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Welcome to a special edition of Mr. Tito Strikes Back that you can only read exclusively here at LordsofPain.net and no where else. As I head towards my “series finale” on October 26th, 2018 in which I shall retire on my 20th Anniversary, I had a much of requests from many of my longtime readers if I’d write a follow-up to my 2018 Predictions Column posted 12/31/2017 and if I had any 2019 Predictions. Maybe if I wrote one more column later this year to cover my predictions and give new ones…
Then I thought… Why not do a Predictions column NOW? We are 3/4 through the year 2018 and I can give you my predictions column early as a departing gift. That way, I have all of my bases covered when I fully disconnect from pro wrestling and writing columns as Mr. Tito. Of course, when I make my 2019 predictions, y’all will ask me to do a column at the end of 2019 (I love you guys!).
We shall write this in the same light as my year-end columns where I:
(a) Review the previous year’s predictions (2018)
(b) Do a mini year-in-review to suggest where the wrestling industry is headed.
(c) Present my predictions for the upcoming year. (2019)
Let me reiterate the influence for this column. After the markets crashed during 2008 from the December 2007 to June 2009 economic downturn or recession, I began to follow a blogger named Karl Denniger on his website Market-Ticker.org. At the end of each year, he would review his previous year’s predictions, perform a mini-review of the year that happened and the direction that the economy is headed, and then to his next year’s predictions. Sound familiar? What I did was incorporate that template into a wrestling predictions column. Also with Karl, you know how I often use ALL CAPS TO EMPHASIZE A POINT… That influence came from Karl, too. Although lately, use uses bold text to get across a point instead of ALL CAPS.
Let’s take care of business, folks… It is time to review my 2018 Predictions made on 12/31/2017 before 2018 even started and these are 100% unaltered. And again, please note that we’re reviewing these with 3 months to go. Some of these could still happen.
2018 Predictions Review
Much of these predictions were made on the heels of the XFL announcement and the uncertainty towards the Tax Cut passing…
2018 Prediction #1: Stephanie McMahon becomes CEO/President of WWE Corporation, Vince McMahon retains Board Chairman role. Miss. The Year is still young. My expectations were that Vince would step down as President/CEO but remain Board Chairman to place attention towards building the XFL. Little did I know that the TV deals and expanding internationally would keep Vince’s attention on the WWE.
2018 Prediction #2: WWE Extends their Comcast/NBC/Universal Deal 1 year early. Bingo, direct hit. Little did I know that the WWE would receive more money just for RAW than having both RAW/Smackdown.
2018 Prediction #3: Brock Lesnar will sign an extension with WWE to remain with the company. Yes indeed, point. Contract was supposed to expire after Wrestlemania but Lesnar was extended to wrestle Roman multiple times including twice in Saudi Arabia.
2018 Prediction #4: Chyna, Miss Elizabeth, and/or Sable will FINALLY get into the WWE Hall of Fame Miss… I’m shocked that Sable hasn’t got in with Lesnar under contract.
2018 Prediction #5: WWE Stock will end the year below $25.00. LMAO, way off… My thoughts towards the end of 2017 were uncertainty from the Tax Cuts getting passed and Vince McMahon’s attention towards the XFL. I had no idea that huge TV Contracts were on the way and that Saudi Arabia was willing to pay $20 million+ per show.
2018 Prediction #6: Vince McMahon will not obtain a Cable/Satellite Company for XFL. Hit. When was the last time that we heard of the XFL? Been kind of quiet lately…
2018 Prediction #7: Mark Cuban will acquire Ring of Honor from Sinclair. Man, I’m so close on this one… Quite possibly, Cuban being in hot water for some sexual harassment claims around his Dallas Mavericks office may have caused Cuban to lay low for a while. I don’t know… But New Japan and Ring of Honor working together at Madison Square Garden next year tells me that something is happening soon.
2018 Prediction #8: Daniel Bryan will try to leave WWE but WWE won’t let him. Hit. Took him a while to sign a deal and seemed to be the last second before 9/1 when his contract expired but he quietly did. With the Bellas more around, this tells me that it was a family decision to remain with the WWE.
