10 Bold Storyline Predictions for the WWE in 2013
The WWE had a ridiculous amount of crazy storylines in 2012.
If 2012 was a precursor to 2013, then expect 2013 to be just as crazy.
Since the WWE has a creative team that you can never quite figure out, there's really no telling just what types of angles and rivalries may play out over the course of the next year.
But hey, that's not going to prevent me from trying to figure it out anyway and predict some of the major occurrences that we might see over the course of the next 360-plus days.
Here are 10 bold storyline predictions for the WWE in 2013.
10. Jack Swagger Will Return as a Face and End Antonio Cesaro's US Title Reign
Antonio Cesaro has spent much of his United States Championship reign bragging and boasting that no American will ever beat him for the title.
Hey, Jack Swagger, where you at?
With Cesaro's constant claims that he is a better US Champion than anyone who's actually from the US, it makes perfect sense for a returning Swagger to be the guy who proves him wrong.
Swagger has been off of TV since early September, and it's obvious that he has to do something different if and when he does return. He can't be the same cocky jock he's been for his entire WWE career.
So, enter "The All-American American," a babyface Swagger who steps up and ends Cesaro's lengthy reign as the United States Champion.
Not only would this freshen up Swagger's character, but it would allow Cesaro to take a leap up the card, which figures to happen at some point in 2013 anyway.
9. Kofi Kingston Will Turn Heel
You're probably thinking, "Kofi Kingston is never going to turn heel."
But you also likely thought that neither The Miz nor Alberto Del Rio would turn face in 2012, and guess what? They did.
Heck, you probably didn't expect Brodus Clay to return as a dancing "Funkasaurus" or for Ryback to evolve into a top star. Yet both of those things happened too.
The bottom line is that you never say never when it comes to pro wrestling, even when it comes to something that seems as unlikely as a Kingston heel turn.
Although Kingston doesn't strike anyone as a natural heel, he desperately needs some sort of change to prevent his character from getting even more stale than it's already become.
At this point, the only thing that can save Kingston from wasting away in the midcard for the remainder of his career is a heel turn, and like The Miz and ADR in 2012, he might very well turn in 2013.
8. Chris Jericho Will Return and Feud with the Shield
Last weekend, there was an interesting little Twitter exchange between Chris Jericho and The Shield's Seth Rollins.
You can read that entire exchange here, and while nothing all that major was said by either man, it's worth paying attention to because of Jericho's involvement.
Jericho is notorious for working the fans, and it's worth noting that right before his return to the WWE last January, he suddenly became very vocal about some of the WWE's biggest stars.
Now the question becomes: Is Jericho just having fun with his tweets, or is this a sign that he'll be back to feud with The Shield?
Let's go with the latter.
The widespread expectation is that Jericho will be back in the WWE at some point in 2013, and it would be a ton of of fun to see him do what he does best: put over up-and-coming talent.
In 2012, he put over CM Punk, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler. In 2013, he just might do the same for Rollins and The Shield.
7. AJ Lee Pools the Switch-a-Roo Again.. More Than Once
In 2012, AJ Lee was romantically involved with Daniel Bryan, Kane, CM Punk, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler.
That's a rate of one relationship roughly every two-and-a-half months, which means that there's a pretty good chance that we'll see AJ involved in even more relationships in 2013.
Now that she's back at it as the "crazy chick," there are really no limits to how many guys AJ could get involved with throughout this year.
If she's capable of making out with five top stars in one calendar year, imagine what she might do now that she's firmly entrenched as one of the biggest characters on TV.
After seeing how much of a floozy she was in 2012, expect AJ to be an even bigger one in 2013.
Don't be surprised if she abandons Ziggler within the next few months and finds herself romantically linked to someone like Randy Orton, The Shield or even Vince McMahon himself.
After all, she's like the WWE's merry-go-round. Everyone gets a ride.
6. Randy Orton vs. John Cena One More Time
From 2007 to 2009, it felt like John Cena and Randy Orton feuded about 25 times.
Since Randy Orton turned face in early 2010, however, Cena and Orton have largely stayed away from each other, and on the few occasions that they've been in the ring together, it's been as a tag team.
Maybe this is just a hunch, but that could change in 2013.
There's all kinds of speculation that Orton will turn heel this year, and after WrestleMania 29, there's a good chance that The Rock will be gone and that Cena will need a new superstar to feud with.
Over the past few years, Cena has feuded with many of the WWE's top guys, including Sheamus, CM Punk, The Rock, The Miz, Big Show, Alberto Del Rio and several others.
But during that span, he's surprisingly stayed away from one of his biggest rivals ever in Randy Orton.
Although we've seen Orton vs. Cena so many times that we probably wouldn't mind never seeing it again, the way the dominoes are falling is making another feud between the two very possible.
Orton vs. Cena: Round 286? It may be a reality in 2013.
