As 2004 approacheth, let's have some thoughts on who (or in the case of Raw, IF) will be given runs with the World Title. Any picks?
WWF/E Raw: Once again, 2003 was Huntermania. Despite transitional reigns from Bill Goldberg (3 months) and Shawn Michaels (1 month), the Big Gold Belt has basically been a HHH-fest since it was reborn or de-unified or whatever to be the Raw's World Title. Also, combine with the fact that HHH has had a LOT of title defenses that were not good (Steiner, Nash, face Kane) with few diamonds (Elimination Chamber I) and a title win completely out of nowhere (Armageddon) - I think it's safe to say that a number of folks would like someone else to hold the title. PICKS: Chris Jericho, Kane. SUPRISE PICK: Rob Van Dam (if he's still on Raw or even in the WWF/E anymore).
WWF/E Smackdown: 2003 was Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, a heel turn and a face turn. Even though the SD World Title was bounced around between these 2, unlike HHH, the matches they've had were good to great. And we also saw the emergence of Brock Lesnar, a 300-pounder who can wrestle very well and sells almost like the late Mr. Perfect. PICKS: Chris Benoit, Edge (I think they just might do it). SUPRISE PICK: Eddie Guerrero (they should give him a shot with it. Worked for HBK, right?).
So there you go.
NWA-TNA: Haven't watched much of it but I do know that it's been basically Jeff Jarrett holding the strap with some transitional reigns from Ron Killings (boy, are they misusing this guy. 3 Live Kru, indeed) and AJ Styles (their version of Y2J, IMO). Can't put much else here really since I probably won't be able to regularly watch until (or if) it shows up on WGN. PICKS: AJ Styles, Raven, Sting. SUPRISE PICK: D'Lo Brown (I doubt it HIGHLY but you never know)
RAW - Booker T. Oh he's due. - Chris Benoit. We might get another P.P.V. (Potential Pedigree Victim) but hey, let's have some good matches out of it.
Smackdown - I say Angle gets at least another reign before being forced to hang them up for good. - John Cena, but not before tasting U.S. gold first. - RVD. No reason, I just wanna see a Benoit/RVD trade.
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Man, we get these threads every year. And nothing ever really changes.
Last year, I was reading picks like: Booker T, Benoit, Edge, Rob Van Dam, Eddy Guerrero, Kane, and John Cena (as a darkhorse pick)
This year, I am reading picks like: Booker T, Benoit, Edge, Rob Van Dam, Eddy Guerrero, Kane, John Cena... AGAIN!
Nothing will likely change. I don't know why fans tend to think there will suddenly be six, seven, or eight title changes in the next year. Booker T will never touch World gold. Neither will Rob Van Dam. Edge likely won't for two or three years more, waiting for Hunter to drift away from in-ring wrestling or succumb to injuries--and then take Hunter's spot.
I see Eddy being on the fence, but they probably won't ever give him the title either. Kane could potentially take it, but I don't think the WWE sees him as a serious champion right now who helps the image of the World Title. Who knows. Cena and Benoit are the best shots right now, for the next year.
There won't be many first-time champions in 2004, if any.
RAW Kane-- He's getting a pretty big push. I see him fading back into the midcard soon, however. But, first WWE will give him the title. However, it won't fly, and won't be a long reign.
Chris Jerihco-- This is a maybe, as I could see him with the title, but I could also see SOME people keeping him from it.
Randy Orton-- I see Vince looking forward to a Triple H v. Randy Orton WrestleMania XXI main event, so there ya' go.
Other than that, another year of the Triple H show.
John Cena-- Another maybe. I see Cena winning the title sometime soon. It's just a matter of whether they give it to him in 2004, or hold off until later (possibly WrestleMania XXI). I guess we'll see.
Chris Benoit-- BIG maybe. Vince seems to feel like he should push Benoit because he's so good and because he's so popular, but, deep down, he doesn't really want to. I could see a short reign by Benoit this year, but I'm wouldn't bet the house on it, either.
Other than that, another year of Brock, Angle, Brock, Angle, and maybe throw in Undertaker for the hell of it.
Unless RVD has a complete character renaissance, he'll never hold the belt and he should never hold the belt. Though I don't know since I haven't been able to watch RAW in a few months, but did he ever learn a sense of psychology? I'm still remembering how bad he looked against Benoit at Summerslam 2002 and his utterly laughable selling of all of Benoit's back-related offense.
For Raw, I can see Jericho possibly stepping up as a challenger, but I think Booker T will probably get another shot. And another Shawn Michaels reign is all but in the books.
For Smackdown, they're already laying the seeds for Benoit to main-event Wrestlemania. Whether he'll be doing it with Brock or (Oh dear god yes) facing off with Angle for the title remains to be seen.
I don't think that Vince having a better roster is really an issue. I'm sure plenty of trades will be made in the coming days and weeks. Plus, I think it would be a safe bet that Austin will be on Raw once his hissy fit is over.