WWE: 15 Predictions for 2017

BY Fansided and Carl Gac/FanSided via Daily DDT • December 26, 2016

Come with us as we look into the crystal ball and predict what will happen in WWE in 2017.

With the end of 2016 rapidly approaching. it’s time for us to look forward to the next twelve months. With that in mind, we have looked into our crystal ball to predict what may happen within the ropes of WWE in 2017.

There’s a whole lot of content to come from WWE in 2017. With Raw, SmackDown Live and at least one pay-per-view every month, plus all things NXT, 205 Live and shows like Total Divas there are a lot of creative decisions to be made. Everybody may not be happy with everything, but if anything is true it will definitely be interesting.

We already have some ideas of where WWE is heading in the early months of the year, with matches for the Royal Rumble being set up on both Raw and SmackDown Live. There’s a whole host of men and women who look to be heading for big things in 2017. The main event picture on both shows could do with a little freshening up, but who can make the step up to bigger and better things in the next twelve months?

Where will the entire landscape of WWE stand at the end of 2017? Who from the Indy circuit will have made the move to WWE? What can we expect from NXT? Where will some of your favorite stars be positioned come the end of the year?

Follow along with us and we’ll tell you where we think WWE is headed in the year of 2017.

15. Women’s Tournament Leads to Big Things

When WWE produced the Cruiserweight Classic, and the creation of the new Cruiserweight Division off the back of it, many fans dreamed of a similar tournament featuring some of the best women from around the world. That dream turned somewhat to reality with the rumors (as yet it’s not been officially announced) that just such a tournament would take place in the early part of the year.

According to some of the rumors, WWE has actually reached out to some of the top female indy wrestlers in the world to take part in the as yet unnamed event. Names like Heidi Lovelace, Kimber Lee, Nixon Newell, Deonna Purrazzo and Rachel Ellering have all been touted for the event, and all of them could easily become a part of the WWE Women’s roster in the future. When you look at promotions like SHIMMER in the U.S. and Stardom in Japan there are so many talented female wrestlers around who could become part of the tournament.

If the whole idea plays out in a similar way to the CWC, which, with the eventual creation of 205 Live, has produced some great matches and has spotlighted some of the most talented smaller wrestlers in the entire world.  The women’s tournament should lead to a dedicated show for the current women of the WWE roster, and the new women who will come into the company off the back of the tournament.

If you thought the Women’s Revolution had already taken place, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

WWE.com

14. Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal Championship

Two men whose careers are intrinsically linked. Right from the start they were friends whilst at the same time foes. Kevin Steen vs El Generico on the indies became Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn in the WWE. They have battled so many times during the last few years, first in NXT then on the WWE main roster, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that they’ll face each other for a top title in WWE, and 2017 should be that year.

Owens currently holds the Universal title, but may very well lose it before the end of January. Owens will more than likely end up facing Chris Jericho in the run up to, and most likely at, WrestleMania. Zayn is right in the middle of his battles with the monster that is Braun Strowman, but that whole scenario should be done in the next couple of months.

With both of those feuds ending, these two long-time foes will end up doing battle once again. First with only pride at stake, then with that lovely shiny title belt up for grabs somewhere down the line.

These two men should have the company built upon their backs in the next few years. Both are immensely talented in the ring, both have the fans behind them in their own ways, both are pretty well rounded to all aspects of professional wrestling. If the WWE wants the company to go from strength to strength then this feud needs to happen again asap.

Credit: WWE.com

13. The Shield Reunites for Real

We’ve seen the three men who made up The Shield, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, become three of the top stars in the entire WWE in the last few years. They have been split up for almost two and a half years now, in 2017 we need to see them back as a proper unit.

The first hurdle is the fact that Rollins and Reigns are on Raw, whilst Ambrose is a star on SmackDown Live. That could easily be remedied via some drafting maneuvers by either Raw or SmackDown GM’s, or we could see the group become a unit on both shows.

It’s been teased several times since the split that they may end up back together as a group, most recently we’ve seen Rollins and Reigns teaming to take on Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho on Raw. With the re-addition of Ambrose to the mix as well, The Shield could go on a tear through the company, much like they did during their previous run together.

Whether that be on Raw, SmackDown or across the entire company as a trio, if these three men do become brothers again then the whole of the WWE should be worried for their futures. This could finally be the chance to get Roman Reigns back to being a heel, before the fans can take him seriously as the man he needs that.

Source: WWE.com

12. Shinsuke Nakamura Becomes a Mega Star

You can’t hide from the fact that the signing of Shinsuke Nakamura to WWE was one of the biggest coups the company has made in recent years. His time in NXT has rightfully seen him positioned right at the top of the card from day one, and his step up to the main roster shouldn’t be too far from becoming reality.

