WWE Power Rankings: Sheamus and The Best-Ever Kings Of The Ring
Last Monday night, Sheamus became the 18th man to be crowned WWE King of the Ring. He joined a list that contains the likes of Bret Hart, Harley Race, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
But where does Sheamus amongst the 17 other winners of the King of the Ring tournament?
These power rankings will rank all 18 Kings. Career achievements (before and after winning the crown), immediate impact of the victory, and strength of tournament opponents will be taken into consideration when ranking each winner.
Of course, Sheamus' immediate impact remains to be seen, as his victory is only seven days old. But we can speculate, can't we?
1995 King of the Ring; d. Savio Vega in final
The King of the Ring tournament is often used to escalate superstars from the mid-card to the main event. It isn't meant to be used on a superstar who would leave WWE six months after winning the prestigious crown.
Mabel wouldn't win a singles title until he was crowned WWF Hardcore Champion while under his later run as Viscera.
The 1995 King of the Ring pay-per-view may be remembered more for the kayfabe ECW invasion than it was for the tournament itself.
Fans chanted "ECW!" during the final, which says all we should need to know about a Mabel vs. Savio Vega KOTR final.
17. Mr. Ass
1999 King of the Ring; d. X-Pac in final
Like Mabel, Mr. Ass' post-King of the Ring push didn't last long.
After defeating former D-Generation X teammate X-Pac in the final of the 1999 tournament, Mr. Ass teamed with Triple H and Chyna to feud with X-Pac and Road Dogg.
It wasn't long before DX was reformed. In late 1999, Mr. Ass once again teamed with Road Dogg, reforming the New Age Outlaws. Shortly thereafter, Triple H and X-Pac would join the Outlaws in a full-fledged DX reunion.
Mr. Ass' push didn't even last as long as Mabel's, but at least Mr. Ass remained relevant...and employed by WWE.
16. Ken Shamrock
1998 King of the Ring; d. Rocky Maivia in final
Winning the 1998 King of the Ring became the stepping stone for Ken Shamrock's only title reign as a WWE superstar, when he became Intercontinental Champion in October 1998.
Outside of that, however, it turned out that Shamrock wasn't even the most successful wrestler in the final. We all know the success Maivia found when he flipped his moniker to become The Rock.
Shamrock's WWE career didn't last long after he dropped the Intercontinental belt in February 1999.
15. William Regal
2008 King of the Ring; defeated CM Punk in final
Most of the WWE Universe knows William Regal is an accomplished professional wrestler who has won titles on multiple continents.
Strangely enough, Regal never won a singles title after being crowned King of the Ring two years ago.
Regal, in fact, faded into the mid-card mix after serving a 60-day suspension just a month after winning the 2008 edition of the tournament.
On a recent tour of Europe, Regal announced the tour may be his last, hinting at potential retirement in the coming months. It would end a nearly 30-year career in the professional wrestling industry.
2010 King of the Ring; d. John Morrison in final
Putting a two-time former world champion behind a handful of men who have never won one is sure to be a controversial move, but the reigning King of the Ring checks in at No. 14 on this power ranking.
As I mentioned in the opening, it's really hard to pinpoint exactly what type of impact Sheamus will have in the future. He's already won the WWE Championship twice, but fitting the criteria for which all 18 Kings are being judged, he won both before claiming the King of the Ring crown.
When all is said in done in the Celtic Warrior's career, he may be a top-five choice. But in December 2010, this is where Sheamus fits. Only the future will tell us exactly where his final ranking is.
13. Owen Hart
1994 King of the Ring; d. Razor Ramon in final
When Owen Hart won the 1994 King of the Ring tournament, he was in the middle of an emotional feud with his older brother, Bret. The two had clashed at WrestleMania X, with Owen earning a clean win over his brother.
Hart kept his hot streak going by winning the King of the Ring crown in June 1994. He would continue through 1994, up into WrestleMania XI, in his feud with Bret.
