King Of The Ring 1995
June 25, 1995
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Dok Hendrix
Back in 1995, this show was highly anticipated because the first two King Of The Ring Tournaments had been so successful. Who would follow in the footsteps of Bret and Owen Hart and become King this year? Most felt it would be Shawn Michaels or the Undertaker. And if not them, Yokozuna and Razor Ramon were also entered in the tournament. The star power was there; it was only a question of which major name would get the nod.
The first round of the tournament was set up with Razor Ramon vs. Yokozuna, Bob Holly vs. The Roadie, Shawn Michaels vs. Kama, and The Undertaker vs. Mabel. The way my friends and I saw it, the winner of the Razor/Yoko match would go the finals to meet the winner of the can't-miss second round Shawn/Undertaker showdown. With names like that it's hard to screw up a tournament, right? Right?!
On the pre-show, we're informed that Razor Ramon is injured and although he's in attendance, he'll be unable to compete in the tournament. Therefore, with ten minutes left until the PPV is scheduled to get underway, another qualifying match must be held to determine who will replace him. The lucky participants? Savio Vega and IRS. The unlucky victims? Viewers across the world everywhere.
Qualifying Match: Savio Vega vs. IRS
This is obviously a quick match since the PPV is almost ready to begin. Savio gets a few near falls right off the bat and later finishes with a roundhouse kick at 4:02 to qualify for the King Of The Ring Tournament. ** Not bad, actually. Sure, Savio's no Razor Ramon, but we've still got the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, right? A former WWF Champion in Taker and a Royal Rumble winner and unbelievably popular newly turned babyface in Shawn. Nothing can possibly go wrong with those guys in it…
First Round: Savio Vega vs. Yokozuna
Now the PPV itself is underway and Savio, fresh off a win not ten minutes ago is back in there, this time against 641 pound former two time WWF Champion, Yokozuna. Yoko qualified for the tourney with a countout win over Lex Luger, probably just to add insult to injury, as Lex was booked to not only return jobs to the whole roster, but apparently return them by the same means as he'd gained them (see Summerslam '93). Yoko squashes Savio, but Vega fires back with those wild spinning heel kicks of his. Jim Cornette hops up on the apron only to be punched in the face seconds later. Razor confronts him on the floor, so Yoko's tag team partner, Owen Hart, runs down to take Razor out of the picture. Yoko ends up on the floor, and admist all the confusion, Savio reverses a whip, sending Yoko right into the steel post. Savio beats the count back in the ring, and scores the major countout upset to advance to the second round at 8:23. * OK, fine. So Yoko didn't advance. Did I really want to see three Yokozuna matches in one night anyway? Nah. But it's alright because we'll still get to see that Shawn/Undertaker match later on. Although I should point out that even I was becoming suspicious at that point. Because why not split Shawn and The Undertaker into separate brackets to set them up for a match in the finals instead of the semifinals? It couldn't be that something fishy is going on, could it?…
Vince talks to Jerry "The King" Lawler backstage. Lawler has been covering his own foot with filfth for weeks now to make his hopeful victory against Bret Hart in a Kiss My Foot match later on even that much sweeter… or that much more disgusting if you're the Hitman.
