20 Bold Predictions For 2019 Submitted by Justin Watry on 01/11/2019 at 03:00 PM
Hi, I'm Justin Watry. You may remember me from such columns as March 2012's "WWE WrestleMania 28: Sheamus Should Defeat Daniel Bryan In Less Than A Minute" and October 2016's "WWE NXT: Bobby Roode, You're Next."
20 Bold Predictions For 2019
1. CM Punk returns to wrestling in some fashion - I made this prediction last year and sure enough, the man did an autograph signing at a wrestling store right next to the ALL IN festivities in Illinois during the Fall. A bit iffy admittedly. However, it counts. He profited and clearly piggy banked off a wrestling event and directly or not was associated with wrestling in "some fashion." I expect a similar situation in 2019. Whether it is an autograph signing, WWE Hall of Fame invite to sit in the crowd amongst legends or whatever, he will do something. I am NOT predicting a WWE return or anything wild. Relax. The infamous quote I was given was that he has told friends he will consider himself a failure at life if he ever went back to WWE. A failure at life ladies and gentlemen. Very strong words. I believe Punk is way too bull headed to go back on his word now. Maybe down the line never say never in this wacky industry but not anytime soon. Still, UFC and garbage reality shows only go so far. Wrestling is his game.
2. Braun Strowman goes to Smackdown LIVE - This was one of my misses from 2018. I may as well try again, right? On the same show as Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, he was not going to get that dominant run as Universal Champion. He just wasn't. On the blue brand, there was more room. Plus, he would have definitely stood out more as the monster. It didn't happen in the Superstar Shakeup to my surprise. Come 2019, I am guessing he loses at the Royal Rumble in his Universal Title bout, hovers around RAW for the next few months through WrestleMania 35 and then jumps ship. I may be wrong (again), but that is my prediction. He is the perfect guy to showcase on FOX prime time come October 2019.
3. A TOP star goes to Smackdown Live - No disrespect to Braun, but I see bigger names heading to Smackdown LIVE before the debut on FOX. I am thinking a Brock Lesnar. I am thinking a Rowdy Ronda Rousey. I am thinking a Roman Reigns (if healthy) type of star. Heck, we are probably going to get John Cena and The Undertaker making special appearances. Edge may as well be a regular again as General Manager or hosting the Cutting Edge talk show. WWE is going to go all out for the October premiere and then try to continue that momentum into WM36 season. If not, they are foolish. That leads to my next paragraph...
4. The Rock returns to WWE - Pop quiz: The Rock's last WWE match was when? Figure it out yet? If you said John Cena at WrestleMania 29 in the main event for the WWE Championship, you are wrong. Rocky wrestled Erick Rowan at WM32 as a surprise cameo and won in all of 10 seconds. I can guaranDARNtee you this. That is not going to be The Great One's final bout. He will be back and after taking off the last two Manias, there is no better time than now to come back. His last major hyped up match was against Cena at WM29, and it was at that very stadium WWE is returning to for WM35. Whether he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame or whatever, he will be on WWE TV more regularly than the last couple of years. Smackdown on FOX in October sure is tempting, huh?
5. I continue not to care about NJPW or Ring Of Honor - Two years ago, I made a plea to the wrestling world. Anybody who read my columns in or out of the business - make me care about something NON WWE! Please. Make me care. I watched the much talked about match with Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet. Just as I watched the fabled 80 star match from WrestleKingdom two years ago. I mean, I even watched Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho wrestle. Also, believe it or not, I do check out the rare Ring Of Honor show on my local channel here in Wisconsin when I get the chance (few times a year). Each time, I watch, shrug and move on. I want to care folks! I want to. I love wrestling and a big fan. Give me a reason to care in 2019...
6. AEW is the real deal - See? I want to care, but you need to give me a reason to care first. I do not give two hoots about The Young Bucks and have repeatedly said I don't follow them, don't watch their matches, and have never even seen a "Being The Elite" YouTube episode. I could not care less. Same with Cody Rhodes and his big independent scene run. I didn't watch or follow any of it. I know the dude is talented. He does not need to wrestle in gyms and bingo halls to prove that. I hyped him up during his entire WWE run and called for him to do more every single time I wrote an "Underrated" list. He was on there every time. I know these guys are talented and have a strong fanbase. That is why I am going to back their All Elite Wrestling and give them an honest to goodness chance. Being backed by a billionaire's son always helps, but money can be wasted just as quickly as it can be spent wisely. Time will tell how this goes but for now, I imagine a good television/streaming deal has to be in the works and major signings by the spring. Good luck to them all.
