There are still two months remaining in 2017, as of the posting of this piece, and yet passionate and diehard World Wrestling Entertainment fans are already looking forward to 2018 and the upcoming WrestleMania season that is the best part of the wrestling calendar for WWE viewers. Even months before a single Royal Rumble contest has been announced, fans, journalists and observers are “fantasy booking” matches they believe could or will happen at some point between next January and the final day of 2018. Some of these matches could occur at the biggest event of the year, while others could take place at a SummerSlam or a different show following a longer storyline that doesn’t kick off until after feuds are settled, hopefully once and for all, at WrestleMania 34.
Plans often change, joke wrestling journalists such as Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer, which makes predicting and speculating on supposed rumors a difficult task even for those with inside information on the company and the industry. The reality of the situation is that each of the 15 matches listed here could occur over a 12-month period of time, or those running the company could go in a different direction and leave those of us on the outside befuddled over what people making booking decisions could be thinking. One thing we believe many would agree on is that any card made up of a handful of these rumored matches could make for quite the entertaining event so long as the competitors weren’t handcuffed and prevented from telling intriguing stories in the ring for whatever reasons.
16 Won’t See: Kenny Omega vs. A.J. Styles
Much of what was written about the Young Bucks also rings true as it pertains to Kenny Omega, even though there have been hints on the “Being the Elite” YouTube show that Omega could make an exit from Bullet Club en route to signing with the WWE as did A.J. Styles.
Omega and Styles continuing their story on either Raw or SmackDown could make for the best WWE feud in recent memory, but Omega still has plenty of options outside of the promotion. He and the artist formerly known as Cody Rhodes could battle overseas and in Ring of Honor. Omega could also continue to produce six-star classics for New Japan Pro Wrestling. As much as we want to see this match happen in 2018, Omega has plenty or reasons to decline WWE offers before 2019.
15 Will See: Kurt Angle vs. Triple H
Any fears that Kurt Angle would never be cleared to wrestle inside of a WWE ring were eliminated when the former champion replaced Roman Reigns for the 2017 TLC pay-per-view. Angle versus Triple H is an easy story to tell for a variety of reasons. The Olympic champion is currently serving as an authority figure for the Raw brand, and he and Triple H have quite the interesting history going all the way back to Angle’s original stint with the promotion.
Neither performer is what he was back in the early 2000s, which is why fans would have to keep expectations realistic about this rumored encounter. If nothing else, Angle taking on Triple H at a show such as a WrestleMania could be a nice throwback for fans who grew up watching the product during the Attitude Era.
14 Won’t See: Women’s Royal Rumble
During the summer of 2017, Sasha Banks discussed the possibility of the WWE adding a Women’s Royal Rumble to the calendar, perhaps as quickly as 2018. While we don’t think that’s a horrible idea, in time, it should be pointed out that the company has not even hinted, in storylines, such a match could occur at any point in the foreseeable future.
As the WWE continues to add talented performers to the NXT, SmackDown and Raw brands, the company could, eventually, build a roster suitable for a big-time Royal Rumble. Perhaps the promotion unifying the Women’s Division under one brand (Raw) in the summer of 2018 could be the first step towards making a Women’s Royal Rumble a reality in either January 2019 or later that year.
13 Will See: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Once the WWE pulled the trigger on Tommaso Ciampa turning on former partner Johnny Gargano following the main event of the NXT Takeover: Chicago show, these two fighting at a major show became inevitable. Unfortunately for both, Ciampa suffered a serious knee injury in what turned out to be his final match of 2017, and it is believed he will be sidelined up through the first several months of next year.
While that left Gargano as little more than a mid-card figure waiting for the biggest singles feud of his WWE career, to date, this story still needs to be told, preferably in NXT and before both men receive call-ups to the main roster. Here’s hoping Ciampa is better than ever when he is able to return from injury.
12 Won’t See: John Cena vs. Braun Strowman
It’s understandable why John Cena wrestling Braun Strowman continues to be a rumored match for 2018. Cena is a living legend and still, arguably, the top babyface in the company, while Strowman has been the promotion’s most unstoppable force of the current year.
These two have unsettled business following a confrontation on Raw earlier this year, but this seems like a match that deserves a long build ahead of a WrestleMania. Both Strowman and Cena should, theoretically, be busy with other feuds between now and next spring, and Cena’s part-time status limits what he can achieve when he is featured on WWE television. Cena versus Strowman should happen, preferably in a no-disqualification match where there can be a definitive victor, but not until 2019.
11 Will See: Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen
Perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but we’re hoping there is some fire causing all that smoke that is the rumor the WWE is training former Ultimate Fighting Championship Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey ahead of a future bout. The company has already teased that Rousey’s Four Horsewomen made up of herself, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke could face the WWE’s Horsewomen of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Sasha Banks at some point in 2018.
While this match may not happen at next year’s WrestleMania for multiple reasons, it could headline a major event such as SummerSlam. It may not be the best wrestling match you’ll ever see, but it’d generate a ton of buzz and worldwide press for the company in need of the boost. Fuel was recently added to this rumor with Rousey reportedly training at the WWE's Performance Center.
10 Won’t See: Conor McGregor vs. Anybody
By all accounts, Ronda Rousey is done competing in the UFC and in mixed martial arts, in general, which is why it’s easy to envision the long-time wrestling fan working a match in the WWE. Conor McGregor, meanwhile, remains the UFC Lightweight Champion as of the fall of 2017, and McGregor’s price tag increased exponentially following his boxing match versus Floyd Mayweather in August 2017.
It’s possible, maybe even likely, McGregor will make an appearance at WrestleMania 34 or at next year’s SummerSlam, but it’s difficult to imagine the WWE would match his price for anything other than a single throw or a submission hold. Besides, the UFC likely isn’t keen on McGregor once again risking his health outside of the promotion until his current contract expires.
