Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - 15 PHAT Pro Wrestling Predictions for 2016 and Year in Review for 2015
By Mr. Tito
Dec 31, 2015 - 8:55:29 PM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

It's that time of year again! Welcome, one and all, to the 2016 Pro Wrestling Predictions column. It's an annual tradition as I attempt to make BOLD predictions for the upcoming year that are probably sure to go wrong. For the first year that I performed this column, I did quite well in my predictions... But then I was criticized for making "easy" predictions... So I ramped up the intensity of my predictions... Sure, my record hasn't been as strong as my first attempt, but there are some bold predictions that I completely nail that many other publications never thought of. But overall, this is a fun column that is here to entertain by looking back at the previous year (2015) and looking forward to the next year (2016).

I can't go on without acknowledging the inspiration for this column. Karl Denninger of used to do annual prediction blog posts for the upcoming financial year. He made bold, fearless predictions about the economy but in his posts, he'd also look back at the previous predictions. I'll continue to give credit where it's due, so thanks to Karl, this column is possible.

Here is the 2015 Predictions Column that was posted on 12/31/2014 and it was NOT altered after it was posted.

Before we do the 2016 predictions, we must score and review my 2015 predictions... Let's see how I did:

2015 Prediction #1 - Vince McMahon steps down as CEO but retains his role as Chairman of the WWE Board. MISS - A few years ago, Stephanie McMahon was moved from EVP of Creative to Chief Brand Officer. I figured that was a move to groom Stephanie as the company's CEO and Vince would remain as Board Chairman. Through late 2015, Vince remains CEO and Board Chairman. Something is keeping Vince at age 70 in this dual role while remaining on the road with the WWE. He's afraid of losing power and is overworking himself at his elder age.

2015 Prediction #2 - WWE Network will not get above 1,000,000 American subscribers through 3 quarters of 2015 unless more free months are given or the $9.99 price is actually cut. Point for me! Nailed it. WWE ran a free month during November 2014 and it was such a success that the WWE ran additional free months during early 2015 and by June 2015, the free month became permanent. Surprise, surprise... WWE hit 1,000,000 subscribers. It worked for Netflix..

2015 Prediction #3 - If Roman Reigns does beat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31, Seth Rollins will be the only other wrestler during 2015 to win the WWE Title. MISS, but only because of my first condition "if Roman Reigns does beat Brock Lesnar". Problem was that Brock Lesnar re-signed with the WWE and actually caused the booking to be changed. Seth Rollins cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase and actually held the WWE title until being stripped just before Survivor Series 2015 due to an ACL injury. My latter sentence actually has good precision to it, but stuff happens... Rollins getting hurt caused booking to change again and Sheamus won the WWE title at Survivor Series 2015.

2015 Prediction #4 - Brock Lesnar does leave the WWE and rejoins UFC. Huge MISS. On the Tuesday before Wrestlemania 31, Brock Lesnar agreed to a 3 year, $9 million extension. All signs through 12/31/14 had Brock Lesnar leaving the WWE. Lesnar became noticeably thinner as a means of possibly training for MMA and Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble clearly had the WWE wanting to crown Reigns as the guy to defeat Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31.

2015 Prediction #5 - New Japan Pro Wrestling will obtain legitimate mainstream Cable/Satellite attention with or without Global Force Wrestling. MISS again. There was plenty of buzz surrounding New Japan Pro Wrestling through the end of 2014 and Jim Ross did an American broadcast version of one of their big shows. On a hunch, I figured that maybe New Japan might get a better Cable deal than what they have. I was wrong... Outside of USA Networks, interest in hosting pro wrestling programming is way down.

2015 Prediction #6 - WWE Stock will end the year below $12.00. MISS... Remember that during 2014, WWE's stock took a huge hit as a result of the new television deal underwhelming and WWE Network numbers not impressing. That, and I figured for 2015, the Federal Reserve might begin raising interest rates to maybe cap the stock market... The Fed didn't start raising interest rates until December 2015. Lucky for the WWE, the free month caught on well for the WWE and in my opinion, the quality of the Pay Per View shows and NXT are driving WWE Network numbers upward as well.

