WWE's IC Tournament: Evaluating Each Man's Chances of Winning the Title
Once one of the most coveted belts in the pro wrestling business, the Intercontinental Championship is now a shadow of its former self.
That is why it was a welcomed development on Monday Night Raw this week, when we saw the announcement of an eight-man tournament to determine the No. 1 contender to Big E’s Intercontinental Championship.
A star-studded lineup, featuring no less than six world champions, was exactly the kind of boost that the title needed. The calibre of Superstars and the attention they bring means that the focus is firmly back on the belt—as it so deservedly should be.
And after the first round of matches, we saw Cesaro, Sheamus, Bad News Barrett and Rob Van Dam progress at the expense of Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio. But who will ultimately go on to emerge victorious?
This slideshow evaluates each man’s chances of winning the tournament and earning a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.
Rob Van Dam
With a career spanning nearly 25 years, "RVD" is easily the most experienced man in the tournament.
Over the years, he’s already won the Intercontinental Championship on six occasions—a tally that only Chris Jericho can claim to have bettered.
Based on this experience, and his abundant talent, you’d have to conclude that Van Dam is deserving of another shot at the belt. But aside from these qualities, another great characteristic of his is of course his selflessness.
Since returning to the WWE last year, Van Dam has been utilised as more of an entertainer than a legitimate contender. His involvement in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match is a great example of that. And furthermore, when feuding with Dean Ambrose and then Del Rio, he failed to win the titles he was challenging for in both instances.
The bottom line is that Van Dam isn’t here for the gold. He’s here to put people over.
It would be wonderfully fitting to give Van Dam the spotlight at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, but his professionalism is such that I can’t see "Mr. Monday Night" winning this tournament at the expense of an up-and-coming star.
Van Dam may be a seasoned veteran of the intercontinental title scene, but Sheamus can boast more success in the big leagues.
None of the other three competitors have a trio of separate world titles to their name. And given that each of those reigns have come within the last five years, that only makes Sheamus an even hotter commodity.
He hasn’t had a whole lot to do this year since returning at the Royal Rumble. But in that very match he entered at No. 17 and made the final three, thus reinforcing his standing as one of the most dominant talents in the company today.
Having a modern, established name like Sheamus win the tournament would certainly rejuvenate the Intercontinental Championship scene, and personally I’d quite like to see it happen.
But when you take a look at some of the other guys in the hunt, it seems more likely that this tournament will be used to put someone over who is of a slightly less standing.
As I said before, a main-event star like Sheamus would be a massive boost for the belt, but since when has that been anywhere near the top of company’s priorities? Much like RVD, I’d imagine Sheamus is there to simply add significance to proccedings, rather than to actually win.
In recent weeks, Cesaro’s stock has skyrocketed.
After severing his ties with Swagger, Cesaro went on to bodyslam the Big Show out of the ring to win WrestleMania XXX’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and then he aligned himself with the greatest manager in the industry the following night.
It’s clear that he’s currently riding a massive push, and thus Cesaro would have to be considered a favorite to win the tournament and challenge for Big E’s title.
However, we mustn’t forget that the aforementioned Swagger is still very much on the radar. On SmackDown last week, he interfered in Cesaro’s match with Big Show, and though there was no interaction on Raw, I wouldn’t bank on this one being over.
With Swagger no longer involved in the tournament, he’s got time on his hands. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him use that time to screw his former partner out of a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.
Their unfinished business would make for a great midcard feud, particularly given the fact that the theme of the upcoming pay-per-view would likely yield some sort of intriguing stipulation.
Bad News Barrett
Wade Barrett has had a career like a yoyo.
Having worked with John Cena upon his emergence on the full roster, he has since slipped down the pecking order somewhat. It’s not been entirely uncommon to see him pull out a big win one night, only to job the very next day. His loss at WrestleMania 29 to The Miz, only to emerge victorious the following evening, is a perfect example of this inconsistency.
But since returning under the often-amusing "Bad News Barrett" gimmick, the Brit has been booked very strongly.
Victories over Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston and of course Dolph Ziggler, have shown that the WWE appear to be serious about pushing him once more. I know we’ve said and seen this many times before, but the amount of TV time he’s had on his #BNB podium as of late would suggest that this run could be the real thing.
I said earlier that this tournament looks engineered to push a rising star, and with Cesaro distracted by his former partner, that rising star could be Bad News Barrett.
RVD has little to gain from a victory. The same could be said for Sheamus, given that he’s featured in the world-title picture so prominently in recent years.
Sure, "The Celtic Warrior" would be a massive boost to the title’s prestige, but I’m not sure that’s currently on the WWE’s agenda. They seem much more likely to push a less established name. And with huge potential for Cesaro vs. Swagger, that less established name would appear to be Bad News Barrett.
Of course, we’ve seen in recent weeks that the WWE are more than capable of springing a surprise, so I could be entirely wrong with my suggestions.
But what do you guys make of this one?
Please comment below with your thoughts on the matter and let me know whether you agree or not with my predictions for the No. 1 contender’s tournament.