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Mr. Tito's PHAT 2017 Predictions for the Pro Wrestling Industry - WWE, NXT, Goldberg, Punk, Angle, and More
By Mr. Tito
Dec 31, 2016 - 1:03:14 AM
WELCOME to Mr. Tito's annual predictions column exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Here, I'll make my fearless 15 predictions for the pro wrestling industry for 2017. And I don't make easy predictions because that would be wasting your time. I obtained the idea and format from Market-Ticker.org's Karl Denninger who used to write predictions on the financial market at year-end before the next year began.
Before I get too deep into the 2017 Predictions, we MUST review my 2016 Predictions which can be seen on my 2016 Predictions Column posted 12/31/2015. I shall post my 2016 Predictions, one-by-one, and review if I was accurate in my prediction or not:
2016 Predictions - REVIEW
2016 Prediction #1: WWE will induct 2 former WWE World Champions and at least 1 Women's Champion into their Hall of Fame. No WWE Champions inducted into the 2016 Class, although I could argue that Sting should be included in that count because the WCW Title merged into the WWE Title during 2001. I even looked at the first ever Legendary wing but I would be in a real fight to argue NWA Title lineage with the WCW Title. Jacqueline gives me partial credit for being a Women's Champion inductee. MISS.
2016 Prediction #2: WWE will have significant "spring cleaning" wrestler cuts following Wrestlemania 32. Direct hit. Whether it was by attrition or WWE cutting talent, it happened during May 2016. Gone were Zeb Colter, El Torito, Hornswoggle, Santino Marella, Cameron Damien Sandow, Alex Riley, and then King Barrett letting his contract expire. A few more would get cut or leave the WWE in the later weeks and months.
2016 Prediction #3: At least 1 WWE veteran will come out of retirement to wrestle at Wrestlemania 32. I'm taking this one, HIT. Shane McMahon, baby... As ridiculous as it sounds, we've seen Shane wrestle in some big matches for the last 16-17 years. I could also argue Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Mick Foley's involvement against the League of Nations. Michaels had his tights on (which I believe was a result of a rib by Austin), but those 3 did brawl in the ring at Wrestlemania... But Shane saves the day.
2016 Prediction #4: Sheamus won't win the WWE Title during 2016 despite Ninja Turtles 2 movie. Yep, got this one, HIT. I didn't suspect that Ninja Turtles 2 would become another "Guardians of the Galaxy". In fact, the movie underwhelmed just like Sheamus underwhelmed as WWE champion during late 2015 and leader of the League of Nations.
2016 Prediction #5: WWE stock will end 2016 at no greater than $16.00. MISS. Several factors at play during the end of 2015. From my estimation, the economy hit a wall during late 2014 and has seen sluggish growth ever since. However, there were predictions based on non-gas/food related inflation that the Federal Reserve would increase Interest Rates multiple times during 2015. Seems like the Federal Reserve had other ideas and held off with their rate increases until the 2016 Election was over... The stock market, with a full year of low interest rates, has been pumped up and by extension, WWE's stock remains high in price.
2016 Prediction #6: WWE Network will not raise the $9.99 price during 2016. HIT... Some talk during 2015 and then during 2016 of a price hike. Nope. WWE Network's house of cards would drop with a price hike particularly as its RAW viewership keeps dropping.
2016 Prediction #7: TNA wrestling will either be sold or shutdown by the end of 2016. I'm taking this one... HIT. There were real financial troubles for TNA during 2016 and it took Billy Corgan loaning his hard earned money and then Anthem/Fight Network not only paid Corgan back, but invested in TNA wrestling.
2016 Prediction #8: Samoa Joe will remain an exclusive wrestler for NXT. HIT - Joe wrestled exclusively for NXT all year long while many others were called up to the main WWE roster. He wrestled for the NXT Title exclusively all year long.
2016 Prediction #9: The Shield will reunite and remain a permanent group through the end of 2016. MISS. Not sure what I was thinking during late 2015 but it didn't happen, particularly with Dean Ambrose on Smackdown.
2016 Prediction #10: Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, and/or Daniel Bryan will leave the WWE with intent on helping a competitor. MISS. All 3 remain under WWE contract for 2016. I picked the WRONG guys for this prediction, as Rhodes, Del Rio, and Sandow would have made me correct.
