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Mr. Tito's PHAT 2014 Pro Wrestling Predictions - WWE, TNA, CM Punk, Wrestlemania 30, HBK, Triple H, & more
By Mr. Tito
Dec 31, 2013 - 9:09:01 PM
Another year, another Mr. Tito predictions column! For about the 5th straight year, as inspired by Karl Denniger's Market-Ticker.org's economic predicts, I've brought you a list of pro wrestling predictions to start the New Year. Like Karl's predictions, I always review the previous year's predictions to score how I did with my predictions that were made a year ago.
My first few years of prediction columns were highly successful... Then, the readers challenged me, arguing that my 2010 and 2011 predictions were "too easy" or "too obvious". For 2012 and 2013, I really stepped up my game and took very aggressive predictions about the pro wrestling industry. Of course, my 2012-2013 predictions were off, but I rolled the dice... In some cases, my bold predictions hit right on the money when most were baffled that I'd make such a prediction to star the year. You'll see a few here in a second.
I'm actually better at sniffing out the WWE main event scene and predicting Wrestlemanias. While much of the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) was actually telling me that Daniel Bryan was the next "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, I was telling you that Daniel Bryan = Randy Orton's "something to do" until John Cena returns on August 20th. Well, I was half correct... I wasn't expecting John Cena to return so soon from his Triceps injury and force a Title vs. Title match at the TLC Pay Per View. Completely unexpected, but I was 100% right about WWE management not being high on Daniel Bryan despite what you, the fans, wanted. I've been suggesting that Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30 will happen due to their UFC staredown while strongly recommending Triple H vs. CM Punk to occur. Little did I know that Brock Lesnar signed a 2 year extension instead of 1 year, according to recent news by the Wrestling Observer. That could change things...
Timing is everything on predictions. When you're dealing with the McMahon family who have ultimate control over the wrestling business, their desire to change things lacks motivation because of the lack of competition. If you watch the product and follow all of the insider news, you can begin to pick up on trends on what will eventually happen... But these columns are predicting what the following year will bring so thus a prediction could be way off for a given year but absolutely correct the next.
Let's review the 2013 Predictions, which has been unaltered from the time of its posting on 12/31/2012. Thus, I own all hits and misses of these BOLD predictions:
2013 Prediction #1 - The Shield's leader will NOT be revealed to be CM Punk/Paul Heyman. Though Paul Heyman had some dealings with the Shield, as revealed during a backstage segment, Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose were not "Paul Heyman Guys" nor did they appear to be working for CM Punk. In fact, the WWE dropped any association that the Shield could have had with CM Punk and Paul Heyman despite the Shield attacking everyone who was feuding with CM Punk. I'll take the point just because at the time of the 2013 predictions column, most were suggesting that the Shield were Paul Heyman guys. I believe that I was sensing that Vince McMahon or the Shield were behind the Shield the entire time (sort of proved to be later in the year). Point.
2013 Prediction #2 - CM Punk will be moved to the Smackdown Roster at some point in 2013. RAW and Smackdown rosters really were merged together for much of 2013 and by mid-2013, some of WWE's top stars, including CM Punk, began appearing on Smackdown semi-regularly. I was thinking that CM Punk would be feuding over the World Heavyweight Title after losing his WWE Title to the Rock at Royal Rumble 2013. I'll just toss this one out because of how mixed the rosters became during 2013.
2013 Prediction #3 - WWE Executive Shake-up - Promotions possibly in store for Triple H/Stephanie and a possible demotion of Kevin Dunn. Nailed it on Triple H and Stephanie. Triple H now oversees the Creative Team and Stephanie is now named "Chief Brand Officer", which in my opinion, is grooming Stephanie to become the CEO of the WWE at some point. Timing is everything with Kevin Dunn and I'll thus reserve his fate for 2014's predictions. Point!
2013 Prediction #4 - WWE Stock will remain under $10.00. WAY OFF on this one, as the WWE stock will end above $16.00 per share. What can I say, the stock started off UNDER $8.00. Other than WWE remaining profitable for 2013, the WWE stock benefited from the entire stock market being inflated by $85 Billion per month injections into the banking system by the Federal Reserve central banking system and continued low interest rate policies. Big financial institutions were on cheap money steroids and bought large quantities of stocks at will during 2013. One of these days, the bubble will burst as it did in 2000 and 2008... But for now, the bubble beat my prediction. Miss!
