King of the Ring is an annual World Wrestling Entertainment tournament that was first held in 1985. From 1993 to 2002, it was held as a pay-per-view event as well. After a four-year hiatus, the King of the Ring tournament returned in 2006 as a SmackDown! exclusive tournament.
Although the King of the Ring tournament was first made into a pay-per-view event in 1993, the original King of the Ring tournament was actually held in 1985. Don Muraco was the first King of the Ring in 1985. The second king, Harley Race, is noted for parlaying his King of the Ring victory into his "King of Wrestling" gimmick. Other winners who did the same include Randy Savage ("Macho King"), Owen Hart ("King of Harts"), "King" Mabel, Kurt Angle ("King Kurt"), Edge ("King Edge The Awesome"), Booker T ("King Booker") and most recently Bad News Barrett ("King Barrett")
The King of the Ring was an event in which typically fifteen to sixteen wrestlers wrestled in a one-on-one single elimination bracket. When a wrestler wins a match in the bracket, they advance forward to take on another wrestler that 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.
While some believe that the new King of the Ring traditionally receives a WWF/WWE Championship shot at the SummerSlam pay-per-view, this only became an established rule in 2002, for what would become the final King of the Ring tournament for 4 years until SmackDown! general manager Theodore Long brought it back in 2006. Only four kings went on to challenge for the championship at SummerSlam (Owen Hart, Mabel, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar) and only in Lesnar's case was the challenger granted a title shot as a "right" after winning the King of the Ring. More important than an actual title shot was the prestige of winning the tournament itself; some wrestlers have made being king an integral part of their gimmick, and, in general, the winner of the King of the Ring is a wrestler whom management has picked to advance in the storylines and be the next breakout star. In fact, Steve Austin's famous "3:16" saying started at KOTR. A number of wrestlers have had huge successes after winning the tournament (in particular Steve Austin, but also Bret Hart, Kurt Angle, Triple H, and others), while some wrestlers have admittedly been "flops" as king (such as Mabel and Billy Gunn).
King of the Ring dates and venues
Video & DVD Images
|King of the Ring|
|1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1991 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996|
|1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2006 • 2008 • 2010 • 2015|