Now that 2013 is (almost) in the books, it's time to look ahead to 2014 and what could be a very big year for WWE. There are plans in place to make this one of the most profitable 12 month periods in the history of the company. If everything goes well, it could mark a brand new day and age for the top pro wrestling company in the world.
If it goes wrong? Disaster.
With all that in mind, here are five predictions for WWE in 2014:
- The WWE Network will kill the PPV business: There is a plan to announce the launch of the Network in early January with the official date for launch likely in late February. By all indications, the big push will be to get to a million subscribers by offering every PPV event on the schedule except for WrestleMania, though first time subscribers will get access to WrestleMania 30 for signing up and sticking with it for a certain measure of time. By doing this, WWE will render its PPV business obsolete. I do believe the Network will be a success in this way, though maybe not to the level WWE hopes.
- WWE will stay with USA: TV rights deals are coming up this year, for every WWE show at the same time, and the company is shopping that to the highest bidder. And while there will undoubtedly be big interest from other networks who will make hard-to-resist offers, WWE will ultimately stick with USA. Put simply, there's just no way NBC Universal lets WWE go anywhere else with the numbers it brings in every week all year long, both for Raw and SmackDown.
- Roman Reigns will win the WWE world heavyweight championship: We've all read the rumors that there are those in power within the company who feel strongly that Reigns is the next big breakout star on the roster. One need only look at the booking to see that he's got strong support from somewhere. His finish has been the most protected finish in all of WWE, and that includes John Cena. Speaking of which, expect a big money singles main event title match between the two sometime in the year with Reigns going over. Perhaps that's a SummerSlam showdown.
- The Shield will break up: This is piggybacking on the prediction that Reigns will win the title. Actually, I believe that will be the storyline tool leading to the break up, perhaps in the same vein as Batista breaking off from Evolution to win the belt in 2005. Maybe Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins combine in an attempt to manipulate Reigns out of winning the belt due to jealousy or something or other, but Reigns stays one step ahead to win the belt and the adoration of fans everywhere.
- Batista's last run with WWE will be a bust: Although there are plans in place to push Batista to the moon upon his return, fans won't buy in to the former star and buyrates will bomb for shows he appears on. A former star like The Rock can come back and move the needle. Batista won't do the same.
- BONUS -- WrestleMania 30 won't get to 1 million buys on PPV: Just a feeling.
Those are my predictions for 2014, Cagesiders. Let's get yours.