The Write Off: King of the Ring 1993

Event Details:
Location: The Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio
Hosts: Jim Ross, Bobby “the Brain” Heenan, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage
Reported Attendance: 6,500

Here are the brackets for this evenings King of the Ring:

Bret Hart-Razor Ramon
Mr. Perfect-Mr. Hughes
Hacksaw Jim Duggan-Bam Bam Bigelow
Tatanka-Lex Luger

-King of the Ring 1st Round: Razor Ramon vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart:

Bret was the #1 seed in the tournament coming off of his WWF title reign that ended at WrestleMania IX and was given a bye through the qualifying round to get to this point (which is the only time that happened in King of the Ring history). This was also the WWF title match at the Royal Rumble in 1993 for any trivia buffs out there. Also, Ramon was coming off of his loss to the 1-2-3 Kid on Monday Night Raw and the crowd lets him have it right out of the gate with the “1-2-3” chants. Lockups and a feeling out period starts the match off and Bret takes Ramon down with an armdrag and works the arm of Ramon. Ramon gets a clothesline to get out of more arm punishment but misses an elbowdrop and Bret goes back to it. I’ll go ahead and inquire now that the ring for this pay-per-view makes a lot of loud BANGS when wrestlers come in contact with it and its already wearing its welcome out on me. Ramon gets a thumb to the eye and an elbow off the ropes for two but Bret gets a hammerlock and takes Ramon back down to the canvas as the crowd gets bored. Ramon gets an elbow to Bret’s head out of the corner and a blind charge by Bret into the corner off a reversed Irish whip hits knee and Ramon whips Bret shoulder-first into the ringpost. Ramon stomps the hands and gets the fallaway slam for two. Ramon gets a running powerslam that always looks better than what the British Bulldog could muster for two. Ramon gets two elbowdrops and a sidewalk slam but Bret rolls out of the way of successive elbowdrops and Bret unloads. Bret hits an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline for two. Side Russian legsweep gets two. Backbreaker gets two. Elbow off the second rope that ALWAYS gets a two-count gets two. I always wonder why Bret didn’t hook the leg on that move. Rollup by Bret gets two. However, Ramon shoves Bret chest-first into the turnbuckles to reverse a bulldog attempt and goes for the Razor’s Edge but Bret gets down from it, kicks off the turnbuckles, and gets a small package for two?!? Come again? Crowd thinks that’s the finish as Ramon clotheslines Bret in the back of the head but Ramon’s side suplex off the second rope gets reversed by Bret and he falls on top of Ramon for three at 10:27. Match started off slow but got going in the middle and never slowed down after that although I think the finish should’ve been Bret’s reversal of the Razor’s Edge because it made the last portion of the match very anti-climatic. Good choice of an opener, though. ***

-Mr. Hughes is shown beating down the Undertaker with the urn on a recent episode of WWF Superstars. I much rather would’ve seen that feud instead of the Giant Gonzalez crap we had to put up with in the middle of 1993

-King of the Ring 1st Round: Mr. Hughes (w/Harvey Wippleman) vs. Mr. Perfect:

Perfect gets a helluva reception from the crowd and I already start getting angry over the fact that he never had the opportunity to wear the WWF Championship belt. To say that this match is going to be a clash of styles would definitely be an understatement. Hmm…only twenty seconds into the match and JR starts giving me a football background on Hughes. I think that’s a new record for my reviewing thus far. The beginning sees the typical “big man-small man” beginning to showcase Perfect’s agility and how Hughes is a big, strong black guy. It only takes Hughes two minutes to put on a neck vice as JR tells us that a slow match is what Hughes wants. Well it sure as hell isn’t something I want to sit through that’s for sure. A lot doesn’t happen after the neck vice except for Hughes getting some fists and Perfect throwing himself around the ring because he’s got nothing better to do. Both guys screw up a spot off the ropes and Hughes chokes Perfect on the second rope but Perfect moves out of the way when Hughes tries to crash down on him as he lays over the second rope. Perfect gets a hiptoss, backdrop, snapmare, and a rolling snapmare and some fists in the corner so Hughes just picks up the urn and clocks Perfect with it for a DQ at 6:03. What a waste of a match but I’m glad the WWF decided to give us Hart-Perfect instead of Hart-Hughes. ½*

-“Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews Mr. Fuji & Yokozuna who say that they aren’t going to be stupid against Hulk Hogan like they were at WrestleMania IX. Well that would sure be appreciated.

