5 Reasons Why WWE Needs A Round Robin Tournament
Anything New Japan can do, WWE can do better?
With WWE dipping seamlessly into its typical post-Wrestlemania lull, it’s time to get the gears turning and figure out the wrestling equivalent to more cowbell. When my breath needs freshening, I have an Altoid or a Mento. For WWE, a round robin is the freshmaker.
A round robin, not to be confused with bottomless fry-peddler Red Robin, is a tournament where a predetermined amount of wrestlers compete against each other until everyone has faced everyone else, with a number of points being awarded for wins, losses and draws.
This sports-intensive style flourishes in Japanese pro wrestling, with New Japan’s G1 Climax and All Japan’s Champions Carnival topping the list of tournaments to watch every year. Although the format might take some getting used to, a WWE round robin is just what the doctor ordered to kick that case of wrestling apathy. Plus, with so much math involved, fans can trick themselves into thinking they’re doing actual work while filling out their bracket.
1. Wins and losses can matter again
A mind-numbing combination of parity booking, uninspired stories and post-match beatdowns have made wins and losses in WWE more obsolete than your uncle’s VCR. This video works as a perfect allegory for this concept — Strowman is the WWE, Kalisto is wins and losses, and the dumpster is a dumpster.
But in a round robin tournament, wins and losses don’t just count, they’re literally counted. Matches fans consider throwaway or bathroom break matches suddenly become must-see, or at least the results do. A win could mean something as basic as qualifying for the finals or simply netting an extra two points, and if Harry Potter has taught us anything it’s that points are good to have. But a win could lead to even big-ger stories, such as tying a rival on points, an event that might necessitate a tie-breaker, or passing a rival, an event that might necessitate some epic in-your-face gloating. A loss would work similarly.
For a concrete example of how important results would become, look no further than last year’s G1 Cli-max tournament. In the A block final, Hirooki Goto advanced to the finals solely because Okada and Tanahashi fought to a 30-minute draw.
Suddenly, just like in boring old real sports, the tournament standings hinge on each win and loss. Raw wouldn’t be so skippable anymore, huh?
2. It’s a great way to create new contenders
Since a round robin forces the participants to challenge one another at least once, the champion will match up with a bunch of wrestlers, some of whom have yet to reach the brass ceiling or glass ring or whatever Vince McMahon calls winning a lot these days. As long as the champion’s matches are non-title, it would make sense for a wrestler or two to beat the champion, thereby doing two very awesome things: It would immediately boost the winner’s credibility and odds to make it far in the tournament while simultaneously making that same wrestler into a championship contender. It’s like killing two birds with one stone without the dead birds.
And considering the nature of these tournaments, the champion could easily beat his next few opponents to reassert his own dominance, leading to a clash of two alphas when champion and new contender meet again. Are you getting goosebumps too?
This very formula plays a big role in bridging the downtime between the end of New Japan’s G1 in early September and the Tokyo Dome show on January 4, with the champion defending against those that beat him in the tournament at the big October and November shows.
3. It allows for long-term stories
Wrestling matches should stand the test of time as self-contained narratives. With that said, it’s fun to have these narratives held together by much longer, much more elaborate stories. It’s the equivalent of a wrestling Avengers versus a wrestling Moonlight.
Though contained to a single show, the mini-round robin between Christopher Daniels, Low Ki and Bryan Danielson from Ring of Honor’s second ever event exemplifies the exciting yarn this tournament can weave. The story sees Daniels submit Danielson in the opening match only to tap to Low Ki later. Since the two previous tournament matches ended with submissions, a big part of the main event story involves both Danielson and Ki trying to end things with a hold, ultimately leading to low Ki passing out in Danielson’s Cattle Mutilation — quite the arc considering Danielson started the night tapping out himself.
4. It could boost WWE’s credibility as a sports entity
For those who don’t follow the television business, networks are paying big money for sports content and pretty much nothing else, since those in the TV world believe sports are the path to cable’s salvation. Well that and Guy Fieri.
This is why WWE pitches itself as a sport instead of an entertainment product once contract negotiations roll around.
Is there anything more sporty than a long drawn out tournament with brackets? I dare you to turn on ESPN right now. You’re bound to see some kind of score scrolling across the bottom of your screen. Imagine seeing WWE results get time on that ticker. Up yours, everyone else at this bar.
It might also push ESPN to go beyond standard fluff pieces in their quest to cover WWE, but that’s an article for a different day.
5. It could drum up house show interest
These days there’s only one thing that really draws fans to house shows, and his name is John Cena.
For the most part, WWE’s TV shows and non-televised live events are worlds apart in terms of interest. Nothing significant seems to ever happen on a house show, while all the limo explosions and ambulance flipping happens on TV. Every now and again fans might be treated to a lower tier title switch on a house show, but that’s the extent of the excitement.
Adding tournament matches to these shows would add some meat for eventgoers to sink their teeth into.
A night of tournament matches could make all the difference in the brackets.