King Of The Ring 1996
June 23, 1996
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Owen Hart(!)
This was the first year the WWF decided to shrink the PPV tournament down from eight to four following the abomination of a tournament they had put together a year before. I'd say the better solution just would have been to put some effort into creating a sensible tournament instead since I think the four man tourney really cheapens the point of the King Of The Ring title and proves nothing. I think they should always stick with eight since that's what makes this PPV unique anyway. There are ten other PPV's a year to showcase normal cards so why ruin one of your best gimmick shows by conforming it to the others? Especially this year considering the lackluster stuff they used to make up the rest of the card.
Semifinals: Marc Mero vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Austin went over Bob Holly with the Million Dollar Dream and Savio Vega with the brand new Stone Cold Stunner to qualify. Mero beat Skip with a top rope huricanranna and Owen with a rollup to make it here. Owen is cheering for Austin as a result, which is pretty surreal to listen to. They do a good mat wrestling sequence to start but they go to the floor where Austin rips the mats up and press slams Mero onto the concrete. He suplexes him in and hits a second rope elbow and a backbreaker for two, but Mero flips out of a boston crab and segues into a near fall sequence. Mero hooks a sleeper but Austin jawbreakers out of it and Austin somehow comes up bleeding from the mouth. Mero dropkicks him and backdrops him then gets some serious height with an axehandle off the top rope. Austin bails to the floor and Mero follows with a somersault plancha that he missed earlier in the match. Mero gets back in and comes right back out again with a pescado. Back in he scores a dropkick off the top rope. Mero continues going nuts with a huricanranna off the top, but Austin finally quiets him with a hotshot for two. He picks him up and hits the Stunner for three at 16:48 to advance to the finals. Apparently the first round fifiteen minute time limit isn't in effect this year, but then again this is the semifinals. Cool match. ***1/2
Dok Hendrix interviews 41 year old Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Vader
Vader qualified with a win over Ahmed Johnson, then got a bye because the Goldust/Ultimate Warrior qualifier went to a double countout. Jake defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Bradshaw to earn his slot in the semifinals. Jake wisely goes for the quick DDT here, but Vader counters. Vader misses a charge in the corner and Jake DDT's him but Vader allegedly grabs the referee on his way down which is enough to cause a DQ at only 3:29. 1/4* Jake advances, but Vader avalanches him twice and Vaderbombs him after the match. Owen, who's been fantastic on commentary, has a verbal duel with JR on the subject of Vader, and Owen refers to him by his old WCW name, "Big Van Vader". Jake is helped to the back by officials.
Dok talks to the Smoking Gunns and Sunny. Billy pauses and stutters all over his promo. The more things change, the more they stay the same. JR finds a diplomatic way to call Sunny a slut, which is pretty darn amusing.
Tag Team Titles: The Godwinns vs. The Smoking Gunns (Champions)
The Godwinns and Hillbilly Jim actually bring live goats down to the ring with them. I can't be bothered to pay attention to the match, only the commentary. Owen: "Get the goats outta here; they smell worse than the hillbillies." Vince: "The goat... going right over to Howard Finkel for some reason..." JR chimes in with his two cents: "Phineas was only in high school for two terms- Bush and Clinton". Hey, I was in high school for two presidential terms, but it doesn't mean I was there for eight years. All three announcers have now gotten redneck jokes in before the Smoking Gunns have even entered. The match turns out to be the standard formula, but Owen gets loud with JR and Vince at one point. To JR: "JR, you've never been in the ring; why don't you keep your comments to yourself?" To Vince: "McMahon, how many slammies have YOU ever won?" Billy and Bart end up taking the match with an illegal boot shot at 10:11. *
Dok talks to Jim Cornette, Clarence Mason, The British Bulldog, and Diana Hart-Smith. Mr. Perfect, the special guest referee for the main event tonight, can be seen in the background.
