FOLLOW Mr. Tito on Twitter: @titowrestling
Mr. Tito's 15 BOLD Pro Wrestling Predictions for 2013 - WWE, TNA, and More
By Mr. Tito
Dec 31, 2012 - 8:45:09 PM
So here we are... What has become an annual tradition here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com, it's the Mr. Tito Pro Wrestling Predictions Column for 2013. In addition to following the news and information of the pro wrestling world, I keep a close eye on financial information. A few years ago, a friend forwarded me a link to Market-Ticker.org run by Karl Denninger. The best part about his blog is his annual predictions (2013 Predictions here, for example), which starting for 2011, I tried to imitate with annual predictions for the wrestling world. It was a big hit to add to the "Excellence in Column Writing" by yours truly.
Now of course, I did quite well for my 2011 Predictions at a 50% clip. And I don't just make simple predictions like "John Cena will win the World Title". I take chances and roll the dice on picks based on some trends that I'm seeing. I use my financial background to base the predictions, as well. I felt that I took MANY chances on my predictions for 2012...
Let's see how we did with 2012 Predictions, which you can verify existing from last year's 12/29/2011 posting HERE... *gulp*
2012 Prediction: #1 - (Repeat)Triple H will win a World Title - MISS - Triple H only wrestled twice in 2012, Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 and Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2012. I expected him to ride in on the white horse when the ratings were down and "save" the day. He must be taking the backstage stuff seriously.
2012 Prediction: #2 - (Repeat)Steve Austin will wrestle at some point in 2012 MISS again. Austin is going to come back at some point to the wrestling world, seeing how much money the Rock has made recently... But it clearly didn't happen in 2012.
2012 Prediction: #3 - WWE Stock Price will not go above $15 DIRECT HIT. In fact, the WWE didn't even get above $10.00 for 2012 unless a last minute surge occurs on 12/31/12. I keep lowering and lowering the bar on this stock price prediction.
2012 Prediction: #4 - Sting and the WWE will do business in 2012. MISS. Sting must have been paid well by WCW back in the day and continues to get paid well by TNA. We'll never get that Sting DVD...
2012 Prediction: #5 - Rosters will fully merge in 2012, titles included. MISS but I should obtain a HALF point on this one, as RAW and Smackdown rosters are working each others' shows consistently throughout 2012. Still no title merging, though, even though you have no idea who the true contenders for each title are.
2012 Prediction: #6 - WWE will induct a deceased wrestler into the Hall of Fame for 2012 Direct HIT. I was expecting Owen Hart or Randy Savage but received Yokozuna instead.
2012 Prediction: #7 - WWE will raid the TNA Roster for their Top Stars MISS. I had no idea that a tampering lawsuit would be filed against the WWE by TNA. I believe this raid is coming, but timing is everything... Damn lawsuit!
2012 Prediction: #8 - At least 1 WWE Diva will pose nude for Playboy for 2012 Huge MISS, unfortunately. I should have predicted a number of Divas who would leave the WWE instead.
2012 Prediction: #9 - WWE Network will see marginal success on Comcast, but will struggle to get on other TV providers. MISS - I figured Comcast would give the WWE Network a shot, provided their deals together with USA Network and SyFy Channel. Ooops!
2012 Prediction: #10 - Media and/or Legal division of the WWE will get serious about Pay Per View Piracy in 2012 MISS, but several sports websites were taken down during Superbowl week to prove the trend that I was seeing. With WWE's Pay Per View revenues declining and their open support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), I was figuring that the hammer was coming. It didn't, but timing is everything. Comcast is a Pay Per View provider AND the nation's biggest internet provider...
2012 Prediction: #11 - Linda McMahon will LOSE the Republican Primary for Senate. MISS. Little did I know that Connecticut GOP voters could be bought with her money, but certainly things changed when the November elections rolled around.
2012 Prediction: #12 - Stephanie McMahon will officially be named "Chief Executive Officer" (CEO) by year-end. MISS. I sensed an undercurrent of Triple H/Stephanie getting stronger for 2012. I was right, as they carved up John Laurinaitis's position among themselves... But Vince McMahon remains CEO.
2012 Prediction: #13 - Shawn Michaels will wrestle at least 1 match in 2012. MISS - I should have followed him on Twitter before I made that prediction. He's as retired as I've seen any big star I've seen in the wrestling business.
