WWE: 10 Predictions for 10 Years in the Future
Predicting the future of professional wrestling is a futile pursuit, as there are so many variables that can change everything in an instant.
However, years that end with a two seem to feature moments that shape the following decade. How important these instances are going to be for the development of the sport are not always apparent but these relatively small actions seem to create special moments.
For instance, 1982 saw Vince McMahon purchase the WWWF and the AWA discovered a new star in Hulk Hogan. Both these stories were noteworthy at the time but nobody could have predicted that their collusion in 1983 would lead to the end of the territory system.
Similarly, the loss of Hogan to acting and the drugs scandal in 1992 looked to be a major blow for Vince McMahon and the success of wrestling as a pastime. However this negativity prompted the WWE to go for primetime television and reaffirmed Ted Turner's vision that WCW could be bigger than the WWE.
These two factors would culminate in the Monday Night Wars.
Ten years ago was all about significant debuts. This is remarkable considering that the focus, at the time, was on the invasion of former WCW members. The most notable debutants from 2002 include John Cena, Randy Orton and Dave Batista who have 27 WWE and World Heavyweight title reigns between them.
We are now in the middle of 2012, and the seeds of change are already being planted.
Here are 10 predictions that could come to fruition by 2022.
Richie Steamboat Will Be The Face Of The WWE
The son of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat is in prime position to become the new face of the WWE.
A home-grown talent, Steamboat has spent most of his wrestling career under the wing of WWE development and has been groomed for greatness from the beginning.
Evidence of Steamboat's careful upbringing can be seen in the competition that he has faced in FCW, which mainly consists of talent that are now part of the WWE's main roster.
If the rumours are true, Steamboat will be making his WWE debut when NXT enters season 6. By 2022, Steamboat will be a household name with many championship runs and that first moment will be immortalised.
The WWE Network Will Be The Highest Profile Failure In The Company's History
The WWE Network appears to be destined to fail.
Poor planning, economic turmoil, and the inability to hire the best staff has left the project on the back-foot. Unrealistic time frames has been another factor that has hindered the project which appears to be going live this November.
However the ultimate failure of the WWE Network will be due to the lack of original content and the over-abundance of wrestling on network television. Subscriptions will be high in the first year but will fall away quickly and leave the WWE in a difficult position.
Their answer will be to pour resources into the project but the network will fail after a couple of years.
This will financially unsettle the whole WWE and see major changes at corporate level.
Shane McMahon Will Be the WWE Chairman and CEO
This may appear to be counter-intuitive as sister Stephanie McMahon and her husband Triple H are high profile executives in the WWE already. However Shane will ultimately take over the reins from Vince McMahon.
Shane's time away from wrestling as Chairman and CEO of YOU On Demand is key to modernising the WWE. Arcane practices still litter the WWE landscape and this is unlikely to change until Vince steps down as commander in chief.
When Vince steps down, Shane will be able to come in with modern practices and update the system from a position of experience. His leadership and independent success will continue the reputation of the WWE which would not be guaranteed if someone was promoted from inside the company.
A suspicious person may even suggest this has been the plan since Shane left in 2009.
John Cena Will Be The Face Of Another Wrestling Organisation
John Cena loves being a professional wrestler, but he has experienced stardom that very few wrestlers can contemplate. Many of those, like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, have found the slide back down the order difficult to adjust to.
As Cena becomes replaceable, the relationship between him and the WWE will deteriorate. Eventually, John Cena will leave the WWE and look for a new challenge.
A free-agent Cena would be a big enough name to create an entire wrestling company around him. This would be a huge move for the wrestling world as enough investment and John Cena could see a genuine contender emerge for WWE's crown as top wrestling promotion.
More Than 50 Percent of WWE Revenue Will Come from Outside the United States
Despite selling themselves as a worldwide brand, the WWE still receives a disproportionate amount of the company's total revenue from inside the US. This situation will have been reversed by 2022 and that will have a significant effect on WWE programming.
One of the biggest changes will be the reduction in the pro-American stance. This panders to the current audience but turns off viewers from other nations. Once more profit can be made by keeping the outside audience, then the wrestlers will become more neutral.
Another big alteration will be the mix of wrestlers on the roster. Most wrestlers currently performing for the WWE come from the US, Canada or Mexico. A worldwide sport will need heroes from every region so the diversity of the roster will be greatly increased.
The early signs of this are already in motion as shown by the prominent contingent from Great Britain and Ireland.
Such a change may seem insignificant, but the changes will be widespread.
CM Punk Will Be Seen As A Pioneer But Only As A Transitional Champion
CM Punk's reign as champion has been one of the longest in recent WWE history, but his run will be seen as the bridge between two eras.
The WWE is moving away from the much maligned PG era and moving towards a product that will entice a more general audience. Future stars are being established at a brutal rate, and these will be the champions of the future.
Through no fault of his own, CM Punk will lose out in the mix.
However many of these champions will be former ROH members who were only given the opportunity because of the initial success of Punk. This will secure Punk's role as a wrestling pioneer forever.
WWE Will Get A Reputation As The Place MMA Fighters Go To Retire
If Zuffa continue with their current pay-scale structure, many MMA fighters will look to join the WWE when their competitive career comes to an end.
The WWE will initially see this as a good idea, as this will add big-name fighters to their product; however, the situation will quickly unravel. Too many fighters who are past their best, and have no experience in the professional wrestling ring, will soon bore fans and create a spectacular backlash.
However the chance of quick cash may be too tempting for WWE officials so the regularity of ex-MMA guys appearing will be a common occurrence and then the reputation will stick.
TNA Will Be Part Of The Zuffa Group
Currently owned by Panda Energy, TNA has been a financial burden for some time. The recent signing of a new television deal has guaranteed TNA's survival for the short-term but changes need to be made for TNA to become a successful business.
The best way of doing this is for a new owner to come in and make the necessary changes.
The obvious company to do this is UFC's parent company Zuffa. As mention before, the UFC has a strict policy on salary and needs a place to put performers who are no longer winning. This could be a solution that resolves both companies issues in one fell swoop.
WWE Pay-Per-Views Will Be Reduced to Eight a Year
Storylines such as John Laurinaitis' rise to power have shown the WWE's desire to create longer, more complicated story-lines. One of the main handicaps to this currently is the abundance of pay-per-view events that need to be sold.
The general decline of pay-per-view sales over the past three years suggests that a few could be removed from the calendar, so this is an obvious move to make.
However, each pay-per-view could cost up to $100 per event, so fans will still be paying through the nose.
WWE Will Have Moved to Three Two-Hour Shows a Week
This change will go hand in hand with the WWE's desire to connect with their whole fan base rather than being concentrated on one specific group.
The addition of adding an additional show, probably in a children-friendly timeslot, will allow the WWE to bring Raw up to a TV-14 rating once again. The WWE may even decide to have a sub-roster, similar to how NXT works, concentrated on the younger audience.
If the WWE were especially clever, they would have a new generation of wrestlers every two to three years which would allow younger fans to access the two main shows while having characters that they were familiar with.
Of course this means the failure of the three-hour Raws that the WWE plan to move to on July 23.
Appeasing the whole audience base while continuously adding younger fans in one of the WWE's biggest objectives for the next 10 years, and this could be the solution.
The original statement to the article was "Predicting the future of professional wrestling is a futile pursuit" which is still a true comment.
There is a better than even chance that none of these predictions will ever be correct, but it is always interesting to hypothesize over the future.