-King of the Ring 1st Round: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan:

During much of Bam Bam’s early-1993 run in the WWF he’d be a domestic house cleaning service for Vince McMahon as he’d compile victories over much of the deadwood that would soon find it’s way out of the WWF (Big Bossman @ 1993 Royal Rumble, Typhoon, and Hacksaw in this case). Heenan tells Ross to shut up about his amateur sports background on Duggan and I can’t say he’s in the wrong on that call out. Hacksaw outmaneuvers Bigelow to start the match and clotheslines him to the arena floor and it takes about a minute to get Bigelow back inside. Duggan gets an infinite amount of punches and a Bigelow blind charge into the corner gets buckle but Duggan seems to have injured his ribs in the whip against the turnbuckles and he fails to slam Bigelow. Wow, some psychology! That’s definitely appreciated here. Bigelow locks in a sloppy bearhug that Duggan quickly fights out of but Bigelow just beats him down. Headbutt off the ropes by Bigelow misses but a slam by Duggan sees Bigelow fall on top for two. Another bearhug by Bigelow but Duggan bites out. Duggan finally gets a slam but Bigelow moves out of the way of the three-point stance clothesline causing Duggan’s head to hit the turnbuckle and Bigelow finishes it with the top rope headbutt at 5:00. This actually wasn’t too bad and could’ve been much worse. *

-Terry Taylor interviews the Smoking Gunns & the Steiner Brothers. Funny to see Scott Steiner & Billy Gunn not being comfortable with interview skills

-King of the Ring 1st Round: “The Narcissist” Lex Luger vs. Tatanka:

I loved the Narcissist gimmick for Luger because it suited his on-camera personality so well but the WWF would soon kill that for SummerSlam 1993 in an attempt to build the next Hulk Hogan. I think they’d have been fine if they’d gone for Crush instead, though, because he already had the crowd support and was a mere push away from the upper mid-card/primetime main event level but hindsight is 20/20 and all. The referee forces Luger to put on a elbowpad because of his “loaded” forearm out of the threat of a DQ and he complies reluctantly. Well that’s a bunch of crap say I. Seems like a conspiracy to protect Tatanka’s undefeated streak alive. Tatanka charges the ring and gets attacked by Luger but Tatanka comes back in and knife-edge chops Luger to the floor where he follows up with a beatdown. Back in, Tatanka with a backdrop and a clothesline for two. Tatanka goes to the arm as JR deems it good strategy and Savage & Heenan laugh at that suggestion pointing to the 15-minute time limit. Savage says that winning the King of the Ring is equivalent to the WWF Championship. Oh dear, thank goodness that wasn’t in effect when Mabel won in 1995 (sorry for the spoiler if you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years). Tatanka gets a bodypress of the ropes for two but slows it down with another armbar/hammerlock combination. Luger gets an elbow to get out of the hammerlock and gets an elbowdrop for two after a beatdown. Luger gets some shoulder thrusts in the corner and nails a backbreaker. Elbowdrop gets another two-count. Bigger elbowdrop off the ropes WITH AUTHORITY gets two. Schoolboy by Tatanka as Luger argues with the referee gets two. Reverse chinlock utilized by Luger and after all of this stalling and slowed pace it’s easy to call the finish here but I’ll save it for the end because I’m a nice guy. Another elbowdrop gets two after a slow cover for Luger. Tatanka gets a fluke small package for two. Fluke sunset flip gets two as well. Tatanka starts the no-sell prancin’ and dancin’ after being taken to the buckle and starts chopping away for two. Powerslam off the ropes gets two. Bodyslam and top rope chop gets two but a flying bodypress hits zilch. Running clothesline by Luger gets two. Powerslam off the ropes gets two for Luger. Backdrop and a suplex gets two. Luger gets a backbreaker for two and the bell rings for a fifteen minute draw at 14:58 thereby eliminating both men from the tournament and giving Bam Bam Bigelow a bye to the finals. Luger asks for five more minutes and then blindsides Tatanka with the running forearm to knock Tatanka out cold. I hate draws in pay-per-view tournaments, especially if they are going to be time limit draws, but it was the easy decision for the WWF to preserve Tatanka’s undefeated streak and put Bigelow into the pay-per-view main event. Still sucks, though. Match had it’s moments and I appreciate the near-falls but the stalling and resting equaling the anti-climatic draw hurts it. *½

