If there’s one thing you can rely during any given year, it’s that WWE’s main event scene is going to be thrown into complete chaos at some point. Whether it’s an injury that deprives the company of their top star or a simple change of mind that essentially throws the creative team’s script right into the garbage, you can always depend on several wrenches being thrown into the cogs over the course of 365 days of WWE programming. As such, you would have to be a fool to dare suggest that you can predict how an entire year of WWE main events will play out.
So, here we are. While the direction of 2017 is so far up in the air that we can’t even be entirely sure how many PPVs WWE are going to hold, it still feels like the right time to start making some possibly wild predictions about how the next year of PPV main events is going to play out. Besides, what better way is there to dream of the potential of the 2017 PPV main event scene before everything goes wrong than to project every WWE PPV main event for 2017?
Note; past WrestleMania, there isn't any indication yet of which brands will have which PPVs, so we're just going by what we feel would make the most sense for now. It also takes into account what could happen in 2017's draft.
16 Royal Rumble (Besides The Royal Rumble Match) - AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker
Since the Royal Rumble match itself will likely be the main event of Royal Rumble 2017, the real question is, “Which show’s title match will precede that event?”
There's still a long way to go until the Royal Rumble and AJ Styles still needs a no.1 contender. RAW's main event is set with Reigns taking on Owens again, but the WWE World Champion needs a marquee matchup. After his squash victory over James Ellsworth on SmackDown, Styles yelled "I DESERVE BETTER!". That leads to a perfect segue in Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan bringing 'Taker to SmackDown to challenge Styles. Rumors have suggested The Undertaker is being pegged for a matchup with Styles and the recent events on SmackDown tie into it beautifully.
15 Elimination Chamber (SmackDown)- John Cena vs. The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
This main event selection is based on a pretty big assumption that a RAW roster member is going to win the Royal Rumble based, in part, on Elimination Chamber being a SmackDown PPV. Should that come to pass, then it seems likely that the Elimination Chamber match will be used to determine the number one contender for the WWE Championship. This lineup contains all of the usual suspects for such an honor, although there is an argument that Baron Corbin could be worked in somehow.
Nevertheless, the main purpose of this match will be to set-up WrestleMania. That means the likely implosion of The Wyatt Family, The Undertaker getting involved and, of course, a number one contender being named. It quite possible WWE will need a babyface to win this match, so the smart money should be on Dolph Ziggler.
14 Fastlane (RAW) - Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Admittedly, this is probably the most boring of all the 2017 PPV predictions, but, as any WWE fan will well know, WWE sometimes books the boring main event. That’s especially true if the match in question serves a larger purpose, which this one definitely does. Unless WWE is willing to completely abandon the idea of Seth Rollins and Triple H ending their little feud, those two are going to face off at WrestleMania. As such, it just seems natural that Seth Rollins gets screwed out of the title one more time before the biggest show of the year. There are a few alternatives to this set-up (including the possibility that the Royal Rumble could be utilized here), but Seth will be involved in some way.
13 WrestleMania 33 - John Cena vs. The Undertaker
In previous years, WWE has made the mistake of not putting the most anticipated match on last at WrestleMania. Surely, we all remember the truly terrible decision to put Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker on mid-way through WrestleMania 25. Should John Cena vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania finally happen next year, as it looks like it very well might, there’s no way that it isn't the main event. There’s a lot of buzz at the moment regarding the possibility that this will be some kind of career vs. career or title match, but even without the stipulation, these two in the same ring is as surefire of a main event as you get in wrestling. Let’s just hope WWE can put together an undercard worthy of preceding this spectacle.
12 Payback (RAW) - Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
There’s nothing like that classic WWE convention known as the rematch clause. Yes, this match is based on an assumption that Finn Bálor is going to walk away from WrestleMania 33 with the WWE Universal Championship. It’s also based on a belief that WWE will not be conducting the draft immediately after WrestleMania. Should those things come to pass, then it’s highly likely that Finn Bálor and Kevin Owens are going to go head-to-head following their likely WrestleMania match.
