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WWF King of the Ring
by Scrooge McSuck
June 19, 1994
- Originally broadcasted live, on Pay-Per-View, on June 19th, 1994, from the Baltimore Arena, in Baltimore, MD. Gorilla Monsoon and Randy Savage are on commentary, along with special guest, NFL Hall of Famer Art Donovan. For those who are unaware of Donovan, here's the best Wikipedia has to offer: He made his NFL Debut for the Baltimore Colts in 1950, bounced around a few other teams before returning to the Colts in 1953, where he remained until his retirement in 1961. In those years with the Colts, earning him induction into the Hall of Fame in 1968, he was a 5-time Pro Bowl selection, 4-time All-Pro selection, was a member of two Championship Teams (1958 and 1959), and had his number (70) retired.
Unfortunately, I am not writing a blog or column about the NFL, or Art Donovan's career, I'm writing up a flashback recap of a wrestling PPV, where someone thought all of these credentials on a football field were more than enough to justify putting Art at the commentary table. Not for one match, but for the ENTIRE SHOW. I can forgive the lack of knowledge to the product he's watching, but considering his age (pushing 70) and previous profession (football before rules required not giving permanent head injuries), this couldn't have been a worse decision to make. His "commentary" was pointless at best and insultingly annoying at worst, with the latter happening more often than not. Gorilla Monsoon was audibly frustrated with his special partner, and began ignoring his banter half-way through the show. Randy Savage, however, seemed to stick it out, being professional about the situation they were in by trying to talk Art through what he was watching, guiding him along, even through some of his most incoherent rambling. I point this out because, as much as it would be fun to mock everything he said, I would rather take the high road, devote this paragraph to his performance and legacy to this PPV, and move forward without another thought.
- Before we get to the matches (I know, I know, get on with it), here's the rundown on who advanced past the Qualifying Round: I.R.S. def. Scott Steiner in the latter's final WWF match until 2002, Mabel def. Pierre, Razor Ramon def. Kwang (the Ninja), Bam Bam Bigelow def. Sparky Plugg, Jeff Jarrett def. Lex Luger thanks to Crush's interference (Luger couldn't even qualify for the KOTR? Wow, what a loser), The 1-2-3 Kid def. Adam Bomb, turning Bomb face in the process in a quest to end Harvey Wippleman's stable of scrubs (Kwang and Well Dunn), Tatanka def. Crush after Luger returned the favor in a Lumberjack Match, and Owen Hart def. Doink (the Clown), subbing for Earthquake, who thought going to WCW was a smart career move and left with little notice.
Opening Match: Razor Ramon vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon):
Random tidbit: Both men fell to the previous year's winner, Bret Hart, with Ramon taking the loss in the opening round, and Bigelow in the finals. Ramon tosses the toothpick at Luna, allowing Bigelow to attack from behind. Bigelow with a pair of shoulder tackles, followed by a slam and headbutt. He heads to the top, but misses his diving headbutt finisher. Ramon with rights. Whip to the corner, he sweeps the legs from under Bigelow and crotches him on the post. Ramon from the second turnbuckle for two. He drops a pair of elbows across the knee and grapevines the leg. Ramon is bustin' out the skills tonight. Bigelow misses an enziguri. Ramon with clotheslines, but a third misses and he goes flying over the top rope. Back inside, Bigelow hits the enziguri on the second attempt for two. Headbutts to the back, and it's Torture Rack: Lethargic Edition. This wastes time and kills any momentum the match had. Ramon escapes and takes bigelow down with a back suplex. Ramon with a slam, but he unwisely tries to set Bam Bam up on the top rope, with less than successful results. Bigelow heads to the top for a moonsault, but Ramon slams him off into a roll up position for three at 8:26. Decent effort from Ramon, but Bigelow seemed to be dragging his feet and that rest period killed things for me. Bigelow would dump Luna as his "main squeeze" soon after and join Ted Dibiase's up-start Corporation a few weeks later.
- Todd Pettengill is backstage with Mabel and I.R.S for an odd interview. I.R.S. completely blows his lines as he leaves, and Mabel sounds really lame. Oscar sounds even LAMER offering that Mabel will get past Ramon in the Semi-Finals. I only mentioned this for being one of the most non-threatening, pointless interview segments from the time.
