*** 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 1995: Hear Thee…Hear Thee…
June 25, 1995
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Dok Hendrix
Savio Vega defeats IRS in 3:58 in a Qualifying Match
Fun Fact: This is the first WWF PPV without a championship match of any kind on the card since Survivor Series 1990.
Pay Per View
1) Savio Vega defeats Yokozuna by countout at 7:35
Qualifying Matches: Savio Vega defeated IRS; Yokozuna defeated Lex Luger
Fun Fact: After helping come to the aid of Razor Ramon at In Your House, and wrestling a couple of tag matches with Razor, Savio Vega’s first solo match was on the 5/28 Action Zone, defeating Eli Blu.
Fun Fact II: The winner of the IRS/Savio Vega match is taking Razor Ramon’s spot in the tournament. Ramon was injured at a house show on June 9 in a ladder match with Jeff Jarrett. Ramon acts as Savio’s manager throughout the night.
Fun Fact III: British Bulldog and Owen Hart had a qualifying match on Raw that went to a draw. So, on the 6/12 Raw, Lex Luger and Yokozuna got a chance to fill the last KOTR slot. Just before the finish, Yoko attacked Luger’s guest flag bearer on the floor. Lex came to his rescue and ended up getting counted out. Luger’s flag bearer that night was actually Scotty Anton, who would be better known as Scotty Riggs in WCW.
Scott: So we begin this very…interesting evening of wrestling with the underdog against a prohibitive favorite. Razor Ramon is out of this tournament with a rib injury, so that’s one guy that could easily have won this tournament and the crowd would have been thrilled. On the heel side, perhaps to rebuild him after losing the WWF Title at last year’s WrestleMania and then being shoved in the casket at Survivor Series, is Yokozuna. He is one half of the Tag Team Champions with Owen Hart but clearly he’s a guy that could possibly give Diesel a run for his money in a World Title feud. Besides, Savio had debuted on TV the previous month at In Your House helping Razor Ramon from a Jeff Jarrett/Roadie beatdown. Owen Hart is backstage on the hotline doing PBP for the match. I think I’d have rather listened to him than Vince, who will struggle putting this over more and more as the evening progresses. The match is standard, with Yokozuna taking a lot of punishment from a rookie who had just wrestled about five minutes earlier. Savio Vega wins the match in an upset, and I’m slightly stunned. Another prohibitive favorite is out. Now if you didn’t have Yoko winning this, and Owen is sitting out the show backstage in a tuxedo, why not have a tag team title match? As we see there’s no other title matches scheduled, which is rare for PPV at this time in history. This seems like some kind of a reach to have a guy no one is invested in yet to begin some epic underdog run to the KOTR Title. Sadly, this won’t be the only head scratching result of this tournament. Grade: **
JT: As we head into the summer, it is time for our third annual King of the Ring tournament. For the first time in the brief history of the event we have no title matches on the card and just two bouts outside of the tournament. Looking at the card on paper, it seemed like the tournament would get a lot of time and be the heavy focus with some big matches. We shall see if that plays out. Opening the show, we have the PPV in ring debut of Savio Vega. Vega had debuted last month at In Your House #1, saving Razor Ramon from a post match attack by Jeff Jarrett and the Roadie. Vega was simply supposed to be backing up his buddy on this show, but Ramon went down with an injury and Vega stepped into his slot. Well, sort of. First he had to qualify, which he did by beating IRS on the pre-show. He faces tag team champion Yokozuna here. Yoko had qualified by beating his old nemesis Lex Luger on Raw, leaving Lex off KOTR for the second straight year. In a nice touch, Vince McMahon notes that Ramon was cleared for competition but not tournament action, so he was forced to sit. Also, I love that Dok Hendrix is back for a second straight show. Right away he points out that Vega would have to win four matches in less that three hours to win the crown and puts those odds at unlikely. Vega had some good presence and energy and did connect with the fans right away, so he is off to a strong start in his WWF career. Yoko’s size was too much early and Savio couldn’t avoid it at first, but eventually dodged an elbow. He went for the quick finish but Yoko ducked his spin kick, putting the big man back in control. Yoko would hammer Vega before going to the nerve hold, slowing things way down. As Ramon looked on from ringside, Savio fought out of the hold but Yoko dodged another charge and chucked him over the top rope. As things began to look bleak, Vega avoided a Yoko legdrop and made his big comeback, unloading right hands and clotheslines before finally knocking the big man down with the spin kick. Things would spill to the floor when Owen Hart showed up and clubbed Ramon from behind. Savio and Yoko traded blows out there but Yoko would miss a charge and careen into the post. Vega slid inside and stole the win via countout to advance and keep he underdog story alive. The crowd dug that. The match was fairly interesting, and really it was more about dodging offense than connecting. Both men avoided some big moves but Vega ducked the biggest and got him the victory. Vince compares him to Rocky Balboa as he and Ramon head to the back to prep for round two. Grade: *1/2
2) The Roadie defeats Bob Holly with a boot to the face at 7:31
Qualifying Matches: Roadie defeated Doink; Bob Holly defeated Mantaur
Scott: So the Roadie takes on the forgotten Bob Holly in another quarterfinal. Holly beat Mantaur in the qualifying match. Man, they should have put that beast in this tournament. Just kidding. This actually is a positive because the Roadie needs some in-ring seasoning if they had future plans for him to be a regular superstar. His man Jeff Jarrett, IC Title around his waist, seconds him to the ring. Now here was a case where there wasn’t a need to put Jarrett in the tournament because storyline wise, he’s already a champion so he doesn’t need a crown and cape. I’m fine with that. This is the first time after three years that these quarterfinal matches are just filler to get to the more high profile semifinals and finals. Although I can’t say that it was intentional by Vince and the bookers, maybe just because the roster is so thin. Let’s keep that fact in mind as we’re going through this PPV. The match itself is uneventful but the Roadie holds his own and gets the win. That one’s predictable as no one cares about Bob Holly. Our first two semifinalists are somewhat underwhelming but we have bigger stars later on that will really jazz things up. We hope. Grade: **
