19th Aug2019

Opinionated: Should WWE Bring King of the Ring Back as a Pay-Per View?

by Chris Cummings

opinionated-king-ring

Okay, so fans of current-day wrestling will know that WWE just recently announced the return of the King of the Ring tournament to television. An old concept, the King of the Ring dates all the way back to the likes of “Macho King” Randy Savage, King Haku and King Harley Race, but the first televised Pay-per View King of the Ring event didn’t happen until 1993 when Bret “Hitman” Hart became the inaugural winner by defeating Bam Bam Bigelow in the finals. It was a fun idea and it helped highlight Bret Hart a little more as the (then) WWF pushed Bret up the card as they began to develop him into the face of the company.

A year later the younger brother of Bret, Owen Hart, became King, and this is when the concept really took hold for me. Owen, a great heel, took on the moniker of “The King of Harts” and used his win as a way to create a new character, a character than allowed him to sneer a little harder and be a little smugger than before. He was the King of WWF for heaven’s sake, why wouldn’t he? It was great.

In 1996 we saw “Stone Cold” Steve Austin win the tournament, beating Jake “The Snake” Roberts in the finals and going on to immediately cut one of the most important, influential and memorable wrestling promos of all time. We all know the heights of stardom that Austin would see after this, going onto feuds with Bret Hart and eventually becoming one of the biggest wrestling personalities in the history of the business.

Triple H won in 1997, Kurt Angle in 2000, Edge in 2001 and Brock Lesnar in 2002. Big names. Big stars. All King of the Ring winners. Sure, there were a handful of duds, but seeing just how many huge names became King and helped to use it to progress their careers surely speaks for itself. I mean, look at Booker T, who won the televised King of the Ring in 2006 and went on to create the riotous King Booker character, which was, in my view, one of the most entertaining things he ever did in his career. It’s a shame that 2003 was the final time King of the Ring was used as a major annual Pay Per View, because it has, without a doubt, been an important part of many wrestler’s careers.

WWE obviously see importance in the tournament or they wouldn’t keep bringing it back. It’s made returns to RAW and SmackDown a few times, and we’ve seen a few wrestlers utilise the gimmick (remember King Barrett?) but I’ve always felt it would feel bigger and even more important if it was back on PPV. With the WWE Network now a thing, there’s even less of a reason to make it happen. We have so many random special events that don’t feel especially big, that surely a tournament to crown a new King of WWE would stand out. They could even add a Money in the Bank style stipulation that offers the winner a Championship match of his choice. How about adding a Queen of the Ring tournament for the women, too? I mean, WWE could go all-out with this, and I feel like it would be a blast.

There are plenty of performers in WWE today who could take the crown and make a new and entertaining gimmick out of it for a few months. King Shinsuke? I can see The KING of Strong Style wearing a crown to the ring, easily. King Kevin Owens? Maybe a modern version of that Austin 3:16 promo could follow his victory and set him up as the face of SmackDown? King McIntyre? Drew McIntyre taking it more seriously, becoming a violent unforgiving King character who slays his opponents in violent fashion before putting his robe back on? I mean, there’s plenty they could do. Queen Charlotte? I mean, she already claims to be Queen of WWE, how about they make it official with a crown?

I was always a big fan of the King of the Ring events. Getting semi-finals and finals was fine too, presenting each man as a big deal and creating intrigue for the eventual winner and where they would go next. Hell… even King Mabel got a SummerSlam title match out of his 1995 victory.

Now, I’m not complaining about the return of the tournament to television. I hope it helps to boost the career of a superstar who deserves it, but I’d much rather see a big ole PPV pair of tourneys featuring an array of talented men and women. Maybe they’ll do it eventually. Maybe they won’t. What do you think?

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