Eric Ames takes a stroll down memory lane in review of the 1993 King of The Ring! What precedent did the old WWF set for the now WWE in the first broadcast KOTR?
Today I am looking back at another rare occurrence when Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were all apart of the same card before they “took over” with King Of The Ring 1993! ‘The Bad Guy’ takes part in the King Of The Ring tournament, meanwhile ‘Big Daddy Cool’ accompanies Shawn Michaels as he defends the Intercontinental Title, on top of Yokozuna challenging ‘The Hulkster’ for the WWF Championship!
Open: Vince McMahon voices over a video package highlighting tonight’s King Of The Ring Tournament, running down our Quarterfinal match-ups before we head to the arena.
Match #1 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Razor Ramon vs. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart
The people chant “1-2-3” at Razor, they lock-up, Ramon using his power and pushes Bret away. Another collar & elbow, The Bad Guy powers The Hitman away again, a third lock-up now and Hart applies a side headlock. Razor pushes him away to the ropes, they collide shoulders, Bret back to the ropes, ducks a couple of shots and scores with right hands before taking Ramon over with an arm drag. Hitman grounds him with an armbar, Ramon back to his feet, shoots Hart to the ropes for a hip toss, it’s blocked, Bret attempts one of his own, but that is also blocked and The Bad Guy floors him with a clothesline.
Follow-up elbow drop doesn’t find the mark, The Excellence Of Execution with another arm drag, targeting the left arm again with a standing armbar. Ramon throws him to the corner and charges in, Bret side-steps it, hits another arm drag and is persistent in applying the armbar. The Bad Guy attempts to body slam his way out, The Hitman maintains his grip, drives fists into the shoulder joint, Razor coming back with a thumb to the eye. He whips Hart to the ropes and scores with a back elbow for a quick 2 count, looks to hook on a rear chinlock, Hitman quickly counters out and utilizes a hammerlock, Ramon finding his way to a corner to force a break, but sneaks in a back elbow. Irish whip to the opposite corner is reversed, Hart charges in and is met by a knee to the jaw, Razor grabs him and drives Bret shoulder-first into the ring post.
The Bad Guy takes control and hammers The Hitman on the outside, throws him back inside to more loud “1-2-3” chants, starts to pummel Hart with heavy rights and boots, tosses him with a fallaway slam and hooks the leg for a count of 2. He lifts Bret onto his shoulders and plants him with a running powerslam for another near fall, drops a succession of elbows, then hits a side slam. He goes to the ropes for another elbow drop and misses, Bret avoids a couple more attempts, fires up with stiff right hands, splits Razor with an inverted atomic drop and levels him with a clothesline for a 2 count. He whips Ramon to the ropes, goes downstairs with a right hand, scores with a side russian leg sweep for another 2, The Excellence Of Execution cracking him with a backbreaker, but still can’t get a 3 count.
The Hitman off the 2nd rope now with an elbow drop that nearly gets 3, The Bad Guy swings with a wild right, Hart ducks under, rolls him up and Razor barely kicks out again at 2. Bret sets him for a running bulldog, Ramon pushes him away sternum-first into the turnbuckles, staggers to his feet and calls for The Razor’s Edge. He gets Hart up in the air, Hitman slips out of it for a backslide, The Bad Guy blocks it, but Bret uses his feet to scale the ropes and flips himself over, grabbing a small package for a near fall. The Excellence Of Execution can’t believe it and argues with the referee, Razor takes the opening to clobber him from behind, props Hart on the top turnbuckle for a super back suplex, Hitman counters and falls on top of Ramon and gets the pinfall.
Winner: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Super Back Suplex Counter)
EA’s Take: Tremendous opening contest and one of the better WWF pay-per-view matches since WrestleMania VIII, if not the best one. After losing the WWF Title 3 months earlier at WrestleMania, Bret was moved away from the championship picture for a few months and although Razor had been getting cheered at Mania, the people were clearly behind The Hitman tonight. Ramon was just getting into the start of his angle that would turn him face, recently losing in a major upset to 1-2-3 Kid on RAW, hence the “1-2-3” chants aimed at him.
Video: This past weekend on WWF Superstars, Harvey Wippleman masterminded a plan to punish The Undertaker, using Giant Gonzalez as a distraction and allowing Mr. Hughes to lay him out with Paul Bearer’s urn and take possession of it.
Match #2 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Mr. Hughes w/Harvey Wippleman vs. Mr. Perfect
They lock-up to begin and Hughes uses his raw power to shove Perfect down, they tie-up again with the same results, Hughes hits the ropes, The Perfect One drops down and scores with a hip toss. Irish whip back to the ropes is reversed, Perfect leaps over a back body drop attempt, comes back through with a dropkick, but it doesn’t take Mr. Hughes off his feet. Hughes powers Mr. Perfect to the ropes off the collar & elbow, doesn’t break clean and clocks Perfect over the top to the floor, The Perfect One staggering back into the squared circle.
