King Of The Ring 1994
June 19, 1994
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon, "Macho Man" Randy Savage & Art Donovan
Random Trivia: This occurred right around the time of Vince McMahon's neck surgery, and this was the first (and I believe only) WWF PPV that he was not in attendance for. Like a lot of 1993 and 1994 shows, this one has a mildly bad rep attached to it, but like a lot of those same 1993-1994 shows, I think it's actually quite good. Those who qualified for the tournament this year are: Razor Ramon, Bam Bam Bigelow, Mabel, IRS, Tatanka, Owen Hart, The 1-2-3 Kid, and Jeff Jarrett.
First Round: Razor Ramon vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Both men lost to Bret Hart in the previous year's tourney, Razor going down early in the first round and Bam Bam bowing out in the Finals. Art Donovan, former Baltimore Colts player and tonight's guest commentator, picks Razor to win it this year. A lot of fans are too. Razor Ramon, "The Bad Guy", as he was called, successfully retained his Intercontinental Title against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X in their classic Ladder Match, but lost the Title weeks later to Shawn's bodyguard, Diesel, on WWF Superstars. Bigelow and Razor trade some back and forth offense until Bam Bam tries to finish him with a moonsault off the top rope. Bigelow takes too long, however, and Razor gets up and half cradles him and half slams him off the top right into a roll up type pinning combination to take the win and advance at 8:26. Pretty cool finish. **
Todd Pettengill talks to both Mabel and IRS which is strange because Mabel is a babyface and IRS is a heel. Irwin stumbles over his own lines, as is per IRS promo. Mabel says he'll beat IRS and even looks ahead to Razor, which is stupid an nearly guarantees that he will lose.
First Round: Mabel vs. IRS
Art is actually a pretty funny guy if you've ever heard him on Letterman, but he's clearly lost here announcing wrestling matches. Mabel tries a small package but somehow only gets a two count. IRS controls most of the match with a boring chinlock. Joey Marella, real life son of Gorilla Monsoon and long-time WWF official is refereeing this match. Sadly, this would be his last PPV before his untimely death in a car accident on the Jersey Turnpike on July 4th. Mabel starts to make the comeback and delivers a poor Boss Man slam for two. He goes to the second rope, but IRS shakes him off, covers him, and uses the ropes for assistance to get the three count at 5:42. Mabel was wiggling the whole time to sell the fall but in the process lifts his shoulders to make the winning pinfall look ridiculous. 3/4*
Stan Lane talks to Lex Luger, who lost a qualifying match to Jeff Jarrett, partially due to a distraction by Crush and partially due to Jarrett's superior athelticism and ability. Luger picks Razor Ramon or Tatanka to win the King Of The Ring Tournament.
1-900 454-KING. It's the Superstar Line. Call now!
First Round: Tatanka vs. "The Rocket" Owen Hart
Tatanka is no longer undefeated, so he can't screw up any more tournaments. Owen is wearing completely pink tights a la Bret, something he barely ever wore. The start is fast paced as Tatanka hits several armdrags in rapid succession. Owen fights out of a side headlock and sidesteps Tatanka to the floor. Tatanka lands on his feet, pulls Owen out of the ring and chops away, but Owen whips him into the post. Backstage, Razor and IRS are shown in a shoving/yelling match as officials try to separate them. Convenient timing. Tatanka clmibs back in the ring and Owen hits a rope splash followed by a gutwrench suplex and a perfect missle dropkick off the top rope to score a two count. Owen goes to a sleeper. Referee Mike Chioda raises Tatanka's arm twice, but Tatanka comes back, breaks the hold and hits a DDT for two. Wow, a DDT. Well, it is post-Jake. Tatanka hits a chop off the top for two, then catches Owen with a running powerslam for two more. Tatanka tries a sunset flip but Owen sits down and hooks the legs for three to advance to the next round at 8:18. Can't beat the Bret/Bulldog finish. Good match. *** There was an initial pop for Owen, but those quickly turned to boos.
Todd talks to Shawn Michaels and Diesel. Diesel is the reigning Intercontinental Champion and has a shot at Bret Hart's WWF Title tonight. Diesel Jackknifed Bret on Jerry Lawler's King's Court weeks prior to this, leaving Bret layed out. Shawn sarcastically says that he can't sleep knowing he may have caused Bret some pain. Diesel has two words for him... Jack Knife. Wow, might as well have been 1997.
