The Road to WrestleMania 33 looks as exciting and unpredictable as any in recent memory, and with the star power and unpredictability with rumors surrounding it, fans are in for a treat. There may be several call ups from NXT, surprise returns and debuts, and the wrestling is sure to be as good as ever, and the Rumble in San Antonio and ‘Mania in Miami are sure to be sell out successes.
Fans love to fantasy book these kinds of things, and although WWE often go with the safest and most annoying options, it’s always good to see what they can come up with. Today we are going to look at 15 bold predictions for the Rumble, Mania, the RAW after Mania and everything in between (most likely none of these will happen, but a fan can dream, right?)
15 The Undertaker Announces His Retirement… For The RAW After WrestleMania 34
There have been rumors for years that the legendary Dead Man is on his way out of the company after 2 decades, and although it seemed a certainty that he was leaving after this year, he made a surprise appearance recently at the press conference for next year's event in New Orleans. So why not allow The Undertaker to announce that will be his last match a year earlier, and let him perform at all the big 4 events over the next calendar year? Similar to the likes of Derek Jeter and David Ortiz (that’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear them compared), it would give fans one last ride to fully appreciate what The Undertaker has done over his career. This will also add more emotion to his final match, as it will be a year in the making, and although they won’t announce this a year early, his final bout should be with John Cena.
14 Kurt Angle Gets One Final Match
Kurt Angle will definitely be returning soon, as he was the first person announced for the 2017 Hall of Fame, but he needs to be given more of a role in WWE during his return. WWE may have similar fears with Angle as they did Daniel Bryan, but the wrestling machine is still working on the independents, and it would be great to see him in the ring again, whether it be for WrestleMania or a run following the event. Whether it's with AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt or Kevin Owens, there are too many dream matches waiting Angle on the main roster for him not to return, not to mention the obvious association with American Alpha. This is the most likely to happen on this list, and even if it’s one match or one final run, it has to happen.
13 John Cena And AJ Styles Top Their SummerSlam Encounter
This one may be hard to do, as the two have an incredible bout, with AJ Styles surprisingly picking up the 1-2-3 to go up on John Cena 2-0, which no one has done in recent memory. Since then, Styles has won the WWE title and is carrying Smackdown, but now Cena is back to claim his 16th world title, with a match scheduled at the Royal Rumble, and another potential showdown at WrestleMania. This is the best current rivalry in the WWE, with fans either being fully invested in either Styles or Cena, and it feels real, giving it the heat that most other rivalries don’t currently have. Whether it’s their match at the Rumble or another encounter, these two are going to manage to take it to the next level, maybe by adding a stipulation to the match.
12 Asuka Falls
Since debuting in 2015, Asuka has looked completely unbeatable, dethroning Bayley in devastating fashion on her way to becoming NXT Women’s Champion. With a lack of competition, she has been booked in a fatal 4-way match for NXT TakeOver: San Antonio, against Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. On their own, none of these competitors are genuine competition, but this may be the only way to get the title off the Japanese destroyer, as the main roster could be her home in the near future. At the moment, the Empress of Tomorrow is just way too far ahead of the competition, so having her drop the title and having the rest of the division develop together could be the play, so maybe we will see Nikki Cross or Billie Kay grab the title by pinning someone other than Asuka.
11 Sami Zayn Wins The Royal Rumble
With the Royal Rumble being as star studded and unpredictable as any in history, you can make a case for at least 8 stars to win the match, but one that isn’t being discussed but needs to be looked at it Sami Zayn. With names such as the Undertaker, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar announced for the match, Zayn may not be the first choice, but the more you think about it, the better it sounds. RAW needs a genuine top baby face, and with Reigns not getting the job done, pushing Zayn will help, as he is both a likeable performer, and an incredibly good in ring performer and storyteller. It gives the WWE options for heel turns and many enticing rivalries, and although this one probably won’t happen, it’s probably a good option for WWE to explore.
10 The Miz Pulls Daniel Bryan Out Of Retirement
The Miz has been the hottest star not named AJ Styles since the brand split, and although the in ring work has been with Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose, this can be attributed to the emotional rivalry between him and his general manager, Daniel Bryan. Now we all know that Daniel Bryan had to retire due to health concerns, but independent doctors have cleared him to compete, and with all the history between these two men, it might be a good idea to bring him back for one more match. Add onto that that the Miz is one of the safest workers in WWE (that being a key part of the sparking of their rivalry on Talking Smack), and it just seems like it’s the perfect time for this rivalry to come to a head.
9 Bray Wyatt Emerges As Styles’ Number One Contender
Bray Wyatt has been pegged as a future main event star in the WWE for some time, with a magnetic charisma that no one else possesses in the entire wrestling world, but WWE have booked him into a corner where no one believes he is a genuine threat. This begun to change when himself and Randy Orton won the Tag Team Championships, but WWE have to work harder to make him a serious threat in 2017. Having him take control of his family and bring them together will be a start, but having the Eater of Worlds step up to the main event plate on the Smackdown after WrestleMania would be the perfect way to do this, as it would also present a fresh rivalry. Wyatt has a genuine connection with his fans too, and I believe this rivalry would split fans and present unique viewing.
8 NXT Call ups
To say that there will be NXT call ups after WrestleMania isn’t much of a bold statement, but who is going to make the jump from the yellow developmental brand up to the main roster after ‘Mania 33? There have been many rumors about who Vince McMahon is interested in, and it’s likely Samoa Joe gets called up before the big event, but on the RAW and Smackdown after WrestleMania, expect chaos. The names include Tye Dillinger, The Revival, Asuka, Austin Aries and Hideo Itami, and on the two subsequent events after the big night, we will see 4 of these. On RAW, the tag team division definitely needs depth, so The Revival will turn up, and if he doesn’t come out on the Road to WrestleMania, expect to see Austin Aries emerge to give the Cruiserweight division even more star power. On the following night expect to see Tye Dillinger and potentially Hideo Itami, which will deepen the already exciting mid card that Smackdown possesses.
7 Goldberg Battles Roman Reigns At WrestleMania
As you’ll see later in the article, I have another idea for Goldberg’s proposed opponent Brock Lesnar, and there’s no doubt that their bout shouldn’t go ahead, so who should the returning WCW legend battle on the biggest stage? The answer is Roman Reigns, and whether you like him or not, he deserves to be on the biggest stage in a big time match, and it would be a great test to see if Reigns can carry an opponent to a great match, which has been one of his biggest criticisms. This could be a catalyst for his long awaited heel turn as well, but if WWE want fans to take their stars as seriously as they take legends, then this should be a marquee bout on the card, and should be a more than competitive bout, no matter who picks up the victory.
6 WWE Finally Pulls The Trigger On A Double Turn
Speaking of a heel turn, WWE fans have long waited for a John Cena heel turn, and to avoid the post brand split TV becoming stale and repetitive, this is a great time to pull the trigger on an exciting double turn, this time with AJ Stlyes and John Cena. Fans are already naturally gravitating towards Styles, as he has shown that he is the best in ring performer in the world, and with tensions about John Cena becoming more of a part timer who cares less about WWE, it would be a great sight to see. This would freshen up the entire Smackdown main event scene, and would present us with some fresh feuds including Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena, Baron Corbin vs. John Cena, AJ Styles vs. The Miz and AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt. This one is the least likely to happen on the list, but if WWE want to make some real money and get some buzz around Smackdown, this is a great move.
5 Charlotte And Bayley Steal The Show
The obvious match for the RAW women’s division in the backyard of NXT would be Sasha Banks vs. Bayley, but with Charlotte reigning as the Queen of the division, the consummate underdog Bayley is the perfect foil, especially after the never-ending rivalry between Banks and Charlotte. Whether you agree or not, it’s the majority opinion that the women stole the show at WrestleMania 32, and with the character clashes and in ring ability of these two, they will make it two years in a row that the Women’s bout it the best on the card. It’s unclear what the rest of the division will be doing, but at the current time, seeing Bayley prevail over Charlotte would be an amazing way to showcase the skills and development of women’s wrestling in WWE.
4 Samoa Joe Makes An Impact
Samoa Joe has been stuck down in NXT for 2 years now, and ever since his heel turn on Finn Balor late in 2015, the Samoan Submission Machine has been as consistent as anyone on the roster. His feuds with Balor, Nakamura and even a mini feud with Sami Zayn have all been tremendous, with Joe being a great modern day heel, garnering heat for his fantastic mic work, while also being able to put on great matches. Now is the time to promote him to the main roster, and if rumors are to be believed, there is a monster run awaiting him. This shouldn’t wait till after Mania, as Joe is ready, and he should have a big Championship match on the Grandest stage, leading to a main event monster heel run.
3 Zayn And Owens Close The Show
Dating back to their days in Ring of Honor and continuing through NXT and now to RAW, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have had a rivalry that leaves fans wanting more, with each encounter topping the last. WWE pushed their Battleground show stealer from 2016 as their last battle, but with an opportunity to have this emotional showdown close the show on the Biggest Stage of them all, you can’t turn that down. As previously mentioned, this would come via Sami Zayn winning the Royal Rumble, and with the storied history between the two, their worst match would even top last year's main event. This doesn’t have to happen in 2017, but it should happen before their careers are done, so why not make it the closing act for WrestleMania 33, in NXT’s backyard.
2 Shinsuke Nakamura Battles Brock Lesnar
In previous years, any mention of another wrestling promotion on WWE screens wouldn’t go unpunished, bit with the expansion of the WWE, it’s a perfect time to capitalize on wrestling history outside WWE. Add on to this that no one wants to see a trilogy bout between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg, and it’s the perfect time to call up the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura. The two last met in Japan over a decade ago, and while they may not have issues, what better way to showcase the skills and superstar potential of Nakamura than pitting him against the Beast Incarnate? Now the WWE may not want to have Lesnar lose a 1 on 1 match at 2 straight Pay Per Views, but this is the perfect opportunity to create a new mega star for the company.
1 Finn Balor Returns… As A Heel
Fitting into my story line, the emotional victory for Sami Zayn in the main event would no doubt be a feel good moment not felt since Daniel Bryan emerged triumphant at WrestleMania XXX, and the next night on RAW would no doubt be a huge party. Crashing this party however wouldn’t be Kevin Owens (he’d be busy with Chris Jericho) or even Roman Reigns, but a returning Finn Balor, but not to a hero's welcome. Balor will come out and attack Sami Zayn alongside Gallows and Anderson, and for the first time in a long time, RAW would feel unpredictable and exciting. This would give us a feud we never got to see in NXT, and it would feature some amazing matches, with Zayn playing the logical underdog. Whether he wins the title or not, Balor would cement his spot as a main eventer, and if you never saw Prince Devitt work as a heel in Japan, you’d be in for a treat.