The eight-man TNT Championship tournament kicked off during Wednesday's episode of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite when Cody defeated Shawn Spears in a tightly contested match to move into the semifinals.
The tourney will continue to play out over the next several weeks, and there are three first-round matches remaining: Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara, Lance Archer vs. Colt Cabana and Dustin Rhodes vs. Kip Sabian.
With an eye toward the semis and the final at the Double or Nothing pay-per-view—originally set for May 23 but up in the air after the scheduled venue's owner, MGM, suspended its operations in Las Vegas until at least May 31—look for the remainder of the first round to play out in the following manner.
Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara
On Cody's side of the bracket, the rivalry between Darby Allin and Inner Circle member Sammy Guevara will continue.
At AEW Revolution in February, Allin endured a brutal beating at the hands of Guevara but still managed to pick up one of his biggest wins in AEW. Beating Guevara in the TNT title tournament would arguably be even bigger since it would bring him one step closer to his first major championship.
Professional wrestling tropes suggest Guevara should win since he is a heel and his Inner Circle faction is feuding with Cody and The Elite, but recent events suggest it won't go that way.
Cody and Allin recently faced Spears and Guevara in the main event of Dynamite. After Cody and Allin took the loss, the former attempted to help up the latter, who clocked him and left the ring. Some may have perceived that as a heel turn, but it was more a case of furthering Allin's loner character and showing he is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top alone.
Given that interaction and the fact that Cody and Allin have no shortage of history with one another, look for Allin to beat Guevara to set up a semifinal showdown with Cody.
Lance Archer vs. Colt Cabana
Lance Archer and WWE Hall of Famer Jake "The Snake" Roberts made it clear from the start that their eyes are firmly on Cody.
A match between Archer and Cody seems inevitable at one point, and the TNT Championship tournament appears tailor-made to make it happen in the final at Double or Nothing. With Cody and Archer on opposite sides of the bracket, they are on a collision course.
Archer has been dominant during his brief stint in AEW, and it is difficult to envision Colt Cabana posing much of a threat to him in the quarters.
Cabana is a talented performer in his own right and a quality babyface, which makes him an ideal first-round opponent for Archer since it will make it easier for him to earn some heat if he brutalizes his rival. While Cabana has plenty of size and physicality, Archer somehow still dwarfs him in those areas, and all signs point toward The Murderhawk running through Cabana without a ton of resistance.
If that happens, it will continue to build anticipation toward a clash with Cody.
Dustin Rhodes vs. Kip Sabian
Dustin Rhodes is a 50-year-old veteran who doesn't necessarily need a title to come across as important, while Kip Sabian is an up-and-coming star who would benefit greatly from a run in the TNT Championship tournament.
That would seem to suggest that Sabian should beat Rhodes and advance to the semis, but that is unlikely to happen because of the story that is being told. If the goal is to get to Cody vs. Archer, then advancing Dustin to the semifinals for a match against Archer would be the ideal way to set it up.
Not only would Archer vs. Dustin be a quality match since they are both big, physical brawlers, but it could be the perfect way to make the rivalry between Archer and Cody even more personal. Were Archer to leave Dustin battered and bloodied, it would give Cody even more incentive to get revenge in the final.
Despite his talent, Sabian still hasn't gotten the push he deserves. And while this tournament would be a good place to get the ball rolling, he will probably have to wait a while longer.
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