-Some background is given on the King of the Ring, including tracing its route back to 1985. A video package highlighting some of the kings and other such moments are included in the opening video package. Booker T is the host, and heâ€™s using his terrible aristocratic accent. Booker T goes over the various Kings of the Ring before 1993.
-King of the Ring Final: Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (King of the Ring-June 13, 1993)
Match in Five Words or Less: A Lot of Heart
Match Highlights: Bam Bam Bigelow wants to be the first King of the Ring. Considering the two tough matches Hart had with Razor Ramon and Mr. Perfect and Bigelow received a bye into the finals, the answer to who should win seems obvious. Hart comes out selling his knee and fingers. Bigalow immediately misses a charge. Bigelow wins a slugfest. Hart ducks a clothesline but comes down on top in a cross body. Bigelow rips the eyes. Shoulder tackle. Press slam sends Hart to the floor. Bigelow whips Hart hard across. Headbutt for two. Back suplex as Bigelow has really slowed the pace down. Bigalow rakes the eyes and whips Hart again. Headbutt but Hart wonâ€™t die. Bearhug. Bigelow DROPS Hart in a back suplex. 1-2-NO! Bigalow deposits Hart to the floor. Hart sends Bigelow crashing into the rail. Series of right hands. Again Bigelow sent in. Elbow from the apron to the floor. Bigelow catches Hart and rams him into the post. Bodyslam on the floor. Bigalow distracts the referee as Luna Vachon nails Hart with a chair shot to the back. Referee begins counting. Bigelow tosses Hart in the ring. Bodyslam. Up top and a headbutt hits. 1-2-3. Bigelow has apparently won it. A second referee comes out and informs the first referee about Vachon hitting Hart with a chair. Why would the decision not be reversed? Apparently, the match must continue. That makes no sense. Bigelow pinned Hart already and got the victory partially because of the chair shot. That was just awkward. Bigelow stays on the attack. Bigelow applies a submission backbreaker. Hart gets his hands up and works out of the hold. Back drop driver. Running senton misses. Hart with a shot to the midsection. Whip and Hart goes in hard. Bigelow applies another backbreaker. Hart rakes Bigelowâ€™s face and counters into a sleeper. Bigelow brings him over. Dropkick sends Bigelow into the ropes. Hart finishes dumping him to the floor. Pescado and right hands. Clothesline off the second rope for two. Russian legsweep. Bulldog. Hart looks to apply the sharpshooter. Bigelow tosses him over. Bearhug. Hart quickly out. Bigelow reverses a back suplex into a cross body. 1-2-NO! Whip. Hart gets his boots up. Victory roll into a three count and Bret Hart is the first official King of the Ring.
Analysis: Goody fake-out finish aside, this was a really enjoyable match. Bigelow doesnâ€™t the credit he deserves for being a real good big man. Hart may not have received the opportunity to become WWF champion a second time in 1993, but he did get a chance to showcase himself in three very different and unique matches. He spent nearly an hour in the ring. Very impressive for a WWF wrestler to do something like this.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: 1993 King of the Ring-Bret Hart/18:11/***1/2
-Bret Hart gets the cape and crown bestowed upon him. Jerry Lawler interrupts to claim heâ€™s the real king of the WWF. Lawler potatoes Hart with a scepter shot. This was the start of a feud that would last almost exactly two years. More on that later.
WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan (w/Jimmy Hart) (champion) vs. Yokozuna (w/Mr.Fuji) (King of the Ring -June 13, 1993)
Match in Five Words or Less: The End Of An Era
Match Highlights: This actually took place before the King of the Ring final. Hogan defeated Yokozuna to become the WWF champion just moments after he defeated Bret Hart to win the title at Wrestlemania 9. This is a fairly significant contest for a number of reasons. This isnâ€™t exactly a technical classic. Yokozuna was still somewhat mobile at this point, but he had a limited moveset. Yoko dominates. Hogan gets no offense in the first few minutes. Hogan ducks a charge and punches a lot. Plus biting. Whata great babyface. Whip and a clothesline follow-up. Bodyslam attempt fails. A second fails as well. Yokozuna regains control. Hogan tries knocking him down with clotheslines, but the challenger fires one of his own. Running splash misses. Shoulder tackle but Hogan goes down. Whip in the corner and bearhug. Hogan fights out of the hold. Back elbow by Yoko. Belly-to-belly suplex. The crowd oohs and aahs. 1-2-Hulk up time! The usual with a little extra since the challenger wonâ€™t go down. Big leg. Yoko kicks out of the leg drop. Hogan knocks Fuji off the apron. A Japanese photographer flashes fire in Hoganâ€™s face. Boot and leg drop from Yoko. Referee counts three. We have a new champion and the end of an era as Hogan loses a championship match to his own hold.
Analysis: Not much of a match but a truly historic moment on this first KOTR PPV. This would signify the end of Hulkamania in WWF for almost a decade.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: NEW WWF Champion-Yokozuna/13:09/*
-Yokozuna hits a Banzai Drop for good measure. This would be Hoganâ€™s last televised WWF match until March of 2002.
-King of the Ring Final: Owen Hart vs. Razor Ramon (King of the Ring-June 19, 1994)
Match in Five Words or Less: The King Of Harts Indeed
Match Highlights: Not much to say about this tournament except to say Art Donovan put in one of the worst announcing performances in the history of announcing. Not wrestling. Announcing. Ramon gets a quick right hand.Â They wrestle a bit. Hart slaps him. Bodyslam and elbow drop from Ramon. Slap and a series of punches from Hart. Ramon takedown and sling shot. Roll-up gets two. Headlock takeover. Hart bridges out of a cover and gets into a backslide battle. Ramon wins it and gets two. Back to the headlock. Hart hits a leg lariat. European uppercut. Abdominal stretch while hold onto the ropes. Ramon takes Hart over. Series of counters. Uranagi on Hart. Fallaway slam. Hart hits a Russian legsweep. Har climbs up top but Ramon hits a super back suplex. He calls for the Razorâ€™s Edge. Hart takes him up and over to the floor. Hart distracts the official. Here comes Jim Neidhart, the man who insured Bret Hart would keep the WWF title. He works over Ramon a bit. Hart hits an elbow drop and gets three to become the King of the Ring.
Analysis: Very good storytelling here. A lot of aspects about WWF in 1994 sucked. This did not. Neidhart wanted Bret Hart to keep the WWF title (in storyline) so Owen Hart could take it from him. Neidhart and Hart even hit a Hart Attack clothesline, which was finisher of the tag team. Great stuff.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: 1994 King of the Ring-Owen Hart/6:35/**
-Owen Hart proclaims himself the â€œKing of Hartsâ€ as he dons the robe and crown.Â Savage succinctly explains the storyline for the rubes out there.
-Kiss My Foot Match: Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler (King of the Ring -June 25, 1995)
Match in Five Words or Less: The Feud Ends
Match Highlights: Lawler actually defeated Hart in a one-on-one match a month earlier to once again heat up their feud. Hart and Lawler had gone back and forth for the last two years. Now it was time to settle the rivalry. By the way, Mabel defeated Savio Vega to win the whole tournamentâ€¦ but weâ€™re pretending that never happened. And with good reason. Hart fires away with right hands aggressively. Lawler cowers outside. Lawler sent into the rail and back in the ring. Lawler sends Hart into the steel steps. After some token offense, he executes a piledriver. Lawler wastes too much time. Second piledriver. If this was Memphis, Hart would be in the hospital. Thankfully, itâ€™s Philadelphia. Three piledrivers. 1-2-NO! Lawler gets too hot and bothered by the crowd. Thumb to the eye and Hart sent to the outside. Lawler undoes his boot. Boot shot to the head behind Earl Hebnerâ€™s back. 1-2-NO! Lawler tries using his uncovered foot to choke Hart. Comeback from the Hitman. Boot to the head. Fist drop hit. 1-2-NO! Lawler is rammed head first into the post. Hakushi comes out but accidentally nails Lawler. Shot to the midsection and legsweep. Backbreaker. Elbow drop off the middle rope. Sharpshooter. Lawler submits. Hart lets go of the hold just in time after the bell rings, a callback to the Summerslam finish. Hakushiâ€™s interference fails a second time. Hart makes Lawler kiss his foot before making him kiss his own disgusting foot.
