- Roman Reigns def. Big Show via Pinfall
- Kevin Owens def. Titus O’Neil via Pinfall
- Becky Lynch def. Paige via Pinfall
- Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz via Pinfall
- Natalya def. Naomi via Pinfall
- Cesaro def. Sheamus via Pinfall
- Dean Ambrose def. Tyler Breeze via Pinfall
- The New Day def. The Usos and Neville via Pinfall
The tournament for the next WWE world heavyweight champion kicked off on this episode of Raw. And while we’re all aware that Roman Reigns will come out of the tournament as the next champion, the show kicked off with solid reasoning behind stripping him of his number one contender spot. Reigns will have to once again work for it. The most obvious guess for how the tournament will play out is for Ambrose and Reigns to face each other for the title at Survivor Series. WWE is banking on using the brother vs brother angle to soften the reaction of Reigns finally getting his hands on the gold. But while WWE has used Ambrose as a way to connect Reigns to fans in recent months, even going as far as to not use Ambrose at all on TV unless it revolved around Reigns somehow, I have a feeling their plan is going to backfire on them. Because if there is anything to learn from Dean’s time feuding with Seth Rollins for the title, it’s that WWE fans really want to see Ambrose as champion. So I’m not sure Roman Reigns is going to receive the reaction WWE is hoping for.
The first round was a success, but the buzz around the tournament overshadowed the rest of the show as the main event felt like there was absolutely no weight behind it. The New Day, as entertaining as they usually are, scored a win over The Usos and Neville in a main event scheduled solely for the purpose of filler before the Brothers of Destruction reunited against the Wyatt family. So it’s hard to judge an episode of Raw geared towards building to reveal the next champion. Every other segment just seems less interesting in comparison.
If I could change two things about how the tournament has been handled so far, I would have left both Reigns and Sheamus out of it. It seemed odd to have Sheamus competing for a chance to win the title he already has a guaranteed shot at. And being eliminated from it doesn’t help him either. The Money in the Bank winner has the opportunity to cash in whenever he feels. So his place in the tournament was a little redundant.
Reigns, on the other hand, had a reason to be in the tournament. He won the number one contender spot before Triple H decided to punish him by stripping him of it. While this move may look good storywise over Reigns remaining number one contender just to defeat whomever becomes the victor of the tournament like Triple H suggested, Reigns winning a mini tournament to gain the number one spot and then winning this tournament to become champion seems too unlikely to believe. It’s entirely too obvious of a heavy push. Especially considering that Reigns was shot straight to number one contender not even twenty four hours after John Cena left to take a little time off. The best way WWE could have handled the Reigns situation was to not have him in the tournament at all while keeping him as number one contender for the next pay per view. Fans are aware that WWE’s plan is for Reigns to gain the title. But it’s not a race, WWE. The time spent jetting Reigns to the title in what feels like a wasted tournament could be used to crown a different champion instead. And the next month could be used to build towards his eventual showdown with Reigns. For example, WWE will most like pit Ambrose against Reigns in the final match. Why not allow Ambrose to win the title since he’s a fan favorite anyway and build towards brother vs brother next month? That would be a bigger payoff with a realistic ending. Just imagine the video packages WWE could put together leading in to it.
While I’m not a fan of how predictable the tournament is with Reigns involved, there’s no denying that the battle for the WWE world heavyweight championship has brought a breath of life to a product that was suffocating under its own self importance. Fans actually have a chance to see some of their favorite stars compete for the most prized possession in the company. So regardless of the obvious outcome, the journey is more important than the destination. Let’s just enjoy the ride while we can.