Triple H will bring the beloved King Of The Ring pay-per-view back.
It's inevitable, and it's a relief to think that 'The Game' won't make KOTR some crummy TV tournament that goes on to mean absolutely nothing. WWE's most recent royals, including King Corbin and Xavier Woods, were midcard fodder at best and outright failed experiments at worst.
Bruce Prichard has always maintained on his podcasts that Vince McMahon didn't really like tournaments. Well, for a dude who apparently didn't, Vince sure ran a lot of the things during his time in charge of wrestling's biggest company. Regrettably, many of them were flops, and he'd grown tired of the KOTR concept as a standalone event by 2002.
So, who should Trips pick as the next supershow winner? Also, how does he approach it; does the next 'King' have to wear the goofy garb, or will they be a grittier character who crows about in-ring superiority but doesn't don the crown itself?
These are the best candidates for the gig. Wrestlers from Raw, SmackDown and NXT were considered, and some of them may just surprise you...
Like this guy.
Ricochet has always been a bit of a nearly man on WWE's main roster. Despite enjoying a brief run as Intercontinental Champ, the flyer has never really come all that close to stability, and he's still waiting for something more under Triple H's watch too. Could that change with King Of The Ring?
Hardcore fans will remember that Rico's gimmick on the independent scene was 'King Ricochet' for a while. That might be something Hunter is interested in bringing back, and it'd rule (ahem) if he was willing to put the full might of the WWE machine behind it.
Ricochet deserves the chance to let in-ring skills do the talking more than his promos (which, admittedly, are hit or miss) on TV. He's also shown that it's possible to wear the crown/cape without looking daft, and that hasn't been a given throughout company history.
Think of him as a total outside bet.
9. Bron Breakker
Or, perhaps Triple H will reason that slapping the 'King' moniker on Bron Breakker would be a fine way to bring the NXT Champ up onto bigger platforms provided by Raw or SmackDown. There's a feeling that Bron has achieved everything he's going to on the third brand, so 2023 could be his time.
Adding on the royal gimmick could be a neat way to turn Breakker heel and morph him into an arrogant sod who actually is physically superior to most on the roster. That's certainly more interesting than his current character on NXT, to be honest.
The dude is just a really great athlete, which might not be enough on the bigger shows. Some might not like to hear it, but workers need something a little more than that if they're going to sustainably soar in WWE's system. That hasn't changed since Vince McMahon retired.
'King' Bron? 'King' Breakker? Could be.
8. Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley is the closest thing pro wrestling has to a Greek Adonis in 2022. His physique is seriously impressive, but big Bobby has more to offer than just bulging muscles - he's consistently shown that since recovering from early hiccups post-WWE return. Now, Lashley is surely in the running to become 'King'.
A pose on that podium sounds plausible.
It remains unclear after Crown Jewel whether or not WWE's writers will go all in on a Bob heel turn. He certainly acted heelish over in Saudi Arabia by beating the snot out of Brock Lesnar, but that still won't be enough to rocket Lashley back to the top of the cards.
A King Of The Ring win could be seen as a reward for all of his hard work over the past few years. It's the kind of achievement that guarantees TV time but isn't exactly headline material. That should be enough to sate Lashley for a while.
7. Matt Riddle
There's always a slight concern that WWE will go the "comedy" route when someone wins King Of The Ring. That might have something to do with Jerry Lawler's longstanding presentation in the company, or it may have more to do with the fact that the crown/cape/sceptre look is f*cking silly.
Matt Riddle would pull off that blend.
If there's one thing Riddle has shown since debuting on the main roster, it's that he's able to flit between serious pro wrestler and goofy stoner with ease. This even happens in the same segments sometimes, and that's a rare skill. It's very Kurt Angle-ish, actually.
Trips should look no further than Matt if he wants someone who can ham up the 'King' persona, make the stupid outfit work and still credibly convince fans that he should be taken seriously in-ring. Besides, Riddle needs something better to do than pal around with Elias on Raw next year.
6. Drew McIntyre
Or, maybe it's time to crown the 'Last King Of Scotland'.
Think about it: Drew McIntyre doesn't have a spot right at the tippy top of the WWE tree due to Roman Reigns' status and the fact WWE has ploughed through that feud. So, until something changes, he will require a little distraction following this Karrion Kross business.
It'd make sense if creative leaned on his Royal Rumble/WrestleMania dreams again early next year (having Drew point out that he never got to win the WWE Title in front of fans would work), but after that? Hmm, question marks remain. King Of The Ring would be a real blessing for McIntyre.