5. The Shield Turns on Seth Rollins, Who Turns Babyface
The Shield is probably in its infant stages, but given the WWE's recent track record of booking stables, the odds that the group lasts through 2013 aren't very high.
In fact, The Shield seems destined to split at some point this year, with all three members (and possibly more, if others are added) going their separate ways.
If and when that does happen, expect Seth Rollins to emerge from the group as its lone babyface.
While Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns are more natural fits as heels and will likely thrive as heel singles stars, Rollins is a more natural baby face and could become one of the WWE's top good guys if booked right.
He's very exciting in the ring and, involvement with The Shield aside, is a more likable character than either Reigns or Ambrose is.
As arguably the best in-ring performer of the group, Rollins would excel as a babyface, and in due time, that should be exactly the role he ends up in.
Much like Daniel Bryan has emerged as the top face from Nexus, Rollins should emerge as the top face from The Shield, and that figures to happen after he's unceremoniously booted from the group by Reigns and Ambrose at some point this year.
4. Damien Sandows Wins Money in the Bank
Every year, a couple of up-and-coming stars rise to the top of the WWE, and in many cases, they do so by first winning the Money in the Bank match.
In 2012, it was Dolph Ziggler who won the coveted briefcase and is now sitting pretty as one of the top heels in the company.
In 2013, expect Damien Sandow to do the same.
Sandow hasn't even been around for 10 months now, but in that short span, he's already managed to develop into one of the WWE's most well-rounded stars.
He can do all the things that you want a WWE superstar to do (and do them well), and he's a true heel in a WWE that doesn't have very many of them.
Only a few rising superstars will get the chance to make a main-event level impact in 2013, and the extremely talented Sandow will be one of them.
He will win a Money in the Bank briefcase this year and set himself up for a World title run in the not-so-distant future.
3. The Undertaker Returns and Challenges CM Punk to a Match at WrestleMania 29
There are so many different potential scenarios for WrestleMania 29 this year.
After all, if the WWE decides to change plans for one match, odds are that it will have a domino effect that also changes plans for most of, if not all of, the other top matches.
But if I was forced to choose right now who I thought CM Punk would face at the WWE's biggest show of the year, I'd go with The Undertaker.
With The Rock vs. John Cena: The Rematch looking very likely and Brock Lesnar possibly facing Triple H in another rematch, that leaves only a few realistic options for both Punk and The Undertaker.
Thus, it's only fitting to have them face each other.
Punk deserves a top match at WrestleMania 29, and if he's not going to be in a WWE title match, then it doesn't get any bigger than trying to end "The Streak."
Truth is, there are only two or three guys who could create at least a smidgen of doubt in the minds of the fans that the streak might end, and Punk is one of them.
Undertaker's WrestleMania streak shouldn't and likely won't ever end, but after "The Phenom" challenges Punk to a match on the grand stage of WrestleMania, Punk will prove to be one of his biggest challenges yet.
2. Ryback Will Win the Royal Rumble and Become World Champion at WrestleMania 29
We're just a few weeks away from the 2013 Royal Rumble, and only a handful of stars are emerging as realistic possible winners.
John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Sheamus are some of the names being thrown around as the superstars who will earn that guaranteed WrestleMania title shot.
But the man who will actually win it? Ryback.
After spending much of 2012 building up Ryback as an unstoppable and unbeatable superstar, the WWE ended the year by having him lose three straight PPV matches, which has put a bit of a damper on his rise to the top.
At the Royal Rumble, they make up for it.
After suffering that rough string of losses, Ryback will outlast 29 other competitors, win the Royal Rumble, go on to challenge for the World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania 29 and win the belt there.
Say what you want about the guy, but he deserves it.
He took the ball and ran with it in 2012, and against all odds, he became one of the WWE's most popular stars and is poised to be a big part of the company's future.
The WWE wants Ryback to succeed, and they'll make sure that he does so by giving him the biggest victory of his career in just a few short weeks: a Royal Rumble win.
1. Dolph Ziggler Will Wait Until the Last Second to Cash in His MITB Briefcase
We've seen all sorts of interesting scenarios play out with the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Superstars have given advanced warning before their cash-in, lost their cash-in matches (only once), turned heel because of their cash-in and so on and so forth.
But one scenario we've never seen is a superstar holding onto the briefcase for so long that he puts himself into a situation where he's forced to cash it in at the last possible second.
It's time for the WWE to do that...with Dolph Ziggler.
Imagine seeing Ziggler tease cashing in a number of times throughout 2013, only for something to go wrong each time and prevent him from actually doing so.
Eventually, Ziggler will have held the MITB briefcase for so long that he'll be forced to cash it in just before the one-year limit expires, which could result in a wildly entertaining storyline.
Time and time again, Ziggler will fail to cash it in, and on the last possible night that he can cash it in, he'll do it, and do so successfully.
That's a great way to build the anticipation for what is sure to be a career-defining moment for Ziggler, one that would instantly establish him as a top star if he won a World title when the pressure was higher than it's ever been.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!