In the past, WWE has been accused of falling into a bit of a slump from SummerSlam to Survivor Series. This year though has been serving up surprises aplenty, and there are still more to come before we hit the Road To WrestleMania that begins around the Royal Rumble. Not only is WWE producing their first ever all Women's PPV, their second Saudi Arabia show, Smackdown 1000, Survivor Series and TLC, but there are also rumors and possibilities being lined up all over the rosters that mean we are in for a roller-coaster ride through the end of the year and beyond. It maybe shouldn't be a surprise that Raw has heated up with the absence of the top authority figures and more focus on a champion who is present more often than not, and so the red brand has up-ticked their quality of shows this last while. Smackdown isn't slacking off either, with AJ Styles helming another good run over there. Combined, fans should be optimistic heading forward, and this collection of rumors should further whet the appetite.
Some of these plans are long rumored and have been simmering ready to bring to the boil for months, whereas others are WWE attempting to strike while the iron is hot. Yet others are the culmination of years of building and tweaking towards an ultimate goal, but it all comes together during this period before the Rumble solidifies a lot of what we can expect for WrestleMania season. Superstars returning from long layoffs, turns to and from the dark side, records being broken, alliances coming together and splitting apart, there's no shortage of interesting developments incoming.
20 The Miz Steals The WWE Championship
The Miz and Daniel Bryan fought over a WWE Championship opportunity at Super Show-Down in Australia, and while Bryan won that encounter and is going on to Crown Jewel to take his shot at AJ Styles, it's The Miz who seems destined to be the WWE Champion come the Royal Rumble.
Daniel Bryan and The Miz'a storied rivalry feels like it has to raise the stakes to truly cap off their saga, and the WWE Championship is nothing less than the highest stakes available.
Many fans and insiders see The Miz claiming the gold for the first time since 2011, with Daniel Bryan chasing him down at WrestleMania for the grand finale of these two polar opposite superstars.
19 Dolph Gets Sent Packing
Dolph Ziggler was always going to be the fall guy for when The Pack imploded on a recent Raw. With Drew and Braun verbally remarking on Ziggler's propensity for pinfalls, it seemed the perfect convergence of circumstances for The Show Off to end up kicked to the curb. Or, Claymored to the curb as it were. Most fans are hanging with baited breath for the moment Drew McIntyre takes off from this union into his own quest for the top titles in WWE, and unfortunately Dolph's involvement has inevitably led to the trio splitting up, and perhaps soon the duo as well.
Ziggler won't go anywhere far, probably right back into Intercontinental or United States Championship contention, but he's been there and done that. As for The Monster's potential replacement ally..
18 Finn Balor's New Club
The Demon's recent run could at best be charitably described as spinning his wheels. Look for that to change soon as Dolph Ziggler's tendency to lose opens up a slot in Braun Strowman's pack for Finn Balor to get some of that main event pie for himself. Not that he could possibly eat pie since the dude seems like he repels carbs with his smile to look the way he does. Pie-avoiding abs aside, Balor has been the smiley, bland babyface for far too long and his reunion with Braun in a new 'Pack' not only makes sense but could somehow even bump up the already great multi-man match quality given Finn's abilities.
17 AJ Styles, Modern Record Maker
While the earlier rumor about The Miz coming for AJ's championship has gained steam over the course of the year since Daniel Bryan's return, AJ Styles has simultaneously held onto the WWE Championship for this calendar year.
With the timing of the initial win, it looks like AJ Styles will supplant CM Punk's modern-day WWE Championship reign length just before the Royal Rumble.
This works out almost too perfectly for this opportunity not to be jumped on by WWE. With their recent penchant for replacing old championship records the last few years, such as with The New Day and Nikki Bella, there could be no better or more palatable candidate for fans to rejoice attaining such a monumental reign.
16 Dean Ambrose Finally Goes Full Lunatic
WWE has been slow-burning the simmering tension within The Shield unit since Ambrose's return, and Dean's long awaited heel turn finally happened. For weeks, both The Pack and The Shield have had reason to question Dean's loyalty in some form or another, and since Seth has already turned once and WWE was hellbent on not turning Roman, the story kind of wrote itself.
The real wrinkle will come in how Ambrose fares as a heel and just how far WWE goes with his character. Ambrose is revered for his pre-WWE work as a heel, and cranking that up into sadistic, merciless territory for WWE could propel him higher than he's ever been.
