As we turn the calendar to a new month and of course, a new year too, it’s time to play prognosticator for just a wee bit. Since I do enjoy me some NXT, it’s my show of choice to make predictions for, as we roll in to 2018.
Who gets called up, and when:
Think about it…we used to solely focus on which nostalgia acts or top free agents from other feds would make appearances in WWE. Now, that speculation largely focuses on which NXT talent comes up next. So, it makes sense to start here, doesn’t it?
In January, we will see Sanity make their main roster debut as part of the Royal Rumble. We won’t, however, see any significant NXT women in the Rumble, if only because the brand just lost five women to the likes of Riott Squad and Absolution (meaning, we could still see some of the women from the Mae Young Classic, who are in the company, but have yet to get major TV time. In other words…jobbers).
Andrade “Cien” Almas loses his title at TakeOver: New Orleans (to Aleister Black), and debuts on RAW the night after ‘Mania (I am not stuck on the show, but I expect after New Orleans, Almas is a main roster wrestler). Black will likely make it up to the main roster later in the year, but more on that later.
Champions throughout 2018:
We start 2018 with Almas, Undisputed Era and Ember Moon holding the gold. Not all will not close out the year as champions.
With regard to the tag teams, I actually could see Undisputed Era holding onto the belts all year. Partly because some of the major contenders (Sanity, Authors of Pain) could easily end up on the main roster during the year. So too could Fish and O’Reilly, but the tag ranks are a bit of a mystery for now.
On the women’s side, Moon is on top, but she has a couple or three serious contenders. Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler both want the title, and one (or both) will have a run with the belt in 2018. I figure it’s destined to become Sane’s, and then let her and Shayna feud over it, a continuation of their Mae Young final match.
As for the men? Almas exits to the main roster by April. Aleister Black gets a few months with the gold too, but by the time August arrives, Black is headed to the main roster, and Lars Sullivan has emerged as the most massive NXT Champion since Samoa Joe.
Many Happy Returns:
We expect at least one major return to NXT in 2018. Will there be more?
Tommaso Ciampa will return after suffering a knee injury. The hope and expectation is that, once he is cleared, he and Johnny Gargano will re-visit the feud that should have been. Concern here is, will it have lost some luster (sort of like when Hunter and Rollins was delayed due to injury).
TM-61 could make some noise in the tag ranks, too. They’ve been off TV for a while, due to a nasty knee injury. But they have been seen at Full Sail as far back as about September, so they should be back on TV eventually…unless they just skip an NXT tune up and head toward the main roster. My feeling there is, while they would be exciting anywhere, the RAW/SmackDown tag ranks are suddenly a bit crowded…so perhaps a few months in Florida would be wise.
Any major surprises?
Simple, really….these have to be a little bit out there, right? I mean, did anyone expect the debut of Undisputed Era in 2017? I don’t think so.
I predict we get another Mae Young Classic, and it will be better than the first (which is saying something, because the first was excellent). We hopefully get the return of the Dusty Classic. And for the second year in a row, we have WarGames, and once again, Undisputed Era will be involved. And once again, it will be a solid choice for match of the year.
And, in my great hope….NXT gets new and better announcers. Someone more like Graves and Phillips….no more three man lineup.