Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Sunday, 18 May 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Summerslam 1993

WWF / WWE Summerslam 1993: Event poster
August 30, 1993
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan

It was the summer of 1993 and the Lex Express had rolled its way across the United States of America in an attempt to turn the former Narcissist Lex Luger into something akin to Hulk Hogan 2.0.

Fresh from slamming WWF Champion Yokozuna on Independence Day (thus turning babyface in process), America's new favourite patroit traversed the country on a 'Call to Action' tour, drumming up support for his one and only title shot against big Yoko.

That title shot, plus a bunch of other stuff, would take place tonight at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Here's went down.

Summerslam pre-show
Before any of tonight's action got underway, we were 'treated' to a special pre-show, live, apparently from Todd Pettengill's house.

With his fritos, over-sized soda and Summerslam program at the ready, Pettengill basically lounged around on his sofa, talking in his usual goofy manner and running down tonight's card.

Despite the somewhat silly premise, the pre-show was nonetheless an effective way to explain the background to each of tonight's main storylines. Watching this show some 21 years after it took place, it was pretty handy, and there was nothing too offensive involved until it ended with this overly-sentimental, gag-inducing music video for Lex Luger.


With that out of the way  then, it was on with the show.

Welcome everyone to the Palace of Auburn Hills!
WWF Summerslam 1993 began with Mean Gene Okerlund giving us the abridged version of Lex Luger's recent storyline over footage of the challenger arriving at The Palace of Auburn Hills earlier that evening.

Cut away to the opening graphic, after which announcer Vince McMahon growled a throaty Welcome everywaaaaaaaan and we were live in The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Joining McMahon on commentary for tonight's action, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan got his 'money-grabbing hands' (his words, not mine), ready for the arrival of our opening match.

The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase vs. Razor Ramon
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Razor Ramon vs. Ted Dibiase
The story behind this one was hardly the stuff that heated rivalries are made of, but it was certainly a simple, effective way to get two talented wrestlers together in one match.

Having been upset by plucky youngster The 123 Kid, Razor Ramon was routinely mocked and goaded by Ted Dibiase, the latter even suggesting that 'The Bad Guy' hang up the tights and take a job as The Million Dollar Man's domestic servant instead.

Unsurprisingly, Ramon declined Dibiase's offer, instead challenging him to a match at Summerslam.

The result was this, a solid opening contest that served its purpose well in getting the Michigan crowd well fired up.

It always strikes this writer as odd when fans look down on those opening the show. Second only to the main event itself, a show's first match surely must be the most important on the card. It's this spot that sets the tone for the rest of the event, warming up the crowd and getting them psyched for more action.

To that end, both Ramon and Dibiase did a stellar job. 

After trading the advantage several times, The Bad Guy slammed his opponent's head into an exposed turnbuckle and nailed him with the Razor's edge, causing Ted Dibiase to eat the three count in what would be his final wrestling match in a WWF ring.

With the years on top finally catching up with him, Ted Dibiase would soon retire completely. After a few months in All Japan, Dibiase returned to the World Wrestling Federation for a stint on commentary, before inflicting Fake Undertaker on the world and ultimately going on to form the Million Dollar Corporation stable.
Your Winner: Ted Dibiase

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Todd Pettengil apparently watched the show at home and was there live at the same time!
Out in the crowd, Todd Pettingill interviewed The Steiner Brothers' mother and sister in one of the worst interview segments ever seen on WWF PPV.

'What was it like when they were kids? Were you always telling them "No Frankensteiners!?"' Todd asked of Momma Steiner.
'Sure,' she replied, clearly having no clue what was going on. 'Whatever you say, it sounds good!'

For her part, the Steiner Sister referred to Rick as 'Rob,' probably confusing thousands of casual fans the world over.

Thankfully, this awkward moment was interupted by the arrival of James E. Cornette, who led his team of The Heavenly Bodies down to ringside for our next match.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rob Rick & Scott) vs. The Heavenly Bodies (Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray & Doctor. Tom Pritchard w/ Jim Cornette)
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Tag Team Championship Match - Steiner Brothers vs. Heavenly Bodies
Hey, wait a minute. Wasn't Todd Pettengill supposed to be watching Summerslam at home with his Fritos? Just couldn't keep away, could you, Todd?

Anyway, that aside, what we had here was an exciting tag team match as The Steiners, adorned  in the purple and gold of the University of Michigan, went up against Smokey Mountain Wrestling mainstays The Heavenly Bodies.