When it’s finally decided he’s ready to make the move to either Raw or SmackDown, then his arrival should be a big deal. Without a doubt Nakamura should be pushed as one of the main stars of whichever show he ends up on, but when you look at the men currently filling the top spots it’s hard to see what would be the best move for him.

Having spent the majority of his career in the rings of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Nakamura has built a cult following. You have to think that the main reason that NXT made a recent trip to Japan was because of the fact that they have Nakamura on board. The fact that he lost the NXT title to Samoa Joe at TakeOver: Toronto was purely for the reason that WWE wanted the feel good factor of having Nakamura win the title on home soil.

When Nakamura makes the move to the main roster, hopefully to SmackDown to face his former foe AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, the eyes of everyone in Japan will be in the WWE once again. The stage is set for the first ever legitimate Japanese World Champion, and Nakamura could be the man to push WWE to new heights on the Asian continent.

WWE.com

11. Not Every Title Will Be Defended at WrestleMania

In the current Brand Split environment of WWE, there are a lot of people vying for opportunities. At the same time, there are a lot of titles floating around in WWE right now. With a current total of nine titles across Raw and SmackDown, it’s almost a certainty that some of those championships will not have a place on the WrestleMania card.

When you think that last years ‘Mania 32 had a total of nine matches on the main card, it’s impossible to think that WWE would have a nine-match card this time round with every title on the line. Even if the pre-show ran at more than two hours, there may still be little opportunity to see all the titles have a proper defence.

When you think that WWE will want to present a couple of special attraction matches, with perhaps Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg amongst them, there will be no room for the lower level championships.

It’ll come down to the point where WWE will make some Championships feel like they are almost irrelevant, with the likes of the Cruiserweight title, or potentially the SmackDown Women’s title at risk of being the biggest victims on the night. Titles may not mean a lot to some fans, or even wrestlers, but if you can’t see them defended on the biggest night of the year you may as well declare them obsolete.

Asuka 4

10. Asuka Ends 2017 Still Undefeated

One thing is certain in WWE, Asuka will be the big dog of the NXT Women’s Division for as long as she sees fit, and nobody will be able to stop her. Since making her NXT arrival back in the Fall of 2015, nobody has been able to defeat Asuka. That steak will not be ended in the entire year of 2017 either.

During her time in NXT, Asuka has faced and beaten a whole host of women, and rarely looked troubled. Dana Brooke, Emma, Bayley, Nia Jax and most recently the returning Mickie James are amongst those that have been beaten by the current NXT Women’s Champion.

Asuka has a hard striking, submission style that has seen her rule the NXT Women’s Division since day one in the company. 2017 doesn’t look like bringing up a ready-made successor to Asuka’s throne in NXT, but may bring her some decent matches against the likes of Kimber Lee, Heidi Lovelace and Nixon Newell as the year goes on.

Until WWE sees another female that can carry the NXT Women’s Division, then Asuka will continue to be unbeaten and may very well head to the main roster with that title around her waist.

Credit WWE.com

9. Jack Gallagher Will Hold the U.S. or Intercontinental Championship

One man that is on the road to becoming a star against the odds in WWE is “The Extraordinary Gentleman” Jack Gallagher. The Manchester, England, native has come into the company and made a big impression with only a handful of appearances.

After making a name for himself in Europe and having trained in Japan, Gallagher made his way into the Cruiserweight Classic. He was eliminated in the second round of the tournament by Akira Tozawa, but was signed and has become part of the Cruiserweight Division roster on both Raw and 205 Live.

Gallagher’s style and character set him apart from many of his peers in the entire WWE. In a world where a lot of wrestlers seem to be copy and paste, Gallagher has his own unique look that seems to have caught on with fans on both shows which he stars on.

At a time when many men will have their sights set on the Cruiserweight Championship, it should be Gallagher that steps outside the division he currently finds himself in makes a mark on the other titles available. If he was to stick with Raw it wouldn’t be inconceivable to see him having good matches with many of the men who currently fill the mid card.

Jack Gallagher has all the tools needed to become the next big British star for WWE, it just needs someone high up to have a little faith in him.

WWE.com

8. A Couple of Rumble Surprises

One of the highlights of the year is, without doubt, the Royal Rumble. It’s that one time of the year when we can all hope to see one of our old favorites, or a new guy, make their main roster debut. The 2017 incarnation can be a great way to throw some of NXT’s top stars into the mix.

One man who would really benefit from a spot in the Rumble match is Tye Dillinger. In NXT he has taken a simple gimmick “The Perfect 10” and got it over massively, to the point that a lot of fans now chant the “Ten, Ten, Ten” in a similar vain to Daniel Bryan’s Yes chant. Now that Dillinger seems to have finished up his NXT commitments, the number ten spot in the Rumble really should be his.

