A new year brings a lot of new excitement to the WWE. It feels like a fresh start and it also marks the beginning of the road to WrestleMania. January is filled with hype for the Royal Rumble and the weeks that follow lead to some of the best WWE storylines. 2017 looks like it could be one of the best years ever as storylines evolve, wrestlers make their returns to the ring, and fans are treated to dream matches that they’ve been wanting to see for months.
As the rumor mill churns, a number of future WWE encounters come into the picture. The following 15 matches have been rumored for quite some time and can be expected to be main event matches when they are held. These matches include Superstars like John Cena, The Undertaker, A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor, among others. If these rumors prove to be true, then we are in for some classic battles and contests that we’ve never seen before in the WWE. Many of the matches could even be featured on the WrestleMania 33 card to create a lot of interest in the upcoming event.
All we can say for now is that 2017 has the potential to be one of the best years in a long time if some of these matches come to fruition. So now, without further ado, lets find out which rumored bouts make the list and can potentially go down in 2017, enjoy!
15 A.J. Styles vs. The Undertaker
During the 900th episode of WWE SmackDown, The Undertaker made his return in a big way. Not only did he appear live on the show, but he announced that he would not be defined by WrestleMania. This got the fans talking and one of the biggest rumored matches for The Undertaker is a WWE Championship bout against A.J. Styles at the Royal Rumble.
Almost any of the new roster members would be a great battle for Taker, but A.J. Styles versus The Deadman is really a must-see for fans. A.J. Styles has exploded on the WWE scene since his debut last year and has really delivered in several matches. A clash between these two could extend beyond the Rumble and really help propel the SmackDown brand to higher ratings than Raw.
14 John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler has been teetering on the edge of main event status for numerous months now. He has showcased his ring skills in matches against Dean Ambrose and A.J. Styles, but he needs a huge decisive win to really help make him a credible star. As John Cena plans his big return, these two could really have a great match for the SmackDown brand.
Ziggler and Cena feuded years earlier, but this time it could be a great summer feud in 2017. If Cena wins the WWE Championship at some point during the year, Ziggler could be the one who wins it back from him and cements himself at the top of the SmackDown brand. Only time will tell if this match happens, but it’s another rumor that could make some great WWE moments.
13 Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor
Kevin Owens has had a lengthy run as the WWE Universal Champion. It’s a great comparison to his run as the NXT Champion. Finn Balor was the man who ended the NXT Championship run and now he can return to take back the Universal Championship that he never lost.
As great as the Owens and Balor feud was in NXT, it could be even better on the main roster. The whole evolution of this feud would depend on Balor’s injury return timetable. If possible, Balor could return for the Royal Rumble match, win the Rumble and headline WrestleMania against Owens. If that’s too soon, then a Balor and Owens summer feud could create a lot of great matches. Balor needs to keep the momentum that he had with his Raw debut and a feud with Owens could do that.
12 Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
After planting seeds for almost a year, the battle of the Pedigrees seems set to take place at WrestleMania 33. Triple H set this feud in motion by attacking Rollins and costing him the Universal Championship after it was declared vacant.
Now that Seth Rollins is a full-fledged babyface, he can gain more fans in an intense feud with Triple H. Hopefully their WrestleMania brawl will be more entertaining than the slow-paced dud that Reigns and The Game had at last year’s WrestleMania. This feud has the potential for more drama and some great in-ring work that could show shades of Triple H’s prime. The match is a great way to keep Rollins out of the title picture for a little longer and eventually set up him for another run in the months that follow this match.
11 Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
One of the great modern-day bromances is about to come to an end. After months of having each others backs, it’s finally time for Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens to officially split up and have a match against each other. Their feud can be done a number of different ways. Jericho could win the Rumble, turn on Owens and feud with him going into WrestleMania.
Their match may also take place at the Fastlane Pay Per View, as a way to put Owens over for an even bigger match at WrestleMania. These two have such great chemistry in the ring that their build up and feud would provide classic moments, a lot of comedy, and some great matches. Hopefully this feud extends beyond one main match and builds up with a lot of intensity.
10 Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar III
After Goldberg’s annihilation of Brock Lesnar at the 2016 Survivor Series, it was almost a given that these two monsters would meet again in a WWE ring. Both men have already been confirmed for the 2016 Royal Rumble and rumors have swirled that their next encounter will be at WrestleMania 33. With Goldberg sporting a 2-0 record against Brock, it’s likely that Lesnar will finally get a win. WWE could throw us another swerve though, in an effort to help continue Goldberg’s dominance and push, as the company can then have an underdog beat Goldberg to generate a big push for themselves.
Goldberg and Lesnar will be a great addition to the WrestleMania card, allowing Lesnar to finally take on a viable opponent for the event. It’s also nice to place these part-timers in a match together instead of wasting the talent of another roster member.
9 Shaq vs. The Big Show
In what could go down as one of the clunkiest and worst matches in WrestleMania history, Shaq himself has continuously fueled rumors that he's going one-on-one against the Big Show. Shaq made an appearance in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal last year and he briefly teamed up with Big Show before both men were eliminated.
This match has shades of the hype generated between Floyd Mayweather and Big Show back at WrestleMania XXIV. It can get a lot of mainstream attention and showcase a true battle of the giants. In all likelihood, this match would last no longer than five minutes and probably involve an interference from other giants like Kane or Braun Strowman. Maybe Shaq could get his basketball buddy and former WCW star Dennis Rodman to make a guest appearance.