Mabel (w/ Oscar) vs. Irwin R. Schyster:
Welcome to the original singles run of Mabel, thanks to an injury taking Mo out of action until December. At least he wasn't pushed into Main Events. I.R.S. was in the middle of a decent mid-level program with Tatanka, so he's getting a decent push. Irwin with a sneak attack, but it fails, and he winds up tasting buckle on ten occasions. Mabel with a clothesline and slam, with some dancin' thrown in there. Mabel with a Northern Lights Suplex, followed by an elbow drop. Charge to the corner misses, and a high knee sends Mabel to the floor. Back in, I.R.S. comes off the ropes with the Write Off, but Mabel isn't going down without a fight. I.R.S. with a slam attempt, but Mabel counters with a small package for two. Yes, you read that right. I.R.S. regains control, though, and grabs a chinlock. Mabel crushes him in the corner to break it, takes him over with a back drop, and plows through with a clothesline. Whip to the ropes and a sidewalk slam gets two. Mabel heads to the second rope, but Irwin shakes the ropes to force him off, and covers for three at 5:34, despite not even covering him, and Mabel flopping around like a beached whale enough to make Tito Santana proud. Disgustingly awful finish aside, this wasn't terrible, just not good, either.
Tatanka vs. Owen Hart:
Poor Tatanka... ever since his undefeated streak ended back in October, he's missed the Survivor Series main event, did a pinfall job to Yokozuna on the lead-in show to WrestleMania X (where he also didn't get to see action on PPV), went to two non-decisive finishes with Kwang, and only got into the quarter-finals of this tournament thanks to Lex Luger knocking Crush out with his forearm. Everyone and their mother knew Owen was winning this thing, so let's get on with it... Tatanka attacks from behind, sends Owen to the buckle, and takes him over with a back drop for two. Suplex for two. Owen grabs a side headlock, then comes off the ropes with a shoulder. Criss-cross ends with a hip toss from Tatanka, followed by a Japanese arm drag. Another criss-cross ends with Owen throwing Tatanka over the top rope, but he lands on his feet and pulls Owen out. He lays in with chops until being sent to the post. Meanwhile, basckstage, Ramon and I.R.S. are being SEPERATED! Back inside, Owen with a gutwrench suplex and missile dropkick for two. Tatanka elbows out of a chinlock, but a sleeper hold keeps him down for a bit longer. Tatanka fights free of that and starts the War Dance. He lands a series of chops for two. Whip to the corner, Owen meets boot, and Tatanka plants him with a DDT for two. Slam and a top rope chop for another two count. Running powerslam for two. Whip to the ropes, Tatanka goes for a sunset flip, but Owen blocks and hooks the legs for three at 8:18. Not too bad, but again, nothing to blow your mind. So far, this tournament has been very meh.
The 1-2-3 Kid vs. "Double J" Jeff Jarrett:
Final match of the Quarter-Finals, and we're all but guaranteed Jarrett won't win. The WWF rarely ever did heel vs. heel, and would most likely go with a double elimination instead. Jarrett rolls to the floor, sweeps the leg from under the Kid, and pounds away. Whip to the corner, with authority. Whip again, and this time the Kid surprises him with a school boy for two. Jarrett with stomping, followed by an elbow to the chin. Whip to the ropes, and the Kid avoids a dropkick. Victory roll for two. Jarrett with a slingshot suplex, Tully Blanchard style, followed by a second-rope fist drop. Whip to the ropes, the Kid ducks a clothesline and connects with a spinning heel kick for two. Kid with a slam, but a senton from the top rope misses. Jarrett crotches himself across the second rope, and returns the favor by crotching the Kid on the top. Super-plex is blocked, and the Kid comes off with a body press for two. He unloads with kicks in the corner, but misses a charge. Jarrett sets up for the Figure-Four, but the Kid cradles him for three at 4:39. Post-match, Jarrett beats the tar out of the Kid, including several Piledriver's. If this were in Memphis, the Kid's funeral would immediately be planned. Decent, but too short.
WWF Championship Match:
Bret "Hitman" Hart © (w/ Jim Neidhart) vs. Diesel (IC Champion) (w/ Shawn Michaels):
This one has bullsh*t finish written all over it. Diesel is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, but only the WWF Title is on the line, and on top of that, it's a middle of the show placement, so you know the heel is winning, 'cause that's how the WWF typically rolled at the time. Jim Neidhart is making his "surprise" return to second Bret to counter-act Shawn, but even as a 9 year old mark, I assumed he was the "surprise family member" Bret was hyping. I want to assume Shawn was nursing injuries around this time, remaining in a non-wrestling role from after WrestleMania X up until August.
