Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: King of the Ring 1994

kotr94

*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

King of the Ring 1994: All Hail the King of Harts!

June 19, 1994
Baltimore Arena
Baltimore, Maryland
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon, Randy Savage, Art Donovan
Attendance: 12,000
Buy Rate: .85

Dark Match

Thurman “Sparky” Plugg pinned Kwang

Pay Per View

Fun Fact I: Outside of the squared circle, the fate of the WWF was about to play out in a Long Island Federal courtroom. Back in early 1990, Dr. George Zahorian was arrested and later convicted of selling and distributing steroids for non-therapeutic use. The raid of Dr. Zahorian’s operation included distribution to WWF wrestlers and to WWF owner Vince McMahon. After Zahorian’s conviction, McMahon instituted a steroid testing program for the WWF. Following this trial, stories from former wrestlers began to come out about Hulk Hogan’s use and abuse of steroids. These revelations in connection with Zahorian got things rolling on a federal grand jury investigation of the WWF. In November 1993, McMahon was indicted on steroid trafficking and conspiracy charges. The trial was set to begin on July 5, just a few weeks after this King of the Ring PPV. One week prior to the show, Vince had neck surgery to repair an injury he had been dealing with for a while. Many speculate that McMahon timed the surgery for just prior to the trial as a ploy to sway the jury. Due to the surgery, he would have to wear a neck brace and would therefore look more sympathetic to the jury. As a result of the surgery, McMahon would miss the King of the Ring PPV and a replacement would be at the broadcast table, which we will cover in the next Fun Fact. During the trial, the prosecution was not able to directly pin McMahon to a coordinated effort of illegal steroid trafficking. On July 22, 1994, the jury came back with a not guilty verdict, acquitting McMahon on all charges. With McMahon busy preparing and participating in the trial, Memphis promotor Jerry Jarrett took over booking duties and Vince’s wife Linda was given control of the company from a business standpoint. According to legend, if McMahon was convicted and sent to prison, Jarrett would have taken the reigns on a full time basis.

Fun Fact II: In the booth for the PPV are Gorilla Monsoon, Randy Savage and a local sports hero, Art Donovan. Donovan began playing professional football in the NFL as a defensive tackle in 1950 with the Baltimore Colts. He became one of the stars of a solid defensive team. During his career he was named to the Pro Bowl five times, won two world championships in 1958 and 1959, was named to the NFL 50th anniversary All-Time team and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1968. While he was a local favorite in Baltimore, the WWF fans would soon learn that Art Donovan knew nothing about pro wrestling.

Fun Fact III: This show marks the final PPV appearance for referee Joey Marella, who is the son of Gorilla Monsoon. Marella tragically passed away two weeks later on July 4th when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. Harvey Whippleman was in the car with him and was seriously injured in the crash.

First Round

1) Razor Ramon defeats Bam Bam Bigelow with a reverse slam off the top rope at 8:24

Qualifying Matches:
Razor Ramon defeated Kwang
Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Sparky Plugg

Fun Fact: This is second straight year Razor Ramon is in the opening KOTR match.

Scott: We begin our second annual tournament with a battle of favorites. Razor is coming off the epic ladder match victory over Shawn Michaels, then a loss a month later to Shawn’s bodyguard Diesel. Now he may be moving up in the world with a tournament win and a possible main event slot. Bigelow was top notch in last year’s tournament, getting to the final and losing to Bret Hart in a classic match. This match is ok, with lots of power moves and typical Bigelow deliberate offense. Bigelow gets a Razor in a backbreaker to attempt to finish him off but instead he heads to the top rope to try his moonsault. What he doesn’t see is Razor gets up and goes underneath Bigelow to powerbomb him off the top for the victory. That was a pretty cool ending to a standard match, and Razor moves on to the semifinals, perhaps an early favorite. Grade: **

JT: As we arrive in Baltimore for the second annual King of the Ring, the New Generation of the WWF has officially taken over the company. With Hulk Hogan now just a distant memory, Vince McMahon decided to focus on a new batch of younger stars to lead him into the second half of the decade. And speaking of McMahon, he is out of the booth here for the first time since last year’s tournament as he was currently battling the US Government over steroid distribution. With McMahon out, Gorilla Monsoon is back in and he is joined by Randy Savage and NFL legend Art Donovan. It was a neat idea to have a local legend in the booth and he would certainly add some color to the broadcast. Our opening match features one of the heavy favorites in Razor Ramon taking on the man who nearly won the crown a year ago in Bam Bam Bigelow. After unifying the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania, Ramon surprisingly lost the title to Diesel on Superstars, leaving him naked around the waist as he enters the ring. Bigelow is accompanied by Luna Vachon as always and finally has the Doink nonsense well in his rear view mirror as he looks to get things back on track. Despite the title loss, the Bad Guy was still wildly over with the fans and he has really established himself as a key player in the future of the company. Just like a year ago, Savage was all over the time limits here, issuing a reminder right away. Bammer would deck Razor off the bell as the Bad Guy was distracted by Luna. Bigelow worked swiftly, mixing in some trash talk as he worked Ramon over with a slam, a headbutt and a legdrop. In our first awkward interaction of the night, Savage instructs Art to hold his hand and he will help him get through the night. Bigelow would miss a dive off the top, giving Razor an opening to lay in some right hands. He followed it by crotching Bammer against the ring post and hitting a bulldog off the middle rope for a near fall. I am really digging the pace here as they are squeezing a lot into a short amount of time. Bigelow would try to come back with an enziguri, but Razor ducked it and laid in a stiff clothesline, but momentum swung again as Bammer propelled him over the top on a charge attempt. The crowd really tried to rally Razor as Bigelow laid in more headbutts and finally hit the enziguri for a two count. He would go for the kill by hoisting Razor into a torture rack, a move so vicious that Art wondered if Razor was dead, but alas Ramon held on. He would slip down and take Bigelow over with a back suplex and then pepper the big man with right hands. Razor has gotten damn good at showing babyface fire, especially after an aggressive bodyslam that popped the crowd. Bigelow would block a top rope back suplex attempt with a stiff back elbow and then headed up top for the moonsault, but Razor popped up and powerbombed him down to the mat for the win. That was a really hot finish with a great bump and the crowd loved it. I dug that whole match as it only slowed down once and that was even a well worked and unique spot. These guys has good chemistry for sure. Razor advances and Bigelow heads home. Grade: **1/2

