The King of the Ring tournament is a professional wrestling single-elimination tournament held by WWE. The tournament was held annually from 1985 to 2002, with the exception of 1990 and 1992. From 1993 to 2002, the tournament was produced as a pay-per-view event.
The tournament endured a four-year hiatus until its return in 2006 as an exclusive event of the SmackDown brand. The tournament returned as an inter-brand event for both SmackDown and Raw in 2008, 2010, and 2015. WWE released a best of King of the Ring DVD in late 2011. It returned in 2019 for both brands.
Prior to pay-per-view
Although the King of the Ring tournament was not made into a pay-per-view event until 1993, the original King of the Ring tournament was held in 1985. Don Muraco won the tournament last defeating The Iron Sheik.
The King of the Ring was an event in which typically sixteen wrestlers wrestled in a one-on-one single elimination bracket. When a wrestler wins a match in the bracket, he advances to take on another wrestler who has also won. The final few matches would then take place at that year's King of the Ring event. The winner of the final match is officially crowned the King of the Ring. There were also other matches that took place at the King of the Ring event since it was a traditional three-hour pay-per-view. The King of the Ring pay-per-view was considered one of the WWE's "Big Five" events of the year, along with the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series, up until its disestablishment after the 2002 event.
After a four-year hiatus, the tournament would return in 2006, the first since the 1991 edition that was not on pay-per-view, which was won by Booker T, who faced Bobby Lashley in the final at Judgment Day. The tournament would return in 2008 on the April 23 episode of Raw, which was won by William Regal, who faced CM Punk in the finale, and in 2010 on the November 29 episode of Raw, which was won by Sheamus, who faced John Morrison in the finale. After a five-year hiatus, the tournament returned in 2015 on the April 27 episode of Raw, with the final taking place the next night on the WWE Network. Bad News Barrett defeated Neville in the final round. After a four-year hiatus, WWE announced the return of the tournament in 2019. On the August 12, 2019 episode of Raw, it was announced the 2019 King of The Ring tournament would begin on the August 19, 2019 episode of Raw. The finale culminated on the September 16, 2019 episode of Raw, which was won by Baron Corbin, after defeating Chad Gable in the final round.
Using as a gimmick
In 1986, the second King of the Ring winner, Harley Race, parlayed his victory into an arrogant King of Wrestling gimmick, featuring a regal cape and crown. This gimmick led to several notable feuds for Race with Junkyard Dog, Hulk Hogan, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and others, even after new winners had been crowned in the annual tournament. In 1988, Race suffered an abdominal injury and during his absence his manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan awarded the crown to Haku in July, rechristening him King Haku, even though Randy Savage had won the tournament by that point and Ted DiBiase would also win the tournament during this storyline. Race eventually returned from his injury and briefly feuded with King Haku, but was unable to regain the crown at the 1989 Royal Rumble. King Haku then lost the crown to "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan in May 1989. "King Hacksaw" then lost it on August 30, 1989 to "Macho Man" Randy Savage, who rebranded himself "Macho King". Savage abandoned the "Macho King" gimmick upon his loss of a "Career ending match" to Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VII in 1991, following which only wrestlers who had won the most recent tournament, as well Jerry Lawler (who had used a King Of Wrestling image regionally in the Memphis area since the early 1970s) would use the gimmick.
Randy Savage ("Macho King"), Owen Hart ("King of Harts"), Mabel ("King Mabel" ), Kurt Angle ("King Kurt") Edge ("King Edge the Awesome"), Booker T ("King Booker"), Sheamus ("King Sheamus"), Bad News Barrett ("King Barrett"), and Baron Corbin (“King Corbin”) are all wrestlers that also took on "King" nicknames after winning King of the Ring tournaments, with varying amounts of indulgence in the regal gimmick. William Regal won the tournament while serving as General Manager of Raw and began displaying King Lear signs of tyranny and delusion. Triple H alluded to his King of the Ring victory as part of his integrated gimmick starting 2006 as the "King of Kings". In addition to the King's crown, various female wrestlers were portrayed as Queen while they were aligned with Kings, including "Queen of the Ring" The Fabulous Moolah (aligned with King Harley Race at Wrestlemania III), Sensational Queen Sherri (manager of "Macho King" Randy Savage), and Queen Sharmell (manager of King Booker). Mo, Mabel's tag team partner in Men on a Mission, was "knighted" as Sir Mo by his partner after the latter's 1995 victory.
List of King of the Ring winners
- "Accelerator profile". Accelerator's Wrestling Rollercoaster. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
- "WWF Show Results 1989". Angelfire. Archived from the original on March 4, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- Conner, Floyd (2001). Wrestling's Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Pro Wrestling's Outrageous Performers, Punishing Piledrivers, and Other Oddities. Brassey's. p. 175. ISBN 1-57488-308-9.
- Schrader, Bob. "The Irresistible Force". WWE. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
Viscera used to be known as Mabel. [...] He started as a friendly rapping giant Then Mabel shocks everyone by winning King of the Ring, loses the rapping and becomes KING Mabel.
- John M. Milner, Andy McNamara and Greg Oliver (June 2, 2005). "Booker T's bio". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- Plummer, Dale (29 November 2010). "Raw: King of the Ring crowned". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
- Caldwell, James (19 December 2011). "WWE TLC PPV Results 12/19: In-person "virtual-time" coverage of TLC PPV – off-air PPV notes, Miz vs. Orton, Cena vs. Barrett". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
- "IGN: William Regal". IGN. Archived from the original on 25 October 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
- Triple H: The King of Kings (DVD). WWE Home Video. 2008.
- Spears, Jim (January 4, 2005). "Women's wrestlers today are tougher, better". The Times and Democrat. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
- "Booker and Sharmell released by WWE". SLAM! Wrestling. October 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-17.