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. It returned in 2019 for both brands.
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.
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 final 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 final taking place the next night on the WWE Network. Bad News Barrett defeated Neville in the final round. After a four-year hiatus, WWE announced the return of the tournament in 2019. On the August 12, 2019 episode of Raw, it was announced the 2019 King of The Ring tournament would begin on the August 19, 2019 episode of Raw. The finale culminated on the September 16, 2019 episode of Raw, which was won by Baron Corbin, after defeating Chad Gable in the final round.
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" The 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.
During the quarterfinal round of the tournament, there were three 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 a full nelson. Mr X was a substitute for Hercules Hernandez. Nikolai Volkoff beat Junkyard Dog after Dog submitted to a bearhug. In the final quarterfinal match, Pedro Morales pinned Mike Rotunda after Rotunda performed a back suplex From The Top Rope 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. Pedro Morales beat Nikolai Volkoff after Morales broke free and reversed a bearhug into a small package for the pin.
In the final Race pinned Morales after he superplexed Morales back into the ring.
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.