It is the middle of the summer and for WWE, that means the big build to SummerSlam is underway.
But before the days of monthly pay-per-view events, WWE used to put on an event known as King of the Ring, complete with a tournament to crown a winner. Remember those days?
In this edition of Turning Point, we will take a closer look at the King of the Ring on pay-per-view—or, more specifically, at the fact that it is no longer offered as a pay-per-view event.
WWE held a King of the Ring tournament from 1985-1989 and then again in 1991, but they didn't turn it into a pay-per-view event until June 1993. That is when most fans became familiar with it.
At the 1993 King of the Ring, Bret Hart had to overcome many obstacles to win the tournament, including defeating Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect and a very well-rested Bam Bam Bigelow in the finals.
This was actually the second crown for Hart, as he won the 1991 tournament as well. But in 1993, he would have his coronation crashed by the self-proclaimed king of WWE, Jerry Lawler.
This event would be the starting point for the pay-per-view to run on an annual basis through 2002. But after Brock Lesnar defeated Rob Van Dam in the finals that year, WWE inexplicably removed the event from their pay-per-view lineup.
Sure, they brought it back in 2006 and then held tournaments in 2008 and 2010, but none of those were pay-per-view events.
Sheamus stands as the last King of the Ring, as WWE has not held a tournament since 2010. One has to wonder what their reasoning for this is?
Looking at the list of tournament winners, it made instant stars out of several WWE Superstars.
Winning the tournament vaulted Owen Hart into one of the best storylines in WWE history between him and his brother. Would "Stone Cold" Steve Austin have been one of the biggest names in WWE history had he not won the tournament in 1996? That can be debated.
Becoming King of the Ring in 2001 opened the door for Edge to become a very successful singles competitor. To that point, he had been part of a tag team for the majority of his career.
None of these things would have been possible without King of the Ring.
The King of the Ring pay-per-view served more than one purpose. Knowing that a Superstar would have to win multiple matches in one night to wear the crown was very appealing.
But mainly, the fact that it gave someone outside of the main event picture a massive push was what made the tournament so intriguing.
The tournaments were generally unpredictable as well. The fact that fans could envision several different men winning the tournament made it that much more enjoyable to watch.
In recent years, WWE has done a good job of turning Money in the Bank into its own pay-per-view event, giving someone ready for a jump into the top of the card a chance to get there.
Many fans may even prefer the multi-man ladder match to the old-school tournament, but there has to be room for the King of the Ring somewhere, doesn't there?
It would be interesting to see if it would do better on pay-per-view than some of the company's other gimmick events such as Hell in a Cell or TLC.
It would be a nice change of pace to see the King of the Ring return. Any time a Superstar has to wrestle his way to the top, many fans will embrace it.
With all of the cheesy royal characters that arose due to the tournament aside (King Bookah, King Sheamus), many Superstars would not have had the careers they had without their major victory at King of the Ring.
And besides, some guys like Harley Race and Randy Savage were able to pull off the king gimmick after winning the tournament.
This November will mark four years since WWE has used the King of the Ring tournament. That would be the longest absence of the event since it turned into a pay-per-view in 1993.
If it were held today, winning the King of the Ring tournament could do wonders for the careers of Superstars like Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler or Bo Dallas, just to name a few.
WWE may have made the decision not to use it ever again, and that would be a shame. Instead, WWE should consider bringing it back— not just the tournament, the entire pay-per-view.
Many of their viewers would likely appreciate it.
For those of you who subscribe to the WWE Network, you may want to search for one of the old King of the Ring pay-per-views. You'll find an exciting, quality event that is unlike anything WWE does these days.
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