The Net.Cop Retro Rant for King of the Ring 96
– Live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
– Your host for the Free-For-All is Dok Hendrix.
– Quasi-Opening match: The Bodydonnas v. The New Rockers. This one is stupid for so many reasons. a) Chris Candido trying to get over as a face and failing. b) Cloudy. c) Leif Cassidy. d) Did I mention CLOUDY? See, I forgot another one on the Net.cop Busts tape. I have no idea what medication the WWF was on when they thought that brilliant idea up, but sometimes you have to thank Bret Hart for being a tight-assed ultra-conservative fuddy-duddy and putting a stop to it. A pretty lacklustre match here, with some good spots from the Snowman now and then. Almost no crowd reaction, except for the finish when Cloudy sneaks into the ring and deep kisses poor Leif Cassidy (“I know everything there is to know about the Crying Game…”) who is so flustered that he gets rolled up for the pin. **
– Brian F’N Pillman hobbles into the arena and badmouths Dok.
– Reviews of Ahmed-Goldust, Warrior-Lawler and Mankind-UT.
– Your hosts for the actual PPV are Jim Ross, Vince McMahon & Owen Hart.
– Opening match, King of the Ring semi-final #1: Stone Cold Steve Austin v. Wildman Marc Mero. Sable looks so…normal here. Austin gets zero pop. Terrific technical match to start, crowd gets hotter as it builds along. Austin & Mero show the dangers of injuries, as both guys look super here, with no knee injuries, neck injuries or ACL injuries to bring them down to 10% of their former selves. Austin bites his own tongue on a jawbreaker and bleeds hardway from the mouth. Mero comeback, including the somersault plancha and a suicide dive, then a Superfrankensteiner to finish off Austin…but he keeps kicking out. He’s the toughest SOB in the WWF, you know, although that one doesn’t come about for another year yet. Finally, Mero is frustrated enough for Austin to hit a neat looking over-the-shoulder-Stun-gun move that Black Blood used in WCW in 1991 as a finisher, then a methodically executed Stone Cold Stunner for the pin. This was Mero’s first loss and only the second appearance of the Stunner. It looks better now that Austin can do it in essentially one motion. ****
– Dok interviews Jake Roberts, who gives a bible-thumping interview.
– Semi-final #2 – Vader v. Jake Roberts. Vader obliterates Jake. It’s a total squash until Jake suddenly goes for the DDT out of nowhere, and the ref gets bumped on the way down. Jake by DQ. DUD Vader destroys Jake after the match, breaking his ribs.
– WWF tag team title match: The Smoking Gunns (w/ Sunny) v. The Godwinns (w/ Hillbilly Jim) Nothing match with no heat. How these teams won 5 tag titles between them I’ll never know. But then how 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly won 1 is an equally baffling mystery, so I guess I’ll just chalk it up to a lousy tag division for the better part of two years and move on. Did I mention how BORING Bart Gunn was? Billy Gunn at least shows signs of a personality emerging. Anyway, a pier-six brawl erupts and some stuff happens until Bart nails Phineas with his boot and gets the pin. 1/2* This was also during the fascinating “Phineas loves Sunny” subplot that held audiences captivated for months…and months…and months.
– Dok interviews Camp Cornette.
– Jerry Lawler v. The Ultimate Warrior. Lawler gets a very long, very funny ring intro where he tries to insult the entire front row one by one. Then the entertainment stops as the Warrior runs down to a noticably anemic pop. Lawler draws all the heat here, choking out Warrior with a piece of tape for three minutes before Warrior no-sells a piledriver and pins Lawler after three clotheslines and a shoulderblock. Yeah, that was worth the 8 bazillion dollars per appearance he was being paid. DUD, bordering on negative stars.
– Jake gets his ribs taped up.
– Undertaker v. Mankind. Before all the goofy gimmick matches came this one. It could have used a gimmick because it’s long and slow. A few good Foley bumps, but it would have been 100% better had they just done a garbage match and been done with it. Mankind is total psycho here. Undertaker goes for the kill, but Paul Bearer “accidentally” bops him with the urn, and Mankind gets the mandible claw for the submission. * This was the match that made Undertaker human again, after fighting off Ted Dibiase’s entire stable for months on end. It was a welcome change, that’s for certain.
– Dok interviews Mr. Perfect about reffing the main event.
– Intercontinental title match: Goldust v. Ahmed Johnson. Goldust performed mouth-to-mouth on Ahmed to set this up. Ahmed is suitably pissed off and he charges in right away, destroying Goldust in the corner. He even pulls out a hands-free tope suicida ala the Undertaker. Ahmed is *mightily* over at this point. Goldust was never really in an area where he could possibly retain the title here — his offensive sequence had no real close calls. He puts him almost out with a sleeper, then makes the mistake that no white guy in his right mind should make: He kisses a big angry black man. Bye-bye, Goldust. Ahmed snaps, screams like Goldberg with PMS and delivers a spinebuster and Pearl River Plunge to win the I-C title and end the Goldust experiment (chapter one, at least.) **
– Brian Pillman hobbles down to ringside and insults anyone he can think of.
– King of the Ring: Steve Austin v. Jake Roberts. It’s unmitigated slaughter, as Austin kills Roberts, working on the injured ribs to the point where Gorilla Monsoon personally stops the match to ask Roberts if he’s okay to continue. Roberts says he’s fine, so Austin beats the piss out of him a bit more, then pins him after a Stone Cold Stunner. Not even competitive, and good to see. DUD
– Dok interviews Austin in one of the most famous moments in wrestling history. Quoth Austin: “Talk about your psalms, talk about your John 3:16…Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!” Yes, Virginia, this is where the monster was born. He finishes the interview with the first appearance of “that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so!” to truly make this a historic interview. What else can you say?
– WWF Title match: Shawn Michaels v. British Bulldog. Mr. Perfect is assigned as the outside referee. Shawn was in a terrific groove, carrying almost anyone to *** and above without even trying. A very cerebral match, as Shawn works on Bulldog’s arm to negate the strength difference. Bulldog dumps him out of the ring on a press-slam, taking control. I never really get into this one, but then I’m so zonked at this point that I needed to stop the tape and go over to 7-11 for some sort of caffeine fix to wake myself up, so I’m probably not the best person to review this match. Michaels comeback, Hebner gets bumped, but jumps right back up again for some reason. Superkick, and Perfect tries to come into the ring to make the count but Owen Hart jumps up and pulls him out, which is also odd because Perfect was a heel at this point. Hebner was already counting anyway, and Michaels retains. *** Everyone attacks and Warrior makes the save. End of show.
The Bottom Line: Some good stuff at the beginning and the end, but the middle drags horribly. A “historical curiosity” type of show, but nothing that would have been remembered with any fondness had Austin bombed out before the Bret Hart feud began. The UT-Mankind match was especially boring.
The Net.Cop Retro Rant for King of the Ring 96