King of the Ring Opening Round Matches Booked for WWE Raw, SmackDown Live This Week

The 2019 edition of the King of the Ring tournament will officially get underway this week, as WWE announced which opening-round matches will take place on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live.

Over on the Raw side of the bracket Cesaro will take on Samoa Joe, while Cedric Alexander will face Sami Zayn. The following night Kevin Owens will fight Elias and Andrade will wrestle Apollo Crews. Upon revealing the 16-man bracket over the weekend, the WWE confirmed that the Raw and SmackDown wrestlers have all been placed on opposite sides of the bracket, meaning that potentially great inter-brand matches like Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn or Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy can't happen unless both men reach the finals.

Unlike previous versions of the tournament taking place in a single night, this year's King of the Ring will be spread out across episodes of Raw and Smackdown throughout the next month. Madison Square Garden's official Twitter account confirmed that the semifinals will take place on the Sept. 9-10 episode of Raw and SmackDown, and the winner will be crowned at Clash of Champions on Sept. 15.

Previous King of the Ring tournament winners include Don Muraco, Harley Race, Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, Tito Santana, Bret Hart (twice), Owen Hart, Mabel, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Triple H, Ken Shamrock, Billy Gunn, Kurt Angle, Edge, Brock Lesnar, Booker T, William Regal, Sheamus and Bad News Barrett. The tournament was an annual staple of WWE's programming from 1993-2002, with the king being crowned at the King of the Ring pay-per-view. However the pay-per-view was taken off of WWE's schedule in 2003 and would pop up randomly in the following years (2006, 2008, 2010, 2015). Ironically despite the tournament featuring a number of WWE veterans in Miz and Benjamin, the only wrestler in this year's bracket who has previously wrestled in the tournament is McIntyre

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On Sunday WWE.com ran an editorial where the site's writers picked who they believed would win the tournament. Joe, Owens, Corbin, Ali, Alexander, Andrade, Miz and Murphy were all listed as potential favorites.

Other major matches that have been confirmed for WWE television this week include a United States Championship match between AJ Styles and Braun Strowman and a grudge match between Murphy and Daniel Bryan.