2015 Prediction #7 - TNA will shutdown or be acquired by another promotion. MISS, but I'm closer than you think... The Destination America deal was a complete disaster for TNA and I figured it would be the nail in TNA's coffin. However, the folks at Panda Energy want to keep this wrestling experiment going and TNA actually received a new television deal with PopTV. I should probably re-use this prediction for 2016 as their first show barely did above 100,000 viewers and that followed a replay of the Soap Opera Days of Our Lives which did over 200,000 viewers. Think about that...

2015 Prediction #8 - WWE will induct at least 3 former WWE World Champions for the Class of 2015. MISS, but damn, I was close... "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Kevin Nash were inducted, but that was it. I figured that the WWE might induct the Rock, Triple H, Christian, or even Vince McMahon. Close, but no cigar.

2015 Prediction #9 - After WWE Network struggles, WWE will attempt to return to Cable/DirecTV/Dish with discounted Pay Per View offerings to American viewers. MISS - I was assuming too much again on the WWE Network. The end of 2014 looked bleak for the WWE Network but the free month deal as well as a good Pay Per View year really helped the WWE.

2015 Prediction #10 - There will be at least 1 NXT call-up winning the Divas Title during 2015. Direct hit, Charlotte won the WWE Divas Title.

2015 Prediction #11 - NXT will air on television or Pay Per View during 2015 aside from being just on the WWE Network. MISS, but I believe my prediction may happen for 2016. The NXT brand is growing in popularity and I believe that a television deal might happen for the show.

2015 Prediction #12 - Ring of Honor will see at least 1 former Ring of Honor World Champion return and win the title again. MISS - Jay Lethal was the only wrestler to win the Ring of Honor World Title during 2015 and he's been with ROH since 2011. ROH had some returns during 2015, such as Austin Aries and AJ Styles, but ROH only had Jay Briscoe and Jay Lethal as champions.

2015 Prediction #13 - If Brock Lesnar leaves the WWE, Paul Heyman will leave the WWE as well during 2015. Miss... I assumed Brock was leaving WWE after his contract was up.

2015 Prediction #14 - Kevin Dunn steps down as WWE Executive Producer. MISS, I was smoking crack on this prediction. Not happening until Vince McMahon is gone from the WWE.

2015 Prediction #15 - John Cena does NOT turn heel during 2015. Success! There must have been some "turn John Cena heel" columns or message board posts that were bubbling up at the time.

So yeah, I was 3-12 on my predictions... AWFUL track record for the year, but again, things were different during late 2014 than what shaped to be 2015. I had no idea that Brock Lesnar would sign a 3 year extension nor did I know the plans of the WWE Network. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The WWE had to meet shareholder goals on the WWE Network subscribers and they couldn't afford losing Brock Lesnar as a box office draw. The economy has had some weird shifts, too, which threw off my financial predictions. Things are changing on a real time basis and therefore make bold predictions difficult to make.

Let's discuss the year that was for 2015...

2015 continued the MEGA PUSH of Roman Reigns. He was the hand-picked babyface successor by Vince McMahon who hired Reigns based on his looks. In fact, when the Shield was forming, Vince would only sign off on the idea if Reigns was included. 2014 saw Reigns immediately receiving 2 WWE Title shots after the Shield broke-up, defeating Randy Orton cleanly, and then winning the Slammy Award for "Wrestler of the Year". Roman Reigns would win the 2015 Royal Rumble match and the assumption was that he'd defeat Brock Lesnar to become WWE Champion at Wrestlemania 31. Brock Lesnar's contract was going to expire following Wrestlemania 31 and it was assumed that he'd return to MMA. To further emphasize that Roman Reigns was "the guy", Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan cleanly at the following Pay Per View.

