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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Why Didn't the King Survive"
February 11, 2006 by Daniel Johnson


On April 2, 2006, WrestleMania 22 will take place, but another of what fans once referred to as the "big five" - the King of the Ring - will not occur. The event, which first began in 1985, had humble beginnings starting as an annual event at house shows held in Foxboro, Massachusetts and later Providence, Rhode Island. The initial cards had such little fanfare that even former WWF Tag Team Champion, Bill Eadie - who was champion during two of the events - recently stated that he was "not familiar with the tourney."

So why did the event explode into popularity in 1993" Largely as a result of being the first new annual Pay-Per-View added to the WWF lineup in the 90's as wrestling was still in a boom period and had not yet sank into the nadir that the WWF would reach in 1995. This was aided by the fact that the King of the Ring was a gimmick pay-per-view that focused on testing the durability of rising stars.

When asked about participating in wrestling tournaments, Steve Corino stated "you get tired after one match; imagine three", giving reason for fans to cheer for an athlete willing to go all the way as, "by the third match you are cramping."

Growing steadily over the years with a few low points along the way the King of the Ring had noticeable impact in building the careers of such WWF/WWE World Champions as Bret Hart, Triple H, and arguably the biggest moneymaker that the sports entertainment world has ever seen, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

This raises the question as to how can the King of the Ring, an event that often had higher Pay-Per-View buyrates then other events such as the Survivor Series, no longer be around while the Survivor Series is still going strong"

One highly believed reason is because of the brand split as giving either the RAW or SmackDown! brand the event would give one of the brands an advantage. This point can be argued however by stating that the SmackDown! brand is already at a disadvantage from observing last year's Pay-Per-View buyrates. While the RAW brand's most successful PPV, Vengeance had a buyrate of 0.92, SmackDown!'s most successful PPV, Armageddon only managed a 0.73.

Though this question can be debated many would agree with R.D. Reynolds, webmaster of Wrestlecrap.com who stated, "A show-long tournament to crown a new contender to the title is a great idea. However, given how badly they botched the show over the years, it became a joke."

Botched shows include such tournaments as those won by Mabel and Billy Gunn, wrestlers that added virtually nothing to the title. Evidence of their less than spectacular runs as kings can be seen by how they followed their respective years after their victories. Mabel went on to headline SummerSlam, which had long stood as the second greatest occasion on the WWF calendar, second only to WrestleMania. The only problem was this was SummerSlam 1995, which had the lowest buyrate in SummerSlam history.

Following Billy Gunn's coronation in 1999 he was pushed into the feud with at the time, the most electrifying man in sport's entertainment, The Rock. Gunn's push did not last long however as during said SummerSlam, he was given a pre-Rikishi stinkface by a rather large woman that The Rock had brought to the event. Gunn went on from this match to lose the majority of PPV events that he participated in.

Contrast these runs as king, with such successes as the previously mentioned Bret Hart, Triple H, and Steve Austin there is no denying that the event definitely had its lowlights. However following such unsuccessful reigns, the power that the King of the Ring is capable can be marked just as easily by the last three victors of the event; Kurt Angle, Edge, and Brock Lesnar.

So should the event be brought back if they resemble the successes more than the failures of past events" John Tenta, known as Earthquake in the WWF at the height of his career thinks so, as he remarked, "It wouldn't be bad to bring it back as with PPV being broadcast every month they could tend to all look the same. Having a different format such as the Rumble and King of the Ring could stir extra interest."

I for one, agree.

by Daniel Johnson


George Kneller wrote:
I defiantly agree with you there, Daniel. Nowadays, each an every pay-per-view is practically exactly the same. It's basically a regular show, with an extra hour added on the end. I used to look forward the KOTR so much, and I still find it pointless that it was removed. It added a little bi of spice to the month in WWE. Each qualifying match was so exciting, because you didn't know who was going to make it to the finals. And the final match was better than all of the qualifiers, knowing that the winner would go on to get a title show. Honestly, I love all gimmick pay-per-views. King of the Ring should be bought back - enough said.
PJ Willman wrote:
I agree with this column wholeheartedly. I've felt for a long time that the current monthly pay-per-views, with pretty much identical formats, could do with a little spice. The Royal Rumble has become one of my most looked forward to WWE shows for this very reason. I miss KOTR, and would love to see it revived and restored to a respectable event. It provided some damn good wrestling, and some equally good wrestling moments.
Jim Rush wrote:
I completely agree about KOTR, obviously as you stated for the first several years it wasnt a PPV, just a supercard held once per year, but anymore it isnt enough to see the same matches basically over and over every week on free television, we have to see the same ones in different formats at PPVs. The Survivor Series may still be going strong but it is nothing compared to what it once was, its basically all just regular matches with one "gimmick" "Traditional Survivor Series" match when it started as all of them being that way. The writing was on the wall for KOTR when it went from the quarterfinals-semifinals-and finals being held at the PPV to just the semis and finals. In fact if they didn't have the gimmick that the Royal Rumble winner gets the shot at WrestleMania it wouldnt surprise me if they'd change that. But even the actual Royal Rumble doesnt seem to be the "main event" anymore as this year both title matches were held AFTER the battle royal. You would think that since we are treated (that is sarcasm) to around 15 PPV's a year they could put on a KOTR and traditional Survivor Series as two of them.
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