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
Lawler does an A+ job of running down Milwaukee on the mic as he makes his entrance. Lawler cheats like crazy but Warrior no-sells the piledriver and comes back with all his pattened moves in the regular order. The gorilla press slam and splash finish at 3:51. The Warrior stops to celebrate with the King Of The Ring crown on the interview platform next to the aisle just to further cheapen the eventual crowning of the real new King later that night. DUD
Dok talks to WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. Gorilla will allow the injured Jake Roberts to continue in the King Of The Ring tournament, but if he has to stop the match he will.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind
This is Mick's WWF PPV debut, and this one had already been brewing for a long time ever since the deranged Mankind made his debut and attacked the Undertaker shortly after Wrestlemania XII. The Undertaker finally uses his pitch dark entrance to his advantage, as he jumps Mankind from behind as soon as the lights come back on. They engage in a back and forth brawl and Taker gets a chair involved. Mankind comes back with a clothesline and a long nerve hold. Who does he think he is? Yokozuna? Taker wakes up the crowd and clotheslines Mankind to the floor. Mankind uses his knee to smack Taker into the steps. Ouch. Mankind slams the Undertaker in the aisle and goes for his elbow drop off the apron but Taker holds up a steel chair to greet him. The Undertaker hits a flying clothesline in the ring, but Mankind comes back with a piledriver for two. Mick becomes frustrated since he can't put him away. Paul Bearer tries to nail Mankind with the urn, but misses and hits Taker by accident. Mankind applies the Mandible Claw and since the Undertaker is out cold, the ref calls for the bell at 18:19. Shocking upset, but an unnecessarily long one at that. *
Intercontinental Title: Ahmed Johnson vs. Goldust (Champion)
This was the result of the typical "Goldust comes onto manly babyface" angle which was getting a little repetative by this point but was still pretty entertaining. Ahmed destroys him to start with a huge plancha, though he kind of lands on his head. He lifts up the steel steps and chucks them at Goldust, but the Champ ducks and takes over. He whips him to the steel post and nails him with the steps. In the ring he picks up a two count with a clothesline, then taunts him and continues his perverted mind games by feeling his ass. Ugh. Ahmed gets out of a chinlock but Goldust puts him back down, very visibly pulling his punches. Goldust piledrives him for two and does some, uh... rubbing. Goldust puts him out with a sleeper and lets go before the ref can see if his arm will drop a third time. He lays Ahmed down and gives him mouth to mouth to revive him. Ew... Johnson gets up and just kicks his ass for that and rightly so. Ahmed hits a spinebuster and the Pearl River Plunge in short order for three to become the new Intercontinental Champion at 15:33. It was way too long but still decent. ** Not surprisingly, Ahmed would injure himself shortly thereafter and be forced to forefit the gold. When he finally returned he was never as over as he had been here.
A promo for the next PPV, International Incident is shown.
Various wrestlers congratulate Ahmed on his big win, including WWF Champion Shawn Michaels.
New WWF signee, Brian Pillman, hobbles to ringside on crutches. Jim Ross interviews him at ringside. Pillman curses a lot to get over the idea that he's a ticking timebomb, then promises to rape the entire Federation. Vince apologizes for his language, and Steve Austin is introduced for his King Of The Ring Finals match. They pass each other in the aisle and engage in a brief staredown.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
We're told that Austin has just returned from the emergency room where he received stitches in his tongue and mouth. But poor Jake is even in worse condition after Vader's ass kicking, so Austin dominates him with ease. He basically squashes him and hammers his ribs and rips the tape off them. If you listen closely you can already hear the disdain Vince has for Austin in his voice. Gorilla Monsoon comes out with intentions of stopping the match but Jake begs him to let him continue. In a last ditch effort he goes for the DDT, but Austin counters it and Stuns him (yes, 'Stuns', not 'Stunners') for three at 4:36. 1/2* JR tells us that this is only the beginning for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Boy was he right.
