June 13, 1993
Location: Dayton, OH, USA (Nutter Center)
Announced attendance: 6 500
PPV buys: 245 000 (down 54.8% from WrestleMania 9’s 430 000 buys; up 84.1% from WCW Slamboree’s 100 000 buys)
Hey everyone. Welcome to my review of the first ever King of the Ring PPV in history. The biggest attractions of the night are the single-elimination tournament, in which eight men will battle to be crowned King of the Ring, as well as Hulk Hogan defending the WWF Championship against Yokozuna. Moreover, Crush challenges Shawn Michaels for his newly-won Intercontinental Championship, and an eight-man tag team match takes place.
Here is the list of champions in the WWF heading into KOTR 1993:
- WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan [70th day of his 5th reign] – previous champion: Yokozuna
- WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels [7th day of his 2nd reign] – previous champion: Marty Jannetty
- WWF World Tag Team Champions: Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) [243rd day of their 2nd reign] – previous champions: The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon)
Note: in title matches, the defending champions appear underlined
Enjoy the review!
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Bobby Heenan & Randy Savage
The announcers say the show is live from ‘The Heartland of America’ rather than saying Dayton, which has NOTHING to do with Vince McMahon being insecure about his new big show airing from a supposed “smaller” town!
King of the Ring First Round Match – Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon
Razor gets the ‘1-2-3’ chants from the crowd. This is a rematch from the Royal Rumble, where Bret successfully defended his WWF Championship against Ramon. Razor no-sells a shoulderblock, so Bret goes for mat-wrestling instead to take down Razor. Bret goes for a hiptoss, but again he’s unable to do it and Ramon clotheslines him. Nice story being told early on, with Razor being established as the stronger of the two and Bret as the better wrestler. Bret takes Razor down with an armdrag and goes to work on the arm. Ramon slams him to escape the hold, but Bret holds on to the arm and keeps the hold locked in. Bret pounds away on the arm to add more punishment, and Razor escapes with a thumb to the eye. Back elbow smash by Razor gets two. Rear chinlock by Razor gets easily reversed by Bret on the mat, who turns it into a hammerlock. Bret meets Razor’s knee on a blind charge, and Razor follows it up by sending Bret shoulder first into the post.
Razor pounds away on Bret in the ring while the ‘1-2-3’ chants begin. Fallaway slam by Ramon gets two. Running powerslam gets two. Razor hits a sidewalk slam and charges for an elbowdrop, but Bret moves out of the way. Bret slugs away with the crowd coming alive. Atomic drop and clothesline by Bret for two. Russian legsweep gets two. Backbreaker gets two. Middle rope elbow gets two more. Bret headbutts Razor, who tries to respond with a right hand, but Bret avoids it and rolls through for two. Bret goes for the running bulldog out of the corner, blocked by Razor as he whips Bret onto the other corner, leading to the Bret Hart Bump on the turnbuckle. Ramon sets him up for the Razor’s Edge, Bret blocks it and tries to turn it into a backslide, but Razor is too powerful so Bret kicks the turnbuckle and uses it to roll through into an inside cradle for two. That was a fantastic spot!! The crowd bought it as the finish. Razor regains control and takes Bret up top for the backdrop superplex, but Bret counters in midair and lands on top for the win at 10:25.
- Rating: What a great way to kick off the tournament. This match featured great in-ring psychology, with both men establishing each other’s strengths early on and using that to tell a simple story throughout the bout. They proved they have great chemistry together, countering each other’s moves with smooth and innovative reversals back and forth. ***1/2
A recap of last week’s WWF Superstars airs, showing Mr. Hughes stealing the urn from Paul Bearer and attacking him while The Undertaker brawled with Giant Gonzalez.
