A month or so ago I wrote a little ditty about single elimination tournaments. It was mostly to amuse myself and I didn’t really plan on thinking on it again anytime soon. The post mostly dealt with the New Japan Cup, as the WWE flagship tournament, King of the Ring, had been dead for five years and showed no sign of coming back. Then, during Extreme Rules, they announced the return of King of the Ring, and that announcement was the best thing to happen that night.
Speaking real quickly on Extreme Rules, it was mostly OK, though baffling that Kane is still such a featured player. Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper had a great brawl, then drove away in a car still fighting, only to come back an hour later to finish their fight. While that was pretty funny, how great would it have been if no one saw them the rest of the night, then they interrupt Raw the next night and do the same finish? I don’t know, maybe it would have been overkill, but I think that would have made it even more unique. Anyways, I’m getting off topic.
King of the Ring is running two nights, and while I wish they had done more advertising of it, I’m still happy to see it back, and being run so tightly. The field was mostly made up of the ultra-talented midcard featured in the Wrestlemania ladder match (and R-Truth), with the addition of Neville and Sheamus. No complaints here. There’s such an incredibly talented midcard in WWE right now, give them something to do! The semi-finals are Wade Barrett vs. R-Truth, and Sheamus vs. Neville.
R-Truth is not going to win, obviously, and I doubt Sheamus will either. Sheamus is the current King, though that was five years ago, and there’s never been a two time King of the Ring winner. My predicted final is Barrett vs. Neville. Barrett has to advance, and they are unlikely to do heel vs. heel for the finals. If Neville is able to beat Sheamus, that will be several big wins under his belt in a short amount of time. A Barrett vs. Neville final would be the best choice, and I’d be fine with either guy winning. One of the things I talked about in my tournament post was storytelling in a tournament, and a Barrett-Neville rematch would be the best story to tell.
Barrett has always been labeled as a main event guy from the very first time he stepped in the ring, but keeps barely scrapping the main event glass ceiling. His Intercontinental Title runs have been lackluster, he’s had no notable feuds or matches, but he still has an It factor that can’t be denied. Most of his problems have been the same problems for the entire midcard, but a King of the Ring win would give him something to stand apart.
Neville has only been on the main roster a month or so, but has been great so far. He’s been treated seriously in the ring and by the commentary, and that is so important. Rather then JBL burying him night after night like other call-ups from NXT *coughAscensioncoughcough*, they build him up by talking about his NXT credentials and exciting moveset. They also didn’t saddle him with a winning streak gimmick, which is great, because those by definition fall apart as soon as you lose. And unless you lose that streak to someone like John Cena, there wasn’t really a point.
If Barrett wins, it would be an acceptable consolation prize for not being the Intercontinental Champion, and will give him more things to build on when Daniel Bryan returns from injury. If Neville wins, it would be a huge show of confidence for the newcomer. More importantly though, it would show everyone else down in NXT that good things can happen by moving up to the main roster, that you won’t get jobbed out like Bo Dallas or the Ascension. For that reason, I’m picking Neville to win the 2015 King of the Ring.