2) IRS defeats Mabel after a missed splash at 5:34

Qualifying Matches:
IRS defeated Scott Steiner
Mabel defeated Pierre

Fun Fact: This is Mabel’s first PPV singles match as Mo was currently out of action due to an injury.

Fun Fact II: Scott Steiner’s qualifying match against IRS would be the final appearance of both Steiner Brothers.

Scott: I didn’t like the prospects of this match one bit. IRS is a top flight worker in the ring, but I couldn’t stand Men on a Mission as a tag team. Now I have to watch the biggest and least talented guy of the bunch wrestle in singles matches? The commentary of this show is absolutely unlistenable. I know Art Donovan is funny and some of the one-liners are quite hilarious but to watch the show from beginning to end it’s terrible. Gorilla eventually starts ignoring him and talks directly to Savage. In Gorilla’s defense, without Vince around the pre-production seems very haphazard. Art keeps asking who people are in mid-match and completely disrupts the commentary flow as they are trying to call the match. The match goes at a snail’s pace as IRS really can’t do much to Mabel in terms of moves so the entire match is choppy and slow. Fortunately we get the right finish when Mabel tries to go to the second rope for something, a splash I guess. IRS shakes the ropes and Mabel falls. IRS just pins him (hooking the second rope with his arm too) and gets the win. That match was utter trash but at least the right person advanced to the next round. Grade: *

JT: With his partner on the shelf, Mabel gets a crack at a singles run. It is clear the company saw more in him than Mo, so this was a decent chance at a test run for the big man, if nothing else. IRS is still doing his thing, running down the crowd and Mabel, lobbing his accusations of tax evasion. Since losing to Razor Ramon at the Rumble, he really hasn’t been doing much of note at all. I still can’t believe how much I have enjoyed these MOM entrances since they debuted. The crowds really dig them and the beat is insanely catchy. Even though it seemed like they wanted to push Mabel a bit, the result here seemed pretty straightforward based on Razor advancing earlier. Mabel started hot, running IRS into the corner and then slamming him as Art fretted over the weight differential between the two. Gorilla also showed his age by saying “Oops, there it is!” This may be the most out of touch commentary team in WWF PPV history. Art would then proceed to mistake Oscar for a doctor. After a quiet start, he is really getting heated up. IRS finally found a hole with a flying clothesline. With Mabel down, IRS went on the attack with some elbows but then seemed a bit stuck on how to proceed. His dawdling almost cost him as Mabel somehow hooked an inside cradle for a near fall! IRS caught him after kicking out and locked in a rear chinlock to grind things to a halt. Mabel would eventually fight to his feet and break the hold, followed by a flurry of offense. The big guy has really dominated this one, picking up a couple more near falls along the way. Mabel would slam IRS down hard but took too long posing on the second rope. IRS recovered and shook the ropes, causing Mabel to fall to the mat. Irwin would hook the ropes and cover with the worst looking pin cover in history, as he basically just laid next to him, but it was enough to steal the win. That really wasn’t as bad as you would think, especially considering Mabel took 85% of the offense, but that doesn’t mean it approached any sort of good. It was short enough too, but the finish was pretty weak and honestly this is one case where a countout or something would have been welcome. IRS moves ahead to a Royal Rumble rematch. Grade: 1/2*

3) Owen Hart defeats Tatanka with a reverse sunset flip at 8:18

Qualifying Matches:
Owen Hart defeated Doink
Tatanka defeated Crush

Fun Fact: This was Tatanka’s first pinfall loss on PPV. His first loss altogether happened on Superstars in October 1993 at the hands of Ludvig Borga.

Fun Fact II: Owen Hart was supposed to face Earthquake in his Qualifying Match, but it was reported Earthquake had been injured by Yokozuna at a house show. Quake would not appear on TV again for a long time, as he would pop in WCW as Avalanche at Halloween Havoc.

