Welcome, one and all, to my annual PREDICTIONS column posted exclusively here at NoDQ.com. I’ve been writing these columns since my big comeback during the early 2010s and they are influenced by an online blogger named Karl Denninger from Market-Ticker.org. At the end of each year, Karl would make his next year’s financial and economic predictions but also score the predictions from the year before. I enjoyed his blogs that I opted to bring that format into making predictions for pro wrestling.
And I must say this in advance… Predicting the wrestling business has become VERY HARD. I used to be great at this, batting 0.500 while purposely trying to make my predictions difficult and not obvious. But for the past 2 years, holy cow, Vince McMahon and CM Punk are the biggest wildcards ever. Those two are impossible variables to predict, but at the same time, their unpredictability and spontaneous abilities make pro wrestling fun to follow.
But as a person writing a predictions column, both of those 2 make me look silly and make constructing predictions that much more difficult. However, now that both are playing for the same team (WWE) and with Vince McMahon no longer in control (Endeavor can overrule him at any time), maybe we’ll have a stable 2024? Yeah right, who am I kidding… Complete chaos is ahead of us.
Before we get into the 2024 predictions, we have to score how I did the year before… Keep in mind with my 2023 predictions, I had NO IDEA that Vince McMahon was going to force his way back onto the WWE board. I wrote my column on 12/31/2022 and Vince McMahon did his hostile WWE takeover as the #1 shareholder on January 6th, 2023. Keep that in mind when you read the context of these 2023 predictions, and I was also assuming that either legal battles or an AEW comeback would happen with CM Punk following the All In 2022 incidents. I was 100% right on that damn prediction until Jack Perry decided to confront CM Punk at Wembley Stadium.
2023 Predictions Review
#1 – WWE will sign a new deal with Comcast/NBC Universal early during 2023 to extend both RAW on USA Network and WWE Network on Peacock. Miss – Comcast/NBC signed a deal to re-acquire WWE Smackdown during the Fall of 2023. RAW remains in play, as of the writing of this column.
#2 – The Rock vs. Roman Reigns will happen at Wrestlemania 39, but Cody Rhodes will be the one who successfully defeats him for at least 1 WWE World Title. Miss – Rock and Roman was reportedly discussed for WM 39, per the Pat McAfee interview, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Cody vs. Roman did happen and Cody got screwed out of the title.
#3 – NXT’s prime time show will be moved and repackaged to Peacock. Miss again. NXT was repackaged during 2023 under Triple H’s role and the show greatly improved, insomuch that it acquired its own deal for the CW Network.
#4 – WWE Monday Night RAW will be revised to a 2 hour show. Miss – Not sure what I was thinking during late 2023, but I believe I was thinking about the NBC Sports channel dissolving and moving parts to USA Network to cause a need for more time to be available.
#5 – Vince McMahon will be back on WWE television at least once for 2023. Well, what about this one? I was assuming Triple H & Stephanie would help Vince save face for Vince and place him in the Hall of Fame after his scandals. What I didn’t assume was Vince forcing his way back onto the WWE Board and then selling the company. That said, did Vince ever appear on WWE programming? I can’t remember if any clips from the WWE sale showed or not? But he certainly did not appear on WWE television, so I’m taking another MISS here.
#6 – AEW Dynamite will have its timeslot revised during 2023. Miss – AEW held firm on Wednesdays on TBS throughout 2023. I was thinking more time movement would occur with the NHL coming aboard, possibly even moving AEW Dynamite to Monday or Friday night. Instead, Warner Bros Discovery gave them AEW Collision for Saturday night.
#7 – Sasha Banks will return to the WWE during 2023. Miss, but I believe that I’m so close on this one. I assumed with Triple H back in charge through late 2022, Sasha would come home. Nope, but with Triple H firmly back in charge now, I believe Sasha is returning to WWE in 2024 and that is one of my predictions below.
#8 – Kevin Dunn will be done with the WWE during 2023. Late arrival on this news, but I’m taking it. It was just posted on 12/30/23 that Kevin Dunn is intending to retire by year’s end. What I was thinking, heading into the year, was that with Triple H in charge, Dunn would be done with the WWE. Eventually, that turned out to be true as it’s very apparent that Kevin Dunn prefers working directly with Vince. POINT!
