King Of The Ring 1993
June 13, 1993
Announcers: Jim Ross, "Macho Man" Randy Savage & Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
Welcome to the inaugural King Of The Ring on PPV, as the WWF decides to add another PPV to the lengthy dry spell in between Wrestlemania (early April) and Summerslam (late August). To make it into the tournament, each wrestler had to win their qualifying match on WWF TV in the weeks leading up to this. The final field of eight looks like this: Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect, Mr. Hughes, Jim Duggan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka, and Lex Luger. Leading up to the show, I remember going with Bret Hart all the way, while a few others chose to back Tatanka. Pfft...
First Round: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Razor Ramon
This is a rematch from the Royal Rumble. Bret, having been a former WWF Champion was the clear favorite for the tournament. Razor's choice of color tonight is green. During his entrance, the crowd chants "1-2-3" to get him riled up, referring to his recent loss against a jobber who as a result was dubbed the 1-2-3 Kid. You may know him today as X-Pac. Bret is over huge, and makes me wonder why they ever took the Title off him in the first place, but I digress. The match gets underway, and Bret works on Razor's arm. This rematch is very different from their Rumble match, as these first round KOTR matches have a fifteen minute time limit, so each has to work quickly to get the fall to try to advance. Razor takes control when Bret is driven shoulder first into the post. Razor stomps on his fingers which is smart because you can't beat a man if you can't bend your fingers to pick him up. Razor gets a two count with his fallaway slam, then with a running powerslam. He gets a side suplex, but misses a few elbow drops. Bret makes the comeback with an inverted atomic drop, a clothesline, and a russian leg sweep. The backbreaker and the second rope elbow each get two. A rollup gets two. A bulldog is countered, and Ramon sends him sternum first into the corner. Razor goes for the Razor's Edge, but in midair, Bret walks the ropes and flips back to reverse it into a small package for two. Awesome move. The crowd thought that was the finish. Razor comes back and attempts his back suplex off the top rope, but Bret shifts his weight in midair, falls on Razor, and hangs on for the three to advance at 10:28. Really good match. ***1/2, just about the best you can pack into that amount of time.
We review the Undertaker/Mr. Hughes situation from WWF Superstars. Hughes, Harvey Wippleman's latest acquisition, steels the urn from the Undertaker after a massive beatdown.
First Round: Mr. Perfect vs. Mr. Hughes
Perfect, much like Bret, just has that cool look about him tonight. Bret's the favorite, but Perfect is right there too. JR, not surprisingly, reminisces about Hughes' college football days. Perfect dictates a fast pace with some huge armdrags. Perfect is really flying around, and sells a punch by flipping backwards over the top rope. Gotta love Perfect. The announcers talk to Bret on the split screen to ask who he'd rather face in the next round. He says he'd rather wrestle Perfect instead of Hughes, who's more of a brawler. Perfect makes the comeback and hits his pattened neck snap. In an act of desperation, Hughes grabs the urn and nails Perfect with it, causing the DQ at 6:02. * Perfect advances.
Mean Gene Okerlund, in what would be his final WWF PPV (until he returned at Wrestlemania X-Seven in 2001), interviews Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji.
First Round: "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
An uneventful match here. They trade fists, and Bigelow generally gets the better of Duggan. Hacksaw misses a charge in the corner, and Bigelow hits his top rope headbutt for the pin at 5:01. 3/4* This was Duggan's last WWF PPV match, and possibly his final WWF match ever.
King Of The Ring hotline: 1-900-288-KING. Call now. Terry Taylor is the moderator, and The Smoking Gunns, Steiner Brothers, and Crush are standing by to take your call.
First Round: Tatanka vs. "The Narcissist" Lex Luger
Both men are undefeated, so something's got to give, right? Right? Ever since his WWF debut in January, Luger had been knocking his opponents out cold with his forearm. It never failed, and the perfect track record made WWF President Jack Tunney suspicious. They took x-rays of his arm, which revealed that he had a steel plate in there as the result of an old motorcycle accident. Tunney made a ruling that Lex must wear a forearm pad during all his matches to even up the playing field. It takes several refs to get him to put the pad on here, but he finally cooperates. Luger poses in his mirror, only to have Tatanka enter and dump it on top of him. Tatanka controls and works an armbar as the announcers talk to Bigelow backstage. Bam Bam says he wants "the Indian" who he was feuding with at the time. Bigelow had actually cut some of Tatanka's cherished red hair off a few weeks prior to this. Luger now controls in the ring, and a Tatanka comeback fails. Luger beats on Tatanka, but can't put him away and the fifteen minute time limit expires at, well, 15:00. Both are eliminated due to the draw and Bigelow lucks into a bye all the way to the finals. ** Luger gets on the mic and demands five more minutes, but instead he settles for taking the pad off and blindsiding Tatanka with his steel forearm. The Narcissist gimmick was a great one, but they threw it all away. By the next PPV, Luger would be a babyface as an American patriot. That's quite the contrast, and not for the better.
