WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Quarter-Finals
The go-home episode of Monday Night Raw featured four awesome matches between some of the Fed’s finest to determine who would compete for the vacated world heavyweight title at Survivor Series.
While the tournament’s first round was punctuated by predictable action and surprise finishes, the superstars really stepped up the level of competition this week. Each match delivered in its own way, elevating everyone involved.
In the end, however, only four men survived.
Kevin Owens vs Neville
The announcers smartly spoke of the history between the two wrestlers, citing their heated battles in NXT.
Their experience with each other showed. The tempo was swift, as both men made the most of their comparatively brief encounter.
Owens generously gave Neville the majority of the spots, and the high-flyer looked like a competitor who belonged in the race for the big prize.
Although Owens rightfully advanced to the semi-finals, Neville showed that he has the makings of a champion.
Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler
In the first face versus face match of the night, The Show-off and the Lunatic Fringe faced off.
The first leg of the match was a rare dazzling display of mat wrestling skill. Although not the type of contest the crowd in attendance was too hot to watch, it was a treat for any fan of legitimate technique.
Both men are not usually given nearly enough credit for their fundamentals, and it’s clear that given a proper build these two have what it takes to put on a masterful main event show.
In the end, it was Ambrose who came out on top after planting Ziggler to the mat with the Dirty Deeds DDT.
Roman Reigns vs Cesaro
Cesaro was approached by Triple H in the locker room, tempting him with the prospect of joining the Authority and becoming “the man”, but this did not have any affect on the match whatsoever. Time will tell if WWE makes any more of this angle.
The story of this match was that of Cesaro pulling out every trick in his seemingly endless array of offense to put Reigns away, and the Samoan power-house battling on with guile.
Reigns looked outmatched in terms of skill, but looked impressive in his determination, desire and raw athleticism. He finally put down the Swiss Superman with a spear.
After the match, Cesaro and Reigns shook hands and embraced in mutual respect. It was a classy way to end things between them.
Alberto Del Rio vs Kalisto
In the final match of the night, two luchadores brought their physical style to the American ring.
The match, although highly competitive, lacked an element of drama to make it more compelling. The announcers built up Kalisto’s “Cinderella Story” beforehand, but the match failed to put the angle over.
Regardless, the two men worked well together and most of the action was quick and smooth. Unfortunately, Alberto nearly lost his footing in the process of executing the finishing stroke; an already dangerous double stomp to the chest of Kalisto from the top rope.
Although appearing a bit sloppy, the move was landed safely and Del Rio picked up the win and advanced. Kalisto gained a modicum of respect from his involvement in the tournament, and its clear WWE values what he has to contribute to the business.
This tournament provided Monday Night Raw with a string of truly great contests in a single night. Every match, no matter the length, received chants of “This is awesome!” from the crowd.
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship has rightfully been made the focal point of the entire singles roster (barring, of course, the supernatural battle between the Brothers of Destruction and the Wyatt Family).
Roman Reigns still looks to be the strongest going into this Sunday and the one most likely to walk away with the title.
The possibility of Dean Ambrose facing off with his brother in arms in the finals is an interesting prospect, but perhaps it should remain an Ace card WWE should keep in its back pocket for the time being.
Kevin Owens versus Roman Reigns seems to be the match that fans are hungry to see on the big stage, and would make for a more compelling dynamic.
What kinds of swerves, if any, could we look to see at Survivor Series?
Brock Lesnar remains a wild card. We still have not heard or seen anything from the Beast since his victory over Undertaker at Hell in a Cell.
Sheamus, eliminated in the first round, still holds the Money in the Bank contract. Cashing in on a winded tournament winner is always a smart strategy.
Triple H may show favouritism, involving himself and using his influence to tip the scales in someone’s favour in the final match.
It’s anyone’s guess at this point.