2018 is here and WWE will be bringing us another year of wrestling entertainment. There are many rumors going around. A new year for WWE means more than the calendar changing. WWE’s most exciting time of the year is here with the Royal Rumble in a few weeks. Royal Rumble also means that we are on the road to WrestleMania for the biggest wrestling show of the year. WWE adding a women’s Royal Rumble match for the first time will make it even more fascinating going forward. Fans are already speculating regarding some of the biggest matches we will see this year.
Like with any other year, there are some rumors that seem like they will clearly happen with nothing realistic being able to prevent it from happening. Other rumors or fan theories will be crushed with plans changing or it never even being a plan at all. We will look at both sides regarding potential matches to go down in 2018. Both the matches that fans need to prepare for and those that won’t happen will be examined here along with why for each case. These are eight rumored WWE matches you should expect in 2018 and seven that won’t take place before the year ends.
15 Expect: A.J. Styles vs. Shinskuke Nakamura
One fascinating A.J. Styles match we'll be able to see in 2018 is Styles facing off with Shinsuke Nakmaura. Both men were top stars in New Japan before coming over to WWE at the same time. Styles and Nakamura had one singles match against each other in NJPW and it was a classic. Various interviews have seen A.J. reveal that he is trying to talk Vince McMahon into having a Styles/Nakamura match at WrestleMania.
This is more than likely looking at the SmackDown roster. Kevin Owens is seemingly getting his WWE Championship title shot at Royal Rumble. No one else provides a realistic or exciting option on the SmackDown roster right now. Nakamura is the best bet to challenge Styles for the WWE Championship on the biggest stage in 2018.
14 Won’t Take Place: Triple H vs. Braun Strowman
WWE teased the idea of Triple H facing Braun Strowman at the end of Survivor Series. Triple H tagged into the main event match at the expense of Strowman and conned him regarding his plan. Strowman then beat the hell out of him after the match. It seemed apparent that Triple H and Strowman was the match in the card for Royal Rumble or WrestleMania this year.
That plan may already be out of the window as WWE has stopped referencing any interaction between them. Strowman is back focused on the Universal Championship and Triple H is off television. The match was an odd pair on paper and the lack of interest likely caused WWE to ditch the plans. Both men would be better off with other opponents.
13 Expect: Batista vs. John Cena
The return of Batista seems more likely with each piece to the story breaking. Batista revealed on Jim Ross’ podcast that he wanted to return for one final WWE run working all live events in addition to television and PPV. The interview gave us the details that Batista was already in talks with WWE about a return. WrestleMania takes place a month before Batista is in the next Avengers film making it a dream scenario for WWE.
Batista is also posting pictures training in MMA with former WWE star Jack Swagger and other fighters. The extra training by Batista is a sign he will be returning to the ring soon. A recent rumor was reported that John Cena has a match 10x bigger than a title shot against A.J. Styles. There are only so few big names to face and Batista is one of them. This is the mainstream match WWE will want to build WrestleMania around.
12 Won’t Take Place: John Cena vs. The Undertaker
The other rumored potential opponent for John Cena at WrestleMania 34 is The Undertaker. Despite Undertaker implying his retirement last year, many pundits believe he will be the choice to face Cena in the big match WWE is planning for the event. Undertaker looked dreadful in the ring last year and any other wrestler would have been mocked for their performance in the main event.
The idea of Undertaker returning is cool on paper to give him another chance at redemption. However, his old age and the last match being viewed as the fitting retirement leaving his gear in the ring each provide major reasons why he won’t return. Cena and Undertaker would have been a dream WrestleMania dream match, but the ship has sailed.
11 Expect: Demon Finn Balor vs. Kane
Kane’s return to WWE in recent months has led to a few negatives for the current Superstars. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Braun Strowman and Jason Jordan have been the targets of Kane, but Finn Balor has felt his wrath the most. Kane has destroyed Balor multiple times with ease including the night after Finn defeated A.J. Styles in a dream match.
WWE put a lot of effort into pushing Balor during his call-up by making him the first Universal Champion. There is no way they have completely given up on him despite the poor booking. Kane must be retiring sooner than later with his mayor campaign coming later this year. It is the perfect time for him to retire and Balor’s Demon character will be the best choice to retire him. The Demon will get more credibility and it will be the ultimate reason why Kane destroyed Finn so many times.
10 Won’t Take Place: Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor
Another Finn Balor match that has been rumored for quite some time is his rematch against Universal Champion Brock Lesnar. Balor has yet to receive a rematch for the title he never lost. Vince McMahon is reportedly souring on Balor and that is the reason WWE changed plans of having Finn challenge Brock at Royal Rumble. However, the WWE plan has Lesnar going into WrestleMania 34 as champ meaning Balor would lose.
Balor would clearly need to be the Demon in his title match whenever he does finally get it. There’s no reason for Finn to sacrifice the mystique of the Demon for a title shot he is clearly losing. We'll likely never see Lesnar and Balor in a match unless WWE either is ready for Brock to lose matches or for the Demon to suffer a loss. This is the main reason Balor will be kept away from Lesnar for the entire year.
9 Expect: Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt On Hardy Compound
Matt Hardy is finally getting to showcase the character that helped him become the hottest thing in wrestling outside of WWE. Most of 2017 featured him playing the nostalgic act of the Hardy Boyz tag team fans remembered from the 2000s. Matt finally adopted the Woken/Broken gimmick at the end of the year to enter a feud with Bray Wyatt.