9 Will See: Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
This, admittedly, is not all that brave of a prediction considering the state of WWE booking and the fact the company has done well to build up to these two facing each other at a show such as a WrestleMania. Bayley and Banks tore the roof off Barclays Center at the 2015 NXT Takeover: Brooklyn show, and that encounter may have been the best overall WWE match of that year.
The hope is that these two tremendous athletes will be given adequate time to create the type of match they deserve and one that will leave fans comparing it to their historic showdown from 2015. Bayley and Banks could main-event just about any Pay-Per-View event on the calendar other than a WrestleMania, and fans likely wouldn’t be disappointed.
8 Won’t See: Asuka vs. Kairi Sane
So long as both women remain healthy and continue to be booked strong, Asuka and Kairi Sane appear to be on a collision course. With that said, Asuka joined the Raw roster only in the fall of 2017, and the promotion seems to be slowly building her up on that brand en route to giving her an opportunity to carry the championship.
Sane, meanwhile, is on the verge of becoming the most over woman on the NXT roster and filling the gap left by Auska’s departure from that brand. NXT needs Sane more than either Raw or SmackDown, although she should join the main roster before the end of 2018. Once she does, booking a match between the two talented workers shouldn’t be difficult for those who produce WWE TV.
7 Will See: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Fans around the world are hyped to witness all three members of the Shield working together in the fall of 2017. Anybody who can see the writing on the wall likely understands this storyline isn’t going to last long before the three men involved go their separate ways.
While Roman Reigns will probably go on to bigger and better things once The Shield splits up a second time (more on him later), Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose could be left with little to do other than feuding with each other. Neither Rollins nor Ambrose would necessarily have to turn heel for this match to occur in 2018. They could feud on Raw leading up to a Pay-Per-View before one of them is either drafted or traded over to SmackDown, perhaps for a performer such as A.J. Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura.
6 Won’t See: Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
Money talks, and it’s possible the WWE could present Undertaker with a big enough check to convince the living legend of the industry to leave retirement for one final match with Roman Reigns, an encounter that would hopefully be better than what they created at WrestleMania 33.
Kane returning to supposedly “avenge” his storyline brother only adds more fuel to the fire this rumor could be true. Remember, though, that Undertaker is legitimately beaten up and a shell of his former self, so much so that those who remember him when he was at his best shouldn’t want to see him return to the ring for anything other than a tip of the hat and a final farewell salute. Leave the memories alone, everyone, and let his career "rest in peace".
5 Will See: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Once Roman Reigns defeated Undertaker at WrestleMania 33 en route to retiring the Phenom, the WWE began creating a story for the Big Dog to face, and ultimately defeat, Brock Lesnar at the 2018 edition of WrestleMania.
There remain pockets of WWE fans who will reject Reigns regardless of what the WWE does with the character, but we have no reason to believe the company has changed course regarding what could be the main event of WrestleMania 34. Those of you hoping Lesnar will somehow get his hand raised at the conclusion of this encounter probably shouldn’t hold your breaths. Reigns is still “the guy” in the eyes of WWE executives unless something drastic occurs before the spring of 2018. Maybe the company will at least turn him heel before then.
4 Won’t See: Young Bucks vs. Broken Hardys
The hope held by many who follow the WWE and also other wrestling promotions is that multiple members of Bullet Club, most notably the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega (more on Omega later), will sign with the WWE ahead of WrestleMania 34. While that obviously could still happen, it’s clear the promotion is currently less than pleased with the Bullet Club’s “invasion” of Raw that occurred in September.
The Bucks have done well to make plenty of money outside of the WWE, and they could wait at least another year before coming to terms with the organization. It’s also worth noting that we cannot say, with any certainty, Matt and Jeff Hardy will legally be allowed to play their “BROKEN” characters underneath the WWE umbrella when both competitors are healthy.
3 Will See: John Cena vs. Jinder Mahal
WWE clearly isn’t giving up on Jinder Mahal serving as the champion of the SmackDown brand anytime soon, to the point that we wouldn’t be surprised to see Mahal carrying that title up through at least the 2018 Royal Rumble.
Mahal seems to be merely keeping that championship warm until John Cena is able to return ahead of the start of the upcoming WrestleMania season, and Cena needs to notch at least another title win to break the record currently held by “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (depending on what record books you cite). Cena beating Mahal at a big event, such as a Royal Rumble or WrestleMania, looks inevitable months ahead of January. Hopefully Cena will be able to help Mahal have a solid final match as champion.
2 Won’t See: Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho
It seemed like innocent jabs at first, but now, it appears as though Jericho and Omega might be working themselves into a feud as they continue to exchange blows via Twitter. Omega took a shot at Jericho’s caliber matches with the WWE comparing to his prior days with the company. Jericho fired back making the claim that Omega’s matches are great but that nobody watches them.
Of course, dirt sheets peculated about the planning of a future match between the two. With Kenny’s contract set to expire in January, some believe the two might be setting up a feud for his debut, which might lead to a WrestleMania type match similar to Jericho and A.J. during Styles first ‘Mania event. For now however, it remains only speculation and something we cannot confirm.
1 Will See: A.J. Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Even the WWE cannot screw this one up so long as the company does well to build this feud in the early stages of 2018. A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are two of the best wrestlers in the world today, and they are arguably the two best acts on the SmackDown roster regardless of how their characters have been treated in recent storylines.
Nakamura and Styles battling over the United States championship at WrestleMania 34 could end up being the best match on the card if the WWE gives them at least 25 minutes in the ring, and it could, potentially, be the start of a story that goes through the summer months. It’s maybe the top dream match the WWE could give fans in 2018. Make it so, Vince McMahon and Triple H.