First Round: Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly vs. The Roadie
It should be noted that at this point in time, The Road Dogg was nothing more than Jeff Jarrett's lacky. He wasn't portrayed as a legitimate wrestler like everyone else, and rarely competed. He was basically at the bottom of the food chain and no one took him seriously as a wrestler. Jarrett, the Intercontinental Champion, who lost a qualifying match to the Undertaker, accompanies the Roadie to ringside here. The announcers hype a Vega/Jarrett IC Title match the next night on Raw just to give away the result of this match before it even starts. The Roadie went over Doink to qualify and Holly beat Mantaur. The match begins and Holly completely dominates it, scoring several near falls in rapid succession. The Roadie wisely bails to talk strategy with Double J. He climbs back in and does a hot sequence with Holly that ends with the Roadie countering a hurricanrana into a powerbomb. He follows up with some elbows and a rear chinlock. Bob fights out and schoolboys him for two, but the Roadie comes back with a clothesline and some funky dancing. Jarrett applauds. Holly backdrops out of a piledriver attempt and nails his big dropkick. A powerslam gets two, but the Roadie kicks him in the gut and goes for a superplex. Holly knocks him down to the mat and jumps off the top rope to follow it up, but eats boot. The Roadie covers and Bob kicks out at two, but the ref counts three anyway to end the match at 7:33. Obviously some miscommunication there. Jarrett is pleased, as the Roadie advances to the surprise of everyone. Pretty good match though. **1/2 Who would have ever thought the lowly Roadie would earn match of the night honors at a major PPV?…
Todd Pettengill talks to Shawn Michaels, who qualified for the tourney with an impressive victory over King Kong Bundy. Tonight he squares off against another Million Dollar Corporation member: Kama.
First Round: Shawn Michaels vs. Kama
Shawn's trying to grow the beard in here, but it's just not working for him. He seems to really be enjoying himself as a babyface though, and the crowd absolutely eats up everything he does. Shawn outsmarts Kama to start, but Kama soon clotheslines him to the floor and rams his back into the unforgiving steel post a few times. Inside, Kama takes over with his slow, boring offense to drag the match down. The announcers have nothing interesting to talk about in the ring so Vince mentions that Joe Frazier is in attendance. Dok chimes in with a terrific follow up: "He asked me for my autograph before!" Vince tries to sell the WWF as family entertainment. Say what you will about the direction the WWF has taken the past few years, but do you think it's a coincidence that in 1995 when Vince pushed a bunch of mediocre talent as family entertainment it failed, and in 1997 he started pushing less than mediocre talent under the concept of crash TV and people started to take notice? Shawn flips out of a backbreaker submission and suplexes Kama for a two count. Shawn flips to the floor off a corner whip and they dress up obvious stalling as a supposed dramatic countout tease. Shawn makes the comeback, going nuts with pinning combinations, and finally gets three with a sunset flip, but the time limit had expired prior to the three count. Apparently these first round matches have a time limit of 15:05, because that's when the bell sounded. I know, I know, now I'm nitpicking. Shawn hits his Superkick after the match, but it's all for naught as both men are eliminated from the tournament. Shawn mouths "bullshit". So did everyone around the world watching who ordered the show to see Shawn win the whole thing, or at least wrestle the Undertaker (a never before seen matchup) along the way. What a shocking and completely unsatisfying development. ** Off night for Shawn, but then again he was working with Kama in a match booked to go the distance, so it's not all his fault. So yeah, Shawn's gone, but at least we still have that Undertaker guy. We can always count on him..
Clips of Bob Backlund campaigning earlier today in Philadelphia are shown.
Vince shows off the Spanish and French commentators at ringside. Ray Rougeau (guess which one he's announcing for) has a Tag Team Title belt sitting in front of him for some very strange reason. Maybe Yoko forgot to take it to the back with him after his match or maybe they felt bad for never putting the straps on Ray and Jacques back in '88 or '89. You make the call.
