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Who Should Represent Each Nation In The WWE World Cup?

Japan? Mexico? The USA? Canada? Who has a shot at the WWE Crown Jewel tournament?

So WWE have announced their next Saudi Arabia super show, Crown Jewel, and with it a titanic main event: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman.

But a quieter feature of their official WWE.com announcement has really intrigued us - the promise of a WWE World Cup to determine 'the best in the world'.

Details are thin right now; we don't know how many people are competing in the tournament, how many nations are to be represented, or whether preliminary rounds will take place on Raw and SmackDown Live.

However, it's an exciting concept on paper, so we've decided to take a look at the possibilities available to WWE. We've put together a 16-man tournament (which would obviously have to begin some weeks in advance of Crown Jewel), with each competitor representing a unique nation.

Again, we also don't know the structure of the tournament, but we've gone for a straight knockout format to keep things simple.

So without further ado, let's take a look at the ideal competitors for WWE's upcoming World Cup.

Seth Rollins - USA


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When it comes to selecting a representative for the States, WWE are obviously spoiled for choice. In fact, the number of available options could be seen as making the decision a very difficult one. No matter who is selected, it'll divide opinion.

For me, the two most obvious candidates are AJ Styles and Seth Rollins - but assuming Styles is still WWE Champion when the World Cup begins, it would probably be unwise to stick him in a knockout tournament.

That leaves Rollins, who along with Styles has probably been WWE's best and most consistent performer of 2018. He's never had any sort of patriotic gimmick to speak of, but in a competition featuring numerous nations, perhaps a more understated approach is best to avoid stealing the spotlight.

I think Seth would be a good pick to go fairly deep in the tournament, but an outright USA win risks being too predictable - and it's not as if he needs it to boost his popularity. A semi-final berth sounds about right.


Shinsuke Nakamura - Japan


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As WWE's only male Japanese Superstar on Raw or SmackDown, Nakamura is a pretty obvious choice - but there's more to the argument for his selection than that.

Yes, if WWE really wanted to they could go with Itami or Tozawa, but despite being the biggest star of the three, I think Shinsuke needs this the most. The current US Champion has become a weirdly one-dimensional sideshow on SmackDown - worlds apart from the incredibly hyped outsider that stole the show at NXT TakeOver: Dallas.

The WWE World Cup would be a perfect excuse for Nakamura to rediscover his old self, perhaps progressing as far as the semi-finals (or maybe even the final) as a result. All good knockout tournaments have a dominant heel, and I think Shinsuke fits the bill perfectly.

Andrade 'Cien' Almas - Mexico


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While it remains to be seen what calibre of Superstar will partake in the WWE World Cup, it seems the perfect stage for somebody like Andrade 'Cien' Almas.

The former NXT Champion hasn't achieved anything tangible since arriving on SmackDown, but has reportedly impressed Vince McMahon, and looks to be on the cusp of real stardom.

What better way than giving Almas that next little push than by making him the winner of the World Cup? He has the in-ring chops to believably beat just about anybody else, thanks to his mixture of precise striking, jaw-dropping athleticism, and willingness to bend the rules.

Pete Dunne - England


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Given the variety of UK-born Superstars in the current WWE mix, we thought it wiser to follow the example of international football, and split the United Kingdom into England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Sadly, we couldn't find room for all four in this scenario - but England will most certainly be represented by Pete Dunne. Hopefully WWE agrees, as despite his good work in NXT, The Bruiserweight hasn't yet been given a chance to break through to the next level.

We feel as though the World Cup would be the right time for that, particularly given Dunne's track record. He was the ultimate villain of the inaugural UK Championship Tournament, and while he'd be more likely to garner support this time around, the point remains that he knows how to tell a compelling story over the course of a knockout competition.

We'd fancy Dunne to go one better than the Three Lions did this summer, losing in the final.


Kevin Owens - Canada


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Canada naturally has a rich wrestling tradition, but lack a truly top-tier Canadian star in 2018 - quite unlike eras dominated by Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Edge, and so on.

Fans of Kevin Owens are routinely frustrated by his booking in WWE - and it's easy to see why. He is clearly one of the best all-rounders in the company today, equally capable of putting on a wonderful match and cutting a hilarious, scathing promo.

Unfortunately, for all the world title reigns KO deserves, the World Cup field we've assembled is simply too cluttered for that. We therefore think that he'd be best utilised going out in the first-round (after a barnburner of a match, naturally) before throwing an almighty tantrum and returning to seek revenge later in the tournament.

Drew McIntyre - Scotland


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During his first WWE run, it became quite clear that Drew McIntyre was being pushed far too fast. This time around, you get the impression that WWE could pull the trigger at any time, and he'd instantly be a believable world champion.

One of the most imposing and impressive athletes on the roster, Drew would be a nice early favourite for World Cup success - eliminating somebody in impressive fashion in the first-round, before shockingly losing to put somebody over huge in the quarter-finals.

Hopefully it's not long before McIntyre moves on to bigger and better things. He may be on the wrong brand at the moment, but would anybody bet against the gigantic Scot becoming the first British-born WWE Champion?

Cesaro - Switzerland


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In the simplest possible terms, WWE's World Cup should remind us all that Cesaro is one of the best around. The Swiss Superman has enjoyed an entertaining partnership with Sheamus over the past year or two, but his real strength lies in his ability as a singles competitor.

Now before we get carried away, we think that Cesaro should be eliminated in the quarter-finals. He's simply lost too much momentum compared to many of our other representatives here.

