If history has taught us anything, late spring and the summer months are a down period for World Wrestling Entertainment as it pertains to storylines and the overall quality of the product. Schools are out for summer breaks, families take vacations and spend more time outdoors, and some viewers find themselves either unwilling or unable to sit through five, six or even seven hours of original WWE programming on a weekly basis from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Because of the nature of the product and also our television viewing habits as the weather gets warmer, some WWE rumors that appear in late May and early June are not as juicy as those you’ll find ahead of the start of a new year or before a WrestleMania. It’s unlikely one of the best wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor or other independent promotions will be able to sign with the WWE in the middle of the year. While the WWE could attempt to shock viewers with an unforeseen feud or storyline, such as when the original NXT rookies invaded Raw and destroyed everything in front of them, Vince McMahon usually likes to save those ideas for the fall when he can be sure more eyes will be watching shows like Raw and SmackDown.
None of this is to say WWE programs are completely missable and dull now that the long Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. Some of the biggest names in the company are linked with intriguing rumors and potential storylines, some of which we may see unfold on WWE television, and others we probably won’t. Daniel Bryan, who made his emotional return to the company following a forced retirement earlier this year, is expected to remain an important part of the SmackDown roster even if he does not hoist the WWE Championship in the summer months. Brock Lesnar is currently enjoying some time away from the WWE thanks to the details of his latest contract, but those looking for him to drop the Universal Championship may not have to wait that much longer. Last but certainly not least are rumors regarding two names who could return to WWE television and a WWE ring at some point in 2018. Both would be dream returns for die-hard fans of those performers, but the possibility remains that those individuals have, sadly, wrestled their last matches with the promotion. Fans can always dream. After all, some of us grew up believing that anything can happen in World Wrestling Entertainment.
15 Might: Elias, Intercontinental Champion
You don’t have to be a pro wrestling insider or somebody who subscribes to newsletters or podcasts to understand that the WWE is clearly high on Elias. It was rumored back in April that WWE higher-ups view him as a potential championship contender, and he has done well to get over as a character since his days in NXT when it appeared he was going to be little more than a jobber to stars.
As has been pointed out by multiple observers, Elias’ best work occurs before matches, and he needs to improve as an in-ring performer. Perhaps that is why the company has booked him for a program with Seth Rollins, a storyline that may continue beyond a singles match at a pay-per-view. Rollins has been arguably the MVP of the Raw brand and of the entire main roster throughout 2018, and him losing the Intercontinental Championship to Elias in the summer may not be a demotion for the Architect. In fact, Rollins could find himself in a bigger match later this summer if he drops the title and also helps to elevate Elias as a worker. If multiple rumors are true, both of these men could be carrying gold once the fall begins.
14 Might: Cruiserweight tag team division
The rumor that the WWE could introduce an official Cruiserweight tag team division to 205 Live first emerged earlier this year, and the company is not doing anything to squash those reports ahead of the summer. Tag team matches have become a mainstay of the WWE Network program since Triple H reportedly took control of that show, and there are numerous rumors about the company scouting and signing talent from independent promotions located in North America and overseas.
While Triple H could use at least some of those bodies down in developmental and NXT, there are only so many spots on that roster. The 205 Live show could use new faces, but having them appear on the Tuesday night show for meaningless matches would get old rather quickly. A tag team division and championships for that portion of the roster would lead to all kinds of possibilities regarding entertaining matches. Just as importantly, it could help acts get over among audiences who otherwise may have ignored those wrestlers. The last thing 205 Live needs is a mid-card belt nobody will care about even before somebody wins it. Tag titles are the better way to go, and the hope is that the WWE will add these to the roster before SummerSlam.
13 Won’t: Women’s tag team division
Much of what was written about the rumors regarding Cruiserweight Tag Team Championships could be said about the WWE potentially introducing Women’s Tag Team belts to either Raw or SmackDown, if not both. The WWE reportedly is signing additional women, some of whom may only be used for a one-off tournament, but also others who will journey to developmental and NXT. This means at least some currently in NXT should be called-up to Raw and SmackDown, perhaps soon after SummerSlam. With the women’s portion of the main roster filling up, there were rumors of the company building at least one tag team division.
