Wednesday, 7 May 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF King of the Ring 1993

WWF / WWE: King of the Ring 1993 - Poster
Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio
June 13, 1993


Not content with promoting four of the biggest wrestling events in the known world, in 1993, Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation added the King of the Ring to their pay per view offering, rounding out what nineties fans would affectionately refer to as 'The Big Five.'

Of course, this wasn't the first time the King of the Ring had been contested inside WWF rings. Since as early as 1985, the title had been used as feud-fodder for the likes of Harley Race, Haku and Macho King Randy Savage. Other notable names to have triumphed in the  annual tournament include Ted Dibiase, Tito Santana and inaugural king, Don Muraco.

Still, this was certainly the first time the competition had been broadcast as as PPV spectacular. Ostensibly a stop-gap between the much-maligned Wrestlemania IX and that year's Summerslam, by all accounts, WWF King of the Ring 1993 was much more.

It was a chance to rebuild and reward Bret 'The Hitman' Hart following his 'Mania loss to the mighty Yokozuna, and for the sumo superstar himself to seek a measure of redemption against a soon-departing Hulk Hogan. 

In short, it was an opportunity for the WWF to roll back on the right tracks after Hogan's Wrestlemania input had so derailed things.

Here's what went down.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Randy Savage, Jim Ross and Bobby Heenan called the action
Welcome to the heartland of America
As was the standard, today's show opens up with Vince McMahon's trademark growling, welcoming everybody to The Heartland of America, and running down tonight's card.

Out in the arena, our commentary team consisted once again of Jim Ross, Bobby Heenan, and former 'King' Macho Man Randy Savage. 

Wasting absolutely no time then, it was straight onto our opening match.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 1
Razor Ramon vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
In the years following the 1993 King of the Ring, The Hitman's efforts have been lauded as the highlight of the show, and for good reason.

Look no further than his opening contest against Razor Ramon for a fine example of how Hart, like Ric Flair and others before him, could have a great match against just about anyone.

Not that The Hitman deserves all the credit here. Razor himself was on fine form here, going on the offence and taking charge in a rematch from their world title clash at that year's Royal Rumble.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Razor Ramon was unphased by Bret Hart when they met in the first quarter-final match
In front of a somewhat subdued crowd, both men brawled, grappled and wrestled their way through an exciting opening match that reached its conclusion when The Hitman countered a top rope suplex, landing on his opponent and securing the three count.
Your Winner: Bret Hart (advances to the semi finals)

As a distraught looking Razor made his way backstage, Jim Ross took us to a recap from a recent episode of WWF Superstars, where Mr. Hughes assisted Harvey Wippleman and Giant Gonzales in taking out The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. The dastardly heels were so successful in their endeavor that Hughes walked away with 'Taker's urn, and held it proudly now as he awaited the arrival his King of the Ring opponent, Mr. Perfect

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 2
Mr. Hughes (w/ Harvey Wippleman) vs. Mr. Perfect
Playing a sound strategy, Perfect deployed his speed in the early going in a deft attempt at countering the immovable bulk of Hughes. Yet even a sweet looking dropkick was no match for Hughes' strength, and the big  man quickly took control of the match, pounding his foe to the mat and dominating in a decent, if somewhat forgettable encounter.

As Hughes mauled his opponent, Bret Hart popped up in a little box in the corner of the screen to answer questions from Jim Ross. As the man set to face the winner of Perfect/Hughes, who would The Hitman rather wrestle? Unsurprisingly, Hart stated his preference for fellow babyface, Mr. Perfect.

A short time later, Perfect mounted a brief comeback to the delight of the Ohio faithful, but was once again stopped in his tracks by Hughes, who clocked him one with The Undertaker's urn.

That was enough for the referee, and the match was awarded to Perfect via DQ.
Your Winner via DQ: Mr. Perfect (advances to the semi final)

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Mr.Fuji promised that Yokozuna would defeat WWF Champion Hulk HoganMean Gene Okerlunnd spoke to Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna. Fuji claimed that Hogan had cheated his way to victory in their Wrestlemania IX non-match, taking advantage of a Yokozuna who had just wrestled 'A twenty minute match.' (Yoko/Hitman lasted less than 10 minutes)
Backstage,

For his part, Yokozuna squashed the idea that he wouldn't speak English until  his babyface turn a few years later, and promised that Hulk Hogan was 'going down.'