Scott: Now this is a quarterfinal match I can get into. Two solid workers who both can be construed as favorites will battle for a slot in the semifinals. It would seem this was tailor made right now for Owen to win this tournament considering the events of WrestleMania, but it is interesting to see the path he takes. Tatanka doesn’t have Owen’s wrestling chops but he does his best to counter the heel pace as best he can. They don’t get a ton of time to tell a story but just enough to keep the Baltimore crowd entertained. The commentary is getting worse, particularly when it sounds like Savage is really trying his hardest to put the matches and the talent over, and Art Donovan is just butting in with nonsense while Gorilla is doing his best to just rattle off the play-by-play like he always did. It’s obvious that Gorilla isn’t connecting to the product like he did in the 80s and even just a couple of years before. It makes this show very hard to listen to and watch. In any event, Owen wins clean when he wraps Tatanka up while reversing a Sunset Flip attempt. Owen moves on to the semifinals in a fun match and expectedly moves on to the next round. Grade: 2.5

JT: After a long undefeated streak that didn’t really go very far as far as title success, he is now starting to live the life as a normal mid card star, meaning he would trade wins for losses on a regular basis. Here he feels like just another guy in many ways, a far cry from a year ago when you wondered how he could be eliminated from the tournament without suffering that loss. He squares off here against the red hot Owen Hart in the opening round. The Rocket is still living the good life after upsetting his brother at WrestleMania and is now obsessed with equaling Bret’s accomplishments, starting with the King of the Ring. It was a good hook for him heading into the tournament and added a nice story to the show. Tatanka went right at Owen, rocking him into the corner and hitting a snap suplex for some near falls. Not sure if this was the intent, but it would make sense that Tatanka was working fast against the time limit after his experience a year ago. As Owen grabbed a side headlock, Art questioned Tatanka’s weight. Just listen to the announcer during his introductions, Arto! Owen tried to grab control but Tatanka kept outworking him at every turn, landing on his feet when Owen chucked him to the floor and then dragging the Rocket outside and hammering away. Owen finally blocked a right hand and shoved the Native American into the post to stop him cold. Owen kept on top of Tatanka, landing his biggest blow with a nice missile dropkick for a two count. Art is really impressed with this one. Gorilla was starting to get into a groove too, breaking down an Owen chinlock in a way that made it seem pretty effective. He would then blow off an Art question as Owen hooked in a sleeper. The Rocket couldn’t find a way to put Tatanka down for three and it was looking like he had run out of time as Tatanka went into his war dance to set up his comeback. As he danced around the ring, Tatanka unloaded with a series of chops and nailed a DDT and a top rope chop for a pair of close near falls. That was followed by a big powerslam but just when it looked like Hart was cooked, he sat down on a sunset flip attempt and cradled Tatanka down for the win. That was another great finish. Tatanka had this thing won, but Owen sneaks out a win, similar to how he did it at Mania, and similar to how his brother would always sneak out wins at the darkest times. This was a perfectly acceptable wrestling match, which I guess you could also say is a bit disappointing in some ways. Owen’s quest rolls on. Grade: **

4) 1-2-3 Kid defeats Jeff Jarrett with a small package at 4:39

Qualifying Matches:
1-2-3 Kid defeated Adam Bomb
Jeff Jarrett defeated Lex Luger

Scott: Our last quarterfinal match pits two guys I wasn’t a fan of at all. The Kid was a solid underdog but I didn’t see his allure even as a mid-card guy. Being an underdog can only take you so far before you’re not taken seriously anymore. I like Jeff Jarrett overall but this original country singer gimmick really did nothing for me. I think it took away from him being a solid worker with a gimmick that didn’t scream “lower mid-card”. The match is super short with a spot-by-spot assembly line, but the worst part is the predictability. We are still clearly in the era of kayfabe, so heels must wrestle babyfaces and since Owen Hart won the previous match, the Kid had to win, and indeed he hooks Jarrett into a small package for the “upset” victory. Jarrett was more deserving of the win because he’s a more bankable guy (even with the crappy gimmick) but we couldn’t have heels facing heels. So Owen Hart takes on the “upset-minded” 1-2-3 Kid, who took a post-match beating from Jarrett, in the semifinals. Grade: **

JT: For the first time in his WWF career, Jeff Jarrett gets a singles match on PPV. Heading into the show he felt like a potential favorite to advance a round or two, but as the dominos fell, it started to seem iffy for Double J. The 1-2-3 Kid has been a nice steadying force in the midcard, growing more and more confidence and seeming like much less of an underdog since a year ago at this time. Art was sure to comment on Jarrett’s strong tan during his entrance and Gorilla followed that by ripping Jarrett for guaranteeing victory. Jarrett looked to make good on that promise as he jumped Kid and viciously sent him careening into the turnbuckles. Kid was able to float over a charge and get a near fall but Jarrett clubbed him right back down. I love Gorilla, but Savage is really holding this announce team together, which shows how far he has come. As Jarrett continued to work over the Kid you could feel his confidence brimming, well at least until Kid dodged a dropkick and got another near fall. Jarrett steadied the ship and hit a suplex but Kid came back with a spin kick and slam. He quickly scurried to the top but came up empty on a senton splash attempt. Kid again came back and again headed up top, but this time Jarrett caught him right a right hand. Kid would avoid a superplex and hit a high cross body for two and suddenly Jarrett was reeling. Kid tried another high risk maneuver, but Jarrett dodged his leaping dropkick and sent him flying into the corner. As a result, Art lets us know that Double J is a “cutie”. Jarrett regained his balance and started to work the leg but as he went for the figure four, Kid reached up and cradled him for the upset win. And speaking of upset, a pissed off Jarrett wrecked Kid with three stiff piledrivers after the bell. That was a pretty fun sprint of a match with good heat and Kid’s comebacks were well done. I also enjoyed how Jarrett’s arrogance ebbed and flowed and finally caught up with him. Kid rounds out the semifinals but it is now up in the air whether or not he will make it back out. Grade: **

