QUESTION OF THE DAY: Who Would Have Been Your Pick To Win “The World Cup” At Crown Jewel And Why?
Crown Jewel is in the books. I thought it was an entertaining show that struck the right tone with the audience that it was presented to.
The lion’s share of the discussion post-show has been revolving around what I am referring to as “30 minutes of madness” – the stretch of time that captured Brock Lesnar winning the Universal Championship and Shane McMahon winning The World Cup.
Many fans have absolutely excoriated the WWE over these two booking decisions. I have to admit – I agreed when I watched it live. It didn’t seem to make any sense to go down either path.
However, I had some time to evaluate the alternatives post-show, and I came to a surprisingly conclusion. Without further ado:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: Crown Jewel – The WWE Made The Right Calls On Brock Lesnar & Shane McMahon.
The WWE Was Smart To Put Brock Over Braun.
I’m going to punt on the debate over the merits of Braun Strowman as world champion because I don’t think it’s pertinent to my argument. Personally, I no longer believe that he’s the right guy to carry the belt. However, even I were to assume that he’s the right guy for the job, Crown Jewel was not the right time to pull the trigger.
I want anyone that is reading this to ask themselves a question. If Braun Strowman won the title at Crown Jewel, what would have been the reason for his title win?
I would be surprised if anyone else could come to any other answer to the abovementioned question then “Braun won the title because Roman Reigns has leukemia”. If not for Roman Reigns going down with leukemia, Braun wasn’t sniffing the title anytime soon. Roman was in line for a lengthy title reign, and it’s unlikely that Strowman would have ultimately become the guy to dethrone him.
If the WWE wants to make someone “the man”, their first world title win needs to feel important. It needs to have been well built and lead to a logical climax. If not, said wrestler turns into Jinder Mahal (insert crying Dave face here). Had the WWE given Braun Strowman the title at Crown Jewel, it surely would have come off as a consolation prize rather than the payoff in an arduous journey.
I don’t think that would have been best for Braun’s career. He would have become champion not on his own merits but because the WWE didn’t have anyone else.
Additionally, I don’t think that the current crop of heels on Raw are the right guys to get his title run off to a good start. If you were to exclude Brock Lesnar, the three top heels on Raw are Bobby Lashley, Dean Ambrose and Drew McIntyre.
A Lashley v Braun feud over the title would likely have been a disaster. Lashley isn’t over enough and Braun doesn’t have the verbal chops to carry the feud on his own. The end result would have been clunky matches that were met with apathy.
Dean Ambrose would be a better fit, but he’s going to be tied up with Seth Rollins for the foreseeable future and isn’t an available option right now. Additionally, I’d have major concerns that because the diehards have been clamoring for an Ambrose heel turn and main event run, they’d turn against Braun quickly.
As for Drew McIntyre, putting him against Braun Strowman in a world title feud might not be the worst idea in the world, but it certainly wouldn’t benefit Strowman. It is inevitable that Drew McIntyre is going to end up as the Universal Champion. I don’t think he’s quite ready for it at the current time, but it’s going to happen. There is NO WAY that the WWE would use Drew to put Braun over. The more likely outcome is that Braun immediately drops the title to McIntyre. He becomes a transitional champion and dead in the water.
None of the three scenarios described above benefit Braun Strowman in any way.
I loved that it was Baron Corbin that cost Braun the match. It’s clear to me that Braun now begins an anti-authority storyline. This is a role that should suit him very well. I don’t know whether or not Braun ultimately ends up becoming the guy, but I don’t think it’s completely crazy to think that Braun can ride this storyline to a Royal Rumble win and Universal Title match at WrestleMania 35. That certainly beats becoming world champion as a consolation prize and/or ending up as a transitional title holder.
As for Lesnar, he’s the safe pick. Roman Reigns getting hurt put the WWE in a bind, as no one else was really ready to run with the ball. Putting the belt on Lesnar for a few months allows for the WWE to develop someone else to become champion. It could be Braun, it could be McIntyre, or it could be someone out of left field.
The fact that Brock is barely around is a benefit here, not a detriment. The lack of a need for the Universal Title to be defended at every major event will allow the WWE to develop the “next guy” without having to worry about short term results.
Brock Lesnar winning the Universal Title back might not have been a popular choice, but it was the correct one.
Shane McMahon Winning The World Cup Was The Right Decision.
As bitter of a pill that Brock Lesnar regaining the Universal Title was for fans, I think Shane McMahon winning the World Cup in the manner that he did was even more difficult to swallow. I get it. At least Lesnar has tremendous in-ring credibility and was a significant superstar of the past. Shane McMahon is a part-timer who gets his due not because of his past accolades but because of his last name.