Mean Gene does a great interview with two babyfaces, Bret and Perfect. They argue about whose father was a better wrestler, Stu Hart or Larry "The Ax" Hennig. Bret says his father beat Perfect's father, but Perfect denies it. Perfect says he owes Bret for Summerslam (1991), and then solidifies his heel status for the match by insulting Canadians, refusing a handshake, and saying he'll do what he has to to win. This interview is one of my favorites of all time, right up there with Bret/Piper from Wrestlemania VIII.
Semifinals: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
Bret has taped fingers courtesy of Razor Ramon's stomps earlier in the night. They lock up, and we get some crisp, fast action with perfect timing and execution. They trade headlocks and a quick sequence puts Bret on the floor. Perfect holds the ropes open for him to come in, but Perfect cheapshots him on the way in. He lays in some loud chops. Heenan teases wanting to manage Perfect again because of the change in attitude. Perfect knocks Bret off the apron all the way into the guard rail. Nice bump. Bret comes in favoring his right knee. Perfect hits a missle dropkick. Bret takes his chest first corner bump for a Perfect two count. Perfect heads up top, but Bret crotches him and superplexes him for two. Bret targets his knee and applies the Figure Four. Perfect breaks and soon goes to a sleeper. Bret makes the ropes. Perfect trips over himself, but covers for it smoothly by acting like it was because of his knee injury. Nice. Perfect goes back to the sleeper and uses the ropes for leverage. Bret breaks. Bret's leg sweep gets two. So do a leg drop and his elbow drop off the second rope. Perfect counters the Sharpshooter. Heenan takes credit for Perfect's heel tactics. Bret blocks the Perfect-Plex and both spill over the top to the floor. If this ends in a double countout, Bam Bam is the King Of The Ring. They climb back in before the count, Perfect gets a small package for two, and Bret reverses for the three to end it at 18:57. After the match, Perfect is pissed that he lost, but slaps Bret's hand anyway, and both men leave as faces. Awesome match. ****1/2 Who else but Bret would go nineteen minutes after already going ten, and knowing he'd have to wrestle another match later in the night? You just won't see that anymore these days. Bret heads to the finals against Bigelow.
Terry Taylor interviews a family of rednecks in the audience.
Savage and the other announcers put over the last match as the classic that it was. Savage is sweating just from watching it.
Mean Gene talks to WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart. All three of them would be gone after this show.
WWF Title: Hulk Hogan (Champion) vs. Yokozuna
A midcard Title match in the early 90's means the babyface Champion had better watch out. Yoko is accompanied to ring by several Japanese photographers. JR dates Hogan by mentioning that he won his first World Title in 1984. Savage and JR speculate as to why he hasn't defended the Title since he won it at Wrestlemania. There's another cheapshot, this one at Hogan's attitude. The writing is on the wall. Hogan's music hits for the last time before it would become used as a tool to parody him. Say what you will, but the crowd still loves him. This is only Hogan's second real match, and first real one on one match in fourteen months. Savage questions why Bret isn't getting the Title shot here. So am I. As the match starts, a graphic reminds us that this is for the WWF Title. Hey, that's way ahead of its time. Heenan (in reference to all the photographers): "The last time I saw this many Japanese people was at Bennyhanna's." Savage mentions that there would be a big pop if Hogan could slam Yokozuna, in those words. Hogan tries to slam him various times between getting pounded on, but it fails all three times. Hogan hulks up after a Yoko belly to belly suplex, and comes back with three boots. He hits the legdrop, but Yoko kicks out. Good. Hogan calls for another slam, but a photographer is on the apron. Hogan approaches him, the guy tries to take a picture, and the camera explodes in Hogan's face, thus "blinding" him. Hogan goes down, and Yoko drops a mammoth leg for the three count and the WWF Title at 13:11. Bye bye, Hulkster. 1/2* Savage is confused. "What the hell happened?" I think he was surprised that Hogan did a job. Yoko delivers a Banzai Drop after the match to put an exclamation point on the death of Hulkamania. Heenan is very enthusiastic about this turn of events. "Hogan is finished!" A replay shows that the flame hits Hogan in about the stomach, but that's okay. The announcers note that Hogan couldn't slam Yoko and was beaten with his own move. All three seem to be enjoying themselves, as it's apparent that Hogan has been turfed from the WWF for good. We would never see him again after this PPV.
