In this column, we take a look back at a column Jan and I published on January 2, 2014, looking at the 2014 year to come. We made some bold predictions, and now its time to see how they held up through-out the calender year!
1) Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore will continue to grow and establish itself as a major player in the wrestling landscape. Expect a number of shows this year.
Verdict: Nailed it.
I think it goes without saying that the House of Hardcore brand is much more of a household name with wrestling fans than it was this time last year. Holding twice as many events as it had in 2013, HoH also shared some major league cross-promotion with Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, and specifically a crossover angle with former Impact Wrestling Heavyweight Champion (and longtime Dreamer friend/foe), Bully Ray. In November, House of Hardcore also made its debut in the world-renown former ECW Arena. The ball of momentum absolutely grew for HoH in 2014.
2) Bray Wyatt will emerge as a major player in WWE.
Verdict: Nailed it.
It’s difficult to remember a time when Bray Wyatt wasn’t a major player in World Wrestling Entertainment. However, although he debuted with a considerable amount of hype, he didn’t develop into an irreplaceable, integral part of the WWE roster until (early in) 2014. The series of matches between the Wyatt Family and the Shield are of the best memories of 2014, and Bray Wyatt himself achieved further greatness throughout the entire year including a match with John Cena at WrestleMania.
3) AJ Styles will re-sign with TNA Wrestling.
Verdict: Missed it.
I can’t remember if this was a prediction from Jan, or myself, but I’ll blame Jan on this one (just kidding buddy….let’s blame Gennaro, instead). In any event, AJ Style had a….phenomenal…..year for himself, including winning the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, as well as being a part of the biggest faction in professional wrestling at this moment, The Bullet Club. AJ Styles will be returning to North American Pay Per View screens this weekend, as well, as part of Global Force Wrestling’s production of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s WrestleKingdom 9 on January 4, 2015.
4) Stone Cold Steve Austin will appear on WWE programming at some point.
Verdict: Nailed it.
Stone Cold Steve Austin has been more active on WWE television this year than in many of the prior in recent memory. The moment he stood in the ring with Hulk Hogan, and the Rock, at WrestleMania XXX is etched in my memory as one of the top 5 coolest moments of the year. As well, it’s difficult to forget the jaw-dropping live podcast broadcast on the WWE Network with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. It was there that we heard Vince McMahon make a number of newsworthy statements concerning the contract status and relationship status with CM Punk, as well as what he felt needed to be done to continue to evolve WWE’s weekly programming efforts.
5) WWE will launch its 24-7 network.
Verdict: Nailed it (although this was kind of a gimmie…)
WWE announced on January 8, 2014 that it would launch it’s brand new, revolutionary television concept dubbed the WWE Network; a 24-hour live streaming and video on demand service, the likes of which no company in the world had ever tried to undertake. The service includes all twelve WWE live pay per views, streamed to television screens using the WWE app on the Playstation, XBox, Roku, AppleTV, iPad/iPhone/iPod, PC, Mac, and many other Smart-TV devices. My review of the original announcement can be read here, as well as a podcast myself, Sideshow, and Jan did in the weeks that followed, pre-launch, can be heard here. Post launch, WWE had created a number of first-run original series’ for the Network, including critically acclaimed content such as the Monday Night War, Legends House, and WrestleMania Rewind, as well as including every PPV to ever air from ECW, WCW, or WWE in their video on demand library. My six month review of the WWE Network can be read here, which quickly became my most viewed column of 2014. Needless to say, there have been many ups and downs (far more ups, than downs, in my opinion, however), but today stands one of the most unique and valuable commodities in the entertainment business, and the brainchild of Vince McMahon. It’s a really cool time to be a wrestling fan.
6) Goldust and Cody Rhodes will face each other at WrestleMania
Verdict: Missed it.
Well, there’s always this year.
7) Bully Ray will continue to be the most dynamic heel in professional wrestling
Verdict: Nailed it (although for only half of the year)
Bully Ray was the cream of the crop when it came to wrestling heels for the first half of 2014. I defy you to find anybody any better. However, in something that I can honestly say I did not see coming, he turned babyface mid-way through the year (and left a huge hole atop the heel TNA roster). I guess we’ll say we got this, but only by a technicality.
8) The Shield will dissolve, with each member becoming a successful singles competitor, but none bigger than Roman Reigns
Verdict: Jury is out.
Right after April’s Extreme Rules event, The Shield was dissolved. Having attended a number of live events during their run, its difficult to describe the energy in the arena, and how it changed when the Shield’s music would hit prior to their entrance. It was this prediction, in my mind, I wanted to come true the least. The Shield was awesome, and a great reason to continue to tune into RAW and Smackdown every week.
