TNA’s Slammiversary XII pay-per-view is less than two weeks away. While the World Heavyweight Title match between Eric Young and MVP has already been announced as the headline event for the June 15th show, TNA purists remain hopeful that the King of the Mountain match could yet make a triumphant return after a five year absence.
Internet forums have been rife with speculation that the format could be on the verge of a return, while TNA’s official website recently reviewed some of their favourite King of the Mountain moments.
To become the King of the Mountain, one of five match competitors must hang the title belt they are competing for above the ring. All wrestlers start out as “ineligible” to win. In order to become “eligible” they must score a pin-fall or submission on an opponent. The opponent who submits or is pinned is forced to spend two minutes in the “penalty box” cage. More than one wrestler can be in the cage, which often results in wrestlers fighting inside the cage or forming some sort of alliance.
Once “eligible”, the wrestler may win the match by retrieving the belt and hanging it on the hook suspended above the ring with the aid of the ladders. A TNA official maintains possession of the belt and circles the ring, staying out of the action as much as possible. When a wrestler wishes to hang the belt, he must retrieve it from the official.
Once the belt is in play, any other wrestler who is eligible may attempt to steal the belt and hang it. Once the belt has been dropped and no wrestler is attempting to hang it, a referee returns the belt to the official.
There have so far been eight TNA King of the Mountain matches, dating back to June 2004 when Jeff Jarrett captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship when he defeated defending champion Ron Killings, A.J. Styles, Raven and Chris Harris. A year later, the match made its Slammiversary debut, with Raven winning the World Title from Styles in a match also involving Monty Brown, Abyss and Sean Waltman.
Jarrett won his second King of the Mountain match in the 2006 edition of Slammiversary, defeating champion Christian Cage, Abyss, Ron Killings and Sting.
Slammiversary 2007 saw Kurt Angle become the first ever TNA World Heavyweight Champion by beating Samoa Joe, Styles, Cage and Harris.
In 2008, TNA staged their first Impact edition of the King of the Mountain match, with Kaz earning a future TNA World Heavyweight Title shot by defeating Chris Sabin, Curry Man, Jimmy Rave and Johnny Devine. Later that year, at Slammiversary, Samoa Joe became the first man to defend the World Title in a King of the Mountain match, beating Robert Roode, Brooke T, Rhino and Cage.
Slammiversary 2009 marked the final appearance of the format. Suicide defended the X Division title against Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Sabin and Alex Shelley, while Angle won the World Heavyweight Title by defeating defending champion Mick Foley, Jarrett, Styles and Samoa Joe.
Five years on, and the King of the Mountain match is long overdue a return. Here are five possible King of the Mountain matches that could yet be seen at Slammiversary, or indeed an episode of Impact Wrestling, in the near future:
• X Division Title Match – Sanada (c) vs Tigre Uno vs DJ Zema Ion vs Manik vs Kenny King
A King of the Mountain match showing off the very best of TNA’s X Division would be a clear sign of the company putting faith back in the high-flying stars that first grabbed fan’s attention over a decade ago. TNA’s newly released version of Xplosion has already seen more focus given to the X Division, and a big-time Slammiversary match would only help boost viewing for their new product. With Sanada also set to return to Japan in the near future, a King of the Mountain match would be a fitting way for him to drop the title. The potential influence of King’s stable-mates MVP and Bobby Lashley would also add an intriguing twist.
• Match for a future World Heavyweight Title Shot – Samoa Joe vs Bobby Roode vs Bobby Lashley vs Austin Aries vs Gunner
Would undoubtedly be a superb match to see, but there are storyline related issues with such a match taking place: with a Slammiversary World Heavyweight Title match already lined up, why would Director of Wrestling Operations MVP ensure that a number one contender was already in place to rival him. There are two possible way’s round this. The first would be the influence of Bobby Lashley, who could be billed by MVP as a contingency place should he fail to capture the World Title from Eric Young. The second would be for company owner Dixie Carter to step in and decide that she does not want MVP as a World Champion, making the match to ensure a number one contender is quickly in place.
• Stipulation Match – Magnus vs Willow vs Bram vs Abyss or James Storm vs Mr. Anderson vs Gunner vs Samuel Shaw
This would be a huge change from the standard King of the Mountain match, but would offer a completely different variation in two ongoing feud cycles – the first between Magnus, Willow, Bram and Abyss, and the second between James Storm, Mr. Anderson, Gunner and Samuel Shaw. Obvious drawbacks would include the fact that both feuds only include four participants, while there will also need to be several changes in the match format in order for a stipulation match to work. A possible option would be that the winner of the match gets to fire one of his opponents – opening the door for new alliances and heel turns.
• Knockouts Title Match – Angelina Love (c) vs Madison Rayne vs Gail Kim vs Brittany vs Velvet Sky
This would surely rank as the least likely option, as never before have the Knockout’s tackled the King of the Mountain match. However, with the current Knockout’s roster packed with talent – many of whom are hell-bent of grabbing a title win – this would be an intriguing option to allow all involved a shot at the gold. There is of course the small matter of Angelina Love’s Sacrifice rematch with Madison Rayne to think of first, with that match taking place this coming Thursday.
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