another show, where they can shine.

8. Neville staying or going… – Somebody on Twitter threw the conversation at me concerning Neville being a surprise entrant in the 2018 Royal Rumble. I mean Philly is basically Smarktown USA. If any place would explode for his entrance music, that’d be the perfect city. Reports have flip flopped on whether he is with the company or not for 2018. I honestly have no clue. It would be pretty amazing if he came back and actually could be a star (outside of the cruiserweight division). My gut says he is gone, but I admit I will be waiting patiently for his theme song to play during the Rumble.

9. The talent pool for WWE keeps getting better – No real shock here. WWE is the biggest game in town. You are either lying or a fool if your end goal is not to wind up there at some point. Ricochet will arrive soon; that has been known for about a year now. War Machine is on his way. EC3 is getting the heck away from Impact Wrestling. As is LVN and a hosts of others. Then there is somebody like James Storm who is still a free agent. It does not take a genius to assume they will check in on WWE immediately. That is not even including a Batista or Rey Mysterio part-timer returning for awhile. Like it or not, there is no slowing down for the $2.5 billion company.

10. Impact Wrestling continues as is during yet another reboot – Alright, so now Don Callis is the savior. Before him, it was somebody else. Before him, it was somebody else. Before HER, it was somebody else. Rinse, lather, repeat. Now everybody is hitching their hopes to a new man…without absolutely zero experience doing anything in a high managerial position. Surely, THIS time things will be different. No, the more things change the more they stay the same. My prediction here is not really bold. Ratings on television will stay the same (in the dumps). Live event attendance will keep being non-existent. Pay-per-views buys will be nearly invisible. Talent with actual options will want out when their deals are up, yeah, I will not watch their programming. POP TV or on Youtube.

11. Alpha Entertainment – Why would Vince McMahon take out $100 million of his WWE stock? Why would all these rumors of an XFL return pop up? What would Donald Trump and Vinny Mac do if they worked together? So many questions, so little answers. What do I see happening? The gossip is Vince will announce some kind of football league in late January. Right before the NFL Super Bowl, the timing would fit. With the Road to WM34 in full swing, that buzz would also transfer to WWE in their most pivotal time of the year. I do not know if it will be a full blown XFL comeback or something on a smaller scale. I can see WWE Network airing old footage or maybe linking up with other business partners for ‘something.’ There is definitely a fire to all this smoke. A hundred million dollars is nothing to sneeze at. Oops, no sneezing. I forgot.

12. March 5th Raw – No real bold pick here. I am just happy to announce I am attending Raw on Monday, March 5th in Milwaukee. Kinda funny the same date last year was FastLane. Also in Milwaukee. Interesting.

13. WWE Network adds other companies – I also listed XFL programming. Next up are all the UK companies Triple H has worked with in the past two years. I have long said (since 2015) that WWE Network should have different pay systems. Ten bucks a monts will get you everything there is now. Eleven bucks a months will get you everything, plus WWEShop discounts. Twelve bucks a months gets you all that, plus XFL games one Sunday a week. Fifteen bucks gets you the UK programming and blah, blah, blah. You get the point. WWE Network would still be listed at the incredibly low price of $9.99. However, that is just the beginning. With revenue and stock at all-time highs, there is always room to grow even MORE.

14. New TV deal – After all the talk about television ratings and their NBCU contracts expiring, the time is finally drawing near. Will WWE pay the piper for their drop in viewership or will it truly not matter to their bottom line come negotiations? Right now, FOX is being thrown around a lot. For the main FOX broadcast network and then their sports channels for other shows. I don’t know. USA Network really can not afford to lose WWE programming. Keeping everything under the NBCU umbrella (E! Network) feels like a win-win situation. The Miz and Maryse just got their reality show green lit as well. Will it be for $180 million per year like recent years? Maybe, maybe not. FOX just may be desperate enough to pay up. Sagging ratings and all, WWE will win. You know it, and I know it.

15. Mixed Match Challenge is a big hit – As noted above, WWE is about to enter a weird stage of their TV negotiations. Numbers are down across the board, yet revenue and stock are soaring. The company is still profitable, despite what is said online. They are making money hand over fist. Vince a billionaire (with ease), and there does not look to be any end in sight for top talent signing on with them. All roses, right? Well, yeah. That is why I also believe the Mixed Match Challenge show will do great numbers for Facebook and lead to another rights fee. This time, with a streaming website. Maybe that is where the UK exclusive program can air? It might be Facebook. It might be Twitter. Regardless of whether I care about MMC or not (really don’t), it will prove to be a difference maker for WWE. Just watch. This is bigger than just some random Facebook show.

16. NXT’s future – One of the more under played stories of 2017 was the December airing of NXT on USA Network. Ratings were not amazing or real noteworthy, but it was still a solid viewership and more than good enough for USA Network to take notice. Again, what else do they have on the air that even comes close to WWE numbers? Nothing. Their days of producing hit and hit are over. It is reruns and WWE pretty much. NXT staying on the WWE Network seems like a perfect fit to me…but what about the live Takeover specials? I bet USA Network would love those viewers too. Keep an eye on this story during the year, especially if TV negotiations take a bad turn and NXT is added in the deal.

17. Braun Strowman gets his chance No, not literally. The man can not possibly getting any bigger. I mean is terms of relevance and his star power. I believe the sky is the limit for him. Yeah, I picked Brock Lesnar to beat him clean at No Mercy and yeah, that was indeed the right call. By no means did that mean anything to his long-term future though. My money is on his 2018 being just as impressive. On Smackdown LIVE. Yep, he is one of my early predictions for the Superstar Shakeup. Send him over to the blue brand and be a top champion by the summer. Really writes itself.

18. Dean Ambrose turns heel – This was one of my big picks last year. I guessed The Shield would reunite. They did. I guessed fans would love them. They did. I guessed Ambrose would eventually turn on Rollins for a WM34 story line. With Ambrose being hurt, that is out of the question. The timing is wrong. The endgame still has a chance to be right. Whenever Ambrose does come back, my prediction is it leads to a heel turn…and that means attacking Seth Rollins. What goes around comes around. Sorry buddy.

19. No explanation needed – One of my goals for 2017 was to record a podcast. Finally, in December, I did that. Next up is doing a regular podcast. Perhaps once a week or something. That includes live call ins and all that fancy junk. If I had a clue on how to do all that, I would. Since it is all a learning process to me, it will take time. As for my columns, do not expect much to change. I have done this since 2008 and know my numbers and how far my reach is. Ten years is a heck of a run but not my finish line. There is more to come.

20. 2018 outlook – As wild and crazy as 2017 was, my final bold prediction is that 2018 tops it. Shocking debuts, feel good moments, surprising news stories, major headlines, etc. It is cliche to say “never say never,” but wow…the world of professional never stops surprising. Whether it is Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion, Bill Goldberg coming back to dominate Raw, the Mae Young Classic happening, NXT still being awesome, The Shield reuniting, Alexa Bliss emerging as a star, HHH casually showing up at independent shows, Kurt Angle wrestling again, Braun Strowman improving ten fold since 2016, Bray Wyatt being WWE Champion, The Hardyz coming back and becoming WOKEN – really, there is nothing off limits anymore. Get ready for 2018…

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article topics :

CM Punk, NXT, Roman Reigns, WWE, Justin Watry