RAW brought some excitement back to the WWE Universe, not through a story line or the main event, but through the return of a beloved tradition, the King of the Ring.
King of the Ring used to be an important part of the WWE calendar. The likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Owen Hart, Brock Lesnar and Edge all got a huge boost to their career through winning the tournament. After 2002, the event became sporadic though, and even though Booker T got a nice boost for winning in 2006, the next two winners, William Regal in 2008 and Sheamus in 2010 stumbled after winning their tournaments, and 2010 was the last time the WWE held King of the Ring until now.
The lack of the tournament had brought desire to see it return. In fact, it wasn't long ago that I wrote that a return of the tournament as a Network-exclusive would be a perfect addition to the Network, something that wrestling fans would have to get the Network for in order to truly follow. And while we didn't get a full pseudo-PPV out of it, we are getting the semifinals and finals, the night after the tournament started on RAW.
The tournament started with Bad News Barrett taking on Dolph Ziggler. Some thought these were two of the favorites, so it was slightly surprising to see them face off in the first round. However, this turned out to further the Ziggler/Sheamus storyline, as Sheamus distracted Ziggler long enough for Barrett to get the win. In a surprising first-round match, R-Truth beat Stardust. In the other half of the bracket, Neville beat Luke Harper, and then Sheamus beat Dean Ambrose by DQ after Ziggler got his revenge by attacking Sheamus.
As for who will win? We'll find out Tuesday night. I think you could make a case for any of the four (yes, including R-Truth if they wanted to give him one more run as a sort of "Mad King"). However, I think this could, and should, come down to Barrett and Neville. Both of those could really use the boost provided by winning the tournament. It would firmly establish Neville as someone to be reckoned with, and heel Barrett as the winner would give him some credibility after losing so much, and would provide a good wrinkle for his character. When I doubt, I generally tend to lean towards the heel, so it wouldn't surprise me for King Barrett to be crowned on Tuesday night.
All in all, this is a good step for the WWE. They bring back a beloved event, and make the Network more noteworthy. My only criticism would be that they didn't give this enough build. However, if this goes well, WWE should do more of these events in the future.
The Rest of RAW:
--RAW started with both Randy Orton and Roman Reigns declaring that they deserved a title shot against Seth Rollins. Kane made a tag match, with Kane and Rollins facing Reigns and Orton. Kane also announced that the fans would get to vote for either Orton or Reigns to face Rollins at Payback in Baltimore. After Rollins mouthed off once too often, Kane added a third option, a triple-threat, which of course the fans voted for. In the tag match, Kane finally snapped after a series of miscommunications, and attacked Rollins, leading him to get pinned. It wouldn't shock me if Kane is added to the match at Payback to make it a Fatal Fourway.
--Bray Wyatt finally revealed who he had been targeting with all his promos, after he attacked Ryback, who had just beaten Bo Dallas. It's interesting that they used Bo Dallas in this way, as of course Wyatt and Dallas are brothers. It would be interesting to see if they incorporate that into the storyline at all, though it's doubtful.
--Naomi beat Brie Bella. The WWE continues to show that they have no idea what to do about the face/heel affiliations of the Bellas, or of divas in general. They've teased the Bellas as faces, yet, the Bellas acted like heels at Extreme Rules. Then on RAW, Brie did a promo talking about how much her husband, Daniel Bryan, loved the WWE Universe. It seems that the WWE really doesn't care about the face/heel affiliations of divas, and that's a mistake. If they ever want divas to get over, they have to be given motivations. It's just a fact.
--Big E beat Tyson Kidd in a disappointingly short match after the show the two teams put on at Extreme Rules. Xavier Woods grabbed Kidd's legs after a suplex to provide the pin. I love what they're doing with the New Day, having them still act like they're faces. In fact, it's similar to what they did with Bo Dallas in NXT, a heel that refuses to acknowledge they're heels.
--Damien Sandow came out, as Sandow, not Mizdow. He gave credit to the fans for continuing to cheer him through everything he's done, from coming out in a bathrobe and then imitating various wrestlers, before ending up as Mizdow. Curtis Axel came out and ridiculed him for all that. Sandow then mimicked him, until he beat him, faked dropping the leg drop, and then hit his Elbow of Disdain. Sandow will be very tricky to book in the next few months. They have to be careful that he doesn't just turn back into a comedy figure.
--Adam Rose beat Fandango after Rosa Mendes distracted Fandango. Giving Adam Rose a valet isn't a terrible idea if they're intent on getting him over as a heel.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave them in the comment section, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster