The WWE has had a very interesting year in 2017, as they’ve been fantastic in some areas, but terrible in others, so there needs to be major changes if 2018 is to be a successful one for the WWE, but all in all, they’ve got the pieces there to make some phenomenal television over the next few years. The roster is quite possibly the greatest of all time when it comes to pure wrestling talent, but the WWE is struggling to book a deep, consistent roster with interesting characters, and if they can manage to get some of that right, we may be launching into a golden era of wrestling in the United States.
We can infer some of WWE’s major plans over the next 12 months (e.g. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at ‘Mania 34), so it was hard to come up with 15 predictions for the company over that time frame, but there are still many things we don’t know, so that’s why today we are going to give 15 predictions about the WWE for the year 2018.
15 Brock Lesnar Walks Away To Join The UFC
This one has been hinted at quite a lot as of late, and with rumors still being that Roman Reigns will dethrone Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, it just makes sense that a UFC return is in order. And it’s likely to happen, as he wants to give MMA a true run now that he is fully healthy. He would still have to serve his suspension following the Mark Hunt fight at UFC 200, but he can re-enter that pool and start serving that before his WWE contract comes to an end, so it’s certainly possible he fights in the UFC before 2018 is out. The Jon Jones superfight is likely not a possibility anymore, but there are still great fights for him, and with Conor McGregor’s future in the UFC still up in the air, they need a star, so this will be huge for the company and Lesnar.
14 Daniel Bryan Walks Away To Join ROH
The WWE have a huge decision to make about Daniel Bryan come September 2018, as he has openly stated his desire to wrestle again, so do they let him wrestle so he doesn’t walk away, or do they let one of their biggest stars from the past decade walk over health concerns that might not actually be that concerning? After denying him a return when he was cleared by several doctors, it’s clear that WWE doesn’t want Bryan in a ring for fear of further injury, so the current SmackDown Live GM is no doubt on his way out, and will likely return to the promotion that made him a star, Ring of Honor. It’s not going to make ROH the top promotion in the world, that’s for sure, but seeing The American Dragon back in the ring on the indies once again will be a sight to behold, and with so much new talent out there now, he will have fresh matchups waiting for years to come.
13 More Independent Stars Make Their Way To NXT
This one seems to be happening more and more each year, but every time we think that the WWE are done with big-time indie stars, they bring in the likes of Tommy End, Drew Galloway and Adam Cole, so there should be no reason to expect anything less from them as the calendar clicks over to 2018. We’ve recently seen signings of Lio Rush and Donovan Dijak, and while it’s incredibly unlikely we will see Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks or Kazuchika Okada in the WWE, there is the chance for the likes of Moose, Ricochet or even Jay Lethal, all of whom would fit in perfectly with NXT. I don’t think we will get all three, but over the next 12 months, expect to see at least one big-time independent star sign with NXT (fingers crossed for Ricochet).
12 Kairi Sane Headlines A TakeOver… With Toni Storm
The women in WWE are getting much more time and exposure as of late, so having them main event shows isn’t too groundbreaking any more, but it’s still a big moment, and with Kairi Sane likely going to win the title at some point in 2018 (or maybe even 2017), she needs someone to dance with in the main event. Enter Toni Storm. She may not be under contract with the WWE at this point, but they’d be very smart to push hard to bring in the young Australian, and after their great match in the MYC, it seems that they have much more potential for a long feud. This might not happen in 2018, because Storm is still only 21 years old, but this is going to happen at some point, and these are the two most talented women that the WWE has contact with at the moment (in developmental), and a long bout between the two could even out do Bayley vs. Sasha Banks.
11 The Four Horsewomen Collide At WrestleMania
The WWE have turned their women’s division around, and that has been built around Charlotte, Bayley, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, so despite having some big matches over the past few years, a Fatal-4-Way between these four is the money match, and something that should definitely be reserved for the Grandest Stage of Them All. We all expect them to battle MMA’s Four Horsewomen at Survivor Series, so the next logical step is for them to battle each other. While it may be held off until WrestleMania 34, there’s no time like the present to start building this one, and it could genuinely be a crown jewel in the entire Women’s revolution. If you go back and watch this same match from NXT, you will be very impressed, and all of them have grown as performers since that point, so it would no doubt be a show stealer.
10 DIY Have The Best Rivalry In NXT History
Ever since Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens collided in NXT, there hasn’t been an extremely personal rivalry to capture the imagination of the Full Sail fans, but after NXT TakeOver: Chicago when Tommaso Ciampa turned on Johnny Gargano, fans were bracing for another one, but unfortunately Ciampa injured his ankle which will keep him out of action until early 2018. Although Johnny Wrestling is getting back into the rhythm of being a singles star, it’s obvious that the heartbreaking betrayal from Ciampa is weighing on him heavily, so when The Psycho Killer returns, all hell is going to break loose. Whether the rivalry is over the NXT Championship or not (it likely won’t be as Adam Cole, Aleister Black and Drew McIntyre are probably going to be battling for it), it doesn’t matter, because it is going to be amazing, and if their match in the CWC proves anything, it’s that the matches are going to be as brutal and entertaining as the rivalry itself.
9 Sami Zayn Finally Becomes WWE Champion
Sami Zayn is one of the best wrestlers in the world today, as matches against the likes of Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura proves, but ever since he has been called to the main roster, he hasn’t been able to find his place. But SmackDown Live would be wise to place Zayn in their main event scene quite soon, as he has the talent and the likeability to thrive across the ring from Jinder Mahal. The fact that he has been held down so much will actually help his story, as fans feel sorry for the way he has been treated, and if he can continue showing the passion and fire he did on a recent episode of SmackDown, Zayn could rise to the top and become the blue brand's top star. If Zayn doesn’t feel any success in the year 2018, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him return to ROH or debut with New Japan, but the WWE have to be smarter than that, as he is just simply that good. If Jinder Mahal can hold the title for so long, why can’t The Underdog from the Underground?
