2017 has been a weird year for wrestling, and if you believe the rumor mill, it's only going to get weirder. Weird doesn't necessarily mean bad, however - only different. Everything about wrestling has changed in the last few years. All of a sudden, non-WWE wrestling is hot, and while WWE's TV ratings are tanking, though their revenues are quite high. Experts are stopping short of calling this a "boom period", but it's at least a big step up compared to what has been going on since the end of the Attitude Era and Monday Night Wars.
WWE is looking at expanding internationally, and numerous international organizations are looking at expanding into WWE's main territory. For the first time since WCW was in existence, it might be as though they have real competition, and that can only spell good things for wrestling fans. WWE tends to do bold and innovative things when they feel competition creeping in, as they did during the Monday Night Wars.
In many ways, WWE feels that smaller international promotions are their current threat. This is why we've seen WWE buy up all the independent talent in the UK, and elsewhere around the world. Out of all the rumors currently swirling about today's pro wrestling scene, here are eight of the ones we hope are true, and seven we hope aren't.
15 We Hope Is True: Kurt Angle Wrestling Again
Oh we hope it's true, we hope it's damn true!
Kurt Angle has been telling people he plans on wrestling again, but unfortunately this is something that won't be entirely up to him. Angle is 48 years old, and will turn 49 before the end of the year. He's had a plethora of injuries as well, so it's not altogether certain Angle will be given the go-ahead by WWE to get back in the ring.
Angle left WWE in 2006, and has admitted to suffering from addiction problems with painkillers. If WWE put him back in the ring and he suffers a relapse afterwards, it would not look good for them.
Still, an Angle return to the ring seems likely, albeit temporary. He'll probably only come back for a match or two, perhaps at next year's WrestleMania.
14 We Hope Isn't True: Aleister Black Joins 205 Live
If you have been watching NXT lately, you don't need to be told how good Aleister Black is. The guy is an attraction!
His offence is pretty much all perfectly executed kicks followed by periods of sitting stoically cross-legged in the ring. Well, the rumor mill is stating he's been labelled a Cruiserweight by WWE brass, and will be on his way to 205 Live rather than Raw or SD after his NXT stint is over.
205 Live is in an unfortunate place right now. The brand has not been well-received by fans (although some like it), and wrestlers feel like being placed there is the kiss of death. We just saw Austin Aries quit the company for that exact reason. Let's hope Aleister Black isn't the next to do the same.
13 We Hope Is True: Asuka's Main Roster Debut
In recent years, an NXT Champion is usually required to lose their championship before debuting on the main roster. This creates the odd dynamic where fans of an NXT wrestler will actually hope that wrestler loses so they might get called up to the main roster.
There are signs that Asuka's main roster debut may buck that trend however. Currently the storyline is that Asuka will not return to NXT until a suitable challenger is provided for her. This could lead to Asuka being called up to Raw or SmackDown while she's still undefeated.
Asuka could debut on the main roster and simply vacate the NXT Women's Title. Doing so would make her seem a step above all of the other Women's Champions who have come from the developmental brand.
12 We Hope Isn't True: Paige Not Returning To WWE
Everyday it seems the rumor mill switches back and forth on whether or not Paige will be returning to WWE once her injury is rehabilitated.
Some are saying all the drama her and Alberto Del Rios have put the company through is enough that WWE will cut ties with her once her injury is healed. Others are saying that because of the movie being made about Paige and her family (that The Rock is producing), WWE is going to keep her around.
If Paige doesn't return to WWE it will be a loss for the company. At only 24 years old, and having grown up in the business, Paige has a lot left to offer the wrestling world. It'll be a shame if she doesn't get to do that on the biggest stage possible.
11 We Hope Is True: "Broken" Matt Hardy To WWE
Good for Matt Hardy! The 42 year old has been around wrestling his entire life. While most wrestlers signed TNA contracts and coasted, Matt re-invented himself in a truly unique way. Unfortunately, the current owners of GWF/TNA/Impact are claiming ownership of the gimmick.
