The tournament endured a four-year hiatus until its return in 2006 as an exclusive event of the SmackDownbrand. 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.
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.
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") and Bad News Barrett ("King Barrett") 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" 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.
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 finals 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 finals taking place the next night on the WWE Network. Bad News Barrett defeated Neville in the final round.
From 1993 through 2002, King of the Ring was produced as a pay-per-view event. In 2006, the tournament finals were featured as part of the Judgment Day pay-per-view. In 2008 and 2010, the tournament was featured as a one-night tournament that aired on Monday Night RAW. In 2015, the tournament was started on Monday Night RAW and then concluded the next night as a WWE Network exclusive.
(c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match
^The finals of the 2006 King of the Ring were held as part of the Judgment Day pay-per-view, which emanated from Phoenix. The quarterfinal and semifinal matches were conducted at various other venues.
^The 2015 King of the Ring was held over two nights. The quarterfinal matches were broadcast on Raw, held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, while the semifinal and final matches were broadcast live on the WWE Network from Moline, Illinois (prior to a SmackDown taping).
During the quarterfinal round of the tournament there were only 3 matches. Harley Race received a Bye due to the Muraco and Piper match reaching the time limit in the first round. Billy Jack Haynes beat Mr. X WITH THE full Nelson who was a substitute for Hercules Hernandez. Nikolai Volkoff beat Junkyard Dog by submission to a Bearhug. In the final quarterfinals match, Pedro Morales PINNED Mike Rotunda after Rotunda performed a back suplex on Morales but Rotunda's shoulders were on the mat.
During the first match of the semifinals, Race beat Haynes, when Haynes was counted out while Haynes applied the Full Nelson on Race while on the outside of the ring on the apron. Race would go on to face Pedro Morales in the finals, after Pedro Morales beat Nikolai Volkoff After volkoff had morales in a baerhug but Pedro broke free and revised the hold into a Small Packaging FOR THE pin in the other semifinals match. in the finals race pinned Morales after the men began brawling in and out of the ring until race got back in and Morales got back up on the apron when the two men began Suplexing one other until race Superplxed Morales back into ring for the win. Ultimately Race went on to win the King of the Ring after defeating Morales.
In addition to the tournament, there was only one other match during the night. In this match Jim Duggan defeated Dino Bravo (with Frenchy Martin) in a flag match. Duggan pinned Bravo when Martin accidentally hit Bravo with the flag.
^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. ISBN1-57488-308-9.
^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.