Please note I am writing this BEFORE their Jacksonville rally on Tuesday. That should be interesting and NEEDS to be big right out of the gate.
7. Impact Wrestling keeps on spiraling - The cockroach of the wrestling will continue to survive but never thrive. I said it when they lost Spike TV (which I called), I said it when their Destination America deal was supposedly filled with so much support (called that BS too), and I will say now that POP TV has kicked them to the 9pm time slot and eventually off their network. Whatever the heck Pursuit is will be happy to have them...on Fridays at 9pm (only listed as 90 minutes on the website). However, that is not going to get it done. I do not care about their Twitch airing or their 800 million press releases touting YouTube numbers. None of that means anything, as evidenced by their slow, slow fall to irrelevancy. Remember folks, I watched their Spike TV debut and still recall the exact date. I used to record every single episode and keep them on all my VHS tapes. I was there folks. I know how much excitement there was in this brand. Not anymore.
8. Batista returns - No explanation needed.
9. NXT remains on WWE Network - Okay, this one is a gamble. I predicted in 2018 despite having a little bit of a tease run on USA Network. Now, there are rumors NXT will be heading to FS1 or another Fox affiliate come October. I have no idea if that is true. I could see it. WWE will want all they can get out of the FOX deal. I still say XFL might end up airing on a FOX channel at some point. Regardless, NXT on WWE Network fits like a glove. The company is already getting over $2 billion in TV rights fees. Come on!
10. The new NXT call ups are handled better than others - As of this moment, Lars Sullivan, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, and EC3 are still 'on their way to WWE.' None have debuted on the main roster yet. I expect them to debut soon, likely VERY soon, and I also expect them to get off to a good start. I already wrote about each of them in a column from late 2018. Needless to say, my hopes are high. Forget The Revival, The Ascension, Tyler Breeze, and others. These guys and gals have a legitimate shot at doing well.
11. Lucha Underground wraps up - To prove my point about WANTING to care about other promotions, I actually watched all of season one of Lucha Underground. No joke. I used to baby sit for my god daughter once a week, and he had a million cable channels for me to enjoy. Guess what I would watch that night? Yep, Lucha Underground. I actually liked most of what I saw. My two major complaints were Chavo Guerrero and the man/woman wrestling thing. I remember there were also some unprotected chair shots. Honestly though, most of what I saw was good. I wrote about it on another website, trust me. By the time the season ended with that awesome two-three minute teaser for a second season, I was hooked! Then the second season arrived. For whatever reason, it lacked energy. Lacked buzz. Lacked excitement. Within a few episodes, I was out. Gone in an instant. Cool that old episodes were on Netflix for awhile, but that is also gone. From my understanding, it costs a ton to produce, has ridiculous contracts and does not exactly draw major numbers on TV. Thus, with funding cut, stars being let out of their deals, and an overall industry that is adding even MORE separate promotions, Lucha Underground may be the odd man out.
12. Bray Wyatt tweaks his character - We can't sit through more of the WOKEN nonsense. None of us deserve that. Just the same, another 'Family' reunion is also not a bright idea. Bray Wyatt just needs to freshen up the act. Try more hocus pocus. Do the Sting act where he lingers around the arena all show before jumping in for a brawl at the end. Perhaps he should ONLY do vignettes in his little barn swinging in his rocking chair and ONLY wrestle on pay-per-views. I am just throwing out ideas. He is too young and too great of a character to have yet another wasted year. He was WWE Champion 23 months ago and walked into WrestleMania 33 with that very title. I know. I was there. He can get back to that point.
13. Womens Tag Team Titles are introduced - For what it is worth, I do not think this such a great idea as it is on paper. We saw it before, and the results were bad. Once you have the same two or three teams feud over the belts, it is nothing but thrown together tandems that was much better on their own. Even so, Vince McMahon and company have already revealed plans for new titles to debut in the new year. The only reason I am including it in my BOLD predictions is because these rumors have been out there for awhile now and still zero. Nothing. Nada. I am going to guess Santa Claus finally gets his wish in 2019, whether I like it or not.
14. An old, unexpected name comes back to WWE - Alex Riley? Tyler Reks? Matt Morgan? This is the year where a completely weird and forgotten wrestler comes back into the fold. Think of a Jinder Mahal who shocked the world and came back...and then went on to win the WWE Championship. I am not talking about a Drew McIntyre or EC3; we knew those guys would eventually make their way back. Even a Melina, Victoria, Mason Ryan, or Justin Gabriel. Again, just a person out of left field that you never expected in a million years. It'd be fun to get YOUR predictions on this topic!