However, crucially, we also think that if he is indeed selected for the tournament, Cesaro's matches should be given a lot of time. He should be allowed to really demonstrate his ability, reminding everyone why he was once thought of as a guaranteed future world champion.


Aleister Black - Netherlands


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Personally, I was surprised when Aleister Black lost his NXT Championship to Tommaso Ciampa so suddenly. During his build to main event level in NXT, the Sinister Man from Amsterdam was pushed as one of the most unstoppable forces around.

Now, assuming he's healthy in time to compete, it's surely time to put Black straight into World Cup contention. Wrestling an explosive style with a crowd-popping array of strikes, the former champ's game is tailor-made for a densely-packed tournament schedule.

Regardless of how impressive the rest of the field is, Black would still manage to stand out. Unfortunately, he'd have to do so by the quarter-final stage, according to our plans.

Finn Balor - Republic of Ireland


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Unfortunately, despite his clear talent and popularity, Balor falls into our "eliminated in the first-round to put over a detestable heel" spot. Don't be angry! There's good reason for this.

Few are better at drawing support and sympathy from a crowd than Balor, which may have initially been surprising given his excellent heel work in New Japan Pro Wrestling. However, despite consistent popularity, Balor's run on Raw hasn't been the smoothest.

Unfortunately, we don't see Balor's momentum as a top priority for the WWE World Cup - but that's not to say he couldn't use it as a stepping stone towards something greater, perhaps reminding everybody of his quality with a first-round Slobberknocker against the likes of Cesaro.

Buddy Murphy - Australia


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205 Live has improved immeasurably in 2018, and a big reason for that is the work of Buddy Murphy. Cedric Alexander may have taken most of the plaudits as head of the division, but thanks to high-octane clashes with the likes of Mustafa Ali, Kalisto, and Alexander, Murphy has proven himself to be one of the division's most important Superstars.

At the time of writing, he's set to challenge Cedric for the Cruiserweight Championship in his home country of Australia - and we wouldn't bet against him carrying the belt into Saudi Arabia on 2 November.

Despite being one of the smaller men in our hypothetical tournament, we feel as though Murphy deserves a quarter-final exit - perhaps beating a larger opponent along the way.


Kofi Kingston - Ghana


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One of the most important steps in Kofi Kingston's early career was when WWE allowed him to drop the faux-Jamaican gimmick and simply be himself. Ring announcers started billing him from the actual nation of his birth, Ghana, and we feel as though he deserves to represent them in the WWE World Cup.

Unfortunately for Kofi, a first-round exit seems most likely, given the fact that this tournament represents a chance to push singles Superstars. At the time of writing, Kofi is on the cusp of becoming the longest-reigning tag team champion in WWE history, and even though he probably doesn't stack up that well against the likes of Rollins, Owens, Balor, and so on, alongside the rest of the New Day he truly shines.

Jinder Mahal - India


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It seems strange that less than a year ago, Jinder Mahal was WWE Champion. The Maharaja's reign will sadly be looked back upon as a weird experiment, topped off by the interference of The Great Khali to help Mahal win a Punjabi Prison match.

A little prestige could be restored to Jinder's name with an appearance in the WWE World Cup. Although Canadian, Mahal is of Indian descent - something WWE haven't exactly tried to hide with regard to his gimmick. He's always an effective heel, and would easily fulfil this role in the tournament too. Just don't expect him to progress further than the first-round.

Killian Dain - Northern Ireland


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SAnitY's booking since moving from NXT to SmackDown has been frustrating to say the least. Still, once they pick up some deserved momentum, Killian Dain is poised to become the breakout Superstar of the group.

Blending power, speed, and a striking look, the former standout of the UK independent scene would be the perfect sort of Superstar to benefit from the WWE World Cup platform. Again, like others on this list, we sadly have to see him eliminated in the first-round. He could be a frontrunner for next year's tournament, if there is one!


Travis Banks - New Zealand


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At the time of writing, Travis Banks is sadly injured - but when he returns from the sideline, he's well-poised to become one of WWE's biggest NXT UK standouts. Yes, despite being a New Zealander, Banks has carved a position of respect for himself in the UK independent scene.

But we don't think it has to stop there. Banks brings such expertise and intensity to his matches, he more than deserves a spot in the WWE World Cup. Sadly, we don't have him down to fare as well as he did in the second UK Championship Tournament, where he reached the final. Instead, he's another first-round elimination, but one that would almost certainly go do swinging, and establish more of a name for himself in the process.

Lince Dorado - Puerto Rico


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We almost picked Primo Colon for this spot, given the importance of his family name in Puerto Rican wrestling. Instead, however, we decided that momentum is more important than lineage, and that Lince Dorado deserves to be in the WWE World Cup.

The masked 205 Live Superstar has been enjoying a degree of success recently as one third of the Lucha House Party, alongside Kalisto and Gran Metalik. But singles stardom seems to always be just out of reach for the golden one, and although we can't see him getting further than the first-round here, it would at least give him a boost en route to eventual main roster success.

Mustafa Ali - Pakistan


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In a similar vein to Buddy Murphy, Mustafa Ali has been one of the main driving forces behind 205 Live's recent reinvigoration. Although born in Illinois, Ali represented Pakistan during the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic, and could do so again in the WWE World Cup.

Ali has spoken out before about how nationality shouldn't define us, so this is perhaps not the ideal scenario for him. WWE would have to be careful to portray him as a proud representative, sure, but not a flag-waving, over-the-top patriot. Inside the ring, it's a far simpler story. Ali can go like nobody's business, and even though we don't have him making it further than the first-round, that match would almost certainly be a great one.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]