As we know by now, the King of the Ring Tournament returns this Monday on Raw as 16 men have the opportunity to change their careers forever. While the tournament has been seemingly forgotten in the past decade, with only two occurring, the prestige behind it is real. The list is a who’s who of wrestling, with men like Bret Hart (1991, 1993), Stone Cold (1996) and Triple H (1997) all winning the tournament and going on to having the careers they have. While some talent in the bracket this year have shown plenty of success in their time so far, there is only two former world champion competing. That only means that this can propel anyone to the top and change their career as the new “King” of the WWE. Saying that, eight men from Raw and eight men from SmackDown LIVE will kick off this exciting King of the Ring tournament with many of them having a lot to gain and for some, even more to lose. Let’s take a look at the 16 men and what they need to become the 21st King of the Ring.
Monday Night Raw
Formerly referred to as the “King of Swing”, Cesaro has been one of the best talents in the WWE for years now. Singles or Tag, Cesaro has enforced that he is a player who deserves a spotlight. With Sheamus out with injury, Cesaro has re-established himself as a singles star, putting on some stellar bouts with Ricochet and Rey Mysterious. Now with this opportunity facing Samoa Joe, a tournament win would be huge for Cesaro. Fans have been making it clear for years that “The Swiss Superman” should be contending for the world title. Him and Joe both need the huge win here as both would propel to higher opportunities with it. The former United States Champion and six-time Tag Team Champion is going to perform at the highest level, let’s just hope the level he brings is enough to become “King”.
Samoa Joe is money when it comes to all the aspects of pro wrestling. Unfortunately, his W-L in the WWE as of late isn’t something to write home about. Joe is one of the best talents of the past two decades, being a cornerstone of wrestling in the United States. It seems that every time Joe begins to gain steam in the WWE and looks to win a world title, he instead falters. Winning the King of the Ring could be the start to reset all of that. There are very few times when people lose and lose and lose big matches and somehow manage to keep the momentum and legitimacy they have. Joe is one of those guys. He is set for the hard-hitting matchup with Cesaro where he certainly has everything to gain with a first-round victory. “King” Samoa Joe could have a good ring to it.
Royalty is in the blood of “The One and Only”. Ricochet has been known by many in the past as King Ricochet and Prince Puma in Lucha Underground. It seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Ricochet has been cheated multiple times out of the United States Championship and now looks to get back on track. There may not be a better way to do so than winning the King of the Ring Tournament. WWE’s “Resident Superhero” is clearly seen as one of few NXT talents to carry the hype that they gained on the black and yellow brand and bring it to the big time. Can he ride that wave into the King of the Ring and win? In the first round, he faces a tough challenger in the form of Drew McIntyre, one who is a clear favorite heading into the tournament. It’s fair to believe the winner of this matchup will become the representative of Raw, so will Ricochet be King once again?
Is there a more perfect competitor in this tournament to be labeled “King” than Drew McIntyre? “The Scottish Psychopath” and his momentum have disappeared since pairing with Shane McMahon, but a dominant win over Cedric Alexander a few weeks ago may be the beginning of something special. McIntyre has it all and certainly is a future world champion. Becoming King McIntyre will put him on the fast track as the former “Chosen One” has earned this chance through years of hard work. Having to take on Ricochet in the first round will be no easy task as this is two high profile guys going one on one. McIntyre needs a good showing here much more than Ricochet following his tough few months. Anyways, King McIntyre has a good ring to it. He has the most to lose on the Raw side.
Opportunity. When opportunity knocks, you open the door. That is exactly what Cedric Alexander intends to do now that he has been placed in the King of the Ring tournament. With an upset victory over Drew McIntyre a month ago, we know he is capable of pulling out the stops to shock the world. The former Cruiserweight Champion and “Soul of 205 Live” is a real legit underdog to get ahead in this tournament and show the WWE Universe what he is capable. He is the perfect person when it comes to the Raw side of the bracket to earn fans with his jaw-dropping athleticism while being the relatable one to fans. The People’s hope to say the least, as he takes on Sami Zayn who would do anything to stop that. Alexander has a lot to gain from a good showing.
Can we get a Sami Zayn victory? Since returning from injury, Sami Zayn has seen very little success. But with a chance like this, that can all change very easily. Zayn has been and still is one of the best all-around talents in the WWE and is will put on a great match with Cedric Alexander. Zayn needs this win just as much as Cedric, but for different reasons. Zayn is trying to prove that he, unlike Alexander, is one of the best they got and needs wins to prove that. Name a better way for Zayn to get ahead and upset the people than take out some favorites along the way to becoming the new “King”.
The Miz has done it all in the WWE. He has a Grand Slam guy and one of only two in the whole tournament to win a world championship to this point. Ever since Miz’s rivalry with Shane McMahon, he has pretty much been a host on Miz TV with very few matches following. While he had nothing to prove by any means, this would be just another huge accolade to add to his incredible resume. Could King Miz be a plausible result of the King of the Ring tournament? The most decorated WWE talent in this entire thing will do what he can to say yes to that one.