2013 Prediction #5 - WWE will incur a significant impairment loss for 2013 - Be it from THQ, WWE Films, WWE Network, or WCW brand. Through the 3rd Quarter 2013's financial statements reporting, WWE had a $11.7 million impairment loss for WWE Films. Direct hit! So far, nothing announced on THQ... Oddly enough, the WCW brand actually made the WWE money during 2013 with DVD/Blu Ray sales of older WCW stuff was among the WWE's stop selling videos for the year. That's amazing.
2013 Prediction #6 - Massive roster cuts of WWE veterans with more than 1 former World Champion released. Miss, miss, miss... The Great Khali, Christian, and Jack Swagger were the former champs I had targeted for release when I made this prediction. WWE kept much of its roster in tact and seemed to cut more developmental fat than veterans.
2013 Prediction #7 - At least 1 former TNA Champion will be brought into WWE. My money was on AJ Styles finally joining the WWE. I heard that AJ Styles was unhappy about his TNA role and was possibly looking to get out. I figured he'd finally join the WWE... But I was wrong unless he shows up on the 12/30 RAW as I write this.
2013 Prediction #8 - WWE will bring in at least 1 pair of former WWE wrestlers to compete in the Tag Team division. Wrong, although Goldust made his WWE return to wrestle in the tag team division. However, pair = 2, so thus, I lose. Lots of WWE veterans out there to be signed but the WWE showed little interest in veterans during 2013, aside from Legends appearances.
2013 Prediction #9 - 2013 will be the last year for Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff in TNA Wrestling. Nailed that one. TNA sent Bischoff home early during the Fall of 2013 and Hulk Hogan seems to be let go to join the WWE for one last run for Wrestlemania 30. You could say that this is an obvious prediction, but the Carters have re-signed Hogan/Bischoff before despite their weak ratings performance. The Hulk Hogan recommendation of giving Bischoff the "keys to the car" with lots of money raining down was one of my highlights of the year. Hilarious!
2013 Prediction #10 - WWE will induct at least 1 deceased wrestler into the WWE Hall of Fame for 2013. Wrong. Macho Man's induction will probably occur this year.
2013 Prediction #11 - Bruno Sammartino joins the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Class. I got this one. Seemed to me that Triple H wanted it to happen and to the shock of many to start RAW one evening, Bruno Sammartino was announced to be joining the Hall of Fame. The 2013 class was easily the most stacked ever.
2013 Prediction #12 - Crackdown on Piracy of Sporting/Pay Per View Events will occur and bigtime. Timing is everything... I figure that if WWE re-ups with Comcast for the next few years, the piracy hammer will fall on many high speed Comcast users. Wrong this year, but I'll be right in the next few years. Be careful streaming Pay Per Views, if you do so already...
2013 Prediction #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. There was some talk during 2013 of using other investors to help fund WWE Network, but it fell through. I'm very wrong here.
2013 Prediction #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. Probably should have reduced RAW from 3 to 2 hours given the post-SummerSlam ratings but USA kept RAW at 3 hours. Wrong, I was.
2013 Prediction #15 - Brock Lesnar's asking price for 1 more year after Wrestlemania 29 will prove to be too expensive for WWE's liking. Very wrong and apparently, Brock signed a 2-year extension according to recent reports. I looked into the heat Vince McMahon had with Brock over appearing at a UFC event during the Summer of 2012.
5 out of 14 predictions, as I tossed the "CM Punk to Smackdown" prediction. Sounds bad, but my predictions were aggressive and the predictions I hit were pretty good. I believe that some of my misses will still occur, but it's only a matter of time (like the crackdown on piracy prediction or talent reduction).
