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It's good to be king
During the height of the Roman Empire, the Coliseum served as the arena in which warriors from all around the world would descend to etch their names into eternity. To those warriors, acclaim was second to survival in the storied stadium, but any combatant who won the crowd's affections would earn their rightful place in history.
This Monday night, eight Superstars from Raw, SmackDown and ECW will enter the prestigious King of the Ring Tournament on a special three-hour edition of Raw, and one lucky participant will place their name into WWE lore by surviving his competition. To the Superstars, the splendor of being named King of the Ring could undoubtedly be considered a career accomplishment, but if the history of the tournament has shown our fans one thing, it is that even greater accomplishments await the winner.
There have been 17 King of the Ring winners dating back to 1985, the first being WWE Hall of Famer Don Muraco. Of those 17 winners, nine have held WWE and/or World Championship gold, with seven of those title reigns coming after being crowned, while 12 kings have held the Intercontinental Championship during their careers.
The throne has also helped catapult the careers of some of WWE's most beloved in-ring performers. Who can forget the 1996 King of the Ring event, where an up-and-coming Steve Austin proclaimed at his coronation, "Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass," ushering in the "Stone Cold" era. Or the 2001 King of the Ring, when the tag team specialist Edge declared with his victory that he was a serious contender, and has proved this with two WWE Championships and two World Heavyweight Title reigns as a single competitor since then. He had never won singles gold before King of the Ring.
The 2002 King of the Ring was just another stepping stone for Brock Lesnar, who stormed through the tournament in his rookie campaign and two months later was WWE Champion. Then, there was the 1997 King of the Ring, Triple H, who was not even slated to be in the tournament, but as a last minute replacement for Vader, The Game came out on top and we all know how it turned out for the 11-time World Champion.
Other winners our fans might remember include: "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, Harley Race, Owen "The King of Harts" Hart, Bret Hart (twice), Tito Santana, Mabel and Ken Shamrock.
What does this mean for this year's hopefuls? Well, some see the King of the Ring as an opportunity to write their own ticket. Will someone like United States Champion MVP, who believes it is his destiny to be a World Champion, step up and add more bling to his collection? Or will a Superstar like Matt Hardy, who has been so close on numerous occasions, shatter the glass ceiling and reach the potential so many in WWE believe he has? Maybe the leaner, meaner Big Show has his sights set on the crown? We all know Chris Jericho has done great things in WWE, but he has never been King of the Ring. Is Y2J poised to add another accolade to his career résumé?
The WWE kingdom could be ruled over by King JTG or Shad. Imagine the royal treatment of King Santino or King Carlito.
One thing is certain; the King of the Ring Tournament is unpredictable. Any Superstar is capable of hitting a hot streak this Monday night, adding their name to the list of past winners. The real question is, will these Superstars cement their names in history like the warriors of the Coliseum days and the kings that have come before them?