Back in 1985, WWE came up with a concept called, “King of the Ring” where 16 wrestlers competed in a single-elimination tournament to determine would be king of the wrestling ring. It was held annually for multiple weeks until it had its own pay-per-view in 1993. The King of the Ring PPV lasted until 2002. Since then, the tournament made appearances in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2015 during stretches of weeks on television.

The winners of King of the Ring are views are guys who WWE look to push in the near future and see as the next big star. Harley Race, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Edge, Brock Lesnar, and Booker T are notable winners of the tournament who have used it to take the next step in their careers while guys like Billy Gunn, Ken Shamrock, Sheamus, and last winner Bad News Barrett were more forgettable winners.

Fans have wanted King of the Ring to make a return in recent years and they got their wish as WWE announced on August 12 that the tournament will make a return, starting August 19.

I applaud WWE for bringing King of the Ring back. With a deep roster and so few titles to fight for, this is a way for lower to upper mid-card talents to get some time on T.V. while seeing who the company has in the next big star. WWE has oddly avoided tournaments all together and it is great to see that concept return.

I also like the fact that the 16 participants in this year’s King of the Ring involve a lot of superstars that fans believe are underrated and is a perfect opportunity to show what they are all about. The 16 superstars in the match have eight from both Raw and SmackDown and the finale is set to take place at Clash of Champions. Here are the first-round matchups.

  • Cesaro vs. Samoa Joe
  • Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre
  • Cedric Alexander vs. Sami Zayn
  • The Miz vs. Baron Corbin
  • Kevin Owens vs. Elias
  • Ali vs. Buddy Murphy
  • Chad Gable vs. Shelton Benjamin
  • Apollo Crews vs. Andrade

Right away, I see a lot of great matches. Ali vs. Buddy Murphy will showcase a high-flying match while Samoa Joe vs. Cesaro will showcase a classic mat style match. Overall, the first-round matchups look great, but who should win King of the Ring 2019?

Here, I ranked all 16 superstars set to participate in King of the Ring from least likely to win to the likely winner. Really, there are many perfect winners here but I ranked these guys based on the likelihood of winning, what WWE could do with the winner, and of course who I think would benefit best from the victory.

16. Baron Corbin (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

Credit to WWE here for not pushing Corbin as much since Extreme Rules 2019. Yes, having a big heel like Corbin would be a good idea here but after constant displeasure from the fans for having him in the Universal title picture and having him go up against Kurt Angle in his last WWE match at WrestleMania 35, would it really be the best idea to have him win the first King of the Ring in four years? WWE should avoid crowning him the winner for now.

15. Elias (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

Elias does not need to wrestle to be over with the crowd. While the King of the Ring Crown would be a perfect pairing, he doesn’t need repackaging and he’ll likely be a first-round exit. Plus, he is in the 24/7 title picture, so will likely see guys like R-Truth or Drake Maverick interfere and cost Elias the match.

14. Shelton Benjamin (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

It is nice to see a veteran like Benjamin in this match but much like Elias, he’ll be used more to elevate his first-round opponent. It is interesting to see that he’ll go up against Chad Gable the first round as they were former tag team partners before Gable was shipped to Raw in the 2017 Superstart Shake-up.

You also have to factor in that Benjamin has rarely been used on T.V. and his new gimmick of looking confused in front of the camera doesn’t fit with a King of the Ring winner.

13. Sami Zayn (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

Zayn has cut great promos as WWE’s anti-hero and it does fit well as a King of the Ring winner. However, this is a rare moment where I believe that losing the tournament will help him more than winning. Losing and complaining will get a better reaction from the crowd.

12. The Miz (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

If Miz was still a heel, he would be a lot higher on this list. He recently turned face and I am not sure WWE wants to switch him up so soon. I have him winning against Corbin in the first round but I think he’ll likely miss out on the semi-finals.

