Tonight marks the start of the AEW World Title Eliminator. An eight man tournament, set to conclude at AEW Full Gear next month, where the winner earns a world title match. I’m a noted big fan of AEW, as well as a giant tournament junkie. So I can’t help but look at this bracket and start speculating. Any March Madness fan will tell you, predicting a whole bracket is pretty hard, and even one as small as this one could go a lot of different ways. So let’s look into the possibilities!
The bracket is as follows:
First off, let’s get this out of the way…
They want you to be thinking about Omega vs Page.
It only makes sense. This story has been the main thing that they’re using to promote the tournament in the first place. It’s a feud that’s been subtly teased since before they were even a tag team, and ever since All Out they’ve really amplified tensions. I don’t think it’s crazy to say everyone expects the two of them to square off on PPV some time in the near future. And naturally, they’re on opposite ends of the bracket, so it’s entirely possible it ends up being the final. This being on the table is deliberate, that much is for sure. But is it actually what we’re gonna see?
After all, AEW likes their slow burn angles. And the most noteworthy one of them all is the angle between these two. Who’s to say this match doesn’t get put off until February? Or maybe it’s still a long ways away. Maybe it won’t happen until one of them holds the AEW World Title and it ends up headlining a PPV instead. We know we’re getting this match, but when we’ll get it is still unknown. It could happen, but let’s look at some other avenues…
The most interesting first round match has to be battle of the Lucha Bros.
That’s not just because it’s going to be an incredible display of lucha libre, the likes of which you almost never see in America. Although, yes, it’s certainly that. And not just because it’s a match between brothers and tag partners, though that is definitely interesting. But the real kicker here is, A) Either man could win this. And B) the winner of this might end up taking the tournament.
Compared to Page and Omega, they’re underdogs here. But the story is in their favor. After all, Jon Moxley has been at odds with their running mate Eddie Kingston for a while and that feud is clearly continuing. They even made sure to have the Lucha Bros directly involved in their last in-ring segment together, with Butcher & Blade noticeably absent. Just as Kenny and Hangman being on opposite sides of the bracket was deliberate, so too was this. I couldn’t help but find that interesting, when so many others in this tournament haven’t gotten involved with Mox in this way.
While the Lucha Bros have not really been main eventers, make no mistake. They’re stars. They’ve been draws everywhere they go and I believe AEW knows they can be draws for them as well. Fenix is considered by some to be the most talented wrestler in the world. Penta’s no slouch either and the Bucks have called him the most charismatic man they’ve ever shared a ring with. This tournament could be a perfect launching pad for one of them.
Then, we have the dark horses.
Janela, Cabana, Wardlow and Jungleboy are fun additions to this tournament but I don’t think many expect the winner to be in this bunch. Janela’s involvement tells me that Omega really likes working with him, as it’s their third singles match. For sure, that is a big plus for him. But that has to be the easiest match in the tournament to call. Wardlow and Jungle should be a very, very good showcase for the both of them, and a great David and Goliath battle. I expect Jungle to overcome the odds there.
And then there’s Colt. As well-liked and respected as Cabana is, I doubt anyone really favors him over Hangman. But you can’t talk about him without talking about the Dark Order. To this day, his status in it is a bit mercurial but he’s seemingly accepted that he’s part of the group. What’s more, the Dark Order have also made several attempts to recruit Hangman but he’s always defied them.
I’ll just say it. I think there’s two things that can happen with Page; he’ll either make it to the last round, or he gets knocked out of the first. Don’t be shocked if Mr. Brodie Lee himself ends up costing Page the match. Brodie/Page is definitely another bout that they’ve been building for a while and it wouldn’t be out of place as part of the Full Gear card. This would be the perfect way to set that up.
So ultimately, what is my prediction?
Well, I think this tournament will end up surprising a lot of people. And I might be bold here and I might be very, very wrong but here’s how I think it plays out. Kenny Omega, Rey Fenix, Colt Cabana and Jungleboy advance to the semi-finals. Omega and Fenix get to have another high stakes master class and if they play their cards right, might have a MOTY candidate on their hands. Ultimately though, Omega just barely edges out Fenix, but he comes out of it looking like a bigger deal than ever.
Meanwhile Jungle ends up being an entirely different kind of underdog as he has to fend off the numbers of the Dark Order, as well as contend with a wrestler whose experience level dwarves his own. But with Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt around to even up the playing field a bit, he’s able to outwrestle Colt Cabana and stunningly advances all the way to the finals!
Thus, our last match… Kenny Omega vs. Jungleboy!
That means at Full Gear, Jungleboy has the biggest match of his life, when he goes up against the Best Bout Machine with an AEW World Title shot on the line. Kenny might even choose this night to bring back the broom and fully revive the Cleaner, making the task all the more daunting.
Ultimately, Jungle comes much, much closer than anyone ever would’ve figured, but Kenny proves too much on this night and takes the tournament. On the first anniversary of his barbaric Unsanctioned match with Jon Moxley, Kenny renews their rivalry and we finally build towards the straight-up bout that we were supposed to see at the inaugural All Out. And just for good measure, yes, I do expect Kenny to become the third AEW World Champion.
So what do you think? Does this sound plausible? Seem like a good tournament to you? Do you expect something different, or would you book it differently yourself? (Two very different questions~!) Either way, I know I’m going to be having a lot of fun with it!
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