5 Bold Predictions for WWE Raw and SmackDown for Remainder of 2020
The uncertainty that surrounds the WWE product due to the coronavirus pandemic has, inadvertently, set the company up to take several creative risks, as we witnessed at WrestleMania 36 with the Boneyard and Firefly Funhouse matches.
That will be a trend as the remainder of 2020 plays out and fans return to the stands.
From heel turns to unexpected championship reigns, the booking of long-awaited dream matches and the in-ring return of a Superstar who thought his in-ring career was over, fans will watch from the edge of their seats as these five bold predictions provide them unforgettable moments, matches and stories that will only further make 2020 one of the most unique years in company history.
Roman Reigns Turns Heel
The face of WWE, one of its most inspirational performers and a bona fide main event star for the last five years, Roman Reigns would not appear to be a prime candidate for a heel turn. We saw with John Cena during his run in the same position just how reluctant WWE officials were to turn him, but The Big Dog is different.
His run atop the company has been a tumultuous one plagued by fan discord, illness and championship frustration. Missing out on a WrestleMania main event and a Universal Championship victory that would have culminated his journey back to a title he never really lost are the latest disappointments for The Big Dog.
They will fuel a heel turn that will position him opposite new Universal Champion Braun Strowman in the rekindling of their rivalry.
At first, it will be a bumpy transition, one that clearly has WWE’s creative team second-guessing their decision, but things will settle down and the company’s locker room leader will find his feet in a role he has not filled in seven years.
Free to express himself, to stick it to the fans who regularly turned on him and ruined the most memorable moments of his career, he will prove the perfect opposition for Strowman.
Even if there is another SmackDown star who will sneak into the title picture and win the gold out from underneath both of them.
Sami Zayn Captures the WWE Championship
Sami Zayn has been a revelation as the leader of The Artist Collective. The best talker on the SmackDown brand and a heel who isn't worried about being the cool bad guy but instead getting people to hate him, he has become of the bright spots of an uneven SmackDown brand.
That will continue throughout 2002, and while he will drop the Intercontinental Championship, likely earlier than you would expect, the quality of his performance and his ability to get over with the audience will earn him the biggest push of his career and a reward he never could have imagined obtaining: the WWE Championship.
Much like JBL before him, the insufferable heel will capitalize on a lack of stars at the top of the card and, just when it looks like he had has gotten his comeuppance in the form of losing the IC title, will do what he does best and stun the world by stealing the top prize on the blue brand in a sneaky fashion.
And both Zayn and SmackDown will be better for it, especially as he portrays the master manipulator in the rivalry between Strowman and Reigns.
WWE Plants Seeds for Undertaker vs. Sting in Next Cinematic Masterpiece
The Undertaker not only buried AJ Styles and reintroduced his American Badass persona, but he also added years to his career in the Boneyard Match. The cinematic masterpiece that stole WrestleMania weekend proved he still had much to offer from a storytelling perspective and he could do so without taxing his body.
It also opened the door for the one match fans have been clamoring for: a showdown with Sting.
The WCW icon's own body has been the subject of nearly every excuse as to why the match cannot happen. A neck injury forced him into retirement in 2016 and left fans asking “what if” in regards to the dream match that never was.
The new cinematic approach to matches, in settings away from the arena, opens up the possibility that The Stinger can work a match relatively safely and, more importantly, provide a match with Undertaker that does justice for both performers.
With larger than life characters that have been part of many a segment ripped from the gothic horror films of generations gone by, a Boneyard setting or something similar would be exactly the sort of bout that would benefit them and finally give the viewing audience a taste of the match they have yearned for.
The company, recognizing this, will begin planting the seeds for a WrestleMania 37 showdown as the year progresses.
Sasha Banks vs. Bayley Main Events SummerSlam in Boston
The rivalry between Sasha Banks and Bayley in NXT ignited a women's revolution and proved the quality of work female performers could provide at the top of their card. Their 2015 battle at Takeover: Brooklyn remains one of the most beloved of this generation, and recent booking suggests we are on our way to the latest chapter in their love-hate relationship.
With SummerSlam slated to take place in Boston, The Legit Boss' hometown, the friendship will explode, and two of the most celebrated women in wrestling will have their opportunity to do something only reserved for the likes of Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair to this point as they main event one of the company's premier pay-per-view extravaganzas.
Bayley has been in that spot as lately as Survivor Series last November, but she felt like an afterthought in that match, a third wheel to the initial Becky Lynch-Shayna Baszler encounter. As the heel in this proposed storyline, the spotlight would be on her and Banks, as would the pressure.
They would be expected to deliver a match that lives up to the lofty expectations their previous encounters did while flipping the script and changing the roles of the performers within. Banks would be the hometown hero, while Bayley would be the underhanded villain looking to retain her title in any way possible, all while rendering her best friend-turned-bitter rival's night a massive disappointment.
Corey Graves Becomes the Latest Superstar to Make Improbable Return
In recent years, we have witnessed both Daniel Bryan and Edge come out of retirement to make improbable returns to the squared circle. Both had a long and storied battle with concussions and/or neck injuries that forced them to the sidelines in the first place, but medical advancements and unwavering wills to make it back to the squared circle earned them the opportunity to do the unthinkable and compete again.
Speaking with Edge on his After the Bell podcast, host Corey Graves said Edge had inspired him to contemplate a comeback. Before 2020 comes to an end, we will either see the Pittsburgh native back in the ring or hear serious rumblings of a return that could culminate in some sort of high-profile PPV bout early next year.
Fans do not have the emotional connection with Graves the performer that they do Bryan and Edge, but they never got to. In 2014, Graves was forced out of the squared circle and behind the commentary table because of a bevy of concussions.
Someone will test him, force his hand and result in another unlikely return to the ring for a Superstar who never got the opportunity to live out his dream and compete in front of the bright lights and on the grand stage WWE provides.
That will change either by year’s end or within the next 12 months.