Your textbook tag match, with Scotty playing the proverbial babyface in peril (this in the days when he still looked human and could get away with such things) for much of the match before the inevitable hot tag led to a couple of Steiner-Lines courtesy of the Dog Face Gremlin.

Pritchard turned tides again for his team, striking Rick with Cornette's tennis racket. Alas, it was not to be the 'Bodies day. Scott produced a Frankensteiner, Rick made the cover, and the WWF tag team champions retained their gold.
Your Winners and still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Backstage, some guy called Joe Fowler spoke with Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and his bodyguard, Diesel. Michaels claimed that the argument over who was the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time would be settled tonight when he faced Mr. Perfect. For his part, Diesel claimed his only job was to keep 'the chicks' off the champion's back.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Joe Fowler interviewed Diesel and Shawn Michaels about the latter's Intercontinental Championship match against Mr. Perfect
For those wondering, Joe Fowler was an actor who was in Mighty Ducks and Independence Day. Admittedly, I didn't know either, and had to turn to IMDB.

Needless to say, Fowler didn't last long in the World Wrestling Federation. The most I can find about his tenure with the company was that he did Summerslam 1993 and a handful of stuff from the 'WWF Command Centre' and that was all she wrote, but hey, with Pettengill still around, why would the WWF need another goofy, over-excitable mic man?

That aside then, let's get back to the matches.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Diesel) vs. Mr. Perfect)
Given who was involved, this one had all the potential to be an absolute classic. Sadly, our second championship match of the evening didn't quite live up to expectations, but it was still Michaels vs. Perfect, a match with two men who, even at their worst, could produce a match a thousand times better than many men could do at their best.

Starting off slowly, with both men trading holds and feeling each other out, the match gradually picked up the pace into a fast, exciting affair with sound wrestling from both champion and challenger.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Intercontinental Championship match - Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect
With the crowd firmly behind Mr. Perfect, the former IC champion really took it to the reigning champion, but alas, another reign was not in the cards. 

After a great match, the action spilled to the outside, where HBK landed a sweet looking superkick to the jaw of his opponent. Returning to the ring for a few, Perfect once again found himself on the outside, where he fell victim to an attack by Diesel which gave the champion a win via countout.

It may not have been the ideal ending to a pay per view title match, but given Michaels' role at the time as a dastardly heel who would do anything he could to keep the gold around his waist, it was at least an appropriate finale to a solid effort.
Your winner via countout and still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

In the post-match, Diesel clocked Mr. Perfect in the ring, knocking him out cold. As the reigning champion made his way backstage, Todd Pettingill grabbed Shawn Michaels, asking whether he was happy to retain his belt in such a cowardly way. Michaels insisted that all the questions had been answered, and that he was still the greatest Intercontinental Champion.

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund also asked Shawn Michaels for comments in a Coliseum Home Video Exclusive. Michaels basically repeated exactly the same thing he'd just told Pettingill before Perfect returned and attacked him.

A gang of officials including Pat Patterson, Shane McMahon and Bill Alfonso eventually broke up the scuffle and we were sent to the relative calm of another Joe Fowler interview.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: 123 Kid vs. I.R.S
This time, Fowler was standing by with the 123 Kid, who was on something of a roll, having defeated both Razor Ramon and Ted Dibiase in upset victories. 

Whether it was all part of his character as the perenial underdog, or genuine nerves at making his WWF PPV debut, the future WCW Crusiersweight Champion came across as incredibly shy and awkward in his vow to 'give it a hundred and ten percent and throw caution to the wind.'

I.R.S vs. 123 Kid
Prior to his opponents arrival, I.R.S claimed that Michigan was known as Tax Cheat City, or something like that, much to the chagrin of the live audience.

Their jeers turned into raucous cheers with the introduction of 123 Kid, and a great little match was underway.

Other fans have referred to this contest as little more than a squash match, but in this reviewer's mind, that hardly seems fair.


Yes, I.R.S was in control for much of the bout, but this was much more than your usual Superstars fodder. An entertaining, quick-paced match, of which the Kid's big comeback was a genuine highlight, this one was very enjoyable despite its limited time.

Unfortunately, aforementioned comeback was shortlived. I.R.S took down his rival with a brutal clothesline for the win.
Your Winner: I.R.S

Despite having competed in a dark match earlier on (in a winning effort against Barry Horrowitz), Owen Hart apparently had to buy a ticket to watch brother Bret take on Jerry 'The King' Lawler in our next match.

The Rocket was joined on the front row by his other brother, Bruce, and the two were interviewed by Pettengill, saying nothing that was  very interesting.