15 Inevitable Rumble Winner? Yes!
Sometimes wrestling is best when it surprises us, but in this case, it feels like WWE needs to shelve all their 'clever swerves' and give the fans what they've clamored for half a decade. Daniel Bryan is winning this next Royal Rumble. Whatever else needs to happen, whether that's Miz winning the title before or at the Rumble, the Raw side of things finding another way to set their Universal Title match up for WrestleMania, it all falls lower in priority in the face of Bryan outlasting 29 other men. WWE has already given Bryan the Ironman record with his effort at GRR, and now they'll cement another notch in his irrepressible march toward GOAT-hood.
14 Sasha's Finally Turning, Bank On It
Leading into the first ever all women's PPV we haven't seen much of WWE's premier big match female performer. Sasha Banks was down with an undisclosed injury but the real damage has been done to her character.
For too long she's been the smiley, side-hugger alongside Bayley but this is the chance and the time to reintroduce The Boss to WWE.
Sasha's heel persona is leagues ahead of her whiny face version and given half a chance she'll be as lethal as Alexa on the mic and able to pull 4-star matches out of everyone from Ronda Rousey down. A short face stop before her heel turn will set her up to take a run at Ronda leading into the Royal Rumble, and hopefully, finally, Sasha can let loose.
13 Bray Wyatt's Last Chance
Bray Wyatt is in damage control mode, or if he's not, WWE's brains have been replaced by the bug-slides Bray brought to WrestleMania last year. This guy has lost everything about him that made his character work, so now is as good a time as ever to bring him back with great vengeance and furious anger. Have Bray finally turn to his little brother Bo Dallas and get him to make a deal with the devil, or recruit Axel too.
WWE needs to do for Bray what they did for The Undertaker over the course of his career and that's let him evolve as needed. Survivor Series is canonically WWE's 'spookiest' show, so let's bring back Bray there, perhaps against Elias for usurping his role, and see what happens.
12 Elias Elevated
Like the aforementioned Bray Wyatt before him, Elias is reaching a point where his Teflon existence as a middle of the show mouthpiece is beginning to run into repetition. He has definitely had some high peaks, but diminishing returns are on the horizon for his cheap, city-trashing format and a real feud is what his potential opponent has ordered.
Bray has already begun posting cryptic tweets and riddles concerning his status since his disappearance.
Perhaps that's alluding to a return to his sinister version that fits the bill for a feud that could force Elias to begin taking the combat side of his schtick more seriously. We might not be salivating over another House Of Horrors match, but a weapon-filled brawl at TLC between the two has distinct upsides for both.
11 Mustafa Ali Makes History
Mustafa Ali has spent this year being WWE's uncrowned hero for those who watch 205 Live.
His passionate speaking ability, natural charisma, and lethal offense stand him out from the Cruiserweight crowd and yet WWE refused to jump on the former cop's bandwagon.
Now that Buddy Murphy has claimed the 205 silver strap, his history of stellar matches against Ali has fans salivating for another round, this time with increased stakes and renewed interest in the division driven by Murphy's acclaimed championship-winning effort. 205 Live deserves its spot on main roster PPVs and it's guys like Mustafa Ali who are the reason for it. Expect a showcase matchup for the division when TLC offers them the appropriate platforms to leap from, literally.
10 Drew McIntyre Main Event Mainstay
McIntyre has been well protected since he returned to Monday Night Raw, never looking weak or taking pins when there's a Ziggler nearby to do so. Clearly, Vince McMahon's ancient proclamation of a 'Chosen One' has been fast-tracked and barring injury or misfortune Drew should be chasing Universal Championship Gold before the end of the year.
Whether there's room for it at Survivor Series is debatable given the event's history of inter-brand matches and Drew's immediate concern's with Braun Strowman, but TLC seems a ripe time for Drew to take a solo run at The Big Dog. Add in a stipulation and this match for the Universal Title could not only be great but decide who truly has the wettest hair in WWE.
9 Shawn Michaels Gets His Groove Back
The Heartbreak Kid broke many fans hearts with his commitment to retirement for 8 years but here we are in 2018, unexpectedly getting a swan song out of the greatest in-ring performer of all time. Assuming his Crown Jewel match goes ahead as planned, you know Shawn wouldn't break his exile for a one-and-done tag team match.
No, he's got a small handful of dream matches to scratch off the list and barring a fourth career comeback, now is the time.
AJ Styles is the rumored frontrunner, although that's big enough to save to WrestleMania, so expect Shawn to probably find a spot in the Royal Rumble, and to have a qualifying match at TLC against someone equally enticing, perhaps Finn Balor or Seth Rollins.
