Don Muraco, Harley Race, Randy Savage, Ted Dibiase, Tito Santana, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Mabel, Steve Austin, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Ken Shamrock, Billy Gunn, Kurt Angle, Edge, Brock Lesnar, Booker T, William Regal, ????????
The line of royalty in the WWE is short and elite. Kind of. While many have used this tournament to catapult themselves to championships and hall of fame careers, others faded into the night faster than a wolf's prey. With a lot of of and coming superstars this year, the King of the Ring promised to bring exciting matches and a built in braggart's paradise in regal form. Which up and comer would win though? Which would fall short? Most importantly, would the winner get a really cool crown?
As part of Monday night Raw, other happenings were to be interwoven with this competition, none more important that the formal introduction of the new WWE Champion, The Miz. Covered by TMZ, ESPN, and other media outlets, Miz's title victory sent shockwaves throughout the country. His title victory made him HOT last week, but did he stay on the list? Perhaps an unexpected challenger took that spot..............find out below in this week's HOT or NOT:
1. Sheamus - The Celtic Warrior is now the Celtic King. Fitting, as this coronation may lead to a regal battle with a returning King of Kings, Triple H. Still, beating Kofi Kingston and John Morrison cleanly is a solid night for anyone, and doing so to become King of the Ring is quite an accomplishment. Given that he has already been champion, many felt Sheamus didn't need this win. I might agree, but it's hard to decipher who could have used the win most. Perhaps Alberto Del Rio, but he's doing just fine feuding with Rey Mysterio on his own. When it comes down to it, using this win as fuel to fire up a returning Triple H might just be the most effectie way to go. Plus, we got to see some interesting matchups along the way. Can't complain about that.
2. Jerry "The King" Lawler - Continuing our regal trend, Lawler makes this list for the first and probably last time ever. On his birthday, the Memphis legend lied his way into a title match with Miz (he said he's never had a title shot before but he did against Shawn Michaels in 1996, look it up!). Some might say that pitting a 61 year old against a man half his age is unfair, but the TLC stipulation certainly evened the odds. The experienced Lawler makes the HOT list this week due to actually making that match entertaining. Often, I criticize TNA for putting older talent in matches, but if done tactfully and with a lack of regularity, it can work. In this case, call it luck or tact, but it worked. The Miz defended his belt a week after he earned it, the commentator looked great trying to obtain it, and the champ came out on top. You certainly can't fault the WWE for doing what was expected in this regard. I'm starting to feel the aura of the unexpected again in the WWE and it feels good. Kudos to Lawler for performing well, and a happy 61st birthday to the King!
3. Alex Riley - Talk about taking punishment in stride. After obtaining a DUI two weeks ago, many felt that the unestablished Riley would find the unemployment line, especially with the WWE releasing 6 other talents. Riley survived the cut, but did not go unpunished. He was fed to Ezekiel Jackson last week and ridiculed on commentary by the sobriety expert, CM Punk. A-Ri (man, i hate that nickname!) overcame that to have a great week this week. He was on TV 4 different times, twice without the Miz. His mic work was excellent and I believe he is very gifted in this area. Plus, you may have seen the early seeds of a Riley/Daniel Bryan feud, and that could only be seen as a good thing as they have a built in story given they shared an NXT pro. This kid has definite potential. Just get rid of that jacket for good and I think you have a rising heel star in Alex Riley.
1. Justin Gabriel - In this week's "it sucks to be me" category, Gabriel is the hands down winner. His team lost to Yoshi Tatsu and Mark Henry (I know Cena had a hand in that), but it got worse than that. When three members of Nexus got jumped by Raw's babyface contingency, it was Gabriel that became the sacrificial lamb. He was thrown headfirst into a car window, smashing it upon impact, and then given the Attitude Adjustment onto the hood of the car. In no way can that feel good. Lastly, he grew a beard. For some people like John Morrison, the beard works, but on Gabriel it makes him look like a metrosexual Johnny Damon. Not a great look. Stick to the clean face and the evil eyes Mr. Gabriel.
2. Kofi Kingston - This is not really a knock on Kofi as he had a good match with Sheamus but lost. The fact is, Kofi has hit a stalemate in his career. At this time last year, Kofi was in the midst of the push of his life. I was there in Madison Square Garden when he hit the boom drop on Orton in the crowd. Many, including myself, figuring that this feud would propel Kingston into the main event, and heading th Smackdown figured to give Kingston an even easier path to the top. That hasn't happened though, and Kingston has basically stalled as a midcarder. Perhaps it has to do with his lack of a real feud since Orton, but this talented wrestler needs an opportunity to showcase what he's got. I'd like to see Kingston in a real feud. If nothing else, we know the blowoff match will be good as I've never really seen a bad Kingston match. Still, losing in 5 minutes to Sheamus isn't where we pictured Kofi at this time last year.
3. Ezekiel Jackson - This might be nitpicking, but I didn't like that Jackson was equalized by Drew McIntyre. I know he's the chosen one, but he's also been losing a lot lately and hasn't looked all that tough. Jackson is much larger and for him to be detained by McIntyre isn't good. Plus, after Drew kept Jackson from getting back in the ring to win the match, Jackson should have been more brutal. Again, it might be nitpicky, but if you are going to book a dominant monster, do it! Big Zeke needed to beat up on D-Mac a lot more. It would have helped his credibility a lot, even in a countout. I feel that it was a missed opportunity and the fact remains that this monster push doesn't have a direction and that could become a problem moving forward.
Well, there you have it. Miz is still champion, Sheamus is King, John Cena is fired, and Randy Orton is hurt. Quite a different landscape in the WWE these days. It should be interesting to see where these stories go. As I said earlier, that feeling of unpredictability is slowly infiltrating programming again and it's a very good thing. You could call Raw HOT for that, and all wrestling fans are hoping that trend continues, including thiis one.