King of the Ring is one of the greatest concepts WWE has ever created. It’s designed as a full tournament that determines one of the best wrestlers on the roster and gives them the moniker of King of the Ring. Typically, they are given a robe, a crown, and a throne to sit upon. It sounds cheesy to have a great athlete win a series of fights for the honor to dress like a king, but King of the Ring has provided the platform for WWE Superstars to elevate their status and create some big moments in WWE history.
For example, Stone Cold Steve Austin became the fastest rising star in WWE after winning King of the Ring in 1996. Instead of donning the king’s cape and crown, Stone Cold cut one of the greatest promos in wrestling history, created Austin 3:16, and changed WWE forever. That’s the best example of the history, prestige, and importance much of the WWE Universe has for the King of the Ring moniker even after years of not living up to its name.
Last year, WWE brought back the King of the Ring as a WWE Network exclusive. Bad News Barrett won the tournament and became King Barrett. Unfortunately, the moniker didn’t do the same for Barrett as it had in WWE’s past. King of the Ring is always an opportunity to become a star, but it isn’t a guarantee to superstardom.
Despite the lack of the success that King Barrett had with the moniker, WWE bringing back the King of the Ring to the WWE Network was a success. WWE has a history of going a few years without crowning a new “king,” but it looks like WWE has decided to bring back the concept again this year, but it isn’t confirmed if it will be a tournament or a full WWE PPV.
According to a report from Ring Side News, WWE applied for the “King of the Ring” trademark as an event back in late July. Since WWE has been bringing back older events for PPVs like WWE Clash of the Champions, it’s not out of the question for WWE to bring back King of the Ring as a PPV event.
The last time King of the Ring was featured as a PPV event was back in 2002 when Brock Lesnar won the tournament and went on to win the WWE Undisputed Championship against The Rock at WWE Summerslam a few months later. Since then, it has been featured as a special event on Raw or the WWE Network.
WWE recently had the brand extension, so it’s likely that King of the Ring would feature WWE superstars from both Raw and SmackDown to make the tournament more competitive, which makes a WWE Network special the better choice. If WWE does bring back the concept in one fashion or another, the big question is who will become WWE’s next king?
In recent years, a huge problem with becoming the King of the Ring is it becomes a gimmick rather than a moniker. The concept favors heel because it is easy to win the tournament, become “royalty,” and become a tyrant character. However, a face hasn’t won King of the Ring in a very long time, so it could rehash the concept and make it fresh.
On top of everything else, King of the Ring is meant to recognize the winner as a rising star and someone who should be pushed into bigger and better things. On paper, it also gives the perception that the winner is one of the best wrestlers on the roster without having to hold a WWE title. WWE should ensure that is the true prize of the tournament, not just a character change.
That concept could fit a lot of current WWE superstars, especially someone like Cesaro, who just needs a break to reach the next level. WWE putting the King of the Ring moniker on a wrestler doesn’t guarantee their success. There have been many King Barretts over the years, but it also presents the opportunity for another historic moment in WWE history.
[Image via WWE]