#9 – Tessa Blanchard will sign with either WWE or AEW during 2023. I had a good source tell me that some discussions were happening and then during 2023, Tessa made-up with the reported offended that caused lots of Tessa’s controversies during 2019-2020. Yet, she’s still on the sidelines and AEW/WWE won’t budge on signing her. What a shame, as many other wrestlers get a second chance but not her.
#10 – NWA will be close to folding or will merge with another company during 2023. Screw you guys, I’m taking the point here. That CW Network deal falling through the cracks was devastating and I believe will be the beginning of the end for this promotion. They are still without a significant TV deal and are just limping along on Smashing Pumpkins money.
#11 – At least one of the EVPs of AEW will be demoted during 2023. This one is iffy… I think this has happened, but hasn’t been announced. The Young Bucks haven’t been as active appearing at AEW shows as they have in the past. Furthermore, they had no initial control of AEW Collision and Tony actually gave CM Punk creative control over that show. They just re-signed their existing deals, as WWE showed no interest in them, but I don’t think the have much power creatively or over talent. Tony is hoarding that for himself.
#12 – More premium live events from foreign countries will be added to WWE’s schedule. Bingo, Money in the Bank was from London this year. Point scored here.
#13 – Saudi Arabia is going to see at least 1 Stone Cold Steve Austin match-up during 2023. Miss – What the hell was I thinking here? Austin has not wrestled since Wrestlemania 38’s match against Kevin Owens.
#14 – Nick Khan will step down as WWE Co-President or take on a reduced WWE role. Miss, because I felt Nick was attached to Vince McMahon and his dealings and again, I didn’t foresee Vince McMahon’s hostile takeover.
#15- CM Punk will not appear in the WWE during 2023. Miss, but damn it, I had this one in the bag until November 2023. What I was thinking during late 2022 was that either CM Punk returns, as Tony couldn’t break the contract, or that a lawsuit was coming to tie up CM Punk for 2023. Little did I know that CM Punk would return and then get into a fight with Jack Perry that caused him to be terminated.
Well, I’m looking at maybe 3 for 15 or possibly 4 for 15… However, I believed that WWE’s roots with Comcast/NBC/Universal were firm, Sasha Banks will probably return to WWE in the future, someone can’t keep ignoring Tessa Blanchard’s abilities, and there are more shoes to drop for AEW’s future. Tony’s mishandling of CM Punk and re-signing of the Bucks is going to burn him, long-term.
2023 YEAR IN REVIEW
So why did I have such a bad 2023 predictions year? Well, 2023 was a year to behold… 2022 had many crazy headlines, too, but 2023 was like “hold my beer”.
During late December, there were rumblings that Vince McMahon wanted back in the WWE. Yet, nobody knew the extent of that until WWE began filing public documents on the SEC website during early January 2023 (after I posted my predictions). Vince McMahon used his position as #1 shareholder, along with the devotion of many WWE shareholders, to force a change in WWE’s Board of Directors to put himself and 2 loyal ex-WWE executives on the board. Soon thereafter, the WWE began giving hints that they were up for sale. Not wanting any to deal with any more drama, both inside the ring and possibly at home, Stephanie McMahon resigned as co-President/CEO to “focus on family”, which follows up her action about a year before when taking a leave-of-absence.
Speculation ran rampant on just WHO would buy the WWE. One wrestling insider suggested, within days, that a Saudi Arabian investor had bought the company and for days, we hear endless calls for “boycotts” by the usual social justice warrior fans about dealing with that country. Maybe you should boycott your own car for the amount of Saudi oil you have put into it, among many oil-based products that you’ve likely used. But luckily, that rumor was proven to be false and the WWE remained up for sale for a brief while… Then, during early April 2023, Endeavor announced its acquisition of the WWE to form a combined company that houses both its UFC promotion and the WWE called “TKO”. Vince kept a portion of his shares and became its Board Chairman.
