Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins and 7 Must-See WWE Feuds in 2016
With 2015 now in the books, the WWE Universe looks forward to another exciting year in 2016.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker and John Cena vs. Kevin Owens were among the year's most memorable rivalries, but what can we expect as 2016 gets underway?
Of course, with so many notable names out injured at the moment, WWE has far less star power than it typically would around this time of year. Still, it has plenty to work with given the ample amount of young blood on both NXT and the main roster, and it isn't at a shortage of tremendous talent.
The absences of John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and others will force WWE to push fresh faces toward the top and, as a result, create innovative storylines. The current landscape has been in need of a major shakeup for quite some time, but a batch of intriguing angles could be exactly what is needed.
With today's roster having the potential to evolve into something amazing, I present to you seven must-see feuds that we hope to see come to fruition in 2016.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
It's almost as if fate is preventing this program from happening any time Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins come close to clashing. This will be the year, however, that their string of bad luck is finally broken.
Needless to say, Reigns and Rollins have history dating back to their days in The Shield together, and they had a ready-made feud coming out of their split in June 2014. Rollins immediately entered a feud with fellow stablemate Dean Ambrose, but it wouldn't be long before Reigns would set his sights on him as well.
When it came time for them to do battle at that year's Night of Champions pay-per-view, Reigns was sidelined with an incarcerated hernia. It wasn't until shortly before Survivor Series 2015 that they rekindled their rivalry, but Rollins was put out of action indefinitely before the bout could happen, delaying their feud even further.
Rollins' commented on Twitter after Reigns captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that he was merely keeping "the throne warm" for him, so expect the self-proclaimed future of WWE to target Reigns—regardless of whether he is champion or not—upon his return.
From the few television matches they have had in the past two years, they have shown they have great in-ring chemistry and could produce a strong series of matches. Plus, reversing the roles and possibly putting Reigns with The Authority against an ousted Rollins would make matters even more interesting.
The Dudley Boyz vs. the Usos
The Dudley Boyz are back in WWE to help showcase the younger talent. That's commendable, isn't it? But it shouldn't be long before they get their time to shine, too.
In the last five months since returning home to WWE, The Dudley Boyz have feuded with the likes of The New Day and The Wyatt Family, putting both factions over multiple times. That said, they shouldn't be classified as a nostalgia act at this point in their run, considering they can still perform at the highest level in the middle of the squared circle.
The standard-bearers of the tag team division in WWE for almost six years, The Usos, have been firing on all cylinders these past few months, taking part in an incredible Triple Threat Tag Team Ladder match at TLC. But their money match remains with The Dudley Boyz.
With The New Day currently at the helm of the tag team scene, it's unknown how long it will be before the belts are back in the possession of either The Usos or The Dudley Boyz. They could clash as soon as WrestleMania 32 if another multi-team matchup is scheduled for the card.
Either way, The Dudley Boyz' mission of coming back to WWE won't be complete until they go up against the former two-time tag team champions. It's the closest thing to a "dream match" this day and age in tag team wrestling.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto
In the matter of one month, Kalisto has quickly risen in the ranks in WWE and has cemented himself as a star on the rise. He's had glimmers of greatness over the past two years as part of The Lucha Dragons, but his breakout performance at WWE TLC truly put him on the map.
In the weeks since, he has scored various victories over members of The New Day and even just recently the United States champion Alberto Del Rio. Don't think for a second that was a throwaway victory, as it could mean much more for the two going forward.
With Sin Cara out of action indefinitely with a shoulder injury, there isn't a better time for Kalisto to branch out into singles competition than now. A feud with Del Rio would instantly help him establish credibility with the fans and would give The Mexican Aristocrat something meaningful to do for the foreseeable future.
Their match on the Nov. 16 edition of Raw was fairly disappointing, but their latest rematch on SmackDown was a vast improvement. It proved they could work well together and produce an exhilarating bout.
John Cena appeared to be Del Rio's tentative opponent before he got hurt, so having Kalisto serve as his replacement would be even better. A rivalry between them would be something fresh and could happen at any point in 2016, but look for the seeds to be planted sooner rather than later.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
Since his feud with Fandango in 2013 wasn't all he hoped it would be, Chris Jericho returns to WWE for a purpose. So, anyone who thinks Chris Jericho is back solely for the Royal Rumble and possibly for a paycheck will be sorely mistaken.
It isn't exactly known what's in store for Y2J this time around, but the last time we saw him on WWE TV, he was teaming with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose against The Shield at Night of Champions. After falling short of victory, he teased tension with his partners, obviously foreshadowing something for down the line.