First Round: The 1-2-3 Kid vs. Jeff Jarrett
Gorilla and Savage ignore Art on more than one occasion on commentary as they talk amongst themselves. Jarrett beats on him from the start with the Kid getting some brief offense in between including a victory roll for two. He hits a roundhouse kick and a bodyslam but misses a senton off the top rope. The Kid ruled before all the injuries and I can't say that enough. Jarrett misses a rope splash, then crotches the Kid on the top rope. The Kid counters a superplex and nails a crossbody off the top for two. He misses a knee-first corner charge, and Jarrett softens up the knee. He starts to hook the Figure Four, but Kid counters it into a small package to score the three count at 4:40. The 1-2-3 Kid scores yet another upset. *** Jarrett is livid at the loss and attacks the Kid, piledriving him three times before he leaves. The Kid is left flat on his back and the announcers show concern for whether or not he'll be able to continue in the tournament.
A New Generation promo is shown. I think it's safe to say that the whole Attitude campaign got over just a little bit better than that one did.
Todd interviews WWF Champion, Bret Hart. To counteract Shawn Michaels being in Diesel's corner, Bret guaranteed weeks earlier that he would bring a family member with him to ringside to even up the odds. Todd tries to get the last minute scoop on just who this family member will be, but Bret won't spill the beans.
WWF Title: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Diesel
Initially I thought Bret would be in trouble because of the midcard booking, but later in the night the real logic behind this match's placement on the card would be revealed. Diesel's Intercontinental Title is not on the line here, so he has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Gorilla offers some speculation on who the family member could be. Stu, Bruce, Keith? Bret enters second to a tremendous pop with none other than his brother in law and former Hart Foundation tag team partner, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart by his side. The pink and black attack is back in tact! The match gets underway and Bret takes the seven foot Diesel down to size by working on the legs. He applies the Figure Four, but Diesel makes the ropes. Bret stays on him, and Diesel shoves him to the floor to grab a breather, but Bret stays with him and drags his leg to the corner where he rams it against the post. Shawn then clotheslines Bret, prompting Neidhart to chase him around ringside and across the ring until the ref puts a stop to it. Bret goes to the top rope and Diesel allegedly catches him in midair with a bearhug. I say allegedly because Diesel botched the spot and dropped him, then had to pick him up again. Bret bites his way out and dropkicks Diesel over the top, which Diesel kind of screws up. Bret misses a pescado and Diesel rams his back into the steel post. Shawn and Diesel confer to talk strategy. Diesel hits a side suplex for two, then goes to a backbreaker submission (on the knee) for awhile before dropping a big elbow for two. Diesel hits a rope splash right in front of Shawn and Shawn takes the opportunity to slap Bret in the face. Diesel whips him in for the sternum first bump in the corner and covers for two. Diesel argues with the ref about the count. Bret takes advantage with a rollup for two. Diesel gets up and now he's angry. He hits a backbreaker for two. Shawn takes off the turnbuckle pad while Diesel holds Bret in an overhead backbreaker submission. Bret turns over into a sleeper. Diesel breaks, Bret goes back to it, and Diesel tries to ram Bret's head into the exposed steel turnbuckle but Bret reverses it and Diesel is rammed face first into it instead. Diesel sells it well, collapsing as Bret punches him. Three clotheslines get a two count for Bret. Bret follows up with the russian leg sweep, second rope elbow drop, and a second rope bulldog for two. He starts to approach him for the Sharpshooter, but Shawn hops up on the apron. Bret goes to knock him off even though Neidhart should have been the one to do that. Bret doesn't stop his comeback, however, as he uses a second rope clothesline to get another two count. They fight over a backslide and Bret uses the ropes to hop over and score a small package for two. I love that spot. Diesel manages a big boot, but makes the mistake of celebrating. Bret takes advantage by hooking the Sharpshooter, but Diesel struggles to the ropes. Bret dropkicks him over the top and he ends up on the floor near Neidhart. The ref becomes occupied with those two while Shawn sneaks in the ring and nails Bret with the Title belt. Diesel comes in with an elbow drop and covers to get… two. Bret rules. Diesel hits the Jackknife in the ring, but Neidhart becomes overzealous and nails Shawn at ringside, then rushes into the ring and clotheslines Diesel before he can cover Bret. The ref calls for the DQ at 22:49. **** Awesome match. Neidhart saves Bret's Title, but no one is sure if Bret would have wanted it that way. The mystery of whether Bret could kick out of the Jackknife or not is never solved. Neidhart walks away, disgruntled, and Shawn and Diesel stick around to beat on Bret. Diesel wins the match by DQ but Bret is still the WWF Champion. Savage calls Bret the best of all time, and after watching him carry Kevin Nash to a four star match, it's hard to argue.