Mike Johnson of PW Insider recently shot those reports down, saying that there is currently no plan in place to introduce those titles.
Remember that plans do change per Vince McMahon’s mindset at any given time, so it is possible that the company originally intended to have a women’s tag division before the boss decided to go in a different direction. The WWE has the deepest and most talented women’s roster in the company’s history, so one would think McMahon, Triple H and others would be open to tag titles, especially if two different Four Horsewomen stables are to appear on WWE television in the future.
12 Might: Seth Rollins challenges Lesnar at SummerSlam
Those who watch weekly editions of Raw could assume that Braun Strowman is going to be the man to defeat Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, especially if Strowman is booked to win the Money in the Bank contract. Don’t be so sure.
According to multiple rumors, Lesnar could lose his belt at SummerSlam, and he may drop the title to Seth Rollins at the biggest party of the summer.
Rollins has earned the right to represent Raw as its top champion for all that he has done in 2018, and him winning the title from Lesnar clean would build upon the rivalry that started when Rollins cashed-in his MITB opportunity and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31 during what was supposed to be a singles match between Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Rollins pinned Reigns, not Lesnar, on that historic occasion, meaning The Kingslayer still needs that one big victory over The Beast who could be returning to the UFC either in late 2018 or early 2019. Strowman has gotten over as a babyface, but the company may be thinking about turning him heel to feud with Rollins over the title, especially if the Monster Among Men cashes-in his contract when Rollins is vulnerable.
11 Might: Natalya turns on Rousey
Nearly seconds after Natalya and Ronda Rousey were presented as on-air friends, rumors hit websites and Internet forums about Natalya turning on Rousey at a major show such as Money in the Bank. In the past, Natalya has been a better heel than a babyface, both as a character and a worker, and it is far too early for the WWE to even consider having Rousey go heel considering how much money the company has spent on her, and also the fact that she is still selling merchandise at shows and online.
There are numerous routes the WWE could go in having Natalya cost Rousey something important. Natalya could get Rousey disqualified in the title match between the latter and Nia Jax.
Rousey could win the match but not the title after Natalya jumps her. The WWE could also go for the swerve by having Rousey defeat Jax, only to then lose the belt after Natalya cashes-in the MITB opportunity following an attack. Whatever happens, Natalya is the type of talented wrestler Rousey needs to be working with on the road, at shows and in developmental for a period of time. This feud, and the matches that come with it, could be a lot of fun.
10 Won’t: Enzo Amore returns
When the WWE released Enzo Amore in January 2018 after allegations of assault went public, rumors at the time suggested that one reason the company decided to let him go was because he did not tell the promotion about the investigation. Amore, apparently, has claimed he had no prior knowledge of the investigation, and it was reported in the middle of May that he will not be charged in the case. With his name cleared, as of the posting of this piece, some have speculated about if the WWE would welcome him back. While he wasn’t the best worker on the main roster or on 205 Live, he was a star who generated pops from audiences up through his last days with the promotion.
More recently, though, rumors and reports surfaced that Enzo was already unpopular among some in the locker room and behind the scenes.
It now seems as if the allegations pushed the WWE to the point of no return, and the company seemingly has no plans to bring him back. On the subject of in-ring talent and nothing more, the Cruiserweight division and 205 Live are both better off without the outspoken former champ. Maybe Enzo’s hip hop career will go better than his singles run in the WWE.
9 Might: IIconics push
The WWE surprised some fans and observers by waiting until April 2018 to call Billie Kay and Peyton Royce up from NXT to the main roster. Formerly the Iconic Duo, the promotion reintroduced them to fans as The IIconics on SmackDown after WrestleMania.
One rumor as of late May is that WWE has big plans for the two, in part because of the amount of merchandise they have sold.
Even before they were called-up from NXT, there were rumors that people within the WWE were high on both, and that Royce could become the first of the two to win a singles championship either in developmental or on the main roster.
