Looking Back On My 2019 Predictions
Submitted by Justin Watry on 12/29/2019 at 10:35 PM

This column is a look back at my 2019 wrestling predictions. Obviously, this was posted 12 months ago, so save me the “You never said that!” replies.

Watry Looks Back On His 2019 Predictions

1. CM Punk returns in some fashion. – Let me save you the false assumption. I did NOT predict a CM Punk return in 2014. I did NOT predict a CM Punk return in 2015. I did not predict a CM Punk return in 2016. I did not predict a CM Punk return in 2017. No, I have not been blindly predicting this for the past five years just to finally say “See, I said it!” Sorry, you have the wrong guy. I said this in January for a couple reasons. First is what I know (again, podcast plug for everyone). Second is his MMA career going nowhere. Third is his comic books bombing. Fourth is his acting career not doing a whole heck of a lot. Fifth is timing. It was time. It really was. Time heals all wounds; 2014 was not right nor was 2015, 2016, 2017 or even 2018. I know he dipped his toe in the water doing a few autograph signings plus the mysterious hooded independent deals. Him signing on for WWE Backstage may technically be with FOX, but don’t be fooled. We know what this is, whether Punk wants to admit it or not. He’s back in the fold. Point for me.

2. Braun Strowman goes to Smackdown Live. – Boom! Two for two. He was moved in the WWE Draft thingy back in October. Truth be told, he should have moved after WrestleMania 34 in 2018. The tag team victory with the kid was pretty funny in the moment but devastating to his “monster status.” He had already lost to Brock Lesnar at No Mercy 2017, and it was clear his time on Raw was done. They tried a few more times to fire him up…but nothing happening. A move to the blue brand should help, and that is why I predicted the switch.

3. A TOP star goes to Smackdown Live. – No disrespect to Braun but he didn’t count in my book. I name dropped Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, and both ended up going to Smackdown Live in 2019. Brock did go back to RAW, but Reigns stuck around. Therefore, point for me. I figured with the big FOX move in October somebody had to be the main event level star going over. Made sense with the live October premiere, which brought me to my next prediction…

4. The Rock returns. – It had been YEARS since he appeared live inside a squared circle on WWE television. I specifically mentioned the FOX October premiere episode as the date. There is more to come from Rocky very soon, but that will have to wait until my 2020 predictions. Consider that a tease.

5. I won’t care about ROH or NJPW. – Another point! I sense big issues with them in late 2018. Ring Of Honor was going nowhere fast, and NJPW was about to lose its’ major stars to All Elite Wrestling. I knew going into 2019 they were NOT going to intrigue me. A full 12 months later, I don’t think I watched a single match from either promotion. Point me! Five for five.

6. AEW is legit. – Everybody had their own opinion on the new upstart promotion. For the record, the column was written just as the announcement was confirmed on New Year’s Day. It sparked a whole ton speculation. Some thought an internet streaming service would sign them. Some thought they just sold t-shirts. Some shot fort he moon and expected a lot more. However, I stuck to what I knew. They were indeed the real deal and had a TNT time slot waiting for them. Where the company goes in 2020 is anybody’s guess. For now though, being live on primetime every week on a Turner station is an amazing accomplishment.

7. Impact keeps on spiraling. – Yeah, who cares? Point me.

8. Batista returns to feud with Triple H. – Remember those Batista-AEW rumors? Ah, good times. I love the nonsense that gets reported. Batista has said all along that he wanted to wrestle HHH at WrestleMania, lose to him and then retire a million times. That was his story book finish. In October 2018, that very outcome was teased with an Evolution Reunion segment on Smackdown. A few months later, we had the long awaited Batista vs. HHH rematch at WM35. It was far from perfect based on the fan’s reactions but in The Animal’s eyes, it was perfect. Good for him. Now he gets to be a ‘first ballot’ WWE Hall of Famer in 2020. Very cool. Eight for eight.

