Predicting AEW and WWE Superstars Who Will Win Titles in 2023

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured Columnist IIIJanuary 3, 2023

Predicting AEW and WWE Superstars Who Will Win Titles in 2023

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    Heading into a new year always brings up questions of who will capture a championship in the next 12 months.

    That is especially true since WWE is about to start The Road to WrestleMania 39, while All Elite Wrestling has events like Battle of the Belts kicking off the year.

    In 2022, several titles were added to the lineup and a handful were taken off the board. That has left around 20 championships up for grabs and plenty of time for a good number of wrestlers to try to win them—even if four are held in a death grip by The Bloodline.

    Let's toss out some predictions for which AEW and WWE stars could capture a championship some time in 2023.

Cody Rhodes

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    All eyes are on Cody Rhodes to not only return to action but possibly win the Royal Rumble and take down Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39.

    He's stated one of the main reasons for leaving AEW—if not the absolute primary cause—was to win the world title. Now that his return is on the horizon, he could look to go back to trying to accomplish that goal.

    Rhodes may be a better choice to fight The Tribal Chief than even The Rock, if not just to tell that story and give fans a fighting champion rather than to have Reigns retain over Dwayne Johnson and keep that run going.

    But even if that isn't in the cards, there is also a good chance Rhodes could win the United States Championship as a placeholder.

    That title was held by both Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes. Cody has yet to scratch that off his list and would be a prime option to take down Austin Theory if The Rock or someone else has the world title match already booked.

The Elite

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    Credit: AEW

    One of the safest bets on this list is that The Elite will win back the AEW World Trios Championships, particularly because that match is already on the books.

    From the start of their best-of-seven series against Death Triangle, the writing was on the wall that it would go to the final match on the January 11 edition of Dynamite.

    Since this is a ladder match, it will be the finale to cap off a brutal journey The Elite had to go through to win back the titles they originally won at All Out but were forced to vacate later that night following their backstage fight with CM Punk.

    Had Tony Khan simply given Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks the belts back too soon after their return, it would have had a stink of favoritism. Fans could have accused the EVPs of booking themselves to get over, which would backfire on their popularity.

    But with this series, they will have earned the right to be champions for a proper run, and AEW will have circled back to the original plan.

Nikkita Lyons

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    Switching gears over to NXT, there are plenty talented Superstars worth keeping an eye on to dethrone Bron Breakker, Wes Lee or Katana Chance and Kayden Carter. But those are anyone's guesses.

    When it comes to the NXT Women's Championship, however, Nikkita Lyons stands out as a surefire bet to capture that belt by the end of 2023.

    This could come about in two different ways. Either she turns heel and is the one to beat Roxanne Perez, or she's the babyface who takes down the heel who beats Perez—whether that's someone like Cora Jade, Zoey Stark, Blair Davenport or even a new signing yet to come.

    From the onset, Lyons has been treated like a star in the making, unlike many others who go through the NXT system. She's clearly a priority.

    Lyons likely wasn't chosen as the one to take down Mandy Rose because WWE feels she needs more seasoning before taking on that responsibility, but after a few more months—just long enough for Perez and possibly her heel successor to have some time as champion—Lyons will be the next in line.

Sheamus and/or Drew McIntyre

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    Credit: WWE

    There are two possible avenues that could see The Celtic Warrior and/or The Scottish Psychopath holding gold at some point in 2023.

    Sheamus has long said one of his last remaining career goals is to win the Intercontinental Championship so he can become a Grand Slam champion. He's already feuded with Gunther unsuccessfully, but if The Ring General drops the belt, Sheamus could still be in the mix later in the year.

    Likewise, Drew McIntyre is a solid pick to fight Gunther at WrestleMania and possibly even beat him for that title. It would be a notable match featuring top names, and McIntyre is one of the few big men who could conceivably beat Imperium's leader without making him look bad.

    But Sheamus and McIntyre would also make amazing candidates to win the NXT European Championship once NXT Europe launches this year.

    WWE will need to do something to not only make that promotion stand out as different from NXT UK but also drive more interest toward it than just making the inaugural champion someone like Ijla Dragunov or Tyler Bate again.

    Since McIntyre and Sheamus are former world champions and marquee Superstars from that region, they could kickstart that brand with considerable credibility as champions.

Eddie Kingston

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    Credit: AEW

    It is unlikely anyone will take the AEW World Championship from MJF this year. But there are still four other championships for male wrestlers available to win, as well as the Ring of Honor belts.

    One of those should find its way toward Eddie Kingston, who has consistently built up a bigger fandom during his time in AEW.

    Based on his consistent huge pops, fans are clearly ready for him to score some big victories, and Tony Khan should be willing to give him at least a short run with a belt.

    Perhaps he's tough enough brawler to take out Samoa Joe for the TNT Championship.