Lockup, and Diesel easily throws him into the corner. Bret grabs a waistlock, and Diesel elbows his way out of it. They exchange blows, forearms and rights, with Diesel gaining the upperhand. He does the foot choke in the corner, but goes to the well one-too-many times and hangs himself up across the top rope. Bret sweeps the legs and drops a headbutt across the midsection. Whip to the ropes and a roll up gets two. Diesel counters a body press with a slam, but misses an elbow. He thumbs the eyes to keep Bret at bay, and lays into him with forearms across the back of the head. Diesel misses a charge to the corner, allowing Bret to take over. He goes to work on the leg with kicks, sweeps him off his feet, and jerks the leg to hyperextend the knee. He slaps on the Figure-Four, but Diesel is too close to the ropes, thanks to his size advantage. Bret continues to work on the leg and slaps on a step-over toe-hold. Diesel kicks him off, sending Bret to the floor. He manages to trip Diesel up, and rams the leg into the post. Out of nowhere, Shawn Michaels lays him out with a clothesline, leading to a comical cat-and-mouse chase with the Anvil, before taking another shot at Bret.
Bret attempts to re-enter the ring via a body press from the top, but Diesel catches, blowing the spot. He does do his best to save the spot, ramming Bret into the corner before applying the bearhug. Bret bites the face to escape and sends Diesel over the top rope with a dropkick. He goes for a plancha, but goes splat as Diesel side-steps him. He rams Bret's back into the post before sending it back to the ring. Whip to the corner, with authority. Side suplex for a two count. Back breaker and the see-saw across the knee submission. Elbow drop for two. He splash Bret across the middle rope, and lets Shawn get some more cheap shots in. Bret offers a short-lived comeback before taking his signature chest-first bump to the corner, for a two count. Bret with a surprise roll up for two. Diesel with a short-arm clothesline for two. He hits the chinlock, but doesn't hold it for too long, and plants Bret with another back breaker for two. Meanwhile, Shawn works on undoing a turnbuckle pad as Diesel applies the Body Vice. Bret manages to slip free of the grip and slaps on a sleeper.
Whip to the corner, Diesel meets the boots, and Bret hops back on him with another sleeper. We get a ref' bump, and there goes the turnbuckle pad. Bret blocks being rammed into it, and instead bashes Diesel into the exposed steel, to a surprisingly large pop. Bret with rights, knocking Diesel around like his name were Glass Joe. Bret with clotheslines, the third being Hart Attack style for a two count. Whip, fist to the midsection, and Russian leg sweep, followed by the second rope elbow for two. He takes Diesel down with a second rope bulldog, but forgets about the Sharpshooter in favor of punching Michaels, who, in my honest opinion, over-sells it more than I've ever seen someone over-sell anything ever before. Second rope clothesline for two. Whip to the ropes, Bret blocks a hip toss and goes for a back slide. He uses the turnbuckle to kick over Diesel and cradle him for another two count! Diesel seems completely blown up, barely staggering into the corner on a whip. Bret slips free of Snake Eyes, but doesn't avoid a big boot. Diesel stands over him and signals for the end, but Bret trips him up and applies a makeshift version of the Sharpshooter, but again is too close to the ropes. A dropkick sends Diesel to the floor, where he takes a cheap shot at Neidhart for the hell of it. Michaels KO's Bret with a title belt behind the referee's back, and Diesel drops an elbow for two. Jacknife Powerbomb hits, but Neidhart runs in and draws a Disqualification at 22:50. Well, bullcrap finish aside, Bret Hart pulled a great match out of the ass of a blown-up Kevin Nash, the comical adventures at ringside of Neidhart and Michaels, and the awfully distracting commentary from Art Donovan. For the love of God, WATCH THIS MATCH.
