Pro Wrestling Predictions for 2018

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HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Thank you very much for joining me for yet another great year of the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING. We had a great 2017 numbers wise and the Mr. Tito ship will set sail well into 2018… Although WWE will have to earn my money by proving to me that Roman Reigns is the true #1 babyface. I’ll give it until shortly after SummerSlam 2018 to see where the Creative Direction goes to consider continuing my WWE Network subscription or not. 2017 was one of the worst WWE years that I’ve seen since my 2010 comeback as Mr. Tito and I cannot endure another year of disappointment. I’m growing tired of awful wrestlers being shoved down my throat as pushed main event wrestlers. It’s killing the WWE!

This is the 2018 Predictions Column in which I make 15 BOLD and FEARLESS predictions about the Pro Wrestling industry. When I first started doing these, my success rate was strong but you, the readers, criticized my predictions for being “too easy”… So, I ramped up the difficulty of my predictions and I’m holding about 50% each year… Maybe.

As the usual heads up, I obtained my Predictions column idea from a blogger named Karl Denninger from Market-Ticker.org. He used to make economic predictions but also review the previous year’s predictions as well in one 12/31 post. Denninger caught my eye because he was one of the few who was alerting everyone about bad loans and bad securities underwritten on those loans years in advance of the 2007-2009 recession. He has since stopped doing his Predictions column but I have to give credit where credit is due… The format of this column is mostly from the “genesis” of his annual economic predictions posts.

So… How did I do with my 2017 Predictions?

2017 Mr. Tito Predictions REVIEW

2017 Prediction #1: The Shield will reunite and remain as a group during 2017.
Nailed that one! What I saw during late 2018 was Dean Ambrose fading quickly on Smackdown and the Seth Rollins/Triple H feud being subpar. On top of that, Roman Reigns was struggling to draw on RAW and the promotion needed old man Goldberg to pop numbers.

2017 Prediction #2: Bill Goldberg won’t last before Survivor Series 2017.
Got that one. Goldberg wasn’t supposed to last after Survivor Series but Brock Lesnar reportedly stood up for him backstage and forced WWE’s hand at changing Wrestlemania 33… Reportedly, WM 33 was going to be Brock Lesnar vs. Shane McMahon and Brock nixed that… Requested Goldberg instead and the rest was history.

2017 Prediction #3: Daniel Bryan will wrestle at least 1 time during 2017.
MISS! I figured that Miz and Bryan could happen at Wrestlemania 33 but nothing came of it. Instead, Miz and Cena feuded instead for a mixed tag. Then, Miz was moved to RAW. WWE doctors have put a big roadblock up for this prediction, too, even though Bryan’s doctors have cleared him.

2017 Prediction #4: President Donald Trump will make at least 1 WWE televised appearance during 2017.
To my surprise, it didn’t happen. MISS! I figured that Trump would use the WWE programs as just another media outlet to push some agenda or maybe they’d tie in Linda McMahon as a cabinet member. Nope.

2017 Prediction #5: WWE Stock will end below $15.00 for 2016 Timing is everything for this stock, argh…
Good God, complete miss here. On 12/29/17, the WWE stock closed at $30.58. OOPS! When I wrote that prediction on 12/31/2016, I was really worried about the economy. Late 2016 numbers didn’t look that good yet you had the Federal Reserve in a position where they’ve kept interest rates offered to Banks too low for too long. Little did I know that the latter half of 2017 would see some booming growth as the Fed barely raised rates and there was mostly a status quo on policies other than deregulations passed by Executive Orders from Mr. Trump. Also, one thing I didn’t predict well as how WWE having 2 Pay Per Views per month did well financially for the company.

2017 Prediction #6: WWE’s deal with Comcast/NBC/Universal will be altered for wrestling shows.
I’m going to say MISS here, but NXT did air for a special hour once this year… That’s what I was counting on… Technically, USA Networks paid the WWE something other than the typical deal for that one NXT show but it wasn’t common… So miss.

2017 Prediction #7: John Cena will win 1 World Title during 2017, but not two.
BOOM! Got that one right. I figured that the WWE wants to hold reign #17 as a carrot to convince John Cena reappear in the future.