It is difficult to forecast what a push for these two might look like in 2018. Carmella is the champion and top heel on SmackDown, and she probably isn’t turning babyface while feuding with Asuka or Charlotte. Neither Kay nor Royce is ready to turn. It’s possible the company could link the IIconics with Carmella to form a faction and extend multiple storylines leading into SummerSlam. The only way that would elevate the IIconics would be if they were to be booked to go over several women who are stars in the eyes of fans. Would any viewers really buy either Kay or Royce pinning Asuka in a singles match?
8 Might: EC3 costs Gargano vs. Ciampa
The sun rising in the east and setting in the west, Vince McMahon pushing Roman Reigns as his top babyface regardless of how fans react to it online and in arenas, and Johnny Gargano feuding with Tommaso Ciampa. Maybe time really is a flat circle. The storyline between Gargano and Ciampa received an interesting twist when Gargano interrupted an NXT match featuring EC3 to announce to the fans in attendance that he had been granted a Street Fight versus Ciampa at the upcoming Takeover show. EC3 was visibly displeased with being upstaged even for a handful of seconds, and he responded to Gargano’s actions via a backstage interview.
Almost before that episode of NXT ended, rumors appeared online that the WWE could book EC3 to cost Gargano the upcoming bout with Ciampa. This would allow Gargano and Ciampa to separate for some time, it would give both Gargano and EC3 a fresh feud, and the company could still build to the final act and a third match between the former D.I.Y. partners.
Remember that WWE usually doesn’t show something on NXT just to do it and to swerve fans. It probably isn’t a coincidence the company emphasized the point that EC3 is not happy with Gargano.
7 Won’t: Ronda Rousey championship reign
Maybe the biggest surprise of the spring in the WWE occurred when the company announced that Ronda Rousey will face Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship at the Money in the Bank event. One rumor that hit the Internet not long after that match was announced involved Rousey going over because the WWE could not possibly be planning for the former Ultimate Fighting Championship star to lose clean in her first major singles match.
It is, however, believed that Rousey will not work the Extreme Rules show in July, which could mean that the WWE has a different plan for the Rowdy one before SummerSlam.
The obvious future feud for the former mixed martial arts champion is to have a storyline (and real life) friend turn on her leading up to at least a single one-on-one encounter. How the WWE goes about this will undoubtedly lead to additional rumors about Rousey’s immediate future surfacing in stories and online. Rousey looked tremendous in her first WWE match at this year’s WrestleMania, but she also had months to prepare for that debut. Now, she is going to need to wrestle against a great worker to continue to improve in the ring, especially if the long-term plan is for her to potentially headline a WrestleMania.
6 Might: Ember Moon Wins MITB
Even before Ember Moon made the move from NXT to Raw earlier this year, there had been rumors that Triple H and others within the company were high on her future. Moon, a tremendous athlete who did not always click as a babyface while in the developmental portion of the promotion, could be on the verge of winning the Money in the Bank contract if certain reports and rumors are accurate. This may be the best thing to do with the Moon character at a time when she is going to be in the background and overshadowed by main event acts like Ronda Rousey and others.
Much like Carmella did for nearly a year, Moon could hold onto the contract and constantly remind viewers of her ability to eventually earn a championship match. The company could even elect to turn her heel and move her to SmackDown at some point. Either way, booking Moon to win the MITB match would keep the character hot, push her as a championship contender without catapulting her directly into the main event and also give writers options for the rest of 2018. Maybe we could even see Moon versus Rousey later this year or in the early stages of 2019.
5 Might: Brock Lesnar keeps belt until SummerSlam
Unless something truly shocking occurs before June 9th, Brock Lesnar is going to break CM Punk’s record for the longest title reign of the “modern era,” whatever that is supposed to mean. Fans who care about that sort of thing may find themselves upset over a supposed “part-time” act breaking the record held by the Straightedge Superstar, but they should know that the rumor as of early June is that Lesnar is going to retain the Universal Championship at least until SummerSlam.
What happens after that is anybody’s guess. We still are not completely certain what Lesnar’s status with the WWE is past the summer. Is he eyeing a return to the UFC for one more fight and one last major payday? Is he working angles with both the UFC and WWE to see which entity will offer him the most money? Say whatever you will about Lesnar and the amount of times he shows up to WWE events. He’s a smart businessman who has done well to earn millions of dollars from pro wrestling and MMA. If he and the WWE are set to part ways, either for good or until The Beast is finished with UFC obligations, he could drop the Universal Championship at SummerSlam.