As for Seth Rollins, he’s a bit more of a stretch. WWE has made a habit of avoiding the straight-up WrestleMania rematch on post-WrestleMania PPVs when they can avoid it. If Seth Rollins is able to beat Triple H at WrestleMania (which he should), then it’s likely that he can talk his way into this opportunity.
11 Extreme Rules (SmackDown) - AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
Here’s where the nature of brand-split PPVs and the thin draft rosters are going to start catching up with WWE. Who, exactly, is going to be WWE Champion following WrestleMania 33 is a huge mystery at the moment. SmackDown has been making the most out of a smaller roster for some time, meaning that their main even options are a bit thin. That being the case, there’s a strong possibility that AJ Styles walks away from WrestleMania as champion.
There are a lot of directions WWE could go with Styles from there, but one of the best things they can do is ensure that Dean Ambrose finally gets to beat AJ Styles before the impending brand split which will likely separate the two. From there, they can both begin fresh feuds.
10 Money in The Bank - Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Rusev vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (SmackDown Money In the Bank Match)
It’s going to be interesting to see what WWE decides to do with Money in the Bank in this new brand split era, but it seems likely that the event will feature both RAW and SmackDown wrestlers. It’s also quite likely that this will be the first PPV after the 2017 WWE Draft. That’s why you see a couple of unfamiliar names on this, the SmackDown Money in the Bank Match participant list. These are the guys on the projected new SmackDown roster that will most likely be in a position to fight over the Money in the Bank briefcase by the time that the event rolls around.
Of these candidates, our choice for the winner is none other than Bray Wyatt who will help play a major role in events yet to come.
9 Battleground (RAW) - Finn Bálor vs. Randy Orton
Now that Finn Bálor has moved past the Kevin Owens situation, he’ll need to prove that he is a fighting champion by taking on somebody established. So far as established goes, there are few better options out there than Randy Orton who, in this situation, has moved to the RAW brand. Of course, WWE could always pit Bálor against John Cena, another person who is likely to move to RAW, but that matchup has much more drawing power that could be used to sell a bigger event on the calendar. Besides, the potential chemistry between these two is too great to ignore. Orton and Bálor work safe and solid wrestling styles that complement their established personalities quite well. This could be a very good feud.
8 SummerSlam - Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe
Here’s the set-up: RAW has been pushing Brock Lesnar as their unbeatable beast following a presumed win that he will get over Bill Goldberg sometime earlier in the year. The SmackDown management get tired of these claims decide to recruit one of the biggest free agent beasts on the market, Samoa Joe. Joe comes in, destroys some jobbers, and is built as a credible threat to Lesnar. If WWE's creative executives are smart, they will then use this match-up as an opportunity to show how Samoa Joe is just as a scary as a wrestler as Brock Lesnar is.
In fact, Joe will likely beat Lesnar here in order to set-up a story that will run throughout the rest of the year involving SmackDown regretting their decision to bring Joe onboard after he starts tearing through the roster. More on that later.
7 Backlash (SmackDown) - Dean Ambrose vs. Samoa Joe
It’s quite possible that WWE will want to do some major shifting in the main event slot following the 2017 Draft, but it still seems likely that Dean Ambrose remains on SmackDown. Even better, there’s a very good chance that he becomes WWE Champion sometime after defeating John Cena at some point prior to the draft. If so, then Dean will have the displeasure of becoming the next victim of the runaway train that is Samoa Joe.
Yes, we’re calling for a quick Joe title win following his defeat of Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Joe doesn’t have many more years left at the top of his game, and it would be great to see WWE give him the kind of Mark Henry “Hall of Pain” run at the top that he so richly deserves.