2017 Prediction #8: Kurt Angle will not join WWE during 2017.
TOTAL MISS on this one. From what I hear during late 2016, relations between Angle and WWE weren’t good. There was discussions on having Angle appear at the Royal Rumble but he took indy dates instead.

2017 Prediction #9: Shawn Michaels will wrestle at least once in a WWE ring during 2017.
My annual “HBK is coming back” prediction, MISS! I figured he’d appear in the Royal Rumble which was held at San Antonio during 2017.

2017 Prediction #10: Lucha Underground will get a TV show on a major Cable Network, one available to more than 70 million homes.
Lucha Underground signed a deal with Netflix during 2017… Technically speaking, NOT a Cable Network… But it’s available in more than 70 million homes. Screw it, I’m taking it! Point!

2017 Prediction #11: RAW’s Authority Figures will Change during 2017.
Direct hit. Kurt Angle, who was the subject of another prediction, joined the RAW roster as the authority figure after Wrestlemania 33.

2017 Prediction #12: Finn Balor won’t last as a Main Eventer, joins Cruiserweight Division by year-end.
I’m talking HALF on this one because technically speaking, he didn’t join 205 Live. However, it is very clear that Vince McMahon demoted him on the roster. Reportedly, Finn Balor was going to wrestle Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble 2018 but Vince scratched that because Balor wasn’t “over” enough.

2017 Prediction #13: Samoa Joe & Shinsuke Nakamura will join main WWE roster during 2017, Asuka will remain in NXT.
HALF on this one as well. Samoa Joe and Nakamura joined the WWE roster during 2017 and so did Asuka. To my credit, it took a while for Asuka to join the WWE main roster. As you can see from early results, she should have stayed in NXT.

2017 Prediction #14: The Rock headlines the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Class Wrestlemania 33.
Miss, miss, miss… Rocky didn’t get inducted this year.

2017 Prediction #15: CM Punk will return to Pro Wrestling during 2017.
Total miss. I figured that MMA wouldn’t work out and maybe Punk would return to Ring of Honor or something.

6 points out of 15… Eh. I’ve had better years. Timing is everything for making predictions but in these days, everything is moving so fast and things change quickly. When you’re making predictions about a company that barely has long-term plans, forecasts are hard to make.

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2017 YEAR IN REVIEW

In my opinion, the WWE had a difficult year. They just lacked major star power beyond Brock Lesnar and it caused the WWE to continue to push the WRONG guys and make desperate moves. The “Superstar Shake-up” following Wrestlemania 33 did major damage to the Smackdown roster in particular. Before that, however, it wasn’t like the 2016 Brand Extension was successful… It wasn’t. Monday Night RAW was repeatedly lurking below 3 million viewers when Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg weren’t around and the creative direction was still aimed at getting Roman Reigns over as the #1 babyface. From Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania, the plan was for Roman Reigns to main event Wrestlemania 33 and possibly “retire” the Undertaker. The match was awful from a standpoint that the Undertaker looked too old and Roman Reigns isn’t a guy who can carry and mask opponent’s weaknesses.

In my opinion, though, 2017 was one of the best years for Brock Lesnar. The way he helped rebuild the career and legend of Bill Goldberg was remarkable. He lost to Goldberg 100% clean at Survivor Series 2016, gets eliminated by Goldberg at the Royal Rumble, and that Wrestlemania 33 match was special. For the 6-7 minutes they went, the match was impactful and made 50 year old Goldberg look like a star. Bill Goldberg’s star increased significantly within the WWE as his 2003-2004 run was disappointed. Thanks to Brock Lesnar legitimately sticking up for Goldberg backstage (refusing to wrestle Shane at Wrestlemania 33) and then selling for Goldberg… Lesnar transferred part of his starpower to Goldberg. Now, Goldberg can appear for WWE functions and appear as needed. He’ll draw.