Another man who seems to be done with NXT is Samoa Joe. Having faced Shinsuke Nakamura for the NXT title, having both won and lost the belt in recent months, there seems to be little left for Joe to do down on the developmental brand. At a time when the main roster, be that Raw or NXT needs a main event boost, someone like Samoa Joe could be just the man to answer that call.

Now we know that we currently have an issue between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg. We know that both men are in the Royal Rumble match. We know that they’re probably heading for a match at WrestleMania, so they are very unlikely to win the match. Why not have them both in the ring before Joe comes out and have him eliminate them both? The ultimate way to get Joe instantly over with the main roster crowd.

WWE.com

7. Ricochet Lands in NXT

The man known as Ricochet has been one of the most talked about indy wrestlers in the world for the last five or so years. In fact for the last couple of years people have talked about him becoming the latest coup for NXT, 2017 should finally be that time.

Ricochet is a man who has had a WWE tryout in the past. In early 2014 he apparently impressed with his in ring work, but the reaction from other wrestlers to the indy star went against him. At the time it was also reported that he was merely a victim of circumstances, the fact that WWE/NXT had enough guys of his size and stature and he would have been lost in the shuffle.

In the current climate, though, Ricochet could make a massive splash on the supposed developmental brand. One thing that has stood in his way in the last year is the fact he was starring on Lucha Underground as Prince Puma. Now that all of his commitments to them have been fulfilled, and his appearances have almost played out on tv, there’s not a lot to stand in his way of signing with WWE.

In the current landscape of NXT, there is nobody at the top level who is performing a similar style to Ricochet. His matches with men like Will Ospreay in the last twelve months have been some of the most talked about around the world. This could be a massive opportunity for Ricochet to make a dramatic impression in NXT, let’s just hope he can take that opportunity.

WWE.com

6. The Wyatt Family Takes Over SmackDown

The Wyatt Family is currently one of the most interesting things on SmackDown Live. When they lost Braun Strowman during the draft, and then Erick Rowan to injury, it looked like the group would be down to only two members in Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. Then we had the inclusion of Randy Orton, and things instantly took a turn for the better.

At a time when SmackDown looks to be the better in ring product, Raw seems to have everyone putting more emphasis on talking and backstage shenanigans. The Wyatt Family are something different that Raw doesn’t have, a group that can be as dominant as they want to be.

We currently see them holding the SmackDown Live Tag Team Titles, with all three men seemingly set to be defending the gold ala the New Day. But what’s stopping them going after other titles, and using their numbers to gain an advantage over the rest of the roster.

It’s not too much of a stretch to think of Orton or Harper defeating The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. It’s not beyond possibility that Wyatt himself could go after the World Championship, perhaps via the aid of winning the Money in the Bank match.

Wyatt, Orton, and Harper are three of the best on SmackDown, why not book them as the dominant force on the brand? Then have the rest of the roster living in fear of the group. Who knows they may even add more members to the Family and go after the women’s title as well.

WWE.com

5. Daniel Bryan vs The Miz Main Events a Pay-Per-View

Now we all know how heartbroken we felt when Daniel Bryan stood in that ring on Raw and told us all how he couldn’t wrestle anymore. We all know that when Bryan was announced as the GM of SmackDown Live that he would be a fantastic on-air face of the brand. We now all kind of get the feeling that we may yet see one more match from the leader of the YES movement, and it could be a mega match.

Bryan has arguably filled the GM role better than his counterpart Mick Foley has on Raw since the Brand Split in the summer. The Talking Smack talk show, which follows SmackDown Live every week, has been used to build characters and further story lines. One of the major success has been the ongoing feud between Bryan and Intercontinental Champion The Miz, a lot of which has played out on the show.

Both men have been outstanding in their roles during the verbal jousting. Bryan has become the man who doesn’t particularly want The Miz on his show, but knows his worth to the show all the same. Whilst The Miz has done his best to run down Bryan and criticize every little bit of Bryan’s career, all the time knowing how much of an asset he is to his brand.

It’s been quiet for a while between the two, but that only convinces me that we’ll end up with some kind of in ring confrontation between the two in the next twelve months. With Bryan having had his whole retirement, it may have to end up being an unsanctioned match. The WWE could refuse to let him wrestle due to doctor’s orders, only for Bryan to use his own doctors to give him the chance to put The Miz in his place.

There’s no doubt that the match could be used to build a whole pay-per-view around, with fans clamoring to see Bryan get one last send off in a WWE ring and hopefully get the better of The Miz.