Razor Ramon vs. Irwin R. Schyster:
First match of the Semi-Finals. If you missed the first half of the recap, Ramon defeated Bam Bam and I.R.S. defeated Mabel to get here. I.R.S. cuts a promo on his way to the ring, and thankfully doesn't flub it this time. Ramon attacks on the floor and sends him to the post. Back inside, IRS with a knee to the midsection, then sends Ramon to the buckle. Snapmare and elbow drop for two, followed by a back breaker. He misses a charge and goes flying ovr the top rope. Ramon follows him out, unloading with rights, and sends him into the steps. Back inside Part II, I.R.S. regains control and slaps on a chinlock. Ramon escapes with elbows to the midsection and flings him across the ring by the tie. Whip to the ropes, and I.R.S. comes back with a diving clothesline. The comeback is short-lived, as Ramon quickly and quietly puts him away with the Razor's Edge at 5:13. That sure seemed anti-climatic and never in doubt. At least it was short.
The 1-2-3 Kid vs. Owen Hart:
Winner faces Ramon in the Finals, and again, no mystery in the winner here, although workrate marks would say the Kid/Ramon would be a logical Finale. The Kid plays the "will he show up" card, before limping his way to the ring. Owen greets him with a VICIOUS baseball slide, followed by a suicide dive. He throws the Kid into the ring, heads to the top, and comes off with a splash for two. Whip to the corner is reversed, with Owen taking the Bret bump. The Kid to the top, and a twisting body press gets two. Mahistral cradle for two. Owen counters out of a wristlock, fancy-style, and the Kid responds the same before laying Owen out with a spinning heel kick for two. Whip to the ropes, Kid catches a boot, and takes the enziguri for his troubles. Cover only gets two. Kid with a northern lights bridge for two. Owen rolls to the floor, and the Kid follows with a somersault plancha. Back inside, Owen blocks and counters a spinning heel kick with a German suplex for two! Whip to the ropes and overhead belly-to-belly suplex for two! The Kid counters a suplex and takes Owen over with a victory roll for two. Whip to the ropes, and a hurricanrana is countered with a powerbomb. Sharpshooter, and Owen is going to the Finals at 3:37. Wow, that might be the absolute best match you can ever get out of 210 seconds. Definitely a lost gem. Screw Bret vs. Diesel, Watch THIS match, instead!
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The Headshrinkers © (w/ Afa & Lou Albano) vs. Yokozuna & Crush (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette):
Kind of a filler match here, as Yokozuna and Crush have nothing to do after their singles pushes ended, and were randomly put together as a team for a few weeks before going their seperate ways. The 'Shrinkers won the belts about a month earlier on an episode of Raw, from the Quebecers, and turning face in the process. Everyone slugs it out to start. The 'Shrinkers no-sell headbutts, and Crush and Yoko do the same. More headbutts work in favor of the Champs, sending the make-shift challengers to the floor. Samu and Yokozuna trade shoves, and Samu unwisely goes for a slam. Whip to the corner, Samu catches Yoko coming with a heel kick, and sends him back out with a dropkick. Crush and Fatu go nose-to-chin, now. Whip to the ropes, Fatu no-sells being slammed into the canvas, and plants Crush with a piledriver. Second rope headbutt gets two. Whip to the ropes and Fuji blasts Fatu with the flagpole. Crush with a clothesline, complete with over-sell, and a piledriver for two. Drop toe hold and Yoko Hulk-Buster for two. Yoko seems to be sucking wind already, and misses a charge into the corner. Samu with a powerslam on Crush, and a single clothesline knocks Yoko off his feet. Double crescent kicks send him to the floor, and Samu looks to put Crush away with a splash, but the impact of Yokozuna being rammed into the post crotches him across the buckle. Crush takes him down with a super-plex, then adds a leg drop. Yoko' adds plastic surgery to injury with another leg drop. Suddenly, Lex Luger shows up and distracts Crush enough to be rolled up for two. Fatu with a crescent kick and cover for three at 9:33, obviously covering for the blown finish. Decent at times, but really all over the place, and with a pretty bad finish.
- This deserves it's own little note: Lex Luger's role in the company was so important his use at the King of the Ring was for a random non-physical interruption for the Tag Title Match. The sad thing was that he would eventually get LAZIER in the ring before taking his talents to Atlanta, despite Eric Bischoff low-balling him an offer in hopes he wouldn't sign.
