It’s time. There are very few innovative matches, storyline concepts, pay-per-view centerpieces, or major events left for the WWE. Also, the June ppv hasn’t been anything special since 2002. It’s time for the rebirth of the King of the Ring Tournament, and this one would have the advantage of prominently featuring RAW vs. SmackDown.
TODAY’S ISSUE: The Return of the King of the Ring
In my fantasy booking, four RAW and four SmackDown wrestlers will qualify for the tournament. The winner is crowned King of the Ring, and earns a title shot at SummerSlam, but against his brand’s champion. I don’t want to see the Royal Rumble brand-jumping confusion twice a year. ‘Nuff said.
The KOTR ppv features seven matches from inter-brand brackets. Therefore, the first four matches are guaranteed RAW vs. SmackDown, as a strong selling point for the ppv (see image below).
These brackets obviously show the predictable “even” booking, in which every match on the card is inter-brand, but of course it wouldn’t have to be that way. At least one of the semifinal matches could be intra-brand, and the final could still wind up being RAW vs. SmackDown. Just as Cena and Batista as the last two men in 2005 Royal Rumble did, this tourney should come down to a brand vs. brand showdown. Not only does that booking make both brands look strong, it also could plant a seed for Survivor Series a few months later.
Many IWC members who are far more knowledgeable than I have predicted inter-brand activity of some kind at this year’s Survivor Series, and I’m sure that’s what we’ll see. My KOTR final match would help to facilitate that showdown for next year.
The first benefit of this tournament is having qualifying matches on weekly editions of both shows leading up to the ppv event. As I’ve stated before, matches with something on the line are far more interesting for the fans than those that seem to have no purpose. Let’s be honest, the recent 18-inning, nearly six-hour game between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros would have been an oddity and a footnote in baseball history if it had occurred three months ago. The fact that it was a must-win situation made it that much more exciting.
Mid-carders would find themselves in important matches, with future career success on the line. Just think about the intense matches guys like Christian, Shelton Benjamin, Mr. Kennedy, Matt Hardy, Paul Burchill and Rob Conway would have if they were fighting for the right to enter a tournament that would crown a number one contender, who would then go on to wrestle for a world championship at one of the biggest shows of the year.
The next big boost this tournament gives is all about storyline development. With most grapplers on both rosters competing in all types of qualifying matches, just think of the feuds, new alliances, and other storytelling devices that could be spawned from the build up to KOTR. It’s a fertile ground for interesting things to happen on both shows. This could be the big deal that carries the creative year from WrestleMania through the summer.
The draft lottery could also play an important role in the build-up to KOTR. What happens when a RAW wrestler who’s already qualified for the tournament gets drafted to SmackDown? Does his slot revert back to RAW, or does he now enter the tourney as a SmackDown guy? That certainly allows for some interesting decision-making by the general managers.
WWE creative personnel seem to do well when they have a framework within which to operate. They maintain focus, for the most part, when they have something upon which to focus. If KOTR is reborn, it gives creative an annual schedule in which the next big event is always right around the corner, thus solidifying storylines and focusing the action. As I see it, the WWE year could look something like this:
January – Royal Rumble
Febuary – Royal Rumble fallout and hard push for WrestleMania
March – WrestleMania
April – WrestleMania fallout and Draft Lottery introduction
May – King of the Ring qualifying/hard push and the Draft Lottery
June – King of the Ring (initial Survivor Series seeds planted)
July – King of the Ring fallout and hard push for SummerSlam
August – SummerSlam
September – SummerSlam fallout and Survivor Series seeds watered
October – Hard push for Survivor Series
November – Survivor Series
December – Hard push for Royal Rumble
This way, there’s always something important looming on the horizon, not just another split-brand ppv to fill a monthly square.
I don’t know if Vince views the King of the Ring as a dead issue, but I can always dream, can’t I? Besides, I love tournaments…
We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.
p.s. – How come the word abbreviation is so long?