The King of the Ring is a quasi-annual tournament in WWE, in which usually eight WWE SuperStars compete in a single-elimination tournament to determine the winner. In the years before the tournament was broadcasted on pay-per-view, the tournament was held in Northeast and its winner was not announced on WWF-TV. Although, Harley Race won the 1986 tournament before his entrance on WWF-TV as "King Harley Race." After 2002, the WWF stopped hosting the tournament until 2006, in which it reappeared on WWE-TV as a multi-week tournament with the finals only held at Judgment Day 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona. Afterwards, the tournament returned to its single-night format as a special three-hour RAW in April 2008 and in December 2010.
Below is a list of years the tournaments were held and the final match & location of each:
- 1985: Don Muraco defeated The Iron Sheik (Foxborough, MA)
- 1986: Harley Race defeated Pedro Morales (Foxborough, MA)
- 1987: Randy Savage defeated King Kong Bundy (Providence, RI)
- 1988: Ted DiBiase defeated Randy Savage (Providence, RI)
- 1989: Tito Santana defeated Rick Martel (Providence, RI)
- 1991: Bret Hart defeated Irwin R. Schyster (Providence, RI)
- 1993: Bret Hart defeated Bam Bam Bigelow (Dayton, OH)
- 1994: Owen Hart defeated Razor Ramon (Baltimore, Maryland)
- 1995: Mabel defeated Savio Vega (Philadelphia, PA)
- 1996: Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Jake The Snake Roberts (Milwaukee, WI)
- 1997: Hunter Hearst-Helmsley defeated Mankind (Providence, RI)
- 1998: Ken Shamrock defeated The Rock (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 1999: Bad Ass Billy Gunn defeated X-Pac (Greensboro, NC)
- 2000: Kurt Angle defeated Rikishi (Boston, MA)
- 2001: Edge defeated Kurt Angle (East Rutherford, NJ)
- 2002: Brock Lesnar defeated Rob Van Dam (Columbus, OH)
- 2006: Booker T defeated Bobby Lashley (Phoenix, AZ)
- 2008: William Regal defeated CM Punk (Greenville, SC)
- 2010: Sheamus defeated John Morrison (Philadelphia, PA)
WWF's first pay-per-view Wrestling Classic was their predecessor of their King of the Ring tournaments. The reason no tournament was held in 1990 or in 1992 is unknown.
In the May 1997 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated (pg. 52), the following results were printed in their Arena Reports section:
DUBAI---WWF one-night King of the Ring tournament at the Al Ahli Sports Club: First round: Bret Hart beat Davey Boy Smith ... Faarooq wrestled Big Van Vader to a double-countout ... The Undertaker beat Mankind ... Steve Austin defeated Owen Hart ... Second round: Austin defeated Undertaker by disqualification (Bret Hart received a bye) ... Finals: Hart defated Austin to win the tournament.