Time to break out the crystal ball and don the soothsayer hat. What’s the future? Here are some thoughts…
1. MMA Athletes Making the Switch – Recently, Brock Lesnar and King Mo have decided to switch from MMA to pro wrestling. Brock returned to his roots but King Mo will be brand new to pro wrestling. With an increase of 40,000 plus buys at Extreme Rules, Brock is already paying dividends to WWE. Will King Mo have that level of effect on TNA? That will be tough but if he has some success, I think you will see recruiting by WWE and TNA continue in the world of MMA. I think all pro wrestlers today should train in various disciplines from ju-jitsu to kickboxing and strikes because fans today want to see well-versed athletes. If MMA fighters can learn the subtleties of pro wrestling, they will be equipped to entertain fans in 2012 and beyond.
2. The Return of the Character – As soon as I saw Brodus Clay, I smiled! The days of everyone being the same and having the same match was over… Every promotion needs differences. In Florida, Eddie Graham would book midgets and/or girls if he had Dory Funk Jr. vs Jack Brisco on top. Seeing the midgets and girls helped fans appreciate the wrestling in the main event. If every match tried to do what Dory and Jack would do, first, they would fail and second, they would take away from how special Funk vs Brisco would be. Characters add to the mix and make main event matches more special. To all wrestlers out there struggling to get bookings and finding it hard to stand out, try a crazy character or do something different. Wrestle a different style. Don’t do the same thing that everyone else does. Tensai will settle into the mid-card and be fine because he’s a character. That’s where characters belong.
3. Reality TV will invade Sports-Entertainment – Over the past ten years, WWE has been into hiring writers who wrote scripts and cultivated dialogue. But lately, scripted shows have declined and Reality TV shows are more prolific. Look for sports-entertainment companies to begin to adopt those same production principles in the next year, especially with the secondary shows. I think Raw and Smackdown will stay status quo with Vince in charge but if they ever look more long-term and try to shoot their scripted elements ahead of time (that’s a big “if”), I bet they will reach out to the world of Reality TV to bring in different producers and their experience to the sports-entertainment world.
4. Age is Just a Number – I predict that WWE will roll back their desire to not sign anyone over 30. They can’t afford to have young guys toiling away in the Developmental system for many years, waiting for them to get ready. They will start signing guys with experience and not automatically write someone off because they are over 30, with the hope of moving them up to the main roster quickly. There are many experienced wrestlers in the independent scene right now who can contribute, despite being older. That means former stars like Matt Hardy, MVP and others who can make the immediate jump back into the roster.
5. The WWE Network will never see the light of day – With Vince in charge, nothing they ever do outside of Raw and Smackdown works. WBF, XFL, SuperAstros, Shotgun Saturday Night, WWE Films, the proposed Cruiserweight show… nothing. WWE Network is no different. The Oprah Network scared everyone and no one is talking about the Network now, except on the monthly investor call.
6. Ric Flair Returns to the WWE – No Brainer… some predictions are easier than others.
7. Vince McMahon will step down – This is the strangest of all predictions because even I don’t believe it but here’s why it happens. On the run-up to WrestleMania 29, Vince will announce he is stepping down. What else can they do to juice up the buyrate? We’ve seen the return of the Rock. We’ve seen the return of Brock Lesnar. Now, you get the opportunity for interesting TV leading up to Mania and speculation as to whom will be his replacement following Mania. We know that Hunter is taking over someday so why not make it official and make some money off of it?
8. The Ultimate Warrior Returns to WWE – if they get him to come back, they can hold off the Vince Retirement deal. I think this is already in the works and he comes back for a match at Mania. Too much money for both sides to leave on the table and the time is right for the nostalgia and merchandising. Plus, Vince would pray for snow and ice at Mania this year just so Warrior could bust his ass running to the ring. That’s Vince…
9. John Cena’s Divorce will be nasty and in public, if you weeell! – My gut keeps telling me this is going to happen. Maybe it’s because I’ve been conditioned to assume all celebrity divorces will get ugly… Not to the level of Tiger Woods or Hulk Hogan but close.
10. Not wrestling related but the Heat defeat the Spurs to win the NBA title in 6 games and the Kings beat the Devils in 5 to win the Stanley Cup. The Cardinals repeat to win the World Series and the Packers win the Super Bowl.
Do you have predictions? Share them with me on Twitter @RealKevinKelly