WWE King of the Ring History

King Booker & Queen Sharmell. © 2006 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

King of the Ring Prior to 1993

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 television.

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 and 2015 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.  Four years later, the tournament returned with the finals being shown exclusively on the WWE Network.

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 Muraco1986 - Harley Race1987 - Randy Savage1988 - Ted DiBiase1989 - Tito Santana1991 - Bret Hart1993 - Bret Hart1994 - Owen Hart1995 - Mabel1996 - Steve Austin1997 - Triple H1998 - Ken Shamrock1999 - Billy Gunn2000 - Kurt Angle2001 - Edge2002 - Brock Lesnar2006 - Booker T2008 - William Regal2010 - Sheamus2015 - Wade BarrettKing of the Ring PPV 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

King of the Ring 94 - Baltimore Arena; Baltimore, MD 6/19/94
- First Round: Razor Ramon beat Bam Bam Bigelow
- First Round: IRS pinned Mabel
- First Round: Owen Hart beat Tatanka
- First Round: The Kid beat Jeff Jarrett
- Semifinals: Razor Ramon beat IRS
- Semifinals: Owen Hart beat The Kid
- Finals: Owen Hart pinned Razor Ramon to become King of the Ring
- WWF Title: I-C Champ Diesel beat WWF Champ Bret Hart by DQ. Bret retains the title.
- Tag Team Title: The Headshrinkers defended their title by defeating Yokozuna & Crush
- Roddy Piper beat Jerry Lawler

King of the Ring 95 - CoreStates Spectrum; Philadelphia, PA 6/25/95
- King of the Ring Qualifying Match to replace injured Razor Ramon: Savio Vega pinned IRS
- Quarterfinals: Savio Vega beat Yokozuna via count out
- Quarterfinals: The Roadie beat Bob Holly
- Quarterfinals: Shawn Michaels & Kama wrestled to a 15 minute draw
- Quarterfinals: Mabel pinned The Undertaker
- Semifinal: Savio Vega beat The Roadie
- Final: Mabel beat Savio Vega
- Kiss my foot match: Bret Hart beat Jerry Lawler by submission and was forced to kiss Bret's foot & also had his own foot shoved in his mouth.
- WWF Champ Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow beat Sid & Tatanka

King of the Ring 96 – The Mecca; Milwaukee, WI 6/23/96
- Skip & Zip beat Leif Cassidy & Marty Jannetty
- Semi-final: Steve Austin beat Marc Mero
- Tag Team Title: The Smokin' Guns beat The Godwinns to retain the title
- I-C Title: Ahmed Johnson beat Goldust to win the title
- Semi-final: Jake Roberts beat Big Van Vader by DQ to advance to the finals
- The Ultimate Warrior beat Jerry Lawler
- Mankind beat The Undertaker
- Finals: Steve Austin pinned Jake Roberts to win the tournament. After the match Steve Austin uses the words Austin 3:16 for the first time.
- WWF Title: Champion Shawn Michaels pinned Davey Boy Smith

King of the Ring 97 – Providence Civic Center; Providence, RI 6/8/97
- Goldust beat Crush
- Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, & Davey Boy Smith beat The Road Warriors & Sid
- Steve Austin & Shawn Michaels fought to a no contest
- WWF Title: Champion Undertaker beat Faarooq
- Semi-Final: Hunter Hearst Helmsley beat Ahmed Johnson
- Semi-Final: Mankind beat Jerry Lawler
- Final: Hunter Hearst Helmsley beat Mankind to win the tournament

King of the Ring 98 – Civic Arena; Pittsburgh, PA 6/28/98
- Taka Michinoku & The Headbangers beat Kaientai
- Semi-Final: Ken Shamrock beat Jeff Jarrett by submission
- Semi-Final: The Rock beat Dan Severn
- Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor beat Al Snow & Head. Jerry Lawler was special ref
- X-Pac beat Owen Hart
- Tag Team Title: New Age Outlaws beat The New Midnight Express to retain the title
- Finals: Ken Shamrock beat The Rock by submission to win the tournament
- Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker beat Mankind
- First Blood Match for WWF Title: Kane beat Steve Austin to win the title

King of the Ring 99 – Greensboro Coliseum; Greensboro, NC 6/27/99
- Quarterfinals: X-Pac beat Bob Holly by DQ
- Quarterfinals: Billy Gunn beat Ken Shamrock
- Quarterfinals: Kane beat The Big Show
- Quarterfinals: Jesse James beat Chyna
- Semi-finals: Billy Gunn beat Kane
- Semi-finals: X-Pac beat Jesse James
- Finals: Billy Gunn beat X-Pac
- Jeff & Matt Hardy beat Edge & Christian
- WWF Title: Champ The Undertaker beat The Rock
- Handicap ladder match to become CEO: Vince & Shane McMahon beat Steve Austin

King of the Ring 2000 - FleetCenter; Boston, MA 6/25/00

King of the Ring 2001 – Continental Airlines Arena; East Rutherford, NJ 6/24/01
- Semi-final: Kurt Angle beat Christian
- Semi-final: Edge beat Rhyno
- Final: Edge beat Kurt Angle to win the tournament
- Tag Team Titles: The Dudley Boyz beat Spike Dudley & Kane to keep the titles
- Light heavyweight Title: Champ Jeff Hardy beat X-Pac
- Street fight: Kurt Angle beat Shane McMahon
- Non-sanctioned encounter with no ref: Undertaker beat up Dallas Page till Page ran away
- World Title: WWF Champ Steve Austin beat Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit

King of the Ring 2002 – Nationwide Arena; Columbus, OH 6/23/02
- Semi-final: Rob Van Dam beat Chris Jericho
- Semi-final: Brock Lesnar beat Test
- Final: Brock Lesnar beat Rob Van Dam
- Cruiserweight Title: Jamie Knoble beat The Hurricane to win the title
- Ric Flair beat Eddie Guerrero
- Women's Title: Molly Holly beat Trish Stratus to win the title
- Kurt Angle beat Hulk Hogan
- WWE Title: The Undertaker beat Triple H to retain the title