By RJ Marceau
A new year, a new set of WWE bold predictions. Below are my 5 predictions from 2017:
Out of all my bold predictions I am shocked that Andrade “Cien” Almas winning NXT gold actually happened. I have been a big fan of Almas since his NXT debut but I didn’t see him winning the NXT Championship. I figured he would be positioned as a midcard champ but was ecstatic when Almas defeated McIntyre at NXT TakeOver: WarGames. I don’t expect him to hold the title long but his pairing with Zelina Vega has been gold.
Tye Dillinger got called up but he has been barely used. I didn’t fear this would happen because I was 100% certain they would turn this guy into a jobber. Alexander is still stuck in the Cruiserweight division but could win the title in the next few months and Finn Balor had a disappointing 2017.
Braun Strowman had an amazing 2017 and did defeat Roman Reigns on multiple occasions so I would consider that as a big star and is set up for a huge 2018.
Braun Strowman Wins the WWE Championship or the WWE Universal Championship
In the annual Next Era Wrestling WWE/NXT Year in Review Awards, I voted for Braun Strowman as my 2017 Wrestler of the Year and I expect the Monster Among Men to have an even better 2018. I am not sure what they expect to do with Braun when they have the Superstar Shake-up but a move to SmackDown seems like the way to go. Braun has been on Raw since the 2016 WWE Draft. Yes, it has only been a little over a year and a half but he has feuded with basically the entire Raw roster.
I would move Braun over to SmackDown and have him win the WWE Championship. If he wins a midcard title it will be okay but I think majority of the WWE Universe would be disappointed if he didn’t hold the main title on either Raw or SmackDown in 2018.
Ricochet debuts in NXT
Every year, NXT has a few big signings from the independent wrestling scene. Last year, we saw Adam Cole, Aleister Black and Drew McIntyre as some of the big signings that were made. This year I see NXT replenishing the talent pool and signing one of the top independent wrestlers in Ricochet. I have only seen his work in Lucha Underground as Prince Puma but adding him to NXT to be a big star would be huge for 2018.
NXT has been amazing at replenishing the talent pool especially with their top stars each year get called up. I expect Ricochet to be the top signing of the 2018 NXT new talent and he will become a top star for the brand.
Becky Lynch Will Be the Only Four Horsewoman to Win a Women’s Championship in 2018
I know Charlotte Flair is the current SmackDown Live Women’s Championship but I sense a heel turn from Becky Lynch that will have her face off with Charlotte for the title at WrestleMania. Lynch had a down 2017 and I see bright things for her 2018. She has been a babyface since her call up in the summer of 2015 so a fresh heel run would be perfect.
I have zero care to see another Sasha Banks title run and the WWE has failed to utilize Bayley correctly since her main roster call-up. 2018 will be the year of the Lasskicker and you heard it here first.
Mandy Rose Will Be the Face of the WWE Women’s Division
Since the Women’s Revolution, the WWE has made a handful of stars. Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch are a few names but 2017 saw a new face come to the forefront of the division in Alexa Bliss. Bliss has the look and character to be a big star but before her call-up she had only been seen in a handful of matches on NXT TV. Bliss capitalized on her call-up and won both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships in 2017. Similar to Bliss, Mandy Rose has an amazing look and character who I think will have a Bliss-esque year.
Rose had similar experience to Bliss in singles competition while in NXT and see big things for her 2018. Though it’s not a bold prediction of mine I wouldn’t be surprised if GSM's favorite women’s wrestler, Liv Morgan (Editor's Note: she's not) also breaks through in the New Year. The change in her look and decent in-ring action has opened myself up for her to be a big time player on the blue brand.
NXT Call-ups Will Thrive on the Main Roster
Talk about bold but after the bad year we saw for NXT call-ups in 2017, I think they will see more success in 2018. Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger have all had disappointing runs on the main roster with them all having little success or lack the appeal they had in NXT. Samoa Joe thrived in 2017 and for being a relative unknown Elias has been a bigger player than anyone could have expected. I am not sure if we just expect more since they were so prominent in NXT but to fail to push Nakamura and Roode correctly just hurts the product in general.
Once they call up the likes of Authors of Pain, SAnitY and Aleister Black, I think all these talents due to the unique looks and characteristics will flourish. I hope I am right because it sucks to see these great talents spiral into irrelevancy on Raw and SmackDown.
I think 2018 will be a great year for the WWE and it will start at the Royal Rumble which Graham and I will be in attendance for in Philadelphia.
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