This week on “Monday Night Raw”, WWE will kick off its first King of the Ring tournament since 2105. The King of the Ring usually results in the winner moving on to greener pastures when it comes to their character’s story arch. Owen Hart won the tournament in 1994 and used the win to proclaim superiority over his brother, Bret Hart, after he had defeated “The Hitman” earlier in the year in the WrestleMania X opening match. Brock Lesnar was solidified as “The Next Big Thing” when winning the tournament in 2002. In the event’s most infamous moment (and one of professional wrestling’s), “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made “Austin 3:16” a household phrase after winning in 1996.
This year’s King of the Ring tournament is structured seemingly to be another chapter in the Kevin Owens/Shane McMahon feud. However, a new, more-intriguing feud could emerge as a result of the tournament results. Here are predictions for the entire 2019 King of the Ring tournament, concluding with the budding of an excellent feud.
Quadrant 1: Cesaro, Samoa Joe, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre
Predicted Survivor: Drew McIntyre
This first grouping will undoubtedly be the hardest-hitting of the tournament. The Cesaro/Samoa Joe matchup provides the only predictable result as Cesaro has been used in a very Dolph Ziggler-like fashion as one of (if not, the) best enhancement talents in professional wrestling. That is by no means an insult towards Cesaro, but his recent booking provides little evidence of anything else. These two bulls should leave with plenty of bruises, but Joe should leave with a victory.
Drew McIntylre needs the King of the Ring tournament to finally cement himself as the monster he swore he would be since returning to WWE. His matchup with Ricochet should be great, as Ricochet will certainly include his high-flying offense, but will do most of his work bumping for McIntyre like the pre-deceased Joe Black (YouTube Meet Joe Black car accident).
Drew McIntyre and Samoa Joe will hopefully be given time to have a brutal classic. Both came to WWE with promising outlooks, but have been somewhat distracted along their journey to the top. As deservedly renowned as he is, Samoa Joe just seems to be prone to losing lately, and should still be feeling the effects of his grind with Cesaro. A hungry Drew McIntyre will emerge from this match and enter the final four.
Quadrant 2: Cedric Alexander, Sami Zayn, The Miz, Baron Corbin
Predicted Survivor: The Miz
Look for the opening round matchup of Cedric Alexander and Sami Zayn to be show-stealer (along with the pairing of Buddy Murphy and Ali, which will be covered in a bit). Cedric Alexander will continue his current push and defeat Sami Zayn, who will continue his steak of bad luck. As great as it is to see Alexander be given the time to show off his talent, it is unfortunate to see that Zayn’s brilliant mic work has not been followed-up with since his return from injury.
The Miz will defeat Baron Corbin. Corbin has gone without an issue since he and Lacey Evans lost to Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch at Extreme Rules. He simply has far less creative investment the full landscape of this tournament than his first round opponent. Although it has cooled off a bit, The Miz still has issue with Shane McMahon. After he defeats Alexander in the second round (too soon for another McIntyre/Alexander match), he will rekindle his most recent feud as he faces Shane’s “Diesel” in the third round.
Two legitimate victories for The Miz here should remind everyone that he is arguably the MVP of WWE over the past handful of years. He brought the Intercontinental Championship back from the gallows and his feuds with John Cena, Shane, and especially with Daniel Bryan have proved that The Miz is a character still worth investing in…just not at the moment.
Quadrant 3: Kevin Owens, Elias, Ali, Buddy Murphy
Predicted Survivor: Kevin Owens
We have yet another quadrant that has the interests of Shane McMahon at heart.
Shane’s lackey, Elias, faces Kevin Owens in the first round. McMahon will attempt to stack the deck against Owens here. However, every faction needs a thumper who fails in the midst of the leader’s “Plan A”. Elias is that thumper within Shane’s current “posse” (See what I did there?). Owens will overcome some sort of Shane McMahon shenanigans to defeat Elias.
The left and right ventricles of 205 Live will meet again as Buddy Murphy and Ali will lock up in the first round. Ali’s recent promos have me thinking the future is intended to be bright for the Chicago native. Buddy Murphy is going to come out on up, though, and capitalize on his current elevated status after an amazing match with Roman Reigns on “SmackDown Live”.
