The King of the Ring tournament was an annual staple of WWE for many years throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Many members of the WWE Universe considered the tournament a proving ground to determine who was truly the "best wrestler" in WWE. The tournament was also often used to elevate talent into the main event scene, kickstarting the monumental WWE careers of Hall of Famers such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Kurt Angle and Bret Hart.
However, in 1999 the King of the Ring tournament was surprisingly won by Billy Gunn. Prior to this, Gunn had largely competed as a tag team wrestler in WWE as a member of The Smoking Guns, The New Age Outlaws and D-Generation X.
As was often the case with winning the King of The Ring, this tournament victory was due to kickstart a main event push for Billy Gunn. This included a feud with arguably the biggest superstar in professional wrestling at the time, The Rock.
However, the push for Billy Gunn didn't last long. Gunn was quickly relegated back to the mid-card and tag team wrestling once his feud with The Rock was over.
During a recent episode of the Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard podcast, Prichard, the Executive Director of RAW and Smackdown in WWE, explained that Billy Gunn may have not been the right person to push as a singles wrestler.
Bruce Prichard also explained that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon always has the final say on who does, and doesn't, get pushed in WWE. Prichard also stated that it was McMahon who called off the Billy Gunn push in 1999:
"Vince is always going to make the final decision, I'm not putting all the blame on Billy. A lot of it goes to the booking, and the creative, and could we have done things differently, and the answer is yes. We should've taken Billy and built him and taken our time with it. Now you're automatically comparing him to #1 A and #1 B in the company. It was poor booking on our part." (h/t Wrestling INC)
Billy Gunn in WWE
Billy Gunn is currently signed to All Elite Wrestling where he serves as a behind the scenes coach/producer, in addition to competing in a tag team with his son Austin Gunn.
Billy Gunn competed in WWE for eleven years from 1993 until 2004. During his time with WWE, Billy Gunn won a multitude of championships. This included being a former 10-time WWE World Tag Team Champion.
Gunn was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, as a member of D-Generation X, in the Class of 2019.