However, Brock Lesnar re-signed with the WWE for a 3 year extension worth $9 million. Reportedly, the WWE didn't want to pay the full $5 million that he previously received on his 1 year deals but Lesnar and WWE could agree to a 3 year deal with guaranteed money. At the encouragement of his real life wife Rena (Sable, formerly of the WWE), Lesnar signed the deal to work safely in the WWE as opposed to risking harm by working in the WWE. Lesnar's signing was on the Tuesday before Wrestlemania 31 and it caused booking plans to immediately change. The main event went from Roman Reigns beating Lesnar for the WWE title to Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the WWE title instead. Within a week of Wrestlemania 31, WWE Title plans changed and Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar only learned about the changed booking plans hours before the show began. Roman Reigns's family was reportedly furious at this booking change and were quite outspoken after the Wrestlemania 31 event.

Seth Rollins would hold the championship between Wrestlemania 31 and Survivor Series 2015. Heading into Survivor Series, Rollins tore his ACL during a non-televised match with Kane. During his championship reign, however, Rollins had a few issues going against him. For one, the Authority didn't really support him... Triple H & Stephanie disappeared and Rollins was constantly bickering with Kane, the Director of Operations. Meanwhile, Seth Rollins had to play second fiddle as WWE Champion to the new United States Champion, John Cena. Cena had a GREAT in-ring year for 2015, hosting "open challenges" for his US Title. However, when it came time for Rollins vs. Cena, Cena would get the better of Rollins in the end. Rollins just didn't have the opportunity to shine and he didn't have the personality to overcome such bad booking. However, Rollins was fantastic in the ring during Pay Per Views.

Cena, though, put on wrestling clinics during RAW and on Pay Per Views. His open challenges were well received and were often the highest rated segments of RAW during the 1st or 2nd hours. Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, Sami Zayn, and especially Kevin Owens had amazing matches with John Cena and received some legitimate rub from the top superstar in the WWE. Kevin Owens won his very first WWE match against John Cena and then fell out of favor with Kevin Dunn/Vince McMahon because they didn't like Owens's look.

Owens came from the WWE's NXT developmental promotion which seemed to really catch fire during 2015. While the show has always had a core audience, the Takeover event before SummerSlam in Brooklyn showed how much the promotion had grown. They saw strong attendance for that event and their following 2 Takeover events were well received too. For the first real time in WWE history, besides occasional matches from Trish Stratus and Lita, the WWE has a valid drawing act with Women's wrestling. Has that translated in the WWE's main promotion? Not really... Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks are struggling to catch attention of the promoters and fans in the WWE. Meanwhile, Bayley remains and the NXT bench is deep with women's wrestlers ready to replace 3 of the Four Horsewomen.

On the other promotional front, Ring of Honor remained steady and received some returning talents from TNA's reduction in employee expenses... Meanwhile, TNA had real issues with their relationship with the Destination America channel. Reportedly, the channel wanted to have creative say in the show and the ratings just weren't there for the show. The relationship ended after 1 year and TNA will try to do well on a new channel, PopTV.

The Seth Rollins ACL tear threw the WWE into a booking loop but the main goal was to make Roman Reigns become WWE Champion. With Rollins out at Survivor Series, the WWE wanted to give Reigns a big victory to win the title. Thus, Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to steal the WWE title at Survivor Series 2015 and Roman Reigns would eventually get the title back on the RAW following the TLC Pay Per View on a show that saw Vince McMahon returning to television for the first time in years. Reigns ends the year as WWE Champion as the WWE begins preparations for 2016 and Wrestlemania season.

OK... Let's do some 2016 Predictions:


Mr. Tito's PHAT 2016 Pro Wrestling Predictions

2016 Prediction #1: WWE will induct 2 former WWE World Champions and at least 1 Women's Champion into their Hall of Fame. The older champions have mostly been cleared with Bruno, Macho Man, and Warrior all getting in within the past few years. Now, the WWE will have to keep the Hall of Fame ceremony interesting by inducting 2 of the following: The Rock, Undertaker, Triple H, or Vince McMahon. Kane, Big Show, or Christian have a chance at getting in as well. Maybe Batista. WWE needs some big names for this year's hall... But I didn't just pick 2 WWE World Champions, I have one Women's wrestler. I believe that Rena Lesnar, formerly Sable, gets into the WWE Hall of Fame this year as goodwill to Brock.

