The Wrestlezone Tournament divides wrestlers into four regions…
The WWE Region: The top four seeds for the WWE region are Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, John Cena and El Santo, in that order. Most of the first-round matches to watch out for have nothing to do with those four men, however, as they will likely advance with ease. The 5th seeded Mick Foley will take on ECW veteran and TNA talent Jerry Lynn in what could be a pretty compelling match-up of speed and strength versus stamina and willpower. Dory Funk Jr takes on one of the toughest men on the planet, Arn Anderson in a match that could be good, but will likely (and sadly) have no lasting effect on the tournament as a whole. But the one match to look out for in the first round of the WWE Region is by far the collision of Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero. Two very beloved wrestlers with posthumous legacies will go at it in a standard one-fall match, and only one will move on. If Guerrero advances, he'll likely square off against Hulk Hogan in the second round, but with moment on his side "Latino Heat" might just be a pick to watch out for this year.
The WCW Region: This region is extremely interesting to me, because unlike the WWE Region there is a great mix of legendary veterans and new blood, just waiting to collide. You have the Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Randy Savage and Triple H who should move on, but there are so many potential upsets just waiting to happen. I'm not a huge fan of Kevin Nash or Jeff Hardy, but either could make a decent name for themselves this year. Brock Lesnar's big return and the 2011/12 success of Bubba Ray Dudley also throw a wrench into the mix. Plus Ricky Steamboat, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio and Batista…
The ECW Region: This is the only region with two former tournament winners in the same place; both Bret Hart and Steve Austin. But it's also the region with the biggest upset potential, and a recipe for some absolutely phenomenal discussion. The 3rd seed Bret "Hitman" Hart will face off against Mr. "Yes!" Daniel Bryan, in a match that just a month ago would have been a no-brainer. There's also a very good chance that Edge and CM Punk will face off in the second round, in a modern match that could be very interesting. Andre the Giant, Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne pose an excellent old-school threat to all the up-and-comers, while Booker T and Christian might put on one of the better first round matches. This is likely the most unpredictable of all the regions, and this year that is truly saying something.
The International Region: There's not a lot of upset potential here, but by the third round there will certainly be some BIG matches. The Rock, Sting, Harley Race and Ric Flair round out the top four seeds of their division, and as far as I would predict, will end up facing off at some point. The only two men I honestly see putting up a decent fight in this region are Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, neither of which will likely make it past the top 4 seeds. But you just never know…
This Year, Watch for…
Brock Lesnar: In last year's Wrestlezone Tournament, Brock Lesnar shocked nearly everyone by making it to the semi-final round by defeating Shawn Michaels! The craziest part is, he lost to Steve Austin (the eventual winner) by just two votes! With Lesnar's recent return to the WWE and instant feud with John Cena, the entire tournament better be on notice. Here comes the pain!
Randy Savage: Last year the "Macho Man" made it all the way to the 4th round, before eventually losing to the Rock in a Three Stages of Hell match. But last year, with all due respect, he wasn't dead… Just as Edge made it further than expected following his untimely retirement, expect Savage to garner a huge reaction in this year's tournament. But here's the question: can he beat Brock Lesnar?
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan: This is fairly obvious. Since last year's tournament CM Punk became the man on Monday Night Raw, and is the current WWE Champion. Daniel Bryan received an unexpected shot in the arm with a few ridiculous crowds and a catchy "Yes!" chant. I still don't get it, but you'd be stupid to deny its potential effect on this tournament. The question remains to be seen though, can Bryan get past Bret Hart?
AJ Styles: He's one of the few guys to never step foot in a WWE ring (and whose name isn't Sting) that might have a chance in this tournament. AJ's success, or lack thereof will depend heavily on how the other matches in the tournament go down. If Hulk Hogan makes it to the third round, Styles has no chance. But if by some miracle Eddie Guerrero pushes through because of a gimmick (much like Edge did last year), Styles might have a [small] window of opportunity. Sure, John Cena and Shawn Michaels potentially wait in the wings to squash him, but Styles has this way of doing things he shouldn't be able to. Like winning World Titles and carrying TNA.
Ric Flair: I know, it's kind of ridiculous to think of Ric Flair as an underdog or a "dark horse" competitor. But Flair, for one reason or another, is always eliminated from this tournament. He only once made to the final stage, in 2010, and was eliminated in the semi-final round by Steve Austin. But this year Flair is one of the easier regions. Sure he has to take on The Rock, Sting and Harley Race (plus any potential up-setters) to make it to the finals, but there's a better chance of that happening that a Flair sucess in any of the other regions this year.
The Wrestlezone Tournament is one of my favorite annual events, and no matter what happens I'm going to have a lot of fun. I'm personally throwing my support behind Eddie Guerrero this year, but my final prediction? Most of the matches will come down to the gimmick provided, as usual, but I believe there's a good chance the tournament will break down to Randy Savage and Edge in the final round.
So if I had guess, this is the year of the Macho Man! Ooooh Yeaaaah! Dig it?
Get on over to the Wrestlezone Forums, and make sure to follow along with me on Twitter @MikeKillam as I'll be providing results and commentary on the tournament in the coming weeks.
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