-Okerlund interviews Bret Hart & Mr. Perfect about their upcoming semi-final match and Okerlund tries to stir up trouble. Perfect brings up SummerSlam 1991, though, so it’s good that they’ll bring that history into this match as well

-King of the Ring Semi-Finals: Bret “the Hitman” Hart vs. Mr. Perfect:

Very rare face vs. face tournament matchup here but I won’t complain by any means. I’m surprised they are going ahead with the semi-finals with other filler matches on the card, though. Commentators even play up the SummerSlam 1991 matchup which is rare considering that the WWF at this point only liked to live in the present and not the past due to kayfabe. Wrestling sequence begins the contest (of course) and Bret gets a slam after reversing an Irish whip into the turnbuckles but Perfect kicks out and gets a slam of his own but Bret kicks out and gets a headlock. A lot of the spots they have used so far have come right from the middle of their SummerSlam match interestingly enough. Bret gets a crucifix for two and goes back to the headlock that gets some counts from referee Earl Hebner. Bret gets a bodypress for a near-fall but Perfect kicks out to make Bret fall to the floor and Bret gets a shoulder thrust and sunset flip back in for two before going back to the headlock. Hey, I know the headlock is cool and these two guys have fought before but the call the spot-do the spot-rest to call the spot, etc. does get a tad annoying. Perfect gets in a shot on Bret in the ropes to get out of the headlock to start taking on the heel role of the match and a standing dropkick sends Bret to the floor. Perfect opens the ropes for Bret to come back inside and pounces immediately when he is inside to be more of a jerk and lays into Bret in the corner. Perfect with a kneelift for two. Field goal kick sends Bret to the floor and Perfect goes outside to take Bret into the apron. Bret climbs onto the ring apron and Perfect uses the ropes to send Bret onto the concrete floor in a plunge similar to the one he took into the table at the 1995 Survivor Series thereby injuring Bret’s knee. Good way to play the psychology there. Back in, Perfect simply takes the leg out and covers for two. Missile dropkick from Perfect gets two but Bret puts his foot on the ropes and a cover away from the ropes gets two. Perfect whips Bret chest-first into the corner for two. However, when Perfect climbs to the top rope Bret crotches him this time and gets a superplex for two. Bret starts taking out Perfect’s leg and applies a figure-four leglock and Perfect gets to the ropes. It’s funny that Perfect is playing the heel here but is getting a good reaction from the crowd regardless. Bret continues to work on the leg with a grapevine but Perfect uses his good leg to get out which is pretty damn smart. Perfect tosses Hart across the ring by his hair (youch!) and gets a sleeperhold off the ropes but Bret gets to the ropes BUT Perfect keeps the sleeper on for four seconds to avoid getting DQ’d. Wow that’s another great spot that you don’t see too often. Perfect gets the sleeper again and uses the ropes for leverage but Bret gets up and rams Perfect’s head into the corner to get out. Bret gives Perfect a toss across the ring by the hair which crotches Perfect on the ringpost and delivers a Side Russian legsweep for two. Bret gets a legdrop, backbreaker, and the second rope elbow that doesn’t get a pin for two. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but bends the hand that Razor Ramon injured earlier to avoid it. That’s GREAT PSYCHOLOGY being utilized here. Perfect tries the Perfect Plex but Bret blocks and reverses to send both men to the floor. Yikes, that was a nasty spill. Back in, Perfect feigns a knee problem and gets a surprise small package for two but Bret reverses the momentum and gets the surprise three count at 18:56. Wow, that’s just one helluva match. I like this one better than their SummerSlam encounter years before because there were better crafted spots (probably because Perfect wasn’t injured) and the psychology used was awesome. However, this match rating does get hurt by the constant headlock spots but that’s VERY picky. ****½

-Okerlund interviews WWF Champion Hulk Hogan & Jimmy Hart and it’s the typical Hogan interview versus the big challenger

