Tonight, a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion will be crowned, but whoever wins the title won't just be a paper champ, they will help usher in a new wave of main event talent. Three of the final four men in tonight's tournament have yet to hold the WWE title, so will this begin the first days of the Roman Empire, or is it still anybody's game?
How did we get here? Well for those behind, a few weeks ago on the United Kingdom tour, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins tore both his ACL and MCL during a match and had to vacate the title. That set up a 16-man tournament to decide a new champion.
Here's what the brackets look like now going into tonight's pay per view.
Okay, with Reigns being named the previous number one contender and was actually scheduled to take on Rollins at Survivor Series, it makes sense to keep him around as a serious contender. Now, it's obvious that there's a good chance (read 99% chance) the finals are going to be Reigns and Ambrose as both faces. They've been grooming Reigns for a while and they need that new next generation star to take over the reins of things in John Cena's absence (pun absolutely intended).
Now it's interesting how this was set up, especially with the inclusion of Tyler Breeze and Kalisto in the mix of their usual roster of go-to guys. Breeze has been added to the card to face Ziggler, which seems like a good match-up, but was an absolute waste of a spot in this tournament. The same could be said about the returning Alberto Del Rio, but at least he's looking to reestablish himself as a main event player, but this is way too much too soon.
If they feel like it's still not time to pull the trigger on Reigns just yet (possibly looking for his "Wrestlemania moment"), what could they do then? Let's take a look at some of the possibilities of how this year's Survivor Series could end, and who could be the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Both Reigns and Ambrose Maintain Face Status
The likely scenario going in tonight is former Shield partners and best friends Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns will finally face eachother for the WWE title. That makes sense. There's no unnecessary elements needed to tell their story as it's practically built in. Reigns is the favorite to win, and it's possible WWE creative keeps both men face, while Reigns goes on to collide with Triple H and the Authority as the new face of the company.
Pretty cut and dry, but not all that dramatic. While this works on a certain old school mentality, there's really nothing else here except to build Roman as a top guy and elevate him to the main event status and keep Dean as his number two.
Reigns Joins The Authority
This is what Roman Reigns needs the most.
Similar to the events of the 1998 Survivor Series with the Rock's now infamous heel turn by putting Mankind in the Sharpshooter (just a year after the Montreal Screwjob), Reigns could be the guy to replace Rollins in the Authority.
Now this works on three levels: One being that a heel turn for a guy the audience is already booing makes sense. You have to admit that this post-Rumble boos have diminished slightly, but this isn't the guy the WWE Universe is 100% by (much to the chagrin of WWE creative, I can imagine) and a heel turn is what his career needs.
The second part of this plan, should he face off against Ambrose in the finals like it's meant to be, turns Ambrose into an Ultra Face. Ambrose is the perfect anti-hero that would be the best fit for Roman's first serious challenge as champ. Again, their story is already built in and ready to go.
Lastly, this helps set up a Seth Rollins face turn down the line. Was Seth so expendable that Triple H could just replace him with anybody? It makes Rollins' return more dramatic as well, giving him an instant target.
Dean Ambrose Heel Turn
On the flipside you have this scenario.
It's no secret that Jon Good, the man behind the Ambrose persona, prefers playing a heel instead of full on face, which could play into this. Could WWE pull the trigger on Ambrose going heel, despite that he's more over than anybody else in the final four? Would that even be effective?
It could be, since that makes Roman's chase for the title all that much more important and it's even more personal now. The problem is that it weakens Roman's actual character. He won the Rumble, but didn't win at Mania. He makes it to the final four, and still couldn't win the big one. Again, that could just be creative waiting for the "right" moment for Roman to be crowned, but wait any longer and Roman's fiery push could start to simply simmer (see Jericho winning in 2001, instead of 2000).
Though I do find it interesting that Ambrose was the only man that Triple H didn't encounter either backstage or in the ring to try to seduce in becoming "his man".
Sheamus Cashes In
Nevermind. This is the most boring option.
There's really nothing that can be said here. Before he was this year's MITB winner, Sheamus was stuck in midcard status, even after being a multiple time World Champion. It's hardly a secret that Sheamus is good friends with Triple H, and Trips still believes in this guy. However, it's 2015, I think it's obvious that Sheamus isn't a guy that can be "the" guy.
Having already been eliminated from the tournament, cashing in could be Sheamus' way of trying to reinvent himself as a serious player this time around.
Win, Owens, Win
This is the dark horse of the night for sure.
With Rollins out, Kevin Owens is easily the #1 bad guy that isn't an Authority figure. What better way for him to cement that void that Rollins left behind by not only screwing out fan-favorite Ambrose, but by beating Reigns in the final to be crowned WWE Champion.
Signed to the company a little over a year ago, Owens has made his presence felt this past year with his feud with the likes of John Cena and Ryback, and winning the Intercontinental Title from the latter. This is undoubtedly the match to watch out for as well because you know that Ambrose and Owens will go insane on one another. It also gives a traditional face vs. heel in the finals, too.
Should Owens go over, he'll be the first WWE and IC Champ since the Ultimate Warrior, 25 years ago.
The one thing holding this scenario back is that it halters Roman's push and it could be too soon for Owens, but you have to admit, this could be the ultimate swerve for the night.