2016 Prediction #2: WWE will have significant "spring cleaning" wrestler cuts following Wrestlemania 32. WWE has many wrestlers on the roster who aren't active while the NXT roster is very thick right now. I believe that a big WWE purge is coming particularly as expenses start to rise for the company. For example, the WWE has enjoyed borrowing money from the bank at a low interest rate. Well, interest rates may tick up during 2016. Higher interest expenses may cause the WWE to look elsewhere to reduce expenses. WWE has many wrestlers under contract and they might get slimmer as some NXT talent is called up.

2016 Prediction #3: At least 1 WWE veteran will come out of retirement to wrestle at Wrestlemania 32. Wrestlemania 32 is in Texas, home of 2 retired wrestlers named Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Just sayin'...

2016 Prediction #4: Sheamus won't win the WWE Title during 2016 despite Ninja Turtles 2 movie. I think the Sheamus ship has officially sailed. They got nothing out of his recent title reign and I think that Sheamus, like Batista, will take time off to help promote his movie. I have to admit, the TNMT 2 movie doesn't look half bad...

2016 Prediction #5: WWE stock will end 2016 at no greater than $16.00. I'm throwing darts at the board by this point, but I believe the ratings issue will put some strain on the USA Networks deal. WWE will have 5 hours on the USA Network and if ratings continue sag, trouble could be had. However, if the WWE can monetize the WWE Network better or get NXT a different television deal, $$$$. I will be wrong.

2016 Prediction #6: WWE Network will not raise the $9.99 price during 2016. Not happening... Until Netflix and Hulu get their standard prices above $10, the rest of the industry will NOT try it. Now, WWE Network could get more creative in sneaking in commercials or sponsors, but raising that price is just not feasible yet.

2016 Prediction #7: TNA wrestling will either be sold or shutdown by the end of 2016. Most think that the PopTV deal will "save" TNA. Then, I see numbers just barely over 100,000 for their first show and I'm immediately worried. 3 networks in 3 years? As I mentioned above with interest rates, if the cost of borrowing money keeps rising, TNA might have issues being funded by Panda Energy. For all we know, Panda might have a business line of credit that replenishes the TNA bank accounts as needed. Well, if their Bank now charges a higher rate of interest to borrow that same money...

2016 Prediction #8: Samoa Joe will remain an exclusive wrestler for NXT. Unless the main WWE roster is completely depleted, I think that WWE will be content with Samoa Joe being a NXT exclusive wrestler. He fits the crowds who watch NXT and the wrestling style better than what is on Vince McMahon's main WWE roster.

2016 Prediction #9: The Shield will reunite and remain a permanent group through the end of 2016. WWE flirted with a reunion earlier this year and fans were receptive to it. WWE needs strong babyface replacements to eventually replace John Cena. This is exactly what I argued in my column after Seth Rollins turned. If the WWE is "all in" for Roman Reigns becoming the top babyface, it's a no-brainer to use the Shield stable to enhance his popularity. When Rollins returns, I expect the Shield to unite.

2016 Prediction #10: Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, and/or Daniel Bryan will leave the WWE with intent on helping a competitor. One of those 3 are going to get fed up and leave the WWE. Each of them have got over on their own terms and not from WWE Creative's help. However, WWE Creative keeps playing games with them and in the case of Daniel Bryan, possibly using a medical reason to keep him off the WWE active roster. One of those 3 will attempt to prove their worth with another promotion whether it's Ring of Honor, TNA, or Lucha Underground and attempt to make the WWE bad by their exit.