2012 Prediction: #14 - John Morrison won't go to TNA Wrestling. DIRECT HIT. When Morrison left WWE, the message board marks were calling for him to join TNA and instantly win their Championship. I didn't see that happening... In fact, I was sensing that wrestlers weren't so willing to go TNA with Bischoff/Hogan in charge. Seems like Morrison has flirted with a WWE return lately....
2012 Prediction: #15 - (Repeat) Former World Champion will either be released or retire from the WWE. HIT, but only thanks to Chris Jericho returning and then leaving the WWE without a new contract during 2012. The one I'm expecting to get cut is still on the WWE roster...
OUCH! I did awful for 2012 4 out of 15 for a 27% clip. Some of my predictions were wild shots in the dark while others, and as you'll see some repeat elements for my 2012 predictions, timing is everything. I'm confident in 2012 predictions #2, #7, #10, #12, and #15 being correct in due time... I believe that the WWE will see some major shake-ups for 2013 both in trying to improve itself and others being forced upon them.
So where are we headed with the wrestling business for 2013?
In my opinion, you're seeing a WWE in transition and it's mostly due to the rise of Triple H as a WWE executive and backstage manager. His role and influence has caused some noticeable changes to the WWE product through the second half of the year. For one, he's beginning to unload the developmental territory into the WWE. The early success of the Shield tells me that we're going to see more developmental wrestlers introduced and in an impactful manner. It also tells me that many WWE veterans better keep their resumes handy. Triple H is trying to breathe life into the Tag Team division, too.
Problem with Triple H is who he's married and related to... Vince McMahon is still in charge and until he fully retires from the WWE, all ideas are filtered through Vince. Vince still likes his HOSS wrestlers and is too protective of his top babyface wrestler (currently John Cena). If Triple H wants to implement real change, he has to undo 30 years of Vince McMahon doing it his way. In all honesty though, Vince has been mostly profitable doing things his way.
But where Triple H needs to "save the day" is to influence his wife, Stephanie McMahon, to fix WWE's Creative Staff. Her way of hiring Hollywood writers, lack of long-term vision, and disrespecting titles has to go. However, Triple H can't push too hard because, well, he loves his wife and he won't burn the toast he's been buttering...
Where I have greater concerns about the WWE are its finances. It was hilarious to hear the WWE issue a statement about the $45 Million unsecured loan that the WWE made to the bankrupt THQ and its possible (or lack of) impact. This, along with the costly WWE Network that has never happened, could threatened to limit the WWE financially for 2013. Oh, and Linda McMahon reportedly spent upwards of $97 Million of her (or Vince's) personal fortune in attempts to become a United States Senator for 2010 and 2012. Revenue streams have peaked for the WWE and unless they can create a more compelling product or convince the general public that wrestling is cool to watch again, 2013 could hurt.
Since 2011, the WWE has begun leaning towards making major money on 1 day of the year and then just accepting the risk for the rest of the year. Certainly, Wrestlemania has been an important event in the past. However, as witnessed by the Rock's return and the booking of other "super matches", the WWE is putting all of their eggs in the Wrestlemania basket and hoping for the best during the rest of the year. For Wrestlemania 29, this is essentially a New York City Wrestlemania even if we're in New Jersey. In addition to the probable booking of Rock vs. John Cena II for the WWE Title, which appears to be written in stone, WWE is likely to pull all of the stops to stack this super show. Undertaker will need a match and the WWE seems to be leaning towards Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H II at this show as well.
But after Wrestlemania 29, what's next? John Cena is likely to be the WWE Champion again, but who does he square off against? How serious is the WWE about keeping CM Punk as the RAW brand's #1 heel? Will the Ryback push continue strong during 2013? Who is behind the Shield? And who else from developmental will show up for 2013 and who might the WWE let go for their spots? Very, very interesting questions. 2013 might become a "make or break" year for not only the WWE, but pro wrestling itself. The General Public has become bored of pro wrestling and their attention has been shifted to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) or other forms of entertainment instead. Fewer and fewer younger people are actually getting Cable television these days which is why the WWE made the wise move to put shows on Hulu's paid service, for example.