So where are we headed for 2014? In my opinion, 2014 will be a transitional year for the WWE. John Cena will still be the #1 guy and given how much money he still makes the WWE, he's not going anywhere. But I believe that 2014 will see stronger pushes from the WWE developmental territory for wrestlers who have debuted over the last 2 years. Particularly for Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt. I see the WWE trying to get those 2 specific wrestlers over bigtime during 2013. I also believe that the WWE sees tons of potential in the likes of Big E Langston and Damien Sandow. I expect the WWE to keep trying with Fandango while Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins will probably have to work harder for their spots.
I believe, however, that the WWE messed up bigtime on the Daniel Bryan depush in favor of pushing Randy Orton. Backlash will occur over that decision during the course of the year and could force the WWE's hand to give Daniel Bryan a WWE Title reign while depushing Orton in the end. However, Orton is 2002 Ohio Valley Wrestling royalty and with both Batista and Brock Lesnar to wrestle, Orton could have a strong 2014 of big Pay Per View matches. WWE reportedly wants Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton BADLY and that could go down at SummerSlam.
I believe that TNA Wrestling could be on their death nail. Some reports suggested that TNA was being shopped for potential buyers though the Carter family quickly denied it. Reportedly, the Spike TV deal lasts through October 2014 and TNA is unable to survive without it even though the TV deal could be better... If Viacom makes a play for WWE programming again or even just obtains WWE Smackdown, TNA's days on Cable TV could be limited. Without SpikeTV, TNA's options are limited given their weak success on Cable TV as it is.
Speaking of deals, CM Punk's WWE contract is reportedly up around June/July of 2014. He appeared to have signed a 3 year extension during the "Summer of Punk" and his contract expiration could shake up the industry if he decides to give some love to TNA or Ring of Honor. Either place could use his drawing ability. 2014 could very well be the last year for CM Punk. As a straight edge guy, he's suffering through pain and he's currently working through a knee injury that probably requires surgery. Given how awesome 2013 has been for CM Punk, it would be a shame to see a WWE without CM Punk.
Without further delay, it's time for the 2014 predictions:
MR. TITO's 2014 PREDICTIONS
DISCLAIMER: These predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Anyone who acts on these predictions are doing so at their own risk!
#1 - WWE re-signs with Comcast/NBC/Universal. WWE is making it known that they are going to shop their television rights around and they are seeking that "NASCAR deal" particularly given that WWE RAW has outrated NASCAR races in recent years. However, the problem is that NASCAR viewers, dominated by middle aged males, have a lot more income than the WWE's much younger audience. That's not a slight at the demographics, but pure facts... You make more money as you're older and NASCAR is dominated by Southern construction workers who earn a solid living. NASCAR can command a might higher advertising rate than pro wrestling could ever imagine. For WWE's demands, they need multiple networks to host RAW, Smackdown, Main Event, and Total Divas. The only other place suitable is Viacom and they are still sore from overpaying for the WWE during 2000 and the XFL debacle. WWE might use a return to Spike TV to increase their deal a bit, but they are staying. The need Comcast/NBC/Universal's family of channels along with Hulu.
#2 - Kevin Dunn is demoted or is "done" with the WWE. Kevin Dunn, the Executive Producer and Director of WWE Programming, is the last executive hurdle for son-in-law Triple H to clear. For the past few years, we've seen all of the older wrestling names leave the backstage area to clear the way for Triple H to become the #1 adviser. John Laurinaitis was the next victim as the EVP of Talent. Triple H owns his job. Stephanie McMahon has stepped aside as the lead on Creative and Triple H has taken that over. All that remains in Vince's ear is his old pal Kevin Dunn. If the WWE's ratings hold up as sub 3.0 and that causes WWE to get a less-than-expect television deal for 2014 and beyond, I believe that Triple H will scapegoat Kevin Dunn for his creative influence on the WWE product and television production. Reportedly, the Game does not like Dunn as do many not named Vince McMahon. My guess is that Dunn will oversee the WWE Video production and step down from television production as a hand selected replacement in the television industry by Triple H will replace him.
#3 - CM Punk signs lucrative extension with WWE. When CM Punk's contract is reportedly up during June/July 2013, I believe that both TNA Wrestling and Ring of Honor will make a push for his services. Both would argue that he's the 1 guy who could draw for both of them and actually hurt the WWE with his exit. CM Punk could tell the WWE that he's retiring but I believe that the WWE will throw money at him just to keep him away from TNA/Ring of Honor. Thus, I expect at least a 1 year extension with some time off given to Punk to heal up. Maybe even a limited schedule... But the WWE wants Punk to stay away from other promotions.
