The WWE is just getting started this year and kicked off Monday Night RAW last night. It seems like just last year fans were agitated with the direction of the company.
Now it seems like the WWE is in a much different place. Maybe it isn't exactly where the fans want it to be, but it is a breath of fresh air.
Some of the predictions will be about the company or certain individuals who are in it. However, the WWE has shown that any change, even if it isn't initially about a storyline, can go a long way toward creating a new one. So some of these will also be about retirements as well.
With a new network, a new champ, and a new attitude, how will the so-called Reality Era play out?
Here are some guesses.
Lets start things off with a bang.
This network is a horrible idea. Wrestling is great but having a 24 hour a day station dedicated to it is a bit much. Especially when it isn't even about wrestling as a whole but just the WWE.
If it mixed New Japan, ROH, and maybe even TNA together it might stand a chance, but with just the WWE, it's going to get repetitive quickly.
Technically, it isn't a storyline, but it will impact the WWE and lead to several things that will impact the plots of Smackdown and RAW.
Remember when the WWE used to have special guest general managers?
That is what is going to happen when the WWE tries to save what is going to be a difficult sell to its fans.
In that vein, they will probably see some older legends make a return as they plug the Legends House series.
Some of these older wrestlers might still have something to give, but some will be painful to watch and make fans regret tuning in.
It also won't help the show's ratings.
In an attempt to make the network something that every WWE and wrestling fan should have, the company officials will split their roster into three brands yet again.
That means that some of the veteran talent and younger stars will get pulled away from whatever minor storyline they are in to get more airtime, even if its on a smaller network.
This is great for the talent, but it will probably be short-lived. Still, for the WWE Network to survive, it needs to do this.
Fans may want to see ECW return, but it isn't going to happen. Vince McMahon tried it once, but it ended up evolving into his version of the brand than anything else.
Now that it will be on the WWE Network, there isn't a chance that it will happen again. It would be the same as if McMahon restarted WCW.
Both brands will continue to be used to show library footage, but that is it.
Whatever brand does get used, it will be something fans have never seen before.
The WWE will need the third brand to be something different than what the fans are used to.
Making it have things like the TV title would be a start, but more than that, they could bring back a championship most want to see again.
The cruiserweight title.
Cruiserweights always bring it, and they were some of the most charismatic wrestlers in the WWE. They may not matter to the average fan, but they do to the Internet fan, and that is probably going to be a large part of who orders this channel.
The WWE will try to find a way to bring star power to the third brand, and the best way to do it is to make the head person a name people remember.
The best bet would be Stephanie McMahon. She has played the villain before, and it is a role that seems like the perfect fit.
Plus, there wouldn't have to be much of an explanation of why she is there. She is Vince McMahon's daughter.
Another person who might do it better: Vickie Guerrero.
Whoever it is the WWE will try to make them a big part of the program.
Part of the reason the WWE will bring over a name for the general manager position is because most of talent on the third brand will be younger talent cutting their teeth.
Some will even be older veterans who never made it to the top.
One wrestler needs to be a top veteran who has star power but isn't one of the top guys.
And that is Christian.
He not only was on ECW, he was also the top guy at TNA.
It is a role he is used to and one he will play up beautifully.
The WWE is trying to remain kid-friendly but they will need something different when they launch the brand for their network.
That means giving different fans a reason to tune in and for adult males, it could be adult-themed content.
Many older fans have grown annoyed with today's product and have nostalgia for the days of the Attitude Era.
The WWE can use that nostalgia to make some cash.
Again this shouldn't have anything to do with plotlines, but the failure of the WWE Network means that the stockholders will want to know that the WWE is safe.
That means they will want to see people like John Cena who is a mainstay be put on top again. Normally, McMahon and Co. wouldn't do that, but they owe an explanation to their investors.
It could mean that the WWE feels pressured to get the ratings up, and they might do something rash.
And they will.
But that is on a future slide.
The network will make it through the fiscal and calendar year, but it will be limping badly.
McMahon won't want to cut his losses and admit it is a failure, though he might have to if it starts hemorrhaging money out of the company.
Still, he will want to show that it could make it at least one year before he gives up and closes shop on it.
Which means stories and wrestlers will both be cut quickly.
The Deadman will finally close out what has been an impressive career in the WWE with a last showing at WrestleMania.
He will look older than he ever has and still put on a better performance than most.
He is less than half a decade from being 50, though, and time waits for no man.
Not even him.
So make sure to buy this last WrestleMania, because fans won't see him again.
Which means no more tales from the Phenom's crypt.
If Triple H is going to be the Undertaker's opponent, then it might just serve as his last match as well.