2018 Prediction #9: Braun Strowman will be moved to Smackdown roster after Wrestlemania 34. Miss, didn’t happen.
2018 Prediction #10: AJ Styles joins the RAW roster following Wrestlemania 34. Another miss, didn’t happen. Superstar shake-up was very uneventful.
2018 Prediction #11: John Cena will obtain a World Title during 2018 Miss… Could still happen if the WWE wants good press surrounding the Bumble Bee film.
2018 Prediction #12: Dean Ambrose will turn heel during 2018. Miss, but I believe that we were on the path of this happening until post-SummerSlam plans changed. Dean Ambrose came back with a changed look and seemed a little mysterious tagging up with Seth Rollins. Then, he was thrust into the Shield again to subsidize Roman. Still, a heel turn could still happen during 2018…
2018 Prediction #13: WWE Wellness Policy will catch at least 1 former World Champion on the current WWE roster. Way off. Didn’t quite happen with the one I was expecting…
2018 Prediction #14: WWE Network will remain $9.99 throughout 2018 (plus tax). Correct! I didn’t figure that WWE would be brave enough to go above that $9.99 mark just yet.
2018 Prediction #15: CM Punk returns to pro wrestling. Nope. He didn’t show up for the “All In” event and quite possibly, the experience he had with the WWE physician lawsuit made him even more bitter towards pro wrestling.
5 out of 15 with 3 months still to go until for 2018. Since about 5 years ago when someone accused my predictions of being “softball pitches” when I got about 10 of 15 correct, I’ve been rolling the dice a little more. I do believe, however, that #1 and #7 will come true soon. It’s all about timing. And again, I’m predicting the entire year before the year stars. Things can change. Again, I had NO IDEA that Comcast/FOX were about to overpay for WWE television rights and ditto for International markets paying the WWE a metric ton for Pay Per View like events.
So where are we headed for 2019?
Well, it is obvious that the WWE remains on the Roman Reigns train and there is no getting off with the FOX/Comcast money guaranteeing the WWE lots of revenue for the next 5 years. WWE having more money and listening to their International markets will bring back many veterans to the WWE for a nice payday such as HHH, Undertaker, Michaels, Brock Lesnar, and a whole host of others possibly. What if Saudi Arabia wanted some “Stone Cold” Steve Austin? That could get interesting.
In my opinion, the real story will be the WWE’s response to having a show on broadcast television with WWE Smackdown on FOX. Will the WWE devote more resources to that show or not? With FOX being able to be seen via digital antenna for FREE, could the WWE see more viewership on Smackdown than RAW? Probably not because it’s on a Friday and fans are still conditioned for wrestling on Mondays. Furthermore, how much pressure can FOX place on the WWE to present quality? Will the brand split end or will we get something like during 2012 with the “Super Show” on RAW where both brands suddenly appeared on the same show but acted separately?
And how much will these big TV deals impact the WWE Network? Streaming was thought to be the WWE’s future, but with these Cable/Satellite/Broadcast channels DESPERATE for stream-proof content, such as live sporting events, the WWE might have found their revenue stream for years. Particularly as Cable/Satellite/Broadcast channels are moving to streaming outlets anyway.
The bigger story, however, could be how much the Ring of Honor/Impact/New Japan promotions can combine resources in order to continue to challenge the WWE. Maybe become part of the “new” National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)? Cody Rhodes, Young Guns, and others have proved that there is a competitive thirst out there for wrestling other than WWE. The big Madison Square Garden show on Wrestlemania put forth by New Japan and Ring of Honor will be a major test for how ready a combined New Japan/Ring of Honor entity can compete with the WWE.
However, the WWE now has a revenue stream of $400 million+ per year plus International money flowing through it… How could Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, or the Young Bucks turn down major paydays? To what extent does the WWE spend money to keep all competitors out or from growing? Will wrestling fans get burned out on what Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks are trying? New Japan has tried hard to appeal to American fans but they need help as seen by their Cow Palace effort.