    Maybe he's a future All-Atlantic champion so he can travel to different independent shows to defend that belt.

    Or he could call upon another one or two of his many friends he's been aligned with so far to form a tag team worthy of the AEW World Tag Team Championship or World Trios Championships.

Johnny Gargano

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    Credit: WWE

    Arguably an even better option to beat Austin Theory for the United States Championship than Cody Rhodes is Johnny Gargano, who not only excels in the ring but has history with Theory that would make sense for a feud.

    Gargano was Theory's surrogate father of sorts as part of The Way faction in NXT. If anyone can school the arrogant future franchise player and take him down a peg, it's Johnny Wrestling.

    On top of that, though, there's a strong chance Gargano reforms his #DIY team alongside Tommaso Ciampa this year.

    If that happens, they will skyrocket to the top of the tag team division as one of the best possible duos to hold those titles, given how amazing their matches were in NXT.

    A contest between Ciampa and Gargano against The Usos could easily be a Match of the Year candidate, particularly if the belts are on the line.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

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    It might be a while before Gargano and Ciampa can get their hands on the tag team titles if WWE decides to go in one of the most obvious possible directions for WrestleMania, where The Usos drop their titles to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

    Zayn's involvement in The Bloodline has been heavily focused on his friendship with Owens. Though they're at odds now, it is never lost that they still care about each other.

    Jimmy Uso's gotten along well with Zayn, but Jey Uso has had his issues until recently. All of that is going to come to a head eventually when Zayn is booted out of The Bloodline.

    He'll reform his partnership with Owens and take the fight to The Usos, likely capturing the tag team titles on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

Jungle Boy Jack Perry

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    Credit: AEW

    2022 saw "Jungle Boy" Jack Perry get his first taste of gold as a tag team champion alongside Luchasaurus. It was a long time coming and a major step in his perpetual climb toward the top.

    The next step should happen in 2023 with a singles championship. He's more than proved himself ready for the responsibility.

    Though he's currently working alongside FTW champion Hook, that belt doesn't suit him whatsoever. Perry is a fantastic fit for TNT or All-Atlantic champion, however.

    Both belts tend to have fighting champions. Perry's strength is his in-ring skill, which he's showcased by having more matches than nearly everyone in AEW history.

    He's one of the pillars the company is building itself on, and the best way to show that would be to give him a primary belt in 2023 to keep that progression going.

Honorable Mentions from AEW

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    Rounding out this list on the AEW side are some honorable mentions worth taking note of but that aren't quite as safe bets or have an asterisk to them.

    Jade Cargill, for instance, is already holding the TBS Championship. AEW could have her retain that all throughout the year, or she could pull a Goldberg and win the Women's World Championship while still holding it.

    Kris Statlander could take the TBS title off Cargill, but that's harder to predict since it is unknown when she'll return from her injury.

    Saraya winning a title would make for a big pop, but her overall bigger victory was her return in general. Since it is difficult to trust she won't get injured, forcing another situation where the champion has to vacate the belt might make AEW cautious over giving her a title reign.

    Bryan Danielson is always worth a mention. He could win any title and fans would eat it up, but he might not be interested in taking on those responsibilities or filling a spot that could go to someone who needs the belt more, as he's more than already established as is.

    Be on the lookout for House of Black to possibly win the World Trios Championship from The Elite down the line. They're the most threatening trio on the roster right now.

    Konosuke Takeshita has been given some noteworthy buzz for his signing and booked rather well. Could he be in line for a TNT or All-Atlantic Championship later in 2023?

    Lastly, Powerhouse Hobbs is steadily getting better with each passing appearance. He could have been the one to take down Wardlow and it would have been believable. Perhaps he's able to take a few steps forward and become TNT champion once Samoa Joe is done with his reign.

Honorable Mentions from WWE

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    As far as honorable mentions on the WWE side go, never count out Becky Lynch or Seth Rollins as possible champions. They could easily get belts at any time either as major focal points or just because they're great Superstars.

    If Gable Steveson finally makes it to the roster, the United States Championship coming his way is entirely believable. For now, it's a long shot as he is still on the sidelines.

    More likely is Charlie Dempsey capturing the North American Championship. He's consistently treated like a star to watch out for, and having his father, William Regal, behind the scenes shouldn't hurt his chances.

    Could Rhea Ripley be in line to take Bianca Belair's Raw Women's Championship at WrestleMania? There aren't any other better candidates on Monday nights, that's for sure.

    Also in the women's division, once Toxic Attraction makes their way to the main roster, Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne winning the Women's Tag Team Championships feels like a foregone conclusion. But until that happens, they're still in limbo after having lost Mandy Rose as their leader.

    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, Spotify and everywhere you find podcasts. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.