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WWF King of the Ring

June 8, 1997

by Scrooge McSuck

- COURTESY OF THE WWE NETWORK! Originally presented live on Pay-Per-View on June 8th, 1997, from the Providence Civic Center in Providence, RI. Hopefully this time they won't witness the death and resurrection of the Undertaker and a cop-out co-winner finish to the Main Event. Warning fair readers: I have never seen this PPV, nor have I ever seen any of the matches in stand-alone situations. My only knowledge is reading the results in an issue of WWF Magazine, and the occasional "rant" I've read to get a few laughs.

- Vince McMahon and Jim Ross are at ringside to call all the action, unless otherwise noted. You're probably wondering where the usual third member of the team, Jerry "The King" Lawler, is... well... yeah, the roster is so fucking weak he's in the Semi-Finals of the King of the Ring Tournament. Todd Pettingill is hanging around for some interviews. Yeah, I'm surprised he was still around, too.

Ahmed Johnson vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna):

Semi-Finals Match #1. Helmsley defeated Crush in an odd heel vs. heel match, and Ahmed defeated... Hunter Hearst Helmsley?! OK, so not only were we reduced to a simple field of Eight instead of 16 (or, in the case of 2000, 32!), but they did a weird bull crap angle where Helmsley got a second chance because he lost his first match by Disqualification. J.R. tries to hype a "working class vs. spoiled brat" situation. If you really want sympathy, tell the story about Ahmed's dad pouring boiling water on him as punishment. No, I'm not making that up. Johnson plows through Hunter with a pair of shoulder tackles. Hard whip to the corner and Ahmed follows up with a gorilla press slam. Helmsley thumbs the eyes, calls a spot in Ahmed's ear, and gets laid out with a clothesline. Ahmed misses an elbow, allowing Helmsley to take control. He sends Johnson to the floor and whips him into the steps. Hunter with a baseball slide, and I'm surprised Ahmed hasn't injured something yet. Back inside, Hunter comes off the top with a sledge for two. Ahmed reverses a whip, and they just kind of blow something. They do it again, this time with Ahmed connecting with a Scissor's Kick. Ahmed with a Spinebuster, and he signals for the end. Chyna hops on the apron, causing enough of a distraction for Helmsley to recover. He sends Ahmed to the corner with a high knee, and finishes with the Pedigree at 7:42. Ahmed chases Helmsley back to the locker room because it's something to do. * Pretty dull stuff, but the crowd was (mostly) into it (and by it, I mean Johnson).

Mankind vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler:

Semi-Finals Match #2. Mankind defeated Nation member Savio Vega to get here, and Jerry Lawler defeated babyface Goldust. Mankind was in the process of a babyface turn, cemented by his "shoot" interview with Jim Ross and eventually morphing his personality into his "Dude Love" character. Lawler cuts a mid-entrance promo, but it's nowhere near as awesome as what he did the previous year. Mankind attacks on the floor, clawing away at his face. He goes for the Mandible Claw, but Lawler runs. J.R. name drops USWA, Lance Russell, Jackie Fargo, and Andy Kaufman to hype up Lawler's career. Lawler takes control with rights and a bulldog. Lawler attacks the disfigured ear, something I don't recall many people doing. They fight in and out of the ring, mostly slugging it out. Mankind goes for a running attack, but ends up smashing his own face into the steps. Lawler follows up by slamming Mankind backwards into the security rail. Lawler with a piledriver on the floor, practically to zero response. Lawler surprises everyone by throwing a dropkick. Lawler with a piledriver in the ring, but it only gets two. The crowd barely reacts to Lawler's "hidden foreign object" trick. Mankind mounts his comeback with little fanfare and does the running knee to the face. They manage to blow a swinging neck breaker spot. Surprising, considering the talent and experience involved. Mankind counters another Piledriver and finishes with the Mandible Claw at 10:24. Nice to hear Mankind still had his "exit" music. *1/2 Not as bad as I anticipated, but the crowd lost interest after the initial chants of "Lawler Sucks" and "Burger King." Was Lawler honestly the best choice for an opponent to put Mankind over?

- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin sneaks up on Brian Pillman, who was in the middle of hyping a match between the two on the upcoming episode of Monday Night Raw. I recall watching that Raw just on a hunch, but don't remember a thing about the match. Austin throws him into the bathroom and dunks his head in the toilet. WWE PPV's these days need more swirlies.

Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. Crush (w/ The Nation):

You've got to believe this is major filler. Jim Ross actually references Crush's involvement in DEMOLITION. I don't think that's ever been brought up. Demolition is rarely mentioned to begin with, let alone the version featuring Crush. Vlad The Superfan is in attendance, for those who give a shit. Jim Ross keeps sucking up to smart fans, calling Goldust "The Natural" and "Dustin Rhodes." Crush attacks from behind and dumps Goldust to the floor. Goldust takes over with clubberin' and sexual advances in the corner. Whip and a diving clothesline gets two. Second match in a row with a botched swinging neck breaker. Crush sends Goldust to the corner and takes him down with a belly-to-belly suplex. Crush with a back breaker for two. We slow things down further with a seated chinlock. Jim Ross actually talks about the non-PPV King of the Ring's generally held in the Providence area between 1988-1991, and name drops Bill Watts for "not giving him the night off" in 1986 to attend. What is with the commentary tonight? Goldust comes back by kicking Crush in the junk. He ducks under a pair of clotheslines, but Crush presses him in the air and drops him into a stomach buster. Crush slaps on a nerve hold, probably something he learned from teaming with Yokozuna. Goldust fights free and connects with a diving clothesline. He gets funky like a monkey and pounds away. Goldust with a bulldog, but suddenly D'Lo and Clarence are surrounding Marlena. Goldust saves, only to get attacked from behind. Back inside, Goldust surprises Crush with the DDT and gets the anti-climatic three count at 9:57. 1/2* Other than a few spots, they looked like they were sleepwalking through this. I guess Goldust will challenge Davey Boy Smith for the European Title tomorrow on Raw.

Legion of Doom & Sycho Sid vs. Owen Hart, British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart:

I am SHOCKED that Sid was actually still in the WWF at this point. The Hart Foundation have been pissing everyone off, so this might be decent... OK, it's 1997 LOD and Sid. I must be delusional. Owen is the IC Champion and is carrying around his Slammies, and Bulldog is the European Champion. Anvil is just riding their coat-tails for a paycheck. What's a more intimidating hometown for Sid? West Memphis, AK or Anywhere He Darn Well Pleases?

Owen and Animal start. Owen grabs a headlock, but Animal casually throws him off. Animal with a slam, but misses an elbow drop. Hard whip to the corner and a body press from Animal. Whip and a Powerslam gets two. Sid comes off the second rope with a double axehandle, and manages not to snap his leg like a stick. Owen chickens out of a test-of-strength, tagging in Bulldog instead. Bulldog boots him and takes Sid down with the delayed suplex. Sid absolutely no-sells it and lays everyone out. Speaking of no-selling, Hawk and Anvil have an exchange. Hawk gets a boot up on a charge and comes off the top with a clothesline for two. Hawk with a snapmare and a headlock. Hawk throws a dropkick, probably to show up Lawler from earlier in the night. Speaking of Lawler... Bulldog with a piledriver and oh my God, Hawk no-sells it. Who would've thunk it? Owen with a spinning heel kick on Animal, then Neidhart sends him into the ring steps. Owen with a snap suplex for two. Anvil slingshots in with a clothesline for two. Owen with a missile dropkick for two. Animal continues taking a beating until making the hot tag to Hawk, to little reaction. Hawk with a slam, but misses a fist drop from the top. Hawk gets worked over a bit, but ends up making the real hot tag to Sid (which does get a reaction). Clotheslines for everyone! All six men get involved in the action. Sid with a Chokeslam on Bulldog. He sets up for the Powerbomb, but Owen comes off the top with a sunset flip for three at 13:38. THAT pinned Sid? Whatever. **1/4 The Hart Foundation carried it the best they could, and Animal had the decency to sell for them. If not for that hot face-in-peril sequence, the match would've been a total turd. Say goodbye to Sid, making his final WWF PPV appearance.