Long term, the real question is who can create the next STAR. WWE has tried hard to make Roman Reigns the #1 guy yet attendance, viewership, and merchandise continues to decline. Wrestling hasn’t had a wrestler take the world by storm and cause legitimate growth in the business since John Cena stabilized things in the WWE during 2005-2006. We have seen many good wrestlers but major stars, no. NXT developmental has failed to produce any and the indies have yet to produce one either… Although I have high hopes on Cody Rhodes‘s continued growth (and why didn’t the WWE use his wife again?!?).
WHAT will the WWE do with all of that money? And will Sinclair Broadcasting invest more money into the operation?
Still, I find myself hung up on where the next “big thing” will come from. WWE has limited their opportunities by ONLY pushing Roman Reigns and the NXT developmental territory has only stocked the midcard and women’s division. Can Kenny Omega become an even bigger star within New Japan or elsewhere? Can Cody Rhodes help make the NWA matter again? Could some unknown wrestler get inspired by All In or New Japan’s growth and make it big out of no where?
Hard to say… But pro wrestling needs that next “Austin/Rock/Cena” type draw or else it’s the multiple promotions fighting over the same remaining wrestling fans. That’s not growth.
Mr. Tito’s PHAT 2019 PRO WRESTLING PREDICTIONS
#1 – Roman Reigns will wrestle a part-time wrestler at Wrestlemania 35.
Many are predicting a “Shield 3 Way” and I just don’t see it in terms of drawing power. I sense that the Rock, Bill Goldberg, Undertaker again, or Brock Lesnar again will step in and challenge Roman to headline Wrestlemania for the 5th straight show. I believe that the Rock is very possible given how his last few films during 2018 did just OK.
#2 – Brock Lesnar wrestles for the WWE during 2019 at least once.
I just don’t buy this UFC comeback as much as others. I think that he’s using it to get more money from the WWE and more Saudi Arabia shows and other international shows will happen. I could see Lesnar sneaking in a WWE match before he rejoins WWE, too. He might get a big part-timer match, too, such as wrestling the Rock at Wrestlemania 35.
#3 – CM Punk will NOT appear at the Madison Square Garden show.
Strictly because of New Japan, I don’t see CM Punk joining this show in any capacity. The WWE took the last amount of joy out of this man with the physician lawsuit.
#4 – NXT will get a television deal of some sorts.
I keep predicting this… But these struggling Cable/Satellite channels are looking for “live sporting event content”, the WWE has 1 more show to offer. I could see someone like FOX Sports 1 making a deal with NXT for a late night show. It’s more revenue for the WWE but also to let NXT begin to start paying for itself.
#5 – Kenny Omega signs with the WWE but Cody Rhodes/Young Bucks resist.
I believe that the WWE is going to make a serious money offer towards Omega during early 2019 to jump before the Madison Square Garden show. I don’t believe that Cody would join the WWE again, at least not right now, while the Young Bucks are undersized for WWE.l
#6 – Chris Jericho joins Impact Wrestling.
Jericho is friends with Don Callis and the WWE doesn’t really have much need for Jericho right now. He’ll join without any WWE drama, as a WWE appearance here or there is always possible… But the WWE seems comfortable with letting Jericho work elsewhere at the moment, provided that all of their wrestlers beat Jericho before he left.
#7 – WWE creates two sets of Women’s Titles: Midcard title & Tag Titles.
If you ever notice with the Women’s divisions on both rosters, just a lot of nothing happening. For “something to do”, Tag Titles and a midcard title will be developed… I wouldn’t doubt that the Butterfly Divas Title reappears as that midcard title! But sauce it, folks, midcard women’s title and tag titles are happening.
#8 – WWE will spend lots of money on a non-wrestling entity, past or brand new.
I believe that WWE Films may start back up but here is a real shocker… What if the WWE bought a MMA promotion? How can you reduce the threat of UFC as a competitor? Water down the market with more MMA competition. As you saw with the XFL idea, Vince tends to get bored with being the “king of pro wrestling” and will try something new. If they try MMA, I wouldn’t doubt that’s where Shane McMahon goes full-time.
#9 – AJ Styles re-signs with the WWE. Nakamura, Anderson, and Gallows do not.