5) Diesel defeats Bret Hart by disqualification at 22:51; Bret Hart retains WWF World Title; Diesel’s Intercontinental Title was not on the line

Fun Fact: On the 5/30 Raw, Shawn Michaels, Diesel & Bret Hart all appeared on the King’s Court. Diesel & Michaels jumped the Hitman and laid him out with a Jackknife to set the stage for this match. To help thwart Shawn’s antics at ringside, Bret promised that he would have a family member in his corner at the PPV. Rumors swirled from Stu to Bruce to the British Bulldog. It ended up being quite the surprise, however, as Bret’s former Tag Team partner Jim Neidhart came out to second him during the match. This is Neidhart’s first PPV appearance since the 1992 Royal Rumble.

Fun Fact II: Diesel defeated Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship on April 13 in Rochester, NY. The match would air on the 4/30 Superstars.

Fun Fact III: Bret Hart’s new theme music debuts here. It would be the song he uses for the remainder of his WWF career.

Scott: Our mid-show main event is the first of what will be a four match series between two guys who would be the face of the company for the next couple of years. What normally was just put in to fill a PPV Title match slot became a really fun match between two guys of differing styles. Diesel was an imposing presence but obviously didn’t have the in-ring acumen a guy like Bret Hart has. So on paper you assume this is going to be a dull, sloppy match. Well after some beginning work by Bret, Diesel would begin to work the champion over. The commentary was still abysmal, although “Arto Dono” didn’t butt in as much as the later matches. I still feel like Gorilla is not totally in tune with the guys and the product right now, but he does call this match pretty well. He is also a well documented Bret Hart guy, so he’s personally invested in this one. Now as I’m watching I see a change in this match from a typical formulaic match. It’s Bret that’s dictating, even as a face and Diesel is getting worked over. More than a face champion would normally dictate tempo. Diesel would switch momentum with a knee to the gut and then a cranking of the neck. Jim Neidhart, who made his return in the pink and black, is shadowing Shawn Michaels in the corner outside. Bret then regains the momentum with a sleeperhold. Bret is doing an excellent job of using moves that would paralyze a bigger opponent. Bret takes a good beating from Diesel’s power moves, and the crowd maybe sensed that an upset could have happened at any time. Diesel puts over his cache of power moves, and goes with Bret’s match flow and it really makes what could have been a mess into a really fun championship match. Could Diesel have won? Eh, probably not. He’s already IC Champion and there were more dogs in that fight. At one point Diesel stands over a prone Hitman, and Bret grabs Diesel’s legs and on his back sets up the Sharpshooter. Shawn hits Bret with the title belt with the ref not looking and when Diesel goes for the pin Bret kicks out. Eventually Neidhart just randomly runs in and beats on Diesel, causing Bret’s disqualification. Clearly a very bizarre ending because Neidhart just runs off and doesn’t come back to help out Bret when he’s getting lathered by Michaels and Diesel. The ending is kind of crappy, but there’s a method to that madness later on in the show. Bret retains the title, but loses the battle. Grade: ***

JT: The Era of the Hitman is finally upon us and his first major challenge is against a suddenly hot star on the rise. Just as recently as January, Diesel looked like a bit player for life. A guy that would always be locked in as nothing more than a heavy for smaller competitors. But, something clicked after the Royal Rumble and Big Daddy Cool started to gain some momentum. Things crested after Mania when he upset Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Title on Superstars. With Shawn Michaels taking time off to rest his body, the roles would be reversed and he would be backing up his bodyguard as the big man was lined up for a shot at the big gold. The build was well done as Diesel pasted Hart with a Jackknife on Raw. Knowing that Michaels would be in the corner of his challenger, Hart vowed to have a family member in his corner to help counter the Heartbreak Kid. Rumors brought up some pretty interesting names, but it ended up being the Hitman’s former tag team partner Jim Niedhart, which was a nice surprise and a fine choice for storyline purposes. Diesel was calm and collected as the match got underway and there definitely was some curiosity surrounding the finish of this one. Diesel was red hot and him winning more gold didn’t seem that far fetched. The two men started with trading big blows in the corner, showing the crowd that this would be an aggressive battle. After some hard shots, Diesel would miss a charge and allow Bret to go right to work, cracking him with an elbow and going to work on the lower body. Diesel survived the onslaught and caught Hart with a bodyslam but whiffed an elbow, letting Bret go right back on the attack. As Gorilla made a great point about this being a no-lose situation for Diesel, the big man found an opening abut again his offense was short-lived as he missed another charge. Bret went right back to the legs again, prepping for the Sharpshooter. The crowd popped big as Hart wrenched in a figure four in the dead center of the ring, but thanks to Diesel’s size he was able to reach the ropes for the break. I should also note how active Michaels has been at ringside, jumping like crazy after every big move. Diesel was able to buy some time by kicking Bret to the floor, but the Hitman expertly baited him to the ropes and then yanked him down and rattled his leg into the post. Great psychology. However, Bret got caught with his head down, which allowed Michaels to drill him with a hard clothesline. Neidhart would chase Michaels around but Shawn was too quick and avoided being caught.