2016 Prediction #11: WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump will NOT become President of the United States. See what I did there? He's in the WWE Hall of Fame and therefore, fair game to discuss... Donald Trump is certainly popular with the GOP base who are disgusted with the typical Washington politician. However, in a General Election, Trump will struggle with 2 key demographics: (a) Women and (b) Hispanics. Women voters, especially... In the past, the Democratic Party could easily lampoon GOP candidates over women's health issues. With Trump, however, he's openly mocked women based on their looks and was unapologetic about it. He's called Rosie O'Donnell a "fat pig" repeatedly, even on a debate stage, while he mocked Carly Fiorina's looks. And he's going against a female candidate in Hillary Clinton, potentially the first female president? When he started his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump shot from the hip on Illegal Immigrants by calling them "criminals, drug dealers, and rapists". GOP was already having issues with the Hispanic community as seen by the losses in the 2012 election and they'll be doomed with Trump as a candidate. If the election is Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, Hillary will win.

2016 Prediction #12: Dean Ambrose will NOT win the WWE Title during 2016. Get in line, bub. WWE has Roman Reigns, John Cena, and Brock Lesnar as potential championship candidates. Don't forget Alberto Del Rio who reportedly signed a 7 figure deal to return to the WWE from Lucha Underground. Then, you have the returning Seth Rollins... I wouldn't doubt, however, that Dean wins the 2016 Money in the Bank briefcase to maybe cash it in during 2017. 2016? Nope...

2016 Prediction #13: CM Punk will lose his first UFC fight. We're almost 2 years removed from CM Punk leaving the WWE and eventually announcing his intentions to fight MMA matches with UFC. Punk is 37 years old, but his body is older from the bumps and bruises of the pro wrestling business. If he takes on a younger fighter in their 20's who has good knowledge of CM Punk's wrestling injury history, Punk could get worked. But I also think that Punk has a big target on his back. Any of his opponents will want to be the guy who upstages him in UFC. Being honest here, I'm hope that I'm right... CM Punk is a great personality who should be the biggest star in pro wrestling right now but WWE sought out to sabotage him in favor of other wrestlers instead (Del Rio, Reigns, Orton, Rock). It would be awesome to see Punk join a smaller promotion and help them rise from the ashes to legitimately challenge the WWE.

2016 Prediction #14: NXT will obtain a major television deal. If you're watching closely, NXT is becoming a strong draw with live audiences. They are legitimately selling out shows and yet only 1,000,000 WWE Network subscribers and those with Hulu can see them. I believe that some network might give them a shot whether it's Comcast/NBC/Universal or another network. It may cause NXT to tape another show in addition to their WWE Network exclusive. Either way, the popularity of NXT cannot be denied now and we may see a real shift from NXT being a developmental territory to a legitimate brand extension. Getting it on Cable/Satellite will hope monetize NXT as they are not making money by simply airing on WWE Network. You need ad revenue!

2016 Prediction #15: John Cena will tie (16) and break (17) Ric Flair's World Title record during 2016. I believe that John Cena's career is winding down and the 2 months off is a good sign that he's starting to look at life after wrestling. However, I have a different theory... I believe that shortly after Wrestlemania 32, WWE's attention deficit disorder will cause Roman Reigns to be shelved as the top guy and John Cena will return to that role possibly by SummerSlam. But I also see Cena getting a second reign, maybe winning the title back from a heel like Alberto Del Rio or if John Cena becomes heel himself, he'll trade the titles with Roman Reigns. If ratings on RAW keep declining, WWE will always go back to John Cena.


Well, 2015 has come to an end. Just want to send a special THANK YOU to all of my readers, long-time or recent. I write these columns for you and I hope that I've delivered good wrestling content and entertainment for you to enjoy. I thought that I had a good series of columns during 2015 as I went mostly weekly, wrote various specialty columns, and reviewed most Pay Per Views immediately after the shows ended.

Overall, I'm content with my role as a wrestling fan and columnist. WWE Network has actually enhanced me as a wrestling fan by letting me devour documentaries and grow to really like the NXT promotion. If RAW upsets me, I have many other options now to enjoy other wrestling content. Furthermore, I watch a condensed RAW on Hulu and it's much more enjoyable to watch 1.5 hours than 3 hours of WWE content (fewer ads, too).

But anyway, have a GREAT New Year and I wish all of you the very best. If you keep reading, them, I'll keep writing them.


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