JC’s Top Rope Report: Flashback Thoughts: King of the Ring 1996

Hello everyone. Most of the time I post a column once a week. Well, this past week I had an idea to possibly expand my writing a bit more, or supplement my column once a week with this new piece. This will be called “Flashback Thoughts.” A couple times a month, I will look back on a PPV from said month and do a quick thoughts like column on it. It’ll include not only WWE, but also WCW and possibly ECW.

These won’t be in any particular order in terms of chronology. It’ll just be picked at random. First up we have King of the Ring from 1996. And away we go!

-I completely forgot this PPV had Owen Hart on commentary. I remember this being good.

-Those guards opening the doors for the wrestlers was so cheesy.

King of the Ring Semifinal: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs “Wildman” Marc Mero

-After losing to Marc Mero in the quarterfinals, Owen Hart attacked Marc Mero by jumping off the apron. Owen, “I went to congratulate him and I slipped.” Haha, this should be good.


-A slow ground pace to the action early on. Crowd seems like they are getting restless and start a ‘Sable” chant.


-Austin hits a Lou Thesz Press and that gets the crowd back into it, and Mero hits a nice backdrop.


-Mero gets tossed to the outside and Austin pulls the mat up and drops Mero on the concrete. That was considered a high spot in 1996.


-The sleeper hold by Marc Mero actually gets a pop from the crowd! Austin breaks it with a jawbreaker. That’s where Austin busted open his lip.


-Mero starts his comeback and hits a nice somersault plancha to the outside. I think Mero would have gotten a better push if he was in today’s WWE. His offense is what the fans want to see.


-Afrer dropping Mero’s throat on the ropes, Austin hits the Stunner for the win. Solid match that picked up in the last five minutes.

King of the Ring Semifinal: Vader vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts


-I will say it anytime someone brings it up: Vader was MASSIVELY under-utilized in the WWE.


-Roberts gets a big pop as Vince talks about his comeback at age 41. Owen calls him an old man and says he has to at least be 61.


-The crowd is more into this match than the previous, and the action is slow and plodding.


-Jake wins by DQ after Vader pulled the ref down while Roberts hit a DDT. After the match, Vader splashes Roberts twice then hits a Vader Bomb. The announcers wonder if Jake will be able to compete later.

WWE Tag Team Championship: The Godwins vs The Smoking Gunns (c) w/Sunny


-Poor Phineas. He was so smitten with Sunny and she broke his heart. Before the match Billy rubs it in to Phineas by saying he makes her feel like Phineas never did.


-There’s an in match interview with Cloudy, the Bodydonnas new manager. It was a man in Sunny’s old costumes. “She” blew JR a kiss. See, we should have seen all the crap JR was going to go through in the past few years from that right there!


-The Gunns are dominating early on and Jim Ross talks about the arrogance of the Gunns with Sunny as manager now. But it is tough to think of Bart Gunn as anyone but the guy that got knocked out by Butterbean at Wrestlemania.


-A brief malee takes place, and as the ref takes Henry Godwin to the apron, Bart Gunn hits Phineas with a boot to the head and the Gunns pick up the win. Not a great match by any means.


-The British Bulldog is interviewed as Mr. Perfect, the special referee for his WWE Title Match with Shawn Michaels, comes into the locker room. The announcers talk about how the deck is stacked against Michaels.


Jerry “The King” Lawler vs The Ultimate Warrior


-Ugh, I forgot about this match on the card. But Lawler is doing a GREAT job of getting some cheap heat before the match, making fun of fans coming to the ring. Lawler goes up to an over-weight woman, “When you wear blue do people try to stuff mail in you?”


-Lawler attacks Warrior during his entrance with the septor from the King of the Ring stand.


-Warrior no sells the Pildriver and wins after a couple of clotheslines and a shoulder tackle. Short match. Warrior would be gone a few months later. I sometimes wonder what kind of pop he would get today if he cameback for a one time appearance.


-Gorilla Monsoon, WWE President, says he will let Jake Roberts fight despite being injured. Owen says he is risking his life going into the ring. That’s just eerie thinking knowing what would happen a few years later.


Mankind vs The Undertaker


-It’s amazing thinking the match these two would put on two years later at the same PPV.


-Paul Bearer walks to the ring but no Undertaker. The lights go on and Taker is on the top rope and hits Mankind with a top rope clothesline and then beats down Mankind in the corner and the crowd loves it.


-The original Mankind character was the perfect type of villain for The Undertaker to go up against in 1996. They did a great job of hyping the Mandible Claw as a devastating move.


-Mankind grabs a chair with the ref distracted by Paul Bearer, but Taker boots the chair back into his face. Taker then backdrops Mankind onto the chair and hits him with the chair again in the ring.


-After Taker clotheslines Mankind out of the ring, Mankind pulls him out and throws him into the steps. Mankind runs from the opposite side of the ring and runs his knee right into Taker sending his head into the steps. Mankind goes for an elbow off the apron but Taker lifts the chair up. Taker then hits Mankind with the chair again.


-And let me just say, it is amazing that the referee is distracted every time the chair is used. Perfect timing!