What has risen from the dissolution of the Shield are three incredibly strong singles superstars. Although Reigns spent the second part of the year on the disabled list, Amborse and Rollins more than held their fair share of the bargain, having career years (which followed career years for both of them the year prior). Arguably Seth Rollins is the biggest superstar to come from the grave of the Shield, having won the Money in the Bank Ladder match this past summer, and firmly entrenched in the main event scene with the Authority. However, its hard to rival the crowd reaction that Roman Reigns got at this past year’s Royal Rumble and subsequent PPVs until his untimely injury. Ambrose has carved out a series of excellent matches with everyone he has feuded with as well. We’ll let the jury deliberate a little further on this one.
9) Daniel Bryan will finally get what he deserves, a legit run as WWE World Heavyweight champ
Verdict: Missed it, but only because of injury
Daniel Bryan’s moment of winning the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX after defeating Triple H earlier in the evening was easily one of the most memorable moments in WWE history. The crowd went absolutely bonkers for his win, and the celebration that followed demonstrated that sometimes good things are truly worth waiting for.
Unfortunately for Daniel Bryan, the announcement that he needed neck surgery and would be sidelined for the remainder of the year derailed what was likely going to be a memorable run on top of the WWE, at least through the summer. It was right up until this past Monday Night on RAW that we questioned whether or not Daniel Bryan would be able to return to the ring, at all. Of course, his announcement of his entry into the 2015 Royal Rumble was met with a HUGE ovation, and there’s a good chance that 2015 becomes the Year of the Goat.
10) Macho Man Randy Savage will be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his brother, Lanny Poffo
Verdict: Missed it
Although we missed this prediction, 2014 was the year that the ice thawed more than every before between the Savage/WWE camps. At the beginning of the fall, WWE released a beautiful documentary and match compilation DVD/Blu-Ray set of Macho Man’s life and career, and his brother Lanny was heavily featured in both it, as well as several segments on the WWE Network. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin questioned Vince McMahon directly as to why Randy Savage isn’t a part of the WWE Hall of Fame on his live Podcast on the WWE Network, to which Vince McMahon promised it would “happen soon”. Perhaps 2015 is the time that Savage takes his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
11) The Intercontinental title will be restored to its previous importance and glory
Verdict: Missed it
Whoa boy, did we ever miss this one. I think this was more wishful thinking than it was an actual prediction, but that notwithstanding, man oh man were we ever off the tracks with this prediction. More often than not, the Intercontinental Champion found themselves on the losing end of non-title televised matches, and I’m struggling to think of one well-rounded feud that centralized around that particular championship all year long. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper has come too late in the year to salvage what was otherwise an awful year to be the Intercontinental Championship.
12) CM Punk will win the Royal Rumble
Verdict: Missed it
We were close, though. CM Punk entered #1, and lasted 49 minutes, the longest anybody lasted in the 2014 Royal Rumble, most of the while wrestling with a concussion suffered early in the match. It was what happened next that nobody could have predicted.
The day following the 2014 Royal Rumble marked the day that CM Punk walked away from World Wrestling Entertainment, seemingly forever. It left fans, and co-workers alike searching for answers, until November 2014 when Punk appeared on longtime friend Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast to provide answers. CM Punk became the biggest news story in professional wrestling, twice, in one calender year, and hasn’t wrestled since January. That’s pretty impressive. It’s also safe to say “CM Punk wins 2015 Royal Rumble” won’t appear on this year’s predictions list.
13) Hulk Hogan will return to WWE in some capacity that isn’t wrestling
Verdict: Nailed it
Hulk Hogan returned to WWE in the grandest way possible, as both the ambassador for the newly launched WWE Network, and as the host of WrestleMania XXX. There was something supremely satisfying about hearing the Hulkster’s iconic music on Monday Night RAW for the first time since 2007. Since then, Hogan has been featured on WWE television regularly, both on live telecasts, as well as DVD features. Hulk Hogan has finally come back home, hopefully to stay.
14) We haven’t heard the last of Jeff Jarrett in the world of pro wrestling
Verdict: Nailed it
When founder Jeff Jarrett left TNA Wrestling, many predicted that Jarrett’s days in the wrestling business had finally come to an end. Son of legendary promoter and wrestler Jerry Jarrett, Jeff had spent his entire life in the wrestling business, including memorable runs in both the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling before going on to found TNA Wrestling in 2003. Upon his exit, it wasn’t long before rumours grew that he might be planning a new venture, and something to change the landscape of professional wrestling. On April 7, 2014, Jarrett announced the formation of Global Force Wrestling, a new company looking to unite many independent promotions, and professional wrestlers, under one banner (in a similar aspect to the way the National Wrestling Alliance had done many years prior, however this time with a more international focus). The first broadcast live event under the GFW banner was announced November 4, 2014 and will take place January 4, 2015 live on Pay Per View, internationally.
So, of 14 predictions, we nailed 8, and one we’re allowing the jury to further deliberate. One thing is absolutely certain, it was an interesting and often-times exciting time to be a professional wrestling fan. A number of really cool things happened over the past year, and it leaves the door open for 2015 to be another incredible year.
Check back this weekend as Jan and I take a stab at predicting what is to come in 2015!