Some creativity by the WWE Creative Staff is needed to entice the public to like pro wrestling again, specifically the teenage audience. Many of you are sick of hearing about the "Attitude Era", but that era brought the WWE twice the viewers it receives now. As a teenager myself through 1998, I can recall how "cool" it was for everyone to talk about what Steve Austin did the night before on Monday Night RAW. Doing the Degeneration X crotch chop was a normal thing in High School hallways. Wrestling during the late 1990's and early 2000's was a big part of pop culture. Now, however, it's trending towards WCW Nitro's ratings towards the end of that promotion's life... To 2.0 and beyond!
Lots of pressure on the WWE to succeed this year... Shareholders and the Comcast Corporation, owners of USA Network and SyFy Channel, will be expecting it.
As for other promotions... TNA Impact Wrestling has to step it up. Their current business model is NOT generating interest on Spike TV nor is it seriously challenging the WWE as legitimate competition. Even with the WWE downward trending, TNA isn't going upward with their consistent 1.0 ratings. WWE Superstars are unable to use TNA as a bargaining chip to get a better WWE deal, nor are any big WWE names jumping to TNA. There is a lack of confidence in the TNA brand to succeed, and that's probably due to Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff still running things there. Even in spite of the fact that TNA has tried to push younger stars lately, the credibility of that promotion has been long gone thanks to years upon years of bad booking decisions. Aces & Eights just isn't the compelling television angle that Hogan/Bischoff hoped it would be. In other promotional news, Ring of Honor hasn't made any big strides since the Sinclair group purchased the promotion... They'll just remain a farm system to be raided.
2013 = Make or Break year for professional wrestling...
And now, on to the BOLD predictions:
MR. TITO's 2013 PRO WRESTLING PREDICTIONS
DISCLAIMER: These predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Any person acting on these predictions agrees to do at their own risk!
#1 - The Shield's leader will NOT be revealed to be CM Punk/Paul Heyman. Seems quite obvious that CM Punk is the leader... However, since when has beneficial booking gone CM Punk's way lately? To me, the WWE has other plans for the Shield and it doesn't involve CM Punk. The mere fact that they've gone directly after Ryback tells me something is up. I wouldn't doubt that with business sagging as it is, the WWE finally rolls the dice on and reveals that John Cena is the true mastermind of the Shield. This is all dependent upon how much the WWE believes that Ryback is actually over as a main event and how much they can sell Ryback vs. John Cena to the general public. Otherwise, others not named CM Punk to be the Shield's leader will be Triple H or Vince McMahon as some sort of anti-corporate ploy against each other. Triple H, I can imagine, is proud of his Shield call-ups and will want them to himself if not John Cena's ploy to finally turn heel.
#2 - CM Punk will be moved to the Smackdown Roster at some point in 2013. I believe that once Rock defeats CM Punk at Royal Rumble 2013, it will be deemed by WWE Creative Staff that CM Punk has "nothing left to do" on the RAW roster. That, and the WWE Creative Staff doesn't appreciate CM Punk and never has. I believe that we'll see a HEEL CM Punk against a FACE Alberto Del Rio/Sheamus for the Smackdown brand's World Heavyweight Championship throughout the latter half of 2013. Maybe CM Punk can tag up with the beloved Big Show...
#3 - WWE Executive Shake-up - Promotions possibly in store for Triple H/Stephanie and a possible demotion of Kevin Dunn. I was suggesting this as a prediction for 2012 with Stephanie as CEO. I believe that Vince McMahon will remain as Chairman of the WWE Corporation Board but he'll relinquish the CEO spot to either the returning Linda McMahon or Stephanie McMahon. I wouldn't doubt that Triple H actually becomes the REAL "Chief Operations Officer" of the WWE Corporation during 2013. HHH is presently the "EVP of Talent" which to mean reads more like an Operations position. I believe Stephanie will be primed to become CEO, more like the spokesperson of the WWE. I believe that Executive Producer Kevin Dunn's days might be numbered. Reportedly, Triple H has some beef with Dunn, just as HHH disliked former EVP, John Laurinaitis. Dunn is the last of the "good ol' Vince boys" and I believe he could be reduced or removed by year-end.
#4 - WWE Stock will remain under $10.00. See my financial explanations within Prediction #5.