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 3
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan
'This is the first King of the Ring to be crowned,' lied Macho Man as this one got underway, perhaps forgetting that not only did he win the competition in 1987, but also later defeated the man in the ring, 'Hacksaw King' Duggan, for the crown in 1989 (Hacksaw himself earned the right to the throne after defeating King Haku, who, in turn, bested 1986 winner, 'King' Harley Race).

As for the match itself, it was pretty much as you might expect.

As short as it was boring, this six minute slugfest came to an end with a win for The Beast from the East.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow (advances to the semi final)

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Hacksaw Jim Duggan lost to Bam Bam Bigelow (Pigelow) in the quarter finalsTed Taylor brought us a Coliseum Home Video Exclusive as he spoke to The Smoking Guns and The Steiner Brothers. Both teams were set to team up for an eight man tag team match against Money Inc. and The Headshrinkers later on in the show.
Backstage, former Red Rooster

Billy Gunn suggested the match might turn into a 'mini battle royal,' Scott Steiner promised to breakout the Frankensteiner whilst brother Rick Steiner went crazy, barking a lot and talking about dogs.

Ah, those were the days, when Scott Steiner was the 'normal one' out of the two Steiner bros.

King of the Ring Quarter Final - Match 3
'Narcissist' Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Posing and boasting prior to the match, the smug look on Luger's face was quickly wiped away when Howard Finkle announced that the referee had ordered The Narcissist to cover up his bionic elbow prior to wrestling Tatanka. 

Throwing a tantrum at first, Luger eventually relented, padding up as on commentary, Heenan suggested Tatanka should have his shoe laces tied together to make it fair.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: The Narcissist Lex Luger strikes a pose before facing off against Tatanka
It was in this match, more than any other, that the commentary team were really on form.

'Why do they call you The Brain anyway? I've never figured that out,' asked Ross.
'Well, why do they call you Jim Ross?' replied The Brain.
'Because that's my name.'

OK, so it's stupid, but it certainly made this reviewer chuckle.

Elsewhere, we had Bam Bam Bigelow pop up in the corner to insist that he wanted to face 'The Indian' in the semi-final, whilst in the ring, both men put on a solid, if not quite spectacular effort.

As the time wore on and the announcers basically gave the result away, both men upped their efforts, creating quite the dramatic contest that inevitably ended in a time limit draw.
Time limit draw (Bam Bam Bigelow advances to the King of the Ring final)

Outraged, Luger demanded five more minutes to finish off Tatanka. Meeting with refusal, Luger took matters into his own hands, removing his elbow pad and knocking out the undefeated Tatanka with The Steel Elbow of Doom.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: The Narcissist Lex Luger strikes a pose before facing off against Tatanka
Mean Gene causes trouble
Standing backstage with both Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart, Mean Gene Okerlund went back to his old shit stirring ways by causing an argument between the two semi-finals.

'Why did you say you wanted to face Perfect, Bret? Is it because you think he's an easier option?'

With that, the floodgates were open, leading to accusations of 'My dad could beat your dad' and Perfect claiming that he 'owed' Bret from their Summerslam 1991 match, where The Hitman beat Perfect to claim the Intercontinental title.

That match was next.

King of the Ring Semi-Final:
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
If Hart's matches were the highlight of King of the Ring 1993, then his match with Perfect was the Highlight of the Highlights.

For nigh on twenty minutes, both former Intercontinental Champions proved beyond any doubt why, even today, they are held in such high regard as exceptional talents.

By far the match of the night, this semi-final contest saw Perfect slip slowly back into familiar heel territory, playing dirty to counter The Excellence of Execution's well-delivered offence.

Not to be outdone, Hart fought Fire with Fire and the result was a thrilling encounter that combined everything you could ask for and more from two seasoned performers.

The end came when Bret reversed a small package attempt to secure his spot in the finals.
Your Winner: Bret Hart (advances to the King of the Ring final)


WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Jimmy Hart's Hulk Hogan jacket
Disapointed at losing despite a valiant effort, Perfect initially stormed off, before returning to the ring to embrace his friend Bret Hart and wish him well in the finals.

