EDIT 20/07/19: Well, only one SmackDown into the competition, and one of my finalists is out of the competition. Goodbye Kevin Owens. Screw you Shane McMahon.
I am really glad that King of the Ring is back. The simple tournament narrative element is something that WWE has needed to embrace for a while. The appeal of the more sterile, sport broadcast-like SmackDown around 2014, was that if anything went wrong, it felt like a much bigger deal. Instead, WWE on both brands have chosen to go for long shows that feature match, after match, after match. However, even if tournaments only last for a single episode, it can work out well. WWE have achieved this in the past, and I don’t know why they haven’t done since – a particular good two episodes of RAW in 2016. The first week featured four singles matches, and the winners qualified for the following week’s main event – a Fatal Four Way Elimination match (Reigns vs. Owens. vs. Rollins vs. Big Cass). While the qualifying matches weren’t much to write home about, it was gripping to watch. Even wildcard Cass stood a chance, considering Vince McMahon’s infamous fixation with giants.
Today, the brackets for the King of the Ring tournament were revealed, so I thought that I would take a punt at predicting the outcome. I might be completely wrong, but for a laugh, here I go.
Just to get it out of the way, I want Andrade to win, but don’t think he will.
WINNERS: Samoa Joe, Drew McIntyre, Cedric Alexander, Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens, Buddy Murphy, Shelton Benjamin, Andrade.
LOSERS: Cesaro, Ricochet, Sami Zayn, The Miz, Elias, Ali, Chad Gable, Apollo Crews.
The majority of the matches here seem to have obvious choices, considering either their prominence in booking, or the fact that they have had very sudden pushes in recent weeks, and made to look strong enough that it can’t have solely been to fill spaces with formidable opponents. The most noteworthy examples are Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy. I expect them to win during the first round.
However, there is one match that is especially interesting – Drew McIntyre vs. Ricochet. Right off the bat, the tournament is going to lose one of two players who were being pushed to the moon. I believe that Ricochet is going to be directed into lower championship territory and that Drew McIntyre will be the most fearsome figure, most likely to be in the Universal Championship picture soon. That said, I am assuming that the result of this tournament is of relevance, and isn’t just a throwaway. Remember when Cesaro was going to be the next big thing after he won the Andre the Giant Battle Royale?
WINNERS: Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens, Andrade.
LOSERS: Samoa Joe, Cedric Alexander, Buddy Murphy, Shelton Benjamin.
This is where I think that those who have had a very sudden push will bow out, and I expect Alexander vs. Corbin will be a surprisingly good match as Alexander shows off his acrobatics on a giant. I also predict that due to teases linked to a possible feud between Benjamin and Gable, that Gable will invade during Benjamin vs. Andrade. Drew McIntyre will continue winning for aforementioned reasons, although I would have liked to have seen Joe get further into the tournament.
WINNERS: Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens.
LOSERS: Drew McIntyre, Andrade.
By this point, McIntyre and Andrade will have made it so far to have portrayed themselves as formidable opponents, and so can bow out with no shame. They can continue into championship pictures looking great.
WINNERS: Baron Corbin.
LOSERS: Kevin Owens.
Baron Corbin hasn’t been especially relevant recently, but I think that that is about to change. Corporate Corbin will be how Shane-o-Mac gets involved with proceedings by proxy, and I fully expect Owens to be haunted by this throughout the competition. WWE booking refuses to keep corporate characters out of A-list feuds for long. Owens’ resentment of the company will continue, and his victory over McMahon at SummerSlam will serve only as a breather before they start taking over again.
All in all, it’s not what I’m hoping for, but everything above seems feasible enough.
Who do you think will win? Leave your predictions in the comments below!