Since the beginning of the year What Culture Pro Wrestling has chosen to take on a huge project. Alongside the regular running of their promotion, which is still in its infancy I might add, WCPW chose to run somewhat of a side project: the WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup.
Now this is far from the first time this sort of thing has been attempted. Variants on the idea are aplenty in the wrestling world, from AAA’s Trios World Cup Tournament from a few years ago, to PROGRESS’ one night tournament mirroring the 2014 Football/Soccer World Cup, to TNA’s many World X Cups and even as far back as 1995 for the Starrcade which was dubbed “The World Cup of Wrestling”; the idea of a wrestling tournament pitting the best talent available from across the globe with participants representing their home countries is far from a new one in the wrestling sphere.
However, and while I’m not the biggest fan of the promotion credit must be given where it’s due, WCPW’s incarnation of a Pro Wrestling World Cup tournament has been the most legitimate World Cup I’ve ever witnessed in wrestling, and is probably the only one I’ve ever seen that can boast a scale worthy of such a mantle. The tournament has been huge, featuring 64 competitors representing 15 different nations all taking place across eleven separate shows dedicated to the tournament. What Culture really went all in on the concept, and I have to applaud them for not half-assing it.
We’ve now reached the point where the eight qualifying shows, in which the first two rounds occurred, have all taken place and all that remains is a trio of shows set to take place on the 23rd, 24th and 26th to crown the inaugral Pro Wrestling World Cup winner. All three of these shows are going to be live streamed for free on YouTube on What Culture’s channel, so you’ll be able to follow along live as the tournament reaches its crescendo.
The following is a list of the 16 wrestlers left alive in the tournament, as well as links to the reviews for the initial eight shows in the tournament with directions to the shows themselves:
England: Will Ospreay & Zack Sabre Jr.
Scotland: Joe Coffey & Kenny Williams (Replacing Drew Galloway)
Mexico: Penta El Zero M & Rey Mysterio
Canada: Michael Elgin & Mike Bailey
Germany: Bad Bones & Lucky Kid
Japan: KUSHIDA & Hiromu Takahashi
USA: Ricochet & Jay Lethal
Rest of the World: Travis Banks (NZL) & Angelico (ZAF)
We have ourselves a full bracket for the remaining four rounds of action, so I’ll run through some of my thoughts and predictions for the three upcoming shows.
First off, there’s been one small change to the above bracket: Michael Elgin has stated he won’t be able to make the shows for contractual reasons. WCPW (to my knowledge at least) are yet to make an announcement about a replacement or whether Coffey will receive a bye. However, I think Coffey would probably have been winning that third round match anyway, so I can’t imagine it has affected the booking too match. In fact, since we’re already down in the bottom left quarter I feel that Coffey is a very strong bet to be the semi-finalist of that bunch. He’s a WCPW guy who they think a lot of and he’s in the least star studded quarter of the draw. I could perhaps see Hiromu Takahashi advancing, but I think it’s far more likely that the Time Bomb takes a quarter final exit.
Moving up to the top left of the bracket, and things get a little more tricky to predict. I’m somewhat confident in saying we’ll see KUSHIDA move past Kenny Williams, who is only back in the tournament thanks to Galloway not being able to continue his run after starting with NXT, but Lethal against Sabre Jr. is a real pick’em. I’m going to fall on the side of Lethal moving forward, but if Mysterio ends up beating Ospreay on the opposite side of the bracket then I could see them wanting an English man to advance and giving Zack the win. I’m going to say KUSHIDA ends up being the one to advance to the semis from that corner, but you could make a solid logical case for either Lethal or Zack.
Things don’t get any easier to predict as we move around clockwise to the top right quarter of the bracket. I think Ricochet will probably advance ahead of Angelico in that battle of the high flyers, but it’s far from a surefire thing. I’d imagine Penta moves on ahead of Bad Bones too, but Bones is a regular in WCPW so again it’s not inconceivable that he could be the guy to move one there, especially if Mysterio ends up making a run. If the quarter final ends up being Ricochet against Penta then I have absolutely no clue which way that’s going; that’s a complete 50/50 call in my mind.
