Monday 1 October 2012

Contenders Tourney

A month or so ago Ring of Honor was forced to vacate their world tag team titles after Kenny King jumped to TNA. They booked a tournament to crown new champions. It was an uninspiring and disappointing affair that buried the company's young athletic teams and presented us with a predictable final and predictable winners.
On last week's SmackDown it was announced that WWE would be booking a tag team tourney of their own. This tournament is not to crown new champions but to determine new number one contenders to the current title holders: Team Hell No.
It's a good move. It will allow the recent good work done to the doubles division to continue and free up Kane and Daniel Bryan for more skits and segments, which is where their appeal as an act lies.
WWE's tournament offering looks pleasingly unpredictable. It's probably safe to assume that Epico and Primo and the pairing of Santino and Zack Ryder will follow the Usos out the competition when their matches roll around. It's difficult to predict who will go through though, especially from the latter two first round matches.
The Rhodes Scholars have already advanced to the semi-finals. A match between them and Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel seems likely. Considering the heels' higher standing on the roster they're the likelier of the two units to get through to the finals. This tournament could be the point at which the writing team finally get serious about Kidd and Gabriel’s push, which means there's a mild chance they'll get the upset (I say upset, Kidd and Gabriel have been teaming for longer) over the Scholars.
The first round match between Kofi Kingston and R-Truth and the Prime Time Players is another tough one to call. It's possible Kofi and Truth will go through so that Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio have top quality opponents lined up for them in the second round. It’s slightly more likely that the PTPs will go over to keep them looking like a threat in the division. It would also grant them a rare victory over the former champs and create the impression that this is finally their time to take the gold.
Predicting finalists and winners seems impossible at this point. I'd say the Rhodes Scholars, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, and the Prime Time Players could all realistically win. A heel versus heel final strikes me as unlikely though. Sin Cara and Mysterio look like the better prospects to clash with the Scholars.

So assuming both those teams make it to the final, which is by no means guaranteed thanks to the pleasantly unknowable nature of the tournament, who is the likeliest to win? I’d find it hard to bet against Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow in that match. Not only have they been positioned as the top heel unit in the federation but they are the natural opponents for Team Hell No. Gaining a number of victories over other units in the burgeoning division would serve to build them up as believable contenders.
Are these two destined for tag team gold?
The recent double act between Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio will apparently lead to a feud between the two at some point in the future. If WWE perform their characteristic rush job then the tournament could see one masked man turn heel on the other after they lose in the finals. I’d like to see a slower tease to their feud though, with the tournament finals being used as a starting point for their falling out.

Whoever ends up as the number one contenders and challenges Team Hell No at Hell in a Cell I think this is another positive sign that WWE are taking tag teams seriously again. That there is no clear overall favourite adds to the enjoyment and bodes well for the division’s future.

If only Ring of Honor could have managed the same.

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