The top eight King of the Ring tournament winners

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 17: Actor and WWE personality "Stone Cold" Steve Austin speaks at Silicon Valley Comic Con at the San Jose Convention Center on August 17, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Bill Watters/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 17: Actor and WWE personality "Stone Cold" Steve Austin speaks at Silicon Valley Comic Con at the San Jose Convention Center on August 17, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Bill Watters/Getty Images) /

With a brand new King of the Ring tournament taking place in WWE, let’s take a look at 8 of the greatest King of the Ring Champions ever.

In WWE history, the tournament and the King of the Ring event were different in that one was an actual PPV, where the King of the Ring was contested by show’s end, and one was the tournament itself, which often was contested on or at other events or TV shows offered by WWE at the time. The event itself ran like any other PPV, with other matches lined up for the night, usually finishing with the final bout of the tournament.

There were specifically 11 such events in WWE history, the first taking place in 1993.

The actual tournament was held 21 times previously, the first-ever tournament being held in 1985, Don Muracco winning that one, defeating The Iron Sheik.

Other early winners include Harley Race (1986), Randy Savage (1987), Ted DiBiase (1988), and even Tito Santana in 1989.

As of this writing, the King of the Ring Tournament for this year is set to start this evening, Friday October 8th on SmackDown, but also announced is the Queen of the Ring tournament, which should be very cool indeed.

Getting to it, then…the 8 greatest to ever be crowned…

8. Bad News Barrett

He serves as an analyst on NXT right now, but make no mistake when he wrestled, this man was a force, and a powerful one at that and an epic heel. He has many accolades to his name, but a reign as King of the Ring is top of the list for sure; especially for those that think highly of this tournament, which I happen to wholeheartedly. He won in 2015, beating Neville (now Pac in AEW) in the final round.

7. Edge

“The Rated R Superstar” also won this tournament, his win coming in 2001, he defeated Kurt Angle in the final round—an epic match that was, for sure.

But just look at what this man accomplished after winning this tournament. It can do that for a career in WWE…act as a springboard, although sadly not always. But it did wonders for him and others on this list, as you’ll see.

6. Ken Shamrock

This man does not get enough respect in this industry; especially in WWE. Ken Shamrock, who is certainly a precursor to stars like Brock Lesnar, paved the way for UFC fighters to wrestle in the ring.

He took the win at the 1998 tournament, beating The Rock in that final round. They feuded extensively that year, having quite the match at WrestleMania 14 as well.

5. Billy Gunn

This man here is one of my absolute favorite wrestlers of all time. He worked hard in the industry and knew his trade well. As I’ve already written, he added to what DX was when it was only Shawn Michaels and Triple H, he adding a different level of attitude to the troop.

As a wrestler, he proved himself not only in WWE, but at TNA and now AEW, where his sons Colton and Austin are taking over the reins of the family wrestling business there at the company…the three of them aptly named The Gunn Club.

Billy won the tournament in 1999, defeating fellow DX member, X-Pac.

4. Booker T (King Booker)

Booker T was a favorite of mine long before he ever went to WWE. In fact, this was the case so much, that when he premiered and The Rock belittled what he had done previously in the business by asking him who he was, I screamed at the TV, disappointed in that they went that low for someone who had been World Champion over at WCW 4 times over.

I mean I can still remember the best out of 7 series of matches he had with Chris Benoit for the WCW World Television Championship. Talk about a wrestling clinic.

Anyways, I got over it and Booker T proved the naysayers wrong, he having quite the career, and in TNA as well. He won the King of the Ring final against Bobby Lashley in 2006.

It was this event that brought forth one of my absolute favorite Booker characters: King Booker. I just loved that gimmick.

3. Kurt Angle

Oh man. This is where we get heavyweight, and by that I mean three of the best to ever play the game and win the tournament. Kurt Angle played the game so well. It was in 2000 that he came out victorious, defeating Rikishi.

2. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Remember what I said about the King of the Ring tournament being a springboard of sorts? Well, perhaps it served as springboard most for this man and this man alone. Because it was after he won the match against Jake “The Snake” Roberts in 1996, that he would unleash the most famous wrestling promo to ever be uttered in the industry.

The words: “You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16…Austin 3:16 says: I just whooped your ass!”

And if you know anything about professional wrestling dear readers, you know just how important that promo was, not only for his career, which is perhaps the best in the business, but for the industry overall.

If that promo wouldn’t have happened, then the Attitude Era would never have happened.

Arguable for some, but not for me.

1. Bret Hart

Another component that ushered in the Attitude Era, was the betrayal of Bret Hart at the Survivor Series in Montréal in 1997. The event labeled in the history books as, “The Montreal Screw Job” in which Vince McMahon changed the ending of Bret’s match with Shawn Michaels without telling Bret about it! It’s been extremely well documented.

But before that fateful night, Bret was the golden boy of WWE, the man at the top; the face of the business, and he had many epic accolades and achievements in his 15 years with the company before he went to WCW, but perhaps none of those achievements are as important to King of the Ring fans as much as his 2 consecutive wins in 1991 and in 1993.

Next. Ranking the top 15 WWE Tag Team Champions of all time. dark

He is the only wrestler to ever have won multiple times. He defeated Bam Bam Bigelow and IRS (Mike Rotunda, Bray Wyatt’s dad).