King of the Ring First Round Match – Mr. Hughes (w/ Harvey Wippleman) vs. Mr. Perfect
Hughes has the urn with him tonight. Winner meets Bret Hart in the semi-final. Hughes shoots Perfect into the turnbuckle off the early headlock to show off his power. Perfect picks up the pace with an armdrag and a dropkick, which rocks him but doesn’t take him down. Meanwhile, Hughes punches Perfect in the corner and sends him flying all the way to the outside. Perfect is in try hard mode in this one. Hughes takes control with his usual kicky punchy action. He goes for a headlock, Perfect grabs the tie to break, but Hughes grabs Perfect’s hair in return. Perfect takes a flip bump off an Irish whip, as Perfect once again tries to take this into the next level but Hughes can’t follow him. Meanwhile, they do a split-screen interview with Bret Hart as the commentators ask him who he’d like to face in the next round – he picks Perfect. We return to live action with Hughes botching a simple bearhug (or maybe a Perfect crossbody, one of the two) and falling backwards in a very awkward way. Yeah, just end this match. Hughes crotches himself on the ropes after missing a guillotine assdrop, allowing Mr. Perfect to make the comeback. Perfect necksnap connects, but Hughes hides in the corner and uses the urn to send Perfect into the semi final via DQ at 6:02. Really…
- Rating: Mr. Perfect tried hard, he really did. That doesn’t mean the match was any good, as Hughes just couldn’t take it to the next gear. The finish was incredibly lame, which didn’t help. 1/2*
Meanwhile, Mean Gene is in the back with Yokozuna & Mr. Fuji. Fuji says what happened at WrestleMania 9 was a fluke, and there’s no way Hogan can beat a fresh and even bigger Yokozuna tonight.
King of the Ring First Round Match – ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Duggan leads the usual chants to start. Duggan no-sells a shoulderblock and a clothesline, and takes Bigelow down with a series of clotheslines. More clapping and stomping the mat by Duggan while nothing happens. They get into a slugfest eventually, culminating with Duggan hurting his ribs on a whip into the buckle. Duggan can’t slam Bigelow because of the injury, allowing Bam Bam to take control. Bigelow smartly goes for a bearhug. Duggan slugs his way out of the hold, but Bam Bam rakes the eyes to cut him off. Duggan avoids a falling headbutt and tries to slam him again, with Bigelow falling on top of Duggan for two. Back to the bearhug goes Bam Bam, but Duggan bites his way out. Bigelow misses a kick and Duggan finally delivers the powerslam on his third attempt. He preps the Three Point Stance, but Bigelow moves away and Duggan eats the turnbuckle. Bam Bam capitalizes with the Diving Headbutt to advance at 4:59.
- Rating: You know, this was actually watchable. At least definitely better than I expected, although my expectactions were very low. There was some okay psychology on display in this one, and while Duggan’s selling is extremely goofy, it was at least better than his WWF matches usually were. Well structured match. *1/2
Meanwhile, Terry Taylor (him!??) interviews The Steiners & The Smoking Gunns who say they will win.
King of the Ring First Round Match – ‘The Narcissist’ Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Winner meets Bam Bam in the semi-final. Lex is ordered to wear an elbow pad or otherwise he’ll be disqualified from the tournament. Woah. Then, Tatanka’s entrance interrupts Luger’s posing. To make it even worse, Tatanka then jumps Luger while he’s posing and actually throws the mirror at Luger. What’s up with this injustice? How is this not a DQ? Where is Jack Tunney when he’s needed!?
Tatanka takes Luger to the floor for a powerslam. Back inside the ring, Tatanka backdrops Luger and a clothesline gets two. Tatanka works an armbar. Luger tries to block it unsuccessfully and Tatanka drops a leg on the arm to add more punishment. We get a split-screen interview with Bam Bam Bigelow, who wants Tatanka to advance so he can beat him up next. We’re back to live action with them still fighting over the armbar, clearly killing time. Luger finally escapes the hold and drives a knee into Tatanka’s gut. Backbreaker and Luger drops an elbow for two. Tatanka tries to fight his way back with the chops, but Luger quickly cuts him off and continues to slowly beat him up. We hit the chinlock as they keep wasting time. Tatanka escapes, only to walk into a Luger clothesline for two. Tatanka gets a cradle for two of his own, but Luger cuts him off immediately AGAIN. Bobby Heenan claims Luger is ahead on points 138000-4! Sunset flip by Tatanka for two. Luger slowly kicks Tatanka in the corner while JR announces there’s 4 minutes left in the time limit. Tatanka IS ON THE WARPATH BY GAWD as he makes the comeback with the chops for two. Belly to belly suplex gets two. Tatanka goes up for the FLYING KARATE CHOP OF DEATH for a nearfall. Tatanka misses whatever off the top rope as we get a double KO spot. Luger gets up first and hits a clothesline for two. Powerslam by Luger gets two with a minute remaining. Lex backdrops him and hits a vertical suplex for two. Luger stops to complain with the ref, showing he’s clearly in a rush. He slowly hits a backbreaker and slowly covers for two… and the match simply ends that way at 15:00 with no reaction whatsoever. Therefore, they’re both eliminated and Bam Bam is automatically in the final.