Back inside, Diesel’s power finally came into play as he just hoisted Bret into a bear hug and rammed him hard to the corner. He would go back to the bear hug, trying to both wear down Bret while also catching his breath. However, Bret slithered free and knocked Diesel to the floor with a dropkick from behind. The crowd is super into this and I don’t blame them as it has been a lot of fun. Bret would make his first big mistake of the bout when he celebrated for a moment and then came up empty on a slingshot dive to the floor. That allowed Diesel to run him into the post and go right to work on the back again, playing up the injuries from the Raw attack. The challenger was very focused in the attack, really wearing the champ down, staying as targeted as possible. With Diesel hoisting Bret into a hanging backbreaker, Michaels snuck up and stripped off the turnbuckle pad as the referee was tied up with Neidhart. Bret would escape and slide onto Diesel’s back, hooking on a sleeper, but the staggered challenger broke the hold. The chicanery would then backfire as Bret rammed Diesel into the exposed buckle and then started to slug away with big right hands, rocking the big man. This feels like a big time fight, just as Savage said. Bret started into his standard attack and finally went for the Sharpshooter after a bulldog from the middle rope. Before he could hook it, Michaels hopped on the apron, but Hart sent him flying back into the guardrail. Hart would grab near falls on a clothesline out of the corner and a small package and it was clear that Diesel was really out on his feet. Bret wriggled free from a Snake Eyes attempt but ate a boot a moment later and it was time to wonder if the Hitman missed his opening as Diesel now had his wind back. However, the challenger made a rookie mistake, posing over the Hitman, who used his positioning to take Diesel down and hook the Sharpshooter. After a rope break, Bret knocked Diesel back to the floor, but with Earl Hebner yelling at him, Michaels snuck in from behind and decked Hart with the title. Bret kicked out of that and looked done after a Jackknife, but Neidhart hit the ring and clotheslined Diesel to draw the DQ and save Hart’s title. Well, it tough to take that finish after such a fun match but it was their best out. Diesel was so hot, you couldn’t beat him and the belt needed to stay on Hart. Plus, there will be more to this than meets the eye. And that starts right away as Neidhart storms off angrily while Michaels and Diesel pummeled Bret in the ring. That was a fantastic match from start to finish, with really smart work, great selling, well timed comebacks and a rocking crowd. Michaels and Neidhart were good additions at ringside and Savage and Gorilla were tremendous in calling it. Diesel really showed he could go if he had the right guy out there with him and these two clicked immediately. Bret takes the loss and a beating, but he still has his gold. Grade: ***1/2

Semifinals

6) Razor Ramon defeats IRS with the Razor’s Edge at 5:11

Scott: We head back into the tournament for our first semifinal match. If it was the feeling that Owen Hart was going to win this, then it was quite predictable for Razor to win this Royal Rumble rematch. After the drawn out, protracted story of Bret/Diesel this match wasn’t going to be very long and sure enough Razor takes less time to take IRS out than in their first encounter in January. I also love how whenever they go in back for a Todd Pettingill interview, Todd acknowledges Savage and Gorilla, but not poor Arto Dono. Incidentally this show can be called the “reverse chinlock” PPV, as there’s seemingly two or three moments per match where one is being executed. Razor gets the win and moves on to the final. Grade: **

JT: And we are in to the semifinals now as Razor Ramon struts to the ring, ready to face his arch rival IRS for a chance to advance to the finals. IRS took control right away, hammering Razor in the corner and taking him down with a backbreaker. He would try a charge but Razor ducked and Irwin flew over the top rope and to the floor. Ramon followed him out and spiked him into the steps. As useless as Art has been, he has helped put over the big spots by yelling wildly in excitement and/or shock when they happen. IRS would take back over in the ring, landing a back elbow and hooking in a reverse chinlock. As the hold wore on, the announcers debated whether or not 1-2-3 Kid would show up for his match and Art was adamant that he wouldn’t. Razor fought through the hold and made a quick comeback, tossing IRS around the ring by his tie. Irwin came back with a clothesline, but Ramon battled back and hit a quick Razor’s Edge to win the match and reach the finals. Totally paint by numbers here and about as bland as you can be. Grade: *

*** Backstage, Bret Hart angrily searches from Jim Neidhart but can’t locate him. Elsewhere, Todd Pettengil lets us know he cannot locate the 1-2-3 Kid for a prematch interview. ***

7) Owen Hart defeats 1-2-3 Kid with the Sharpshooter in 3:34

Scott: The storyline here is whether the Kid can come back from the beatdown he suffered at the hands of Jeff Jarrett after his win in the previous round. Sure enough he comes out very slowly and Owen attacks him quickly with a baseball slide to the floor. They spend the next scant few minutes throwing spots at each other, and immediately you think they should have been given at least another three minutes to really tell a decent story. Instead Kid hits spots to give the fans hope but Owen kicks out of a last second roll up and steals his brother’s finisher, the Sharpshooter, to get the victory and move on to face Razor Ramon in the finals. Too short to really grade it one way or another, but with some more time it could have been a show stealer. Grade: **