Triple H is slowly being phased into a company job and out of the ring. There just aren't that many compelling storylines for him.
Expect 2012 to be the last year for Triple H.
Seth Rollins, who was once known as Tyler Black in ROH, will make his TV debut during 2012.
Normally, the WWE keeps someone in developmental for years before they move them up, but with Rollins' abilities and the fact that he was already an indie star, it will help him move up faster.
It won't mean a main-event slot anytime soon, so he will probably start feuding with either an older veteran or another up-and-comer.
And there is one choice above all others for who he should debut against.
William Regal will retire and it would be best if he does it against Rollins.
It makes the most sense and it would be compelling TV.
No matter who it ends up being, Regal will retire from the ring this year and will end up becoming one of the WWE's major announcers on either Smackdown or RAW.
He is just that good.
Normally when a wrestler retires, they put someone else over as a way to give back to the business that gave them so much.
There are a bunch of different wrestlers who could easily become top heels by "ending" his career.
Sadly, Mysterio is just going to walk away, as one too many surgeries to his knee will have left him unable to compete.
He will not have the career-defining end match that he would like.
When the Nexus debuted they had plenty of different members, but the last ones left in the WWE that most remember are Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty.
Certain wrestlers like Darren Young, Daniel Bryan, Mason Ryan and Skip Sheffield were part of the Nexus, but they weren't seen week-in and week-out as the men on the screen.
By the end of the year, everyone on the list above will have been cut from the company with the exception of Barrett. They will be buried by different wrestlers and rookies and end up future endeavored.
Johnny Curtis is just not that interesting. He may have won his season of NXT, but that doesn't mean anything.
Neither man was exactly perfect during the season they were on and it still shows. Bateman seems to be fleshing himself out well, while still remaining humorous.
Curtis seems to be stuck trying to find a character, and he is failing miserably.
By the end of 2012, Bateman will have risen to the occasion and beaten Curtis out of the WWE.
Brodus Clay has been getting delayed when it comes to his debut on RAW.
That is the worst thing that could happen to him. The longer he is put off from his first match, the more that fans are going to anticipate it.
Once something has been held up for so long, it can only disappoint because it can't possibly deliver the excitement that fans were looking for.
The only way to make it even somewhat a proper payoff is if he takes somebody out of the WWE.
Clay has been built up as a monster, and the only way to convey that is to have him remove someone from the WWE.
After Cryme Tyme broke up, JTG's career fell into limbo. It hasn't fared well since.
When Clay makes his debut, it will be against JTG, and it will be a beatdown.
When it's announced that JTG's "injuries" were so bad that the WWE had to release him, they will have killed two birds with one stone.
Made Clay look monstrous in one bout and trimmed unneeded fat from their roster.
This one isn't that much of a bold prediction until it gets to the part of who will beat him.
Sin Cara has botched moves and matches since his debut, along with getting heat in the locker room.
He has even violated the wellness policy once since he started his career in the WWE.
It may not be what the WWE wanted, but he has proven that he just can't hang in the organization.
Still, they have to try to redeem some kind of investment from him, so they will feed him to Del Rio in an attempt to transfer the Latin fan base over to their other investment.
When Del Rio goes over Sin Cara and eliminates him from the company, it will be a last-ditch effort to save his WWE career as well.
Del Rio was signed because he was a Mexican superstar wrestler, but his rich heel character just hasn't gotten the crowds riled up. He just doesn't seem to bug them that much.
Plus, most people could start a drinking game with the amount of times he has mentioned that something is "his destiny."
When someone has a catchphrase like that and they don't deliver it properly, it can get annoying. Del Rio's destiny might just be to get right with the company or be gone by 2013.
Goldust finally returned to TV last week on Smackdown. He also used his time to tear into his brother and start what might be a feud down the road.
Obviously, Goldust's career is coming to an end, and it is a good bet that he wants to help his brother's career out.
Expect Goldust to be forced into retirement on a pay-per-view match against Cody Rhodes.
Most of the divas in the WWE don't look like they could match up against Natalya or Beth Phoenix.
It's hard to take Alicia Fox seriously when she wins against either of them because of the size difference and the fact that Fox may look good, but she doesn't seem to have much in the way of muscles.
Kaitlyn looks physically imposing at least, and when she stands next to Phoenix, she doesn't appear like she could be snapped in half.
It was never specified in her first time with the WWE whether she was going to be a heel or a face. The only thing fans knew about Kharma was that she was taking everyone out.
She left just as her star was starting to rise because she was pregnant.
By 2012, she won't be, and count on her making a return and by the end of the year destroying everyone.
In the end, it will take a unified Divas division to beat the woman warrior known as Kharma.