9. NXT remains on WWE Network. – Alright, I am going to give myself half a point. If I wanted to be a total jerk, I would give myself the full point because they are still on the WWE Network. If I really wanted to be a jerk, I could claim that because it is a fact. At the time, the talk was NXT to FS1. I never really bought into that because FS1 is a garbage network. You see the Backstage viewership numbers. Nobody watches that channel. If NXT went there, the numbers would be a tad bit higher than Backstage but not by much. Very few watch it. That is why I assumed NXT would stick around on the WWE Network. However, I did write that the prediction was a gamble because there was so much TV money being thrown around. It’d be difficult to turn down yet another big money offer. Sure enough, NXT did indeed move to USA Network in September BUT stuck around on the WWE Network 24 hours later as a re-air. Therefore, nine months staying on the WWE Network and being added 24 hours after the USA airing should get me half a point. Fair?

10. The new NXT call ups are handled better than past years. I am specifically referring to EC3, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross, and Lars Sullivan as they were the ones that got “Coming Soon” hype videos. I will give myself a point here because Heavy Machinery are perfect in their current roles. Nikki Cross has been featured a ton, even getting a Women’s Tag Team Title run with Alexa Bliss. Lars was a monster before injury. EC3 has a clean victory over Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley) and is a multi-time champ. Lacey Evans had the historic first ever WWE women’s match in Saudi Arabia, was thrust into a feud with Becky Lynch and even main evented a few pay-per-view events as a wrestler and special guest referee. Now we get to see how she does as a face after losing her heel luster. Yeah, I’d say a pretty darn good year for that wave of NXT call ups. Oddly enough, a few months later, more joined in with the likes of Ricochet, Aleister Black, and Viking Raiders. All doing great as well.

11. There will be no more Lucha Underground in 2019. – Sadly, another point for me. Despite everybody hoping and praying that Lucha Underground would continue airing in 2019, I knew better. This thing was done once the talent starting getting releases and being allowed to work elsewhere. The producers held on a bit longer, but the writing was on the wall. As some know, I actually watched the entire first season of Lucha Underground and enjoyed it for the most part. I tuned in for the second season but quickly lost interest, so I know all about the match quality and wacky story lines. It just became TOO MUCH and went TOO FAR with the fancy crap. Viewership dropped, interest dropped, talent dropped, and it ended. Here is the silver lining though – Lucha Underground just may make an appearance in 2020. In some fashion.

12. Bray Wyatt tweaks his character. Some of my ideas included just vignettes, only wrestling on pay-per-view and no more of the Matt Hardy WOKEN crap. I nailed them all. He stuck to mainly vignettes for a lot of the year. He has rarely wrestled on TV, outside of special one offs. Plus, his pairing with Matt Hardy was thankfully never brought up again. He introduced the Firefly Funhouse and was initially mocked…only to see him ride that momentum straight to the Universal Championship. I was at WrestleMania 33 when he walked into the event as WWE Champion. Too young and too talented to be ‘done’ as many tried to claim last year. Another point for me.

13. Women’s Tag Team Titles are introduced. – This was already in the works at the time. Still, there was doubt and skepticism. I knew it would happen in 2019. It kinda had to. Too many women on the roster. At the February Elimination Chamber PPV a month later, Bayley and Sasha Banks were crowned the inaugural champs. Awesome moment. Then the whole thing fell apart until recently. Nice to see The Kabuki Warriors main event the final pay-per-view of the year as Women’s Tag Team Champions. Impressive for the women’s tag division.

14. An unexpected name comes back to WWE. – My big name drop here was Melina among others. In a future column, I listed John Morrison as a name to watch out for. Even though this was such a broad prediction, you have to award me the point because Melina returning to WWE (Raw Reunion) was such a ridiculous statement to make 12 months ago, yet it happened.

15. WWE’s global expansion continues. – More exposure for NXT UK. EVOLVE had their moment in the sun. A big showcase for the Worlds Collide show. More Takeovers and of course the Saudi Arabia stuff keeps going. The WWE Network is too important to the company as a worldwide entity. They need to keep on expanding. Another point for me, 14.5 out of 15 for those keeping score so far.