-WWF Championship Match: Hulk Hogan (Champion w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji):

Okay, there’s a big backstory here that I will try to shorten. Bret was supposed to beat Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX and retain his championship moving onto bigger things BUT Hogan convinced Vince McMahon to change the entire booking of the later part of the card whereby he and Brutus Beefcake wouldn’t defeat Money Incorporated for the WWF Tag Team Championships and instead he would come to the ring after Yokozuna had beaten Bret for the belt after Fuji’s interference and beat Yokozuna for the belt in 30 seconds. Of course that move alone caused Bret to lose a lot of credibility as Yokozuna was beaten by Hogan in 30 seconds but Bret couldn’t do it for the 12+ minutes the main event took place and it made Yokozuna lose a bit of luster. NEVERTHELESS, the new plan called for a Hogan-Bret Hart main event at SummerSlam 1993 for the title where Hogan would put over Bret for the title and thereby “make” Bret into the next big thing. BUT when Hogan refused to follow through with the plan Vince had agreed to before he made the booking changes at WrestleMania and took a vacation after winning the belt, Vince had enough and booked this match with a vengeful outcome in mind. More on that on the bottom of this match wrap up.

To the match where Savage on commentary right out of the gate criticizes President Jack Tunney’s decision not to give Bret Hart a rematch versus Hulk Hogan at this show instead of Yokozuna. It takes a good minute to have an initial lockup and Yokozuna throws Hogan around like a play thing. Yokozuna follows it up with his normal slow offense of chops, choking, and kicks. Yokozuna misses a splash in the corner and Hogan comes back with fists and second rope punches plus some biting. Hogan whips Yokozuna into the buckles and gets a clothesline in the corner but a slam fails and Yokzouna regains control. Hogan tries another slam but fails again. Hogan rallies with some clotheslines but one clothesline from Yokozuna easily regains the edge. However, a splash off the ropes misses for a double KO but when Hogan gets up first he runs into Yokozuna and collapses on the canvas. Yokozuna gets a bearhug that lasts awhile but Hogan’s arm only drops twice and he punches out but gets an elbow to the face when he charges again. As you can tell Hogan isn’t getting a lot of offense in this match and if your ever going to see anything close to a squash of Hogan it’s this. Belly-to-belly suplex by Yokozuna gets two and Hogan “hulking” up. Hogan gets his three punches and a big boot THREE TIMES to send Yokozuna down and gets the legdrop BUT YOKOZUNA KICKS OUT. Hogan knocks Fuji off the apron and signals for a slam but a cameraman gets on the apron, kicks away Jimmy Hart, and lets off his camera which sends a fireball into Hogan’s face and a Yokozuna legdrop gives us a new champion at 13:11. Afterwards, Yokozuna gives Hogan a Banzai drop. The camera pans around the arena to show kids crying as Hogan is helped to the back with his vision “impaired” by the fireball. Well, if you ever want to give credit to someone killing Hulkamania in the WWF give it to Yokozuna because this match did it for a good eight plus years. Also, you can tell two important things from this match: first that Hogan got beat with his own move and that he wasn’t allowed to slam Yokozuna which are key when you read the paragraph below. Match isn’t much but for historical reasons it’s worth a look and definitely gives it some sentimental value to boost the rating past an initial ½*. *

So the fallout of this match? According to the story, McMahon convinced Hogan to drop the belt to Yokozuna here at this pay-per-view in return for a big blowoff match that Hogan would win down the road. Hogan did the title change and came back to the locker room where McMahon told him under no uncertain terms to get the hell out of the WWF and never return, which Hogan wouldn’t do until 2002, and thus put Vince on the quest to find the “new” Hogan which he’d try to make out of Lex Luger and that would preoccupy most of the booking plans for the rest of 1993. Quite a story, eh?