Minor point of interest: For years after Wrestlemania IX, WWF Magazine claimed that the Bret/Yokozuna main event lasted almost thirty minutes when in reality it was a shade under nine. So using that scale, this match lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-45 minutes. Not bad for a 500 pounder and a guy whose last name is Hogan.
Mean Gene is with Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and his bodyguard. Shawn seems glad that Hogan is gone. The only one that doesn't seem happy is Hogan's buddy, Gene. Shawn says that Hogan isn't the same caliber star that he is. Gene scoffs, but Shawn is right on so many levels. Gene makes a topical reference to Jurassic Park just to give you an idea of what else was going on in the world around this time. Shawn closes the interview by revealing that the name of his seven foot bodyguard is Diesel.
The Steiner Brothers & The Smoking Gunns vs. Money Inc. & The Headshrinkers
Heenan is very noticably pleased about Hogan's ousting from the company. You can hear the glee in his voice. DiBiase and Scott Steiner do a sequence to start off while the announcers talk about Hulk. JR speaks at length about where everyone in this match went to college and what such great athletes they are. Heenan finally snaps and says, "Don't you know anyone that didn't go to school?" He then scoffs at the mention of the Gunn's supposed rodeo scholarships. IRS tags in and JR gets confused, stating that he's won the Tag Team Titles four times with three different partners, when in the WWF it's really three and two. JR is of course making reference to a past WCW Title reign by accident, so Heenan picks up on it and says, "Yeah, and he went to the University of Wallstreet, right?" Ha! Bobby is referring to a previous gimmick of IRS's in WCW, where JR had just come from. In fact, that Wallstreet gimmick just might have been JR's idea, which if it is, makes Heenan's joke ten times funnier. JR gets flustered and says, "No, Syracuse", which is another reference to a past WCW gimmick of IRS's. This is some great stuff! Heenan is just cruising now that we saw Hogan get squashed. JR and Heenan make such a great team. Sadly, this and Wrestlemania IX were the only two PPV's that they ever got to call together. I would love to see them as a commentating team today. I figured it could happen after Lawler quit too, but they had to go get Heyman. Now don't get me wrong: I like Paul Heyman, both as a commentator and from a creative aspect. But if you've got to choose a broadcasting team between Heenan and JR and Heyman and JR, well, the choice to me is not a difficult one. Anyway, DiBiase locks the Dream on Billy Gunn and let's go for some stupid reason. Billy rolls him up for the pin shortly thereafter at 7:01. A brawl erupts, and the faces clear house. **1/2 The Steiners would trade the belts with Money Inc. after this, then take them for good.
The Superstar Line currently has Bam Bam Bigelow, Razor Ramon, Owen Hart, and Mr. Perfect. I've got a problem with Owen sitting right next to Razor after their little pre-Royal Rumble altercation, but if Triple H and Austin can live in harmony, why shouldn't they be able to? Razor rips on his old AWA tag partner by saying that he could have Mr. Perfect's mother dancing naked on a table. Or something to that effect.
Gene is with Jack Tunney, Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji.