Mr. Hughes with heavy shots, wrenches away at the neck, Mr. Perfect battles to his feet, hits the ropes, ducks a clothesline, but gets flattened by a big boot on the other side. Hughes shoots him back to the ropes and connects with a clothesline, snapmares Perfect back over and focuses his attention on wrenching at the neck again. The Perfect One uses Hughes’ tie to works his way up, tries to hit the ropes, Mr. Hughes with a handful of hair to prevent it and he buries a knee to the abdomen. Irish whip to the corner turns Perfect inside-out, maintains control with more heavy blows as Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart offers up his comments about the outcome of this match. Mr. Hughes sends Perfect hard into the turnbuckles again, whips him to the ropes and we have a badly botched spot before Hughes rakes at the eyes, then chokes him on the middle rope.
Hughes hits the ropes to gain a head of steam and land on The Perfect One’s back, he misses and gets crotched on the 2nd rope, Perfect taking the opening to send him to the ropes for a hip toss. He shoots him back in for a back body drop, snapmares Hughes over and hits the patented neck snap, Mr. Perfect then working him over in the corner with rights and lefts to the breadbasket. The officials steps in to force a break, Wippleman hands Mr. Hughes the urn and he clobbers Perfect right in front of the referee.
Winner: Mr. Perfect (Disqualification)
EA’s Take: Short and a little bit rough, Perfect doing what he could to make this at least decent, Mr. Perfect moves on to meet Bret Hart in a semi-finals dream match. Also known as Big Cat, Mr. Hughes is most known for competing with sunglasses on. Hearrived in the WWF to join in with Harvey Wippleman in his rivalry with The Undertaker. He generally played more of a ringside enforcer and his in-ring career never really took off because he was sloppy at best. This stint with the WWF was very brief as this was his only PPV match. Interestingly enough, he was released not long after this match, ironically suffering an eye injury after his sunglasses shattered during a match against Tatanka.
Video: Gene Okerlund caught up with Yokozuna & Mr. Fuji earlier in the day in the locker room, Fuji reminding us that Yoko defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Title in a hard-fought match at WrestleMania. Hulk Hogan then cheated to steal the championship away, Yokozuna warning The Hulkster that tonight he and America will go down.
Match #3 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan
Duggan starts the “U-S-A!” chants, they lock-up, Bam Bam with a side headlock, Hacksaw pushes him away to the ropes, they collide shoulders and neither man budges. Bigelow goes back to the ropes to try again to no avail, hits the ropes for a clothesline on the third try, Duggan ducks it, scores with multiple clotheslines of his own to stagger the big man before finally dropping him. Bam Bam rolls to the floor to regroup, steps back inside and goes to the eyes, attempts right hands and Hacksaw fires back, forcing him to the corner.
Irish whip across is reversed, Hacksaw grabs the ribs, manages to avoid Bigelow running in and crumbles to the mat holding his midsection. He looks to deliver a body slam, can’t get The Beast From The East up, Bam Bam with big headbutts and he starts targeting the injured abdomen. He sends Duggan to the ropes and hooks on a bearhug, Hacksaw clubs his way out of it, but Bigelow goes right back to the breadbasket to stop any momentum. He bounces off the ropes to drop a headbutt, Duggan rolls out of harm’s way, gets Bam Bam up for a body slam, but can’t hold the weight, Bigelow falling on top for a count of 2 before going back to the bearhug.
Hacksaw resorts to biting Bam Bam to break the grip, he reverses a whip to the ropes, finally hits the body slam and goes into the 3 Point Stance, The Beast From The East side-stepping out of the way. Duggan goes crashing into the top turnbuckle and hits the mat, Bigelow heads to the top rope, connects with a Diving Headbutt and advances.
Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (Top Rope Diving Headbutt)
EA’s Take: Not much excitement here, nothing really sloppy, but a pretty short one. Bam Bam is still being built as one of the top heels in the company, maintaining a status that was at the top of the mid-card with the ability to also work main events. Hacksaw had returned from a brief hiatus after an attack at the hands of Yokozuna, but the WWF’s youth movement put him in a position to help establish the new stars. This would be his final WWF PPV match until a nostalgia run in 2006, leaving the company just before SummerSlam in August.
Backstage: Terry Taylor is in the locker room with The Smoking Gunns & The Steiner Brothers, Billy Gunn talking about the pressure being on tonight in their 8-man tag, but there’s nobody he’d rather have on his team than his brother Bart and The Steiners. Scotty speaks about the Frankensteiner’s affect on his opponents and how it will lead to Money Inc. and The Headshrinkers’ demise.