However, many fans were worried about Vince McMahon’s return… When he rejoined the WWE during early January 2023, it was suggested that Triple H would continue his Creative/Talent duties… However, Vince McMahon returned backstage and began micro-managing everything once again… But this wasn’t the 2010s when HHH was in charge of Creative and Vince rewrote his stuff. This time, Triple H had a good track record of 2022 where the business kept growing during the year and thus the Rumble to Wrestlemania season as a legit collaboration. While many saw Cody losing to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 39 was a “Vince decision” and then getting attacked by Brock on the RAW afterward was too, the storyline of Cody proved everyone wrong. The Lesnar feud made Cody 10 times stronger, along with a close loss to Roman. Wrestlemania 40 is going to be a big crowning moment for Cody Rhodes.
Endeavor, though, put its foot down and changed the way Vince McMahon acted as an executive. They immediately ordered him to leave the Creative/Talent/Live Event duties to Triple H to manage while Vince focuses on making the TKO corporation stronger at a higher level. In turn, this decision was genius because Triple H truly delegates authority rather than attempting to make all decisions by himself like Vince. The result has been positive vibrations from the WWE locker room with a much more experienced Triple H in charge and him empowering wrestlers to tell great stories and have great matches without Vince possibly rewriting their stuff on the following week. Triple H has come full circle during 2023, and his culture building in the WWE has truly allowed someone like a CM Punk to want to return.
Oh yeah, that guy… CM Punk, the man who repeatedly breaks the Internet Wrestling Community…
Heading in to 2023, you didn’t know where AEW was going with CM Punk. If you’ll recall, trouble began brewing during mid-2022 when Adam “Hangman” Page went into business for himself and went unscripted to allude to CM Punk reportedly having Colt Cabana terminated from AEW and placed on the ROH brand. This was 100% false, but the fact that Page, as encouraged by the Young Bucks, tried this on live television was highly unprofessional. Punk “took it” at the time, but got his revenge by shooting on Adam Page during a Dynamite promo months later when Punk recovered from an injury. However, the Elite weren’t done and kept feeding lines to insider trolls like the Observer boys about Punk’s role in Cabana’s employment change at AEW. Tony Khan tried to address this internally, but Punk wasn’t convinced. Thus, at the All Out 2023 Media Scrum, CM Punk went on a full verbal attack of the Elite. Afterward, the Elite (plus stooges) stormed into Punk’s dressing room for a confrontation only for Punk to start punching the Young Bucks and Ace Steele came to Punk’s defense by biting and throwing chairs. The Elite and stooges were suspended for this incident, but later returned to work and kept up their trolling ways.
Heading into 2023, you didn’t know where this situation stood because CM Punk was never suspended for his involvement. From All Out 2023, CM Punk tore a muscle in his arm and would be home recovering from injury. Meanwhile, AEW announced the re-signing of Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, and Adam Page during early 2023… This told me that it was OVER for CM Punk in AEW… However, Warner Bros. Discovery had other ideas. They were fans of Punk’s, as he actually brought higher viewership, and proposed a Saturday evening timeslot for AEW featuring CM Punk as its top star. This lured CM Punk back and he began headlining AEW Collision on Saturdays, while purposely using his granted creative control over that show to block the Elite and any of their stooges from wrestling on that show.
Instead of getting everyone to actually get along, act like adults, and you know, communicate… Tony Khan tried to have everyone segregated on different shows. BIG MISTAKE, and it created an even bigger gap between Punk and the Bucks/Omega who never met to discuss their issues following their All Out 2023 incident. Thanks to CM Punk, Wembley Stadium’s “AEW All In” event probably added another 20,000 tickets sold and it seemed like AEW was set to do great business not just for this night, but moving forward… However, AEW’s plan of making Dynamite an Elite dictatorship and Collision being a Punk dictatorship proved to be a big mistake once the rosters were all together in London.
All In 2023 at Wembley may prove to be the peak of AEW… Been all downhill ever since, with Nort American arenas being empty, Dynamite shows struggling to hold on to 800,000 viewers, and merchandise sales have been bombing. Then, you’ve had Tony Khan running his mouth on X/Twitter and acting like an immature child. Been a complete disaster ever since the Elite empowered Jungle Boy Jack Perry to physically confront a million dollar contract wrestler like CM Punk. Punk did what any normal person would do if someone got physical with them, as he handled the situation with a front facelock. Then, he told off Tony Khan for letting nonsense like this happen constantly with his promotion. This caused Tony to feel “threatened” and terminate CM Punk from AEW just a week later.