8 Roode Awakening
With Vince McMahon's legendary impatience it seems amazing that he's let Bobby Roode run out the clock on his 'glorious' face run. But run it out he has and now it seems inevitable that this recent wrinkle alongside Chad Gable must be the catalyst for Roode to let out his far superior jerk persona. Roode is almost certainly going to be the guy who unseats Seth Rollins from his Intercontinental Championship, having discarded Chad Gable in the meantime. Then you can expect those two to feud it out for the rest of the year and into the next, trading on Gable's goofy 'Angle Jr' persona while Roode recaptures his blowhard, pompous NXT swagger that served him quite well.
7 The Final Revival
The tag team division may be embroiled within the Dean/Seth situation at the moment, but soon a long-term tag team is going to swoop in and wrest those belts back and away from makeshift teams that are splitting at the seams. The Revival is long overdue for their run and need only be given time in the ring to showcase what they can do to get fans invested.
Right now WWE keeps having the B-Team trip them up and divert their momentum, but they'll soon be destroyed by the Authors Of Pain and that'll free up The Revival to do what they do best, and that's be on top of the tag team totem pole. Top Guys, Champs.
6 Sami Resurfaces
Sami Zayn has been out the majority of the year with an injury but he's scheduled to return in early 2019 and WWE has been carefully positioning a likely opponent for him.
When Sami needed to take that time off he received a one-sided beating at the hands of one Bobby Lashley, who suplexed the bejeesus out of Zayn.
Now that receipt will come due, with Sami having all the reason in the world to chase the man who took him out, while also being able to resume his natural face alignment now that Lashley has turned heel. There is however always an addendum when it comes to Zayn it seems, and that comes in the form of another recent Lashley victim, Kevin Owens..
5 KO; Compromised Comeback
Kevin Owens has just gone down himself with surgery required for two persistent knee problems, however, Owens is as good on the mic as he is in the ring and has proven to be invaluable in duos. Owens can still provide value to WWE television while Sami gets it done in the ring. The two of them have become synonymous together inside and outside WWE by now, and so WWE will look to have Owens by Zayn's side playing the part of either boisterous motivator, or more interestingly, the devil on Sami's shoulder trying to get him to take the easy way out. I mean, can you imagine a more fun way for Owens to throw a fit than sit in a wheelchair at ringside yelling at Sami? It writes itself.
4 Rey Mysterio Flies Again
Rey Mysterio's recent return at SmackDown 1000 has fans fondly reminiscing all the fun he brings to the table. However, the thing that should be exciting fans the most is for the imminent arrival of that legend onto WWE's current Cruiserweight showcase, 205 Live. Mysterio is the perfect athlete to bridge the gap that has developed between the little island of misfits that is 205 Live and either SmackDown or Raw. However it is done, whether he rides with the Lucha House Party, goes directly after Buddy Murphy's newly won title, or he holds off for a longer term marquee matchup with Mustafa Ali, there's no wrong answer.
3 Nikki Crosses Over
WWE rarely does anything like split up a thematically cohesive unit unless they have a specific reason, and SAnitY's split was clearly to keep Nikki Cross safe from the hollow thud that has been their SmackDown arrival. Evidently, that was because Triple H had specific plans for her in NXT, but those are coming to a head and soon Nikki will be headed up to join her chaotic kin.
The catalyst for that belated promotion is for her inclusion in the second ever Women's Royal Rumble.
Nikki Cross is highly likely to make her main roster debut in a surprise qualifying match on SmackDown to affiliate her with her former faction and could also be used as the re-starting point for the whole.
2 The Viper Slithers Into Title Contention
Randy Orton has found a wonderfully entertaining new angle at his Apex Predator persona, but despite already crossing a few lines into weird, torture-esque territory with both Jeff Hardy and Tye Dillinger, he's nowhere close to done. Orton has seemingly set his sights on Nakamura's United States Title with all his assaults revolving somewhat around Nakamura's opponents, but that's the short term. Randy is going to find time to not only reclaim the United States Championship he lost at WrestleMania, but he's going to find himself challenging AJ Styles at TLC. It's possible he'll parlay his US title for the shot at the top title, but he won't be holding two belts coming out of the SAP Center, more likely..
1 Harper Goes Bludgeoning Solo
Orton will run into this man. Harper is simply too talented to be sat on the sidelines for another stretch of months and he has unfinished business going way back to Orton's Wyatt Family infiltration, and with a United States Championship on the line these two could steal any show they're booked on. Harper is also the type who can match Randy's newfound sickness and even thrive against it, meaning they can push the boundaries of WWE's limits while aggrandizing the long, stagnant mid-card championship as they elevate each other.
We, unfortunately, don't expect Harper to pull out the win, as his WWE record is poor in that regard, but he once again should remind people how good he can be.