#4 - WWE Hall of Fame will induct at least 1 deceased wrestler. Macho Man Randy Savage is getting in sooner rather than later whether Lanny Poffo wants to do the ceremony or not. If Hulk Hogan joins the WWE for Wrestlemania 30, he'll induct Randy. I'm sensing that Owen Hart's induction to the Hall of Fame is coming soon. It will be 15 years since his death and I'm assuming that Bret Hart has been internally pushing for the induction.
#5 - Shawn Michaels will wrestle at least 1 match during 2014. I keep making this prediction but year after year since Wrestlemania 26, I've been wrong... I believe that Shawn's involvement with Daniel Bryan is no coincidence. Why else would he be willing to involve himself with Triple H's Authority storyline while performing his superkick on Daniel Bryan and CM Punk recently while taking Bryan's offense? I believe that with Shawn's kids grown up, HBK wants to show them what their daddy used to on a big stage. I'm leaning strongly at Michaels vs. Bryan OR Punk/Bryan vs. Triple H/HBK at Wrestlemania 30 or SummerSlam. The new Wyatt family angle could put a wrench in Bryan's availability, though.
#6 - Wrestlemania 30 will do UNDER 1,000,000 buys. WWE is quick to blame SummerSlam on CM Punk and Daniel Bryan failing to draw with high profile matches against Brock Lesnar and John Cena. I have a different outtake... Piracy is eating the WWE's Pay Per View numbers alive especially with the WWE's higher price for the last few years. In my opinion, only a Steve Austin return in a high profile match could boost Wrestlemania above the 1,000,000 buy mark. If WWE re-ups with Comcast, there will come a time when the high speed internet records will be reviewed. I would worry about that if I were someone streaming Pay Per Views.
#7 - SpikeTV cancels TNA programming unless CM Punk joins TNA Wrestling. SpikeTV is obsessed with high profile stars on TNA wrestling which is part of the reason why Sting keeps coming back to the TNA promotion. Ditto for why Hulk Hogan was tolerated for so long. TNA's deal is reportedly up around October of 2014. I believe TNA will ask for a higher rate to charge for TNA programming only for SpikeTV to laugh. SpikeTV might seriously pursue WWE programming and that could put a final nail in TNA's programming. I believe that TNA is going to ask for a higher deal but get offered about the same deal they are earning now. TNA will then shop around and by the time they realize there are no buyers, SpikeTV will have moved on. Thus, TNA only survives if...
#8 - Ring of Honor will merge with TNA wrestling. Neither TNA or Ring of Honor can make it on their own, or at least legitimately compete with WWE's resources. If TNA can retain their SpikeTV contract, combining resources with Ring of Honor's network of Sinclair television networks could be decent. However, TNA and Ring of Honor would have to get better timeslots on the Sinclair (good God, it's on at 2am in my area!). With the WWE's outright refusal to sign independent wrestlers now, TNA could use Ring of Honor's independent connections to find new talent. If Spike TV closes its doors on TNA, then Ring of Honor could purchase what remains of the promotion (or its video library).
#9 - Brand split reemerges with new WWE Smackdown deal in place. If you'll notice in recent weeks, the WWE is pushing the Intercontinental Title hard and seem to be grouping certain wrestlers who are now regularly fighting over that title. I wouldn't doubt that the WWE cements the Intercontinental Title as a Smackdown exclusive title and is defended exclusively on that show. Furthermore, the WWE could keep certain wrestlers on the Smackdown wrestlers combined with many developmental call-ups. WWE will soon realize the value that 2 brands had, particularly with Smackdown acting as an on-screen farm system for RAW. Additionally, WWE realizes that 2 branded shows keeps the competitors out of the market. It all depends on Smackdown's television deal...
