WARNING: This article will contain spoilers for tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw and the tournament going forward.
After Seth Rollins was injured and forced to vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the next question of course became “who will get the title next?” Very quickly after this went down, an announcement went up that there would be a tournament that would determine the new champion at Survivor Series, but who would compete in it and what other details would be involved were still things the fans were in the dark about.
Now that tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw has been taped, fans in attendance have been able to fill us in on some spoilers of not only what the bracket looks like, but an indicator of how things are going to pan out.
Right now, what we know is that Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose have advanced to the second round. Several things strike me as interesting about the setup:
Choice of Competitors
Mostly everybody makes sense, but there are still some surprises. In particular, I never would have imagined Kalisto and Titus O’Neil taking up two of the spots, rather than two members of The New Day or any combination of Jack Swagger, R-Truth, or Mark Henry. We know that Titus was sacrificed to Kevin Owens, and I would have to imagine that Kalisto doesn’t stand much of a chance against Ryback, so I’m definitely shocked to see that Owens wasn’t facing Swagger, Truth or Henry and that Ryback wasn’t scheduled to face Stardust.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Kalisto and Titus O’Neil are talented. However, neither of them are singles stars at the moment, nor do they have any particular accolades to their names to justify being worthy of this title shot. Mark Henry and Jack Swagger are both former world champions that have held other singles titles as well, and The New Day are the current tag team champions as well as the top heels now that Rollins is gone. By no means is this the end of the world or anything, but it’s definitely interesting, and it may mean a lot more than it seems. Titus O’Neil and Kalisto could be getting singles runs in 2016 if they’re viewed as being standouts on their tag teams. We may end up seeing The Lucha Dragons and The Prime Time Players split off from each other over the next few months.
Babyface vs Babyface / Heel vs Heel
Normally, WWE likes to keep things very simple with a babyface against a heel in 99 out of 100 matches, but this bracket setup has a different plan. Our two confirmed second-round matches are both babyface vs. babyface, with Roman Reigns going up against Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler paired up with Dean Ambrose. On SmackDown this week, we’ll also be seeing two heels vie for a spot as Alberto Del Rio fights Stardust.
Funny enough, our most recent tournament beyond this was the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic from NXT, which also featured heels and babyfaces put in matches with their same alignment rather than the “opposites attract” standard. That tournament still ended up being a heel and a babyface in the finals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again here, but looking at the lineup, there’s an uneven balance of heels and faces.
Someone is Turning Heel
Our two primary heels still left in the tournament are Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio. Yes, there’s a chance Stardust or King Barrett can advance, but neither of them have been outside of midcard hell for a while. Since Owens and Del Rio are the Intercontinental and United States champions respectively, putting them in the finals of the tournament against either Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose (the two biggest faces) would make it obvious that they have no chance. WWE isn’t going to put two belts on someone so recently after doing it with Seth Rollins. That would appear to be going back to the well and trying too hard with something that fans have just seen a few months ago.
Because of that, someone has to turn heel to take that top spot, and if someone turns heel, he’s going to become the top favorite to win the belt in the end. Dolph Ziggler is currently feuding with Tyler Breeze, so he’s staying where he’s at. Cesaro has The Cesaro Section, which may as well be named The Babyface Brigade as he’s also sticking to his gimmick. Then there’s Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose—the guy who was slated to win the belt twice now before something happened to get in the way, and the guy who has been overlooked for a long while and rumored to turn heel at any time. If Ambrose and Reigns were on the same side of the bracket, I would have thought Ambrose would be taken out by someone like Del Rio, but now I’m expecting to see them face off in the finals and for Ambrose to align himself with The Authority for the win.
Roman Reigns def. Big Show (confirmed)
Cesaro def. Sheamus (confirmed)
Alberto Del Rio def. Stardust
Ryback def. Kalisto
Kevin Owens def. Titus O’Neil (confirmed)
Neville def. King Barrett
Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz (confirmed)
Dean Ambrose def. Tyler Breeze (confirmed)
Roman Reigns def. Cesaro
Alberto Del Rio def. Ryback
Kevin Owens def. Neville
Dean Ambrose def. Dolph Ziggler
ROUND 3 – Semifinals
Roman Reigns def. Alberto Del Rio
Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens
ROUND 4 – Finals
Dean Ambrose def. Roman Reigns
What do you think is going to happen with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament? Do you agree that Dean Ambrose will be turning heel and becoming the newest member of The Authority, or do you think Roman Reigns will give in to those temptations? Are you hoping for an outsider like Cesaro or Ryback to win instead?
Tell us your predictions in the comments below!