If you're in the wrestling game there's nothing more important than getting some gold on your shoulder, a belt around your waist, a title for your talents, or a championship that you look naked without. Say what you will about the championships making the man or vise versa, professional wrestling revolves around these things and the people fighting for them in a bid to call themselves the best. Right now and for the last few years the Universal Championship is synonymous with Brock Lesnar, the tag team championships have had a distinctly 'New Day' feel to them, and the women's championships have been either Charlotte's or Alexa Bliss' flavored depending on where you look. That's what we're predicting here, using our crystal balls of steel to bet on which championship will be on whose mantle come New Years 2020. Which hopefully we won't need hindsight for.
Some of these conclusions will be hunches based off of who is positioned where. Others will be about who we foresee coming into the company and making a big splash. Others will be from looking at the WWE schedule and plotting out where we think they're going. We're also going to be skipping over some potential outcomes like unifying championships or the title's switching shows because with the upcoming television deals bringing the brands into more equal footing than ever, anyone could be traded and so we'll assume they are on the show they need to be on regardless of where they currently lace their boots.
Got all that straight? Cool. Let's talk titles!
20 WWE Championship - Shinsuke Nakamura
Statistics are fun (when it comes to sports) and no wrestling event is more 'stats heavy' than the Royal Rumble. That said, every single Royal Rumble winner, male or female, since 1994 has become a World Champion at some point in their careers and we don't see that changing with someone as talented as Nakamura. In fact, only three men (the first two winners and '94 co-winner Lex Luger) have failed to earn a WWE Championship at some point in their careers and so we see Nakamura regaining momentum come the end of this year and clearing the hurdle to become the first ever Japanese WWE Champion (Yokozuna doesn't count!).
19 WWE Women's Tag Team Championships - The Riott Squad
The incoming WWE Women's Tag Team belts haven't even debuted at this moment, but there's been enough hints and outright allusions to them that we're gonna give them their due. WWE has a peculiar habit of having single's wrestlers combining to win firsts of tag-team things, and in that vein, all signs point to Sasha Banks and Bayley lifting the inaugural gold. However, there's almost zero chance they make it to the end of the year and so we're predicting the surprisingly consistent trio of The Riott Squad to capture the gold and hold them 'Freebird-Style' as 2019 comes to a close.
18 Intercontinental Championship - EC3
It would be fair to say that 'The 1-Percenter' has stalled in his NXT run, despite featuring prominently in the excellent ladder match to crown the first NXT North American Champion. That's not entirely unexpected as his strengths are predominantly in character work and NXT is leaning far more towards exemplary in-ring wrestling, hence why we're not worried about him upon his impending promotion. EC3 has the depth of character, intensity, as well as humor to spare for his main roster debut. He carries himself like a champion and his gimmick is timelessly effective. He'll look great with the white strap around his waist and, if we're lucky, with his old mate Spu... Drake Maverick chiming in as well.
17 United States Championship - Chad Gable
In another recent article, we advocated for Chad Gable, former USA Olympian and the man who should've been Kurt Angle's son, to go full idealized American Patriot and this extends from that. The guy is so good at what he does and can effortlessly put on great matches while seeming to garner sympathy that even being one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions isn't good enough for him, but the United Stated Championship most certainly is. Gable's size makes him easy to root for and his impressive strength and arsenal of suplexes means every match has something to look forward to. That's what a United States Champion should bring every week.
16 Raw Tag Team Championship - #DIY
The sordid saga between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa has reached legendary status in NXT, folding back in on itself to where the two are seeing somewhat eye-to-eye despite having tried to murder each other for the better part of two years. However, as ridiculously good as they've been as enemies and partners, their main roster journey passes through the territory of Vince McMahon and he's likely to take one look at their size and second guess what they can do. Thus, we see them ending up back in their tag team (which as of this writing isn't implausibly impossible) and seeing if they can recreate the magic that sprung from their original tag championship turmoil.