#10 - Triple H will become the target of a former WWE employee through some form of media. Triple H keeps gaining power backstage in the WWE and with that, more targets. So far, many former wrestlers have kept quiet about their dealings with Triple H knowing that they may have to return to the WWE someday. But as HHH gains more say in the WWE product, many of the wrestlers that he dislike won't get another chance in the WWE. Some type of interview or even a book will reveal a great deal of Triple H's backstage dealings and it could get ugly. It's like that Vince McMahon book that was soon released after Vince McMahon's television character hit it big. Someone will have the balls to speak out about Triple H during 2014 and it could get very interesting.
#11 - WWE Stock will hold above $12.00 for 2014. I underestimated the effect of the Federal Reserve's monthly $85 Billion injection into the economy could have on the WWE's stock. Even with the Federal Reserve beginning to pull back on that $85 billion per month program that indirectly bought Treasury and Government Agency securities, they still have the Federal Funds Rate offered to banks under 0.25% and recently gave impressions of keeping that rate low for a long period of time. When big banks and investors with easy access to cheap credit can borrow at an inexpensive rate and buy large volumes of stock, that will keep pumping the market up. Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 16,500 points is absurd and the pain from that bubble bursting will be felt worldwide. Even when that happens, the WWE is a "recession proof" stock as seen from regular profits during the last officially declared recession (December 2007 to June 2009).
#12 - WWE will lose at least 2 former World Champions from their active roster. That's right, two champions for this year... The title belts classified as being a World Championship are the WWE Title, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (big gold belt), the WCW Title (also a big gold belt, but not tied to the World Heavyweight Championship from the WWE despite Triple H's idiotic claims), and the ECW Title (both original and rebooted). I have a few targets of wrestlers whom the WWE has tried as a World Champion but were not impressed by their reigns and have demoted them ever since. Probably depends on how viable TNA is during 2014, but I think that the WWE wants to clear up some roster space for some developmental call ups.
#13 - Pressure will be on Vince McMahon to step down as being both Board Chairman and CEO of the WWE corporation but he'll be reluctant and remains in both roles to end 2014. Someone backstage has been leaking Vince McMahon stories in attempt to portray Vince as being out of touch and becoming grumpy with age. If you never notice, rarely is something said in the dirtsheets about Triple H and Stephanie... Hmmmm... Eventually, I believe that Stephanie McMahon will earn the CEO title but I believe that Vince McMahon wants to hold onto power for as long as he can. Vince, as both CEO and Board Chairman, has almost unchecked power over the entire company and having both titles keeps him as the #1 decision maker. I also believe that he wants to remain CEO for the full implementation of the WWE Network and will only step down early if the network is a colossal failure.
#14 - Both Jim Ross and Steve Austin will return to pro wrestling, possibly together. For the first time in ages, both Jim Ross and Steve Austin are full blown free agents. I believe that both guys have been talking regularly about the WWE product and how they could make it better creatively. Meanwhile, TNA wrestling is disposing Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. I would not doubt that the Carters make a serious offer to Austin and Ross to help run their company and give it one last chance at glory. If Steve Austin joins TNA wrestling, SpikeTV will extend the TNA television deal without flinching. If it's not TNA wrestling, Ross and Austin are going to help someone. Ross might advise TNA or Ring of Honor while Austin signs some sort of short-term WWE deal. The wrestling bug will bite them again.
#15 - Daniel Bryan will hold the WWE Heavyweight Title at least once, but only after Wrestlemania 30. I'm thinking after SummerSlam 2014 once the WWE gets the "Class of 2002 Ohio Valley Wrestling" love out of their system and Bryan gains momentum, yet again, from whatever new storyline they've placed him in. Many are predicting that Bryan will win the Royal Rumble and get his rightful reign at Wrestlemania 30. I don't. Brock Lesnar and Batista are going to dominate the WWE Title conversation for 2014 along with Randy Orton/John Cena. I don't think they'll give him another shot at SummerSlam, but the multiple Pay Per Views after that could be where Bryan wins the belt. From there, he'll hold the title for at least 1 Pay Per View cycle. Bryan is too durable and loved by fans to deny him a brief reign.
So there you have it... The 2014 predictions. Hope you enjoyed the column! HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR!!!!
Comments and debates are welcome on Twitter. Bring it on. @titowrestling
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