11. Kevin Owens (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

While Owens winning the King of the Ring seems like a perfect match, he doesn’t need it. Owens is as over as he has ever been and is still in a feud with Shane McMahon. On top of that, he started using the Stone Cold Stunner as a finisher. If he wins per se, fans will just think of this as a copy cat Stone Cold 3:16 in 1996. Maybe if this was going on for the past few years, I could see him winning, but WWE needs to establish it now after a four-year hiatus.

10. Chad Gable (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

Gable was recently added to the 205 Live roster and is considered one of the more underrated superstars in WWE right now. I can see him winning his first-round matchup and he’ll put on a great showing, but it is clear that he is stuck in the lower mid-card. Still, it is nice to see Gable being added into this tournament.

9. Apollo Crews (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

Crews is one of those NXT call-ups that have not had a lot of success when it comes to the main roster. It would be a nice repackaging for him to win King of the Ring but much like Gable, he is stuck in the lower mid-card. You also have to consider that his first-round opponent, Andrade, seems to be a better option as a winner. That’ll be a matchup you should keep an eye on.

8. Samoa Joe (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

Joe is excellent on the mic while also being excellent in the ring. Winning King of the Ring would be a perfect way to push him once again but given his history of never winning the big matches, I don’t see him winning here.

7. Buddy Murphy (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

Murphy has finally been on T.V. since being called up to the SmackDown roster, being involved in the Romain Reigns/Rowan/Daniel Bryan storyline. We saw during his time on 205 Live as Cruiserweight Champion that he can put on a great performance and showed it once again when he had his SmackDown debut against Reigns. An underrated winner here.

6. Cedric Alexander (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

I have been a fan of Alexander since his run on 205 Live and was glad to see he was called up to the Raw roster after WrestleMania. He has been used a lot on T.V. recently and has put on excellent matches against the likes of Drew McIntyre. He is my darkhorse to win the entire thing. Doesn’t “King Alexander” or “Alexander the Great” have a nice ring to it?

5. Ricochet (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

Ricochet is a pure babyface and that may hurt his chances, given a heel here would be the best winner but he still has a lot of momentum. He recently dropped the United States Championship to AJ Styles and lost his rematch at SummerSlam, so this could be a nice way for him to bounce back. He is still in a program with The O.C., so there is a chance they can be involved in his matches.

Plus, his Instagram and Twitter handle is @KingRicochet, should WWE capitalize on that?

4. Ali (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

Ali suffers from the same situation as Ricochet as a pure face. His run on 205 Live was incredible as he put on great matches. He had a lot of momentum as he was called up to SmackDown but injuries have pushed him down the card.

His gimmick as the underdog would work perfectly here winning King of the Ring and could be a way to remind the fans that Ali is special. Whether he wins or not, you know he’ll be excellent in his matches and the fans will be behind him 100%.

3. Andrade (SmackDown)

Credit: WWE.com

Andrade was excellent down at NXT but has yet to find any momentum since being called up after WrestleMania 34. One week we see the start of a push but then does not show up on T.V. the next.

The arrogant heel persona and heel manager Zelina Vega is a perfect match for him to win the entire thing. A win here could finally see the push of Andrade fans have been wanting. He’ll no doubt be in the semi-finals or even finals.

2. Drew McIntyre (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

McIntyre has always been viewed as a guy who is on the cusp of being in the Universal or WWE title picture but ends up on the outside looking in. He has always been teamed with the likes of Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, and Dolph Ziggler but could be a star champion as a singles wrestler.

Winning King of the Ring would show the fans that McIntyre is a star. He wouldn’t need to change his gimmick here either as a legit heel challenger to take on Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship.

1. Cesaro (Raw)

Credit: WWE.com

I really think there is no other better choice to win the 2019 King of the Ring than Cesaro.

It helps that he has no real gimmick at the moment since splitting up with longtime tag team partner Sheamus, just a regular heel looking to take down his opponents in the ring. The Swiss Cyborg is known for putting on excellent matches and the fans will always get behind him.

If he wins, this could finally be the push we have wanted to see. The King of Swing has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

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