For those of you who missed out on the announcement, WWE will be hosting an inter-promotional tournament over the Royal Rumble weekend, with the winner facing the champion of their brand. NXT, NXT UK and 205 Live have submitted five of their top superstars to compete at the Rumble’s Axxess fan event, giving us a who’s who of the less mainstream side of WWE.
NXT – Adam Cole – Velveteen Dream – Keith Lee – Shane Thorne – Dominik Dijakovic
NXT UK – Tyler Bate – Mark Andrews – Jordan Devlin – Travis Banks – Zack Gibson
205 Live – Cedric Alexander – TJP – Drew Gulak – Tony Nese – Humberto Carrillo
There’s some serious potential here for a very exciting tournament. With the WWE roster as a whole having so much depth to it these days, it’s going to be an absolute pleasure to watch these dream matches come together. The Royal Rumble match, and the weekend as a whole, allows for a lot of fresh faces to make a name for themselves but there’s never enough space for everybody. Having the likes of Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream and Keith Lee absent from the NXT: Takeover Phoenix card, this is a great alternative. Similarly, NXT UK has been riding a wave of momentum since the massively successful Takeover event in Blackpool, so it’s great to see some of the more established BritWres stars getting the chance to mix it up with the OG NXT stars and the Cruiserweight division.
The tournament will begin with a 15 man battle royal to determine which superstar is given an automatic bye in the first round. Of course this doesn’t guarantee the overall winner of the tournament, but it does indeed give them a distinct advantage heading into the quarter-finals.
With a championship opportunity on the line, it’s hard to pick out just one superstar out of all 15 involved to be rocket-strapped into the main event scene. But with certain names being slightly more established than others, perhaps it would make more sense for the winner to be a superstar on the precipice of the championship picture. Adam Cole, for example, is someone who is practically the face of NXT, yet has somehow been kept at a distance from the NXT Championship. It’s almost criminal at this point to deny him an opportunity against Ciampa, or whoever happens to be holding onto the title after Phoenix. If Triple H needs an excuse to put his favoured son into the main event match, then this could be his way to achieve that.
Velveteen Dream is also one of those names that is a hair away from being considered the hottest product on the brand. Even though he has already been granted a title match against Ciampa, Dream is still in that awkward limbo where he’s just waiting for another opportunity to win the big one. The fan’s want to see Dream achieve something huge this weekend, whether that be as part of the Royal Rumble match itself or whether it’s at Axxess.
Looking at the NXT UK talent on display, there’s not one superstar that doesn’t deserve to be in contention for the NXT UK Championship. Four of five of those chosen to be a part of this tournament have already had a crack at Pete Dunne, but have all been unsuccessful. Despite this, I wouldn’t mind seeing another MOTY candidate from Tyler Bate, Jordan Devlin or Zack Gibson before Pete potentially drops it to Walter at the next TakeOver special.
There is one superstar in particular that sparks some intrigue from me, and that’s the Kiwi Buzzsaw, Travis Banks. Trav made it to the finals of the second UK Championship Tournament last year, and has since dropped into the mid-card, far away from the hopes of an NXT UK title match. Travis Banks, to me, is one of the few who could canonically dethrone Pete Dunne. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Banks was the man who brought his lengthy Progress World Championship reign to an end in 2017. Banks is a fantastic in-ring worker who could get a great match out of pretty much anyone. I hope to see him go the distance in this tournament and put on some belters with fellow NXT UK talent, maybe even some 205 guys too. I can guarantee they’d be so much fun to watch.
Speaking of the 205 Live division, it’s hard to imagine that they’d choose to put one of the Cruiserweights over all of the huge draws from NXT and NXT UK. Quite frankly, 205 Live doesn’t have the same fanfare that either of the developmental brands do. Regardless, the work the Cruiserweights have been putting in lately has been top quality, and should not be slept on. I believe the one to watch out of the five chosen names would be newcomer Humberto Carrillo. The guy defines what it means to be a Cruiserweight and has been involved in some great debut matches against Gran Metalik on recent episodes of 205. Do I see him winning the whole thing? Probably not, but if there’s anywhere for him to turn some heads then it should be at Axxess.
Despite who eventually ends up taking the final W, I can imagine this tournament is going to be a rollercoaster of fantastic wrestling. Fortunately for us fans, the entire tournament will be broadcast on the WWE Network from the 2nd of February, and I’d expect to see at least a couple of mat classics waiting for us after this weekend.
Who’s your pick for the Worlds Collide tournament? Let us know in the comments below.