Throwback Thursday: The Best of King of the Ring, As Seen on WWE Network

June 2, 2016 by Brock Allen

WWE Network Throwback Thursday - Logo

From 1993 to 2002 June was the month of kings in World Wrestling Entertainment. A launching pad for many future greats in the WWE including Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, and Brock Lesnar, the King of the Ring Tournament was a fan favorite from the very first event.

This week Throwback Thursday on WrestlingDVDNetwork.com looks back at 10 of the best matches from one of the most beloved PPV events, as seen of course on the WWE Network.

WWE - King of the Ring Logo, Attitude Era
WWE - Kurt Angle Winning King of the Ring Tournament

Like the Royal Rumble, the KOTR was built around a single concept (the tournament) and featured several non-tournament matches to fill out the card. With that in mind, we’ll be looking at 5 of the best non-tournament matches and 5 of the best tournament matches in the PPV event’s history.

 
Non-Tournament Matches

WWF World Heavyweight Championship – “Champion vs. Champion Match” (WATCH – 52:52)
Special Guest Commentator: 1968 Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Donovan
Diesel (WWF Intercontinental Champion) w/Shawn Michaels vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart(c) w/Jim Neidhart
WWF King of the Ring 1994 ? June 19, 1994

Diesel wasn’t known for having classic matches. In fact, aside from working with Scott Hall, Diesel wasn’t known for having good matches in general. That all changed on this night. This wasn’t just Diesel’s best match yet, but the best match yet at the King of the Ring event and a standout in both men’s Hall of Fame careers.

 
— “Non-Title Champion vs. Champion Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:37:35)
Stone Cold Steve Austin (WWF Tag Team Champion) vs. Shawn Michaels (WWF Tag Team Champion)
WWF King of the Ring 1997 ? June 8, 1997

WWE Network - Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels, King of the Ring 1997

HBK, out for over 3 months with a “knee injury”, returned to the ring on the May 26, 1997 edition of RAW, teaming with Steve Austin to win the WWF Tag titles from Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith. The team, however, quickly imploded, leading to this classic encounter at the 1997 KOTR.

 
WWF Championship (WATCH – 1:18:00)
The Rock vs. The Undertaker(c) w/Paul Bearer
WWF King of the Ring 1999 ? June 27, 1999

Having survived a frantic “Triple Threat Match” to earn this title shot on the June 14, 1998 edition of RAW, The Rock was primed to take out the head of the Corporate Ministry and win the WWF Championship for the 4th time since Survivor Series ’98. This match is vintage “Attitude Era” booking complete with brawling around the arena, a slow build, and interference.

 
WWF Tag Team Championship – “Four Team Elimination Match” (WATCH – 51:37)
Edge & Christian vs. T & A (Test & Albert) w/Trish Stratus vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) w/Lita vs. Too Cool (Scotty 2 Hotty & Grandmaster Sexay)(c)
WWF King of the Ring 2000 ? June 25, 2000

WWE Network - Edge & Christian in Tag Team Championship Match, King of the Ring 2000

Too Cool, with the help of Rikishi and the late Joe C., won the WWF Tag titles on the May 29, 2000 edition of RAW (currently unavailable on the Network). Aside from the title change this match had little backstory or build, but still delivered a fun, unique match. With this win, Edge and Christian would win their 2nd WWF Tag Team Championship, ending Too Cool’s first and only reign at 27 days.

 
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:28:45)
“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. Kurt Angle
WWE King of the Ring 2002 ? June 23, 2002

The “Battle of the Real American Heroes” was a dream match few thought would ever happen. The match served as the end of the beginning in the Mr. McMahon/Hulk Hogan feud that would culminate at WrestleMania XIX in a “Street Fight”. This match was more of a fight than a wrestling match, but it exceeded expectations nonetheless. Hogan tapping out was a sight few thought they’d ever live to see.