So moving onto the final quarter of the bracket, we move to the main event of the first show and the linchpin that all my predictions have been built off of: Will Ospreay vs. Rey Mysterio. With Galloway removed from the field, Ospreay is the strongest booked WCPW regular left in, and he’s going up against the biggest star in the tournament in Rey Mysterio. You could totally see them going either way on this one. I think whoever wins this match is going on a deep run in the tournament. One line of logic could be that at Rey’s age and condition you don’t want to push him too hard with four big matches clumped together were he to make it to the finals, but on the opposite side of things you can make the argument that you want your biggest star as a featured part of the show on all three nights. It’s so difficult to call, but if you held a gun to my head I’d tell you Ospreay is the one to advance here.
Finally, we have the match I’m most looking forward to in the third round: Travis Banks vs. Mike Bailey. While I don’t see either guy advancing past the quarter finals, the match itself should be fantastic. They’re the two MVPs of the tournament so far, with Bailey having a very good match with Brent Banks and a tremendous Kyle O’Reilly match under his belt so far, whereas Travis Banks has two highly enjoyable energetic sprints against Jurn Simmons and Mark Davis already in the tournament. I’m picking Banks to advance out of these two, as I think they’ll want the Prestige faction members to have a strong showing and it’d make for a logical quarter final against Ospreay following the events of Stacked.
So I guess that gives me quarter finalists of KUSHIDA, Joe Coffey, Ricochet and Will Ospreay. From the initial 64 participants, I think that’s a really good and varied final four that’s a good representation of the diversity of the field of the tournament. But who do I think is going to come out victorious? I’ll run through some names and the logic I have behind them.
Will Ospreay (40%)
My favourite to win the tournament, especially after the events of Stacked the night prior to the Round of 16 where he turned face fully and began a feud with the Prestige, is Will Ospreay. As I’ve gone through, his third round match with Mysterio is really hard to call, but I fancy him to sneak past the legend, put away Prestige member Travis Banks in the quarter final, then defeat his long time rival Ricochet in the semis before again besting another Prestige member Joe Coffey in the grand final. When laid out like that it seems so clear, so watch me be completely wrong.
Rey Mysterio (25%)
If Mysterio can make it past Ospreay, then I think he’s probably going to go all the way. Similarly to how RPW gave the victory in the inaugral British J Cup to Jushin Liger, I can see an instance in which WCPW want to christen their inaugral WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup by giving the victory to a legend. Rey Mysterio would more than fit the bill for that role.
Joe Coffey (20%)
I feel Joe Coffey is fairly close to being odds on to reach the final, so if I feel that strongly about him getting there then he has to be in serious contention to win the whole dang thing right? He’s the second strongest booked heel in the promotion behind the champion Joe Hendry, so if they wanted to build up the Prestige as a real dominant force then having Coffey as the WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup winner alongside Hendry as the WCPW World Champion would do that.
Jay Lethal (5%)
Lethal is the guy who WCPW view as having put them on the map. He was on their very first set of shows as then ROH Champion, as has always been booked very strongly by the promotion as a result. I’d be suprised to see Lethal win, but the victory being given to him as somewhat of a thank-you would make a degree of sense. Plus, he’s always more over than you’d expect in front of WCPW crowds.
The final contender for the prize that I want to throw out is Ricochet, for the simple reason that he’s always shown a lot of respect in the WCPW booking. I think he’s probably destined to fall to either Ospreay or Mysterio in the semi final, but there’s always the chance that they go all the way with him.
The Field (5%)
I’m hedging my bets with this one somewhat. Whereas I’m pretty confident that the WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup winner will come from the above five names, this tournament is so hard to predict that I’m covering my ass in the chance that I’m completely wrong. There’s enough star power competing that I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see somebody come in from left field and snatch the victory.
Whoever ends up advancing though, there’s sure to be a lot of quality wrestling spread out over the three shows due to the sheer level of talent that WCPW has pulled together for the final stretch of the WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup. You’ll be able to watch the shows live from 7pm, 9pm and 8pm UK time respectively (2pm, 4pm and 3pm EST) for free on YouTube on the 23rd, 24th and 26th here.
WCPW is far from the perfect promotion, but they have the potential to conclude this tournament in real special fashion over the next week. Hopefully you can join us in experiencing it live.