JT: As Owen Hart made his way out, questions continued to swirl whether the Kid would make it out to the ring after the beating Jarrett gave him earlier. Art outdoes himself by asking how much Owen weighs even though we already saw him and discussed weights earlier. After a long delay, the Kid does indeed emerged, limping and looking a bit disoriented. Owen showed that he was not fucking around at all here as he wrecks Kid with a baseball slide dropkick before he can even get in the ring. He followed that with a dive into him and then pitched him back inside for a near fall after a splash off the top. Kid reversed a whip and tried actually hit a moonsault but Owen slipped out of the pin. Kid stayed hot, peppering the shocked Owen with kicks but a Hart enziguri ended the good feelings. Kid came back again and got a Nothern Lights suplex into a bridge for a super close near fall that was broken by Owen getting his foot in the ropes. Hart would bail to the floor but Kid slammed into him with a somersault senton. Back inside, Owen blocked a spin kick with a German suplex, followed by a belly-to-belly. Kid continued to push the pace but he was cut short by a powerbomb. Owen followed with the Sharpshooter and that was all she wrote. What a match. They only had three and a half minutes but they never stopped at all. That is a spring. Kid was game and had a great showing in there but Owen was a step ahead and averted a bad loss to move one step closer to his goal. Grade: ***

8) Headshrinkers defeat Crush & Yokozuna to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Samu pins Crush with a superkick at 9:30

Fun Fact I: The Headshrinkers defeated the Quebecers for the titles on the May 2 episode of Raw. The Quebecers then disappeared, only to show back up for one last rematch with the Samoans on the KOTR “Countdown to the Coronation” show on June 12th. The Shrinkers had turned face right after WrestleMania and took on Capt. Lou Albano as a co-manager in another nice bit of continuity, as Albano had managed the original Wild Samoans to the tag titles in the 80s.

Fun Fact II: We say farewell to the Quebecers. Their final PPV was at WrestleMania X, but the tag team stayed with the WWF until mid 1994. The team would defeat the tag team champions, the Headshrinkers, at a show in Hull, Quebec on June 24, and 24 hours later would get a title shot in Montreal, which they lost. Following the match, the pair argued about the loss and Pierre turned on Jacques. This would lead to a retirement match for Jacques that would be held on October 21 in Montreal. The Quebecers finish with a 1-2 PPV record with a win at Royal Rumble 1994 and losses at Survivor Series 1993 and WrestleMania X

Scott: With our tournament final set, we have our second title match of the night as the new babyfaces and champions take on Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette’s dangerous combo. Of course the first thing anybody probably said was that Yokozuna was being pushed down the card after losing the WWF Title at WrestleMania. Frankly I still think he’s a top flight heel, but this is a great tag team put together. I was never a fan of babyface Headshrinkers, and on top of it back comes the ancient Captain Lou Albano to glom onto another tag team to pad his stats as manager of 500 tag team champions. It might be my NWA bias in this case because this team was awesome as the Samoan Swat Team. The match is standard tag team fare and when Yoko hit a leg drop on Fatu I thought the titles were about to change hands. However out comes Lex Luger, conspicuous by his absence on this show, to distract the evil foreigners and leading to the Headshrinkers retaining their championships. I was honestly expecting a change here and that Yoko would have gold around his waist again. Maybe he was being shunted down the card and that’s a shame. Perhaps he should have got his rematch with Bret Hart here in some kind of stipulation match and Bret could have ended the feud for good. Two final things come from this: Luger’s absence from the card, and NEVER do I want to see Lou Albano dressed like an Islander, complete with skirt. Grade: **

JT: We have had quite the change in the tag division since our last PPV outing. Over the spring, the Quebecers were sad toppled and they subsequently would leave the promotion, shattering my heart in the process. The Headshrinkers were the team that took the gold and they turned face in the process, picking up legendary manager Capt. Lou Albano along the way. Albano had been scouting teams (or in my eyes, seeing who he could glom on to for another title line on his resume) and helped his former charge Afa guide the savages to the straps. Their challengers here is the tandem of Yokozuna and Crush, two stablemates led by Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji. Yoko is out of the WWF Title picture for the first time since he debuted and this was a solid enough slot to drop him into. The Headshrinkers did get popular pretty quickly and they certainly deserved a run with the gold, as they worked a fun style and had been entertaining us with hard hitting squashes since their debut. Crush had some pretty sharp looking tights here with the red dominating the fabric. All four men brawled early and we got some headbutt battles hat eventually drove Yoko and Crush to the floor. Things settled back down with Samu taking the fight to Yoko. He would try a slam, that didn’t quite work, but Samu kept bringing the fight until knocking Yoko to the floor once again. The match would reset with Fatu and Crush squaring off, but again Crush targeted the head, which backfired, leading to a Fatu piledriver. The Samoan followed with a headbutt off the middle rope but the tide swung when Fuji smacked him with his flag. Man, if you add Frenchy Martin to the mix of Fuji and Albano at ringside, I may just turn the TV off and call it a day. Art marveled at Yoko’s size as he tagged in and crushed Fatu with a legdrop. The challengers started to take their time, tagging in and out and laying in power moves to keep Fatu grounded. Fatu would slip free of Crush and finally make the hot tag, leading to a big Samu clothesline that actually put Yoko on his back. A brawl would ensue with both Shrinkers sending Yoko to the floor with superkicks. Things fell apart when Yoko ran Fatu into the ring post, causing Samu to lose his balance and crotch himself on the top. Crush took him over with a superplex and Yoko followed with a legdrop but before Crush could cover, Lex Luger showed up and started to jaw with the bug Hawaiian. Luger had been feuding with Crush and it was Crush that caused him to lose his KOTR qualifying match. While Crush was distracted and the crowd chanted “USA”, Fatu caught Crush with a superkick to win the match. After the bell, Crush and Luger tussled, leading to a big brawl in the ring. This was a decent enough brawl with a few power nice spots and some good double team offense from both sides. The Shrinkers really had the crowd behind them here too, which was good to see. The Luger/Crush war wages on while Yoko now has to regroup and move on to something else. The Samoans keep their hold on the gold. Grade: **