6 Clash of Champions (RAW) - Finn Bálor vs. AJ Styles
On the RAW side of things, Finn Bálor is still your WWE Universal Champion, but the winds of change are starting to blow. Bálor’s run up until this point will have been impressive, but it’s likely that the fans will start to slightly turn on him a bit as fans often do when they want to see a fresh act. AJ Styles will likely be the one to answer their call and play upon his history with Bálor outside of WWE to work his way into a title shot. Bálor will likely win this match-up (thus beginning a proper face turn for AJ Styles), but he should be made to look a bit shaky. Perhaps he even relies on a couple of cheap tactics in order to set-up a slow heel turn.
5 No Mercy (SmackDown) - Samoa Joe vs. Sami Zayn
Given what the SmackDown brand focuses on, it’s clear that Sami Zayn should have been moved there at the start of the draft. Zayn is the kind of hard-working, incredibly personable talent that the SmackDown creative team has been able to do great things with thus far. This next draft should correct that error and, once it does, that puts Zayn on a path to play the scrappy underdog contender to Joe’s championship. Joe, being Joe, will gladly take on the match, with the chance to hurt a smaller wrestler like Zayn. These two haven’t had the chance to work much together in the past, but you have to believe that their respective talents would lead to a compelling conflict both in and out of the ring.
4 Hell In A Cell (RAW) - Finn Bálor vs. AJ Styles
By this point in the year, Finn Bálor has established himself as a true champion that has disposed of his previous challengers and a couple of industry veterans. While this success has instilled Bálor with even more confidence, it’s also slowly making him a little more arrogant. These hints of arrogance really start to bother AJ Styles who still considers himself to be the face that runs the place due to the success he experienced in 2016.
Styles is so confident that he is still the man, in fact, that he is willing to challenge “The Demon” to a Hell in a Cell match. There’s plenty of real-life history between these two WWE could play off of if they choose to, but this pairing could work based on potential match quality alone.
3 Survivor Series - Team SmackDown (Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens) vs. Team RAW (Finn Bálor, AJ Styles, John Cena, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura)
Were it not for the fact that Brock Lesnar took on Goldberg at the 2016 Survivor Series, the brand vs. brand team match that proved to be the highlight of the show would have easily fit into the main event spot. That will likely happen in 2017 now that WWE surely has a greater appreciation for the dramatic potential of the concept. The SmackDown team is certainly the most interesting on paper if for no other reason than it features a proper reunion of The Shield. On the RAW side of things, the name that jumps out is Shinsuke Nakamura.
In this scenario, Nakamura will be brought in as a replacement for Brock Lesnar who refuses to join the team. An increasingly egotistic Finn Bálor takes this as an insult. RAW still wins after The Shield reunites and gets revenge on the monstrous Samoa Joe.
2 TLC (SmackDown) - Samoa Joe vs. Bray Wyatt
For some time now, WWE has apparently been playing with the idea of making Bray Wyatt a face. As strange as it to think that a swamp cult leader could become a face, there’s no denying that the Bray Wyatt fanbase continues to grow despite the fact that Bray isn’t getting any less evil. If WWE is serious about Wyatt turning face, then they could do something really unique and use Wyatt’s earlier Money in the Bank win as a catalyst. Wyatt will have cashed in on Joe in-between PPVs by this point and will begin resorting to a series of mind games in order to throw Joe off his considerable game. If all goes according to plan, Wyatt will be the one person to be able to properly capitalize off the madness that Samoa Joe has caused on the SmackDown roster.
1 Roadblock (RAW) - Finn Bálor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Following the events of Survivor Series, Shinsuke Nakamura calls in a title shot as part of his agreement to join the RAW brand. He looks forward to an honorable battle with Finn Bálor who, at this point, is barely trying to conceal his heelish ways. In fact, Finn Bálor has turned the demon side of his character into more of a lighter monster who no longer plays to the crowd and will do anything to win. He quickly becomes jealous of the attention that Nakamura gets and decides to play up his own rock star image in order to upstage him. The match itself will feature Nakamura getting the better of Bálor at nearly every turn, but Balor ultimately wins by attacking the knees of Nakamura.