 
King of the Ring Tournament Matches

Semi-Final Match of the 1993 WWF King of the Ring Tournament (WATCH – 56:00)
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
WWF King of the Ring 1993 ? June 13, 1993

WWE Network - Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect, King of the Ring 1993

The first PPV King of the Ring was the “Bret Hart show”. After dispatching of Razor Ramon in a compelling first round match, Bret Hart entered the semi-final against one of the greatest foes of the “Hitman’s” Hall of Fame career. This isn’t just the best match of the 1993 KOTR event, but arguably the greatest KOTR tournament match in event history.

 
Semi-Final Match of the 1996 WWF King of the Ring Tournament (WATCH – 2:45)
Special Guest Commentator: Owen Hart
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero w/Sable
WWF King of the Ring 1996 ? June 23, 1996

Originally the 1996 tournament was to go to Triple H, but the “Curtain Call” ended that push. Austin, the new choice, didn’t just take advantage of the opportunity, Stone Cold nuked it. This match set history in motion and furthered the growing mythology around Stone Cold Steve Austin.

 
Finals of the 1998 WWF King of the Ring Tournament – “Non-Title Match” (WATCH – 1:25:54)
Special Guest Commentator: WWF European Champion Triple H
The Rock (WWF Intercontinental Champion) vs. Ken Shamrock
WWF King of the Ring 1998 ? June 29, 1998

WWE - Ken Shamrock Ankle lock to The Rock, Wins King of the Ring

One of the most disappointing KOTR tournaments up to that point, the 1998 incarnation was more “attitude” than action. This match, which largely saved the entire tournament, was a nip and tuck affair that could have gone either way. Though Shamrock would fade out of the WWF, this match remains a testament to what was and what could have been.

 
Finals of the 2001 WWF King of the Ring Tournament (WATCH – 54:23)
Kurt Angle vs. Edge
WWF King of the Ring 2001 ? June 24, 2001

2000 King of the Ring winner Kurt Angle pulled double duty in 2001, competing in the final two rounds of KOTR tournament as well as doing battle with WCW owner Shane McMahon in a “Street Fight”. An early classic in the singles career of Edge, this match elevated Edge and set the stage for a legendary war later in the night between Angle and Shane O’Mac.

 
Semi-Final Match of the 2002 WWE King of the Ring Tournament – “Non-Title Match” (WATCH – 2:33)
Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam (WWE Intercontinental Champion)
WWE King of the Ring 2002 ? June 23, 2002

WWE - Jerry Lawler Interviewing RVD at King of the Ring 2002

The 2002 King of the Ring tournament was a true stand out. Between dueling split-brand mini-tournaments and the stacked roster, it’s hard not to see the 2002 incarnation as one of the best ever. This first semi-final nearly stole the show and is, for my money at least, one of the best, most complete KOTR tournament matches ever.

 
Final Thoughts

The King of the Ring, while a fan favorite, was a hit-and-miss event. Some of the events were great, others not so much. These featured matches are but 10 of the classic encounters to take place at the King of the Ring event from 1993 to 2002. Though its time has come and gone, fans around the world still clamor for the day King of the Ring makes its triumphant return and reclaims its crown as one of the best WWE PPV events of all-time.

WWE - King of the Ring Logo, New Generation Era
WWE - Triple H Winning King of the Ring Tournament

That’s it for this week’s TBT – thanks for reading! Already have the WWE Network? Then check out these classic King of the Ring matches, see them for yourself, and let us know what you think.

Until next week, see ya at ringside!

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12 Comments left on this article...

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  1. Anan says:

    Agree that KOTR’s been treated like a joke since 2006. It went from a prestigious tournament that spanned several weeks incluing making up some of the KOTR PPV card itself to being a one night RAW special where the winners don’t really go anywhere. This tournarnt laucnhed the careers of Austin, HHH, to a degree, Owen Hart and continued the 2000 rise of Kurt Angle and the 2002 rise of Brok Lesnar. By the time his 1993 KOTR win came, Bret was already a top guy having won the Tag Team, IC and WWF Titles. Booker T didn’t need the win in 2006. All it did was led to the awful King Booker gimmick. Regal, Sheamus, and Barrett went nowhere after their wins which is shameful considering the talent.

    But in all accuracy, the KOTR really didn’t reach its potential all the time prior to 2006.
    1999 – Billy gunn…talented, but where did his KOTR take him? Nowhere. Shortly after, the Outlaws and evetually DX both reformed themselves after feuding with each other for most of the year.