8 The Rock Returns… And Battles Roman Reigns
The Rock is undoubtedly the biggest star to ever grace the wrestling industry, and despite his various commitments to Hollywood, he often makes time for returns to the WWE. But one of his last was a very unsavory one, namely the night of the 2015 Royal Rumble where he was meant to help anoint Roman Reigns as the next alpha dog of the WWE, so this makes sense for a story if he was to return soon. This would likely require a heel turn from Reigns, and if he plays the silent ass-kicker he has been recently, it would make for great TV, especially with The Rock’s incredible mic skills, and it would certainly create some buzz. People may not like this, as some are fed up with past stars returning and most are fed up with Roman Reigns in the spotlight, but this would be a great story, and 2018 is the best time to pull the trigger on it. SummerSlam, anyone?
7 The Notorious Makes An Appearance
The WWE loves to tap into Hollywood and celebrities to create main streambuzz, and there is no one in the world they could bring in right now that would create more buzz than The Notorious, Conor McGregor. It has seemed like a matter of "when" not "if" he would be in the WWE, and it’s likely that time will be 2018. The UFC star is quickly becoming the biggest star of any kind in the entire world, and if Vince McMahon can throw enough money at the Dublin brawler, an appearance alone would be huge for the company. Given his abilities on the mic, it’s likely the appearance wouldn’t be a match, but it would be good enough for both parties. Although the WWE needs Conor more than the other way around, it would help everyone involved to bring in the two-time UFC World Champion.
6 The Undertaker Returns… To Headline The Hall of Fame
The Undertaker finally wrapped up a historic career in 2017 (unless you believe rumors of a return at Survivor Series), but I hope that doesn’t happen, as WrestleMania 33 was the perfect send off, and at WrestleMania 34, The Dead Man deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as the headline act, no less. It’s obvious that no one will headline a HOF Class that ‘Taker is on, and while no one could blame WWE for waiting for a few years, but he deserves it as soon as possible, so ‘Mania 34 is the perfect time to do it. This isn’t too bold of a prediction, as we all know it’s going to happen soon, but I just hope the WWE don’t pressure ‘Taker into a return, because leaving his gear in the ring and leaving through the ramp was the perfect way to end such a legendary career.
5 WWE Runs A Trios Or Mixed Gender Tournament
Triple H gaining more influence in the WWE has been nothing but successful to this point, and the main reason for that is the tournaments that they have begun, with the Dusty Classic, Cruiserweight Classic, U.K. Tournament and Mae Young Classic all being fantastic viewing, so what’s next? It would be understandable if the WWE took a year off from tournaments, but they’ve been so great, so hopefully they look to run another, and my choice for a new tournament would be either a trios or mixed gender tournament, with many exciting possibilities. Could the WWE bring in The Elite to battle the likes of The Undisputed Era or British Strong Style? It’s very unlikely, but either of these would be very exciting for the fans, and if they can bring in some top independent names for the tournament, Triple H’s success in the WWE would only continue growing.
4 Asuka Finishes Out The Year Still Undefeated
Asuka came to the WWE in 2015, and she has still yet to be pinned or submitted, and with the WWE’s usual 50/50 booking, that’s a huge surprise, and they finally have a huge superstar in the women’s division on their hands. While some people understandably expect Vince McMahon to stuff this up straight away, the great play would be for her undefeated streak to continue, and it should all the way through 2018. This is going to make her first loss one of the biggest moment in the history of the WWE, and it should come at WrestleMania 35 against one of the company's top babyfaces (the likes of Kairi Sane or Sasha Banks come to mind), and while I think the WWE will find a way to mess this up, it’s definitely the best course of action to keep Asuka as dominant as possible.
3 A Premium Option Is Finally Added To The WWE Network
The WWE Network is absolutely fantastic, as it gives fans access to every show that the WWE, WCW and ECW have done, and it gives us great original content like NXT, the CWC, MYC and UK Tournament, but there have been rumors that the WWE are looking into adding indie shows on the network for premium subscribers, and it has to happen in 2018. Don’t expect to see the likes of New Japan or ROH on the Network, but adding Evolve, Progress and even ICW for an extra fee would be a great idea, as it will get more eyes on those companies, and might even bring back some hardcore fans to the WWE Network.
2 Styles And Nakamura Get Their Wrestle Kingdom Rematch
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are two of WWE’s top stars, and although they are both in separate stories at the moment, they are eventually going to collide, and if you have seen anything from their Wrestle Kingdom 10 match, which was contested over the IWGP Intercontinental title, you will know why fans are so eager to see this bout once more. It was teased during the Money in the Bank match, and their encounter was absolutely electric, and at this point, anything less than a huge WrestleMania match will be a travesty. It would be simple to put together, have Nakamura be the one to dethrone Jinder Mahal, and have AJ win the Royal Rumble, and after the horrible match between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton from WrestleMania 33, this would be a major upgrade for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.
1 Finally… The Broken One Arrives
The steam that Matt Hardy built up in TNA and all around the world with his "Broken" brilliance is definitely fading, but his character was interesting and exciting enough that fans are still clamoring to see that version of him in the WWE, and with Jeff out due to injury for the near future, it’s time to make it happen. There is still the whole controversy with Anthem Sports and Impact, but with RAW becoming stale beyond the main event scene, it would help them greatly to let Matt be himself, as the character has the potential to catch on with the wider WWE audience. It’s unlikely that he will have the freedom he had in TNA, but even with those limitations, this can be a huge hit in the WWE, and 2018 is the perfect time to unveil it.