Match #4 – King Of The Ring Quarterfinals: ‘The Narcissist’ Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
The referee tries to force Luger to put a protective pad over his steel-plated forearm, Lex refuses, but the official threatens to disqualify him from the tournament, forcing The Narcissist to agree. As Tatanka makes his entrance he is ambushed by Lex, the bell rings and Luger tosses The Native American over the top rope to the floor, then poses in front of his mirror still in the ring. Tatanka slides back in, pushes the mirror over on top of The Narcissist, picks him up and fires away with knife-edge chops, taking Luger over the top now. He pursues him outside, a few more chops, rolls Lex back in, Narcissist begs off to the corner and sneaks in a kick to the midsection.
Irish whip across is reversed, Tatanka elevates him with a back body drop off the rebound, flattens Luger with a clothesline and hooks the leg for an early near fall. The Native American begins to work on the left arm with a wristlock, switches to an armbar to ground him, Lex finds his way back up, attempts a body slam to break the hold, but Tatanka maintains his grip. He drops a leg across the shoulder joint and re-grabs the hold, Bam Bam Bigelow offering his comments on who he’d like to meet in the semi-finals, Luger finally escapes the armbar and scores with right hands. He shoots Tatanka to the ropes for a back elbow, The Native American ducks under it, connects with a crossbody for a count of 2, then continues to target the shoulder joint with an armbar.
He switches to a hammerlock as The Narcissist gains a standing position, they trade out hammerlocks and Lex finds the ropes to force a break, but surprises Tatanka with a back elbow. He looks to take control for the first time with a series of boots in the corner, sends The Native American to the ropes for a knee to the breadbasket, drops a forearm and covers for a 2 count. The Narcissist powers Tatanka to the corner and hits a flurry of rights, cracks him with a backbreaker, measures him for an elbow drop and gets another 2. Another big elbow drop from Luger gains 2 and he argues with the ref about the count, The Native American takes the opening to use a schoolboy for a quick 2 of his own, Lex instantly delivering a boot to the head to try and thwart any momentum, Tatanka exchanges with fists from a kneeling position, gets to his feet and takes another knee to the ribs.
Narcissist snapmares him over and hooks on a chinlock, Tatanka battles to his feet, Luger uses the hair to slam him back to the canvas and regain the hold. The Native American again fights to a vertical base, hits the ropes, but Lex explodes into a clothesline, following with another dropping forearm and a lateral press for 2. The Narcissist picks him up for a body slam, Tatanka counters into a small package for a quick count of 2, Luger tries to maintain control, sends him to the ropes for a back body drop, The Native American has it scouted and hits a sunset flip for a near fall. He can’t capitalize on it and Lex clobbers him with a double axe, deliver stiff kicks to the abdomen, Narcissist taunting the crowd and he drives The Native American head-first into the top turnbuckle.
It doesn’t work and Tatanka starts marching around the ring, hits the ropes, ducks under a clothesline and connects with an overhand chop to the head. He shoots Luger back in for a knife-edge chop that gets a near fall, whips him in again for a powerslam, hooks the leg and still can only get 2. He drops Luger with a body slam, goes to the top rope for another overhand chop, The Narcissist barely kicks out at 2, Tatanka goes back upstairs for a crossbody, but it doesn’t find the mark. Lex pulls himself up using the ropes, puts the boots to The Native American, sends him to the ropes and levels him with a clothesline, but can’t put the match away.
He shoots Tatanka back in and plants him with his own powerslam for a near fall, another whip into the ropes produces a back body drop from Narcissist, following with a vertical suplex. Lex makes another cover and now starts to get visibly frustrated after the kick-out, cracks The Native American with a backbreaker, gets another 2 count and the bell rings as time expires.
After The Bell: The Narcissist calls for a mic, claiming he had Tatanka close to being knocked out of the tournament, asking for 5 more minutes. The crowd agrees, the official tries to reason with him, Luger loses the protective pad over his elbow and sneak attacks Tatanka from behind, knocking him out cold.
EA’s Take: I’ve always felt like this is one of the cheap ways to give someone advance in a tournament and the WWF seems to use this method at least once every time they hold one. Tatanka’s still undefeated at this point and they needed a way to get him out of the tourney while protecting that, thus the time-limit draw. Lex was also being protected only 6 months into his WWF run, but more importantly it was done because a big character change was in order for him within the next month, receiving a massive push from the company as it’s top babyface. Bam Bam now advances directly to the Finals by virtue of a bye.
Backstage: ‘Mean’ Gene is alongside Mr. Perfect & Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart who will do battle in the semi-finals. The Hitman talks about having respect for Perfect by stating he wanted to face him in the semi-finals, Okerlund trying to plant some seeds of dissension and it works, The Perfect One wondering if Bret thinks he’s an easier opponent. He tells Hart the he remembers SummerSlam ’91 and he owes him one, both men vowing that they’ll end up as the King.