Intercontinental Title: Crush vs. Shawn Michaels (Champion)
JR assures us that Hogan is alright and that we haven't heard the last of him which is a flat out lie, though it's one that had to be said. Shawn is the IC Champion again, having won it back from Marty Jannetty at a house show in Albany, New York two weeks earlier. Shawn sells like crazy for Crush, who dominates not only with his power but with speed and agility as well. Shawn regroups after a tiltawhirl backbreaker. Savage interestingly puts over Crush huge by saying that he bets he can slam Yokozuna, and that it wouldn't surprise him if he took the IC Title here and then later the WWF Title. Interesting comments, as this might mean that there may have been some truth to the rumor that the WWF was considering pushing Crush as the "next Hulk Hogan" instead of Lex Luger. Oh well. Shawn smacks Crush off the apron into the post. Diesel contributes a follow up shot. Shawn viciously takes his head into the post about five or six times in rapid succession. He drags Crush, who is now dead weight, into the ring and covers, but only gets two. Crush makes the big comeback and clotheslines Shawn to the floor. The Double Doinks come down to distract Crush, and Shawn sneaks in and hits the crescent kick to the back of his head. Crush's head is propelled forward and hits the post, and Shawn gets the quick pin at 11:14 to retain. Good match. *** I question the logic of the finish, as Diesel could have been better established as a force but was instead a non-factor, and the Crush/Doink feud never went anywhere after this.
Mean Gene talks to Bam Bam Bigelow in what would be his last backstage interview with the WWF. Okerlund, not Bigelow. Bam Bam is fresh. He wrestled one five minute match with Duggan in the third match of the card. Meanwhile, Bret has gone almost thirty minutes combined with Razor and Perfect. So Bret is playing the role of underdog here, as the announcers all seem to think that Bigelow has too much of an advantage for the Hitman to overcome.
King Of The Ring Finals: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
The announcers mention that the winner should easily be the #1 contender for the WWF Title. Too bad Lex Luger got that Title shot at the next PPV. Bigelow throws Hart over the top rope to the floor. He tries to put him away quickly, but Bret fights back. Bigelow puts him back down, however, as he's too strong and too fresh for Bret to control for any long period of time. On the floor a turning point occurs, as Bret reverses a whip into the steel guard rail, then drops an elbow off the apron. Now Bigelow is hurt too. Hart jumps off the apron, but Bigelow catches him and drives his back into the apron. He slams him on the concrete in the aisle, then heads back into the ring to occupy the ref. His "main squeeze", Luna Vachon comes down and nails Bret with a chair. JR is great here, pleading that it can't end this way. But Bret is spent. Bigelow brings him into the ring, slams him, and hits the headbutt off the top rope. 1-2-3, and Bam Bam Bigelow is your inaugural King Of The Ring at 7:50.
What? You mean you don't remember it ending like that? Well, wait a minute, Earl Hebner wants the limelight of being the main event ref, so he comes down quickly and does Joey Marella's job for him, ordering the match to be restarted due to the outside interference. Bigelow puts Bret in a backbreaker submission, but Bret flips out and hits a big back suplex. Cool move. Bret dodges a reverse splash. Bigelow goes back to the backbreaker, but this time Bret counters into a sleeper, then dropkicks him and dumps him to the floor. He follows with a dive through the ropes. Back in he hits a second rope clothesline and a russian leg sweep. Bret nails a second rope bulldog, then goes for the Sharpshooter, but it's blocked. Bret goes for a back suplex, but Bigelow turns over in midair and lands on him for a two count, the same move Bret used to beat Razor Ramon in the opening round. A Bigelow charge eats boot, and Bret hops up to the top rope, and hooks Bam Bam into a victory roll to get three at 17:16. Bret Hart is the 1993 WWF King Of The Ring. Yeah! ***1/2 for Bret's heroics. Savage quickly jumps into the ring and congratulates him.
Bret then walks down the aisle and up to the podium where Mean Gene is waiting with the crown, robe, and scepter. Before Bret can speak, Jerry "The King" Lawler comes out to confront Bret and let him know that he's the real King and the only King in the WWF. Bret eggs him on by telling him that the only thing he is, is a "Burger King". Lawler responds by attacking him and beating him down. Lawler destroys him with all the props on the stage, and leaves him laying as the show goes off the air. Lawler has ruined what should have been Bret's shining moment.
This was a good show, and probably still stands as the best King Of The Ring ever. Bret had three very good matches (totaling nearly fifty minutes) including a classic with Perfect. Hogan gets turfed from the WWF for good, and it's interesting to see everyone's reactions. The card also moves right along nicely, as there's a little bit of everything. We get the first round of the tournament, then the end of the Hulkster, a cool tag match, a fun IC Title match, and a terrific performance by Bret. Only a Hart could wrestle three great matches in one night.
King Of The Ring 1993 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 104:10
Average Match: 11:35
Average Match Rating: **1/4
Top Moments: Bret's three matches, Hogan's finale, Shawn and Crush, Great commentary
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