2016 Prediction #11: WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump will NOT become President of the United States. HUGE MISS. Understand my prediction which was made during late 2015. Donald Trump was behind in many polls, Jeb Bush raised lots of cash (as did Hillary Clinton), and Trump had subpar debate performances. Following the 1st debate which had Trump doing his Twitter tirade on the Miss America contestant and then the Billy Bush videos, I was correct... Little did I know that Trump would actually end up winning Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to win the election. What he did was remarkable... He's a private citizen with no political career and he just beat multiple political machines at their own game.
2016 Prediction #12: Dean Ambrose will NOT win the WWE Title during 2016. MISS... Dean's career was going no where but jobbing through late 2015 and through Wrestlemania 32. Then, he wins the Money in the Bank match and the WWE Title in the same night! Completely unexpected
2016 Prediction #13: CM Punk will lose his first UFC fight. HIT... CM Punk is starting his MMA career too late and has many injuries mounted from his pro wrestling career. Going up against younger MMA wrestlers, I felt, would not work out well for Mr. Punk. Punk lost his first match in a convincing fashion and afterward, Dana White suggested that Punk wouldn't get a second televised UFC match.
2016 Prediction #14: NXT will obtain a major television deal. MISS. Was not fully expecting the RAW/Smackdown brand extension.
2016 Prediction #15: John Cena will tie (16) and break (17) Ric Flair's World Title record during 2016. WRONG, miss here. Cena was kept away from the WWE Title for the 2nd straight year and he had some time off as well.
7 for 15, which is about what I'm averaging on these Prediction columns since I went a bit more aggressive on these columns about 4 years ago. I cleaned house on my Predictions during the "Blog is Tito" era and everyone called them easy... So I've been a bit more outrageous and out there on predictions. Certainly, it puts egg on my face on a few, but I nailed many predictions directly this year that others weren't bold enough on calling. And like everything, TIMING matters and many things can happen within 12 months, 365 days. For example, the John Cena prediction... I wrote my 2016 predictions BEFORE he got injured and would miss Wrestlemania 32 and could not predict that he'd have more Hollywood opportunities. Can't predict that...
Everyone has been pissing and moaning that "2016 is the WORST Year EVER!". Right, because 2016 compares to the worst years of many brutal wars in history, 2001 when the Trade Towers fell, and well, 1968 when a pair of assassinations shook America. GET OVER IT... Sure, many big celebrities passed away and the Election was painful to witness... But how does that affect your life? You can badmouth Donald Trump all that you want but the previous 2 guys have run up $15 Trillion in Debt, given us more expensive healthcare premiums and electricity rates, damaging foreign policy, and have economies fully dependent on low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve. Everyone has let the media drum up too much drama for an Election that was helping to cover many networks' sagging ratings... Sure, I'm worried about Donald Trump based on him attacking a former Miss America contestant on Twitter during 4 am in the morning... But regardless of WHO is President, my life goes on. To quote the Terminator films, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. Everyone is getting caught up in the "2016 is awful" wave when you should truly enjoy the best parts of your lives.
But was 2016 the "worst" year for WRESTLING of all time?
I say no and probably not by a mile. Why? WWE Pay Per Views were damn good during 2016 and NXT, despite the talent raids, was still entertaining. RAW and Smackdown have become full blown infomercials for Pay Per Views and that's the problem. WWE lacks anyone with creativity who can make their 3 or 2 hour television shows compelling. Worse yet, because the talent on each show is SO THIN, both RAW and Smackdown are giving away bigtime matches for FREE. It's causing fans to be desensitized to something important happening in the ring. Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens should be special but when it happens often on RAW, why does it matter? Ditto for Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks which was given away for free repeatedly on RAW. Ditto for AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose.
2016 started with the WWE suffering from the injury blues... Wrestlemania 32 relied on Triple H defending the WWE Title and Shane McMahon returning to jump off a cage against the Undertaker. Soon after Wrestlemania, USA Networks began to push on the WWE to make Smackdown worth something and they were willing to give them Tuesday Night to prove it. USA wanted the show to be LIVE and feature legitimate superstars. That got the ball rolling on the Brand Split and it happened during mid-2016 to split the rosters between Stephanie McMahon (RAW) and Shane McMahon (Smackdown). Each brand took a Midcard singles title while each brand created titles that they were missing (World, Tag Titles, Women's Title). WWE Network even featured a Cruiserweight Classic tournament which crowned the NEW WWE Cruiserweight Champion to appear on RAW. Well, that's not going so well and that ridiculous PURPLE lighting with PURPLE ropes doesn't help.