Finals

9) Owen Hart defeats Razor Ramon with a top rope elbowdrop at 6:34

Scott: Even though kayfabe ruled, this was a great finals match to put together. One year earlier the workers were reversed, as it seems like so long ago that Razor attacked Owen during an interview before the 1993 Royal Rumble when Razor faced Bret for the World Title. Here things are very different. Both men wear close to the same color as Razor continues to rock the odd lavender tights/boots combo. By this time Gorilla is totally ignoring Donovan, making poor Randy Savage to not be the asshole by letting Arto Dono to twist in the wind. For the first of two straight PPVs, the penultimate match on the card probably should have been the main event, regardless if a face or heel wins. This match is cruelly short and once again didn’t get a chance to really tell a story. The match wasn’t bad, and then we see the logic of what Jim Neidhart did earlier in the show by getting Bret Hart disqualified in their championship match. He comes out and helps Owen Hart defeat the Bad Guy and become the second King of the Ring. So Neidhart wanted to make sure Bret remained WWF Champion so little brother Owen can get his opportunity. Owen is awesome in the post-match coronation, yelling at Pettingill to get on his knees while he puts his robe and crown on his head. Razor really didn’t need this tournament win anyway so having him in was really just to legitimize Owen as a top flight guy. Owen taking the moniker “King of Harts” is classic and he will ride it for the next couple of years. The match is good, not great, but the choice for King is perfect. Grade: **1/2

JT: And here we are, time for the finals, time to determine the second official PPV King of the Ring winner. Can The Bad Guy bounce back from his tough spring? Or can Owen fulfill his goal and match the accomplishments of his brother? The two locked up off the bell with Razor landing the first blow with a right hand. Ramon kept the pressure on, dominating the action. He swatted an Owen dropkick and hit a slingshot into the corner for a near fall. He continued to work Owen over, mixing in near falls while also wearing down Hart with a side headlock. Owen broke free and landed a pair of uppercuts before hooking in a robe aided abdominal stretch. Razor eventually worked out of it and countered a hip toss with a chokeslam for a near fall. He followed that with a fallaway slam but Owen used his agility to flip free and hit a Russian leg sweep. Owen would get caught up top and Razor took him over with a back superplex. As he teased the Razor’s Edge, Owen blocked it and backflipped him to the floor. With Owen tying up the referee, Jim Neidhart came out, feigned checking on Ramon and then planted him with a stiff clothesline. He would chuck Razor into the post and pitch him into the ring, allowing Owen to hit an elbow drop from the top for the win and the crown. After the match, Owen and Neidhart wiped out Ramon, planting him with a Hart Attack. That was some tremendous story weaving, as Anvil had been tied in with Owen the whole time. Razor was game and had this thing in control, but Owen fittingly steals the win and has achieved his goal of matching another notch from his brother’s legacy. The coronation was really good too and the King gimmick was made for a sniveling heel like Owen, who would know be known as the King of Harts. Tack on an angry Macho Man ranting in the booth while simultaneously freezing out Arto, and we cap off a really fun tournament in style. Grade: **

*** Owen Hart is crowned King in a coronation on the podium with Jack Tunney and Todd Pettengil hosting the ceremony. Hart refuses to let Tunney present the cape and crown, instead demanding that his buddy and family member Neidhart do so. Owen would then coin himself the “King of Harts” as Savage wonders if Neidhart and Owen set Bret up, having Neidhart ensure Bret kept the title so Owen could win it from him. Time will tell. ***

10) Roddy Piper defeats Jerry Lawler with a Roll Up at 12:14

Fun Fact I: This build for this match began at WrestleMania X where Piper served as the guest referee in the WWF championship match and Lawler was on commentary. Following WrestleMania, Piper began an interview segment on WWF TV called The Bottom Line, similar in nature to Lawler’s King’s Court. Lawler took offense to this new segment and began ridiculing Piper whenever on TV. On the June 6th episode of RAW, Lawler brought out a scrawny kid dressed like Piper to the King’s Court. During the segment, the kid did a dead-on impersonation of Piper, where he begged the King not to fight him in the ring and the drop the match. The segment ended with the kid getting down on his knees and kissing Lawler’s feet. Heading into the match, Piper stated he would donate his end of the purse to a Toronto hospital for sick children. In true heel fashion, Lawler made it his goal to win and prevent the money from being donated.

Fun Fact II: This is Roddy Piper’s first PPV match since losing the Intercontinental Title to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania VIII. This is also the first time since the first Wrestlemania that Piper is led to the ring with a real band of bagpipe players.