Although Dean Ambrose is in midst of feuding with Kevin Owens over the Intercontinental Championship, that rivalry should culminate around the time of the Royal Rumble. Beyond that, he won't have a dance partner for WrestleMania 32, though a feud with Jericho would make perfect sense from a storyline standpoint.
Not only could they build off their history from Night of Champions (assuming WWE wishes to acknowledge that), but Jericho also has ties with the Intercontinental title, having held it more times than anyone else in history. He hasn't contended for it in close to three years and hasn't had a run with it in seven, so having him and Ambrose vie for the prestigious prize would undoubtedly make it feel meaningful again.
Plus, it would be a solid undercard contest for The Show of Shows unless WWE has bigger plans for either man at the event. If that is the case, there's no reason why they can't clash later in the year.
The Wyatt Family vs. League of Nations
Bray Wyatt had a more turbulent 2015 than anyone else on the roster. Although he found himself on the winning end of matches against Ryback and ECW originals, he was also unsuccessful against the likes of The Brothers of Destruction and Roman Reigns.
Simply put, he and the rest of The Wyatt Family are victims of WWE's even-steven booking, which rarely anyone benefits from. It's hard to imagine where he falls in the current WrestleMania plans, even in light of all the injuries WWE is currently facing.
Although Wyatt has already feuded with most of WWE's top stars, one rivalry that could prove to be intriguing this year is The Wyatt Family vs. League of Nations. Fans received a small taste of it on the Dec. 7 edition of Raw when the bearded clan confronted the evil foreigners at the start of the show before facing them in an elimination Fatal 4-Way tag team match.
Granted, it's no Wyatt Family vs. Shield, but it's the closest thing we have to it at the moment. The only issue is the lack of credibility Sheamus and company have, but at least WWE is trying to right that wrong by allowing them to stack up victories.
If nothing else, Wyatt is in desperate need of a babyface turn, and there isn't any doubt he would get over immensely with the fans. Putting him up against four of WWE's most vile villains would get him over almost immediately and perhaps bring back some lost mystique to his character.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
Say what you will about the current state of the Divas division and how they are lacking character development (and they are), but it is in an infinitely better place than it was several years ago. The days of meaningless eight-women tag team matches and Bras and Panties bouts are long gone, hopefully.
Ushering in this new era for the women are Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and the rest of the NXT upstarts. They have already begun to leave their mark with tremendous matches these past few months, including two extraordinary matches from Charlotte and Lynch in the last week alone.
Somewhere lurking in the shadows waiting for her turn to shine is Sasha Banks. She has remained undefeated in singles competition since coming to the main roster in July 2015, though she isn't a regular on Raw and has yet to engage in a real rivalry with anyone.
One can only hope that WWE is holding out on putting her and Charlotte in the ring together and is saving their inevitable encounter for WrestleMania. It's the one match WWE has yet to do with the current batch of women, so it would be asinine to give it away as a throwaway TV match.
As Charlotte's character gradually makes the transition from happy-go-lucky babyface to arrogant heel, Banks would be her ideal adversary. It deserves to be properly showcased at WrestleMania 32, but even if not, it is a program waiting to happen some time this year.
Brock Lesnar vs. Kevin Owens
This is by far my boldest prediction on this list of potential programs we could see in 2016, but it would undoubtedly be the best of the bunch.
Brock Lesnar re-signed with WWE in March 2015 when no one thought he would, opening the door to many fresh matchups. He has already done battle with Seth Rollins at Battleground and with Kofi Kingston, Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus on house shows.
Lesnar is on a level of his own, and few Superstars on the current roster can measure up to his superstardom. If there is any up-and-comer who should be next to go head-to-head with The Beast Incarnate, however, it is Kevin Owens.
He isn't a certifiable main event player just yet, but he has shown signs of one day becoming a world champion in the last year since his arrival on Raw. From his exceptional mic skills to his above-average in-ring ability, the Montreal native has just about all the tools to make it big in WWE.
There were minor rumblings among fans in December that the match was being considered for WrestleMania 32, but at this point, it doesn't seem to be a feasible possibility. Nevertheless, Lesnar has another year or two left on his WWE deal, and there is plenty of time for it to happen, but 2016 could very well be—and should be—the year this fantasy becomes a reality.
Imagine the brawls and matches these two could have, and even the promo battles between Owens and Lesnar's advocate Paul Heyman. And with a slew of Superstars out through the next few months, now is the time to pull the trigger on this long-awaited matchup.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.