Lucky for the WWE, however, Triple H made raided New Japan of its talent in the form of AJ Styles, Gallows/Anderson, and Shinsuke Nakamura. AJ Styles debuted at Royal Rumble 2016 and that was amazing. Fans lost their minds at Styles finally appearing in the WWE and he made the most of it. EVERYBODY who wrestled Styles during 2016 had an amazing match. Even Roman Reigns who fought Styles in back-to-back Pay Per Views and those were Roman's best matches to date. I believe that Styles pushing Roman to great matches convinced Vince McMahon that it was OK to crown AJ Styles as WWE Champion and to even defeat John Cena cleanly at SummerSlam 2016. Nakamura has been amazing in NXT and hopefully, WWE elevates him to the main roster. In my opinion, RAW needs him badly to shake things up at the top.
But if there was someone to complain about 2016, it's Brock Lesnar... BAD year for him. Sure, he won his MMA match at UFC 200, but the drug test results and the sanctions that followed could be damaging to him long-term. I personally thought that his Wrestlemania 32 performance underwhelmed (Dean Ambrose called him "lazy") and he legitimately hurt Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2016. Lesnar has less than a year and a half on his contract (expires following Wrestlemania 34) but there could be fear that he's peaked in the WWE already. We'll see how he could rebound at Royal Rumble 2017 and in rematches against a former WCW wrestler who made a surprising return during 2016...
Bill Goldberg actually made a wrestling and WWE comeback during 2016. He came back to RAW one night, drew 400,000 added viewers, and cut a promo on how Brock Lesnar would be "next" and "last". This set up their Survivor Series 2016 match in which Goldberg SMASHED him with 2 spears and a Jackhammer in about 1 minute for a shocking result that had everyone talking. The former WCW fans, with mouthfuls of 'Member Berries, joined in the wrestling conversation for the first time in many, many years... For once, a former WCW superstar was vindicated on WWE television as well. 2016, for example, saw the retirement of Sting who has a record of 0-2 on major WWE Pay Per Views.
The Goldberg/Lesnar stuff is spilling into Royal Rumble 2016... Meanwhile, the WWE has to figure out who the next "guy" is as John Cena is older and looking at other opportunties and I just don't know how strong the FCW/NXT "Class of 2012" will do as top level draws long-term (Ambrose, Rollins, Reigns). WWE keeps trying with Roman Reigns as a babyface but the fans aren't buying it. Meanwhile, the WWE seems serious about pushing Braun Strowman hard as a top guy... Oh boy. On the Smackdown side, the creative team has to figure out a way to get Baron Corbin & Apollo Crews over while they have revitalized the career of the Miz. Miz, in my opinion, is the biggest beneficiary from the Brand Split and things took off with the Talking Smack promo cutting against Daniel Bryan. He's been an incredibly effective heel ever since.
It's a tough road... But if the WWE can keep delivering good Pay Per Views, we'll be OK paying only $9.99 per month. WWE just has to give us better reasons to watch RAW and Smackdown.
Onto the 2017 Predictions... These will be 100% unchanged until the end of 2017 when I review in the 2018 Predictions column.
Mr. Tito's PHAT 2017 PREDICTIONS
2017 Prediction #1: The Shield will reunite and remain as a group during 2017. I'm willing to bet that a mid-year DRAFT will shuffle the roster and place Dean Ambrose on RAW. Then, the Shield will reunite and that will be the vehicle to help get Roman Reigns over.
2017 Prediction #2: Bill Goldberg won't last before Survivor Series 2017. Reportedly, Bill Goldberg has a deal similar to Brock Lesnar based on limited dates for 2017. But I believe that the injury bug will hit the 50 year old Bill Goldberg. WWE will indeed try Goldberg vs. Lesnar at Wrestlemania 33 and Lesnar will get his win back. The usefulness of Goldberg after that could be questionable.
2017 Prediction #3: Daniel Bryan will wrestle at least 1 time during 2017 I believe that the likelihood of Bryan vs. Miz at Wrestlemania 33 is very strong or maybe we'll see something like Bryan/Brie vs. Miz/Maryse. No other reason to keep having Miz rip into Bryan without having some kind of payoff.
2017 Prediction #4: President Donald Trump will make at least 1 WWE televised appearance during 2017. You make think that I'm crazy, but consider how easily that Vince McMahon was able to convince Jesse Ventura to do business with the WWE when he was Governor. Vince and Donald are old friends and Linda does, in fact, work for Donald Trump's administration. I wouldn't doubt that WWE would do a promotional piece on Linda McMahon to help further her political career and Trump makes an appearance. Like I said, go watch SummerSlam 1999 or watch XFL games from 2001. Vince is hard to resist...