Matt has hinted recently that a deal to allow him and his family to use the #Broken universe is close to being settled. Strangely, the same sentiment has not been echoed by Jeff Jarrett and the rest of his cronies at the frequently renamed company.
Matt and Jeff Hardy returned to WWE at WrestleMania this year, and although they haven't been using the Broken angle which reinvigorated their careers, they have still been having entertaining matches that fans have loved.
Whether the gimmick ever ends up in WWE or not, the last year has brought a lot to cheer about for Hardy fans.
10 We Hope Isn't True: WWE Has Given Up On Bayley
It seems completely implausible that WWE could look at Bayley, hear the crowd reaction to her, and look at how much of her merchandise is being worn by the audience and say "nah, we'll pass on making her a star". Yet, some people are saying exactly that.
Corey Graves even mentioned on WWE Network's Bring it to the Table that he isn't sure if Bayley makes it on the main roster. She's been knocked out of the title picture after losing two straight on PPV to Alexa Bliss, including one match in her hometown. As of this writing she isn't even booked on the next PPV.
There is a chance that these rumors were actually started by WWE to create more of an underdog feeling for Bayley however. Let's hope that's the case, because Bayley absolutely has the potential to be a big star, as evidenced by her heroic NXT run.
9 We Hope Is True: New Japan Pro Wrestling to the USA
Over the holiday weekend in early July, New Japan Pro Wrestling performed two sold out shows at the Long Beach Convention Center in Los Angeles. Announcing legend, Jim Ross, called the action alongside former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Josh Barnett.
The shows were so successful, that NJPW has announced plans to open an office and wrestling school in LA. NJPW also stated they're looking into venues to hold a big show in New Orleans over WrestleMania weekend. This would be fantastic for wrestling fans, more Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada and all the great wrestlers from the overseas promotion.
NJPW offers a different style of wrestling that is geared more towards adults. There is far less emphasis on "sports entertainment" and far more emphasis on pure wrestling. Increased exposure of this type of wrestling is something many wrestling fans want more of.
8 We Hope Isn't True: Enzo To 205 Live
Triple H is very high on Enzo, as are many fans. The problem is, WWE sees Big Cass as a giant star, and Enzo as just pure comedy. Hence, why WWE broke the tag team up. Many fans of the team are upset they were broken up before they had the chance to win the Tag Team Titles, or are upset that their run as a team was so short-lived on the main roster.
Those same fans are going to be furious when they hear the rumor that Enzo might be 205 Live bound after his feud with Cass ends. He can make the weight, and WWE is looking at doing whatever they can to increase interest in the Cruiserweights. Chris Jericho was one of the first to champion the idea of Enzo going to the purple brand. According to Jericho, viewers would tune in to see an Enzo versus. Neville rivalry.
7 We Hope Is True: WWE Looking Into Tour Of India
WWE sure is going all-in on their expansion into the Indian market. In addition to putting the WWE Championship on Jinder Mahal, there are rumors WWE is looking at doing a live event tour of India. If they're going to go that far to increase the revenue they earn in the country, perhaps a Network special from the country is not far off either.
While the Great Khali achieved Superstar status in India, there is no guarantee Jinder Mahal will. One thing we do know however, is that Jinder and the Singh Brothers are quite popular in Canada, as judged by the reactions they received during live events in Vancouver. Jinder is from Calgary, so that doesn't hurt his popularity in Canada either.
If WWE does go to India, it will just further help solidify the promotion as international, which makes everything feel that much more important. And further increasing revenues overseas also helps.
6 We Hope Aren't True: Vince Really Likes "The Drifter" Gimmick
Nothing against Elias Samson, but does anyone enjoy his drifter gimmick? Well, if you listen to the rumor mill, it sounds as though Vince McMahon does! That only means we'll have more in-ring segments of Elias Samson singing about how much he hates the town he's in.
In fact, Elias Samson seems to be entering into a program with Finn Balor, the first ever Universal Champion. Are we going to see Elias Samson feuding with other main event Superstars?