Austin is crowned king and Dok Hendrix interviews him. Austin cuts a famous, industry-changing promo, as this was the first time he was really allowed to talk and he was going to make it count. He not only coins the "Austin 3:16" slogan here, but finishes with "... and that's the bottom line, 'cause Stone Cold said so!" Attitude, baby! The crowd pops him.
We take a look at the ending to the Shawn Michaels/British Bulldog WWF Title match from In Your House: Beware Of Dog in which both men pinned each other at the same time following a Michaels german suplex. Vince calls it, and I quote, "the most controversial ending to a WWF Title match ever." Isn't hindsight fun? The double pin was of course done to set up a rematch down the road at a more important show, which is why we get...
WWF Title: Shawn Michaels (Champion) vs. British Bulldog
Mr. Perfect is the special guest referee. Owen stands on the announce table to cheer for Davey Boy during his entrance. Gorilla Monsoon comes down and announces that Perfect will be the outside ref and Earl Hebner will be the inside ref, much to the chagrin of Cornette who was counting on biased officiating from Perfect. Ha, it's just like Gorilla to want two refs out there. Owen calls Jose Lothario a "dirty old mexican" just to be politically correct. Shawn and Davey Boy do some good mat stuff to start, controlled by Shawn. Shawn busts out a headscissors to the floor, then decides to spank Corny with his own tennis racket. The crowd eats it up. The Bulldog controls with a side headlock as Owen comes up with some awesome commentary.
Owen: Look at my sister (Diana). She is beautiful, like most of the people in my family, though there's a few ugly ones. One of my brothers is real ugly...
JR: Owen, are you adopted?
Owen: What kind of a stupid question is that? Are you implying that I'm that much smarter and better looking than everyone else in my family?
Shawn works the arm and goes to a sleeper for a bit, but Bulldog counters and works on his back before going to a chinlock. Shawn hits an axehandle off the top but the Bulldog catches him a minute later, picks him up over his head and casually drops him backwards over his head over the top and all the way to the floor. Bulldog suplexes him on the floor. Perfect tries to help the Bulldog out by counting him out, but that's not the way to win a Championship, so really there's nothing he can do. Back in, the Bulldog actually tries to pin him with a surfboard, then goes back to the chinlock. Shawn's fights out to keep the crowd awake but Bulldog backdrops him and legdrops him, picks up a two count, and goes right back to the chinlock. This is the lazy version of the Bulldog we've all come to know and love. Shawn grabs a pair of two counts off a sunset flip and a crucifix. Bulldog goes for the running powerslam but Shawn wiggles out and tries the Superkick. Bulldog hangs back and avoids it, then clotheslines him. Davey Boy hits a piledriver, but misses a headbutt off the top whilst trying to be like Owen. Shawn goes up top but a Bulldog dropkick crotches him. Bulldog superplexes him for two. He goes for a back superplex but Michaels shifts his weight in midair to come down with a two count. They do a double knockout spot, then Shawn goes for a huricanranna and Bulldog powerbombs him for two. Shawn whips him so the Bulldog can do his usual awful Flair flip. Shawn clotheslines him and kips up but Earl Hebner gets bumped. Shawn hits the elbow off the top rope then hits the Superkick. Hebner comes around and makes the count, and Mr. Perfect decides to come in and count as well. Owen leaves his commentary post and pulls Perfect out at two, but Hebner continues his count and Shawn gets the pin at 26:22 to retain the Title. **** Davey and Owen beat him down and Ahmed Johnson tries to make the save, but Vader follows him out and the heel beatdown continues. The Ultimate Warrior runs down to make the ultimate save and clear the ring. This led to a six man tag team main event at the next PPV.
King Of The Ring 1996 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 99:11
Average Match: 12:24
Average Match Rating: *1/2
Top Moments: Owen's commentary, Lawler bashing Milwaukee, Mankind's shocking upset, Austin's awesome promo, the main event
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