Back in early 2017, I was asked to contribute to TJRWrestling’s annual writer’s predictions. We each gave five predictions on what we thought would happen in the coming year for all things wrestling. I’m pretty sure none of mine have come true yet (Editor’s note: You are correct!), but looking back at that time and where we are now, could I have come up with five predictions that would’ve seemed ludicrous then, but made me look like Nostradamus now.
Granted if I said these five back in January, I’d probably be carted off to a secure facility much like when Homer Simpson was sent to where he met a big, bald Michael Jackson. Long story, but check out that episode if you already haven’t. It’s awesome. So anyway, here are my five ‘crazy’ predictions that would’ve had me committed:
Jinder Mahal will become World Heavyweight Champion
This was an open goal really, as I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted this at the start of 2017. To play devil’s advocate for a moment, a big gripe some WWE fans had with the product was that it was too predictable at times. They always pushed the same guys without giving others a chance. Making Jinder the champion answered all of those criticisms. If people didn’t like it, tough, you got what you asked for. Mahal has defended his belt three times now, and perhaps Nakamura will take it from him at Summerslam, or perhaps even Corbin will cash in. Whatever happens now, at least we’ll still have the Singh brothers who’ve been a highlight of this incredible turn of events.
Sheamus will be a popular champion on Raw
The Celtic Warrior has sometimes divided opinion during his time in WWE. There’s no doubting his look and ability, but the same tired gimmick hurt the guy in years gone by. This is something he’s addressed and switched up his appearance to try and keep fresh. I liked his rivalry with Cesaro and the best of seven series was good viewing. They did the best they could with what they had, and they did really well.
In a previous column I wrote how Sheamus had been one of the last draft picks recently. It’s no secret that the pairing of him and Cesaro is one of the highlights of Raw for me. I am and always will be a Hardy Boys fan, but I really enjoy the odd pairing currently holding the Raw Tag Titles. It seems I’m not the only one, as many fans are enjoying their run as champions and the fans in attendance also enjoy their work. There are cheers when they enter the arena. Their look is popular and both men give the impression they’re really enjoying themselves. Long may it continue.
Bayley will get lost in the shuffle on Raw
Easily one of the most popular women’s wrestlers with the WWE Universe, Bayley should’ve set the division alight when she arrived on Raw, but sadly it hasn’t turned out that way. It’s hard to fathom how a perfect babyface (over with fans, adored by kids, admired for her talent) has been mishandled and fallen down the pecking order. It’s a similar story to Mickie James, although I’d say Bayley has a bigger connection with the kids, whereas Mickie has a better connection with the older fans. I put her slide down to her opponents. Losing Charlotte from Raw and the lack of a heel turn for Sasha Banks (who is way better as a heel) has hampered Bayley’s progress. I hope her recent injury doesn’t keep her side-lined for too long, but perhaps some time out of the spotlight will help her and give the Raw writers some opportunities to give her a good return.
John Cena will lose clean to a ‘rising’ star in a number one contender’s match
John Cena has always come under fire from various WWE fans. I’ve often been critical of his work, but purely on how he’s been booked. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the man himself. One criticism that was often levelled at Cena was that he wouldn’t put anyone over, that he always had to win, that newer guys were ‘fed’ to him to run over. While there may be some truth to this in the past (Nexus), it’s fair to say this criticism can’t be fired at him now. I didn’t expect him to lose and lose clean to Nakamura on Smackdown Live, but he did and in doing so thereby pushed a ‘newer’ talent on the roster and simultaneously silence some of his more vocal critics.
The United States Title will be THE Title on Smackdown Live
Do titles maketh the man, or doth the man maketh the title? (this also applies to women, of course). It’s a fair point that the main titles of each brand (Universal & World Heavyweight) should be the focal point for each show. That hasn’t always been the case this year, but recently it appears that Raw has shifted its focus onto the red belt in a big way.
Over on the blue brand, the World Heavyweight Championship hasn’t garnered as much attention as the ‘lesser’ title that is the United States Championship. Perhaps this is a clear indicator that the champion and those they feud with make the belt more important? The storylines, build and matches improve the standing of the gold on the show. In Smackdown’s case, the Heavyweight Title has only been contested by Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton in the last two to three months with nobody else in the picture. For the United States Tile, we have two of the best stars on the roster competing week in week out for it. While I bemoaned Kevin Owens’ switch to Smackdown and dreaded AJ Styles would be traded to Raw, I’m really happy WWE has kept both men in the US Title picture. They’ve made it the must-see belt and feud in recent months. Even the switch on a non-televised show made it all the more interesting. While it may have eclipsed the Heavyweight Title at the moment, it’s no bad thing as we’re witnessing some great wrestling by two of the best in the business.
If I had indeed predicted these five events to happen in 2017, I’m quite sure I would’ve deleted the article before sending it. However sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction, and it has to be said, we’ve been surprised, excited and enthralled by what some of these ‘crazy’ predictions have given us. Who knows what will happen next week, next month or next year? It goes to show you that sometimes you can’t stay away from WWE for too long. Who knows what you’ll miss?
What do you think? Were these five predictions too crazy to have dreamt up in January? Have I missed anything you believe was worth adding? What was your biggest surprise of the year so far? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.