WWE is promoting an 8-man World Cup tournament at Crown Jewel that will determine who is the “Best in the World.”
This entire tournament seems like a farce to me, in the sense that 7 of the 8 participants all wrestled on WWE PPV in 2006, and it’s hard for me to buy that top athletes from 12 years ago could still be the best in the world in 2018. They might as well just cancel the whole thing and give a trophy to Seth Rollins if they want to pick an appropriate wrestler for that moniker.
At any rate, I’m always curious to see how much time each match receives on WWE pay-per-view (PPV). WWE has set aside a 4 hour window for the main card of Crown Jewel. That includes potentially 7 different matches in the World Cup tournament, as well as 4 other matches. It’s difficult to cram 11 full matches into a 4 hour window without screwing a couple matches over in terms of bell-to-bell match time. It appears that the 2-minute match between Miz and Daniel Bryan at Super Show-Down was the latest example of a PPV match being squeezed for time and rendering it largely pointless considering all the hype.
This is why I’m not a fan of one night tournaments in WWE that consist of at least 8 superstars. The matches are usually rushed and so it ends up being a collection of sub par matches. The storytelling needs to be masterful to make up for the lacking match quality.
I’m also not a fan because WWE usually books one of the earlier round matches to end in a draw. This is a cheap ploy to once again cut the total match time down for the tournament, because a draw means that a match in the following round is canceled.
This happened at The Wrestling Classic in 1985, when Tito Santana and Paul Orndorff wrestled to a double count out finish, giving Junkyard Dog a bye through the semifinal round.
It happened at WrestleMania 4 in 1988, when both Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude and Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant ended without a winner. The latter result allowed Ted DiBiase to automatically advance past the semifinal round.
Lex Luger vs. Tatanka ended in a draw at King of the Ring 1993, allowing Bam Bam Bigelow to skip right through the semifinal round.
Kama vs. Shawn Michaels ended in a draw at King of the Ring 1995, which meant Mabel didn’t have to wrestle in the semifinal round.
Steven Regal vs. X-Pac ended in a double count out at Survivor Series 1998, giving Steve Austin a bye through the quarterfinal round.
The only other one-night WWE PPV tournament consisting of at least 8 superstars that I can think of is King of the Ring 1994, where all 7 potential tournament matches actually did take place. In this case, the total match time for these 7 matches was around 42 to 43 minutes, meaning the average match time was roughly 6 minutes. The tournament consisted of a bunch of rushed matches. (If anyone can think of other 8+ superstar one-night tournaments on WWE PPV, please let me know in the comments.)
Maybe things will different at Crown Jewel. Maybe WWE has some flexibility to go beyond the 4 hour window and they don’t need to take any timing shortcuts. Maybe Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman will only be a 2 minute match, considering how bad their match was at No Mercy 2017. Maybe Undertaker and Triple H won’t take up nearly 54 minutes of the card this time, like they did last month at Super Show-Down.
But I’m skeptical, and I think there will be at least one significant timing shortcut taken in this tournament. If Kurt Angle is going all the way to the finals, then perhaps he’ll quickly roll Dolph Ziggler up in less than a minute, so that he doesn’t have to work 3 full matches in one night.
The most obvious shortcut that can be taken is to fall back on WWE’s reliable tool of ending a first round match in a draw in order to remove a semifinal match from the equation. Looking at this field, I think Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz is prime material for that kind of booking. It shares the SmackDown side of the bracket with Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio, who are both treated as superior stars and wrestlers in kayfabe. I could definitely see the winner of Mysterio vs. Orton advancing right to the finals once Hardy vs. Miz ends in a draw.
How do you think the timing of the World Cup tournament matches will play out, Cagesiders?