Kevin Owens will get what he asked for in last month’s epic promo as he faces Buddy Murphy in the second round. Much like his match with Reigns, this match should be yet another opportunity for Murphy to put on a clinic and Owens will be happy to oblige. Owens will win, and as he is putting on a mat classic, Shane McMahon will be elsewhere focusing on “Plan B”. More on that later.
Quadrant 4: Chad Gable, Shelton Benjamin, Apollo Crews, Andrade
Predicted Survivor: Chad Gable
With my upset special of the King of the Ring tournament, Chad Gable will leave this quadrant and head to the final four to face Kevin Owens. First, he will defeat his former (and brief) tag team partner, Shelton Benjamin. As long as WWE creative doesn’t have Shelty B staring at the rafters and have Gable win via small package, this should be a good opening round matchup. Gable should come out on top due to having a more vast upside than the veteran Benjamin.
Before losing to Gable in the second round, Andrade will defeat Apollo Crews in a battle of two former NXT veterans. Crews is immensely talented, but Andrade has long since been on the rise. No sense in Andrade losing here, and Zelina Vega will probably make sure he doesn’t.
Gable and Andrade will have a “Match of the Year” candidate in the second round of the King of the Ring tournament. There is enough steam behind Andrade that loss to Gable will not hurt him if they both are allotted the time their talents deserve. Chad Gable has an opportunity to be the next Kurt Angle, and a win here should begin the trajectory towards that spot and earn him a match against Kevin Owens in the third round.
The Final Four
Drew McIntyre vs. The Miz
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre should win this match cleanly. The Miz has been every bit the aforementioned MVP of the WWE, but Drew McIntyre needs to finally be seen as the monster deserving of the moniker “Scottish Psychopath”. Miz should be given some opportunities for some offense here, but this match should be all-McIntyre.
I would like to see some seeds being planted here regarding what will happen in the finals of the King of the Ring. Shane McMahon will have too much invested in this matchup to resist getting involved. McIntyre does not need his help, and should shoo McMahon away and win the match on his own. To remind us that he really had no heart inside that massive chest, the remainder of the match should reach the point of nausea as Miz is pummeled by a McIntyre hungry to be a dominant champion on his own.
Kevin Owens vs. Chad Gable
Winner: Kevin Owens
To conclude his long-awaited coming out party, Chad Gable will lose to Kevin Owens in the third round of the King of the Ring in his third and final masterpiece of the tournament. The structure of this tournament shows that Shane McMahon is going to be involved in the finals with McIntyre being the opponent. His “Plan B” should be saved for when Owens is close to winning the tournament he claims means so much to him.
Owens will continue to be a champion for the future and give Gable a match that should permanently remove him from the pine and allow him to contend for the Intercontinental Championship (for now). A loss for Gable here is the best possible option for him as the Owens/Shane feud can be saved for the final, and Gable won’t be given the “rocket strapping” too fast only to quickly fizzle out. Gable’s slow burn to the top starts here.
King of the Ring Finals: Drew McIntyre vs. Kevin Owens
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Again, this tournament seems to be structured for Shane McMahon to play a part in its outcome. There seems to be little doubt that Drew McIntyre, Shane’s most legitimate ally, and Kevin Owens, Shane’s current enemy, will meet in the finals of the tournament.
WWE has not had a tournament since the “Best in the World” that gave us Shane’s current aneurism-inducing ring announcement, not to mention the millionth power trip of his career. After a great match that sees two of the WWE’s strongest future investments square off, Drew McIntyre will defeat Kevin Owens with some sort of help from Shane McMahon.
This is where things should change for Kevin Owens.
Owens’s attention should now shift to McIntyre instead of Shane for the foreseeable future based on McIntyre allowing Shane to interfere after holding him off vs. The Miz, a diversion to make his finals opponent think it was going to be a fair fight. Owens should see McIntyre as someone accepting the help from the one person who can make sure his personal interests come before the development of the roster, but taking it anyway because it all but guarantees the favorable outcome. He will see McIntyre’s shortcut as being much more criminal than another McMahon with a power trip. Then, a feud between two excellent full-time wrestlers can be ignited, leading to a match that could be worthy of WrestleMania.