His gimmick doesn't seem to make much sense either. Are there still such a thing as drifters who go from town to town? The truth is, Elias Samson is not half bad, and has a decent look to him. He could do well in WWE, but two-dimensional characters, such as his, don't tend to have a long shelf life on the main roster.
5 We Hope Is True: John Cena's Reduced Schedule
Nothing against John Cena as a person obviously, but he has been the top babyface in WWE for over a decade. That's longer than anybody has been in that role for before, and arguably longer than anyone should be. It's time for John Cena's schedule to be reduced to a few PPVs a year at most. In a few more years, lets wind it down to just WrestleMania.
The other reason fans are clamoring for a John Cena departure is that we now have Roman Reigns performing in the same role. Do we really need two top babyfaces that get booed on TV and PPV? Perhaps WWE fans will get at least one brand without one of them as the featured Superstar. Well if you believe the rumor mill, John Cena will be reducing his schedule to near part-timer status in the near future.
4 We Hope Isn't True: Hulk Hogan Returns
It's not as though we hope Hulk Hogan doesn't ever return to WWE, but it feels as though it could use another year or so. The rumor mill has him returning to WWE sooner rather than later however. According to the most recent speculation, Hogan is the one delaying his return.
This isn't the right time for Hogan to return. A documentary entitled Don't Speak just began airing on Netflix, and deals with leaked audio conversations where Hogan uses racially charged language. In Hogan's defense, not one person has come out and said Hogan is actually racist. Considering how many people love to speak poorly of him, you would think allegations of racism would be more prominent if they were true. All the same, Hogan needs more downtime away from the public spotlight before he comes back to WWE.
3 We Hope Is True: CM Punk To The Independents
CM Punk has said he'll never return to the WWE, but he's hinted at being open to returning to pro wrestling. Punk is a big fan of The Young Bucks, who currently perform in ROH, NJPW and PWG. There is nothing stopping Punk from doing the same thing.
Punk seems unlikely at this point to receive another fight from the UFC. Their multi-fight contract with him also prevents him from fighting for other organizations. Punk returning to wrestling, but not returning to WWE, would be something many wrestling fans would embrace with open arms. The way his divorce from WWE happened left many fans with a sour taste in their mouths. Now with wrestling having changed so much in the last few years, the situation seems right for Punk to return to wrestling, just with smaller promotions.
2 We Hope Isn't True: Daniel Bryan Leaving WWE to Wrestle
According to the rumor mill, Daniel Bryan is seriously considering returning to wrestling one his WWE contract expires next year. While WWE's doctors will not clear him to perform in their company, other doctors are willing to clear him to return inside of the ring elsewhere. Once his WWE contract expires, there is nothing stopping him from returning to wrestling outside the company. It's just not entirely sure if his fans want the same thing.
Maybe Bryan can comeback, but should he? Even if doctors clear him, he would still be just one concussion away from that no longer being the case. Perhaps it's time for Bryan to reflect on all his truly remarkable achievements as a wrestler, and focus on other things in his life right now. Sure, many fans might want him to return, but not if there's legitimate concern for his health.
1 We Hope Is True: Ronda Rousey to WWE
Stephanie McMahon and WWE have made no secret that they want to bring Ronda Rousey into the company. This has led many fans to ask, "what's the hold up?"
Ronda has been very quiet in 2017, and one has to wonder why that is? Could it be that she is secretly preparing for a career in sports entertainment? Possibly training in private to see if she really has what it takes to do what the women in WWE can? WWE is an obvious next move for Ronda, and as Stephanie has expressed, they're waiting on her with open arms.
The issue might be that Rousey would not want to come in unless she can perform at the same level as the other women. Rousey is the kind of person that has to be the best at what she does, so don't expect her to show up in WWE until she is certain she can have at least a halfway decent match. If Rousey does end up in WWE, expect it to be just the boost the Women's Division needs to be able to main event bigger shows, such as WrestleMania.