But then you look at the rest of the year for Lesnar… He won the WWE Universal Championship from Goldberg at Wrestlemania 33 and didn’t appear again until WWE Great Balls of Fire. Lesnar’s next opponent was Samoa Joe and the build-up was a breath of fresh air! Lesnar took it seriously and sold Joe’s toughness heading into the Pay Per View. The match, itself, was good but it was kind of short. However, it put WWE on notice that Samoa Joe is a worthwhile competitor and changed up the SummerSlam 2017 match which was reportedly going to be Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman. SummerSlam 2017‘s main event became a Fatal 4 Way which has won a few WWE “Match of the Year” honors from writers between Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman. Complete trainwreck of a match which saw Lesnar selling for everybody.

However, they all can’t be winners… WWE foolishly rushed the singles match between Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman the month later at WWE No Mercy. The younger, inexperienced Braun Strowman was exposed and their short match just didn’t look good… WWE rushed this match and did some real damage to Strowman. Because again, the focus is on Roman Reigns who beat John Cena 100% clean at that same No Mercy event. The response to these HUGE matches? RAW has been consistently under 3 million viewers and the WWE even resorted to reuniting the Shield to help mask fans booing Reigns. The Shield reunion, however, didn’t gain traction because WWE’s Marketing Department made it corporate (WWE licensed shirts on day one), made Kurt Angle a temporary member, made Triple H (sworn enemy of the Shield) a temporary member, and the group was clearly there just to promote Roman Reigns and NOT Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins.

The biggest WWE blunder of the year was the Smackdown brand. Complete disaster. First of all, the Smackdown Creative Team saw a change-up during early 2017 that saw one of Triple H’s former NXT writers being replaced with Road Dogg Jesse James. Road Dogg proved to be a complete enabler of Vince McMahon. The latter half of 2016 presented Smackdown in a different light and seemed to have more of a Triple H influence over that brand. Insert Road Dogg and the “yes man” began injecting Vince McMahon’s wishes into the roster. Suddenly, mega push 28348277492 was on for Randy Orton and he was rushed to the WWE Title again. AJ Styles was a sturdy WWE Champion during late 2016 but between Royal Rumble 2017 to Wrestlemania 33, there were 3 WWE Title changes with Cena beating Styles, Bray Wyatt winning the WWE Title in the Elimination Chamber, and then Randy Orton defeating Bray Wyatt in an awful match at Wrestlemania 33. Seriously, they had bugs and animals projected on the ring during Orton vs. Wyatt! But that wasn’t as ridiculous as their rematch where they’d fight in an actual house…

Oh, but Smackdown had another WWE Title change in mind, the 4th switch of the year. This time, it was to a complete experiment. WWE reportedly has a nice television deal with the country of India and I guess they are reading too much into their Social Media presence there as well. Per the “Superstar Shake-up” following Wrestlemania 33, Canadian born Jinder Mahal transferred from being a RAW jobber to an instant Smackdown main eventer. Jinder won the #1 contender tournament and actually beat Randy Orton for the WWE Title. Worse for the WWE, they were pushing Jinder as a stereotype foreigner as a heel. It was disgusting on the WWE’s part but worse yet, Jinder was not ready in-the-ring to handle this role. His matches were awful which placed a bigger stain on the Smackdown roster. The end result Smackdown getting well below 2.5 million viewers, sometimes flirting with breaking 2.0 million! WWE didn’t give up, though, and it wasn’t until just before Survivor Series 2017 when the Jinder trained stopped and AJ Styles took his title. Swinging back to the Brock Lesnar narrative, AJ Styles and Brock Lesnar put on a classic at Survivor Series. Did Brock Lesnar talk to management about wrestling Jinder?

On the international front, New Japan Pro Wrestling has caught some headlines with in-ring match quality and pushing a star that is appealing to American fans, Kenny Omega. While many hardcore wrestling fans will tell you that NJPW has always been great, the hype of Omega combined with the continued popularity of the Bullet Club has created some interest in New Japan by wrestling fans who might not give NJPW a chance. Now, Chris Jericho, who had a great run in the WWE during 2017 with the “List”, has joined New Japan to wrestle Omega at the next Wrestle Kingdom event. It’s a big signing that has made more wrestling fans curious about New Japan. We’ll have to see how NJPW grows from there.

