It has yet to be announced, but pay attention to certain WWE storylines and you might think King Of The Ring tournament is in the works.
With Shinsuke Nakamura overthrowing Baron Corbin as the rightful king of SmackDown, speculation has grown, suggesting this feud is a stepping stone to a regal tournament.
The King Of The Ring tournament commands a prestigious lineage in WWE history, with the concept dating back to 1985, first won by Don Muraco. Introduced to boost house show attendances between 1985-1991, the tournaments were produced as special non-televised events, only hitting screens in 1993, becoming one of the big five pay-per-views in the process.
Since then, KOTR has been used as a launching pad for the careers of superstars looking to break through the proverbial glass ceiling. Bret Hart, Triple H, Booker T and obviously, Stone Cold Steve Austin have particularly benefited from claiming the crown, with the honor forming an integral element of each winner’s respective legacies.
Unfortunately, in its most recent instalments, WWE have tossed up KOTR efforts which belong in the dungeons rather than the royal hall. If they are going to revive the concept, it needs to be done so properly, perhaps with a different flair, to be promoted as must-see television. Otherwise, the 2021 edition will undoubtedly be the final nail in the coffin for the famous event...
10. Traditional Tournament
Of course, WWE doesn’t necessarily have to stray away from the classic King Of The Ring tournament format.
The typical 16 or eight-man single elimination tournament is a tried and tested structure, which is simple to follow. History has shown that it gets results too, with the concept having always demanded plenty of intrigue in past editions.
No one would question the company if they went down this path once again, should the KOTR tournament return in 2021. However, the booking of the tournament must improve, as does the aftermath, because this has been the crux of the gimmick’s issues for over a decade now.
Since William Regal won the crown in 2008 and developed into a short-lived callous psycho-killer heel, tournament victors have been treated more like a joke rather than royalty. Future winners Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Baron Corbin all took the gimmick in their strides, using the regal props as part of their presentation. Unfortunately, instead of using this to boost them up the card, they largely floundered in comedy obscurity, damaging the KOTR’s illustrious reputation.
If the King Of The Ring tournament returns, WWE must learn from their mistakes. Whilst it might be a comparably plain way to re-introduce the gimmick, a classic wrestling-focused tournament could return the KOTR to its former glory.