Luger grabs the microphone and asks for 5 more minutes. That gets Tatanka all excited, allowing Luger to take the elbow pad off and knock him out.
- Rating: What a waste of 15 minutes, really. The action was very boring, with them fighting over an armbar for minutes and Luger slowly walking around doing nothing. They were obviously wasting time throughout the entire match, just waiting for the time to expire. *
Mean Gene is backstage with Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect. Gene wonders why Bret said he preferred Perfect over Mr. Hughes earlier, trying to add salt to the wound. It leads into a fun back-and-forth over their Intercontinental Title match at SummerSlam 1991, as well as who’d win between their fathers. Perfect fakes a handshake and cuts a heelish promo just before Bret makes his entrance. Brilliant way to add some drama to this face v. face battle.
King of the Ring Semi Final Match – Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
Winner to meet Bigelow in the final, in the main event. Time limit is 30 minutes in the semi finals.
They feel each other out with a long lockup to start off. Bret with a shoulderblock as he strikes first. Armdrag is turned into a headscissors by Perfect on the mat. Perfect with some chops in the corner, Bret reverses and slams him, but Perfect kicks him off. Perfect slams him and now Bret kicks him off, before taking him down with a headlock takeover. Perfect escapes, only for Bret to surprise him with a crucifix pin for two, as he goes back to the headlock. Bret with a bodypress for one as Perfect shoots Bret to the floor on the kickout, but Bret comes back in with a sunset flip for two. Back to the headlock goes Bret, with Perfect pulling the hair a little bit as he starts to show some of his old ways. When they get to the ropes, Perfect cheapshots Bret instead of taking the clean break. Perfect jumps Bret as he officially plays heel in peril in this one. A dropkick dumps Bret to the outside as some fans start booing him. Perfect holds the ropes for Bret to come in… only to kick him in the leg as he comes back in. Now this is starting to get interesting!
Perfect pounds away in the corner and nails the kneelift for two. Perfect rams Bret’s face into the apron outside, while Heenan says he’d gladly consider handling Perfect again if he wins KOTR! Heenan is such a brilliant prick! Then, just as Bret gets on the apron, Perfect pushes the ropes and sends Bret flying into the railing as well as some boxes that are on the floor, injuring Bret’s shoulder. Perfect forces him back inside and kneelifts him for two. Missile dropkick by Perfect gets two. Perfect whips him into the buckle leading into the Bret Hart Bump for two. He goes up top yet again, but this time Bret meets him there and brings him down with a superplex for two. Bret goes after the leg, kicking him near the ropes as we get Perfect’s classic flip bump, and Bret locks in a Figure Four but Perfect reaches the ropes to break. Bret with a legscissors now, but Perfect grabs the hair to push Bret down onto the mat, and then drops his free leg on Bret’s throat. Hairtoss out of the corner follows, and Perfect goes for the sleeper. Bret reaches the ropes with Perfect only breaking the hold at four. Then, Perfect chops Bret with disdain and puts him back in the sleeper, this time using the ropes for extra leverage. This is superb!
Bret finally escapes by ramming Perfect’s head into the turnbuckle. Bret with a nasty uppercut with extra mustard on it, before returning the hairtoss… and Perfect lands with his balls on the post! Bret strategically capitalizes with an atomic drop immediately (yikes!) into a Russian legsweep for two. He runs through the pink moves of doom, as the backbreaker + middle rope elbow combo gets two. Bret is thinking Sharpshooter to finish him, but Perfect grabs Bret by his fingers and twists them backwards to wear Bret down to the mat, before stomping on them. This match is amazing. Perfect wants the Perfectplex, Bret reverses it into a suplex that knocks both men all the way to the floor. Back in, Perfect fakes an injury and tries to steal it with a cheap cradle, which Bret turns into his own cradle for the win to send him to the final at 18:56.
Perfect confronts Bret immediately afterwards, offering an aggressive handshake and walking away.
- Rating: A truly spectacular match between two of the greatest wrestlers to have ever done it. This was a masterclass in every aspect, from technical wrestling to storytelling, this match had it all. They had the crowd by the palm of their hands with Perfect’s amazing teases of a possible heel turn, and Bret took that to the next level with his amazing selling and body language. There were some brutal spots in here as well, and they all looked smooth and made sense – particularly that suplex onto the floor and Perfect sending Bret into the railing looked like a million dollars. Hands down one of the greatest matches of the year, and not just from the WWF. ****3/4
Meanwhile, Mean Gene is in the back with Hulk Hogan & Jimmy Hart (who has a giant Hulk Hogan jacket). Hogan says he will remain WWF Champion while Jimmy Hart addresses Mr. Fuji.