Speaking of the Bullet Club, they attempted to pull a parking lot invasion during an episode of WWE RAW. Many thought it was just those guys having fun but the WWE took it seriously. Suddenly, the WWE made claims that old New World Order (NWO) trademarks from World Championship Wrestling (WCW) were alive again and threatened the Bullet Club members with cease & desist letters. Bullet Club members used the “just too sweet” and the NWO kiss hand signal to which the WWE made the threats. Meanwhile, the WWE had only recently tried to register those old trademarks again. Many say that the Bullet Club’s appearance actually caused the Shield to quickly reunite (hence, those WWE Shop shirts being instantly created).

I have nothing to say about Impact Wrestling… I don’t feel like kicking a horse when it’s down. The new buyers of TNA wrestling tried to merge with Jeff Jarrett‘s Global Force Wrestling and rename it as GFW… Well, Jeff Jarrett soon left the operation and took his GFW name with him.

2018 will see the WWE trying to get Roman Reigns over one last time, the question of having Brock Lesnar return or not, Daniel Bryan wanting to wrestle again, and the growth of New Japan. Should be an interesting yet trying year.

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MR. TITO’S PHAT 2018 Pro Wrestling Predictions

DISCLAIMER: The following predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Anyone acting on these predictions are doing so at their own risk!

2018 Prediction #1: Stephanie McMahon becomes CEO/President of WWE Corporation, Vince McMahon retains Board Chairman role.
I believe that as Vince McMahon gets more involved with the XFL rebirth, pressure could mount on the WWE stock about Vince McMahon’s overseeing of the WWE’s books. In order to ease investor worries, Stephanie McMahon will be promoted to CEO/President but Vince will maintain the Board Chairman spot because he remains the #1 shareholder and can prevent losing that spot. That and if the XFL Part Deux fails, he can reclaim his CEO/President title as needed if he remains Board Chairman.

2018 Prediction #2: WWE Extends their Comcast/NBC/Universal Deal 1 year early.
Reportedly, the WWE signed a 5 year deal with Comcast/NBC/Universal during 2014. With Net Neutrality being removed, the WWE needs to huddle with the biggest broadband provider. I also believe that WWE found out the hard way during 2014 that there wasn’t much interest in hosting WWE content. With USA Networks still struggling on original content production and their rerun market still weak, both sides will agree that it’s in their best interest to remain together. 1 year early, I expect both companies to announce the extension with WWE probably getting close to their existing deal.

2018 Prediction #3: Brock Lesnar will sign an extension with WWE to remain with the company.
Reportedly, Lesnar wants to return to MMA… Sound familiar? We heard the same thing during 2015 and he signed a 3 year extension. While Lesnar will put over Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 34, I believe that a series of rematches could be in order. That said, Lesnar during 2016-2017 proved to be one of the bigger box office draws for WWE. WWE needs him and I don’t believe Lesnar is that serious about MMA. That, and the WWE will let him do a few MMA fights as part of the new 2-3 year extension. It’s EASY money for Lesnar and as you saw from 2017 matches, Lesnar was pretty motivated in his matches.

2018 Prediction #4: Chyna, Miss Elizabeth, and/or Sable will FINALLY get into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The 3 biggest female omissions to the Hall of Fame. All 3 deserve to get in. With Lesnar possibly leaving the WWE (even though I’m not predicting it), goodwill to the Lesnars will be presented with Sable getting in. Miss Elizabeth is long overdue. Chyna deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and I would imagine that Triple H might be pushing for it from guilt. Now, will it just be one of the 3 or more than one? WWE historically places just 1 female into the Hall of Fame.

2018 Prediction #5: WWE Stock will end the year below $25.00.
Let’s try this again… I believe that the current stock price is too high. Financials of 2017 versus 2016 where a full year’s worth of double the Pay Per Views may have presented investors with good vibrations regarding the WWE. However, 2018 will have the same conditions as 2017 and attendance continues to be a problem for the WWE. Wrestlemania 34 is in a smaller setting, too, to avoid that 2nd quarter bump. I also think that Vince’s ventures back into pro football will “infect” the WWE. While Vince is independently operating the XFL and created his new company to handle it, any hint that WWE money gets involved with XFL will tank this stock. Vince cashing in his stock to fund the XFL doesn’t help the stock’s price, either.