15 SmackDown Tag Team Championship - The Revival
They're bound to get their due sometime right? Right?!? Every time The Revival get more than six minutes to do their thing on Raw they knock it out of the park and we're thinking that unless WWE is determined to drive them into the waiting arms of AEW, The Revival will be locks for the Smackdown silver and blue straps for most of the next year. They fit the bill for the soon-required sports focus on Friday nights, and they present as old-school bruising tacticians who look good but are in fact great. Also, if this Miz and Shane McMahon team gets off the ground, The Revival is the perfect tandem to end their run and break them apart.
14 NXT Tag Team Championship - The Forgotten Sons
Legitimately forgot about these guys didn't ya? Well, there's plenty of upside to this trio and we're predicting they'll pip The Street Profits at the post to bring the NXT Tag Titles into 2020. Wesley Blake has held the NXT Tag belts before, and Steven Cutler has been marinating in NXT forever before forming this faction. The real significant member here is Jaxson Ryker who, despite having a name picked out by a 'cool' 12-year-old, has a lot of upside. Ryker is the former Gunner from Impact Wrestling and has a knack for intensity and brawling that will carry this group a decent way and the first notable milestone on their road will be the NXT Tag Championships.
13 NXT UK Tag Team Championship - James Drake and Zack Gibson
Whether they win the inaugural NXT UK Tag Titles or not, The Grizzled Young Veterans look the likely team to be chased for the gold for the longer term. Moustache Mountain may end up the first team to hold both the NXT and NXT UK Tag Titles, but Zack Gibson and James Drake's malevolent machinations will put them on top come the end of the year. As NXT UK expands it's usually best to have a long, fun chase for whichever face duo catches fire the most, and whether that's Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews, Moustache Mountain, or another team, Gibson and Drake are worthy antagonists to eventually foil.
12 Raw Women's Championship - Becky Lynch
The first true chance for a woman to become the face of WWE, Becky Lynch is precariously positioned right now and it's down to how WWE treats her as to whether she fulfills her potential. Part of that includes her winning her way to a WrestleMania Main Event showdown with Ronda Rousey and capturing the Raw Women's Championship long-term. Becky Lynch is also, and some may balk at this, not among the top athletic wrestlers in either show's division despite how she's connecting with crowds, thus she fits Raw's more character-driven show instead of Smackdown's impending sports-focused format.
11 SmackDown Women's Championship - Shayna Baszler
While Ronda Rousey is doing about as well as could be expected under the insane microscope WWE and fans have put her under in her role, it's her Four Horsewomen friend who has really excelled across the board. Shayna Baszler is much like Baron Corbin in that she's a natural heel, has an impressive moveset and presence, and continues to improve almost every outing, except she's doing it at a world championship level.
We see Shayna not just joining Ronda but usurping her spot as the dominant woman on Raw, however, they're both almost certain to end up on the 'sports' oriented Smackdown by the end of the year, hence the switch to the blue brand Championship.
10 NXT Women's Championship - Io Shirai
The Genius of the Sky and the next May Young Classic runner-up to rise above her winning opponent. Io Shirai is undeniable in the ring, her ability to springboard and utilize the ropes a truly separating factor in the women's divisions where it's much rarer to see. Beyond that, she already looks poised and presents well enough to carry NXT's most consistent championship through the end of this year, likely after Bianca Belair has a run. The NXT Women's Championship has a history of not moving around too much, and since there were some comparatively hectic changes last year, it wouldn't surprise if Io held things down a while once she's got it.
9 NXT UK Women's Championship - Toni Storm
The winner of the latest May Young Classic is potentially another breakout star for WWE on the main rosters, but by the end of this year, Toni Storm will unseat Rhea Ripley for the United Kingdom Women's crown. Besides these two women, there's a decent gulf to the rest of the pack so it's not much of a stretch to pick between them as to who will be holding the gold. The thing is that whereas Rhea is somewhat of a Pete Dunne gender-swap, Toni Storm is all her own thing. That is enough for us to give her the crucial edge, but we expect between the two of them that they'll be killing it for years to come since they're both still relatively young.
