5 WWE and AEW Predictions for the Rest of 2022
As 2022 comes to a close for WWE and All Elite Wrestling, it is natural for fans to project what they imagine the rest of the year looking like for the two companies.
That is no different here at B/R, where it's fun to take a look at the current state of both WWE and AEW and attempt to figure out where things are heading and what it means for the talent involved.
With under one month to go in the calendar year, and major events for both promotions early in the new year, here are five predictions involving names from both promotions that fans should pay close attention to.
Emphasis on Trios Leads to Elevation of the House of Black
The Elite are back, and that means AEW will begin putting a greater emphasis on trios in the weeks to come.
We have already seen it with the implementation of a Best of Seven series with Death Triangle for the AEW World Trios Championship, but it is the return of The House of Black that is at the center of this prediction.
Malakai Black, Buddy Murphy and Brody King were done no favors earlier this year when the trio had its momentum beaten out of it via some questionable booking decisions.
However, their return has been handled to perfection. They are menacing, unpredictable and dangerous. Most importantly, they are indiscriminate and will attack anyone in their path.
Their elevation coincides with an emphasis on trios wrestling and should put them in a position to challenge the winner of The Elite and Death Triangle's series as soon as the Revolution pay-per-view on March 5.
Before then, expect to see Black, Matthews and King, along with Julia Hart, wreak havoc across Dynamite and Rampage.
Best Friends and The Factory have already experienced suffering at the hands of the trio, and if the post-Rampage beatdown of Brandon Cutler on Friday night is any indication, Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks may well be next.
Charlotte Flair Returns Before the End of December
It may seem the most obvious place for Charlotte Flair's return to WWE programming would be the 2023 women's Royal Rumble match, but with the potential return of Cody Rhodes at the same show, it would make more sense for Triple H to utilize The Queen to build hype for the event.
The second-generation star should return on one of the final episodes of Raw or SmackDown of the year and steadily hype the idea that she will win her second Rumble match in four years, setting her up for a high-profile match at WrestleMania 39.
If played right, Triple H and the creative team can use the overwhelming disdain for the idea of Flair winning the Rumble to elevate another competitor in the women's division, hopefully creating a young star who can build momentum throughout 2023.
With the prospects of Rhodes' triumphant return, a potential surprise appearance of The Rock as reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer and another part-time competitor in Brock Lesnar always a candidate to pop up on any of WWE's grand stages, it would not make sense to bring Flair back and be overshadowed.
Bring her back as the exclamation point on one of the most noteworthy years in WWE history and continue the build for Rumble in 2023.
Resurgence of AEW Women's Division
It is no secret that the women's division has long been one of AEW's weakest elements.
A lack of defined characters and direction, coupled with too many talented individuals having little to do have plagued the division for the longest time.
As 2022 draws to a close, though, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about the state of the division.
Not only did Tony Khan listen to the fans and elevate Jamie Hayter to the AEW World Women's Championship, but he is also starting to book feuds away from the title picture. We saw the return of Ruby Soho on Wednesday's Dynamite as she avenged the attack by Tay Melo that left her sidelined.
We have witnessed the transformation of Athena into an aggressive villain while Britt Baker hangs around the background, with her ulterior motives in regard to Hayter both obvious and compelling.
Throw in the somewhat miraculous return of Saraya to the ring, and the pieces are there for a substantive division full of championship clashes and secondary rivalries designed to keep fans invested in the talent involved.
How deep is the talent pool in AEW and how effectively has Khan started to step up the focus he has afforded the women's division? Well, TBS champion Jade Cargill wasn't even mentioned in the above.
Based on everything we have seen over the last month or two, there is no reason to believe that trend is coming to an end anytime soon.
Look for the women of AEW to assume larger roles on the show, especially if the company does place a greater emphasis on trios, thus thinning out the men's roster and creating opportunities for talented female wrestlers.
Watch out for Willow Nightingale, who might be the next big breakout star in the sport.
A Frustrating 2022 Continues for Seth Rollins
Sometimes, greatness can be a curse, especially when those around you take it for granted.
For Seth Rollins, 2022 has to have been a year of great frustration. He was as good as any other professional wrestler on the planet throughout it and saw his popularity grow to the point where WWE had no choice but to turn him babyface despite a persona that still screamed "heel."
Yet, despite show-stealing performances and packed arenas singing along to his theme song, he remained relatively stagnant.
Sure, he battled Roman Reigns in a brilliantly constructed match at the Royal Rumble, competed in three Match of the Year candidates against Cody Rhodes, appeared in an Extreme Rules main event against Matt Riddle, and scored a United States Championship victory over Bobby Lashley.
For many, that would be a landmark year. For Rollins, it was shockingly average considering just how consistently excellent he was all year.
Unfortunately, that will not change by the time 2022 waves goodbye.
Rollins appears poised to continue his feud with Austin Theory for the foreseeable future, and a championship match between them should not be counted out before the end of the year.
Even if Rollins wins and regains his title, it is a lateral move that does not capitalize on the level of star he is in the eyes of the fans. Until that happens, Rollins will continue telling the audience to sing his song, knowing full well someone of some sort of power will inevitably wake everyone else up to his popularity and bond with the audience.
Ring of Honor Remains Detrimental to AEW
In hindsight, one of the worst things that happened to Tony Khan and AEW in 2022 was the purchase of Ring of Honor. The value of the promotion laid in its tape library, but it is not what Khan has focused on since announcing his purchase of the company in March.
Instead, he has been keen on revitalizing the brand, most likely in hopes of landing a television deal for it. So, it has bled into the AEW product, taking the focus away from it and muddying the waters tremendously.
First, there are too many championships floating around, with seemingly everyone having one and the ROH straps eclipsing the significance of the AEW titles. Second, Chris Jericho has dominated the airwaves as the new ROH world champion determined to extinguish the remainder of the promotion's legacy.
Not enough has been done to identify AEW and ROH as two separate brands, there has been too much emphasis on that promotion's titles at the expense of AEW's, and the idea of young talent not being utilized on Dynamite or Rampage will find new life in ROH has not manifested itself yet because of the lack of a TV deal and overreliance on established AEW stars to carry the titles and storylines.
It is a situation eerily similar to that of the Invasion storyline, where fans were suddenly asked to care about a company they had stopped paying attention to years earlier. Furthermore, there were too many titles floating around and the emphasis was taken off of WWE and placed on the other promotion.
That is nearly the same exact scenario playing out today.
The difference? Unlike WWE, which seemed likely to bury WCW and ECW, Khan probably does have a genuine plan to help with the relaunch of ROH as its own brand, beginning with the aforementioned Jericho putting over whoever it is the company sees fit to dethrone him.
Until that plan comes to fruition, though, the focus of the shows is all over the place and fans are forced to shuffle their attention from AEW to ROH and back again.