Todd talks to Jerry "The King" Lawler who will be wrestling Rowdy Roddy Piper later in the night. If Piper wins, he'll donate the winning proceeds to a children's hospital in Canada. Lawler says he'll make sure that won't happen. What a meanie.
Semifinals: Razor Ramon vs. IRS
Razor goes nuts with offense on the floor, but IRS takes over inside. Razor ducks a clothesline and IRS goes flying back to the floor. Razor introduces his skull to the steel steps. Inside, IRS targets the knee briefly but then goes to a chinlock complete with his feet on the ropes. All the IRS cheating garbage worked much better in tag team matches where the actions of the other participants would build heat during the resthold. In singles it's just boring. Razor comes back but gets caught with a Write Off. IRS covers, but only gets two. Razor finishes it shortly thereafter with a Razor's Edge at 5:13. *1/4 Razor Ramon heads to the finals.
Todd is backstage. He was supposed to be with the 1-2-3 Kid at this time, but the Kid is nowhere to be found, selling the injuries he suffered at the hands of Jeff Jarrett earlier.
Semifinals: The 1-2-3 Kid vs. "The Rocket" Owen Hart
Before I start on this one, for those that have no perception of what Sean Waltman (The Kid aka X-Pac) used to be capable of, and the kind of wrestler Owen Hart was, listen up: They were both awesome. The Kid did high flying moves like nobody's business, and no one currently in the WWF can rival the things he was doing. He makes Jeff Hardy look about as agile as Albert. And Owen was a combination of one of the best technical wrestlers ever and one of the world's best fliers. So both guys could go and they're about to show it here...
The Kid enters second, walking slowly to sell the Jarrett attack, and Owen immediatley baseball slides him as he approaches the ring. Owen follows up with an incredible dive through the ropes to the floor. Owen tosses him in and hits a headbutt from the top rope for a two count. Kid reverses a high crossbody, then cradles Owen for two. Owen flips out of a wristlock with his classic kip up counter, then Kid does the same to segue into a roundhouse kick for two. Owen scores the enziguri after another back and forth exchange. He gets a two count. The Kid responds with a northern lights suplex for a very close two count. Mike Chioda's hand actually hit the mat three times, but Owen managed to get his foot on the ropes at the last possible instant. After the close call, Owen bails to the floor and the Kid capatalizes on the dazed Hart with an awesome 360 degree flip over the top rope. Back in the ring, Owen catches a Kid heel kick and turns it into a bridge suplex all in one smooth motion to get a two count. He gets two more with his awesome belly to belly suplex. The Kid uses a go behind into a victory roll for two. Owen reverses for two. The Kid goes for a huricanranna, but Owen catches him in midair and powerbombs him. He then hooks the Sharpshooter to get the submission victory at only 3:37. **** It was that good even though it was only a few minutes long. The action was non-stop and the Kid's injury went hand in hand with the psychology of the match and its quick ending. Still, with ten more minutes there's no telling how good this could have been. It had the potential to be a classic if they could keep up a pace like that.
The King Of The Ring hotline is plugged.
Tag Team Titles: The Headshrinkers (Champions) vs. Crush & Yokozuna
The Shrinkers won the Tag Titles from the Quebecers a month or two prior to this on Raw and now have not only their longtime manager Afa by their side, but Captain Lou Albano as well. Yokozuna and Crush were both managed by Mr. Fuji and had nothing much to do after their respective hot storylines ended at Wrestlemania X. A standard tag match unravels with the heels well in control. Lex Luger wanders out to ringside to distract Crush and Samu rolls him up for two. Crush continues to pay attention to Luger and eats a Fatu crescent kick for three at 9:33. The Headshrinkers retain. *1/4 This was Lex's revenge for Crush costing him his King Of The Ring qualifying match. Crush gets up and starts to beat down Luger but the Headshrinkers make the save. It was pretty obvious that things were building to a Luger/Crush feud, but Crush got in trouble with the law shortly after this and was let go by the WWF.
