By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The start of every new year is a time to making resolutions (seriously, who keeps those anyway?), but it's also a time to start making bold predictions for what the year will have in store! Of course, the landscape of WWE is ever-changing, and to try to tell the future is near impossible. However, it's always fun to at least make an attempt.
The year of 2016 is already off to a strong start with one of the best Royal Rumble matches om recent memory, Triple H capturing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the 14th time, and AJ Styles debuting WWE. Had you told me any of that would happen even a few short months ago, I likely would have called you crazy. Those events are obviously a sign that we should expect the unexpected in 2016, and that it will be a year of epic proportions. And how could it not be if these ten things were to happen?
1. The Marine 5, 6 and 7 Will Be Made
From "Knucklehead" to "Jingle All the Way 2," WWE Studios has produced a number of cult classics and critically-acclaimed films since their inception over a decade ago. But "The Marine" series is undoubtedly the best of them all. The highly successful franchise made a return in 2015 with "The Marine 4" starring The Miz (who became the first WWE Superstar to reprise their role as the lead) and Summer Rae.
Although nothing is known about the future of the franchise as of this writing, more installments are virtually guaranteed. In fact, I see them making the next three sequels all at the same time at some point this year. This way, WWE can cut costs and save money that they can put into their awfully generic looking pay-per-view sets. The Miz should return to the role of Jake Carter as he has played the best marine, it isn't hard for fans to take him seriously given his tough guy gimmick on WWE TV.
2. WCW Will Return as a Third Brand
I think we can all collectively agree that WWE doing away with WCW completely after Vince McMahon bought out the dying promotion in March 2001 was an atrocious idea. Reportedly, there were plans to make it into what SmackDown later became as a secondary brand and keep Nitro going on Thursday nights, but after Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell for the WCW Championship died a death on Raw one night (essentially the 2001 equivalent to the 2015 Royal Rumble match), that idea was scrapped almost immediately, and we got the lackluster invasion angle instead.
This March will mark 15 years since WCW went under, and there is no better way to observe the anniversary than by officially resurrecting WCW as a third brand. Remember how successful ECW was (disregarding it was disbanded less than four years after it started)? Well, let's do it again, but this time with WCW! While they're at, WWE might as well bring back some names from the original WCW roster to add to the show. I've been wondering what Glacier has been up to these days.
3. Ric Flair Will Come Out of Retirement Again
Following a career than spanned over three decades, Ric Flair was forced to retire at WrestleMania 24 when he lost to Shawn Michaels. And I emphasize the word "forced," as it was reportedly Vince McMahon's decision for Flair to stop wrestling at the age of 59. Flair would still be wrestling today if it were up to him, which explains why he competed in his fair share of matches after leaving WWE in 2009. He wrestled Hulk Hogan on a tour of Australia that same summer and stepped inside the squared circle on a number of occasions during his stint in TNA.
However, now is a crucial time for WWE with so many Superstars out injured. Rumors have indicated they have reached out to Shawn Michaels about coming back for one more match, but he has enough pride (and money) to turn them down. Since he is already an on-air character, it's logical to assume The Nature Boy is next on their list of people to call to come back for a match at 'Mania, an invitation he would accept in a heartbeat. They have teased tension as of late between him and his daughter Charlotte, so perhaps a father vs. daughter match is in the cards for The Show of Shows.
4. Big Show Will Sign a 20-Year Deal with WWE
It isn't out of the ordinary for Big Show to come down to the ring each week on Raw, frustrated by the "Please Retire!" chants from the fans, take a microphone and exclaim, "I'll be here for another 20 more years!" Anyone who thinks that's him trying to elicit him is dead wrong. It's actually his way of telling us that he will be here in WWE for another two decades, a deal that will likely be made official in 2016.
Whether you like it or not, Big Show adds a significant amount of value to the WWE product. He is a giant after all, meaning he's an attraction. Forget John Cena or even Brock Lesnar, he is a major reason why people are attending the live events, because he is a spectacle. The argument can be made he should be putting younger talent over at this stage of his career, but that isn't necessary when he is the one selling tickets to shows. If you're currently sick of The World's Largest Athlete, you better start getting used to seeing him on TV, a lot. He is going to be around for a long, long time.
5. Daniel Bryan Will Face Sheamus at WrestleMania
It's no secret that Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus at WrestleMania has been a wet dream of Vince McMahon's for several years now, dating back to 2011. The two first clashed on the grand stage at WrestleMania 27 when they battled for the United States Championship, though their match was relegated to the pre-show (which was seen by no one other than the live crowd at that time) and later changed to a Battle Royal featuring the rest of the roster.
The next year, they met once again at WrestleMania, this time for the World Heavyweight Championship. Their match opened the event, but ended in a whopping 18 seconds when Bryan got distracted with his then-girlfriend AJ Lee on the apron and turned around into a Brogue Kick, giving Sheamus his third world title reign. Needless to say, there was a ton of backlash for both bouts. But their feud is still far from over.