2018 Prediction #6: Vince McMahon will not obtain a Cable/Satellite Company for XFL.
Vince is wild enough to force the XFL’s return even without a Cable/Satellite deal. I could imagine him attempting to stick games on the WWE Network or making a deal with YouTube or Twitter to stream live games. With Viacom, Comcast, FOX, and Disney all in bed with the NFL, I don’t think they’ll give another pro league a shot. Also, I believe that AOL/Time Warner might be aiming at acquiring the NFL in the future. Without this Cable/Satellite deal, the XFL Part Deux, the sequel, might not start-up.

2018 Prediction #7: Mark Cuban will acquire Ring of Honor from Sinclair.
Reportedly, Ring of Honor might be for sale by Sinclair. As it stands now, Mark Cuban has a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling to air programming on his AXS Television. While they have been trying to produce NJPW’s feed into a more American like produced show, they need a better gateway to introduce New Japan than just their shows. Furthermore, New Japan doesn’t run shows ever week. By acquiring Ring of Honor, Cuban can place more content on AXS and link the 2 promotions further together. I believe that Cuban likes the Bullet Club brand and wants to extend that further. Also, he’s not a fan of Donald Trump and Trump is a close friend of Vince McMahon… In the wrestling world, Cuban might be looking for a way to “stick it” to once of Trump’s old friends.

2018 Prediction #8: Daniel Bryan will try to leave WWE but WWE won’t let him.
The thought is that Daniel Bryan’s contract will be up sometime during 2018 and he’ll exit to wrestle for somewhere else. However, I believe that the WWE thinks that Bryan’s exit is a real threat. Thus, as pile of money will be moved towards Bryan and Brie Bella to stay with the WWE. Money talks and Bryan will come to realize that he’s 36 and could patiently wait to make his wrestling comeback for another year.

2018 Prediction #9: Braun Strowman will be moved to Smackdown roster after Wrestlemania 34.
The focus of RAW for 2018 will be for Roman Reigns to be the #1 star of RAW and it’s not even up to debate. Following Wrestlemania 34, Braun will be moved to Smackdown and rule there sort of like Batista extensively ruled the Smackdown roster during the latter half of the 2000s.

2018 Prediction #10: AJ Styles joins the RAW roster following Wrestlemania 34.
I believe that once Reigns is WWE Universal Champion, the WWE will want him to look strong in the ring after Wrestlemania 34. WWE will remember 2016 when Styles gave him great matches. I figure by Wrestlemania 34, Styles won’t be WWE Champion.

2018 Prediction #11: John Cena will obtain a World Title during 2018
I could legitimately see John Cena defeating AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 34 for the WWE title and then putting over the newly acquired Braun Strowman shortly thereafter. I do believe that winning another World Title is important to Cena and he’ll give WWE more time if he gets that honor.

2018 Prediction #12: Dean Ambrose will turn heel during 2018.
His injury actually presents the WWE with perfect timing… We could see Reigns winning the WWE Title and then having Dean Ambrose become the one who turns on the Shield this time around. This could be the post-Wrestlemania 34 feud for Roman Reigns, particularly as Dean’s absence could help prepare the changing up of his character.

2018 Prediction #13: WWE Wellness Policy will catch at least 1 former World Champion on the current WWE roster.
Nothing to add of substance, but I sense that this policy has been too quiet lately. Someone may slip.

2018 Prediction #14: WWE Network will remain $9.99 throughout 2018 (plus tax).
WWE has been flirting with changing this service for a while… However, demand for this network isn’t as strong to merit a price change. Netflix has over 80 million subscribers and can therefore hike prices if needed. WWE Network has less than 2 million subscribers. Not happening.

And finally…

2018 Prediction #15: CM Punk returns to pro wrestling.
Money talks… I believe that the company who purchased Impact Wrestling or maybe a Mark Cuban purchased Ring of Honor will make a serious financial plea to Punk. Punk will continue to give MMA a serious try during 2018 only for it to fall short and pro wrestling becomes appealing again. If Daniel Bryan breaks free, CM Punk might follow.

THANK YOU for a great 2017! I appreciate all of my readers and supporters.

SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

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