The King of the Ring tournament has a strange history. The first six tournaments were just house shows and most fans did not even know they took place. In storylines, the first King of the WWF was Harley Race. That honor was transferred to Haku, Jim Duggan and Randy Savage. After Savage lost a retirement match in 1991, the term King was not used again until Jerry Lawler brought in his gimmick from Memphis when he became a commentator on TV.
The PPV Era 1993 - 2002
For the first few years, the entire tournament was held on one night. The stipulations in 1994 and 1995 were that the winner would get a title shot at SummerSlam. That stipulation returned for the final event. The legacy of the event is that it became a stepping stone for young wrestlers to jump from the mid card to the main event. Of the 10 PPV Kings, six went on to become WWE Champion. Bret Hart is the only former champion to win the event on PPV.
2006, 2008, & 2010 Returns
The King of the Ring returned in 2006 as a SmackDown brand tournament. Only the final match was on PPV, the rest was of the tournament was on Friday Night SmackDown. In 2008 and 2010, the entire tournament took place on a special three-hour edition of Monday Night RAW. In 2011, the WWE released a DVD set looking back at the most famous moments in the history of both the tournament and the pay-per-view event.
Top 3 King of the Ring Moments:
1 - After winning the 1996 tournament, Steve Austin’s gave a speech where he first uttered the words Austin 3:16
2 - The Undertaker vs Mankind Hell in a Cell battle in 1998 is one of the most famous matches of all time due to two incredible falls Mick Foley took during that match.
3 - If you have ever seen a old WWE DVD, you will hear Kurt Angle say "I thought Shane was knocked out". That would be in reference to his incredible match against Shane McMahon in 2001. Amazingly, that was Kurt’s third match of the evening.
Worst 3 King of the Ring Moments:
1 - I hate to induct a whole event, but the 1995 event featured everything that was wrong with the WWF at the time. Four Savio Vega matches and the crowning of King Mabel caused the Philly fans to make the first ever ECW chants on a WWF PPV. As bad as this event was, it led to even worse things like Dr. Yankem and a Mabel vs Diesel SummerSlam main event.
2 - The 1994 PPV had Art Donovan on commentary. While the NFL Hall of Famer was humorous on talk shows, his commentary was pure torture to anyone that had the misfortune to listen this event. He obviously had no idea what was going on and had a strange obsession about wanting to know what everyone weighed.
3 - The Hulkamania era ended rather unglamorously at the '93 PPV when Hulk was pinned by Yokozuna after a photographer blinded him. Hulk would not appear on WWF TV again until 2002.
King of the Ring Tournament Winners
1985 - Don Muraco
1986 - Harley Race
1987 - Randy Savage
1988 - Ted DiBiase
1989 - Tito Santana
1991 - Bret Hart
1993 - Bret Hart
1994 - Owen Hart
1995 - Mabel
1996 - Steve Austin
1997 - Triple H
1998 - Ken Shamrock
1999 - Billy Gunn
2000 - Kurt Angle
2001 - Edge
2002 - Brock Lesnar
2006 - Booker T
2008 - William Regal
2010 - Sheamus
King of the Ring Title Changes
1993 - WWF Title: Yokozuna pinned Hulk Hogan
1996 - I-C Title: Ahmed Johnson beat Goldust
1998 - First Blood Match for WWF Title: Kane beat Steve Austin
2000 - Tag Team Title: Edge & Christian beat Champs Too Cool, The Hardy Boyz, & T&A
2000 - Hardcore Title: Crash Holly beat Pat Patterson
2000 - Six-Man Tag Match for WWF Title: The Rock became champ by pinning Vince McMahon in a match featuring The Rock, Kane & Undertaker vs Champ Triple H, Vince & Shane McMahon
2002 - Cruiserweight Title: Jamie Knoble beat The Hurricane
2002 - Women's Title: Molly Holly beat Trish Stratus
King of the Ring PPV Results
King of the Ring 93 - The Nutter Center; Dayton, OH 6/13/93
- First Round: Bret Hart pinned Razor Ramon
- First Round: Curt Hennig beat Mr. Hughes
- First Round: Bam Bam Bigelow beat Jim Duggan
- First Round: Lex Luger & Tatanka fought to a time limit draw eliminating both men
- Semifinal: Bret Hart beat Curt Hennig
- Final: Bret Hart beat Bam Bam Bigelow to win the tournament
- Papa Shango beat Owen Hart
- The Smokin' Gunns & Steiner Brothers beat Ted Dibiase & IRS & The Headshrinkers
- I-C Title: Champion Shawn Michaels pinned Crush
- WWF Title: Yokozuna pinned Hulk Hogan to regain the title