8 United Kingdom Championship - Pete Dunne
He won't hold it solidly through the year, dropping the championship probably around SummerSlam or the NXT UK equivalent, but Dunne is destined to be glued to that gorgeous championship for as long as he's not 100% committed to the main roster. Hence, he'll get it back to end 2019. While we're hoping for a UK invasion that legitimizes the territory as more than developmental's developmental, Dunne remains the keystone member of that roster and the one who could believably mix it up with anyone on Raw and be dangerous. That said, it also anchors him to the UK division, and thus he'll remain champion or at least the top challenger.
7 Cruiserweight Championship - Chad Gable (Again)
Yep, you're reading that right. Chad Gable is not only going to be holding US gold, but we're predicting that he'll also be a major component in the Cruiserweight Championship's integration back among main roster competition. Gable has a picture perfect moonsault (like his 'not-dad' Kurt), is fluid in the ring to the point of absurdity, and his style intermingling with the likes of Mustafa Ali, Buddy Murphy, Cedric Alexander, Ricochet and maybe the rumored KUSHIDA is a wrestling fan's dream. Also, the visual of the Cruiserweight Championship alongside the US Title is a nice stamp to let everyone know the raised value of both championships.
6 NXT Championship - Velveteen Dream
He may be clamoring for a call-up but the enigmatic character that is The Velveteen Dream will look fantastic with the big gold NXT belt around his waist come years end. He's done one of the most important things a character wrestler can do in any company and that's prove he can be in interesting confrontations without gold on the line. Now he'll get to prove the other side of the coin, his multiple failed shots at the big gold turning around as he goes on a long, impressive, and most importantly memorable title reign. We can't wait to see what getups he comes up with for his Takeover defenses. We're predicting a Ric Flair robe first, and then a Macho Man variant to follow up.
5 NXT N.A. Championship - Matt Riddle
Bro! The former MMA fighter has been like a duck to water in his transition to the squared circle and zero signs of slowing down have emerged in his early NXT days. His mix of nonchalant attitude and great looking offensive strikes means he could realistically fall anywhere in the NXT hierarchy but the safe bet is that he settles into a N.A. title reign by year's end. Not only will he probably look awesome carrying around that beautiful burgundy strap, but he'll also further refine his pro wrestling skillset in preparation for graduation to the main roster.
4 Universal Championship - Roman Reigns
Let's end this with some genuine positivity. Whether you were on board with the Big Dog or not before his condition resurfaced there's very few who would be upset to see him return to health. The greatest signifier of that recovery would be his reclamation of the Universal Championship he had to give up. Without knowing the specifics of his recovery schedule, this is running a fair amount on optimistic positivity, which the New Day would appreciate, but in truth, wrestling fans know that there's a man beneath the presentation and his health supersedes lingering dissatisfaction over booking.
3 Bonus: Men's MITB Briefcase Holder - Elias
While we're done with the title-holder portion of this piece, we'll also take a look at some 'titles' of the non-belt variety that could be handed out this year.
The past few years have been pretty underwhelming on the men's side, as the briefcase holder has been unsuccessful in cashing in the last two years, with Baron Corbin's cash-in being thwarted by John Cena in 2017 and Braun Strowman's lead to a no-contest following interference from Brock Lesnar at Hell in a Cell.
This year's MITB winner should have a good chance of reversing that trend and Elias seems like someone Vince and co. would love to give a shot in seeing if he could elevate himself into championship discussion.
2 Bonus: Women's MITB Briefcase Holder - Ember Moon
Ember Moon has seen herself get knocked down the pecking order somewhat in the women's division, but by the mid to late point of the year, she should be able to capture some momentum. While the MITB briefcase tends to be something most holders use to cash in at the most opportune times, Moon can be one of the few to cash in via a more sportsmanlike sense, as she could go into a big event like a Royal Rumble 2020 or WrestleMania with the briefcase at her disposal. The WWE really needs to start getting the ball rolling with Moon.
1 Superstar Of The Year: Becky Lynch
We're past the point of titles, but at the end of the day, making an impact in the WWE is about more than titles. There's also the question of character development and who is must-see television on a weekly basis. Becky Lynch caught absolute fire in the second half of 2018, particularly after turning heel, only to see her get cheered even more, eventually becoming The Man.
With a full year positioned as the most over star in the company, and possibly becoming one of the first women to headline WrestleMania, we can very well be talking about 2019 being the year of The Man.