Match #5 – King Of The Ring Semi-Finals: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
Lock-up in the center of the ring to a stalemate to start, The Perfect One avoids another and gains a waistlock, Bret gaining the ropes to force the break and they tie-up again, this time Hitman grabbing a side headlock. Mr. Perfect sends him away to the ropes, Hart with a shoulder knockdown, goes back to the ropes, blocks Perfect’s hip toss attempt and throws him with one of his own before bringing him to the mat with a side headlock. The Perfect One counters out with a headscissors, The Hitman slips out, regains the side headlock, Perfect working to his feet and backs him to the corner to gain a break.
He doesn’t break clean and scores with a chop, irish whip across is reversed, Hart delivers a body slam, but Mr. Perfect kicks his way back up, slams Bret and now The Hitman kicks his way to his feet, then brings The Perfect One back down with the side headlock. Perfect finds his footing once again, pushes Hart away to the ropes, Bret goes into a crucifix for a quick count of 2, then yet again grounds The Perfect One with another side headlock. Mr. Perfect gains a vertical base, shoves Bret to the ropes, Hitman with a crossbody for 1, gets sent to the outside from the kick-out, quickly hops back to the apron and buries a shoulder into Perfect’s midsection, then sunset flips back in for 2.
The Excellence Of Execution sticking with the game plan and grounds The Perfect One with the side headlock, Perfect works to a standing position, backs Bret to the ropes, doesn’t break clean and scores with a knee to the abdomen. Mr. Perfect starts to take over now with kicks to the breadbasket, connects with a standing dropkick that sends The Hitman under the bottom rope to the floor, he opens the ropes to allows Hart to come back in, but kicks him as he steps inside. The Perfect One deposits Bret head-first into the top turnbuckle, fires away with chops in the corner, big knee lift to the chest and he covers for a near fall, then kicks Hitman back outside. This time Perfect pursues, drives him face-first into the ring apron, rolls back into the squared circle, Hart pulls himself to the apron, but gets flung back down to the floor, hitting the barricade upon landing.
The Hitman grabs at his knee and writhes in pain on the floor, The Perfect One reaches out and brings him back in by the hair, another big knee lift gets him a 2 count, he drops Bret with a big right hand, scales the corner and scores with a missile dropkick, but can only get a near fall as Hart gains the ropes. Mr. Perfect sends him hard sternum-first into the turnbuckles for another count of 2, climbs back up top, Hart crotches him on the top turnbuckle, goes up to meet him and plants him with a superplex, nearly getting a 3 count. The Excellence Of Execution starts to target the left leg with kicks, he slaps on a figure four in the center of the ring, The Perfect One squirming in pain and reaching for the ropes to gain a break.
Bret continues to target the left knee, drives an elbow drop into the join and hooks on a heel hold, Mr. Perfect goes to the eyes to escape it, struggles to his feet and introduces Hart to the top turnbuckle. He grabs a handful of hair and tosses The Hitman across the ring, whips him to the ropes and deeply locks in a sleeper hold, riding Bret down to the canvas. The Excellence Of Execution finds his way to the ropes to force the official to step in, The Perfect One with a stiff chop and he reapplies the hold, using the bottom rope to gain an unfair advantage. The Hitman works back up, rams Mr. Perfect face-first into the top turbuckle to break out, clocks him with a big uppercut, then returns the favor and throws Perfect across the ring by the hair.
The Perfect One tries to slide out of the ring backwards, isn’t sure where he is and gets crotched on the ring post, Bret drags him back into the middle of the ring, splits him with an inverted atomic drop, then scores with a side russian leg sweep for a 2 count. Hart drops a leg across the chest, cracks Perfect with a backbreaker, comes off the 2nd rope with an elbow drop, but again The Perfect One kicks out at 2. The Hitman wants to finish with the Sharpshooter, Mr. Perfect grabs at Bret’s taped-up fingers to avoid it, puts the boots to Hart, attempts a Perfect-Plex, but Bret blocks it, goes for a suplex of his own and both guys tumble over the top rope to the floor. The official starts the count, Perfect rolls in, Bret barely beats it at a count of 9, The Perfect One surprises him with a small package for a near fall, Hitman reversing the leverage on the kick-out and he steals the victory.
Winner: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Small Package)
After The Bell: Perfect is very frustrated on the outside, climbs back into the ring, gets in Bret’s face and offers him a handshake, Hitman accepting it.
EA’s Take: Another great match from Bret tonight, not as entertaining as the opening contest in my opinion, but The Hitman is showing some versatility, adapting to his opponents. This may have been better-suited as the finals of the tournament to really play-up the rematch aspect and Perfect looking for revenge from Summerslam ’91, but they’re still establishing Bam Bam at the same time. Mr. Perfect would refocus his attention on WWF gold after coming up short in the KOTR, seeking to regain the Intercontinental Title at SummerSlam.