He's a traditionalist who loves company history; winning the Rumble meant everything to the Scot, and it's easy to imagine that he'd get a lot out of replicating his hero Bret Hart by becoming 'King' too. Fans would defo pop big for that result.
5. Karrion Kross
The 'King' and 'Queen' dynamic worked a treat for Booker T and Sharmell back in the day. Sure, they often went for laughs, but there's something natural about a man and woman looking down on the rest of the roster as a power couple. WWE's best choice currently? Karrion Kross and Scarlett.
This could actually lead to more if WWE stops to think about it. Say Scarlett starts calling herself the 'Queen' of the company - that'd raise the ire of whomever wins the next Queen's Crown/Queen Of The Ring tournament, meaning she'd be able to branch off into her own feud separate from Kross.
Meanwhile, Karrion would be despotic and cruel.
WWE's seamstresses would have a blast coming up with all manner of gothic royal attires for their twin entrances, and the whole concept just makes sense the more one thinks about it. 'King' Kross even has that kind of alliterative quality pro wrestling adores.
4. Logan Paul
No, don't instantly disregard this idea.
Logan Paul turned a lot of heads with his performance vs. Roman in Saudi at Crown Jewel. The celeb-turned-wrestler was only working his third match ever, don't forget. You wouldn't have known that just by analysing his work against one of the biggest stars in the industry.
WWE has a natural on their hands here. If LP shows that he wants to become a full-timer bad enough, then Triple H will surely reward that graft with something big time. Also, think about how much crossover attention it'd get from the mainstream media if Paul became King Of The Ring.
That'd be mega, and is definitely something WWE should ponder. Logan going all the way, then cutting a 'Stone Cold' style heel promo on the hardcore fans who never wanted him to succeed, would be fabulous content. 'Logan 2K23 says I just made your pay-per-view relevant'.
That sort of thing.
3. Austin Theory
Poor Austin Theory is doomed to grace lists about WWE's biggest busts or Money In The Bank failures forevermore. The way Hunter has booked him since taking over from Vince is nothing short of rubbish, to be honest, and that sh*t show peaked when he cashed-in on the United States belt then lost.
Let the rescue mission commence.
Wrestlers have come back from embarrassing setbacks before. Christ, Roman Reigns recovered from cringe promo lines like "sufferin' succotash" and being the most hated "top babyface" around. If he can come back from that, then Theory can get through this sticky patch and come out smiling.
Yes, winning King Of The Ring would help with that recovery process. However, WWE should know that Austin isn't the kind of worker who needs a cartoony run like 'King' Sheamus or 'King' Barrett. He'll need to be a serious 'King' if he has a fighting chance of returning to form.
2. Sami Zayn
Picturing a smiling Sami Zayn hugging Roman Reigns and getting right on Jey Uso's nipple ends because he's brought some success to The Bloodline is fun. Alternatively, perhaps the "Honorary Uce" will have been booted from the faction and turned into an underdog face sensation by the time KOTR happens.
Either way, he's a strong candidate to win it.
Zayn is the best utility player in pro wrestling at the moment. He can do comedy, he can work great matches, he gets how to tell a story and he's cherished by the fanbase. Stick "Sami Zayn" down on a sheet of paper, list some attributes for success and you'll get a 'tick, tick, tick' next to almost all of them.
He'd be a riot as 'King'. Sami is another (like Matt Riddle) who could make the goofier side of the gimmick work to his advantage. Man, just seeing him demand that Jey holds his crown for a second whilst he takes care of business writes itself.
1. Dominik Mysterio
Yes, Dominik Mysterio is number one on this list.
Why? Well, it'd tick a lot of folks off for one. Second, he'd be cast as the crown jewel of the Judgment Day ranks and bring more to the party than just calling Rhea Ripley "Mami". Third, the word "Rey" literally translates from Spanish to English as "King". No prizes for guessing where this is going.
Dom would be able to look his father in the eye and boast about being the "true King of the Mysterio family". Those guys have to work a major one-on-one match on pay-per-view at some stage, and this would be the perfect setup for it. Hey, maybe WWE could even stick the rights to the 'King' moniker high above the ring and book a ladder match.
That'd be riffing on their SummerSlam 2005 history and would guarantee a kickass showcase for their Father vs. Son feud too. Some will despise this idea and pelt Dominik with verbal rocks - that's precisely why it should happen.
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