I shook my head at the way this went down at Crown Jewel, but have since reversed course. As I looked over the eight participants in the tournament, I don’t believe that having any of them win would have added a tremendous amount of value to future programming. Here’s a deeper dive:
Kurt Angle – He’s a legend far past his prime. He’s never going to wrestle full time again nor should he. Having Angle win the tournament would have played well with the live audience in Saudi Arabia, but not had any impact on any storyline going forward.
Seth Rollins – I had predicted that the WWE would use this tournament for Seth Rollins in the same manner that King of the Ring 1993 was used for Bret Hart. However, Seth Rollins winning the tournament wouldn’t have accomplished anything. He’s on a collision course with Dean Ambrose. Even if the WWE wanted to use the tournament as an excuse to get Rollins back into the title mix, it couldn’t have happened until the mess with Dean Ambrose was resolved. Rollins was not a realistic option.
Dolph Ziggler – Do I really need to elaborate on Ziggler? He’s been given opportunity after opportunity and it hasn’t worked out. He should be happy with the push he’s received over the past six months, as his output hasn’t warranted it. In my eyes, he’s enhancement talent. You don’t push enhancement talent to the main event. Full stop. End of discussion.
Bobby Lashley – Lashley would have been the most logical of the Raw superstars to win. He just turned heel and it seems that the WWE could have used Crown Jewel as a reason to get him to the main event. That said – do you REALLY want to see Lashley back in the main event? The pairing with Lio Rush is interesting but it feels more like a mid-card comedic storyline than the type that a show should be built around. I don’t believe Lashley getting the nod would have worked.
Rey Mysterio – The WWE seems to be looking to use Mysterio in the manner that I believe is best for everyone involved – as an attraction that you can feature, but not as a serious main eventer. He’s just not that guy anymore. There’s no need to elevate Mysterio any further up the card than he already is.
Jeff Hardy – Rinse and repeat what I said about Mysterio but to a lesser degree. As was the case with Mysterio, while a one-off between Styles and Jeff Hardy is fun, there’s no value in moving Hardy into a main event role on a regular basis. He too fills the attraction role nicely.
The Miz & Randy Orton – I’ll attack these two together because I believe that the rationale for each is the same. A.J. Styles needs heel opponents and they are the two most likely candidates. However, both are made men already. Sure, you could have had either win the tournament, but it’s not necessary in order to get them back into the main event fold. At any time on any day, the WWE could put either one in a WWE title storyline with Styles and no one would bat an eyelash. Thus, having either win the world cup wouldn’t have added any additional value.
After I determined that none of the eight participants made sense as the winner of The World Cup, I asked myself another question. Did Shane McMahon winning the world cup add any value to the future storylines? Surprisingly, my answer was yes.
It has since been reported that the WWE is going to use this as a springboard for a Shane McMahon heel turn. It makes sense – he inserted himself into a match that he had no business being in and stole The World Cup from other deserving participants. That sure feels like a heel move to me.
So what does a Shane McMahon heel turn accomplish? Plenty.
First, having two face authority figures is a tiresome burden. There’s barely any value in having a singular face authority figure, much less two. The lack of conflict between Paige and Shane McMahon doesn’t make for compelling television in any way shape or form. Turning Shane heel will ultimately lead to a power struggle between himself and Paige. This is an element that has been lacking on Smackdown since the brand split.
Second, having a heel authority figure, especially one that the fans will gravitate to hate on, is always going to benefit your baby-faces. Smackdown has two baby-faces in A.J. Styles & Daniel Bryan that are incredibly sympathetic figures. Neither one has tremendous direction from a storyline standpoint right now. Being able to combat the authority gives them the direction that they are lacking. As a viewer of Smackdown, would you be interested in an angle that is likely to benefit A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan? The answer is an emphatic YES – pun intended.
Lastly, having a heel authority figure allows for heel wrestlers to assume the role of “corporate champion”. Both Randy Orton and The Miz would be PERFECT in that role – Orton because he’s the establishment and the Miz because he’s spineless. Shane turning heel on Styles to help one of them win the WWE title is a storyline that more or less writes itself.
As much as I hated to admit it – Shane turning heel solves a lot of problems on Smackdown. Having him do so by winning The World Cup accomplishes a lot more than having any of the other eight wrestlers emerge victorious. Because of this, I think the WWE made the right decision to have Shane McMahon win.
That’s a wrap kids. Thank you for reading. Agree or disagree? Sound off below!
I can best be reached on Twitter @The_Eternal_Optimist