The WWE kicked off its WWE world championship tournament on RAW Monday night with first-round matchups. A look at the opening round brackets looks more like a tournament for the intercontinental title than the WWE world championship.
With the exception of Roman Reigns, the participants are nothing more than a potpourri of mid-card talent, most of whom have been marginalized with 50-50 booking. Any hopes of a surprise name or two were dashed when the brackets were unveiled. It’s highly disappointing for fans, yet for the company, this is exactly the kind of parity they have been preparing for.
Roman Reigns is clearly the favorite to win the tournament. Dave Meltzer reported that Reigns was supposed to get the title at the Survivor Series pre-Rollins injury, so all this is, is another road to get him there. Looking at the brackets and the wrestlers advancing, nobody seems logical other than Reigns. Although there could be some shakeups along the way.
The rest of Reigns’ side of the bracket is quite honestly a joke. Alberto Del Rio vs. Stardust and Kalisto vs. Ryback fill out the remaining slots. When you are pulling Calisto and Stardust into a WWE world title tournament, you know you have serious problems. At that rate, the company would have been better off been better off going with an eight-man, four-man, or even a round robin tournament to preserve whatever credibility is left.
I think it’s clear they are going with an Alberto Del Rio vs. Roman Reigns semi-final matchup in the Reigns’ bracket. If the company had any inclination of shaking things up, they could book an upset and shoot Ryback into that spot against Reigns. Del Rio could also pull off an upset with some kind of a screw job win over Reigns, but I just don’t see it. My biggest problem here is that by putting Reigns over Alberto now, you hurt a potential title program in the future between the two. Unless of course Reigns is going heel which is the only reason I can see them doing the match now.
There are a lot of working shoes on the other side. Kevin Owens is the clear favorite,, especially as intercontinental champion. I can’t say that an Owens vs. Neville match doesn’t excite me. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler is another matchup which should be nothing short of exciting. The clear final in this bracket is Owens vs. either Ziggler or Ambrose. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company give Ziggler the surprise win here. On the other hand, if Ambrose is going heel, the company gets the same Owens vs. Ambrose match it’s already promoting on the Survivor Series.
If you take a step back and look at the landscape, there is nobody on the heel side ready to be a WWE championship challenger. With Reigns as a heel, you have Dean Ambrose, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, a returning Seth Rollins, and Daniel Bryan waiting in the wings as strong challengers. It would certainly deviate from the path they have carved for Reigns as the next John Cena-like babyface, but the better path for business is Reigns going heel and winning the title.