15. WWE's global expansion continues - Mae Young Classic, NXT UK, other promotions popping up on the WWE Network, etc. Why is WWE going to keep signing talents? Because they are going to keep on inventing new shows, new content, new revenue streams, new everything. In a world where Carlito can randomly pop up on The Edge And Christian Show on the WWE Network, anything is possible. As we have all noticed, the United States market has all but dried up for the time being, so why not go to Australia more? Do more Saudi Arabia events for 80 billion dollars? Hit up England, Japan, and everywhere in between for major shows.
16. XFL will go on as planned - There are some who believe Vince McMahon will get cold feet and bail on his XFL project. Some even think his Alpha Entertainment trademark is just a cover for WWE paying all the bills. I disagree. Vinny Mac has billions to play with and if he wants to give football another try, I say go for it. You only live once, right? Who are we to tell the man what to do with HIS money he has earned and built up over his decades in this business? Good for him. Personally, I think this falls flat again, but that can unfold in 2020. Until then, the theme song is catchy, the team locations are cool, the stadiums may be wayyyyy too big but are still nice places, and best of all-this is getting the time he needs to be introduced. Not simply rushed out there to fail in record time.
17. Depending on the location announced in a few weeks, I may attend WrestleMania in 2020 - This one is a personal prediction. Like I mentioned in my awesome "My Journey To Orlando" column, I made a proclamation and vow to myself that I would attend WM for the first time ever in either 2016 or 2017. I made that claim in late 2015. Once I determined that I would not attend the massive Texas edition, I made it clear: I was going to Orlando the following year. It was not a prediction; it was a spoiler. Now a few years later, here we are again. I am NOT attending WrestleMania 35 in the New Jersey/New York market. However, I am curious as to next year's edition. If it is in Minneapolis as rumored or somewhere else I want to travel to, let the planning begin!
Okay, now for my three big predictions I teased at the start of the column...
18. Roman Reigns comes back to WWE - This is more of a hope than a logical pick. I do not know about any of you, but Roman Reigns announcing his leukemia battle was pretty devastating to me as a fan. It was a big blow. The hole he left on the entire company is still being felt three months later. I am not saying the recent downturn in ratings and interest is ALL because of his exit, but it absolutely plays a role. My wish is he beats this quickly and is back better than ever. The fact that health updates have been very scarce tell me he is doing great and is already thinking about a WWE return. Keeping it all quiet as they say. Out of sight, out of mind. Call me crazy (and I am sure you will), but I want Reigns back on WWE television as soon as possible.
Alright, the time has arrived for the bombshell...
19. Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch headlines WrestleMania 35 - I called for women to main event WrestleMania 34 with Ronda Rousey's debut and subsequent match of the year performance. I even called Asuka to win the Royal Rumble and have a great bout despite others doubting if they could all pull it off last January. I loved Evolution in October and just noted that the final three Raws of 2018 were carried by the women. John Cena and Vince McMahon recently returned to TV and immediately got the spotlight placed on them thanks to Becky Lynch (and others). Needless to say, the women have officially taken over and leading that charge into 2019 is none other than Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch. Somehow, someway we NEED this match. We need it. Include Charlotte Flair if you must (I wouldn't). Whatever it takes: Rousey and Lynch headlining WM35 is beyond huge and is absolutely the biggest money making feud going in WWE right now. It needs to happen, and I believe it will.
As great as that all sounds, I will double down on this prediction and go one step further...
20. Ronda Rousey loses - There it is. My big bold prediction of 2019 is that Ronda Rousey finally loses a match and if there is any right in this world, it is to Becky Lynch on the grandest stage of them all. I know conventional wisdom and any common sense says Rousey will beat Becky to close out the story, but screw it. Let's go the full monty. We don't know if Rousey is sticking around for the remainder of 2019 or even plans to keep her full-time schedule going. Her family plans have been well known. I say she goes for another year, but that is wishful thinking. A move to Smackdown LIVE and slower schedule (think Brock) would not be the worst thing in the world. She has more than proven her passion and skills during 2018. Rousey has a heel run in her that could be MONEY, but that can all wait. Right here and right now, Rousey vs. Lynch is your WrestleMania 35 main event with THE MAN standing tall to end the show.