We'll likely see the two involved in many matches over the next few years. Wyatt and Hardy have similar characters that benefit from the wacky gimmicks. The Hardy compound was a huge aspect of why the Broken Universe worked in TNA. WWE tried to rip it off with Bray and Randy. They'll finally get to have the authentic experience when Matt and Bray wrestle outside of a WWE venue.
8 Won’t Take Place: Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen
The rumored match between the MMA Four Horsewomen and WWE Four Horsewomen has been discussed for about a year now. Ronda Rousey has reportedly been training to wrestle for WWE ever since the Mae Young Classic. During the MYC, WWE filmed a segment where the Four Horsewomen of each side got into a verbal dispute before challenging each other to a match.
These rumors have changed in recent months. The alleged plan is now for WWE to have Rousey eventually have her firs match in a singles bout. Some of the MMA Horsewomen either haven’t trained enough or don’t feel ready to make their debut at WrestleMania. This means the team match likely won’t happen at all, especially since Rousey is the main star WWE wants.
7 Expect: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose’s injury taking him off WWE television means he'll likely miss WrestleMania 34 and be out for quite some time. WWE claims Ambrose will miss nine months of action, but most reports have suggested that is more of an angle to surprise fans when he is back. We'll most likely see Ambrose return at some point in the middle of 2018.
WWE reportedly was going to go with Ambrose versus Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 34 before the injury took Ambrose out. That program seems too important to skip on when Ambrose returns. Ambrose is destined to be a heel that turns on Rollins at some point as revenge for the initial breakup of The Shield. We should see this big matchup at SummerSlam or Survivor Series in 2018 depending on when Ambrose is back.
6 Won’t Take Place: John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal
A match that has been rumored for many months to take place in 2018 is John Cena versus Jinder Mahal. It was originally reported that Mahal was going to go into WrestleMania 34 as WWE Champion to have a show down with Cena looking to win his record-breaking 17th World Title. WWE apparently changed plans when A.J. Styles defeated Mahal to win the WWE Championship in November.
There is no reason for Cena to enter a feud with Mahal after the failed experiment of him being the top heel on SmackDown. Cena’s schedule only allows a handful of big matches per year. One of these matches taking place against Mahal makes zero sense and would be a poor investment on WWE’s part. Mahal is trending downwards and no longer worthy of a Cena match.
5 Expect: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
The biggest NXT feud of the year is one that never really got going last year. Tommaso Ciampa turned on Johnny Gargano in heartbreaking fashion for one of the most memorable moments of 2017. The end of the tag team set up a tremendous feud. Unfortunately, Ciampa suffered an injury in the team’s final match together against the Authors of Pain in a ladder match.
Gargano is currently slated to challenge Andrade “Cien” Almas for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Philadelphia the night before Royal Rumble. Ciampa was recently seen at the WWE Performance Center training. It appears he is nearing his return and will likely cause Gargano to lose his title shot. We'll see Gargano and Ciampa finally face off in a singles match that could steal the show during WrestleMania weekend.
4 Won’t Take Place: A.J. Styles vs. Seth Rollins
A.J. Styles against Seth Rollins is a dream match many fans have desired since Styles signed with WWE in 2016. The fact that they have been on separate brands since the draft is the biggest reason we have yet to see them face off. A unique situation allowed us to witness the dream match of Styles facing Finn Balor in 2017 and some fans are hoping the same will happen for a Styles/Rollins match.
It seems difficult to see either man switching brands any time soon. Rollins is the second top face on Raw after Roman Reigns and AJ is the person most associated with SmackDown. Neither man can move right now without hurting their show. We'll be in for another year waiting before this incredible match takes place in a WWE ring.
3 Expect: Triple H vs. Kurt Angle
Triple H’s likely next match will be against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 34. This has been the rumored plan ever since Angle took over the General Manager position on Raw working for Stephanie McMahon. Triple H hit Angle with the Pedigree during their Survivor Series match to con Shane. Angle didn’t appreciate being attacked and manipulated by his teammate leading to an interaction between the two the next night. This implied there would be more battles between them down the road.
Angle also doesn’t have a better plan set up by WWE. The only other realistic name is Jason Jordan if the father/son storyline finally ends. Jordan winning the Raw Tag Team Championship with Seth Rollins however means that we will likely not see him completely turn heel for a few more months. Angle and Triple H makes too much sense in WWE’s world to turn down this late in the game.
2 Won’t Take Place: Daniel Bryan vs. Shane McMahon
SmackDown’s storyline with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon being at odds over Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn has many fans wondering what the future holds. Bryan encountered light physical contact during the Clash of Champions match where he worked as a special referee. It has led to a few pundits believing Bryan will be cleared to wrestle for WWE this year and Shane will be his first opponent.
However, nothing has changed with Bryan’s status according to his interviews. Doctors from all over the country have cleared him, but the same issues remain with WWE’s doctors. There is no way he will return unless he can change the minds of the same doctor working for WWE. Bryan is destined to leave WWE when his contract expires unless someone in the company changes the clearing process.
1 Expect: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
The one match that will not change no matter what happens is Brock Lesnar defending the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34. Vince McMahon has been planning this match since the end of 2016 with the desire of giving Reigns another major moment as the face of the company. There were rumors of the match taking place at SummerSlam 2017, but the decision was made to stay with the WrestleMania date.
No one on the Raw roster had any chance to dethrone Lesnar despite both Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman having strong momentum at different points. McMahon desperately wants to have a WrestleMania end with Reigns ending a dominant Lesnar title reign. This is his dream match despite many fans wanting any other option. There’s no Seth Rollins with a Money in the Bank briefcase to save us this time.