Video: Gene Okerlund caught up with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan & Jimmy Hart earlier in the day. The Hulkster talks about having Yokozuna in the center of the ring tonight with no sneak attacks, vowing to remain the champion. Jimmy speaks about managing Hogan and having red, white and blue running through his veins, Hulk maintaining that Hulkamania is synonymous with American, something that Yokozuna can never destroy.
Match #6 for the WWF Championship: Yokozuna w/Mr. Fuji vs. WWF Champion Hulk Hogan w/’Mouth Of The South’ Jimmy Hart
Yokozuna throws the ceremonial salt and we’re underway, collar & elbow tie-up to begin, Hulkster tries to use the power and push him away, but barely moves the challenger before getting some advice from Jimmy Hart. They circle back around and tie-up again, Yoko shoves Hogan to the ground this time, back up and a third lock-up, Yokozuna striking first with chops and headbutts. He starts to take control early here with shots to the throat and clubbing forearms to the back, plants Hulk down with a body slam, then rips at his face in the corner. The challenger completely dominating the champion in the corner, shoots him hard across into the turnbuckles, sends him back across and charges in, but The Hulkster side-steps it, then rocks him with big right hands.
He backs Yoko to the corner, climbs to the 2nd rope for a barrage of more punches, bites him in the forehead, whips Yokozuna across and follows him in with a clothesline. Hogan hooks the challenger for a body slam, can’t pick up the weight, Yoko with more clubbing blows to the back, shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline, the champion ducks it and fires away with more fists. He tries another body slam, still can’t get Yokozuna off the ground and pays for it, taking big shots to the back once again, scores with more overhand chops and shoots Hulk back to the ropes for a clothesline that misses the mark, followed by a back elbow that the champion ducks.
The Hulkster comes back through and staggers the big man with a clothesline of his own, goes back to the well, can’t get the challenger off his feet, tries a third time and Yoko levels him with his own clothesline. He hits the ropes for a splash, Hogan is able to roll out of the way, both guys struggle to their feet, Hulk’s up first, hits the ropes for a shoulder block and gets knocked down himself. Yokozuna pushes him hard back-first into the turnbuckles, puts him in a bearhug off the rebound and starts to squeeze the energy out of the champion. The Hulkster starts to fade out, the referee checks the arm, Hogan keeps it up on the third try and hammers Yokozuna with big right hands to break the grip.
Hulk hits the ropes and runs into a high back elbow, Yoko plants him with a belly-to-belly suplex, goes into a lateral press and the champion kicks out at 2. Hogan’s starting to Hulk Up, Yokozuna’s strikes having zero affect, the champion fires back with rights, sends him to the ropes for the big boot, but the challenger doesn’t go down. The Hulkster with more fists and another big boot, Yokozuna maintains a vertical base, Hulk does it a third time, Yoko finally going down. The champion hits the ropes and drops the big leg, covers and the challenger stuns everyone by kicking out at 2.
Fuji climbs to the apron and pays for it with a Hogan right hand, The Hulkster wants to slam Yokozuna, one of the ringside photographers climbs up to the apron to snap a photo, drawing Hulk’s attention while the official is busy with Mr. Fuji. A fireball shoots out of the camera and strikes the champion in the face, Yokozuna drops his massive leg across the chest and we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Yokozuna (Leg Drop)
After The Bell: Hogan is writhing in pain and grabbing at his eyes, Yokozuna picks him up, delivers a clothesline, positions him for the Banzai Drop and squashes him. Jimmy Hart & WWF officials pull The Hulkster out of the ring and carry him to the back, the new champion celebrating in the squared circle.
EA’s Take: A really slow, laboring pace to this one as you would expect from these two. Hogan’s hair-brain ideas really have worn thin by this time, Yokozuna dominated the entire match and should not have needed some wacky outside interference to help him win. To be honest, I don’t think there ever was much of an explanation to the photographer deal and couldn’t find any specifics on it, but it does sound like a Hogan idea to “protect his character” while losing. This would serve as Hulk’s final WWF PPV match, working a few house shows for the company through the summer before officially leaving to focus on his acting career. The reality was that the youth movement was forcing him out, Vince McMahon firmly standing by his opinions about pushing new Superstars. A new American hero would emerge from an unlikely place heading into July, Hogan’s departure giving Yokozuna a big feather under his cap of being able to claim he “ended Hulkamania”.