Kelly Kelly does try to be the best wrestler she can be. It is apparent every time she comes out to the ring and has a match.
She just got everything handed to her too soon.
When you arrive in the company at 19 and have already won championships by 24, there isn't much left to do. She has already done what she needed to to succeed in the company.
At this point, she will start looking for other opportunities and that will lead her into eventually departing from the WWE.
No one can fault the WWE for not being consistent.
The same things that have held back smaller male wrestlers who know what they are doing in the ring are also going to hold back AJ Lee as well.
She is going to consistently get buried in 2012, though not badly enough to have her eliminated from the company.
It will be enough to make sure it isn't her breakout year, though.
The WWE is starting to blur the lines between the Internet and the characters on their television shows.
The best example is the showing of different pro wrestlers' Twitter handles during their entrances. The WWE realizes that this is a great way to get fans.
It worked for Zack Ryder, who used the Internet to get over and then mixed it in with his time on RAW and Smackdown.
Other stars are starting to try and imitate him in their own ways and sooner or later, it will bleed onto fans television screens.
Both DiBiase and McIntyre seemed like they were going to be huge stars in the WWE when they started. Now both men are fighting for relevance.
There may not even be a reason they are put together, but to give them each something to do while other people are moving forward in the company.
When the WWE has decided which of them has more potential, then that person will win the feud.
The other guy will move downward.
India is a huge asset to the WWE. It was big enough that they have kept The Great Khali around even though he can't wrestle or cut a promo.
And it's the same reason why Mahal will be kept with the company.
Add the fact that he can cut a promo and that he has a decent look and it seems logical that they will keep him in the organization.
He will be relegated to dark matches with wrestlers like Trent Barreta until he gets better, though.
With Mysterio one more blown knee from retirement and Sin Cara having failed, the WWE will look around for another masked wrestler.
Masks are a big seller, especially among kids, and the WWE won't want to miss out on those sales.
It may be someone inside the company or it may be someone outside of it, but they will find a new luchador who can draw in the crowds and the kids.
Since all of the other Hispanic superstars of note will be taken, the new wrestler will have to face Kane in a mask vs. mask bout.
Vince McMahon will do something shocking in 2012.
He will let other people plan his shows without him checking over every little detail.
With the company starting a huge endeavor in the WWE Network, his hands will be busy enough without needing to micromanage the other shows.
As with some of these other slides, it isn't so much a storyline itself, but it would significantly affect how the stories on both RAW and Smackdown play out.
The Big Show is starting to let his character get annoyed with Bryan and it isn't yet determined who is going to be the "good guy" when they come to blows.
No matter what, it seems like Bryan can't win, but that might also be a red flag. The second someone can't do something in the WWE is usually when they end up succeeding.
Show is a longtime veteran and even if he hasn't had a bunch of runs with the title, it doesn't seem likely that he is going to get put over some of the younger, newer talent.
This feud should get some distance, with Bryan slapping on a few submissions to prove that technical wrestling is superior.
Why would the WWE split up a good tag team like the Usos?
Because its something they do all the time. The WWE tag team division is starting to become healthy again, but it will take some time for that to happen and in the meanwhile, Vince McMahon will want to see if one brother is more talented than the other.
That means splitting them apart and seeing how they fare separately.
It doesn't make sense, but this is the company that split up the Hart Dynasty.
Even when the WWE splits up good tag teams, if the champions are strong, then it won't be as bad.
Who would have guessed that Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne would make such a great pair, but they do.
Their chemistry in the ring and leading up to it make them fun to watch and worth noticing.
No matter what happens to the division, they will make it sing and that means that they will inevitably get worthwhile opponents and a story to match.
As mentioned before, Vince McMahon won't retire from the WWE just yet.
However, Triple H's career should be coming to an end. When it finally does and he can focus on the business behind the curtain, he will be ready to make the final transition.
It also means that he will start having a more influential hand in what goes on story-wise in the company.
The Miz hasn't had an easy time of it in the WWE. From when he first started getting bullied in the locker room to being insulted by the fans years later for still having been a "reality TV" star.
He just hasn't had that feud that put him over as a top heel.
His feud with R-Truth could do just that. They both have the energy and the ability to make it something special and it could help them both out in the long run.
Miz will go over Truth and when he does, it will be the moment where he is finally accepted.
Last night on RAW, R-Truth continued to beat down the Miz. However, nothing in the way he spoke or acted prompted anyone to think that he was a face now.
He has returned to the crazy character fans have known and loved since its inception and it would be best if he stayed that way.
Of course, if he is going to play a crazy persona, then he needs to remain ambiguous in how he acts.