WWF Championship – Hulk Hogan (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji)
There are several international photographers at ringside to put this match over. This is not only Hogan’s first title defense, which Savage mentions on commentary, but actually his first WWF appearance since WrestleMania 9.
Lockup goes nowhere to start and both guys look for advice from their respective managers. Yokozuna overpowers Hogan easily on a second try and he takes over. Yoko with a bodyslam and he chokes Hogan on the ropes. The running buttdrop splash is blocked by Hogan, who starts running wild on Yokozuna. He can’t slam Yokozuna, though, allowing Yoko to take back control. Hogan with a series of clotheslines trying to get Yoko down, but he’s the one who goes down after running into a Yoko clothesline. Shoulderblock by Hogan takes HIM down while Yoko doesn’t even move. Bearhug by Yokozuna and we stay there for a couple of minutes. The crowd rallies behind Hogan with ‘USA’ chants. Hogan uses the powerful chants straight outta the Heartland of America to escape the bearhug, but he eats a back elbow on a blind charge. Belly to belly by Yokozuna gets two… AND HE’S HULKING UP BY GAWD ALMIGHTY! The Big Boot isn’t enough to put Yokozuna down, and neither is a second one. A third one finally gets the job done and the Legdrop gets… a nearfall! Hogan punches Fuji off the apron and calls for the big bodyslam, only to get distracted by an excited photographer (Harvey Wippleman) up on the apron. His camera explodes in Hogan’s face and Yokozuna legdrops Hogan for the win and the WWF title at 13:08.
Yokozuna squashes Hogan with the Banzai Drop afterwards, symbolically killing Hulkamania. Hogan gets carried to the back by officials while kids are crying in the crowd. This would end up being Hogan’s final televised match in 9 years (he still worked the UK tour in August 1993, mostly working with Yokozuna in title rematches). He would join WCW the following year where he would stay until 2000.
- Rating: Historically speaking this is a very notable match. In terms of execution, however, this was what it was. A very slow and at times boring match between a visibly unmotivated Hulk Hogan and the super massive Yokozuna. It wasn’t horrible and I liked some of the stuff they did like the bodyslam teases, but while I get they were going for it’s not something I’d ever go back and rewatch. *3/4
Mr. Perfect is not feeling like a million dollars after losing but says he’ll bounce back.
Shawn Michaels reveals the name of his new bodyguard – Diesel.
Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) & The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) (w/ Afa) vs. The Steiners Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) & The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn)
DiBiase and Scott start. Scott with a dropkick into a Steinerline to the floor, and Rick throws DiBiase back in so Scott can dump him again with a second Steinerline. Off to Bart Gunn and Fatu. Bart dropkicks Fatu and faceplants him, but Fatu pops back up and superkicks Bart. That spot is great. The Samoans take over with a double clothesline on Bart, then a vertical suplex by DiBiase. The crowd couldn’t care less about any of this after the previous match. Headshrinkers with a double backdrop and a low headbutt gets two for Fatu. IRS legdrop gets two. Bart with a sunset flip on IRS gets two. Billy Gunn runs wild on DiBiase off the hot (actually more like warm) tag, until DiBiase cuts him off with a stungun. Million Dollar Dream seems to end it but DiBiase releases it to offer the Samoans money for some reason, and Billy simply cradles DiBiase at 6:49.
- Rating: What was the point of this? There were no interactions between the heels like they teased on RAW, no exciting action by the Steiners, nothing. Just a dead crowd and a stupid finish from out of nowhere. *
Meanwhile, Mean Gene is in the dressing room with Yokozuna & Mr. Fuji. Jack Tunney is there too, for some reason. Okerlund wants to know about the party they’ll throw in Japan, but Fuji says they want to do it in America.
WWF Intercontinental Championship – Shawn Michaels (w/ Diesel) vs. Crush
They lockup and Crush dumps Shawn with a shoulderblock to start. Shawn bails and locks in an armbar back inside. Crush with a few leapfrogs to show off his agility, Shawn misses the Superkick and Crush dropkicks him all the way to the floor. Shawn bails yet again, of course! Back in, Crush with an impressive gorilla press slam while Savage puts Crush over big time, saying he could potentially take down Yokozuna. Meanwhile, Crush with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and Diesel pushes Shawn away from the ring. Crush gets in Diesel’s face, allowing Shawn to jump Crush from behind as Shawn & Diesel both send Crush’s head into the post. Shawn drags Crush back in and gets two. Flying double axehandle by Shawn for two as Crush kicks out WITH AUTHORITY BY GAWD! Front facelock by Shawn, but Crush escapes by sending Shawn flying onto the floor. HBK misses a move off the top back inside and Crush backdrops him. Backbreaker gets two. Big boot into the legdrop for two. They’re already burying Hogan! Crush dumps Michaels with a clothesline, only to get distracted while two Doinks show up smoking a cigar. That allows Michaels to Superkick the back of Crush’s head, sending him into the turnbuckle to retain in yet another dumb finish at 11:14.