After that, AEW began falling more off a cliff and the speculation began about CM Punk rejoining the WWE. After all, Survivor Series 2023 happened to be in Chicago, IL where CM Punk proudly lives. However, there was still bad blood lingering… Punk left during 2014 partly due to heat with Triple H and we just recently learned from Kevin Nash that Triple H purposely sabotaged CM Punk during 2011. Furthermore, Punk had issues with other WWE talents, such as the Miz. Just as CM Punk rejoined AEW, he appeared backstage at a WWE show to speak to the Miz specifically while acknowledging Triple H. I believe that Punk KNEW his 2023 run in AEW wouldn’t last and began to lay the groundwork to reconcile with the WWE.
Then, at Survivor Series 2023, CM Punk appeared at the very end of the show, a show that featured Randy Orton also returning. Punk and Triple H posted a photo together after the show… It’s truly a full circle moment for both, as Triple H has greatly matured as an executive and CM Punk learned the lesson of “grass isn’t always greener on the other side”. That said, WWE was in need of a great change through 2021 while AEW was a growing company through 2021. Yet, both companies have literally flipped roles through 2023. WWE is now the welcoming environment and AEW has become toxic.
Finishing 2023, we had AEW’s Worlds End Pay Per View where Adam Cole was revealed as the Devil with Wardlow, Roderick Strong, Matt Tavern, and Mike Bennett acting as fellow henchmen. While Cole being revealed isn’t that much of a surprise (though he blew an AEW Title shot earlier for himself months ago) and having a stable is at least something. Give the group a cool name and then give every opportunity for Adam Cole to get it over. Unless he puts on 20-40 pounds to better look the part, hopefully Cole is the mouthpiece and Wardlow is the top wrestler of the group. However, it’s going to be hard for Cole and his Devilish henchmen to feud with MJF if he’s taking time off for injuries. With Kenny Omega also out, who is AEW going to call? Sorry Jon Moxley, but no vacations for you!
Meanwhile, Chris Jericho seems to be deep in online controversy. We’ve covered Jericho’s online fight with Ace Steele/CM Punk’s lawyer regarding the backstage brawl following AEW’s All Out 2022 Pay Per View in which Chris Jericho claimed to have witnessed the entire fight (though there are disputes to that, with Jericho reportedly being in the hallway and only appeared after the fight was already broken up) and Jericho’s claim to have never signed an NDA in his life, nor being aware of an AEW personnel handbook. The latter 2 points could harm him if the online accusations from the year 2019 are true, which Tony Khan was asked about at last night’s Worlds End media scrum. This story is way too much in the gossip side of things online for me to comment any further.
As we head into 2024, the WWE looks to maybe have its financially greatest year yet with a LOADED roster of true superstars. AEW, on the other hand, has a roster with aging superstars at the top, Kenny Omega & MJF is now out with injuries or illnesses, and they’ve got nothing young coming up. I think we’ll see more of the same for 2024 that we’ve seen for the latter half of 2023 with both promotions. WWE grows while AEW blows.
Mr. Tito’s PHAT 2024 Pro Wrestling Predictions
#1 – WWE’s RAW television deal with be either with Disney or Warner Bros. Discovery, but not doubling up with Comcast/NBC/Universal.
Comcast and NBC/Universal just ponied up $1.4 million for a Friday Smackdown that will likely draw poorly now that it’s not on Network TV, while still finishing up the WWE Network deal that pays around $200 million per year. Disney (ESPN, FX) and Warner Bros. Discovery (TBS, TNT) are desperate for live sports content. With UFC already having a deal with ESPN/Disney, I could see that relaying to help the Disney owned FX cable channel or possibly ESPN 2. That said, I sense some anger by Warner Bros. Discovery towards AEW regarding CM Punk and they could just swoop in and get the real wrestling company to be on Monday while letting the NBA/NHL own the rest of the week. AEW on Wednesday is a conflict with NHL hockey on Wednesday. That said, with only a 700,000 to 1 million different in viewers, AEW may still be the cheaper content for WDB to sign.
#2 – Terms of AEW’s TBS/TNT television contracts will be changed during 2024, whether that’s extending but with shows being terminated/changed/moved or outright being terminated.