KOTR Finals: Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna):

No matter what happens, this cannot be any worse than the Finals we were treated to in 1995. Helmsley starts by trying to work a headlock, but Mankind keeps fighting his way out. Whip to the ropes and Mankind with an elbow. He puts the boots to Helmsley and sends him to the buckle. We hype tomorrow night's Raw for the 3rd time: The final part of Mankind's interview. They take the action to the floor, with Helmsley being rammed into the steel rail. The crowd is completely out to lunch. Helmsley with the first successfully performed swinging neck breaker of the night. Mankind offers a comeback, but gets wiped out with a clothesline. Chyna gets her first cheap shot of the match in at the 7-minute mark. Mankind goes low, but hangs himself in the ropes going for a clothesline. Helmsley with knee drops across the back of the head. Mankind catches him off the ropes and connects with a Hot Shot for two. They blow something in a weird takedown spot. Helmsley flips himself upside down in the corner, and Mankind drops an axehandle smash across the face. They take it to the floor, again, with Mankind coming off the apron with his signature elbow drop. Mankind with the double arm-DDT, but Chyna distracts the referee.

Mankind blocks the Pedigree and applies the Mandible Claw, but Chyna pulls him to the floor without the referee taking notice. Helmsley gives him a neck breaker across the top rope, and the crowd can't even react to that. Mankind, sans mask, puts the Claw on again, but Hunter thumbs the eyes. Mankind with the "Cactus Clothesline", taking them both to the floor. Mankind tries a diving elbow from the apron, but winds up meeting the rail, instead. Helmsley sends him into the steps and starts undressing the announcers table. Helmsley throws Mankind onto the table and puts him through it with the Pedigree! Chyna pulls the coronation scepter out of her ass and breaks it over the back of Mankind! Helmsley knocks him backwards off the apron, flat on his back (and into a ring crew employee). Crowd with a mild "Mankind" chant as Helmsley drags him to the center of the ring and covers for two! Crowd FINALLY pops for something. Helmsley with the Pedigree, and that's enough for the three count at 19:28. Mankind takes a further beating because it seemed like a good idea at the time. *1/2 Absolutely heatless until the final moments. It's amazing how unover Helmsley was until being paired up with Shawn Michaels later in the summer. The crowd wouldn't even react to Foley's signature big bumps, and it's not like we're in hickville. Providence, RI usually attracts a decent crowd, and should be familiar with Foley's previous work for making people look good by taking unnecessary bumps.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels:

It's the first of an eventual MANY cases of "Random Tag Team Partners Who Don't Get along", as they won the WWF Tag Team Championships not too long ago from the Bulldog and Owen. Austin was originally advertised as facing Brian Pillman and Michaels was to face Bret Hart... the latter was actually canceled due to Bret recovering from knee surgery, but how about that Shawn? That career-ending, smile-losing, knee injury from February sure healed up quickly, didn't it? If anything can save this PPV, it's a match between pre-oh-my-god-is-he-paralyzed Steve Austin and I-need-to-upstage-everyone Shawn Michaels. Of course, this match is never recognized in history because of their WrestleMania XIV match being way more important to tell the story of WWE's rise back to the top. They take turns talking smack, and I'm surprised don't slug it out. Lockup, Austin with a headlock and a shoulder tackle. Austin flicks him off to show him who's boss. Weird moment as Shawn leaves the ring to check the security escorting a handicapped fan at ringside. Shawn being a nice guy?! WHAT THE HELL! They do a sequence in the ring with Shawn returning the favor of bird flipping. They take turns with some basic chain-wrestling, with both men taking unofficial time outs by rolling to the floor for a breather. Austin puts the boots to Shawn to take advantage in a test-of-strength, and resumes mouthing off. Michaels fights fire with fire by putting the boots to Austin to escape. They both miss elbows, but do knock a camera man off the apron. Criss-cross, Austin with the Thesz Press and a flurry of lefts and rights. Michaels surprises Austin with a sunset flip for two. They do a hot sequence of near falls, including a bridge from Michaels. Austin escapes a back slide and tosses Michaels over the top rope.