All hail King Corbin? That’s a real possibility and this is something that would be huge for Baron Corbin after weeks of missing television and having continuous failures in the past. Failed Money in the Bank cash-in, opportunity after opportunity for the Universal Championship with no reign to speak of, the list goes on. Baron Corbin needs to win more than most, love him or hate him. While McIntyre needs it even more, Corbin is right behind him. It was nice having him off for a bit as it seemed he was being stuffed down the throats of fans, now he is fresh and ready to make King Corbin a reality.
If there was a March Madness vibe to these King of the Ring tournaments, Kevin Owens would be the favorite to win all of this. Owens is quite possibly the biggest thing going right now on the main roster and looks destined for huge things. The only thing stopping KO from getting to the finals is the influence Shane McMahon has in this. Elias is already set up to be the first opponent for Owens and is going to have Shane on his side to help and stop KO. When it comes to those who have the most to lose, Owens is the one who has by far the most to lose and have his momentum stalled. It may be King or bust for Owens, as he looks to win and only move him higher in the SmackDown landscape, one Stunner at a time.
Somehow still nicknamed the “Greatest acquisition in SmackDown History”, Elias has to show a lot of people what he can do in this tournament. The reigning 24/7 Champion has been around for a long time and only has a few 24/7 title reigns to his name. With a simple elimination of Owens can lead to big things for Elias, and if the resident rockstar of the WWE can win the King of the Ring Tournament, he’s on his way to stardom.
The second of three former 205 Live studs in the field, Ali has a chance to further show how damn good he is as a professional wrestler. His videos with him discussing how someday he will be WWE Champion, he will lead the way and help the fans chase the light have given us a glimpse to who Ali is and what he’s about. “The Heart of 205 Live” is going to do exactly what his old nickname describes. Be the heart of this tournament and give it all his heart to become the King of the Ring. With his former rival of Buddy Murphy in his sights, this will be a war between them to see who has what it takes, representing all the cruiserweights in the process. This could be the early match of the tournament.
One week removed from his star-making performance, Buddy Murphy has a chance to display his abilities once again in his biggest opportunity yet. Murphy has all the makings of a star and that showed in the Bout with Roman Reigns on Tuesday, where he was just a move away from putting down “The Big Dog” in the biggest match of his SmackDown career. An opportunity that has said to be a mistake but one that is already awesome. As he takes on Ali, these two’s history only can bring excitement for their match alone. Whichever man wins this match has a chance to be the darkhorse of the whole tournament. A victory for Murphy will be the next big step to follow after his career-altering match with Reigns.
Yes, please. Chad Gable is awesome. Since the end of American Alpha, it seems WWE has been trying to figure out what to do with the former Olympian. Gable most recently has been on 205 Live, having two sweet matches with Jack Gallagher and showing the world what he has got. Now being entered into the King of the Ring, he has an even better shot at proving “Ready, Willing, Gable” is more than just a mindset. His opponent is an interesting one, as he takes on Shelton Benjamin who for the most part has been missing. These are former tag team partners facing off which many may forget but could lead to some greatness inside the ring. Gable is a beast and will show a lot who he can be.
Good news. Shelton Benjamin will not be having a close up where he just moves his eyes back and forth this week. Better news, he is wrestling. Shelton Benjamin is one of, if not the most athletic competitors in WWE history. When he re-signed a couple of years ago, there was real excitement to see what the “Gold Standard” could still do. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the chance to see much besides him working with Chad Gable in a tag team. Their break up was rather premature and there shouldn’t be much animosity here, just respect and good wrestling. Can Shelton show he has certainly still got it on his way to being King?
In-Ring talent has never been an issue for Apollo Crews. What has been, is getting an opportunity and having the ability to deliver in a big role, which had always been tough for him. Crews has it all when it comes to size, strength, and athleticism. Now he has the opportunity he’s been trying to earn all these years. Facing Andrade, who is many people’s favorite from the blue brand, will be a tough one to accomplish but should be an excellent match either way. If he can snag a victory here, getting to the semi-Finals and maybe even the finals is quite possible.
Andrade is one of the more exciting competitors in the entire tournament. Not just because of how good he is in the ring, but what it could mean for him if he were to capture the King of the Ring victory. The combination of he and Zelina Vega has been one of the best in a long time, and they should go on to be serious contenders in this one. Andrade has had dominant victories over Rey Mysterious recently as he preps for this. Can he get past Apollo and those who follow to become King Andrade? We will certainly see as he’s sure to want to be the King to his Queen as well.
The King of the Ring kicks off on Monday Night Raw and is in pace to be one of the more memorable ones in a long time. The excitement is real, be sure to tune in and follow the competition.
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