#5 - WWE will incur a significant impairment loss for 2013 - Be it from THQ, WWE Films, WWE Network, or WCW brand. The THQ "unsecured" creditor newsbyte caught my attention. $45 million doesn't just get swept under the rug, especially for a THQ company incurring losses. I believe during some point during 2013, the WWE has to consider an write-off of part of that money owed from THQ. That, or it gets them a stronger deal with a reorganized THQ company. For 2011-2012, the WWE tried to invest money into the WWF Films brand... Given previous impairment losses on that brand previously, I expect more in this downturned economy. Sure, 2012 was the highest grossing film year, but for BIG company films, not something like WWE Films. WWE Network costs are going to be swallowed as that brand just doesn't look like it will accomplished, at least nationwide on major Cable/Satellite systems. But what I'm wondering is on the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) brand. We're approaching 11+ years with that purchased brand and that brand only has so much worth to include as a legitimate financial asset on your Balance Sheet. It wouldn't surprise me if we see a surge in WCW stuff for 2013, which could include WCW brand inclusion into the WWE 14 video game (if that happens with THQ), more video releases for WCW stuff (releasing a Sting one without him), or maybe even being bold enough to rename the Smackdown brand as "WCW". Trust me, that WCW brand impairment loss is real, especially as more time passes.
#6 - Massive roster cuts of WWE veterans with more than 1 former World Champion released. See prediction #5. In addition to the McMahons losing their own self-worth from a declining WWE Stock value AND from Linda McMahon's expensive U.S. Senate campaigns, the WWE Corporation and its key shareholders will be strapped for cash with revenues peaked. The above loss scenarios will hurt the WWE's bottom line, which is why the unloading of the Developmental Territory is quite telling to me. The Shield being such a major success could spell "DOOM" for many WWE veterans. Developmental talent are much cheaper than extended WWE veteran contracts... Recently, I see wrestlers like Mark Henry or Christian "hopeful" to return before Royal Rumble 2013 or Wrestlemania 29. Wouldn't surprise me if veteran talent like that is let go in favor of promoting more developmental talent to the roster. I expect DEEP cuts for 2013.
#7 - At least 1 former TNA Champion will be brought into WWE. Also clearing the way for roster spots from prediction #6, I believe 2013 is the year that the WWE goes after TNA's top talent. This pending tampering lawsuit, which appears to favor the WWE to win, makes me sense that Vince McMahon will get his revenge on TNA. I wouldn't doubt that several TNA veterans, whom I'd argue have been misused by the Bischoff/Hogan administration, will be willing to finally join the WWE. Watch for that lawsuit to be concluded during 2013 and then observe any contracts or lack thereof to be exploited by the WWE to harm TNA.
#8 - WWE will bring in at least 1 pair of former WWE wrestlers to compete in the Tag Team division. With the tag team scene getting a little more seriously lately, thanks to HHH's interest, I believe that a pair of veterans will return to the WWE and join the division. It could be a duo like MVP and Shelton Benjamin, as recently discussed by the WWE, but it could be someone like the Hardy Boys. The division is in need of some veteran teams to help the younger teams understand the concept of interesting tag team wrestling. Wouldn't surprise me a TNA tag team is ripped from that promotion to be injected into the WWE Tag Division, but that is not part of this prediction.
#9 - 2013 will be the last year for Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff in TNA Wrestling. Calling it now. TNA will be through with Hogan/Bischoff by year-end. They've added nothing to the product in the years they've been there, ratings wise, and I believe the negative publicity of Hulk Hogan's videotape fun has angered the Carter family. Reportedly from a few Florida indy sources, the Panda Energy "bean counters" are looking at the TNA brand closely, especially in light of the tax code changes that the brand may incur to Panda Energy for 2013. Hogan/Bischoff come at a cost but they also aren't producing results. It wouldn't shock me that the TNA brand removes Bischoff/Hogan earlier in the year and possibly goes aggressively after Paul Heyman to become head booker of the promotion. After all, Heyman has had great exposure on WWE lately and this video of Heyman talking about TNA cannot be denied.
