Whether it’s the ongoing Mae Young Classic, or the Cruiserweight Classic or even the events in Rio in 1963 (fictitiously) to crown a WWWF (now WWE) Heavyweight Champion, the WWE loves a tournament.
Here are 5 ideas for tournaments that I would love to see in the WWE, the format of some are taken from other promotions, and some are returns of tournaments previously used in the WWE.
1, King Of The Ring
Firstly a return, it’s the Return of the King of the Ring (the sequel that Tolkien didn’t know he had written) – It’s an old staple and once upon a time it was a stand-alone Pay-per-view event. More recently it was used on Monday Night Raw which saw Bad News Barrett (whatever happened to him?) defeat Neville in the final.
The tournament can be used to give accolades to deserving wrestlers without the need for the creation of extra titles. Previous winners of this tournament include Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Ted DiBiase, Triple H and (seen on television this week) Booker T. Another former winner is “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and his tournament win in 1996 was the genesis of the famous ‘Austin 3:16’ speech. With such a history behind it, this would be easy money for the WWE.
2. The League Of Champions
From something tried-and-tested, here’s an idea that is isn’t as tried and is a variation on a tournament from football and equally from Impact Wrestling in 2015. The idea is the league of champions (Champions League is a name that is, sadly, already taken). My concept is that there would be a maximum of 8 groups, each with one wrestler from Raw, SmackDown Live, 205-Live and NXT. This would lead to a variety of matches and could take up the space during the usual WrestleMania ‘reset’ phase. One advantage would be that there would be at least some screen time and integration of NXT and 205 live stars on the main roster without an official, permanent ‘call-up’. This would also be a low-risk way of introducing new wrestlers and if the NXT wrestlers aren’t as popular as first thought, they will simply bow out after their 3 group stage matches before the knockout phase.
Admittedly, there’s the risk of one-sided matches occurring, but that happens in sports regularly and spectators are still entertained. The overall winner can win either a title, a title opportunity or simply the accolade of having won similar to the King of the Ring.
3. Round Robin Challenge
Speaking of title opportunities, that would be the prize that awaits the winner of my round-robin tournament, where everyone in each group faces off against one another. Following the format of the G1 climax, competitors would be split into two groups of 10 wrestlers (one for Raw, one for SmackDown), and the winner of each group would face off for the opportunity of the title of their brand, either the Universal title or the WWE title. Also following New Japan rules, the matches would have a time-limit, and if the main title holder wins the tournament, they can either pick their opponent for a future match, or take on the main holder of the other brand in a Title vs Title match.
In this iteration, an outright win would be worth 3 points and a loss would be worth none. If the match reaches the time-limit, the match would continue to find a victor, with the extra time winner gaining 2 points and the loser in that scenario would gain a point for getting to the extra time stage.
During the time of the tournament, the titles will all be suspended but with the condition that if a title-holder were to lose a match during the tournament, they would owe their conqueror a title match at a later date, with the knowledge that they have already been beaten by that person.
4. Mixed Match Challenge (….but with proper intergender wrestling)
Earlier this year, there was a charity tournament that didn’t keep to the storylines and felt refreshing, it was the Mixed Match Challenge. A tournament in which both a male and a female wrestler were placed on teams. Sometimes the pairings were slight juxtapositions, but that was the strength of the tournament. Goldust paired with Mandy Rose and one team was Braun Strowman with Alexa Bliss. It felt like the wrestlers were afforded more freedom in the matches and could make them as light-hearted as they wanted to. There was also a large dose of comedy for Braun and Alexa’s team, mainly due to the pair’s disparity in height and their chemistry together.
A return of this tournament is definitely on the cards, whether it’s for charity or otherwise, it’s something I need more of in my life, although I would like this one minor change, which is maybe a step too far for the WWE, and that is to make the tournament truly intergender and when a male wrestler tags their partner in, it doesn’t automatically mean that both females have to be in the match. However, I do feel that’s a little too far for the WWE and I would settle for having the tournament back as it currently is.
5. Extreme Rules Tournament
Now, here is something that currently is a mile too far for the WWE, but with modifications would fit them very well I feel, that is to take inspiration from the CZW Tournament of Death. The WWE would have to make the matches ‘extreme’ but they would have to keep it to their standards, ie little blood. My idea here is that there would be a new hardcore title up-for-grabs in the first tournament, where the final would be the main event of the Extreme Rules Pay-per-view. The title will only be defended in weapons matches and each year there would be a new single elimination tournament with the current titleholder an entrant. All of the titleholder’s matches would be for their title, so if they lose the title switches to their opponent.
Tournaments have the power to engage, to create simple high-stakes of competition without over-elaborate storylines. They can be used to generate further storylines with friends coming up against each other in a round, or one wrestler deliberately costing another their place in the next round. I believe that tournaments are the way forward and should definitely be an increasingly used part of WWE programming.