-Terry Taylor gets an “exclusive” Coliseum Video interview with Mr. Perfect who says that he hates losing such a tough match to Bret Hart

-Okerlund interviews Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels with his bodyguard Diesel and he launches into Hogan already saying he’s a bigger star and Hogan is a dinosaur which considering the above information may constitute another burial on-camera

-Eight-Man Tag Team Match: The Steiner Brothers & The Smoking Gunns vs. Money Incorporated & the Headshrinkers:

Money Incorporated were the WWF Tag Team Champions at this point with the Steiner Brothers chasing them for the belts as the Smoking Gunns were fresh to the tag team scene and the Headshrinkers were just floating around. Scott Steiner and Ted DiBiase start us off with DiBiase taking down Steiner and JR gives us HIS football background too. C’mon JR enough is ENOUGH for one show! Scott gets a dropkick and clotheslines DiBiase to the floor where Rick Steiner hurls him back inside so Scott clotheslines him back to the floor where Rick throws him in again. Tag to Fatu and tag to Bart Gunn who goes through a pretty good wrestling sequence with Fatu but makes the mistake of driving Fatu’s head into the canvas and gets a thrust kick for his troubles. Tag to Samu and the Headshrinkers get a double-clothesline. Samu gets a falling headbutt and tag IRS who does some minor damage and tags in DiBiase. DiBiase gets an elbow off the ropes and a suplex but refuses to cover. Heels continue to beat on Bart as the Headshrinkers toss Bart into the air and let him crash into the canvas for two and Fatu gets a backbreaker for two. IRS comes in and gets a legdrop for two. Fluke sunset flip by Bart gets two but a double-clothesline spot gives us a double KO and we get tags to DiBiase and a momentum swinging tag to Billy Gunn. Billy gives DiBiase a backdrop and two clothesline but DiBiase gets a hot shot when Billy runs the ropes. DiBiase hooks on the Million Dollar Dream but lets go and taunts only to see Billy get a surprise small package for the pin at 7:02. What the hell was the point of this match? Why not use this time to ACTUALLY have another King of the Ring semi-final? The action was okay for what it was but Rick Steiner didn’t get involved, nothing ever came of Billy Gunn pinning Ted DiBiase, there was never any suspense in the match, and the ending came out of nowhere which was silly when DiBiase HAS THREE PARTNERS who could break up the small package. All of this gives it this match a quick docking. ½*

-Intercontinental Title Match: Shawn Michaels (Champion w/Diesel) vs. Crush:

This is the first WWF pay-per-view appearance for Diesel and who would’ve thought that a year later Michaels would be managing HIM in a WWF title match with Bret Hart AND he’d have the Intercontinental belt to boot? Michaels bails early on after Crush overpowers him and when Michaels returns to the ring he moves around and gets a standing armbar but Crush gets out of that and sends Michaels to the outside after two dropkicks. Quote of the night from Heenan after he’s criticized by Jim Ross for urging Michaels to take the easy way out to retain the title with a countout: “you have to take the easy way out, this is life!” Back in, Crush overpowers Michaels some more and gets a gorilla press slam and a beautiful tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but Diesel pulls Michaels outside the ring. Crush goes outside to confront Diesel and Michaels comes out and ambushes Crush and then distracts the referee to allow Diesel to take Crush into the post. Diesel then distracts the referee some more and Michaels rams Crush’s head into the ringpost several times which is interesting to say the least and chooses to roll a limp Crush into the ring for a pin instead of a take a countout but a pin only gets two. Hmm…should’ve just taken the countout there my friend. Michaels gets a double-axehandle off the top rope for two and gets a front facelock but Crush powers up and launches Michaels across the ring and then to the arena floor. Crush then drives Michaels face into the canvas when he dives off the top rope at him and gives him a big backdrop. Crush gets a whip into the corner and a backbreaker for two. Big boot by Crush and a legdrop gets two. However, when Crush clotheslines Michaels to the floor two Doinks come to ringside and distract Crush allowing Michaels to come into the ring, superkick Crush in the back of the head, and get the pin to retain at 11:14. These two guys just seemed to be going through the motions in this match and just wanted to collect a pay-per-view paycheck and without anything memorable your below average for me. *½

-Okerlund interviews Bam Bam Bigelow and he’s excited about the chance to win the King of the Ring

-King of the Ring Finals: Bret “the Hitman” Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow:

