As we inch closer to the showdown between Roman and Brock at Mania to unify WWE’s world titles, we also move to the second round of what is really important when it comes to the identity of the one true world champ – our Title Unification Madness Bracket!
The first round was very chalky, but there were a few upsets and a few matches that were settled by a handful of votes. The rubber is going to hit the road (to WrestleMania) in this round, as some of the biggest names in pro wrestling history will be sent packing.
Scroll below to see the results of round 1, and to vote on Round 2
(Voting is from Mar 24th – Mar 30th)
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big gold belt region
While Evolution might be a mystery, it didn’t have any problems getting love from the voters. HHH made quick work of Sgt. Slaughter, as Did Batista over
Pete Butch Dunne and Orton over Jinder. Evolution elder statesman Ric Flair had a bit more trouble against Mankind, but in the end of this grudge match (based on some real life animus between the two) our voters made it known they prefer “with a tear in my eye” to “that’ll put some butts in the seats.”
In Round 2, The Game will be going against his mentor Ric Flair in one of those hotly anticipated matchups that you can’t believe is happening this early in the bracket. Wrestling fans my age will remember hate-watching HHH’s mid 2000s “reign of terror” with the Big Gold Belt on Raw, but it’s also impossible to not think of Flair and think “16 time World Champion.” The issue is, only 2 of those were in WWE, so you have to wonder if those will be enough for Flair to continue his path to the sweet 16. If Trips can advance, he will have either his best friend Shawn Michaels or his Evolution-mate Batista waiting for him.
On the bottom half of the bracket, Sid corrected the over-ranking of Alberto Del Rio, Bret Hart’s body of work moved him past RVD’s memorable short title reign, and Lashley got the W over current NXT champ Dolph Ziggler. While stranger things have happened, it’s hard not to see this side ending with a bout between the Hitman and the Viper.
winged eagle region
How about that chalk? Not one surprise here. Despite more recent character issues surrounding Terry Bollea, Hulkster still got a dominate win over Sheiky, which we know won’t make him happy. Rey Mysterio got a win over Jeff Hardy, maybe because Rey’s two wins were memorable for good and bad reasons while Jeff’s failed pursuits of the world title define him more as a character. The first Undisputed champion in WWE Chris Jericho snuck past the first Smackdown Champion of the recent brand split Dean Ambrose. Angle’s longevity beat Warrior’s flash in the pan. I was curious to see if Morales would get love over the much more recent dominance of WALTER, and get the love he did. Superstar Billy Graham wasn’t as lucky against the Undertaker. Adam Cole could go deep on this bracket in the future if he ever returns to WWE, but The Rock was the no-brainer. The closest we got to an upset was Christian, but those ECW reigns just didn’t hold up as well as Drew’s recent crowning.
Round 2 has potential for the upsets to start happening in this portion of the bracket. Mysterio seems like a trap game for the Hulkster, just because their fanbases are so different. Jericho could easily pull the upset over Angle simply since he’s still going strong. Undertaker will get his second straight match of being the “younger” person in the bout, and while The Rock seems likely to beat Drew, perhaps recency bias could pull it off.
Big green belt region
To me, this was the second most exciting region of the bracket. Maybe that’s because we have so many dream matches in round 2, but it’s also because we got close to having our own St. Peters/Kentucky moment. Brock Lesnar seemed like an absolute lock to at least win his first match up, but the Bray Wyatt fans turned out and almost made it an upset for the ages. As surprisingly as an 8/9 match up can be, Goldberg (known for many things but not really for his runs as WWE Champion) made it past Yokozuna who was an unbeatable monster of the New Generation era of WWE. Down the line, other New Generation star Diesel had more luck and got past Sheamus.
Bruno Sammartino has the reputation even with youngsters who’ve never seen him wrestle for a second as the original World Champion in WWE and the man with the longest reign ever, but will that matter going up against Goldberg’s streak and even recent kayfabe dominance? The winner will get a completely different type of pro wrestler, as the two Ring of Honor hall-of-famers Daniel Bryan and CM Punk will go at it to determine which of their both highly influential mid 2010s title reigns will be deemed most important. Big Sexy knows a thing or two about winning against unbeatable top babyfaces, but Roman might be too much for him to handle. And finally, after his first round scare, can Brock get back on track and take out perennial fan-favorite Randy Savage? More importantly, would Brock have a better chance against Bonesaw?
spinner belt region
Now here’s the region where things got truly interesting! Yes, there were some overwhelming victories from the top seeds John Cena and Steve Austin – However, this bracket included two matches that were decided by less than five votes. The Miz and his surprising reign eeked past NXT all-timer and first Universal champion Finn Balor, setting up the rematch of the WrestleMania XXVII main event. But the biggest upset of the tournament happened when 14 seed Eddie Guerrero got the buzzer beater over 3 seed Edge. Eddie’s victory is most likely attributed to the exciting win over Brock Lesnar at No Way Out and the now bittersweet ending of WrestleMania XX being more at the front of the mind of the voters than any of the numerous Edge reigns, where he was used more often as a heel foil to Cena in the PG era. The Big Red Machine Kane also pulled the upset over fellow giant wrestler Big Show. Bob Backlund couldn’t get past JBL, perhaps because his odd 90’s title reign overshadowed his dominant run as the heir to Bruno’s World Title crown. King Booker and Kevin Owens, while being universally liked, couldn’t make the upset happen for them over Seth Rollins and AJ Styles, respectively.
Round 2 sees the aforementioned Cena/Miz rematch, plus the weird pairings of Rollins/JBL and Styles/Stone Cold. My eyes will be on the match between Kane and Eddie Guerrero, both lower seeds looking to be the Cinderella of the tournament. One of them is going to the Sweet Sixteen, and I’ve got a feeling it won’t be the mayor of Knoxville…
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