AEW’s television deal is coming up and as I advised in my previous prediction, Warner Bros. Discovery could be a valid buyer of WWE services. Rampage and Collision are utter failures on viewership and I don’t see how they can continue with such poor viewership while Dynamite isn’t exactly drawing that strong at 800,000 viewers. Furthermore, AEW presents risks due to the violent nature of their high risk wrestling and possible backstage drama that is always brewing. In addition, I still see WBD disliking AEW going up against their newly signed NHL product and moving Dynamite to Monday/Friday could be a move that they try with a new deal (if signed).
#3 – CM Punk will win at least 1 WWE World Title during 2024.
I’m with Virtue’s plan… Punk will be the one who defeats Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Title, possibly at Wrestlemania 40, and then we’ll see Roman vs. CM Punk afterward on the RAW brand. Otherwise, I’m expecting more world title switches during 2024. Oh yeah, I’m assuming that CM Punk remains on the WWE roster for all of 2024 without disruption.
#4 – The Rock will NOT wrestle any matches during 2024.
The ship has sailed… The initial idea was to have Roman need the Rock to put him over, but Roman got over on his own anyway. Roman doesn’t need to defeat an older, acting Rock to become a bigger wrestler. He has already beaten most of the top WWE names and seeing Rock come back during 2011-2013 reduced the value of a big Rock comeback. With the actor’s strike over, the Rock is going to be busy during 2024 with movie making.
#5 – Demolition will finally come home to the WWE and be inducted into the 2024 WWE Hall of Fame.
No longer a Vince McMahon owned WWE and also with Triple H having more control, I believe Demolition are coming home after 30 years away from the promotion. Ax and Smash will be inducted and finally honored for their contributions. Triple H has roped Bruno and Warrior back in, why not Ax and Smash? He also values Tag Team wrestling and those guys were one of the best teams of all time. Ax is about to turn 76 years old and you just cannot let time escape another year without honoring his legacy as part of Demolition along with a 64 year old Smash.
#6 – Sasha Banks returns to the WWE as a wrestler for 2024.
Do you honestly think that after the drama Sasha Banks heard about in AEW since Wembley that she’d want to join this company? Or would she want to join somewhere with a Triple H who appreciated her and gave her the big break? No-brainer for me, she’s returning at Royal Rumble 2024 or after Wrestlemania 40. The rumors of her contract demands and talks breaking down, I believe, were plants to make it seem like she’s not interested in joining WWE. She’ll be at the Rumble, I predict, and fans will go bonkers.
#7 – Endeavor will be acquired by a foreign company during 2024.
Following the formation of TKO, rumors of Endeavor being acquired swirled throughout the end of 2023. Here is why I think it happens… Endeavor has over $4 billion in debt. Yes, UFC and WWE make them money, but these deals are expensive and it’s likely the WWE deal piled onto the debt. What’s an easy way to wash away that debt? Middle Eastern countries with lots of oil money to spend. But I believe there is more to this… Endeavor wants both WWE and UFC to grow larger in international markets and having some basis in Europe will help them grow faster internationally. Reducing Debt and desires to grow bigger will require more funds.
#8 – Either Pay Per View will return or a more expensive version of WWE Network shall appear during 2024.
WWE’s Peacock deal actually expires during early 2025. UFC is still a Pay Per View heavy promotion… While the WWE is making $200 billion per year from this Peacock deal, there is no guarantee that money will be there beyond 2025. Peacock has around 30 million subscribers and is growing much more slowly than other streaming services. It wouldn’t surprise me that NBC/Universal has plans to dissolve Peacock and just sell their content to the Netflixes of the world to make easier money. I could see TKO coming up with their own combined app for UFC and WWE for a $20-$30 monthly fee and that would sell well while allowing both fanbases to try their events.
#9 – Nick Khan’s role within TKO or possibly Endeavor will significantly increase during 2024.
The only other ex-WWE employee who is on the TKO board is Nick Khan. Not Triple H and not UFC’s Dana White. I believe Nick’s talents have been recognized and he’s definitely in the running of being the CEO of the entire Endeavor company in the future. I was shocked at his inclusion onto the TKO Board, but not surprised based on his prior networking with members of Endeavor. It wouldn’t surprise me if Nick overtakes Vince’s job duties during 2024. He wouldn’t be on that TKO board if that wasn’t going to eventually happen.