Bryan himself has said that he and Sheamus were slated to face each other at WrestleMania 30 before CM Punk left and caused the entire card to be rearranged. That was also the original plan for WrestleMania 31, but thankfully, it was pushed back as Sheamus' return was saved until after the event (and ultimately never came to fruition due to Bryan getting hurt again). Bryan will definitely be back in time for 'Mania, but not in a high profile spot on the card. He and Sheamus will finally settle their score in a bout billed as "Third Time's the Lucky Charm."
6. Randy Orton Will Return Early Only to Get Injured Again
To say Randy Orton is slightly injury prone would be a massive understatement. He has taken time off in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2015 due to injuries, sustaining his most recent injury last October. It was reported he hurt his shoulder while taking out the trash (Editor's note: that, folks, is not satire; that is the total truth, believe it or not). The timetable for his return remains known, but it was made clear in the past month or so that he won't be needing neck injury and he could be back sooner than expected.
That said, I predict Orton will indeed resurface in time for WrestleMania 32 because, as noted, WWE needs all the star power they can possibly get. He should be back by the Fastlane pay-per-view (similar to last year) or shortly thereafter, but he will get hurt, again. Yes, whatever plans they have for Orton at WrestleMania will get thrown out the window when he hurts his other shoulder. It will be then that he considers retirement from the ring due to number of setbacks that have stacked up over the last decade.
7. Eva Marie Will Win the Divas Championship
No rookie down in NXT has shown more progress in the past year than Eva Marie. After taking time off from TV to train with former WWE Champion The Brian Kendrick in early 2015, she returned to the ring with a head of steam that summer, embarking on an undefeated streak in singles competition and igniting the audience with her stellar performances.
She came close to capturing the NXT Women's Championship in an impressive outing versus Bayley on the Nov. 25 edition of NXT, but fell short of victory. Although she has been accompanying her new BFF Nia Jax to the ring in recent weeks, don't think for a second that officials have given up on her push. She remains primed for a run with the NXT Women's title at some point sooner rather than later, but to predict that would be too easy.
Instead, I will go so far as to say that she will get her first taste of gold on the main roster this year in the form of the Divas Championship. She has come so far as a performer in such a short span of time that she is definitely deserving of a Divas title reign in 2016. Expect her to be groomed to be the face of the Divas division as well. All Red Everything, baby!
8. The New Day Will Split Up
Admittedly, The New Day have been a decent tag team for as long as they have been together, but all good things must come to an end eventually. Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods have been as cohesive of a unit since first forming The New Day in November 2014, but the cracks should start to show in the foreseeable future.
They are currently in the midst of a reign with the WWE Tag Team Championship, but they will likely drop the straps as soon as the Fastlane pay-per-view in February. From there, WWE can proceed to have them tease tension with each other, leading to their ultimate implosion on the road to WrestleMania. Give them ten minutes of in-ring time on the WrestleMania 32 Kickoff show and they could contest a classic. Where do each of them go on their own from there, you ask? Uh, we will cross that bridge when we get to it (a.k.a. I have zero idea).
9. Donald Trump Will Be Named the New Raw General Manager
General managers are a thing of the past in WWE. They were incorporated into the product in 2002, but were done away with by 2014 when Raw general manager Brad Maddox was fired from his position by The Authority. And besides, who needs GMs when you have Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Mr. McMahon in charge?
Speaking of whom, I have faith 2016 will be the year The Authority finally meets their demise, and as a result, general managers will need to be brought back for both Raw and SmackDown. There are few candidates more qualified than Donald Trump, who has experience owning the flagship show from 2009 when he purchased it from Vince for a brief period of time. Who knows? Commercial-free Raws could be a regular occurrence if Trump takes the reins of Raw, as could the popular guest host gimmick he instituted in the first place. If he won't be running the United States, Raw would be the next best thing for the WWE Hall of Famer. It might pose a problem for Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio, though.
10. Raw Will Expand to Four Hours
Last and certainly not least, I predict Raw will expand to four years at some point in 2016. Fans clamored for Raw to go three hours after claiming for years that two was insufficient, and they got their wish following Raw 1000 in July 2012. Now, those same fans have said three hours just isn't enough time and four is necessary to have a truly engaging and entertaining wrestling show. 2016 will be the year that comes to fruition.
You don't need me to tell you that Vince McMahon is all about that money, and the advertising revenue they make off that third hour right now is far too much to turn down, so it's highly unlikely two hour-long Raws will ever return. Going four hours would make Vince even more money, which is why the move is only inevitable. When asked what he thought about the pending transition, WWE Tag Team Champion Big E recently said, "Three ain't enough, man, I need five," so perhaps five hour-long episodes of Raw won't be far behind.
All "facts" in this article are erroneous and compete fiction. If you took it seriously, well, joke's on you. Thanks for reading!