Jerry cries off
Scheduled to face Bret 'The Hitman' Hart after viciously assaulting the former WWF Champion at that year's King of the Ring pay per view, Jerry Lawler instead limped to the ring on crutches and claimed to have been involved in a car accident, caused by some little old later, that had badly damaged his knee.

Rendered 'unable to compete' Lawler then announced his substitute in the form of his 'very own court jester', Doink the Clown.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Doink the Clown
With Hulk Hogan out of the picture, Matt 'Doink' Bourne was left as one of only two men to have competed at the first Wrestlemania still featuring regularly on WWF pay per view (the other, of course, being Mike 'I.R.S' Rotundo).

Here, the wiley veteran put his skills to work in a good effort against The Hitman, though not before he soaked Bruce Hart with water, causing the Hart brothers to jump the rail and get a few shots in on the clown.

Picking up where his siblings left off, Bret brought Doink back into the ring to begin a good, if not necessarily great match. 

Just when it looked like Bret was about to put Doink away, Lawler, who had been watching at ringside, revealed his injury to be a ruse (shock, horror!), leaping up into the ring to attack The Excellence of Execution with his crutch.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Bret Hart

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993:  Bret Hart vs. Jerry LawlerOn cue, WWF President Jack Tunney made his way to ringside, stating that, since Lawler had proved himself able to compete, he had to wrestle right there and then or else face permenant suspension from the World Wrestling Federation.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Jerry 'The King' Lawler
Following a wild, enjoyable five minute brawl that reignited the Michigan faithful, Bret Hart used Lawler's own patented piledriver against him before slapping on the Sharpshooter.

As predicted, Lawler quickly gave up.

Less predictably, The Hitman refused to release the hold. The usual 'Men in Shirts' contingent rushed to the ringside to intervene, yet Hart was unrelenting, syncing the hold in tighter as retribution for the anguish Lawler had caused to his family in the build up to this contest. 

Eventually, after cheering on their brother from ringside, Owen and Bruce hit the ring and bargained with their brother. 

Hart finally let Lawler go, but was punished for his actions by having the decision reversed. Jerry Lawler was thus named the 'Undisputed King of the World wrestling Federation' and, in a stupid move, Bret Hart actually looked surprised at the referee's decision.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Jerry Lawler

Post match, officials tried to get Lawler onto a stretcher, through their progress was hindered by a second attack from Bret, a shot from Bruce, and a final double ax-handle from the apron courtesy of The Rocket.

The King was finally carried away on a stretcher, raising his arm in victory, much to the ire of the crowd, as The Hitman celebrated in the ring with his siblings.


Ludvig Borga has words for Lex Luger
In a pre-taped vignette, Ludvig Borga wandered about in some rundown part of town, talking about how the United States was falling apart, and how he was gunning for the one and only Lex Luger.

Wrapping things up, Borga said "I'm going to take my opportunity to show all of these so-called American wrestlers, AND Marty Jannetty, what Ludvig Borga is all about.'

Whether Borga was insinuating that Jannetty was not a wrestler, or not an American citizen, will forever remain one of professional wrestling's great unsolved mysteries.

Colliseum Home Video exclusive time!
Backstage, Mean Gene caught up with Bret, Bruce and Owen Hart for an always entertaining Coliseum Home Video Exclusive.

'I couldn't believe that  they reversed the decision,' quipped Okerlund.
'You couldn't believe it? My brothers couldn't believe it, my fans couldn't believe it, and I couldn't believe it.' replied the Hitman.

Come on dude, seriously? You held Lawler in that sharpshooter for like three whole minutes after you'd already won the match.

Anyway, Hart promised that things were not over between himself and The King. Bruce claimed that the Hart family were coming for Lawler, and Owen said that Lawler deserved a broken leg.

Quite.

Ludvig Borga vs. Marty Jannetty
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Marty Jannetty vs. Ludvig Borga
True story: Around this time, Marty Jannetty was my absolute favourite wrestler. Look, I was nine years old at the time and for reasons that I can't quite fathom 21 years later, Janetty looked like the coolest dude in the world.

Though perhaps not so much here, where, despite a valiant effort against Finland's finest, he was ultimately pulverized and put away quickly.

To those who were watching at the time, this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Borga's star was still on the rise in the summer of 1993, and killing people dead was pretty much his thing.

As the Finnish Fiend destroyed the former Rocker, Heenan and McMahon took the time to put over Borga's achievements in boxing, powerlifting and well, just about everything apart from professional wrestling.

