Dan Hey: This event is significant in more than one way: first of all, it would be the last King of the Ring tournament to be held as a pay-per-view, although this tournament now has the added distinction of the winner receiving a title shot at SummerSlam. The event would also fast track a new competitor into the main event slot less than a year after making his debut. This man, of course, is Brock Lesnar. We’re in Columbus, Ohio. The event is a joint RAW and SmackDown! production, but RAW’s familiar announce team of Jerry Lawler and ‘Good Old JR’ Jim Ross host, with SmackDown!’s Tazz and Michael Cole around to provide background information before the SmackDown! matches.
We open with a montage of past King of the Ring winners – limited to those who have won the pay-per-view incarnation of the event, and excluding the ill-booked winners Mabel and Billy Gunn respectively. What this video package serves to remind us is that the event was often used as a launch pad toward greatness for the winners (with the aforementioned exceptions). This will be very much the case for tonight’s winner. It makes me wonder why it was dropped as a pay-per-view, with the only reason I can think of being that it was easier for WWE to split their monthly events three ways: four RAW only events, four SmackDown!-only events, and the big four as joint productions.