The unfortunate injury to Seth Rollins last week in Dublin, Ireland provided a unique opportunity for one WWE Superstar to step up and become 'the man'. One mans misfortune is another's gain and in this industry you need to take any opportunity you are given by the scruff of the neck because this may be that one and only opportunity you get to impress. While WWE went into panic mode and had to quickly come up with a plan there was only ever one logical option in my mind, which was to create a tournament to crown a new champion. That posed an interesting question; who should be the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion? In this piece I'm going to break down the four guys I feel have the best opportunity to become 'the man' in WWE and fill in the gap Seth Rollins sudden injury has created.
If you want to look at someone who is over with the fans, who 'gets it', and is a talent that is capable of carrying the WWE World Heavyweight Championship then I think you can look no further than Kevin Owens at this point. He's already the Intercontinental Champion, which is a belt that has gone on to make so many World Champions throughout wrestling history. Owens might not have the look the company wants, and it's no secret that Owens' weight is something of a niggling issue backstage but that doesn't make him incapable of being the champion. What may go against Owens at this point is he hasn't been on the main roster for very long and it could be a gamble putting such a big weight on his shoulders. That being said we are talking about a veteran of the wrestling scene who beat John Cena in his first night on the main roster, which to me means the company has some faith and belief in Owens, and in reality all he needs is his chance to show the world what he really is capable of.
Without question Cesaro is the performer here who has the look and the ability in the ring to become a real deal champion. He has the fans behind him and this year has had some great matches including a belter against John Cena and against Sheamus this past Monday on Raw. There's no doubting that Cesaro has the look of a champion and can more than capably carry himself in the ring. The one problem Cesaro has always faced is his lack of ability to cut a promo, something a champion needs to be able to do. It wasn't long ago you could even argue he struggled to connect with the crowd until his partnership with Tyson Kidd helped turn around his fortunes. Cesaro would need a mouthpiece for me if he was going to take on the role of champion, someone who could more than comfortably get him over which really leaves the option of remaking him a Paul Heyman guy again. Obviously we've been down that road once before and it ended before it could really gain any momentum so why not try again. Heyman is someone who really knows how to get a talent over, and while Brock Lesnar remains out of the picture I don't think it would hurt to give him something to fill his time. While this is unlikely to happen and Cesaro is likely to go out in the next round against Roman Reigns you can't entirely write him off as a solid outside bet.
Here is one man I certainly expect will make it to the finals of this tournament, especially looking at the names left on his side of the bracket. Dean Ambrose more than proved himself in matches against Seth Rollins at various points over the last year, wrestling some of the best matches he has wrestled since moving up to the main roster. Ambrose has almost everything the fans want from a champion; he has the in-ring ability, he can talk, and he certainly connects with the fans in a way most stars don't these days. My one concern, and it's only a slight one is that he doesn't have the typical look WWE goes for in it's champion but that doesn't really seem to be as big an issue as it once in the past. The only way I see Ambrose winning is by turning heel on Reigns, taking help from the Authority to achieve his dream of getting to the top. There's no questioning that Ambrose has the ability to make himself into a great champion going forward. The question is more around whether WWE are brave enough to let him have his chance and show what we all know as fans that Ambrose is capable of.
I think it's a fairly safe assumption to say that Roman Reigns is the most likely of the four men listed to become the champion and is pretty much my main bet to be in the final from his side of the bracket. It's no secret WWE sees him as the next marketable top guy in the company, and if this years Royal Rumble win for Reigns is anything to go by we probably shouldn't be surprised to see him finally claim the gold this time around, although there's no guarantee that decision wouldn't be met with the same fan backlash he suffered headed into Wrestlemania 31. Reigns has everything the company wants in his look and his ability in the ring which I can't really question. What my biggest concerns are his lack of promo ability and his lack of connection with the fans. Roman seems to struggle making his promos from sounding forced, therefore the fans can't believe in them and as a result struggle to get behind him and as we already know the fans aren't exactly loving Reigns. I think again like Ambrose the only solution is to have him turn heel to win the match, potentially aligning himself with the Authority and using the fans lack of support as the reason for his choice. I think it's almost a foregone conclusion that Reigns will win the title, being as that was always the vision since the beginning of this year for the company and what better chance than this to finally get their man in the place they want him.
For the eagle eyed amongst us you may have noticed that I have listed four men who have never won the Championship. That doesn't mean we should be ruling out the likes of Sheamus, who while he was eliminated by Cesaro on Monday on Raw is still Mr. Money in the Bank, meaning he could cash in and walk into the finals without having to do anything major to get there. I suspect he may wait until the match is over and then cash in if that is the direction things head. At this point the tournament means the championship is anyone's for the taking, but if I'm honest it's probably set to come down a Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns final with a shocking heel turn conclusion for whichever man walks out the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
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