2016 ending has everyone discussing New Year’s resolutions. We are looking forward to 2017 and the big changes that will happen. The same can be said for wrestling. Instead of resolutions, fans are trying to forecast the happenings that will occur. No one would have predicted Kevin Owens, A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura closing out 2016 as the WWE World Champions this time last year. The company has changed dramatically with new stars emerging in the era of the brand split. The women’s divisions and tag team divisions have finally seeing resurgences as well, reaching new peaks this year.
Next year will see opportunity continue to open for those talented enough to seize them. A few stories ending the year will play a huge role in next year’s WWE landscape. We'll try to take a glimpse into the future by deciphering some big events that will unfold. It will be a combination of wrestling knowledge, factors already in play and a bit of boldness to formulate these picks. Next year is bound to be huge for the future of the company with it being the first full calendar year under the brand split. We'll find some names to re-emerge, leave, stand out or make history with fifteen bold WWE predictions for 2017.
15 Kurt Angle Returns In The Royal Rumble
Wrestling fans have been impatiently waiting on the return of Kurt Angle to the WWE. The wrestling legend left the company over a decade ago following a bitter falling out. TNA employed Angle for the majority of time since then, but he became a free agent earlier this year. Angle has been very public about his desire to end his wrestling career back where it started in the WWE.
14 Charlotte Flair Loses Title at WrestleMania and Doesn't Win It Back All Year
Charlotte Flair has absolutely dominated the women’s division all year, going undefeated in singles matches on PPV. You are guaranteed a Charlotte win if she's involved in a big PPV match. Sasha Banks would defeat her three times on Raw to win the Raw Women’s Championship, but Charlotte always won it back weeks later on the PPV.
13 Bray Wyatt Gets Kicked Out of The Wyatt Family
The current incarnation of The Wyatt Family features Randy Orton joining Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. It has freshened up the act, but we can all sense they're splitting up sooner than later. Everyone is thinking Orton will be the one to get kicked out. The face character of Orton starting to follow Bray’s leadership made it too obvious that he was eventually planning to turn on them.
12 Adam Cole Against Kyle O’Reilly Main Events an NXT TakeOver show
ROH Final Battle 2016 was main evented by the exciting match of Kyle O’Reilly defeating Adam Cole to win the Ring of Honor World Championship. Both men have been pillars of ROH since the company lost their last core of stars (Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, and Sami Zayn) to the WWE. Cole and O’Reilly are both about to enter free agency with their value being very high. WWE desperately needs new credible talents to build NXT around with guys like Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe ready for the main roster.
11 Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn Win Tag Team Gold
The personal rivalry between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was arguably the best feud in WWE all year. They have tremendous chemistry together that is impossible to find with just about any two other wresters in the world. Owens and Zayn started out together as a tag team for many years in Ring of Honor and other smaller promotions before their wars started.
10 Chyna Gets Inducted Into The WWE Hall of Fame
Chyna's passing in 2016 left the wrestling world heartbroken as one of the Attitude Era’s biggest stars left us too soon. WWE was criticized for not inducting Chyna into the Hall of Fame while she was alive due to the petty and personal issues regarding her falling out with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Sadly, it sometimes takes the loss of someone to remind you of their accolades.
9 Big E Turns On New Day
No one saw it coming when Seth Rollins turned on Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to end The Shield. Everyone expected Ambrose or Reigns to be the one that eventually ended the super group. The New Day continues to be a huge marketing success for the WWE with huge money coming in through merchandising. However, there’s nothing more they can really accomplish as a trio.
8 The Hardys Return And Win Tag Title Gold
Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy will be the hottest free agents available for the WWE in 2017. Rumors have circulated that the company will aggressively bring in new and old faces into the WWE next year to make Raw, SmackDown and NXT all have deeper rosters. The success of Broken Matt and Brother Nero in TNA have made the legendary tag team among the most popular acts in wrestling today.
7 Finn Balor Wins Royal Rumble and Regains WWE Universal Championship At WM
Finn Balor was destined to be the first ever WWE Universal Champion when defeating Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. WWE viewed him as the man to build the Raw brand around, but an injury forced him to relinquish the title just one night later. Balor’s return will be a huge moment. The Royal Rumble match was made for surprises and Balor returning as The Demon would provide one of the best moments in Rumble history.
6 Braun Strowman Defeats Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg
Bill Goldberg is rumored to have signed a contract for three matches in 2017. We're all expecting the Royal Rumble match and another showdown with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 33 to be two of them. What is the third? Enter Braun Strowman. WWE is hell bent on making Strowman the next big dominant force in wrestling. There would be no better way for Braun to get elevated than to have him destroy two legends.
5 Brock Lesnar Quits
Brock Lesnar has become severely disappointing for the WWE this year. Lesnar had two lackluster bouts in huge spots with Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania 32 and Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2016. The only time Lesnar created attention for the company was when he failed a drug test in the UFC and when he lost to Goldberg in 86 seconds. Lesnar lacking the passion or commitment in his work for the WWE is starting to show.
4 Bayley Becomes Biggest Female Star In WWE History
This is a long-term prediction that will be official by the end of 2017. Charlotte Flair has been positioned as a dominant heel champion. Sasha Banks not being able to end Charlotte’s undefeated PPV streak was definitely planned for a reason. WWE believes Bayley has bigger potential as a face and they're saving the moment for her.
As mentioned earlier, the belief here is that Bayley defeats Charlotte at WrestleMania 33 to win the Raw Women’s Championship. Bayley connects with the younger audience in a way that is reminiscent to John Cena. It'll take a lot of work but Bayley has the potential become a massive star for the WWE.
3 Shinsuke Nakamura Wins The WWE World Championship
The star power and inherent charisma of Shinsuke Nakamura is clear as day to anyone watching him perform for the first time. From his entrance to his theatrics to his in-ring work, Nakamura has the it factor every wrestler desperately wants. Nakamura is currently the NXT Champion, but his talent is ready for the bigger stage.
2 John Cena Ties and Breaks Ric Flair's Record
Despite moving into a part-time role, John Cena is still the face of the WWE. No one is more associated with the WWE brand than Cena. WWE tried to have Roman Reigns become the new face of the company, but the numbers showed he was nowhere near Cena’s level. With 15 World Title reigns under his belt, Cena is just one championship win away from tying Ric Flair’s record.
1 The Undertaker Retires
The biggest story of 2017 for pro wrestling will be the saddest one. The Undertaker will be 52 years old when he enters WrestleMania 33. Everyone still loves watching The Undertaker in his handful of matches each year. The clock is ticking and everyone has to retire at some point. The Undertaker has made more than enough money to live for the rest of his life, so it comes down to ending it on his terms.
It would feel wrong for Undertaker to end his career on any show other than WrestleMania. The rumored match of a showdown with John Cena is the biggest money match on the table and there’s no possible way to end a career on a better note. The Undertaker will lose to Cena in the main event of WrestleMania 33 and reveal his retirement. WWE fans will celebrate him like the hero he has been to them for decades.
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