WWE.com

4. The UK Title Tournament Leads to a UK Based PPV

The United Kingdom wrestling scene is one of the hottest in the world right now. With many companies selling out shows in a matter of minutes and hours, some of the best global talent and an array of events every week, it was only a matter of time before WWE took a serious look at some kind of regular shows across the pond.

Then a press conference was set up in London, featuring Triple H, William Regal and Finn Balor amongst others. What came out during that press conference was the announcement that the “WWE United Kingdom Championship” was being established and a tournament to determine the first holder of the belt would take place in mid-January.

Some of the top talent on these shores were named as taking part, including Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Wolfgang and James Drake amongst the 16 men in the field. It was also announced, by Triple H, that the tournament could very well lead to a UK based weekly show, in much the same vain as the newly established 205 Live.

So what’s to say that all this couldn’t lead to a UK based pay-per-view, or as we now know them “WWE Network Exclusive Event”, in 2017? WWE would invest a lot of money into the UK Championship and the tv show, so the next logical step would be a special event showcasing the men (and potentially women) from the UK and Europe.

Credit: WWE.com

3. Main Roster Stars Drop Down to Work in NXT

Despite the fact that NXT is one of the most talked about shows on WWE tv, at the end of the day, NXT is still the current developmental league for WWE. To that end is it such a bad idea that some of the men and women from the main roster are used to help the younger talents in NXT?

In the past, we’ve seen men like Cesaro and Tyson Kidd made trips back to NXT to work with those on the early steps of the WWE totem pole. Kidd was used in the main event scene and used it as a way to push himself back up the main roster. Cesaro dropped down to battle Sami Zayn, and had some of the best matches in NXT history.

Men like Dolph Ziggler, Titus O’Niell or even former NXT Champion Bo Dallas could use the experience to work with younger talent and aid their development, whilst gaining some momentum for themselves at the same time.

WWE has so many men and women who could be utilized to make a difference to the future talents of the company. It’s almost a weird thing to think that more of the main roster aren’t already used in this way.

WWE.com

2. John Cena Tries, Then Beats Ric Flair’s World Title Record

Currently, John Cena sits on 15 World Championship title reigns. The only man who sits in front of him in the ranks is the legendary Nature Boy, Ric Flair. 2017 should be the time when Cena ties Flair’s record and then goes on to beat it.

John Cena has been the franchise player for WWE for most of the last 15 years. He worked his way up the ranks and became the most important man in the company. He was the man who had the backing of VInce McMahon and was rewarded with fame, celebrity, money and title wins along the way.

Cena is fast becoming a crossover megastar, with roots in the world of professional wrestling, but now moving into acting and presenting on a regular basis outside of WWE. In the modern world of WWE, records seem to be all important to Vince McMahon. In the last year or so we’ve seen Nikki Bella become the longest reigning Women’s/Divas Champion of all time, and the New Day become the holders of the longest reign in the tag title history of WWE.

That alone tells you that WWE will want Cena to retire as the most decorated World Champion of all time, not allow the record to rest with Flair forever more. With Cena set to return on the final SmackDown of 2016, it’s time for him to be placed into the main event picture once more. That way he can get his hands on those two elusive title reigns and leave 2017 as the most decorated World Champion of all time.

WWE.com

1. Braun Strowman Rules the Roost

One man who looks set to be a big deal in 2017 is Braun Strowman. He started 2016 as a member of the Wyatt Family, was split from them as part of the draft and then ran roughshod over Raw. He heads into 2017 as a man on a mission to destroy everyone on the Raw roster.

Since his singles debut on Raw, he has destroyed everyone put in front of him. It started with a selection of “local talents” (the most famous of which being James Ellsworth) and has ended up with Sami Zayn being the David to Strowman’s Goliath. Strowman has been booked as an old fashioned monster who destroys everything in front of him.

Following the match with Sami Zayn at Roadblock, Strowman made his mark on Raw by destroying Titus O’Niell and Sin Cara, then attacking everyone in the main event. This should only serve as a wake up call that Strowman is heading to the main event scene and may very well be a big player in the upcoming Royal Rumble. There’s a reasonable chance he will win the Rumble as well.

It’s well known that Vince McMahon loves a big guy. Men like Strowman, the modern day giants, will always have a spot in WWE as they are the larger than life characters that people expect to see in professional wrestling. Strowman is in the great position that he may very well be in the right place at the right time.

If Strowman can go on to win the Royal Rumble, and head to WrestleMania with a Universal Championship opportunity in the bag, then there’s no stopping him on the grandest stage of them all. In fact on the current run he’s having, there may be nobody that can stop his demolition of the entire WWE, maybe not even the Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar.

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