Analysis: 1995 was a weird year for Hart. He was still regarded as a main event type guy, but he was in a lot of feuds with newcomers like Hakushi or in Memphis style shenanigans with Lawler.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Bret Hart/9:20/**1/2
WWF Intercontinental Championship: Goldust (w/Marlena)(champion) vs. Ahmed Johnson (King of the Ring -June 23, 1996)
Match in Five Words or Less: Goldberg Before Goldberg
Match Highlights: Goldust kissed Johnson while he was on a stretcher. This angle was slightly homophobic. Johnson comes out angry. He may not be the best wrestler, but he sold intensity and anger very well.Â He jogs to the ring and clotheslines Goldust immediately. Series of right hands. 360 clothesline. Goldust canâ€™t even get his robe off. Tope con heloâ€¦ sort ofâ€¦ over the top rope and to the floor. Hard whip sends him to the floor. Forearm on the outside of the ring. Champion sent hard into the steps. Johnson tosses stairs, but Goldust gets out of the way. Another hard whip. Whip. Blind charge and Johnson ends up on the floor. Hard rights and Johnson sent into the stairs. He drops the steel stairs on the challengerâ€™s back. Clothesline off the ropes. Series of punches. Chinlock. He sits down on the back. Shots to the back. Elbows from Johnson. Whip and a miss. Goldust goes to work on the kidneys. He rakes Johnson across the top rope. Back to the chinlock. Sunset flip attempts. Johnson punches him once. Goldust with multiple strikes. Ugly looking piledriver. Goldust crawls about the ring, and things get a little awkward. Referee counts two. Goldust maintains the advantage. Johnson takes the champion into the corner.Â Whip reversed. Knee to Johnsonâ€™s lower back. Fist drop. Goldust rubs his body across Johnson. Johnson with a pair of forearms. Off the ropes and he goes for an awful looking dropkick. Sleeper hold. Goldust puts him out and tries giving him CPR again. Johnson goes ballistic with a series of strikes. Spinebuster. Pearl River Plunge. New champion.
Analysis: Â Goldust and Johnson were pretty interesting characters but not the best in-ring technicians. This is one of those matches that doesnâ€™t hold up all that well although I was a huge Johnson mark back in the day. If not for Johnsonâ€™s injuries, itâ€™d be interesting to see where this push would have gone. He was already a champion and had a world title shot in his back pocket.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: NEW Intercontinental Champion-Ahmed Johnson/15:34/**1/4
-King of the Ring Final: Steve Austin vs. Jake Roberts(WWE King of the Ring -June 23, 1996)
Match in Five Words or Less: The Start Of Something Great
Match Highlights: Â The point of showing this has nearly nothing to do with the match itself because letâ€™s face itâ€¦ itâ€™s not much. Roberts is selling the ribs that were injured by Vader earlier on in the evening. Austin was also coming off a trip to the emergency room to get stitches by his mouth., courtesy of Marc Mero. Austin works over the ribs until Gorilla Monsoon comes in to check on Robertsâ€™s condition. Roberts makes a brief comeback. Shoulder tackles in the corner
Match Analysis: The point wasnâ€™t to have great match but rather to show just how mean and heartless Steve Austin truly was. This also was supposed to be the start of a mega push, but that aspect wouldnâ€™t come into play until Bret Hart came back in the fall.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: 1996 King of the Ring-Steve Austin/4:28/*
-Dok Hendrix interviews the new king, who unlike kings of the past did not wear the goofy crown or cape. Some reference to Austin 3:16 is made. Not sure what thatâ€™s all about. Sadly, his words about Jake Roberts proved perfunctory. Steve Austinâ€™s time is here, and thatâ€™s the bottom line.
Disk 1 Thoughts: Very good match from the 1993 King of the Ring and some historical moments but no other real noteworthy matches. More next week.
Contact Pro Wrestling Ponderings!