Bret is beat to hell for this match as he’s got a hurt hand and a sore back courtesy of Razor Ramon and a hurt leg courtesy of Mr. Perfect. Both men hammer on each other to start with Bigelow gaining the advantage but Bret reverses his weight on a gorilla press slam to come down on top of Bigelow for two. Bigelow gets a rough shoulderblock off the ropes when he escapes an armbar and gorilla press slams Bret to the floor. Hmmm…now when the face always wants to try that move the referee gets in the way but I didn’t see the referee doing anything here, what gives? Bigelow rolls Bret back in and gives him some falling headbutts. Bigelow whips Bret into the corner WITH AUTHORITY and a falling headbutt gets two which Bret breaks by putting his foot on the ropes and a cover away from the ropes gets two. Side suplex by Bigelow gets two. Another big Irish whip into the corner by Bigelow and another falling headbutt gets two. Bigelow gets a bearhug and this time it’s more devastating because Bigelow lifts Bret off the ground so he has no vertical base but Bret uses a neck vice to break. However, Bigelow gets a big side suplex for two. The battle spills to the outside where Bret tosses Bigelow into the railing twice and hits him with an elbow off of the apron but Bret jumps right into Bigelow’s arms on the floor and gets rammed into the ringpost for his troubles. Well I can’t say that they’ve booked this match wrong so far. Bigelow slams Bret in the aisle and distracts the referee which allows Luna Vachon to run down to ringside and clock Bret in the back of the head with a chair. Bigelow then rolls Bret inside the ring and hit a slam and top rope headbutt to win the King of the Ring at 9:25.

BUT WAIT!!! Earl Hebner runs down to ringside to inform referee Joey Marella of Vachon’s interference and after Howard Finkel misannounces a reverse decision we get a restart where Bigelow just keeps killing Bret with his entire offensive repertoire. Hanging backbreaker by Bigelow only sees Bret’s hand drop twice and Bret kicks down and gets a side suplex for a double KO. Senton splash off the ropes by Bigelow misses and we get double KO #2. Bigelow gets another backbreaker after a whip into the corner but Bret maneuvers into a sleeperhold but Bigelow fights it off. Bret dropkicks Bigelow in the back and tosses him to the floor where he pescados onto him and then gets a flying clothesline for two when they come back inside. Side Russian legsweep and a second rope bulldog work out but a Sharpshooter attempt gets Bret kicked away. Bigelow goes for a bearhug but Bret bites out. Side suplex attempt, though, gets reversed as Bigelow shifts his weight and crashes on top of Bret for two and three-quarters. Blind charge by Bigelow eats leg, though, and Bret capitalizes with a victory roll to officially win the King of the Ring at 16:16. This match was very good for several reasons in that everyone was protected without a screwy finish because Bigelow still came out as a bad ass who lost on a fluky rollup, Bret came away as a guy who never quits in a fight, and both men put together a helluva match in one of the best KOTR finals ever. The only thing that dilutes the match is the same offense coming out of Bigelow (bearhugs, backbreakers, whips into the buckle, etc.) and the numerous slow spots that resulted. Still, though, this is quite a brawl to end the King of the Ring and it was the best pairing the tournament could’ve had for a final. ***½

-The coronation ceremony gets crashed by Jerry “the King” Lawler thereby inaugurating a feud that wouldn’t quite end until the infamous “Kiss My Foot” match at the 1995 King of the Ring

OVERALL TAPE RATING (BUST-****): ***½. Call me crazy for this rating but anytime you get to see Bret Hart wrestle three matches on one tape then your in good shape. Just look at his ratings on this tape: match with Razor goes ***, match with Perfect is near flawless at ****½, and match with Bigelow is ***½. Just go out and get this tape for the “Bret Hart” show that you get to see here. Also, you get to see the downfall of Hulkamania courtesy of Yokozuna and if you hate Hogan then you can get some sick pleasure out of that match (although my feelings are mixed on it). The only reason I deduct ½* a star is that while Bret’s stuff is awesome and the Hulk Hogan incident is big for historical reasons the rest of the tape is terrible. The highest rating outside of Bret’s matches is *½ and all of that stuff was a throwaway for the most part. Nevertheless, if you’ve never seen the 1993 King of the Ring before it’s definitely worth a glance for no other reason than watching Bret Hart carry a whole damn pay-per-view on his shoulders and then being rewarded by the WWF brass for it with…..a feud with Jerry Lawler. Life’s a bitch, eh?