- Rating: This was a decent match that didn’t need the goofy finish. I thought this feud was more than done after that stupid WrestleMania match. Anyway, this was okay as Crush looked pretty good and Michaels was on a mission to move up the card. **1/2
Bam Bam Bigelow cuts a quick promo before the final.
King of the Ring Final Match – Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Bret Hart
Bigelow wastes no time and goes for a running splash in the corner, but Bret avoids it and he eats the buckle. Bret slugs away on Bigelow but the fatigue gets the better of him. However, Bret blocks a gorilla press slam and lands on top for two. Bret goes to work on the arm, Bigelow rakes the eyes and shoulderblocks him. Bigelow press slams Bret over the ropes all the way to the floor. Back in, Bam Bam whips Bret into the buckle for the Bret Hart Bump and follows it up with a jumping headbutt to the back. Backdrop suplex gets two as Bigelow continues to work the back. Hart tries to fight back momentarily, only for Bam Bam to cut him off and put him in a bearhug. Bret tries to turn it into a side headlock, but Bam Bam turns THAT into a backdrop suplex for two. Bigelow takes Bret outside and goes for a whip into the railing, but ends up eating it himself instead. However, Bigelow catches Bret in midair jumping off the apron and rams Bret’s back into the post. Meanwhile, Luna Vachon runs in and hits Bret with a chairshot to the back, allowing Bigelow to finish with the Diving Headbutt at 9:27.
Actually never mind as Earl Hebner comes out to let Marella know about the interference, and the match is restarted. I wonder where the referees were in all the other interference finishes throughout wrestling history!
Bam Bam remains in control as the match resumes. He goes back to the bearhug, Bret escapes, but Bam Bam cuts him off with a headbutt and takes Bret up for a backbreaker stretch on his back. Bret eventually rolls through and turns it into a backdrop suplex to escape. We get a double KO spot. Bigelow gets up first and goes for the backbreaker stretch again, but Bret rakes the eyes and grabs a sleeper. Bigelow escapes, but Bret dropkicks him from behind and dumps him, before meeting him outside with a dive. Bret goes up back inside and a flying clothesline gets two. Russian legsweep, and Bret goes back up top to hit a bulldog. Bigelow escapes the Sharpshooter and blocks a backdrop suplex by landing on top of Bret for two. He eats Bret’s boot on a blind charge, and Bret rolls through with a victory roll to become King of the Ring at 18:11.
- Rating: Another fantastic match from Bret Hart on this show, who established himself as the absolute best wrestler in the world with this show. They delivered one heck of a David vs. Goliath type of match, with a logical slower pace due to Bret having already been in 2 matches beforehand, with Bam Bam smartly targeting Bret’s injured back. I could live without the Dusty finish earlier, but they made up for it with an awesome match and the actual finish was great. ****
Bret Hart joins Mean Gene in the platform on the stage for the coronation. Jerry Lawler interrupts him claiming Bret is just an impostor. Bret leads the crowd into a ‘Burger King’ chant, and Lawler jumps Bret from behind and beats him up with the scepter. The show goes off the air with Lawler celebrating over a fallen Bret, beginning their famous feud.
END OF THE SHOW
Final thoughts: There’s really no other way to put it – this is the Bret Hart Show! You could skip everything else and you wouldn’t miss much at all, outside of the outcome of Hogan/Yokozuna of course. While there are a few bad matches here, the show is very fun to sit through mostly because the King of the Ring concept was fresh and quite exciting. Needless to say, Bret/Perfect is the best match on the card, but I’d recommend you to watch the entire show. 7/10
Read about our point system here. Since this PPV features a specific concept, the overall winner of the King of the Ring tournament will earn an extra three points.
That’s all for today’s post. Make sure you don’t miss any of the upcoming RAW reviews on the blog, as well as WCW Clash of the Champions on June 16 1993 featuring Ric Flair’s return to the ring! Till next time everyone!