WWE announced a SmackDown World Cup on last Friday’s pre-taped show. They told us it would start on the blue brand tonight (Fri., Nov. 11), but otherwise didn’t give us much in the way of details about the tournament.
They did announce a first round match for this week, Shinsuke Nakamura and Santos Escobar, and that the winner will get a shot at GUNTHER’s Intercontinental title. But we still didn’t know who or even how many others would be in the field.
A report from PWInsider this afternoon gives us those answers. Nakamura and Escobar of two of eight men in the tourney, which is timed for maximum corporate synergy with FOX Sports’ coverage of the men’s soccer World Cup, also starting this month.
• Braun Strowman
• Shinsuke Nakamura
• Sami Zayn
• Santos Escobar
• Rey Mysterio
• Jinder Mahal
In reality, these men represent five countries (the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the U.K.). But WWE bills Mahal from India rather than Calgary, so that’ll at least get them to six — and closer to the spirit of the World Cup than their last attempt (which featured eight Americans and was one by another who wasn’t even in the field, Shane McMahon).
Speaking of Jinder, this will mark his first match for WWE since July. He had been teaming with Shanky prior to Triple H taking over creative.
See how he and the rest of the World Cup participants fare, starting tonight on SmackDown.
UPDATE: Insider’s list was 88% right. WWE’s final list included Mustafa Ali rather than Rey Mysterio. The official match-ups and first round results from Nov. 11 are here.