#10 - WWE will induct at least 1 deceased wrestler into the WWE Hall of Fame for 2013. Early indications is that the WWE wants Owen Hart to be inducted and badly. I believe with time and discussions with Owen's widow, Owen might get in... Randy "Macho Man" Savage is very due to get in and in New York City, I believe that the WWE might use Ricky Steamboat to induct and accept for Macho Man. WWE would be afraid as to what Macho Man's brother, Lanny Poffo, could or would say with a live microphone about the WWE as it relates to Randy Savage.
#11 - Bruno Sammartino joins the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Class. I believe that Triple H's pressure, combined with a serious $$$ payoff and a promise of a professionally done Bruno video, will get Sammartino to join the WWE Hall of Fame. The lure of a professionally done Bruno DVD/Blu-Ray, I believe, will convince Bruno's family to be inducted as well as the New York City location. It allows Bruno to say "goodbye" formally to his fans and to also introduce a new generation of the WWE's biggest names of all time. If Triple H mends this fence, you can tell how sincere HHH can be as the future WWE chief.
#12 - Crackdown on Piracy of Sporting/Pay Per View Events will occur and bigtime. Just from the WWE's standpoint, they deal with Comcast. Comcast not only hosts the WWE's Pay Per Views, but they also own a large % of the internet usage right now. It wouldn't surprise me that Comcast's "Terms of Service" are used against many pirates and viewers of illegally streamed Pay Per Views. 2012's crackdown during the week before the Superbowl told me that the wind was heading that way along with a serious push for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) a few years ago. If you're on Comcast, I would be very careful watching WWE streamed events if I were you... It's in both WWE and Comcast's best interests to act on piracy that they can review internally on Comcast's systems.
#13 - WWE and the McMahon family, needing capital to fund WWE Network and to cover recent losses, will sell a significant chunk of WWE Shares ownership to an outside party. Headwinds are already being created for attempting to launch the WWE Network by enticing outside WWE groups to invest into the Network. Combined, the McMahons have a HEAVY majority of the WWE's ownership. By selling off a significant piece of the WWE Corporation's ownership, the McMahon family will still remain majority shareholders. I wouldn't doubt that Comcast buys a chunk of WWE Corporate at a preferred stock level, for example, to reap the profits of a launched WWE Network exclusively on Comcast. WWE has done this in the past, such as the XFL launch. They needed Viacom and NBC money to help fund that project and both corporations, I believe, owned WWE shares in return. With the losses YET the desire to start up several brands, I believe this is essential to raising capital... Oh, and a possible Dividend cut too...
#14 - Comcast will force USA Networks to trim RAW from 3 to 2 hours by year-end. Ratings aren't going well for the launched 3 hour show. USA Network could run repeats of Law & Order and yet earn more advertising revenues from a lower rated show than WWE programming. Unless we see a legitimate dissolving of the Smackdown brand on SyFy Channel to continue the 3 hour RAW (highly unlikely), I believe the Comcast corporation, which has reorganized itself among the NBC/Universal divisions, will assert itself and trim RAW to 2 hours. Ratings just aren't there...
#15 - Brock Lesnar's asking price for 1 more year after Wrestlemania 29 will prove to be too expensive for WWE's liking. Therefore, Brock Lesnar will leave the WWE after Wrestlemania 29. Gone, he is, after Triple H Pedigrees him in the Wrestlemania 29 ring and gets the 1, 2, 3 over Lesnar. Despite the impressive effort he still gives in the ring (his Extreme Rules 2012 match with Cena was AMAZING - Match of the Year in my opinion), he doesn't HAVE to wrestle. I believe that Lesnar and his agent will use the Extreme Rules 2012 drawing number as leverage to get a larger deal for another year but the WWE, strapped for capital, can't give in. Lesnar has made lots of money and doesn't have to sacrifice his body for additional millions... That, and his celebrity will make him money with Mixed Martial Arts for years to come. When Triple H or even the Undertaker finishes Brock Lesnar off at Wrestlemania 29, it may be the last WWE match you'll ever see from Brock Lesnar.
Now THOSE are REAL predictions... We'll check in midway and at year-end to see how I did. Remember, TIMING IS EVERYTHING for these predictions, as I might be very correct on some of these for 2014, for instance...
Hope you enjoyed this Predictions column!
Just chill till the next episode...
Comments and Tweets are welcome.
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @titowrestling