After Dolph Ziggler voluntarily relinquished his United States Championship just days after defeating Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode at Clash of Champions, General Manager Daniel Bryan had no better choice but to put together a tournament to determine who the new champion will be. As a result, WWE compiled a tournament bracket, including eight men from the SmackDown Live roster.
On the previous episode of SmackDown Live, there were two first-round matches that occurred on the show, which resulted in Bobby Roode defeating Baron Corbin and Jinder Mahal defeating Tye Dillinger. You can view the highlights of Mahal vs. Dillinger below.
Other names on the bracket include Xavier Woods, Aiden English, Mojo Rawley, and Zack Ryder.
Regarding who will win the tournament, theWrestling Observer is speculating that Mahal will be the winner and next title holder. This will transition him out of the WWE Championship picture, where he spent most of the year at, into the U.S. Championship scene. Moreover, it will help keep his character relevant, as the anti-American gimmick would fit well with having the U.S. title, similar to when Rusev won it.
After defeating Dillinger, Mahal was interviewed backstage and he shared his thoughts on advancing in the tournament.
“I am the man who brought class, dignity, and diversity to the WWE Championship, and I’m gonna do the same to the United States [Championship],” said Mahal. “What better representative of the United States than the Modern-Day Maharaja. Imagine: the 1.3 billion people of the great nation of India with an additional 325 million! I already feel like the United States Champion!”
With Mahal as United States Champion, this would also help Roode gain more of a babyface boost, since his popularity has dwindled down a bit in the past several weeks. As far as Dolph Ziggler is concerned, there are no updates on how he would factor in regarding the U.S. Championship, although WWE could always default to the double-champion angle that was most recently done with John Cena and CM Punk.