Not a great match by any standards, and certainly not anything you need to seek out, though in no means was this necessarily bad. Just dull, perhaps, and ending quickly thanks to Borga's Torture Rack.
Your Winner: Ludvig Borga

Whatever happened in between the previous match and our upcoming encounter, it was cut out of his home video release, meaning we went straight down to Howard Finkle, who announced that our next match would be the 'no countout, no DQ' Rest in Peace match between The Undertaker and arch-rival Giant Gonzales.

Rest In Peace Match
Giant Gonzalez (w/ Harvey Wippleman) vs. The Undertaker 
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Rest in Peace match - The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez
You have to wonder what kind of drugs the WWF brain trust were smoking when they looked at the first Gonzales/Taker clash at Wrestlemania 9 and thought 'Hey, that went well, let's do it again at Summerslam!'

The way both matches turned out, this writer can only assume it was pretty strong stuff.

Which sadly couldn't be said about anything that took place here. 

Since we last saw these two on ppv, Gonzalez' manager Harvey Wippleman had enlisted the services of Mr. Hughes to steal the Undertaker's coveted urn, and take out his manager, Paul Bearer.

As a result, The Phenom made his way to the ring solo and threw himself around the ring for the best part of ten minutes to try and create an at least passable offering.

For his part, Giant Gonzalez basically stood around in a new suit, one featuring much more airbrushed hair than his famed 'flesh suit.' Speaking of that suit, did you know that it turned up on Ebay last year, signed by old El Gigante himself?

If you think I'm spending more time talking about Gonzalez' attire to the detriment of covering the action, allow me to correct you. There was no action, at least not until Paul Bearer returned to the WWF, knocked out Wippleman and took the urn back.

That gave The Deadman the strength to clothesline the Giant half a dozen times, finally taking him off his feet with a flying clothesline and scoring the pin. 

That whole 'no countout, no dq thing? barely came in to play.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Afterwards, Giant Gonzales took his frustrations out on Wippleman, chokeslamming him to hell and ultimately turning babyface in the process for a run that would last all of five minutes before he left the company that October.

Cutting to the back, our old friend Joe Fowler held the microphone aloft as Jim Cornette cut an explosive promo on behalf of WWF Champion Yokozuna and manager Mr. Fuji.

Cornette expressed his outrage at the outcome of the earlier Heavenly Bodies/Steiner Brothers clash, though vowed that Yoko would not suffer the same fate as the Doctor and the Gigolo. Rather, Cornette claimed that Yokozuna was going to tear Lex Luger in an absolutely thrilling promo that ended with just one word from our champion:

BONZAI!

Six Man Tag Team Match:
Tatanka & The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Luna Vachon) & The Headshrinkers (Fatu & Samu w/ Afa)
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: Six Man Tag - Tatanka & The Smoking Guns vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & The Headshrinkers
The look Native Indian Tatanka passed to Cowboys The Smoking Guns as the three arrived for this contest was priceless. For their part, Billy and Bart could only look on and applaud the undefeated Tatanka. 'Hey dude, we're all friends here, right?'

Friends or not, all six men worked together almost flawlessly to produce a strong six-man tag team match which, on paper, should have been little more than pre-main-event filler.

Far surpassing most expectations, this strong, exciting match did a great job of enhancing the ongoing rivallry between Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka, while giving the Gunn brothers an opportunity to mix it up with one of the WWF's premier tag teams.

Following some good action before an admittedly subdued crowd, Tatanka survived a Triple Flying Headbutt attempt from his three adversaries and rolled up Samu for the three count.
Your Winners: Tatanka and The Smoking Gunns 

Outside the arena, our buddy Joe Fowler spoke with Hank Carter, the driver of the Lex Express tour bus. Carter, who apparently couldn't even get a ticket to the show his troubles, had been watching the whole show from a small screen on the coach. Speaking to fowler, the coach driver put over Luger as some kind of modern day saint, and, obviously, picked him to win the upcoming WWF Championship match.Kiotika Suzuki
Out in the arena, Todd Pettengill hung out with some drunk, grown-up man called Bruce whose mother had made him a cute little red, white and blue suit.

With that out of the way, it was onto our main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Yokozuna (w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji) vs. Lex Luger
WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1993: WWF Title Match - Lex Luger vs. WWF Champion Yokozuna
Adding to the big match spectacle of the hottest main event of the summer, we had a whole pre-match ritual in which both competitors' countries were well represented.

Howard Finkle drew huge heel heat, asking the Michigan faithful to show some respect for Kiotika Suzuki, on hand to sing the Japanese National Anthem. The Internet gives me nothing on Suzuki other than his appearance at this very event, so if anyone reading knows more about him than that, please do let me know in the comments below.

