WWE King And Queen Of The Ring Throughout The Years

WWE’s King of the Ring Tournament has been one of their longest-tenured recurring events, even though it has not taken place every single year. A tournament that first took place back in 1985, there were 22 tournaments for the men and 1 for the women headed into 2023 when WWE revived a PLE branded around the tournament’s name. This year, we will crown a brand-new King and Queen of the Ring, both of whom will get a title shot down the road from that event. Let’s take a look back at some of the best moments and winners from the history of the most royal WWE event of the year!

The early days of the tournament took place off of TV as special events for house show crowds. Then, in 1993, WWE revived the concept and created its own Pay-Per-View event around it. This show aired annually until 2002, and then the event became a periodic TV special for many of the remaining tournaments that have taken place. This year’s event will culminate on a PLE, but the tournament matches occurred on Raw, Smackdown, and some house shows. Only one man has ever won the tournament twice, which was Bret “The Hitman” Hart in 1991 and 1993. Hart’s two wins helped propel him, along with his great in-ring acumen and successful run as Intercontinental Champion, into WWE’s face of the company for much of the mid-90s.

The tournament also sparked the main event careers of some more WWE legends, specifically the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H, both of whom were essentially no-names at the time they won those tournaments, but they used the momentum of those wins to become household names. Following his win, Stone Cold cut his infamous “Austin 3:16” promo, which became the defining moment of his career, and is what many harken back to when they look at the dawning of the Austin Era. After Triple H won in 1997, the tournament seemed to take somewhat of a lesser seat, with some rather inauspicious winners in 1998 and 1999. Young stars returned to the focal point of the tourney when the likes of Kurt Angle, Edge, and Brock Lesnar all won from 2000-2002, helping elevate all 3 men to the eventual world title glory they would all soon see in their careers. It was after 2002 that the tournament became less frequent and was only pulled out on occasion by WWE. In 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015 and 2019 were the only tournaments between Lesnar’s win in 2002 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These winners started to see the superstar who won the tournament inherit a “kingly” gimmick on TV, decked out in a crown, staff, and a robe. King Booker was the most successful of these 5 years mentioned here, using the new gimmick to become over in a new and refreshing way that added an extra year onto his WWE tenure and led to a World Heavyweight Title reign as well. This was one of Booker’s best tenures of his entire career, so the win did wonders for him. Sheamus 2010 and Wade Barrett both adopted similar gimmicks after winning their tourneys (albeit to a much lesser extent than Booker) but dropped the gimmicks as their careers found more success elsewhere or in Barrett’s case, he retired. William Regal was poised for a major push after winning the 2008 tourney, but his suspension derailed that. Lastly here is King Corbin in 2019…but the less said about that the better.

The tourney returned in 2021 with a “Queen’s Crown” equivalent for the women, won by Xavier Woods and Zelina Vega respectively. This could’ve been the defining win both needed for them to have a major singles run and title victory, especially Woods following the recent successes of both his fellow New Day brethren, but alas it was not to be. Save for Woods’ ever-so-short-lived feud with Roman Reigns, he was back to a tag team guy by Wrestlemania 38. Here in 2024, we have the re-establishment of the tournament with a PLE attached to the finals, a proper renaming of the women’s bracket to “Queen of the Ring” and some major potential outcomes of the finals. Lyra Valkyira and GUNTHER have already qualified from the Raw side, while Randy Orton and Nia Jax have from Smackdown. With Summerslam world title matches awaiting both winners, things are truly a massive opening for new stars to emerge or the likes of Orton and Belair to pad their resumes. Either way, tune in to King and Queen of the Ring to see who adds their names to the legendary ranks of the best of the best and most royal members of WWE’s record books.