It also means that when the Miz beats him, that he beat the craziest and the strongest R-Truth.
Laurinaitis has been doing everything in his power to cause Punk problems. No matter who Punk is facing in the ring, it is him vs. Laurinaitis at the end of the day.
Making the champion fight every match as a handicap bout is a great way to build heat between the two, and it will end with both of them squaring off in the ring.
It won't be the best match, but Laurinaitis was a wrestler at one point and even if he wasn't any good in his prime, a match between the two will still be impressive, just because of the story it would entail.
This is something that a bunch of fans don't want to hear, but it is what is going to happen.
The reason why is pretty obvious, though it will be brought up later in this article.
The other reason is that it will help the feud between him and Laurinaitis to take off. Still, even after Punk beats the interim RAW general manager into the ground, he is going to need something to do and someone to face.
There is only one man for the job.
Jericho made his return on RAW yesterday night and it can be guessed from how he handled the crowd last night that he is returning as a villain.
He could end up being Laurinaitis' lackey or he could be working for himself. Regardless, he will be using every trick in the book to beat Punk.
Why will he feud against Punk?
Tough to say, as Jericho is about as varied a wrestler as you get. At the end of the day, he doesn't live pro wrestling like Punk does and will help Punk get more over than he already is.
It's a match most want to see.
It is also something that both Austin and Punk seem interested in.
Austin seems to have a lot of respect for Punk, and both are loved by the fans. After beating Jericho, it makes the most sense for these two to be put together.
There is just too much money for it not to happen.
Lesnar will never be a full-time wrestler.
Even if he were, there is no way Vince McMahon would take a risk with him.
He has some star power having been in the UFC and even with his last few fights being losses, it doesn't completely destroy his appeal.
He has stated he hates touring and won't do a full schedule, but it is certain he would show up for a WrestleMania spot.
The WWE will put him on a RAW and a pay-per-view to test how how that would work.
No matter how a fan might feel about the Streak, it won't be broken.
In this writer's humble opinion, that is a mistake as the Streak would lend serious credence to whoever brought it down, but that is just opinion.
Undertaker has worked hard for the company and there is no way that they will let his reputation be tarnished in his final match with them.
He will go 20-0 at WrestleMania and walk off into the sunset.
Orton never really turned fully face to begin with, and it would be very easy for him to switch around and become a heel again.
It would also be more entertaining.
And after some time as being one of the main good guys on Smackdown, he finally will. Struggling and possibly losing to Barrett will be enough to convince Orton that he just isn't being ruthless enough.
Fans won't see the old, cocky Orton, but a newer and more vicious predator.
Most fans might not have noticed, but Zack Ryder is slowly putting more depth into his character as time drags on.
He needs to as well, since his gimmick alone isn't entertaining enough to get fans on his side.
He will need to grow into a main eventer filled with confidence and strength to get them to keep being on his side.
And he is doing it well, since most don't even see it happening.
It is the best thing for Ryder and something that is great for his overall career.
Everyone knows what is underneath Kane's mask. There is no more mystery, and its actually better for his character if it stays on.
He has regained that disturbing aura that drew fans to him when he first debuted, and the WWE won't mess with a good thing like that.
No matter what kind of match he ends up getting into, even if he faces a luchadore he won't end up losing the mask.
If it is true that Morrison was just burned out and needed some time off of the WWE, then it will be a good bet that at some point he will be back in 2012.
He won't be back in time to do the Royal Rumble, but he might just get back to do Money in the Bank or TLC.
And since rumors sometimes hold weight in the world of pro wrestling, it is safe to say that we will see the owner of the Palace of Wisdom back on a WWE show.
And since it was the Miz who took him out, that is who he is going to be feuding with.
Many adult fans want Cena to turn bad guy and feel that the feud with Kane is the way to do it.
That isn't going to happen, though. He sells way to much merchandise to kids and so he will beat Kane and he will do it while rising above the hate.
The kids will cheer and he will smile and his shirt will be sold out by the end of the night.
There is only one way to make the match with the Rock that much bigger, and that is for Cena to be the champion.
He won't be the one to beat Punk, but he will be the one to pick up the strap by the time it is all said and done.
If it helps the buyrate, the WWE will usually do it and in this case, it just makes sense for it to happen because it will attract casual fans.
The biggest prediction that one could make.
Cena will have to walk out as the champion only because the Rock isn't even a part-time wrestler anymore. If he won the title, it would destroy the company.
The only way the Rock could win is if somebody beats the Rock right afterwards.
Don't expect that the WWE would let that happen.
Cena will walk in with the title and walk out with it, because anything else would hurt the company.