WWE.com recently posted an article entitled “Game of Thrones: The Top 10 Kings of the Ring,” by Zach Linder.
As the article name implies, it highlights the best superstars to successfully win the King of the Ring tournament, regardless of whether it was the televised, non-televised or a pay-per-view version.
Here are the wrestlers who appeared on the list:
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin (1996)
2. Macho Man Randy Savage (1987)
3. Booker T (2006)
4. Triple H (1997)
5. Bret "The Hitman" Hart (1991, 1993)
6. Harley Race (1986)
7. Brock Lesnar (2002)
8. Edge (2001)
9. Kurt Angle (2000)
10. Mable (1995)
My initial thoughts on this list—politics as usual.
Don’t get me wrong. Everyone on this list has been fun to watch, or at least they were when they became winners of the tournament. After all, the KOTR tournament was historically used to push a “rising star” to upper-midcard or main-event status. There have been 19 tournaments in total, and when you look at all of the winners, it is clear that some guys went straight to the moon and some guys became cannon fodder, simply used to get other guys over.
Take Mabel for instance. After winning the KOTR in 1995, he went on to become a “jobber to the stars,” losing to guys like The Undertaker and Diesel. Just a year later, he was released from the WWE. That’s not exactly what I would call “top 10 worthy.” Of course, he did return full time in 1999 as Viscera, a member of The Ministry of Darkness.
I also question the ranking of Harley Race. Yes, I know, he was an eight-time NWA World Champion. But that was before he came to WWE. His KOTR win was the only thing he really did to make his mark in WWE. Shortly after this victory, he suffered a hernia and took some time off.
Triple H eventually became one of the biggest and most decorated stars in the company. But after KOTR, his immediate success involved becoming a sidekick of Shawn Michaels in the first incarnation of D-Generation X. Hunter Hearst Helmsley won the European Championship after Michaels laid down in the ring and lost on purpose. However, that didn’t stop WWE.com from ranking him at No. 4.
But my biggest issue of the list is how low certain guys are placed.
Bret Hart was the Intercontinental Champion when he won his first KOTR crown. After his second crown (yep, he won twice), he was put into a lengthy televised feud with Jerry Lawler, which indirectly led to a feud with his brother, Owen Hart. Not long after this, he won the WWE Championship from Yokozuna. In my opinion, Bret should have been ranked either first or second.
Kurt Angle won his first WWE Championship a few months after winning KOTR in 2000. It is important to know that Kurt debuted in November of 1999. So technically, he was still a rookie during these victories. Of course, Brock Lesnar did practically the exact same thing in 2002. Certainly, they should both be in at least the top five.
Not appearing on this list at all is the late Owen Hart. The self-proclaimed “King Of Harts” feuded with his brother, Bret, over the WWE Championship in 1994, which included an excellent steel cage match at SummerSlam. Even though he lost the match, he continued to be a thorn in Bret’s side for a few years. Before the following tournament took place, Owen and his new partner, Yokozuna, won the World Tag Team Championship from the Smoking Gunns at WrestleMania XI. These actions alone should have at least put him around seventh or eighth, essentially bumping Mabel from the list.
There are a few placings that I mostly agreed with.
Edge at No. 8 makes sense. He wasn’t yet the “Rated R Superstar,” but he did have success by winning the Intercontinental and US Championships.
Randy Savage and Booker T are two other guys who won World Championships shortly after their KOTR victories.
Steve Austin followed his KOTR victory by winning the 1997 Royal Rumble, and he followed that by winning the World Tag Team Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. But the most important thing that happened was the “double-turn” between himself and Bret Hart at WrestleMania XIII. After that, he became the poster guy to what would eventually be labeled the “Attitude Era.”
To reiterate, I am looking at what these guys did immediately after winning KOTR.
Based on those actions alone, I believe that the list WWE put on their website is flawed. I don’t know if HHH personally told Mr. Linder to put him in the top five, but clearly, he was groomed in a few areas.
I'm sure Kurt Angle would have been higher if he was not currently signed to TNA Impact Wrestling.
The Owen Hart snub might have something to do with the litigation between Vince McMahon and Owen’s widow, Martha Hart, which would be unfortunate for the fans and the rest of the Hart family.
I don't know who Zach Linder is, but I would prefer to see these types of lists created by guys such as Jim Ross, Arn Anderson or someone else who directly worked with the talent. Or perhaps the fans could just vote for the best Kings of the Ring. But maybe that would make too much sense for their product.
So who do you think should be in the KOTR Top 10? Leave your responses below!