16. XFL will go on as planned. – Not really wrestling related but fits because of the Vince McMahon. Who really cares about what happened to the other football league? Since when has Vince McMahon ever cared about what others think? He has wanted to do another XFL season ever since the initial promotion went under. Heck, he never even wanted to end it then! Personally, my belief is XFL falls flat. I have said that since day one. I think this is just a rich billionaire playing with money before he starts to wind down. Airing on ESPN, ABC and elsewhere is a major win for the XFL even without technically getting paid for the games. That is a huge victory for them but still, ultimately people have to watch, and I’m just not convinced they will. Time will tell.

17. I may attend WrestleMania in 2020 depending on location – We can just cross this out. More of a personal thing than wrestling. I didn’t really care for the Tampa Bay rumor, but it was true. As most know, I attended WrestleMania 33 in Orlando in 2017. My first and only WM event. Of all the places to go, I am not sure going back to Florida makes sense. Kinda want to travel to a different part of the country. For instance, I just came back from a trip to California. That was fun. If WrestleMania was announced for Los Angeles in 2021, I doubt I would want to go. I just went there! Bottom line: WWE needs to branch out a bit more with Mania. Safeco Field in Seattle was awesome. Lambeau Field in Green Bay would be amazing. Fenway Park in Boston would be nuts. So many cool stadiums out there…

18. Roman Reigns will return. – Boom! One year ago, we didn’t know if Roman Reigns would even live much less do anything physical ever again. Yet, here I was talking about him returning to WWE? Insane, right? Well, he would be back just three months later. Why did I think about such an odd thing? Well, as I explained in the column, the health updates were scarce. Things had gone radio silent since the initial leukemia diagnosis in late 2018. I thought things were a little TOO QUIET. Then came the big news that Roman Reigns would be on Raw for an “update.” That could have only meant one thing. He was coming back…something I teased on Twitter days before the news was made public.

19. Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch headlines WrestleMania 35. – I will give myself half a point because in my paragraph explanation I mentioned the fact that Charlotte Flair would be added, but I preferred Becky/Ronda one on one, so I went with that. Also in my 2018 year end column I said Charlotte has earned herself the WM main event slot. Hedge my bet I know. Half a point seems fair. Like the NXT/WWE Network prediction, if I wanted to be a clown, I could just give myself a full point. The truth is MANY fans never believed the women would main event WrestleMania. A lot of folks SWORE it would never happen. I wrote many times in 2018 that it was going to happen in April 2019. Becky Lynch gaining momentum, Charlotte Flair having a standout 2018, and Ronda Rousey being the dominant champion created the perfect storm. It was now or never. Half a point, I suppose even if the basic idea was dead on – the women would headline Mania.

20. Ronda Rousey loses to Becky Lynch at WM35. – This was my big prediction for 2019, and I nailed it. Ronda Rousey was going to be taking a hiatus for the rest of 2019, and Becky Lynch was the hottest act in the industry. Also my 2019 Royal Rumble winner pick (happened weeks later as an unannounced participant), she made all the sense in the world. It was not going to be Charlotte Flair despite all the hoopla about her getting another accolade. This was going to be Becky’s moment – with “THE MAN standing tall to end the show.” My exact quote from the early January 2019 column, long before the Royal Rumble PPV and months before the bout even took place. You’re welcome.

SUMMARY: A stunning 18 out of 19, taking away the pointless WM2020 entry. I only missed a half point on NXT airing on WWE Network, even though that was correct for nine months out of the year and Charlotte being added to the Becky/Ronda matchup even though I did talk about that exact scenario happening. On the positive side, you could say I got zero wrong. On the negative side, I got two wrong. Either way, another successful year in ‘I Was Right’ Watry Predictions, all the while I get insulted, called a troll and continuously get ignored despite my stellar track record. Oh well, par the course. What does the future hold in 2020? Stay tuned…

By Justin Watry (Follow on Twitter: @JustinWatry)

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