Following Suzuki's heat-inducing singing, Finkle had a chance to redeem himself by introducing our Master of Ceremonies for the main event, none other than Macho Man Randy Savage, accompanied by 'singing sensation' Aaron Neville.

Savage worked the crowd, before turning over to Neville, who promptly handed over the Stars and Stripes flag he'd been carrying to belt out the US National Anthem.

In the background, former Orient Express member Akio Sato stood waiting, ready to fly the Japanese flag on behalf of the WWF Champion.

After much ado then, we finally got our entrances, Yoko with his usual geisha and an entourage which included Jim Cornette in a neckbrace (selling an angle from Smokey Mountain Wrestling which wasn't mentioned once on this show), and Luger with an introduction which saw Macho Man refer to him as 'the next World Wrestling Federation Champion.'

And then, finally, it was underway, the most well-built match of the year, champion vs. challenger, USA vs. Japan, Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna.

Was it any good? Well yes, actually.

Having never seen this match before, I'll admit to being pleasantly surprised that this wasn't an absolute stinker.

Of course, it helps that Yoko could move incredibly well for his size, but give Luger his credit, he really worked well here to prove himself worthy of main event status.

Following an explosive start, the action spilled to the outside, where, in this normal-sanctioned match, the count out and usual disqualification rules were ignored much more than in our earlier Rest in Peace match.

Regardless of the rules, the crowd were certainly wild for this one, sitting on the edge of their seats, hearts in their mouths with every near fall, waiting for the moment Luger finally made the three count, waiting, for a moment that would sadly never come.

Admittedly, I haven't read enough dirt sheet goss or seen enough shoot interviews to understand why this match turned out the way it did (other than the urban legend that Luger gave the game away in a bar the night before, which I don't believe), but even now it doesn't make sense.

A win for Luger here would have been the perfect ending to the summer-long storyline of the one time Narcissist taking pride in something more than his own appearance, standing up for his country and battling the Big Monster From Japan, en route to the WWF title and status as a true American hero.

Instead, this dramatic main event contest came to a disappointing finale via countout. After finally bodyslamming the champion, Luger stupidly forearm-smashed Yoko to the outside, where the big man lay, out cold. The referee counted, Luger beat up on Fuji and Cornette, and Lex Luger won by countout.
Your Winner via Countout: Lex Luger (Yokozuna retains the WWF Championship)

Joined in the ring by Savage, The Steiners and Tatanka for a celebration of epic proportions, Luger was drowned in red, white and blue balloons whilst Vince McMahon sold the victory as though Luger had single-handily won World War 2 or something.

The fact that Yoko retained the WWF Title was barely mentioned until the very end, and even then, it came as an afterthought to the feel good ending to Summerslam 1993.

Wrapping things up at last, we got another look at that overly-sentimental Hero video that I posted at the top of this review.

In all honesty, Summerslam 1993 was a much better show than this writer was anticipating. Sure, we had the Rest in Peace match clogging things up, but with three solid title matches, no less than two Bret Hart contests and bouts which, on paper, shouldn't have amounted to much going far beyond expectations, this was a pretty good show. 
The only downside to this event was that, beyond Undertaker/Gonzalez, nothing was really resolved here. Luger and Yokozuna would continue to be at loggerheads until at least Wrestlemania 10, Bret Hart and Jerry Lawler would feud, on and off, until well into 1995, and Mr. Perfect would still be at war with Michaels, and the later Diesel, in the run up Survivor Series 1993
That aside, a decent show that, whilst not necessarily a must-see event, is certainly better than you may have imagined.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

WWF King of the Ring 1993 Report

Yesterday's review of WWF King of the Ring 1993 got me searching through Youtube for more on the inaugural KOTR pay per view. 

Pay Per View 'reports' were a regular feature of World Wrestling Federation programming about the time my eight year-old self first became a wrestling fan. Presented either by Mean Gene or everybody's favorite goofball, Todd Pettengill, they were a quick and effective way of presenting the big events as something special, while at the same time shilling the holy hell out of them.

Here, Mean Gene gives us our King of the Ring report, after which, an irate Shawn Michaels stormed to ringside and berated Vince McMahon for booking him against Crush at the ppv.  Remember, this was when Vince was presented as nothing more as a babyface announcer fond of shouting such memorable lines as 'What a manouver!' and my own personal favourite, 'One, Two, He got him! No he didn't!'



As a bonus, here's Jimmy Hart and Hulk Hogan on the set of Thunder in Paradise, hyping the latter's WWF Championship defense against Yokozuna.


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. 



Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.