KOTR Finals: Razor Ramon vs. Owen Hart:
Both men have wrestled a combined, grueling 13-minutes between their two matches, you know they have to be tired. The finish is so obvious, poor Art Donovan™ changes his pick to Owen Hart mid-match. Lockup, Owen grabs a headlock. Whip to the ropes and Ramon knocks him down with a right. They trade wristlocks, Razor goes for the back suplex, but Owen slips free and bitch slaps him. Razor catches a body press attempt, but can't quite get him into the fallaway slam position, and casual slams him and drops an elbow for two. Owen with another slap, followed by rights. A dropkick fails, and Razor slingshots him into the corner. School boy roll-up for two. Ramon with a headlock takeover, Owen counters with a head scissors, and they do the bridge into a backslide spot, with Ramon getting a two count from it. Owen with a heel kick and slaps on an abdominal stretch... just write the joke in yourself. Razor escapes with a hip toss, and plants Owen with a modified chokeslam for two. Fallaway slam for two. Owen counters a suplex with a Russian leg sweep. To the top for a moonsault, he gets crotched and taken down with a super-back suplex. Razor sets up for the big finish, but it's near the ropes, and he winds up on the floor. Suddenly, Jim Neidhart shows up, turns heel, and lays Razor out. He throws him back in the ring, and Owen comes off the top with an elbow for the three count at 6:36. Not exactly a match to blow you away for the Finals. Felt like a typical match you would see on Monday Night Raw.
Post-match, they milk the coronation ceremony for all it's worth, with Jim Neidhart reading the proclamation and dubbing Owen the "King of Hart's." Har Har, such a clever play on words. Again, Owen winning the tournament was as obvious as obvious gets in wrestling. He already beat Bret at WrestleMania, so this wasn't really pushing him further up the card. He was already there.
Main Event: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler:
Here's the deal: The WWF debuted a "Old Generation/New Generation" commercial during this PPV, putting down rasslin' from the carnie days and hyping the stars of today... and the match with the most hype and going on last features two men that average 40 years old and were stars during the era that the company was putting down within the same show. I don't typically label a match as a Main Event, but this honestly got more hype and air-time on television than anything else. This is billed as a one-time only return to the ring for Piper (how many times has that been muttered?), and all "proceeds" from his purse, win or lose, goes to a bogus charity. What-the-fuck-ever. Let's go to the ring...
Before we start the match, Piper brings out the kid that impersonated him on Monday Night Raw. Why? This made ZERO sense. He willingly mocked and impersonated Piper for 10-minutes with Lawler, and now he shows up in Piper's corner, as if nothing happened? That wouldn't happen to be that "Jason Sensation" guy from the Nation parody of '98, would it? Piper grabs the mic' and rips off one of his better lines from They Live. Piper throws the skirt and hammers away. They take it to the floor, allowing The Kid™ to work in an eye poke. Back inside, more of the same... I honestly can't tell if they're going for shitty old school style or shitty comedy style, it's that bad. To the floor again, and Piper honest to God CATCHES a punch, then rams Lawler into the post. At the 4:43 mark, Lawler finally gets offense (a punch), thanks to Piper sacrificing himself for The Kid™. Wait... Jerry F'N' Lawler is relegated to only getting offense when Piper pretty much lays down for him? For shame! At the 7:01 marker, Lawler with his first move... a sleeper, and apparently he slapped it on the entire crowd. Lawler with a piledriver for two and no reaction. Lawler with rights, but Piper wants more! They do this bit until Piper thumbs the eyes and takes him down with a bulldog. We get a ref' bump, a blast with an invisible foreign object, and the gravitational pull being too much for Piper to kick out on his own without the help of The Kid™. Piper thankfully ends it out of nowhere with a back suplex into a roll up at 12:17. This. Fucking. Sucked. I'm talking Late 90's WCW Dino-Wars Bad.
Final Thoughts: Despite the spectacularly awful match that closes out the show, this was a pretty good, if not flawed, card. Bret vs. Diesel and Owen vs. the 1-2-3 Kid are more than enough to warrant recommendation, but on the other hand, this tournament felt like a complete throw-away compared to the year prior, where Bret Hart wrestled three very good, long matches of different styles to steal the show, while this tournament felt too predictable, with short matches, and only one being worth the time of day of tracking down (and unfortunately clocking in at less than 4-minutes!). Despite my melon-collie opinions about that, give this a look, being one of the better KOTR shows from start to finish... and hell, for just one joke, listening to Art Donovan die over and over on commentary for three hours is sure to entice sick weirdos out there, too.
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