An interview with Hogan
Backstage, cameras focused on the back of Jimmy Hart's jacket, complete with an airbrushed portrait of Hulk Hogan himself.

In a standard Hogan promo, the WWF Champion talked about his big muscles, about the power of Hulkamania and about being a five time champion, vowing to remain that way after he'd 'tested the big Yokozuna.'

Okerlund then pointed out that Mr. Fuji would be in the corner of Yokozuna, prompting Hogan to hand over to his manager, Jimmy Hart.

'People always ask me what it's like to manage The Immortal Hulk Hogan,' said Hart. 'They wanna know what it's like. And I tell them, Hulk Hogan has red, white and blue running through is veins...He was born and raised in the USA.'

Whether he knew it at the time or not, Jimmy Hart used the WWF King of the Ring 1993 event to reveal the opening lyrics of Hulk Hogan's WCW theme tune.


World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji)
And so the showdown was set, the first proper encounter between the last of WWF's old school contingent and the new breed of larger-than-life WWF Superstars.

As the challenger made his way to the ring, flanked by a gaggle of Japanese photographers, his eight minute match with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania IX once again swelled in time, from the twenty minutes purported earlier by Mr. Fuji, to Bobby Heenan's claim that said title match actually went thirty minutes.

Regardless, this new title match went just shy of quarter of an hour, and was decent without ever threatening to become anything special.

Hogan took the early advantage, twice attempting to to slam his enormous challenger to no avail. Yoko fought back, using his size and strength to his advantage, wearing the champion for a couple of near falls.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Hulk Hogan dropped the WWF title to Yokozuna
As the match neared its conclusion, the five time champ 'Hulked Up,' but as he prepared to drop The Legdrop of Doom, Harvey Wippleman, disguised as a photographer, hopped up onto the apron and shot a fireball into Hogan's face.

That was enough for Yokozuna to drop his own massive thigh across Hogan's chest and pick up his second WWF title.
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion: Yokozuna

Post match, the new champion celebrated his win by dragging the fallen Hogan into the corner and hitting him with a Banzai Drop.

'Look at these children here in the seats, they're crying!' Bobby Heenan exclaimed, as cameras cut to a small child who looked on, completely non-plussed.

'Has Yokozuna ended Hulkamania?' asked Jim Ross, to which the answer was 'yes, at least until Hogan signed with WCW the following year.'

Interview time
Backstage, a disgruntled Mr. Perfect admitted he wasn't feeling too great following his match with Bret Hart, nor did he feel much like talking to Taylor 'Coliseum video or not.'

A dumbfounded Rooster passed things over to Mean Gene for a word with Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and his newly-acquired bodyguard, Diesel. 

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Shawn Michaels introduced Diesel as his new bodyguard
The Heartbreak Kid claimed that Hulk Hogan was a dinosaur who was not on the IC champ's level, to which Okerlund responded that Michaels had been watching too much Jurassic Park.

Okerlund then asked HBK about his 'so-called bodyguard,' who had recently joined the company, assisting Michaels in recapturing the title from former Rockers partner, Marty Jannetty. Shawn revealed the name of his new 'insurance policy,' and with that, it was back to the action.


Eight-man tag team match
WWF Tag Team Champions Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase & IRS) and The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu w/ Afa) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott Steiner) and The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart Gunn)

In a break from anything which actually mattered, the WWF's four premier tag teams filled some time in a passable eight-man effort.

As Ross, Savage and Heenan spent most of their time ignoring the action to ruminate on the apparent Death of Hulkamania, the match waged on  and came to an end with a win for the good guys after Billy Gunn trapped 1988 King of the Ring Ted Dibiase in the second small package of the evening.
Your Winners: The Steiners and The Smoking Gunns

Afterwards, all eight men engaged in a spot of fisticuffs until the good guys cleaned house.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: New WWF Champion: Yokozuna
Before we went any further, it was backstage once more, where Mean Gene was standing by with new WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji, WWF President Jack Tunney, and a group of photographers.