Backstage: Terry Taylor catches up with Mr. Perfect, The Perfect One saying he certainly doesn’t feel good about losing, but he takes nothing away from Bret Hart. He issues a warning that we have not seen the last of him however, as being Perfect doesn’t fade. ‘Mean’ Gene is in the interview area with WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels & Diesel. Michaels says lightning struck once with Hulk Hogan tonight, but we can all agree that The Hulkster is not the athlete he is. Shawn finally gives us the name of his “insurance policy”, Diesel, claiming he’s a Mack truck that mows down anything in either of their paths.
Match #7: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) & The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart) vs. WWF Tag Team Champions Money Inc. (‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) & The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) w/Afa
DiBiase & Scott will get us started, The MDM with a quick arm drag out of the lock-up, does it once again and starts to build his confidence. A third lock-up sees Scott pick the leg and grab a waistlock, switches to a hammerlock, MDM counters to one of his own and switches to a side headlock. Scotty pushes him away to the ropes and gets knocked down by a shoulder, DiBiase back to the ropes, Scott leapfrogs over and scores with a dropkick. He clotheslines MDM over the top rope to the floor, Rick drops off the apron to deliver a right hand and roll him back inside, The MDM has some words for Rick, turns around and Scott clotheslines back out again.
Rick with another right before throwing him back into the ring, DiBiase slides right back out to get a quick breather, steps in and tags out to Fatu. Collar & elbow tie-up sees Scott gain a wristlock, tags out, Bart comes in and maintains the hold, Fatu grabs him by the hair and sends him to the ropes. Bart ducks under a clothesline, hip toss attempt is blocked, he drops down to sweep the legs, Fatu hops over, turns around is gets nailed by a dropkick. Bart scores with a drop toe hold and utilizes an armbar, Fatu finds his footing, sends him away to the ropes for a back body drop, Bart putting on the brakes and plants him face-first into the canvas. Fatu pops right back up to his feet and clocks Bart with a superkick, tag to Samu and The Headshrinkers whip Bart to the ropes for a double back elbow.
Samu drops a headbutt before tagging out, IRS with heavy fists, shoots Bart to the ropes and scores with a back elbow of his own, then brings DiBiase back into the match. The champions with a double team effort, MDM whips Bart to the ropes for another high back elbow, hits a vertical suplex and makes a tag, Samu re-entering with chops to the chest. Another quick tag is made, The Headshrinkers send Bart to the ropes for a double back body drop, Samu gets in another cheap shot before heading to the apron, Fatu with a cover for a count of 2. He bites away at Bart’s forehead, cracks him with a backbreaker for another 2 count, Schyster with a right hand from the top off the tag, drops a leg for another 2.
He sends Bart to the ropes for a back body drop, Bart counters with a sunset flip for a near fall, can’t capitalize on it, IRS whipping him back in, both guys connect with a clothesline and double down. Tags on both sides see DiBiase & Billy take the ring, Billy with a series of punches, whips The MDM hard into the corner and elevates him with a back body drop off the rebound. He keeps the momentum rolling with multiple clotheslines, hits the ropes, DiBiase ducks down, lifts him up coming back through and drops him on the top rope with a hot shot. He picks Billy up and slaps on the Million Dollar Dream, Billy starts fading away, MDM lets the hold go and he collapses. DiBiase picks Billy back up for a body slam, Billy surprises him with a small package and sneaks away with a win.
Winners: The Steiner Brothers & The Smoking Gunns (Billy/Small Package)
After The Bell: A melee breaks out right after the pinfall, The Gunns & The Steiners clearing the ring and standing tall.
EA’s Take: I found this more exciting than some of the rest of the card thus far, but I think that’s only because of the amount of time they were given forcing a lot of action to be stuffed into a little time frame. Also, it was very odd that Rick never tagged into the match, that was probably the easiest PPV paycheck he ever earned, only throwing 2 punches out on the floor prior to the post-match brawl.
Backstage: This time around Gene Okerlund is in the locker room with WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji & WWF President Jack Tunney. The President congratulates Yoko on the victory as the photographers continue to snap away with their cameras. Fuji rubs in the fact that his prediction came true, claiming that Hulkamania is now finally finished. He states that Japan is having a big celebration and they will do the same here in the USA.
Match #8 for the WWF Intercontinental Championship: Crush vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels w/Diesel
Crush gains a side headlock off the intial tie-up, Michaels pushes him away to the ropes, the challenger with a big shoulder knockdown and Shawn is sent flying to the outside. The champion collects him and steps back in, Crush goes back to the side headlock, Shawn sends him off the the ropes again, leapfrogs over, ducks under a clothesline and sneaks in a quick jab. Another collar & elbow tie-up sees Michaels grab a standing armbar, the challenger shoves him off to the ropes, the champion unsuccessfully tries a shoulder block, goes back to the ropes, Crush leapfrogs over, avoids a superkick and connects with a dropkick.