8 The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan may be retired from in-ring action at the moment, but the WWE creative team isn’t acting like it. For several months, The Miz and Daniel Bryan have been teasing a match against each other. They openly taunt one another and have had several angry arguments on SmackDown and the post-show, Talking Smack. Their rivalry has been great, but it’s missing the in-ring action and physical battles between the two.
If Bryan does return, it'll likely be for one last match at WrestleMania. The Miz would be an ideal opponent that Bryan could easily defeat, win the Intercontinental title from, and then vacate the title to create a great tournament on the SmackDown brand. Fans would go nuts to see Bryan wrestle in one more match and it can give him the true send-off that he deserves.
7 Renee Young and Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz and Maryse
The relationship between Renee Young and Dean Ambrose has been kept quiet until Young became an official member of the Total Divas cast. Since then, fans have been exposed to their off-screen relationship that is slowly transitioning into some on-screen drama.
After years of staying on the sidelines, Young made her first transitional move as an in-ring performer by delivering a nasty slap to The Miz on a recent episode of SmackDown. Later in the night, The Miz attacked Dean Ambrose, setting up a potential mixed-tag match for the Royal Rumble Pay Per View. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out and if Young will only do a single match or stick to the sidelines as some type of valet for Ambrose.
6 Sami Zayn vs. A.J. Styles
On the Raw side of the roster, the WWE creative team has done great things with Sami Zayn. Over the past few months, they have built him up as a tough opponent, great in-ring competitor, and one of the best underdogs to look out for. After so much tension with Mick Foley, Zayn could be traded to the SmackDown roster in dramatic fashion. If this is the case, then Zayn could be the person to dethrone A.J. Styles and win his first World Championship on the main roster.
A Zayn and Styles clash has everything it needs to create compelling drama. Both are excellent in the ring and could have an extended feud that lasts through several classic matches. Zayn could easily lead the SmackDown roster and feud with talents like Bray Wyatt, John Cena, and Randy Orton. 2017 might be the breakout year for the talent.
5 Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte
As Ronda Rousey prepares for her UFC comeback fight, rumors have been going around that she may also retire from active competition. If this is the case, then you can expect the WWE to try and scoop her up as soon as possible. Rousey is already friends with Stephanie McMahon and the connections could create a lot of great women’s matches.
Naturally, one of Rousey’s initial opponents would likely be Charlotte. The dominant Champion has a Pay Per View win streak going on that could be challenged by Rousey. It would definitely elevate the Woman’s Division and give the WWE a ton of mainstream press. Even if Rousey stays with the UFC, she could potentially wrestle in the WWE, using a similar deal to the one that Brock Lesnar currently has.
4 Ronda Rousey & The Rock vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Ronda Rousey’s first big WWE experience came at WrestleMania 31. Standing by The Rock’s side, Rousey took down Triple H and put Stephanie McMahon in an arm-bar. The moment was great and left fans wanting more. If the Triple H and Seth Rollins match falls through, then this would be an epic back-up plan. The Rock and Rousey are mega-stars and this match-up has been rumored for years.
The best way to break Rousey into the WWE would be in a tag match like this. The Rock could carry most of the bout and then allow Rousey to come in and get some signature moves off. Rousey joining the WWE would most-likely be a part-time gig that involved big main events at key 2017 PPVs like SummerSlam and Survivor Series.
3 Kurt Angle in the WWE Royal Rumble
Some of the biggest rumors to start off the year include who will be the surprise entrants in the Royal Rumble match. If this year’s rumors prove to be true, it could prove to be one of the biggest Rumble matches of all-time. Oh it’s true. Kurt Angle is rumored to make his official WWE return at the 2017 event. It’s been over ten years since Angle has appeared in the WWE and the crowd would go absolutely NUTS if he returned at the Rumble.
The match wouldn’t put too much on Angle and it would be great to see the Angle Slam in the WWE again. These rumors don’t talk about any future matches or contracts, but if the crowd reacts enough, then we could be seeing Angle wrestle at a future event like SummerSlam or WrestleMania. If this doesn't happen, you can expect the WWE to bring in Angle in similar fashion as they did with Goldberg, promoting him for the next 2K game and allowing him to compete immediately after at Survivor Series.
2 Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns has taken on a lot of giants like Rusev and Big Show, but it looks like he will face his biggest challenge in 2017 when he goes up against Braun Strowman. Strowman has spent weeks destroying the WWE talents in squash matches and he’s finally ready for a real feud. Never one to back down from a challenge, Reigns would take on Strowman and likely have his United States Championship on the line.
The key for this feud to be a success is to not have Strowman lose out to Reigns. If you want to keep the big man strong, then the WWE needs to have him win over Reigns and keep that momentum going. If booked right, this could be a great mid-card feud that helps both Superstars in the long run.
1 The Undertaker vs. John Cena
It seems like every year for the past five years, people have been talking about John Cena taking on The Undertaker at WrestleMania. This year looks like the pieces are finally in place to see this match happen. Both Superstars are a part of the SmackDown roster and ready to return as the new year arrives. A headlining match between these two would give WrestleMania the hype it needs to become a must-see event.
John Cena and The Undertaker have fought before, but it was early in their careers when John Cena was still a young rapping heel on the SmackDown roster. Now as one of the greats, it would be interesting to see if The Face That Runs the Place will try to conquer The Deadman for some WrestleMania glory. It would also be fun to see Cena booed out of the building if he actually defeated The Undertaker at Mania.
In addition, the rumor mill believe this match will have championship implications. If so, and Cena wins, he will tie Ric Flair's illustrious 16-time title record.