Displaying his usual lack of charisma, President Tunney congratulated the new champion. 'I know Mr. Fuji is very happy about this,' said Tunney.

For his part, Mr. Fuji basically said 'I told you so,' exclaimed the death of Hulkamania and promised that he and the champion would celebrate right there in America.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels  (w/ Diesel) vs. Crush
To this day, your writer still doesn't know why Crush wasn't a bigger star in the early 1990s. For all intents and purposes, his various title shots against Shawn Michaels, including this fairly entertaining bout, was just about the pinnacle of his run as a neon-clad babyface.

Throughout the match, the big Hawaiian used a smart combination of speed, power and agility to take it to the champion, but Michaels was right there with speed of his own and, of course, some sly interference from Diesel.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Crush challenged Intercontinental Champion - Shawn Michaels
After some enjoyable action, Crush's arch nemesis Doink the Clown came out in twin form, causing the distraction which led to a superkick-induced win for the champion.
Your Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

Backstage, Mean Gene reminded Bam Bam Bigelow that he was well-rested following his bye into the King of the Ring final. Bigelow agreed, yelling 'FRESH AS A DAISY' with a level of violence which belied such a sweet image.

King of the Ring Final
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
'Bam Bam Bigelow has had an hour and twenty minutes to rest, and only fought for eight minutes, Bret Hart has rested just forty minutes  and has already wrestled for 36 minutes.' said Jim Ross as our final got underway. Given the exaggerations regarding time limits tonight, your reviewer has no idea whether that's true or not.

What certainly is true, is that this was a fantastic main event.

Rounding off the evening in much the same way that he started it, Bret Hart went toe-to-toe in a thoroughly entertaining match, succumbing to the brute force of 'FRESH AS A DAISY' Bigelow and playing the underdog in peril for most of the contest.

WWF / WWE King of the Ring 1993: Shawn Michaels successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship against Crush
In a confusing and unnecessary move, Luna Vachon waggled to the ring at one point to clock The Hitman with a chair, allowing her man to get a three count over the former WWF Champion following a top-rope headbutt.

Just as Bigelow was celebrating, Earl Hebner rushed to the ring to explain the situation to referee Joey Marella. Rather than disqualifying Bigelow and just awarding the match to Hart, Gorilla Monsoon's baby boy restarted the match, signalling a gradual comeback for Hart, all leading to his eventual, much applauded win via the move of the night: A quick roll up.
Your Winner and 1993 King of the Ring: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

After celebrating with the fans, Hart was led to the coronation area, where Mean Gene Okerlund waited on to receive the king.

Clad in cape and crown and brandishing his scepter, The Hitman didn't have long to rest in his throne before he was interupted by relative newcomer to the World Wrestling Federation, USWA legend, Jerry 'The King' Lawler. 

Claiming to the only real king in the WWF, Lawler berated Hart, who responded in kind by leading the crowd in a chant of 'Burger King! Burger King!'

Not taking too kindly to being referred to as a popular fast food chain, Lawler struck Hart, destroyed the coronation set and beat the living hell out of Bret Hart, thus beginning a feud that would last, on and off, for at least two years, and provide fans with some highly entertaining moments.

A great ending then to an all-round great pay per view. Ignore the eight-man tag match and the Bigelow/Duggan encounter, and what you've got is a fun show packed with solid action that is well worth checking out, as much for the matches themselves as for the impact this show would have on pro wrestling in general.
After King of the Ring 1993, Hulk Hogan would head off to film Thunder in Paradise and start the New World Order, disappearing from WWF screens until 2002. Bret Hart would begin his aforementioned feud with Jerry Lawler whilst competing with a freshly-turned Lex Luger  for the position of the company's top babyface. For his part, Yokozuna would prove to be a solid heel as he fought off the advances of Luger and The Undertaker before finally dropping the belt back to Bret at  Wrestlemania 10. 

On a personal note, I'd like to apologise to regular reads of this blog for the lack of updates over the last several month. Real life responsibilities being what they are, I just haven't had the time to commit to what is essentially a fun little hobby project. That said, I hope to be back with another review very soon. Thanks for reading, thanks for your comments and thanks for your support. 


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Retro Pro Wrestling

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