#10 – Roman Reigns will join RAW full-time following Wrestlemania 40.
After Wrestlemania 40, WWE is going to recognize that Smackdown is now the lesser brand and that Smackdown will just be a zombie show for them to manage before the deal expires during Fall 2024. Thus, Roman will switch to RAW, which will become the #1 show with the new deal, and probably do battle with CM Punk for the biggest WWE feud since Rock vs. Cena from 2011-2013. I’m with Virtue’s plan, in that Roman will defeat CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship and be the champion of RAW.
#11 – AEW won’t do a third show in Wembley Stadium during 2025.
While ticket sales seem decent, they aren’t growing as fast as the previous year. In fact, ticket sales jumped 10,000-20,000 once CM Punk announced he was coming back. Well, 1 year later, CM Punk isn’t there and AEW has seen lots of chaos seen. It wouldn’t surprise me if AEW began having many deals on tickets to fill that stadium again, but I suspect that this event caps at 40,000 to 45,000. While that’s great overall, it’s much less than the prior year and maybe attempting a 3rd year could draw a much lower number and challenge that profitable sweet spot. I’d expect Tony to be quiet for the rest of 2024 after next year’s Wembley show rather than having a major announcement for a 2025 return.
#12 – Kazuchika Okada will re-join New Japan or possibly try WWE (maybe TNA?), but not officially join AEW with a full-time deal.
Shinsuke Nakamura has had a good career in WWE and an overall good past year. Ditto for Asuka. Triple H seems to treat Japanese wrestlers well and I believe someone of Okada’s talents would be appreciated. Okada has already wrestled Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay, so why would he want to do something comfortable to him? Plus, the rest of the AEW roster could injure him… I project that WWE tries him out, as that’s a great whale he has yet to vanquish for his career, or he’ll return to New Japan. If he officially re-signs with New Japan, I could see him performing in AEW on an occasional basis (Forbidden Door event, for example) but not as a full-time wrestler for them.
#13 – AJ Lee will return to the WWE during 2024 in some capacity.
CM Punk is there, why not AJ Lee? She’s 36 years old and has a very bright mind. If you’ve seen her Instagram lately, she’s in peak physical condition again and got a slight taste of the wrestling bug through her WOW and Starz show work. I’m not saying she’ll wrestle, but possibly participate in the WWE as a creative writer or a character in a Punk storyline. I don’t know about Hall of Fame just yet, but if she contributes again, maybe that happens in the future. I think a Royal Rumble one-off performance in the women’s Rumble match would be tremendous.
#14 – At least 2 ex-WWE wrestlers will leave AEW to rejoin the WWE during 2024.
Many Triple H NXT wrestlers are in AEW and if they are unhappy, they’ve seen the roadmap on how to exit the company with CM Punk. There are several AEW contracts up in 2024, as AEW usually signs their wrestlers for 3 year deals and thus many of the 2021 signed wrestlers are coming up. Reportedly, Andrade might be one of those…
#15 – Stephanie McMahon will make big headlines, professionally or personally, during 2024.
Since Stephanie McMahon resigned on January 10th, 2023, we’ve heard nothing but silence from her. While her focus was on family, she still has a father and husband running the WWE. I believe her role in the WWE since 2022 has caused friction between both, hence why she left on 1/10/23. I see a big news headlines return from Stephanie, whether that’s a change in her personal life, possible return to WWE in some capacity, or she’ll follow politics like her mother. Each of her kids are in their teen years now, so thus aren’t as dependent on their parents and she’s managed work/personal life well before. You’ll hear from Stephanie significantly in some fashion during 2024, good or bad. She is way to ambitious to stay on the sidelines for too long.
Have a great new year!!
Oh, you wanted a prediction on Chris Jericho? Again, I’m not going to pile on the online attacks. I’m an “innocent until proven guilty” kind of person, though the reported accused replied with a “heart” to a report with said accusations. But I’d predict that AEW will protect Chris Jericho, as if true, it was a privately held matter unless other details are somehow leaked and proven true. I’m staying out of that online mess.
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