He hits another that sends Shawn through the ropes to the floor, the champion takes some more time to regroup before heading back in. Michaels slips out of a lock-up and picks the leg, Crush quickly kicks his way back, returns the favor, scores with an arm drag, then lifts Shawn up into a military press slam. Michaels tries to squirm outside under the ropes, Crush drags him back in, whips him to the ropes, cracks him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and calls for the Cranium Crush. Diesel reaches in and drags Shawn to the outside, the champion takes a little time to recover, Crush is done waiting and goes out after him, but Michaels stands behind Diesel. He sneaks into the ring and climbs to the apron behind Crush, clobbers him from behind with a double axe off the apron, rolls back inside to keep the referee’s attention, Diesel taking advantage and drives the challenger into the ring post.
The official suspects something and has words for Diesel, Shawn takes the opening to hop out, repeatedly bashes the back of Crush’s head off the post, then slides back in as if nothing happened. The champion climbs back outside, struggles to pick the challenger up and get him into the squared circle, drags him to the middle of the ring and covers for a count of 2. Michaels is angered and puts the boots to Crush, climbs to the high rent district, drops a double axe handle to the back of the head, hits the ropes for a head kick and gets a near fall. The champion keeps the advantage with a front facelock on the mat, the big Hawaiian starts to power his way to a standing position, lifting Michaels up and tossing him away.
Shawn tries to go back to the front facelock and gets powered off again, grabs it a third time, Crush picks him up, drops him throat-first across the top rope and he spills to the floor. Michaels pulls himself back to the apron, heads to the top as the challenger gets to his feet, the champion comes flying off and Crush simply swats him out of the air. He whips the champion to the ropes and elevates him with a back body drop, shoots him to the corner, hits a backbreaker off the rebound and gets a 2 count. The challenger sends Shawn back to the ropes and clocks him with a big boot, drops a leg cross the chest and gains another near fall.
Crush picks him back up, Michaels with a go-behind, pushes the challenger to the ropes for a roll-up, Crush hangs and rolls the champion away, then sends him over the top rope with a clothesline. Doink The Clown makes his way down to ringside and there’s a 2nd Doink The Clown walking behind him, Crush is distracted, Shawn slides in behind him, connects with a superkick to the back of the head, the challenger falls face-first into the top turnbuckle, lateral press from the champion and he retains.
Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels (Superkick)
After The Bell: Both Doinks run away to the back, Crush rolls out of the ring and chases after them.
EA’s Take: Pretty good match here, one might assume that Michaels had to carry it, but that’s not really the case. Crush might be considered a big man, but he was one of the first ones to not rely on solely on his size like the laboring bodybuilder types of years past, his tilt-a-whirl backbreaker was always pretty impressive at a time when the moves in the ring were generally pretty simple. Doink had continued to pester the big Hawaiian, but Crush would be forced to go on the shelf for a couple of months during a July 4th Body Slam Challenge on the USS Intrepid, injuring his back attempting to body slam Yokozuna. Shawn’s character was continuing to evolve and he had moved away from having a female by his side, bringing in the former Vinnie Vegas from WCW, making him his bodyguard and giving him the name of Diesel. After trading the IC Title with Marty Jannetty, Crush would only briefly step into the challenger’s role before said-injury, Michaels moving onto a more ‘Perfect’ opponent.
Backstage: This time around with ‘Mean’ Gene is a well-rested Bam Bam Bigelow prior to the King of the Ring Finals, The Beast From The East stating he’s fresh as a daisy, vowing to take the opportunity to be the first King.
Match #9 – King Of The Ring Finals: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart
Bret is favoring his leg that was hurt in his last match, the bell rings, Bam Bam charges, Hitman side-steps and Bigelow propels himself into the turnbuckles. Hart with right hands, The Beast from the East fires back with shots of his own, winning the striking game early. He shoots Bret to the ropes, Hitman ducks a clothesline, Bam Bam presses him over his head coming back through, but Hart falls on top of him for a quick 2 count. The Excellence of Execution starts to work over the left arm, hammering away at the shoulder joint and locking in an armbar, Bigelow rakes the eyes to break the grip, shoots The Hitman to the ropes and knocks him down with a big shoulder.
He presses Hart over his head again, drops him all the way down to the floor, follows him outside to roll Bret back in, then drops headbutts to the small of the back. The Beast from the East is total control here, whips Hart hard into the turnbuckles, drops another headbutt to the spine and covers for a count of 2. Slow, methodical pace from Bigelow, focuses his punishment on the kidney area, plants The Hitman with a back suplex and gains another 2 count. Bret pulls himself to his feet in the corner, tries to get some momentum going, Bam Bam shoots him hard into the corner again, delivers a standing headbutt, then drops another, but still only gets 2. He sends Hitman back to the ropes and slaps on a bearhug, The Excellence of Execution, rips at the eyes to get out of it, but instantly gets dropped with another back suplex.