4 Won’t: Daniel Bryan in MITB/risky matches
It’s understood that fans are still hoping, ahead of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, that Daniel Bryan will be added to the ladder match and even be given a chance to carry the briefcase ahead of cashing-in his opportunity and winning the WWE Championship. There are several reasons readers shouldn’t hold their breaths waiting for that to happen.
Per the Wrestling Observer, the WWE is apparently taking it easy with Bryan’s return to the ring, and the promotion does not want him to take any unnecessary risks as a worker.
While that’s reasonable knowing all that we know about Bryan’s injury history, that probably means we won’t be seeing him in a MITB, Hell in a Cell or other similar gimmick bout anytime soon. Not only is that a sensible decision. It’s probably what's best for Bryan and for the company. The biggest concern with this, outside of a handful of matches, is that WWE has, in the past, wanted its top champions to defend those belts in gimmick contests (the feud between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura is one example). If the company is going to keep Bryan on a figurative leash, does that mean he’ll never again carry one of the organization’s top two titles?
3 Might: HBK return??
Here is one most, if not everybody, thought would never be in the “might” category of current rumors that could unfold on WWE television. On June 5th, rumors hit the Internet after Jefferson Lake of Sky Sports reported that “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels could consider making a return to the WWE for a “one-off” match. AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Johnny Gargano were mentioned as possible opponents for Mr. WrestleMania.
Both Styles and Michaels have spoken about HBK declining a match with the Phenomenal One and the current WWE Champion at a past WrestleMania, and there was also a time when the WWE hinted that Michaels could wrestle Bryan, who helped train the American Dragon. Michaels will turn 53 years old in July, meaning he certainly wouldn’t be the wrestler of old if he were to compete in one last supposed retirement match. Fans probably wouldn’t care in the slightest. They have been dreaming of seeing HBK back in the ring for any occasion. Those in an arena or at a stadium would pop for any HBK return, even one that involved him turning heel and joining The Authority. Maybe we could see Michaels reunite with Triple H to bring D-Generation X back for a tag team contest.
2 Might: Bryan vs. Big Cass feud continues
Are you one of the WWE fans who voices outrage on social media platforms such as Twitter whenever the company offers teases that there is going to be a lengthy feud between Daniel Bryan and Big Cass? To steal the line from “Nature Boy” Ric Flair: Whether your like it or you don’t like it, learn to love it. Rumors have emerged that the WWE is not yet willing to give Bryan a main-event push, in part because he has not yet extended his deal beyond September or signed a new contract with the promotion. That does not necessarily mean Bryan has one foot out the door or is looking to work alongside acts such as the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Cody. In fact, Bryan has strongly suggested he only wants to wrestle in the WWE so long as he is cleared and able to perform.
Even if he and the WWE come to terms on some sort of agreement in the summer, Bryan trading wins with Cass between now and SummerSlam would make sense if the plan, as has been suggested by several in-the-know individuals, is for Cass to align with the Miz and extend the storyline between Miz and Bryan before those two meet in the ring later this year.
1 Won’t: CM Punk Return
Not a month goes by anymore without somebody floating some rumor about CM Punk potentially returning to the WWE in the future. For example, John Cena saying something positive about his former rival in early June added a little fuel to the fire that the bridge linking Punk to the WWE could be repaired. It’s not happening, at least it isn’t anytime soon. While some were surprised that the lawsuit involving WWE physician Chris Amaan, CM Punk and Colt Cabana following comments Punk made on Cabana’s podcast in November 2014 went to trial, it did. Even though the jury ruled in favor of Punk and Cabana on June 5th, there remains no evidence, outside of rumors, that Punk has any interest in returning to pro wrestling, in general.
His MMA career is over with his loss to Mike Jackson at UFC 225, as the company could release him. Then again, Punk could choose to fight for another promotion such as Bellator. Either way, Punk is not without options, nor is he completely broke and hurting for cash. Fans can dream all they want about Punk returning to WWE television. There is probably a better chance he shows up at the upcoming All In show on September 1st.