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10 Greatest King Of The Ring Winners

The famous King Of The Ring tournament makes its long-awaited return to WWE this month with the company looking to crown a new winner in a tournament that is stacked with incredible talent.

Whilst the tournament may have been gone for several years, the anticipation about its return is incredibly high, and a large reason for that is the impact that winning it can provide for the talents.

Throughout history, the King Of The Ring tournament has been a platform to take the talent from the mid-card to the main event scene and within this article, we will take a look back at the 10 greatest winners in the history of the tournament.

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10 Edge

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Because the Rated-R Superstar achieved everything there was to do in WWE, his King Of The Ring victory can often be overlooked, but that win really was the catalyst that started his push as a singles competitor.

Defeating Kurt Angle in the final had really helped to make Edge stand out as a top competitor on his own after a fabulous tag team career, with his feud against Christian being the tipping point that really solidified him as a singles star.

Edge then went on to win every title imaginable in WWE and is the only man (other than Sheamus) to have won this tournament, the Money in the Bank and a Royal Rumble, all of which really add up to making his Hall Of Fame career.

9 Harley Race

The late, great, Harley Race was positioned as a top heel when he finally joined WWF in 1996, and his victory in the King Of The Ring helped to establish him in that way amongst the audience.

Race would force his opponents to kneel before him prior to his matches as he fully embraced the King character, with Bobby Heenan making anybody who wouldn't kneel kiss his feet, which worked a treat in terms of getting heel heat.

This was first truly memorable King Of The Ring run to date, and it really set the tone moving forward for what winning the tournament could do for a wrestler.

8 Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar has achieved so much at this point in his WWE career that a lot of people forget he also won the King Of The Ring, with the tournament win being another impressive accomplishment to add to his list of accolades.

The Beast won the tournament back in 2002, only three months after debuting in the company, with the victory cementing the fact that he really was going to be the 'Next Big Thing' in professional wrestling.

Even though he didn't change his gimmick to fit the King Of The Ring victory (which isn't a bad thing), it certainly worked in building a brand new main event star, with Lesnar winning the WWF Championship soon after.

7 Owen Hart

Owen Hart made his singles career burst in a major way when he was victorious in the 1994 King Of The Ring tournament, allowing him to finally step out of Bret's shadow in terms of singles competition.

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The tournament started a rivalry between the Hart brothers that would lead to one of the greatest matches in WWE history as the two men battled it out for the WWF World Championship.

In the end, Owen never did capture the ultimate prize, but the King Of The Ring accomplishment remained one of the greatest accolades of his career.

6 Randy Savage

Randy Savage was able to win the King Of The Ring tournament in 1987, which was a surprise because by that point he was already a well-established name in WWE, with most viewing him as a main event star already.

However, Savage took his tournament victory and managed to excel himself to a brand new level, gaining the biggest push of his in-ring career as "The Mega Powers" run began alongside Hulk Hogan.

The storyline led to Savage becoming the WWF Champion at WrestleMania IV, a run which all began from his victory in the King Of The Ring tournament, proving that it could help even the biggest names in wrestling.

5 Triple H

He is known as "The King Of Kings" for a reason, with Triple H's 1997 tournament victory helping to propel him from the mid-card into the main event scene, with The Game forming D-Generation X with Shawn Michaels in the month that followed.

Triple H was initially set to win the tournament the year prior in 1996, however, the infamous Curtain Call saw that decision be delayed, with Triple H being punished for the group's decision to break kayfabe.

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However, WWE clearly saw the talent within Triple H and gave him his big push in 1997, with the victory being a key moment in his career growth.

4 Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle won the largest King Of The Ring tournament in 2000, with WWE opting to have 32 competitors instead of the normal 16 or eight, making his victory instantly incredibly memorable and impressive.

Like many of the tournament winners, this was a major moment in Angle's career, helping him to break into the main event scene with his post-victory feud with Triple H really having a key impact.

Angle went from runs with the European and Intercontinental Championships to beating The Rock for the World Championship, with the tournament helping to push him to the next level.

3 Bret Hart

The Hitman still remains to this day the only man to have won the King Of The Ring on two separate occasions, doing so in 1991 and 1993, with his second win being the more impactful and memorable.

After winning the tournament for a second time, WWE started to really change its thought process, with smaller wrestlers breaking through to be given more time and opportunities in the ring, with the likes of Hart and Shawn Michaels starting to dominate.

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Bret Hart's career really kicked on to a new level after winning the tournament again, going from someone who just puts on quality in-ring work to fantastic main event work.

2 Booker T

No wrestler has ever utilized the King Of The Ring victory, as well as Booker T, did, totally changing his character following his 2006 tournament victory to kick start what was arguably the most exciting run of his career.

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Becoming King Booker, the experienced wrestler managed to turn what could have been quite a ridiculous gimmick into a fantastic heel character with his wife by his side, earning himself a main event spot in the company.

Rather than just winning the tournament and piggybacking off of it for a couple of weeks, Booker T created an entire gimmick around it, showing just how impactful winning the tournament could be.

1 Stone Cold Steve Austin

Simply for his post-match interview alone, Stone Cold Steve Austin has to take the top prize when it comes to the greatest King Of The Ring winners in history, with the WWE Hall Of Famer creating one of the most iconic moments in history from his win.

Nobody will ever forget the classic "Austin 3:16" catchphrase being used for the first time, and it is surprising to think that it almost never happened considering the fact Triple H was initially meant to win the 1996 King Of The Ring.

The victory for Steve Austin really kickstarted his career in WWF, taking him to heights that nobody ever expected to see as he began his main event, Hall Of Fame career.

NEXT: 5 Rivalries That Made Stone Cold Steve Austin (& 5 That Ultimately Disappointed)

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