2017 Prediction #5: WWE Stock will end below $15.00 for 2016 Timing is everything for this stock, argh... I believe now that the election is over and gas prices ticking upward, the Federal Reserve will begin to repeatedly raise interest rates. 2016, to me, feels like 1980 in terms of its sluggish economy where rising interest rates in 1981 and lag on new policies taking effect. Additionally, I believe that WWE's expenses of running 2 brands will see sluggish financial results for 2017. Economy + financial results will push the WWE stock downward to end 2017.
2017 Prediction #6: WWE's deal with Comcast/NBC/Universal will be altered for wrestling shows. I'm not talking about shows like Total Divas or Total Bellas on the E! channel. I'm speaking specifically about RAW, Smackdown, and maybe NXT if it's added anywhere. I'm thinking of a few scenarios... (a) WWE signs an extension to their current deal to increase the years of operation with USA Networks, (b) RAW is reduced to just 2 hours, (c) Smackdown is moved away from Tuesday nights, or (d) NXT obtains is own network television show.
2017 Prediction #7: John Cena will win 1 World Title during 2017, but not two. Cena will tie Ric Flair during 2017 and probably make one last World Title run to push ratings of one of the brands. However, I believe that WWE will pocket #17 until they can get John Cena to commit to more dates instead of the recent part-time stuff. I wouldn't doubt that John Cena moves to RAW and wins the WWE Universal Title as #16 during 2017.
2017 Prediction #8: Kurt Angle will not join WWE during 2017. Reportedly, Angle is telling independent promoters not to book him around Wrestlemania because WWE will sign him them. I just don't see it... WWE is still sore about 2006 when Angle jumped to TNA and they are also concerned about Angle's past legal troubles. Angle has already hinted at joining the WWE before jumping to more indy opportunities instead.
2017 Prediction #9: Shawn Michaels will wrestle at least once in a WWE ring during 2017. Here we go again... Royal Rumble in San Antonio is interesting to HBK, but so is AJ Styles who has discussed wanting to wrestle Shawn Michaels. Could you imagine Wrestlemania 33 that has HBK vs. Styles on the undercard? Holy cow...
2017 Prediction #10: Lucha Underground will get a TV show on a major Cable Network, one available to more than 70 million homes. Presently, Lucha Underground is on the El Ray Network which is available to 40 million. I believe that many of these traditional Cable channels are being devoured alive by Netflix and other streaming services. Suddenly, their rerun business is not as lucrative as before. Therefore, they'll shop around and land a bigger network due to the television forces behind the show pushing. I wouldn't doubt that one of these Sports Channels (CBS, Fox, NBC) gives it a shot.
2017 Prediction #11: RAW's Authority Figures will Change during 2017. I believe that RAW will see a significant overhaul and I figure Mick Foley could be the one to go... But I also could see Shane McMahon switched to RAW.
2017 Prediction #12: Finn Balor won't last as a Main Eventer, joins Cruiserweight Division by year-end. I know, this prediction will anger many... When you have a show called "205" alluding to the Cruiserweight Division and Balor weighs 190 lbs, good luck. And what's wrong with wrestling in a lower weight class? He could make the most of the opportunity and carry that division.
2017 Prediction #13: Samoa Joe & Shinsuke Nakamura will join main WWE roster during 2017, Asuka will remain in NXT. I believe that NXT will soon become the Bobby Roode show at some point during 2017 while Joe/Nakamura join the main roster. However, I just don't see WWE having a raging demand for Asuka on the Main Roster unless injuries pile up.
2017 Prediction #14: The Rock headlines the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Class Wrestlemania 33 is in Orlando, FL where the Rock is from but also, he has the new Fast and the Furious film to promote. Surely, he can fly in on a Saturday Night and get inducted.
2017 Prediction #15: CM Punk will return to Pro Wrestling during 2017. Sounds crazy, right? And I'm NOT suggesting that he rejoins the WWE. I believe that Punk will try his hand at MMA one more time and it just doesn't work out. I wouldn't doubt that he gives Ring of Honor a retry or maybe forms something independent in the Chicago area (hey, Billy Corgan lives around there). He's 3 years removed from pro wrestling and I think enough time has elapsed to warrant another try.
There you have it... My 2017 Predictions. Tune in at the END of the year to see how I did.
SO JUST CHILL... UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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