In the years after, Hart would go on to find success as a singles wrestler, winning the European Championship once, the Intercontinental title twice, and the Tag Team Championships four times.
He was set to earn his third Intercontinental title on the night of his untimely death in 1999.
12. Harley Race
1986 King of the Ring; d. Pedro Morales in final
Six Hall of Famers have won the King of the Ring tournament. Harley Race is the first of the six, and the first of four straight, in this power ranking.
Race is a Hall of Famer in just about every way possible. Surprisingly, however, the legendary superstar never won a world title in WWE or WCW.
That doesn't take anything away from a career that was befitting of the accolades he has earned through the years.
Race defeated fellow Hall of Famer Pedro Morales in the final to earn the prestigious crown.
11. Tito Santana
1989 King of the Ring; d. Rick Martel in final
In March 1985, the Grandest Stage of Them All was born, and Tito Santana was the man to win the first-ever WrestleMania match.
Four years later, Santana would defeat his long-time tag-team partner, the newly heel Rick Martel, to win the 1989 King of the Ring tournament.
Santana, a two-time Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, is considered one of the best technical wrestlers of his generation.
His career was capped with a well-deserved induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
10. Don Muraco
1985 King of the Ring; d. Iron Sheik in final
The original Rock was also the first King of the Ring, knocking off the legendary Iron Sheik to win the first ever King of the Ring tournament.
Like Harley Race, Don Muraco never became a world champion in WWE. But those were the days when there weren't two belts to go around, and title reigns that ended after three or four months.
Muraco was an innovator and a headliner in his time between the ropes. He had memorable feuds with legends such as Ric Flair, Jimmy Snuka, Tito Santana, and Roddy Piper.
He was also the innovator of the reverse piledriver, which was popularized by The Undertaker as the Tombstone Piledriver.
9. Ted DiBiase
1988 King of the Ring; d. Randy Savage in final
When making a list of the best WWE wrestlers never to win a world championship, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase is near, or at, the top of every list.
DiBiase was an innovator in an out of the ring. He is widely considered one of the best technical wrestlers of all-time, and his heel promos established the standard superstars on Raw and SmackDown measure themselves against.
In one of his finest in-ring accomplishments, DiBiase defeated the reigning King of the Ring, Randy Savage, in the final of the 1988 tournament.
DiBiase found plenty of gold as well, winning the Intercontinental Championship twice and the Tag Team titles three times.
Hell, he even created his own belt. And this spring, he was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
8. Brock Lesnar
2002 King of the Ring; d. Rob Van Dam in final
Before he opted to leave WWE for a run at professional football, Brock Lesnar was on the fast track to the top of WWE.
In June 2002, Lesnar captured the King of the Ring crown at the age of 25. Just a few months later, Lesnar defeated The Rock to become the youngest WWE Champion ever.
Lesnar would go on to win the WWE title twice more, as well as winning the Royal Rumble match in 2003.
And he did it all in just three years. There is no telling how high Lesnar could have gone had he remained in WWE.
7. Randy Savage
1987 King of the Ring; d. King Kong Bundy in final
WWE named "Macho Man" Randy Savage the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time earlier this year. And that's just one of the many accolades Savage has to his credit.
One such accolade is a victory in the 1987 King of the Ring tournament.
In fact, Savage is one of only three men to reach the final in consecutive King of the Ring tournaments.
Outside of the King of the Ring, Savage won the WWE Championship twice, on top of his one Intercontinental title reign.
Savage held the WWE title for 371 days, eventually losing it at WrestleMania V. It was one of the longest reigns of all-time, and no wrestler would hold the title for more than a year until John Cena did it from 2006 into 2007.
6. Booker T
2006 King of the Ring; d. Bobby Lashley in final
Despite providing us with the atrocious King Booker gimmick, Booker T was quietly one of the most successful wrestlers in recent WWE history.
