King of the Ring Winners

This is the first edition of a new series of articles I decided to write while I was away. Rather than the typical top ten lists that are everywhere, I’m focusing on five to really tighten things up and get rid of the chaff that invariably fluff up top ten lists. I’m hoping to go after the unexpected and offer my own insight as to why characters, superstars, feuds, storylines, and all the rest of the things that happen in the industry went down. Some editions of “The 5” will be light-hearted and fun; others will be scathing and possibly mean. I’m going to try to post “The 5” once every two weeks – more if I’m inspired. I’m very willing to take any ideas you have for “The 5”, though I cannot guarantee that I will cover every idea that comes in.

 

5- Mabel – 1995

I think some might find it sad that King Mabel is on my list in that he left the WWF less than six months after winning KOTR, but it seems like about half of the KOTR winners have had serious issues within their first year of winning the tournament. Going into KOTR and right after Mabel was a top heel in the company and appeared to be unstoppable, and then he was. Stopped that is. Many questions why Mabel’s push stopped, but what it came down to was that Mabel was dangerous in the ring and few wanted to get in there with him. When someone isn’t as careful in the ring as they should be it needs to be addressed, but when that someone is the size Mabel was at that point, it’s beyond dangerous to let him in the ring with anyone, especially since almost everyone is smaller than him. The thing that impressed me the most in Mabel’s reign as KOTR was the guys who carried Mabel to the ring in his throne. It’s one thing to carry a huge throne to the ring, it’s another thing to do so when there was over 500lbs of man in that throne. It was quite a moment, possibly the best moment of his reign.

 

4 – Owen Hart – 1994

I was a huge Owen Hart fan and this was one of my favorite times in his career. His feud with his brother Bret was wonderful, proving my point that siblings and besties have the best feuds because they know each other better than anyone else. For me it was Owen biting Bret so he couldn’t escape the cage in one of their PPV matches. It was such a sibling thing to do, but only part of what made his reign great. The King of Harts might have been a heel, but the way he carried himself during this time was brilliant. Owen’s arrogance as KOTR made his reign into something wonderful and unexpected to watch.

 

3 – Edge – 2001

Winning KOTR was a real turning point in Edge’s career. Until that point it had been E&C and all their antics, on mic and in the ring. They proved themselves to be one of the most formidable teams in the WWE of their time, and possibly all time. It looked as though they would be an unstoppable team together, and then they weren’t together and each had to establish themselves as singles competitors and KOTR did just that for Edge. This was the start of his singles career with a rocket strapped to his back. That year he won and lost the IC Championship and the WCW US Championship before being traded to SmackDown and feuding with top guys like Angle, Rey, and even tagging with Hulk Hogan. This is exactly what winning KOTR, Royal Rumble, and MITB should do to a superstar’s career, and Edge ran with the scepter and only stopping when his body made him.

 

2 – Booker T – 2006

Following Booker T’s career has been a roller coaster or great highs and terrible lows. I wasn’t overly thrilled when he won KOTR, but what he did with his reign was fantastic! Booker T took being King Booker to a whole new level. Between Booker T’s horrible accent, how he looked down on the little people, the utilization of Queen Sharmell, Sir Regal, and Sir Finlay made him into one of the best KOTR winners. Booker T didn’t just walk around with the crown and scepter, he ruled SmackDown as if it was his own royal land, working every inch of every segment he was in. I also have to admit that when he became truly disgruntled in TNA he reverted to his King Booker accent, making a laughing stock of every segment he was in. I fully believe Booker T’s time as KOTR prepared him for the creativity he needed to show TNA how little he cared in the end, and made it all that much funnier. Booker T truly changed my mind on his mic abilities on mic during his reign.

 

1 – Stone Cold Steve Austin – 1996

I don’t think anyone can argue with me that Stone Cold Steve Austin was the best KOTR ever. Austin was a great talker who was brought into the WWF as a character who didn’t talk and it could have tanked his career with the company had he not quickly moved away from it and gave the perfect line when he won KOTR. If Austin wasn’t already destined to be one of the top guys in the industry, ever, that one line sealed the deal. Russo might try to take credit for the line, trying to rewrite history, but it was as much as Austin’s delivery of his line as well as the line itself. I can still see how Austin delivered that line and how the fans reacted. It was the moment of huge change in Austin’s career and the WWE. The fans immediately grabbed onto Austin 3:16 and ran with it through signs and chants which Austin fed off from and made the Attitude Era into something that saved the WWE.

 

The 5 Wrap

I don’t think anyone can argue against Austin being the best KoTR winning since its inception, but I hope that the next KoTR can take this option and run with it, no matter who the winner is. The WWE could take one of these fine sixteen superstars and make them into someone we will always remember for how they sealed their career by winning the 2019 KOTR!