    1998 – Shamrock was wasted. Considering how far Rock went, I wouldn’t have minded if he won.

    1995 – Don’t think Mabel should have won. 1995 wasn’t WWF’s best year. The only good things this year for Mabel was winning KOTR, closing Summerslam with a Title shot against Diesel and feud with Taker. He lost the latter two.

    Shane vs Angle, despite being a repeat and I understand why Brock doesn’t like repeats (me neither unless there’s reason for them), but considering this is Best of KOTR, it does belong here. So does Taker vs Mankind at KOTR 1996 and KOTR 1998, Bret vs Razor and Bret vs Bam Bam Bigelow from 93, Kid vs Owen from 94, WWF Championship Six Man Tag from 2000 Jeff Hardy vs X-Pac, Kane/Spike vs Dudleys, Jericho vs Benoit vs Austin from 2001. Anyone of these would be a suitable replacement for Hogan vs Angle. Aside from Hogan vs Angle, I agree with what ended up being included on the list. I wouldn’t have minded two separate KOTR lists – one non-tournament, the other centering on just tournament matches – so that some of the matches that were left out in order to not make the list so one sided wouldn’t be an issue.

    I often debate with friends about the best PPV card from an on paper standpoint as well as a delivery standpoint. I haven’t bee able to pick one as for me it’s between 93, 96, 98, and 99.

    • Brad Attitude says:

      Not only did Booker T’s win lead to him becoming The awful King gimmick but it lead him to the world title which he busted his ass off to win since Triple H screwed him out of at WrestleMania XIX.

  2. Jamie says:

    Owen vs 1-2-3 Kid?

  3. LP1 says:

    There’s no reason why the King Of The Ring couldn’t still work today. The problem is since 2006(the post PPV era of KOTR) WWE has treated the tournament like a joke. They didn’t use the tournament to create any new stars, they used it as an excuse just to give someone the cartoonish King gimmick. Booker T(2006), William Regal(2008), Sheamus(2010) and Wade Barrett(2015) were all established stars before winning the KOTR and once they got the King gimmick they turned into jokes. If WWE were to take the concept seriously and dedicate it to making new top stars, like they did with Austin, HHH, Angle, Edge, Brock, etc. then the idea of the King Of The Ring becoming a major event again can work.

    • Brock Allen says:

      I would agree with that in part. I think the tournament could work in NXT, for sure, but that the MITB match has replaced the KOTR tournament on the “main” card. At least that’s my thoughts on it. Thanks for reading, LP1, and taking the time to comment.

  4. Brad Attitude says:

    Undertaker vs Mankind?

    • Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Life says:

      That one too, absolutely Brad!

    • Brock Allen says:

      I was going to include the Taker/Mankind match on the list but I didn’t want the list to be too one side. The match may pop up again somewhere else, though, ya never can tell.

  5. Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Life says:

    Always hard to pick, especially from a great event that KOTR is.. however…the street fight from 2001 really needs to be on a list like this.. and any other list for that matter.

    It is not just the FIVE crazy attempts to put Shane through the glass that every one remembers.. it’s THAT + all that happen before, in between and even after those attempts.

    The wonderfull mixture of mat-wrestling, epic hardcore spots and great storytelling makes this one of my top 5 favorites of all time.. I stopped counting how many times I seen that match.

    Still.. great article again.. 🙂

  6. David says:

    I always liked the KOTR concept and was one my favorite events as it usually makes main event stars and a fan of tournaments. There were many underrated matches and glad RVD vs. Jericho from 2002 is mentioned in the article since it hardly gets any praise and one of the forgotten KOTR matches – Eddie vs. Flair from 2002 as well was pretty good too from what i remember. 2002 was actually not as bad I thought was when re-watching. I think it gets hate due to the main event HHH vs. Taker being slow and dull.

    Another match which I thought was very good, even though the timing was short is Owen Hart vs. 123 Kid from 1994, probably one of the best matches under 3 minutes long, wish it went longer.

    Great article.

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