Booker T is one of only 10 superstars in WWE history to win the Grand Slam. He won a pair of WCW titles—the WCW World title and the Tag Team titles—while they were still being used in WWE, as well as winning the World Heavyweight Championship once, the World Tag Team titles three times, the Intercontinental Championship once, and the United States Championship three times.
His World Heavyweight title run came after he defeated Rey Mysterio at the 2006 Great American Bash. It was his only WWE world title run, but it came just months after being crowned the 2006 King of the Ring.
2001 King of the Ring; d. Kurt Angle in final
The road to becoming the Rated R Superstar started in the summer of 2001, when Edge defeated reigning King of the Ring Kurt Angle to earn the crown for himself.
Though Edge's first world title reign wouldn't come for nearly five more years, Edge's track record is undeniable. He is a nine-time world champion, a 14-time tag team champion, a five-time Intercontinental champion, and the first ever Money in the Bank winner.
When his illustrious career finally comes to an end, Edge could propel himself even further up this list. And the Hall of Fame should come calling shortly after Edge hangs up his wrestling boots for good.
4. Kurt Angle
2000 King of the Ring; d. Rikishi in final
Winning the King of the Ring tournament has been the stepping stone to stardom for many superstars. Kurt Angle is definitely one of them.
Only four months after winning the 2000 King of the Ring tournament, Angle defeated The Rock to become WWE Champion.
Angle would go on to three more WWE title reigns, as well as stints as U.S. Champion, Intercontinental Champion, European Champion, and Tag Team Champion. Angle was also the fifth superstar to win WWE's Grand Slam.
Now arguably the top star in TNA, Angle may be the best technical wrestler of all-time. He has put on five-star matches in WWE and TNA, and is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
And it all started at King of the Ring.
3. Bret Hart
1991, 1993 King of the Ring; d. IRS, Bam Bam Bigelow in finals
After 19 editions of the King of the Ring tournament, The Excellence of Execution still remains the only two-time winner.
Despite winning the WWE Championship before his 1993 tournament win, it was that victory over Bam Bam Bigelow that really launched Bret Hart's Hall of Fame career as we know it.
Before leaving WWE in 1997, Hart won the WWE Championship five times, the Intercontinental title twice, and was a two-time Tag Team Champion as a member of the Hart Foundation.
The rest of Hart's career speaks for itself. He's considered the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be for a reason.
2. Triple H
1997 King of the Ring; d. Mankind in final
The King of Kings started the long path to his royal moniker by claiming the 1997 King of the Ring crown.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Triple H is a shoo-in Hall of Famer when his career finally comes to a close. He is a 13-time world champion, a five-time Intercontinental champion, a three-time tag team champion, winner of the 2002 Royal Rumble match, and was the second man (behind Shawn Michaels) to earn the WWE's Grand Slam.
If not for his suspension following the MSG Incident, the course of WWE history may have changed forever. Triple H, then wrestling under his Hunter Hearst Helmsley gimmick, was scheduled to win the 1996 King of the Ring tournament. Instead, he was severely punished for his involvement in the incident, delaying his King of the Ring victory one more year.
Instead of Helmsley, it was another man to be crowned King of the Ring in 1996. The 1996 edition provided one of the most famous promos in WWE history, and launched the career of the No. 1 King of the Ring ever.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin
1996 King of the Ring; d. Jake Roberts in final
On June 23, 1996, Stone Cold Steve Austin delivered one of the most famous lines in WWE history.
"Talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16...Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!"
And with that, one of the most popular wrestlers in history was born.
Austin won the WWE Championship six times, the Intercontinental title twice, and was a four-time tag team champion. He is also the only man to win the Royal Rumble match three times.
On the night before WrestleMania last year, WWE Chairman inducted Austin into the WWE Hall of Fame, declaring him the greatest superstar of all time.
That point may very well be a difficult one to argue.
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