All 4 wrestlers signed 3 year deals… But I believe that the WWE isn’t impressed with Nakamura and how didn’t pan out after the Royal Rumble. Anderson and Gallows have underwhelmed WWE officials. AJ Styles, however, has morphed into a loyal company guy who has stable merchandise sales and is a good overall worker. With Styles still having younger kids, I don’t believe that he wants to travel to Japan frequently.
#10 – The Miz will win the 2018 Royal Rumble.
2019 will be the big push for the Miz towards the WWE Title. WWE likes the work that Miz does and can branch out with his wife Maryse. Smackdown brand “fixed” the Miz during 2016 and he got back on track when he returned to the Smackdown roster during 2018. Wouldn’t surprise me if Miz defeats AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 35.
#11 – Dean Ambrose will break up the Shield this time around with a heel turn.
Screw it, I’ll take the easy point. Ambrose is due to turn heel. I believe that Seth Rollins will remain a babyface for a while.
#12 – Stephanie McMahon is named CEO/President of the WWE, Vince McMahon remains Board Chairman.
Same prediction as last year. Stephanie has a corporate position that is being groomed for the job and Vince, if he’s really serious, needs to focus on the XFL soon…
#13 – XFL will not happen and will be canceled by Vince McMahon.
With all of the money heading towards the WWE, I don’t believe that Vince will jump into the XFL. Another rival league tried to surface recently and the ongoing lawsuits for concussions just make having a football league too much of a liability. Vince will come to his senses and get out, particularly if the NFL resurges with healthy quarterbacks on the field this year (so far, daytime game ratings are up).
#14 – Braun Strowman moves to the Smackdown roster.
I was premature on my call last year… Strowman is damaged goods from RAW and just can’t grow on the same roster with an overpushed Roman Reigns. Braun moves to Smackdown to become that company’s #1 guy and gets the “Hulk Hogan” like push that we’ve been waiting for.
#15 – John Cena makes a comeback to the WWE, breaks World Title record.
Many assumed that Bumble Bee will ignite Cena’s Hollywood career. Not me… Unless you join the Marvel Universe in some capacity, the movie industry isn’t as big as you think. More flops than successes. WWE is going to need some star power to launch the new FOX Smackdown show… But what I also think is that the continued diving of the RAW ratings might force a change. Possibly, Roman Reigns is briefly depushed in order to see one last John Cena run. If the Bumble Bee film does well, too, it could convince the WWE to reconsider Cena as well.
LAST WORD: Phew! Not going to lie, I was scraping the barrel for some predictions there. Plus, I didn’t want to embarrass myself with another Stock Prediction. But don’t worry on the Stocks, we’ll talk about that later next week. Many are giving me the “look at the WWE stock price” response when I talk about lower viewership, attendance, and merchandise numbers. Thus, I’ll tackle that subject later this week. I’m full of parting gifts…
THANK YOU for reading, as always. I wouldn’t be writing these columns if it weren’t for you, the readers. I appreciate the time that you put into reading and discussing my columns. Tweet me anytime if you want to chat, as even after I retire from writing wrestling columns, I’ll still be lurking there. Just follow @titowrestling and you’re set.
And if you want an ass kicking on the Nintendo Switch online system, you can receive that too. Ice Hockey and Tecmo Bowl are a TON of fun to play online from the NES Classics, but if you want to play some Rocket League, Mario Kart, Splatoon 2, Street Fighter 2, Bomberman, Runbow, etc., just let me know.
I’ll still be around on Twitter and I’ll loosely follow pro wrestling news, maybe pick and choose YouTube segments to watch to remain current. I’m just choosing not to dedicate my Sunday Nights to Pay Per Views, watching RAW/Smackdown, or spending 2-3 hours (sometimes more) per column decidated to wrestling. I just don’t have that in me any longer…
And remember… To purchase the Doc’s book Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the Wrestlemania Era via Amazon.com in the United States, GO HERE. To purchase this book via Amazon.com in the United Kingdom, GO HERE. If those don’t work, please inquire Doc via Twitter through his handle @TheDocLoP.
BUY THE BOOK!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
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