First Round: The Undertaker vs. Mabel
Ah, God bless that Undertaker. Our savior for the tournament. Given the caliber of the other participants remaining, this thing should be a breeze for him. A standard big guy match ensues in this one, with the Undertaker's portions surprisingly decent and Mabel's not so surprisingly crappy. The ref is bumped and The Undertaker chokeslams Mabel and makes the cover, but there's no ref to count. This allows Kama, rival of the Taker's, to run in and… kick him in the head. Kick him in the head?! Yeah. And I don't mean a superkick either. I mean the Undertaker was on the ground and Kama walked up to him, stomped him in the head, and left. Mabel gets up and leg drops his fallen opponent. The ref comes to his senses and Mabel covers the Undertaker for two… no, wait, they counted three at 10:46. 3/4* WHAT?! They just jobbed the Undertaker to a (Goodfather) kick and a (Viscera) leg drop?! This was back in the days when the Undertaker was unbeatable. As in, could NOT be beaten. The man didn't feel pain. This is the guy that had gotten up from Banzai Drops, chokeslams, powerbombs, DDT's, and anything else you can think of like they were nothing. And now Mabel's going over him with a leg drop just to further the Undertaker's still uninteresitng, non-money drawing, doomed-to-fail feud against Kama? Not only was I in shock at the time because of the Undertaker's loss, I was in shock because of the sudden realization that either Savio Vega, the Roadie, or Mabel would be the King Of The Ring. As that set in, I honestly began to believe that no one could win; that all of their minimal ability and suckiness would somehow combine into one, cancel each other out, and the world would explode before any one of them was crowned King. Kind of like what will happen if the Cubs ever play the Red Sox in the World Series. I also began to seriously reexamine my knowledge of the wrestling industry. I had long knew the matches were pre-determined and everything was scripted, but this led to serious doubts. How could anyone script Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker both getting eliminated in the first round? Maybe wrestling really was real and any opponent really could beat any other opponent on any given day. How else to explain Savio, the Roadie, and Mabel as the final three? Surely no one would intentionally book that, right? Right?…
The WWF Hall Of Fame inducted seven new legends this weekend including Ernie Ladd, Fabulous Moolah, Ivan Putski, The Great Wizard, Antonio Rocca, George "The Animal" Steele, and Pedro Morales. Morales's award was accepted by, get this, Savio Vega! Geez, there's a fair trade off. They were really building up this Savio! But why?
Todd interviews Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie, who spends the entire interview trying like hell to get the "Road Dogg" monicker over. I guess he was hoping for it to stick or something. Too bad that never panned out for him. Oh, wait…
Semifinals: Savio Vega vs. The Roadie
A boring match between two guys that should not be in the semi finals. But remember to watch Raw tomorrow night for that Vega/Jarrett match, everyone. Heel miscommunation between Jarrett and The Roadie leads to Vega rolling the Doggie up for the pin at 6:37, thus forcing a Vega/Mabel final. Yep. 1/2* Can you feel the drama building?
Dok does a funny bit, "translating" Savio's post-match ringside interview with the Spanish announcers.
Todd narrates an awesome Bret Hart/Jerry Lawler package.
Kiss My Foot Match: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
Welcome to 1995, as the Clique rises to power, Diesel reigns as Champion, Shawn Michaels takes off as a fan favorite, Razor Ramon remains as a top midcarder despite losing a ton of his heat, and Bret Hart is buried in meaningless, border line humiliating programs instead of targeting the Title as to not challenge the Cliques' popularity. And welcome to 1995, as by no coincedence, the WWF hits rock bottom financially and loses a solid chunk of their fans. The fact that Bret remained as over as he did in those ridiculous storylines while Diesel self destructed at the top of the card is a testament to just how talented he was and how much of a hero he was to people around the world. Just to reiterate my point, Dok mentions that Lawler cost Bret a match to Henry Godwinn leading up to this. Henry Godwinn? Bret Freakin Hart jobbed to Henry Godwinn for the sake of this feud with Lawler? Ugh. This match is standard Bret/Lawler fare. Lawler hits three piledrivers but Bret kicks out of a cover so Lawler has to resort to cheating by knocking him out with his presumably loaded boot. Hakushi runs in to interfere on Lawler's behalf, but accidentally hits Lawler instead. Bret gets Lawler to submit to the Sharpshooter at 9:20, then, reminiscent of Summerslam '93, refuses to let go. The ref gives him a five count and Bret holds on until the last possible second before letting go in an awesome bit to show that he's learned from his previous mistake. **1/2 Bret thwarts Hakushi once again, then not only shoves his own foot down Lawler's throat, as is per the stipulations of the match, but forces Lawler to kiss his own disgusting foot as well. This was pretty much the final blowoff for the long lasting Hart/Lawler feud, as Jerry got exactly what he deserved.
