When Seth Rollins went down with a serious injury in his match with Kane in Dublin, the idea that the WWE could start fresh again was pretty interesting. Yet, it always is. It’s Vince Russo’s wet dream.
But the reality of the situation is that no matter how stale the current product is today and no matter how badly Rollins is booked, this was the worst possible time for him to have to vacate the belt. With John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar off TV, it means their middle class is going to be heavily depended on to get over during this tournament.
But their depth isn’t the issue. It’s what they’ve done with their depth.
Let’s take a look at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament.
If you put the current WWE roster on NXT and take NXT’s style of booking and shooting television, it would be amazing TV. Dolph Ziggler being booked correctly? Dean Ambrose having something to do other than throw clotheslines after hitting the middle rope? Getting over Roman Reigns as a babyface? Sign me up!
But WWE’s philosophy has everyone in the middle tier except Reigns and Reigns isn’t over as the superstar they make him out to be.
Based on the way the tournament is laid out, it’s clear that Reigns is going to the finals. He was booked in the weakest bracket with only Alberto Del Rio, Kalisto (yes, Kalisto beat Ryback on the Smackdown tapings), and Cesaro standing in his way. And while he could have really good matches with either guy, there’s no predictability on that side of things. He’s winning the bracket.
On the other end of the bracket is where things could get interesting. Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, and Mean Dean Ambrose are all capable of being in the finals to face Reigns. But let’s just be honest, let’s just be real about Ziggler. He’s not making it to the finals. He may have won last year’s Survivor Series for team anti-Authority, but they’ll never fully get behind him because no one can take him and his bumping seriously.
So it comes down to Ambrose and Owens. Either guy can be serviceable as a counter to Reigns in the tournament. I’d prefer Owens because I find him to be a more compelling character. I also don’t like Ambrose’s selling and psychology. But you can’t underestimate Ambrose’s ability to connect with the audience as a babyface. He might be the best babyface in the company when it comes to connecting with the fans.
I’ve been calling for Reigns to turn heel similarly to how the Rock did in 1998 for over a year. And I’d do it to give him a restart on his babyface turn, much like WWE did with Rock. They knew Rock was going to be an enormous babyface when he eventually turned for good. I don’t think Reigns has the same upside, but it’s probably the best chance he has. Because what they’re doing now, while working better than it has been, still isn’t working like they’d hope.
But they may not turn Reigns. They don’t like predictability. They could turn Ambrose. I don’t think it’d be the better choice, but it’d be an interesting turn of events.
I’m choosing Reigns to win the title at this point, but it’s mostly for one reason. If he doesn’t win the title now, there is a risk of turning him into Lex Luger. He’s had a couple of shots at the title, some in mixed person matches, and most visibly at WrestleMania 31, taking the fall. If he loses again, he may get that Lex Luger 1993 WWE stench to him. For that reason, and that reason alone, I think he comes out of Survivor Series with the title.