Will 2017 be the year of 15-time World Champion John Cena, or will AJ Styles continue his rise to become the new face of WWE? Will Finn Balor recapture the Universal Championship he was forced to vacate? Will Charlotte ever lose in a pay-per-view singles match? Will Eva Marie ever have a match?
The loaded WWE roster is arguably the best its ever been, and dozens of stars are poised for huge success in the new year. What does WWE have in store for fans over the next 365 days? Here are 10 bold predictions for WWE in 2017.
Big E will turn on The New Day
The New Day recently broke the record for the longest tag team championship reign in WWE history, so there's virtually nothing left for them left to accomplish as a group. While The New Day is still hugely entertaining as a trio, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Big E is one of the most impressive athletes on the entire roster, and of the three New Day members seems to have the best shot at a major singles career. Have Big E break Francesca over Xavier Woods' back, then see how far he can go.
John Cena goes "Hollywood"
It might be impossible for Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, Respect to become a bad guy - but John Cena had a different sort of attitude in his return to SmackDown and he openly addressed the concern that he could leave WWE to pursue acting like The Rock did.
He could use that fear as ammunition, and once he inevitably wins the WWE World Championship again, threaten to leave forever with nothing left to accomplish. Cena's character is in a very interesting position at 2017 begins.
The Shield reunites
Since Seth Rollins broke up the Shield, the three members have gone on to become World Champions and three of the biggest stars in the entire company individually. We've already seen teases of a Shield reunion the last few weeks, but Ambrose's place on SmackDown has made a Shield 2.0 impossible for the moment. That could change with an eventual redraft, though.
Finn Balor reforms The Club
If the Shield does reunite and begin to terrorize the roster, who better to face off with them then a WWE version of The Bullet Club, led by former Bullet Club member Finn Balor. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson would undoubtedly benefit, and AJ Styles - who arrived in Japan to be a Bullet Club member just as Balor left - is another potential option that would make the faction NWO-levels of popular.
Shinsuke Nakamura debuts at the Royal Rumble
The Royal Rumble card is already packed, with both SmackDown and Raw title bouts confirmed along with the typically hour-long Royal Rumble match itself. The recent news that Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker will return to next week's episode of Raw would suggest they could play some part in the megashow in Texas, and it's a reasonable guess that Finn Balor could return and Samoa Joe debut in the Royal Rumble.
Shinsuke Nakamura, meanwhile, is still the NXT Champion - but every huge show that he's not a part of seems like a wasted opportunity for WWE at this point. He's clearly the most popular guy on the NXT roster, and he's been main event ready since the day he arrived. WWE could stall on Nakamura until WrestleMania, but the company is clearly trying to make Royal Rumble feel like a can't-miss show that's on the same level. Hearing Nakamura's music hit after a countdown during the Rumble match would be the sweetest surprise.
The Hardy Boyz will return to WWE
This is probably the biggest longshot on the list, but that's why they're called bold predictions. Broken Matt Hardy had what was likely the best year of his career in 2016, but only a fraction of the WWE's audience saw the creative genius of "The Final Deletion" and the other Hardy specials simply because TNA's audience is much, much smaller. (It was so good, WWE copied the idea by having The Wyatts and The New Day brawl outdoors.)
TNA's financial situation seems to be in a better place now, but Hardy has openly announced that his contract expires in February - and signign with WWE could be a win-win for both parties. The return of Matt and Jeff Hardy would have a Goldberg-in-2016-type of impact and bring back hordes of lapsed Attitude Era fans.
Batista is a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble
If Batista does return to WWE, it might not be so soon.. but he is starring in a major movie (Guardians of the Galaxy 2) which releases the month after WrestleMania 33. A surprise Rumble spot that leads to a match in Orlando for cross-promotion doesn't seem out of the question.
Asuka will remain undefeated in 2017
Asuka's already spent a year and a half in NXT and no woman has been able to beat her in that span - yet it's still unclear when (or if) she'll finally get moved up to the main roster.
She's undoubtedly one of the top female wrestlers in WWE, and it's hard to see anyone currently in NXT taking her title (though Ember Moon is turning into a star). The solution? Given her lack of competition, Asuka could have a Kevin Owens-style debut and come up as a champion, then eventually vacate it whenever she's captured the Raw or SmackDown title, setting up an NXT Women's Championship tournament.
Goldberg will face Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 33
How do we get there? Easy!
Goldberg, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar eliminate each other from the Royal Rumble at the same time, setting up a Brock-Goldberg rubber match down the line and Braun-Brock at WrestleMania. Whoever wins the Rumble (John Cena after losing to A.J. Styles earlier in the night?) ends up challenging for the WWE world title at 'Mania. The powers that be on Raw, meanwhile, make Goldberg v. Roman (who beats Kevin Owens at the Rumble) for the Universal title in Orlando. Spear vs. spear. -- Andrew Lynch
Enzo and Cass will break up
Through no fault of their own, Enzo and Cass are getting a little stale lately, and they seem to be more involved in simultaneous singles feuds with Rusev than anything tag team-related these days.
Eventually, that could mean a hard reset for both guys by having the two exit the tag division. We already saw a slight test run of Cass as a singles competitor the night after the introduction of the Universal title. Enzo, meanwhile, could put together an entertaining US title run — and we desperately need one of those.
Besides, a split would make the inevitable reunion that much sweeter. -- Andrew Lynch