It’s been four years since WWE has crowned a King of the Ring. Typically, winning the tournament has served as a sign of big things to come. Owen Hart becoming the King of Harts established himself as a singles threat. Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H eventually became megastars. Kurt Angle collected the title along with every other title available in the WWF. Brock Lesnar rode his momentum right over The Rock at SummerSlam. Heck, Booker T salvaged his WWE career with his entertaining run as King Booker.
This year’s winner will be hoping to replicate those runs while avoiding the pitfalls of the last couple. King Barrett didn’t do much of anything before leaving WWE less than a year later. Sheamus found success years after his victory, but first he had to get rid of the stupid looking crown & green cape. The field is littered with men that could make viable kings. Here are my top five picks to go all the way.
Does anybody in this tournament need a victory more than Cesaro? Less established guys like Buddy Murphy & Ali can get by with “good showings”. Cesaro can’t. Everybody already knows how good he is in the ring at this point. What people need is a reason to care about him as a singles wrestler. Right now, he’s a perfectly good hand that nobody really needs to worry about.
If Cesaro is going to break out of his “tag team guy” reputation, now has to be the time. There’s no reason he can’t match Samoa Joe or Drew McIntyre in strength, and he’s faced & beaten plenty of high-flyers like Ricochet over the years. It’s a tough draw, but not impossible.
4. Drew McIntyre
Like Cesaro, Drew checks a lot of the boxes that WWE likes their King of the Ring winners to fit. He’s European & he’d make sense wearing a cape & crown. Unlike Cesaro, I think WWE still sees him as a potential top guy. I would usually have Drew near the top of this list, but he has a very rough draw in this tournament. Ricochet is a priority for Paul Heyman and the Raw booking staff. Should Drew make it through, he’ll more than likely be up against Samoa Joe.
If Drew was to beat Ricochet & Joe, I think he wins the whole thing. I don’t see it happening though, as it feels like WWE has moved on to other shiny toys.
3. Baron Corbin
The WWE Universe’s Favorite Son has been somewhat conspicuous by his absence from Raw of late. With his attempts to wrest the Universal Championship from Seth Rollins coming up short, it’s been time for Corbin to recharge his batteries and set a new goal. What better prize for Baron to set his sights on than King of the Ring? The man’s already been a Constable, and it’d be a natural upgrade from Baron Corbin to King Corbin.
Let’s be honest, Corbin would probably be the least popular choice for the winner from WWE’s fanbase. That’s what makes him a viable option. WWE brass doesn’t seem too interested in him at the moment, but he always seems to rise back to the top just at those moments when you think he’s done.
He’s a got a heck of a first round matchup. A second round match with Samoa Joe or Cesaro wouldn’t be any easier. It’s the perfect situation for Ricochet to take the next step up. Victories over two of these men would big for him, as would be winning the KOTR tournament. His US Championship dreams were sacrificed at the altar of AJ Styles & the O.C., but it looks like bigger things may be in store.
This is a pretty risky pick, as I can easily see Drew McIntyre getting the first round win over Ricochet. Sometimes you have to take a risk.
If we’re talking about guys whose career could be propelled to the next level, nobody fits that bill better than Andrade. Apollo Crews shouldn’t be much trouble in the first round, then a likely meeting with Chad Gable in the second round should produce plenty of stars with a predictable result. A potential match with Kevin Owens in the semis would give Andrade a chance for a huge win over one of WWE’s top guys of recent years. As for the finals? Well, I’d put Andrade against my second choice for one heck of a PPV match that would elevate each man.
King Andrade sounds pretty darn good to me. Not to mention the fact he’d have a Queen in his corner whether he’s on or off screen.