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Looking Ahead to 2017 in WWE by Mike Sanchez

As one of the most memorable years in recent memory draws to a close, I’ve been very happy in what I’ve seen from WWE. The PPVs have been of a reasonably high standard, without many stinkers. Matches have exceeded our expectations, new talent has blossomed and the future looks bright. Not just in regards to Raw and Smackdown, but also with other factors; NXT, Cruiserweights and also outside the main programming with excellent shows on the WWE Network, consistently proving good value for money.

The end of the year is usually when pieces start falling into place. The Royal Rumble is on the horizon and also Wrestlemania. So what do we have to look forward to in the coming months?

The Royal Rumble

Hopefully WWE have stopped playing with the format and are going to stick with keeping it to 30 entrants. Granted not everyone is going to be a threat to win, but now since the brand split, are they going to revert back to the champion picks his opponent? Perhaps even crossing brands to face them? That would be an interesting twist. While Mark Henry and Big Show are always the main threats, it’s hard to pick a favourite (no, I don’t want to be subjected to another Reigns win).

If the current champs keep their belts until the Rumble, the favourites have to be Reigns (sigh), Ambrose, Rollins, Lesnar, and Goldberg (although I’m betting they cost each other the win). Perhaps a surprise return could snatch it? Balor? Or even Kurt Angle (which would be incredible, yet believable if he won – the roof would blow off for that).

More Feuds

The Miz has been one of the stand-out performers of 2016, so it will be interesting to see who he feuds with next. The guy is super talented and can carry it off no problem, so perhaps he will be given a few months to develop a new rivalry that will culminate in a Wrestlemania match. The IC title took a beating over the years, but Miz has brought credibility to it once again.

The New Day continues their record-breaking title run. With every passing week it needs to feel more and more prestigious of a title to hold. It should be a big deal when they lose, so perhaps some close calls in the coming weeks? Narrow victories that tell the group they’re close to having them ripped away? The Cesaro/Sheamus combo doesn’t excite me, but whatever team take the belts should do it on a stage that means something.

AJ Styles has been the best wrestler this year for me. He’s blended in perfectly with the product and looks and sounds as if he’s been with the company for years. His feud with Ambrose looks to be cooling down (which is a shame, because I like Ambrose a lot), but I know what comes next will provide great interest and entertainment.

Lesnar/Goldberg shocked me at Survivor Series. I want to see more. I want to see the match we should have gotten over ten years ago. (One can dream).

The women’s division has a great opportunity to really showcase in the coming months. Please WWE, please don’t give us five-on-five tag at Mania. Give us a main event-level matchup. Perhaps two?

Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. Where’s this going?

Wrestlemania

Here we go. The big one. The granddaddy of them all. The biggest show in all of sports entertainment.

WWE should put on a stellar show this year. The talent has been of a very high standard and some feuds have been excellent. Does everyone need to be on the show? No, but the Andre the Giant Battle Royal will ensure those that aren’t high on the card will at least get their faces on TV. I don’t really want too many gimmick matches either; a Money in the Bank perhaps, but keep the show pure with regular matches but of a high standard. Look at the roster they’ll have to play with:

Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, American Alpha, Enzo & Cass, New Day, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, Miz, Ziggler, Sami Zayn etc.

That’s not even mentioning possible appearances from John Cena, Undertaker, Finn Balor, Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, Asuka, and plenty more.

Raw after Wrestlemania

My favourite show of the year. Who knows what will happen?

What I don’t want to see is predictability. I don’t hate Roman Reigns – far from it, but I don’t want to see him win the rumble. I don’t want to see a repeat of past years. If I wanted to see that, I’d watch WWE Network. No, there’s serious potential here and crowds that are engaging with the product once more. Yes, some angles don’t work out, but some do and they work out well. Who would’ve seen a list get over in 2016?

Put simply, WWE has a ton of talent at their disposal. The roster is loaded with stars. They have no excuse not to start 2017 with a bang. Whether the veterans stay on to get the younger talent over or even make cameo appearances to build hype for an event, the potential is there. I have hope that 2017 will be a year to remember fondly where WWE is concerned; I just hope I’m not let down.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to 2017 in WWE? Will this be an eventful road to Wrestlemania? Who would you like to see as surprise entrants in the Rumble? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.