Views From The Turnbuckle: Looking At My Bold Predictions For Wrestling In 2021

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At the start of 2021, I made six "bold" predictions for wrestling. How many of them ended up coming true? Let's take a look at them and see how many of those predictions ended up coming true.

NXT moves off of Wednesday night

Off to a good start with my first prediction from last year. I predicted that NXT would move off of Wednesday night, with the logic being that with AEW handily beating NXT in the ratings battle each week, it would eventually make logical sense to move NXT to another night.

While WWE would probably deny that was the reason, the company and USA Network did decide to move NXT and in April NXT began running on Tuesday nights. At the time I figured that this would lead to a boost in ratings for both AEW and NXT, since they would no longer be competing directly with one another. While that has been the case to a degree for Dynamite, NXT hasn't really seen much of a boost since moving to Tuesday.

MJF wins the AEW World Championship

No luck on this one, but I still feel good about it! I predicted that MJF would steal leadership of the Inner Circle away from Chris Jericho, which would turn Jericho babyface in the process and that momentum would catapult MJF into the world title picture.

That isn't exactly what happened, although MJF did turn on Jericho and start The Pinnacle (turning Jericho face in the process). I'm sure a scenario exists where MJF could be world champion at the moment, but AEW had other plans with wanting to crown Hangman Adam Page, which is understandable. I still feel like MJF would be a good bet to become champion in 2022, it has always been a matter of when, not if with him.

Triple H's role in WWE Changes

I pretty much nailed this one; while WWE will claim that Triple H is still in charge of NXT, it's very clear that he doesn't have quite the same role in developmental as he once did, and WWE has acknowledged that Bruce Pritchard now has an administrative role within NXT, and following a medical issue it appears that Triple H has taken at least a step back from his public facing role in NXT.

At the start of the year I guessed that since Vince McMahon is frustrated with the current creative process and talent available in WWE, he would either promote Triple H into a more prominent position, or demote him and blame him for the lack of talent. Unfortunately for Triple H, it looks like the latter has happened, as he saw NXT completely revamped and many of his chosen talents have moved on from WWE.

RAW's viewership decline levels off

At the start of the year I reasoned that the lack of live audiences during the pandemic had accelerated WWE's typically gradual loss of weekly television viewership, and that since they lost a lot of viewers in 2020, they would see a less significant loss in 2021.

I would say I was about half-right. RAW's year-over-year total viewership decline has looked like this: In 2017 RAW was down 6% in total viewers from the previous year, in 2018 RAW was down 6%, in 2019 RAW was down 14% and in 2020 RAW was down 22%. In 2021 RAW viewership is down 7% from the previous year; so while the decline is still taking place, it wasn't nearly as extreme as it was in 2020 or 2019.

On top of that, the median RAW viewership in 2021 is almost exactly the same as it was in 2020. The median rating is skewered by RAW being way down year-over-year in the early months of 2021 (RAW was still in the Thunderdome at that point, and it was being compared to shows in 2020 that were still in front of live audiences) and being up year-over-year during the summer, when RAW was back in front of live audiences (as compared to the Thunderdome in the summer of 2021).

(All data courtesy of Brandon Thurston at Wrestlenomics)

NJPW runs a real show in the United States

Another successful pick; after losing out in 2020 on some major shows, NJPW did manage to run multiple shows in the US, the most significant being at The Torch outside the Los Angeles Coliseum. NJPW also has opened up New Japan Strong tapings to the public, and have brought over basically all of their top stars at one time or another to appear on shows.

In hindsight, it doesn't seem like much of a bold prediction. But in January of last year we really didn't have any idea what the pandemic would look like throughout the year, or if we would even see fans at indoor wrestling shows. I take it as a positive that it now seems like a no-brainer that NJPW could come to the US and draw a good house.

WWE fires multiple wrestlers for union-related activity

Well I certainly got this one wrong! This came on the heels of Zelina Vega getting let go and making some noise on social media about pro wrestling needing a union. It also came shortly after the Twitch and third-party crackdown for talent, and it seemed like the wind was blowing in that direction.

I pretty much couldn't have been more wrong on this one. Not only did nobody get fired for union-related activity (that we know of), Vega herself was brought back to WWE and even given a moderate push.

So overall I would say I did pretty well; I would put my score at 3.5 out of 6. I nailed the moves around NXT and Triple H, as well as the NJPW prediction, and was about half-right regarding RAW's viewership. I'll have to come back in a few weeks with predictions for 2022, but what do you think will happen? Let us know in the comments below.

In the latest edition of the Gentlemen's Wrestling Podcast,, Jesse Collings (@JesseCollings) and Jason Ounpraseuth (@JasonOun95) each give their 10 best wrestlers under the age of 30. They talk about the most exciting young wrestlers in the world, what has caught their attention, and what they expect they can do in the future.

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