Todd interviews Owen Hart, who wishes his father Stu a Happy Father's Day. See, Owen was a nice guy after all.
King Of The Ring Finals: Razor Ramon vs. "The Rocket" Owen Hart
They go through a nice feeling out process to start and Owen uses his beautiful wristlock counter. Razor comes up with a slingshot for a two count early in the match, then works a side headlock. Owen counters with a headscissors, then bridges out of a two count and tries a backslide, but it's Razor that gets it for two. Owen catches him with a roundhouse kick to take control. He hooks an abdominal stretch complete with a little rope assistance, but Razor hiptosses out. Owen flips out of a blocked hiptoss (a spot Scotty Too Hotty, who idolized Owen growing up, still uses in nearly all of his matches today) but Razor half chokeslams him, half Rock Bottom's him. Ramon hits the Fallaway Slam for two. Owen counters a suplex, and a russian leg sweep gets two. Owen prepares for a moonsault off the top rope, but Razor crotches him and hits his pattened back suplex instead. He sets him up for the Razor's Edge, but Owen backdrops him over the top rope to the floor. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart comes down to ringside and the fans assume that just because he's a babyface he'll help Razor despite the fact that he has no past history with him whatsoever. Neidhart checks on Razor, then with Owen distracting the referee, The Anvil clotheslines Ramon and whips him into the steel post before throwing a prone Bad Guy back into the ring. Owen hits a big flying elbow drop off the top rope and covers Razor for three at 6:36 to win the 1994 King Of The Ring Tournament. *** Owen and the Anvil beat on Razor just to hammer home Neidhart's heel turn and even give him the Hart Attack, Neidhart and Bret Hart's old finisher.
Ray Rougeau catches up with Bret Hart backstage. Bret has no comment on what he's just seen. Hey, doesn't Ray own Bret's contract?…
The announcers speculate on the events that have just unfolded. Randy Savage, ring veteran, deduces that Neidhart saved Bret's Title so that Owen could be the one to take it from him.
By now Owen and Neidhart have made it up to the coronation stage. Owen refuses to let Todd Pettengill talk to him, correctly noting that Todd isn't worthy of royalty, and instead allows Neidhart to do the honors of crowning him King. Owen renames himself the "King Of Harts", something my (dumb) friend actually predicted he would do moments earlier. Methinks it was nothing more than an eerie coincidence. I should point out that Owen followed in Bret's footsteps, having two good matches and one excellent one en route to becoming the King.
A Summerslam promo featuring Yokozuna is shown, despite the fact that Yoko ended up not wrestling on that show.
The Jerry Lawler/Roddy Piper feud is recapped. When Piper returned as a special guest referee at Wrestlemania X, Lawler started making fun of him on the King's Court, and this match was booked.
Todd talks to the governor of Maryland in the crowd. He mentions how he's really an old Hulk Hogan fan. I'm sure that's exactly what they wanted to hear.
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
As pointless and as bad as this feud was, one positive did come out of it: Piper's catchphrase. "We have come here to kick ass and chew bubble gum and we're all out of bubble gum." Still, the bad far outweighs the good. The bell sounds and various shenanigans follow. Lawler scores a piledriver for a near fall nine minutes into the match, and no, there was absolutely nothing of remote interest that happened before then that I could have mentioned. Piper spits, eye gouges, and bulldogs his way into control. Isn't a bulldog the first move they taught Trish Stratus? Oh geez, the ref is bumped. Lawler pulls a foreign object out of his trunks, nails Piper with it, and covers with his feet on the ropes. A slow count gets two. Piper gets up and hits a back suplex for a slow three count to put everyone involved out of their misery at 12:27. -* Yep, I'm dipping into the negatives for this one. This match was straight out of 1981.
Overall this was a good show. Most of the tournament matches were good including the exceptional Owen/Kid match, and Bret and Diesel had a great match as well. The Jim Neidhart return and subsequent heel turn made for an interesting little bit of storytelling, and that coupled with Owen's win helped set up the much anticiapted Bret/Owen WWF Title Match for Summerslam.
King Of The Ring 1994 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 87:21
Average Match: 8:44
Average Match Rating: **1/4
Top Moments: All three Owen matches, Neidhart's return and heel turn, Shawn's extra curricular activities during the Title match, the 1-2-3 Kid's performance, Art's attempts at commentary
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