-Mankind takes the urn but Paul Bearer gets it back. Mankind then applies the Mandible Claw. Taker tries to break it but Paul Bearer accidentally hits Taker with the urn. Mankind then applies the Mandible Claw and picks up the win as the crowd is stunned.


-That was a really good match between these two. I enjoyed watching it. I forgot the result of the match and was actually into it the entire time. It was a good brawl, something most fans in the WWE weren’t used to at the time.


-Mr. Perfect tells Doc Hendrix that he will call the match down the middle, despite looking like he is aligned with Camp Cornette.


Intercontinental Championship: Goldust (c) vs Ahmed Johnson


-They play a clip of Goldust giving CPR to Johnson, even though he was blatantly kissing him. Once again, the Goldust character was unique for its time and people were interested in the character.


-Ahmed Johnson was pretty over. Nowadays he would be the face that all the smarks in the audience would boo.


-Ahmed goes to throw the steps at Goldust but he moves. Owen, “Ahmed needs to check his eye sight, Goldust doesn’t look like a ringpost.”


-Goldust smacks Johnson in the ass as the crowd shrieks in awe. JR talks about the mind games Goldust is using to his advantage.


-Another piledriver. That’s four so far this PPV. Goldust crawls slowly on top of Ahmed to make the pin. Ahmed “kicks out,” though Ahmed is so winded that he barely moved.


-Goldust goes to give Ahmed mouth-to-mouth again, but this time Ahmed Johnson recovers and snaps. He ends up hitting the Pearl River Plunge on Goldust and picks up the win and is the new IC Champion. Slow moving match. Goldust’s theatrics kind of made you forget about that. But Johnson was so winded half way through the match that there had to be a lot of rest holds.


-Brian Pillman is interviewed. It is all over the place, but obviously it was to go with his “Loose Cannon” gimmick. It’s a shame Pillman’s injury derailed what could have been a long career. Austin and Pillman stare each other down.

King of the Ring Final: Steve Austin vs Jake Roberts


-Austin attacks early and goes right after the ribs of Jake.


-John Cena should take note on how Roberts is selling his rib injury.


-Gorilla Monsoon comes to the ring and asks Jake if he want sto stop. He says no then goes on the attack. Austin blocks the DDT with shoulder blocks into the corner. Austin hits the Stunner for the win. It looks weird seeing Austin deliver the Stunner without the kick first.


-We all know the “Austin 3:16? speech that follows. There isn’t much to add to it. It’s the birth of a legend.

WWE Championship: Shawn Michaels (c) vs The British Bulldog (w/Mr. Perfect as Special Guest Referee)


-They replay the ending of these twos match from last month’s PPV, where two referees each counted the other man’s shoulders down. That was a unique finish at the time in the WWE.


-Gorilla Monsoon says Mr. Perfect will be the “outside referee,” while Earl Hebner will referee inside the ring. Owen claims this is unbiased favoritism.


-Michaels hits a head scissors on the outside then smacks Jim Cornette in the butt with his own tennis racket.


-Owen talks about how everyone in his family is beautiful, except for one ugly brother. JR asks if Owen is adopted. Owen replies, “Are you saying that because I’m much smarter and better looking than everyone in my family?”


-There’s a good pace to the match so far. A good combo of rest holds to go with the up tempo stuff.


-British Bulldog goes for a Powerslam but drops Michaels over the ropes. Bulldog then hits a suplex on the outside.


-The British Bulldog was another one of those wrong place, wrong time guys when it came to not winning the WWE Title. He was an exceptional worker and I think could have easily been a transitional Champion for the WWE.


-This match is a lot of rest hold, one or two quick transition moves, then rest hold, then back. But it is working for the match because the transition moves are very well executed.


-Michaels escapes the running powerslam. HBK goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Bulldog stops himself in the ropes and comes back with a clothesline. Good sequence.


-And that is immediately followed by Bulldog tripping and falling off the ropes. Owen attempts to cover it up: “It was that Jose Lathario that grabbed the ropes!”


-The match is starting to pick up the pace. Bulldog blocks an enziguri attempt with a sit down powerbomb.


-Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music and picks up the win. Mr. Perfect was making the count as well but Owen pulled him out of the ring.


-After the match Owen and the Bulldog attack HBK. Ahmed Johnson makes the save and powerslams Owen. Vader comes in and attacks Johnson. Vader is about to splash Michaels but Ultimate Warrior makes the save. At least this melee was saved until after the match was over. Today, this was would have happened before the end of the match.


-If I was judging that PPV watching it live, I would say it was an above average PPV. We may not have known at the time, but we witnessed a star being born with Steve Austin. The Undertaker/Mankind brawl was fun to watch. It was something the WWE audience wouldn’t have been used to at the time. The WWE Title match was very good. Bulldog is a good worker and held his own in the ring with Shawn Michaels.


Ahmed Johnson winning the IC Title received a good pop, but the match was very slow moving and showed Ahmed was out of shape. The Tag Title Match was nothing to write home about, and at least Warrior/Lawler was short, and saved by some great heel work by Lawler early on. I’d probably give it a 6.5 overall.


I hope you enjoyed my review here. I plan on doing a WCW one later in the month.


Until Next Time,

Justin C

Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka


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