Austin continues punishing Michaels, hanging him across the top rope and knocking him off, into the rail. Those rails have taken a beating tonight, haven't they? They trade blows until Shawn gets sent into the steps, and Austin follows up with a press drop on the exposed concrete. Back in the ring, Michaels duck a clothesline, but misses his signature diving forearm. Austin follows Michaels to the floor, dropping an elbow across the back of the head. Back inside, Michaels with a surprise small package for two. Austin quickly lays him out with a clothesline for two. Austin with a snapmare and second rope elbow for two. Austin hooks a chinlock, using the ropes for extra leverage. Shawn fights back to his feet and starts trading blows again. Criss-cross, and this time it's Michaels who dumps Austin to the floor. Michaels sends him back with a baseball slide as the crowd has a hard time making up their mind who to cheer. Austin flips out of a suplex attempt, but Shawn catches him off the ropes with the elbow. Whip to the corner and Austin meets post on a charge attempt. Whip to the corner, Michaels with a body press, but Austin rolls through for two! Austin with a short clothesline for another two count! Whip to the corner is reversed, knocking down referee Tim White. Sweet Chin Music is blocked and Austin connects with the Stone Cold Stunner! Austin pulls up the referee and gives him the Stunner, too! Michaels with Sweet Chin Music! Mike Chioda sprints out to check on White, so Michaels lays HIM out with Sweet Chin Music! White counts the pin attempt, but only gets two! Finally, Earl Hebner shows up and Disqualifies both men at 22:30. The crowd boos that decision, but it's the only way to save face for both men. The rest of the referees and road agents come out to make sure they don't continue beating the crap out of each other. What does this mean for the Tag Team Titles?! ***3/4 Great match, with some solid chain wrestling to start, and slowly developing into a hot sequence of near falls and big spots. Unfortunately the finish REALLY sucked, but it's still a match well worth checking out.

WWF Championship Match:
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Faarooq (w/ The Nation):

Yes, THIS match has to follow Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels. No hype video, so I doubt there's much to this in build-up. Faarooq is looking to be the first African-American WWF Champion. Having ZERO knowledge of WCW between the years 1991 and 1993, I had no clue Ron Simmons became WCW Champion, so I found this to be a real stretch to be a Main Event. Paul Bearer is "blackmailing" The Undertaker into letting him be his Manager, again. I wonder what dirt he has on him.

Faarooq attacks from behind. Taker quickly turns the tide in the corner, unloading with rights and lefts. Whip is reversed, but 'Taker comes exploding out of the corner with a clothesline. 'Taker with a big boot for two. Faarooq reverses a whip and takes him over with a Powerslam for two. Savio and Crush get some cheap shots in while Bearer accidentally distracts the referee. 'Taker gets a boot up on a charge and starts working the arm. He climbs the ropes for Old School, but calls an audible and does a plancha onto Crush, Savio, and D'Lo Brown! That was awesome. 'Taker goes for Old School for real, only to get shaken down by a Nation member. Faarooq with a snap suplex for two. Faarooq grabs the steel steps, but 'Taker kicks them back into his face! Whip to the ropes, Faarooq catches 'Taker with his head down and connects with a Piledriver, then slows things down with a chinlock. Yes, he uses the ropes for leverage. 'Taker escapes with what looked like the Stone Cold Stunner. He comes off the ropes for a splash, and meets the knees. 'Taker counters a piledriver but misses a leg drop. Faarooq comes off the second rope and taken over with a Powerslam. 'Taker goes for the diving lariat, but misses. The Nation randomly implodes on the floor, distracting Faarooq from finishing business. 'Taker sits up and finishes him with the Tombstone Piledriver at 13:44. Post-Match, 'Taker gives Savio and Crush chokeslams for the hell of it. ** They tried, but unfortunately that doesn't mean it was very good, and the crowd was pretty silent for most of this, too.

Final Thoughts: I went into this show with little expectations, and it definitely delivered on that promise: With the exception of Austin vs. Michaels, this was the definition of a throwaway PPV. Honestly, Ron Simmons challenging for the WWF Title? The most heatless King of the Ring Tournament ever (even Mabel got a reaction, no matter how right or wrong it was)? There was more hype for the following night's episode of Monday Night Raw, which seemed to be a much more enjoyable show than what was presented here, a show that we had to pay something along the lines of $30 to watch live. Strongest Recommendation to Avoid.

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