Let’s face it in the eyes of wrestling fans the WWE is stagnant, unless you are a child. If we were to look at other companies in America (yes there are others) then we may see that professional wrestling in general has stagnated. The problems that a particular TNA has could keep me going on and on – promoting your champ for a foreign tour when he isn’t able to leave the country is a particular favourite – but really who has the time?
Instead we will focus on the WWE and its stagnation issues. It would be easy to lay this all at the feet of John Cena after all it is the done thing nowadays but he is only part of the problem here. Lazy booking is the arch enemy of the wrestling fan. Month after month we are forced to see the same men in the main event when talented workers are kept just below the glass ceiling because for one reason or another they are denied their breakthrough moment.
The mid card title in whatever guise used to be used as a measuring stick as to whether or not you were ready to step up to the main event but now it is passed around like scoobie snacks are in the locker room (I would also have accepted Swagger snacks). The Money in the Bank briefcase when used properly is an excellent way of building stars. Edge, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are prime examples but it has had as many misses as hits, probably more and the moniker of being Mr. Money in the Bank is about as prestigious as being the internet champion, sorry Zack. I mean they crown two a year it’s hardly illustrious and if your careless and you get jumped and somebody takes the briefcase from you he becomes Mr. Money in the Bank and you end up on a second rate show in a dead end, rip off biker gang. That’s the worst case scenario but you get my point.
We live in a generation where we have to chow down months of gimmick pay per views because we are told we want to see that and it makes us happy to know what month a Hell in a Cell match takes place instead of being surprised by the natural twists of a storyline. It’s only a matter of time before we have to stomach a battle royal PPV or an (insert an inanimate object here) on a pole PPV.
With Wrestlemania just around the corner and every golden oldie coming out of the wood work looking for a quick and easy pay day it makes sense to me that Vince McMahon should look into the WWE annuls and pull out something different. A blast from the past in the form of a once great PPV. A stage that gave us champions like Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Edge, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. It was a show that allowed us to see the wrestlers in a different light because it was completely different from the usual WWE format.
The show I’m talking about is the single elimination tournament known as King of the Ring. The one night of the year when WWE changed it’s format and let us see the wrestlers in a different environment. The one night of the year where wrestlers would compete as many times as they had to in order to be called King of the Ring. The fact that you had to fight multiple times in one night added different variables to the matches. Injuries had to be accounted for and so did fatigue. Subtleties that are sadly lost in the modern era of Super Cena.
In 1996 it was the birth of Austin 3:16, a movement that was at the forefront of the attitude era. In 1998 we got an underdog winner in Ken Shamrock and to see the most memorable Hell in a Cell match ever when Undertaker fought Mankind. Who doesn’t remember the show in 2001 when Kurt Angle, looking to repeat his success from the year before, fought three times that night including a classic against Shane McMahon after being screwed by the aforementioned McMahon in the final. The winner that night… Edge. That summers night in New Jersey was the perfect showcase for King of the Ring because that was the night that Kurt’s legacy was cemented and it was also the night that allowed us to see Edge not just as a tag team guy but a highly skilled singles competitor.
The WWE thought it had lost it’s lustre after that and didn’t think that the title of being King of the Ring was enough so the year after they made the winner the number one contender for the Rock’s Undisputed title but instead of supplementing the King of the Ring it overshadowed it and was shelved for four years. In 2006 however it performed its most amazing feet by rescuing a man who had become stuck in the WWE quagmire. Booker T was going nowhere in the company at the time and even though King of the Ring suffered the ignominy of not being cross promotional and having only the final on pay per view it still gave us the King Booker character and rescued his royal Bookness and delivered him to his first World Championship in the WWE.
Saving someone from obscurity and catapulting him up the card. If only there was someone like that in the current WWE who could benefit from such a thing… Oh wait!
Sad thing is in the current climate there is a long list of guys who could do with this kind of career injection. Think of how long someone like Dolph Ziggler or Wade Barrett has been waiting for their chance to shine and then think about what kind of momentum this kind of win would give to their career. Of the 18 winners of the event 10 have won multiple world titles in the WWE and 7 of them sit proudly in the Hall of Fame. That’s not too shabby by any stretch of the imagination.
The truth is this year is the perfect time to bring it back and restore it to its former glory. A spot in the calender may be open this summer with the demise of Fatal Four Way pay per view. The WWE is crying out for fresh blood in the main event spot and what better springboard than an old favourite like King of the Ring.
We are currently seeking WWE contributors on WhatCulture. To find out more about the perks of being a WWE contributor, click here.