Back to back days with NAI columns. This hasn’t happened in. . . Hmm, best not think about it.
Yesterday, I spelled out how Bray Wyatt, to me, is the only real answer for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I received a fair amount of positive feedback for that piece, and I’m quite proud of it, although a lot of people mentioned whether, much like Taker before him, a character like Wyatt needs the belt. Fair point there, though my argument is that while Bray Wyatt might not need a title, he does need a concrete moment of becoming a true main event guy, and as much as I liked the pyro and lightning, it hasn’t happened yet.
However, in the interest of further discussion, today I will expand my horizons and consider other options. In fact, our goal today is to look back into the sands of time- specifically, previous WWF tournaments – and see whether or not we could see history repeat itself.
Deadly Game Tournament – Survivor Series 1998
The History It was the height of the Attitude Era, and Stone Cold Steve Austin was feuding brilliantly with Mr. McMahon. Vince had done everything he could to force Austin to lose the title, putting him in a Triple Threat match with Kane AND The Undertaker, though the Brothers of Destruction weren’t allowed to pin each other. Both brothers wound up pinning Austin at the same time, and summarily (following some more Stone Cold hijinks) the belt was held up and awarded to the winner of a tournament.
The Rock and Mankind made it to the finals, and in a move that shocked the wrestling world, The Rock turned heel, joined The Corporation and won the World Title.
Roman Reigns will be playing the role of The Rock.
Dean Ambrose will be playing the role of Mick Foley.
Reigns and Ambrose battle their way to the finals, and somehow Triple H screws Dean over, Roman reveals he is in cahoots with The Authority, and we’re off and running on the Road to Wrestlemania.
Why Would it Work?
This one is the tournament most people have and will think of, both because of happening at Survivor Series and because of the seemingly “easy booking” of the result. Fans have been rabidly anticipating one of the two remaining Shield Brothers to turn on the other, and by having Roman turn heel and join The Authority, you can make a lot of people happy, plus it gives Reigns an out, as I explain further down in this column.
In reality, Ambrose would be more of a Foley / Austin combination here, as being betrayed by another brother sends him completely over the edge. More hiding in trunks, more taking over taxi cabs, basically everything that made Dean great before becoming Roman’s towel boy.
WWF Championship Tournament – Wrestlemania IV
The History – During the feud between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, the Eighth Wonder of the World managed to win the World Title, thanks to some referee Twin Magic. The belt was held up and decided in a 14 man tournament.
Hogan and Andre faced each other in Round 2, both getting disqualified in the process. In the end, Randy Savage had a Herculean effort (Sadly, Hercules himself wasn’t in the tournament), winning four matches in one night to win his first World Title. Even so, however, he remained in the shadow of Hulk Hogan, who interfered to help Savage win the belt, sharing in his spotlight.
Roman Reigns will be playing the role of Randy Savage.
John Cena will be playing the role of Hulk Hogan.
We’ve spent the last few months talking all over social media about how Reigns is the New Cena, the next big star, yet just like Hulk Hogan in 1988, John Cena isn’t going anywhere soon. Thus, for the time being, these two stars need to figure out a way of co-existing on the same roster.
I envision Roman Reigns being set up with an impossible bracket for this tournament, having to take out Big Show, Bray Wyatt and perhaps even his best friend Dean Ambrose on his way to the finals. Exhausted, Reigns makes it to the finals, opposed by MITB winner Sheamus, who (as perhaps a new Authority member) has had more of a cake walk in this tournament.
The deck is stacked, it seems, and once again, Reigns will come so close, only to fall so far.
Enter John Cena.
Cena, not scheduled for the tournament and in a surprising move, makes a save for Reigns, allowing him to win his first World Championship.
Survivor Series ends with Cena and Reigns posing for the crowd, sharing the spotlight.
Why Would It Work?
As I said in last night’s column, Reigns isn’t quite ready yet, and shouldn’t be given the pressure of leading the company all on his own right now. Having Cena provide the assist allows them both to shoulder the weight of responsibility as THE guy.
Plus, as we saw by Wrestlemania V, the two best friends turned into bitter enemies, as Savage resented being in Hogan’s shadow and turned heel. But maybe now I’m just hoping.
King of the Ring 1996
This tournament was obviously not for a championship, but it’s the most famous KOTR for a reason, as this was the birth of Stone Cold Steve Austin, wrestling legend. Winning his tournament, Austin takes the microphone and cuts one of the greatest promos in history, cementing himself as a future megastar. The World Title was his within 2 years.
Kevin Owens will be playing the part of Steve Austin.
In order to fully explain this, we need to cover Why It Would Work as well.
One of the most common things I saw online following the news of Rollins’ injury was that it was time for someone on WWE’s roster to “step up”. Someone needs to take the proverbial brass ring and run with it. This is going to have to be more than just a solid performance in the ring – We see lots of those each and every week, yet it doesn’t necessarily do anything.
No, at Survivor Series, if someone is going to have an “Austin Arrival” moment, they need to do it on the microphone, letting us know that this was inevitable – that the rise to company domination was something that was only a matter of time.
Sorry Kanyon, but for that, Who Better Than Owens?
If WWE really and truly wants to announce their youth movement to the world, there’s no better way to do it than to give their title to a rookie. “I got here May 18th. Six months later, I’m the World Champion. What do you think of that, Cole?” His promo would write itself.
Kevin Owens could bring forth the dawn of a new era in professional wrestling, just like Steve Austin did nearly 20 years ago. Give him the title and the microphone, and he’ll take care of the rest.
What do YOU think? Will we see history repeat itself at Survivor Series? Be Heard