Scott: Like I said a moment ago, the PPV should have ended with Owen’s coronation and we are out. Sadly, we aren’t. Why this feud was even thought of I can’t understand. Then again Jerry Jarrett was running things while Vince McMahon was on trial, so I can understand. This is a typical Jerry Lawler feud during a good hunk of his days in Memphis. Not that Lawler was a bad wrestler but he was way past his prime here and although Piper was in pretty good shape he hadn’t really wrestled in over two years. The buildup was pretty much Lawler on his “King’s Court” segments ripping Piper with an impersonator, and Piper cutting promos from his home in Canada. They meet here and as expected the prematch is Lawler on the mike degrading the Baltimore crowd and Piper. Then Hot Rod comes in and this match is twelve and a half minutes of punches, eye pokes and walking around. This should never have been put in the main event slot. I love both these guys, but at this stage this has no juice whatsoever. I have no issues with this feud being put together if they really wanted to use Piper in any kind of role but it could have easily been in the middle of the show. I believe if Vince was here, Owen’s coronation would have ended the show. This match is a boring mess with not much in the way of action in the ring and the crowd (which loves Piper) is keeping the minimal energy up for that reason. In the climax, Lawler hits the piledriver but Piper kicks out. I don’t think Piper would have come back to job to a part time wrestler. The two men continue to throw punches at each other, and then a ref bump. Because that’s exactly what this match needed was a ref bump. Sure Lawler used a foreign object but he could have done that without a ref bump to stretch this match out further than it needed to be. He goes for the pin with his feet on the ropes but the Piper impersonator pushes Lawler’s feet off the ropes. Piper hits a sloppy back suplex and an even sloppier pin attempt while the referee takes what seems like an hour counting to three. The match is an utter mess and although it has a happy ending, did not need to finish this show. Grade: *

JT: After a hot show with a well built tournament and a damn good WWF Title match that were built on the backs of the New Generation, we hit our Main Event featuring a pair of stars from the past. I don’t disagree with running this match on this show, but looking at the card and the future of the company, slotting this in the middle of the show may have made more sense. The build was decent enough and featured lots of talking from both men, with much of Piper’s being done from random trailers and movie sets. There was some pretty good heat on Lawler, as he wanted to make sure no money goes to the sick kids’ hospital, something Piper had vowed to do with his winnings. Lawler also featured and humiliated a young Hot Rod impersonator on an edition of the King’s Court. Piper, who escorted by a live pipe and drum band, would bring the kid out with him here, landing a perceived mental blow to the King. Piper did look pretty great here and you know King could always work a match regardless of age, so as the bell rung there was some optimism that they could pull out a decent match to close the show. Piper was all over the King to start, choking him with his kilt and chucking him around the ring. Lawler would escape and head down the aisle, but Piper dragged him back and allowed his little buddy to poke the King in the eye. Piper didn’t let up and as the minutes ticked away, Lawler still had zero offense to his credit. After a fun, nostalgia fueled start, things tapered off a bit and started to feel a bit like overkill as Piper just kept ducking, diving and punishing Lawler, who spent more time attacking the kid than the Hot Rod. I guess it was his gameplan though, as he finally caught Piper with some kicks when he tried to defend his doppelgänger. Lawler emptied his usual offensive bag of tricks, slowly picking Piper apart as the crowd started to fade a bit for the first time on the night. The King would hook a sleeper and Piper buckled down over the course of a minute or so. Lawler would release the hold and bury Piper with a piledriver, but the Hot Rod slipped out at two. Piper started to make his comeback by punching his way back into it and then riding Lawler down with a pair of bulldogs. A ref bump later, Lawler went to his tights and popped Piper with a foreign object, but the kid again got involved and helped save Piper from the loss. As Lawler jawed with him, Piper took Lawler over with a back suplex and got a weak pinfall for the win. Piper looked very gassed by the end of that one, but you can’t blame him. This was exactly what you would expect it to be. I just can’t be sure it happened at the right time when you consider the direction of the promotion. It was certainly a flat ending to what had been a very hot show. Piper would say farewell again, but will return soon enough. The King just keeps doing King things. Grade: 1/2*

Final Analysis

Scott: This is an interesting show to grade because there are a few positives but there’s also negatives that can’t be ignored. Owen Hart’s tournament victory was expected but still deserved and his speech with Pettingill having to kneel in front of him was tremendous. The big shocker was this WWF Title match between two very different workers that turned out to be such a fun match. Bret Hart made Diesel look like a million bucks and Diesel to his credit adapted and rolled with the punches. There are plenty of negatives, such as the abhorrent commentary and the fact that a Mr. Perfect/Lex Luger feud that started at WrestleMania didn’t happen and Luger wasn’t even on the show. Lou Albano and a babyface Headshrinkers was disappointing and the main event was a terrible booking decision that should not have ended the show. So you can highlight the positives and give this show a B+ or highlight the negatives and give it a D. We will grade this one right down the middle and prepare for a hot summer of Bret/Owen and the return of a superstar. Final Grade: C+

JT: I really enjoyed reliving this show. The tournament was really well booked, with a few different threads weaving throughout it. There were no long matches like last year, but that was probably for the best at times. Still, we had a really classic sprint in Owen/Kid and a fun big battle in the opener. The World Title match was a great piece of business that featured really good wrestling and some fun storyline stuff too. The ongoing Hart Family saga wove right through this show and it was very well executed. The tag match was fine as well. I really dug the crowd here, as they were hot for just about everything. The commentary was also pretty good, for multiple reasons of course. I thought this was one of Randy Savage’s best outings and he completely carried the team. You can tell the time he spent with Jim Ross had paid off. Gorilla was fine at times, if not a bit dated. And Art Donovan is Art Donovan. He was a mess at times but added a lot of laughs to the show. There really isn’t much more to say about the main event, but again, it would have been better served to have taken place in the middle of the show and let Owen close things out with his fantastic coronation ceremony. The King of Harts has been crowned and the Hart Family war rages on! Final Grade: B-