Hart continues to kick out at 2, Bigelow throws him through the ropes outside, climbs out himself, attempts to send Bret into the barricade, but it’s reversed and Bam Bam hits it instead. The Hitman starts to mount some offense with punches, drives Bam Bam face-first into the barricade, climbs to the apron and drops back down with a forearm across the back. Bret rolls inside and breaks the count, steps back out to the apron, jumps off and Bigelow catches him in the air, then drives him spine-first into the ring post. The Beast from the East takes him into the aisle and body slams him on the floor, rolls back into the ring, the official has some words for Bigelow and Luna Vachon makes her way out, clobbering Bret across the back with a chair before running away.
Bam Bam heads outside to throw The Hitman back in, slams him into the mat, heads to the top rope and connects with a Diving Headbutt for a count of 3. Another referee comes down to the ring and informs the original official of the interference, informing Howard Finkel that the match must continue. Bigelow is not impressed and takes it out on Hart by driving headbutts into the lower back, sends him hard into the corner and Bret can barely stand before getting dropped by another headbutt. The Beast from the East whips Hart back to the ropes to lock on the bearhug, lets him out and switches to an over-the-shoulder backbreaker.
The referee checks the arm, Bret holds it up on the third attempt, flips himself out and hits Bigelow with a back suplex, both guys doubling down. Bam Bam makes it up first, tries a running senton, Hart rolls out of the way, but can’t build off of it. Bigelow sends him hard into the turnbuckles yet again, goes back to the over-the-shoulder backbreaker, The Hitman rips at the eyes to slip out of it and slaps on a sleeper hold while on Bam Bam’s back. The Beast from the East starts to get wobbly, grabs Hart by the hair and flips him down to the canvas, tries to gather himself and Bret hits a dropkick to the back then dumps him over the top rope.
The Hitman flies to the outside with a slingshot crossbody, tosses Bam Bam back inside, climbs to the 2nd rope and flattens him with a clothesline for a near fall. He plants Bigelow with a side russian leg sweep, goes back to the 2nd rope, drives him back into the mat with a bulldog and attempts to hook on the Sharpshooter. The Beast from the East kicks him away, locks another bearhug on, Hitman rips at the eyes, goes for another back suplex, but this time Bam Bam switches his weight and falls on top for a count of 2. Bigelow shoots Hart into the corner and follows him in, Hitman gets the boot up under the chin, climbs to the 2nd rope, sits on Bam Bam’s shoulder and uses a victory roll to win the tournament.
Winner: Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart (Victory Roll)
After The Bell: Macho Man leaves commentary to go congratulate Hart, The Hitman walks back towards the entrance to meet ‘Mean’ Gene for our coronation. Okerlund puts the robe and crown on Bret, proclaiming him the King Of The Ring. Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler comes out and wants to confront The Hitman, claiming that there’s only one King in the WWF and it’s him. He informs Bret that he’ll allow him to be a prince, but he has to get down and kiss his royal feet. Hart thinks Lawler has a lot of nerve to come out and say such things since he didn’t have the guts to get into the tournament. The Hitman thinks that Lawler is ‘The Burger King’, prompting Lawler to assault Hart from behind. He puts a number on Bret with the scepter, bashes him with the throne and chokes The Hitman out. He gets the microphone and says he tried to give Hart a chance, but now he will force him to kiss his feet, kicking The Excellence of Execution directly in the face.
EA’s Take: Only an ‘alright’ main event in my book, Bigelow showed his athleticism, but the majority of the match was really slow while Bam Bam was in control before picking back up towards the finish. This entire tournament was really built around making Bret look as strong as possible and his win here is remembered more by fans than his first WWF Title. The Hitman was very popular, but the KOTR seemed to really launch him to the forefront following Hulk Hogan’s departure. So much so that the company’s ‘Hogan replacement’ would be forced to take a back seat down the road.
EA’s Finisher: A much better show than WrestleMania IX and although this was not actually the first KOTR tournament, the vast majority of fans aren’t any the wiser since this was the first KOTR PPV. The real star of the night was of course The Hitman, finally earning that stamp of approval that says “Main Eventer”. He was able to show just how versatile he can be against three different opponents with three different styles. While some matches were better than others, it just proved that Bret was going to be “The Man” for the WWF in the coming years. The stars of the 80’s are all seemingly gone now, with Hogan on his way out the door, DiBiase ready to hang up the boots and Savage at commentary. A couple would remain a little longer to ease the transition, but it’s really all up to the young guys like Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Lex Luger, Bam Bam Bigelow and more. They’ve got the talent, the only issue is that the WWF continues to saddle guys with the same cartoon-like gimmicks from the 80’s and isn’t quite changing with the times yet.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon
2 – Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
3 – The Steiners & Smoking Gunns vs. Money Inc. & The Headshrinkers