Special Olympics promo.
King Of The Ring Finals: Savio Vega vs. Mabel
So it all boils down to this. I strongly questioned this at the time… and I was a mark. When that happens, you know things are bad. It just didn't feel right. This is Savio's fourth match of the night, something that also doesn't sit well for obvious reasons. He plays the spunky underdog here. Mabel runs through rest hold after rest hold. Razor, in Savio's corner, pounds the mat to try to get the crowd into it, so they respond with a loud ECW chant. Gotta love Philly fans. Mabel eventually finishes it off with a powerslam and a splash at 8:32 to end the worst King Of The Ring Tournament of all time. DUD, much like the point of the tourney itself. '93- Bret, '94- Owen, '95… Mabel. Yep. After the match, Mabel and Mo, Men On a Mission, beat on Razor's injured ribs. The 1-2-3 Kid tries to make the save, but gets knocked around for his trouble.
Mo crowns Mabel the new King Of The Ring. The heat is tremendous… for the booking, not for Mabel. The Mabel push is flopping horribly right before Vince's very eyes, and this was only the beginning.
Lawler vigorously washes his mouth out in the locker room. Eww.
Stephanie Wyand caught up to Ted DiBiase, Sid, and Tatanka earlier.
Meanwhile, Todd Pettengill caught up with Diesel and Bam Bam Bigelow.
Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Psycho Sid & Tatanka
Today a PPV main event will never be a tag team match with the WWF Champion in it (at least Austin's WWF Title was on the line at Backlash 2001) because that's all we get on TV leading up to the PPV. The heels target Diesel's elbow since he injured it in a match against Sid at In Your House. Bigelow gets beat on for a bit, and just to show how many brains there are on the face side, the following occurs: Diesel gets the hot tag after Bigelow endures several minutes of punishment, and drops an elbow with his injured elbow, which of course only serves to inflict more damage upon himself. So Diesel runs to Bam Bam and tags him right back in, and of course Bigelow is still gassed and gets beat on some more by the heels. Good psychology, boring action. Bigelow finally somersaults onto Tatanka and makes the real hot tag to Diesel. The Champ runs through his finishing offense on Tatanka and Jackknives him. He covers him for the easy three count, but decides against it, and lifts him up at two, declaring that he wants Sid instead. Sid opts to take a hike down the aisle instead of confronting his rival, and this is the last straw for Philly fans, who pelt trash on him on his way to the back. Diesel drops an elbow (this time he's a man about it) on a defenseless Tatanka and covers for the win at 17:35. *1/4 The epic Sid/Diesel blowoff will have to wait for another day, as the fans that ordered this show were even cheated out of seeing the Diesel/Sid issue resolved. Yes, welcome to the age of monthly PPV's, as we now have the main event for the next In Your House in July set up already.
Top to bottom, this has to be considered one of the most boring and lackluster PPV's the WWF has ever put together. There was nothing redeeming about it any way. They sacrificed an entire tournament for the sake of swerving a crowd and the result was not a good one. Call it an important lesson. The tournament was screwed up six ways from Sunday, the main event was a tag match where the WWF Champion pinned someone that hadn't been over in two years, and we didn't even get any good matches since all the top workers were involved with subpar ones; Shawn with Kama, Bret with Lawler, and even the Undertaker with Mabel. And Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett were left off the card. A bad show, as the Mabel experiment fails before it even starts. It wouldn't end for two more months, but luckily Shawn Michaels saves the next two PPV's.
King Of The Ring 1995 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 83:48
Average Match: 10:29
Average Match Rating: *1/4
Top Moments: Um... well, I enjoyed the crowd becoming unruly at the realization that Mabel was their King Of The Ring. And anytime Bret Hart is on my screen, it's a good thing. Other than that, I can't think of much except for Dok's two funny bits over a three hour span, a ratio which in itself isn't much of one.
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