JT: For the second straight match, we have a top level competitor at ringside instead of in the tournament. Some really curious decisions out of the gate on this show. I mean, I get that Ramon was hurt, so fine. But having Jarrett not involved was odd too, outside of just wanting to showcase the Roadie a bit, I guess? Bob Holly is back on PPV for the first time since his big tag title win at the Royal Rumble and while I enjoy him, he is really starting to feel goofy with his really long thinning hair and bright orange tights with the big WWF logo plastered on his ass. Holly got a quick flurry of two counts right off the bell, but Roadie kept kicking out until he could escape and regroup with Double J outside. The quick summit didn’t help at all as Holly kept the aggression up, whipping Roadie around the ring and constantly going for covers, which was really strong psychology. Roadie finally caught a break when he blocked a hurricanrana attempt with a powerbomb, rattling Holly’s bones. Roadie would start to work on the back, whipping Holly hard to the corner and clubbing away before hooking a chinlock with his knee buried into the spine. Roadie would release the hold and dance a bit, which led to some chastising by Dok. In fact, he flat out said Holly would come back to win because he is resourceful and Roadie wasn’t taking advantage of his chances. Roadie would load Holly up for the piledriver, but Holly backdropped out of it. A dropkick later and Holly was suddenly in control. He followed with a powerslam for a near fall and then headed to the top rope. However, as he came off, Roadie got his boot up and smashed Holly in the face. He rolled over and covered and got the win, but for some reason Holly kicked up at two but the referee didn’t catch it. No idea if that was planned or not, but it was weird. There was some good energy here, mainly thanks to Holly’s aggression and selling. Roadie was fine too, but Holly really kept things moving. Roadie moves on to face Savio Vega, meaning we are guaranteed at least one big time underdog in the finals. Grade: **
3) Kama and Shawn Michaels wrestle to a draw at 15:00
Qualifying Matches: Kama beat Duke Droese; Shawn Michaels beat King Kong Bundy
Fun Fact: This is Shawn Michaels’ only KOTR tournament match ever. Michaels made his return to the ring on the 5/22 Raw in his KOTR Qualifier against King Kong Bundy. Upon his return, he was now set up as a face. This is his first PPV match as a face since Survivor Series 1991.
Fun Fact II: Charles Wright’s wrestling career began in Memphis in 1989 with Jerry Lawler in the USWA as The Soultaker, which was a character derived from one of the tattoos he had on his arm. Despite being new to the business and having a limited move set, Wright won the USWA World Heavyweight championship in October of his first year in the business, a reign that would last about two weeks. After some time in New Japan in 1990, Wright signed with the WWF at the suggestion of his friend, The Undertaker. In 1992 he was packaged as a voodoo practicing character, Papa Shango. Shango was pushed to main event status almost immediately, getting involved in the main event feud between Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice and later in a feud with the Ultimate Warrior. Fans didn’t gravitate to the character and Papa Shango was named the Most Embarrassing Wrestler and the Worst Gimmick in the 1992 Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards. For most of 1993, Wright spent time in the USWA as Shango, even picking up the USWA Heavyweight Championship for a second time. Towards the end of 1994, vignettes began airing touting the debut of a “Supreme Fighting Machine.” Wright was repacked as Kama and made his in ring debut on the 1/28 Superstars when he defeated Matt Hardy.
Scott: Now we are getting down to business. Newly minted babyface Shawn Michaels comes out to a raucous ovation and right now it seems pretty evident that (looking at the rest of the brackets) he is the favorite to win the tournament. Historically when someone makes a big turn (either way), they are highlighted at the next big event. Kama is one of DiBiase’s guys, in the midst of the dreadful “Stealing Undertaker’s Urn” storyline that’s pretty much hit the two-year mark. Kama dominates the match early with power moves and Shawn is selling as best as he can. Shawn Michaels is showing a different look for a babyface. He’s unshaven, and he’s got this unusual swagger, still heelish, but getting big pops from the crowd. Perhaps Michaels has tapped into something different in the way a babyface character is built. He actually was clean shaven during the end of his heel run and now looks more heelish with the stubble. Anyway off the facial hair tangent. The match has been fairly one sided throughout the majority of the match, perhaps still selling the beating Sid gave him after WrestleMania. Vince and Dok are talking the match up as if Shawn is going to make a big comeback. Then, the dreaded topic that comes up during commentary. Whenever a match has a time limit, and KOTR matches always do, commentators will start talking about how much time is left in the match. Whenever they start counting down the clock, that usually means a time-limit draw is in our future. That can’t possibly happen here, as Michaels should be winning this match and moving on to the next round. Sure enough when the ring announcer says there are two minutes, left he starts making a big comeback and I’m feeling confident that he will win and we move on. The only way I could see Michaels losing is if Kama wins through nefarious means and faces Undertaker in the next round to keep that storyline going. Kama keeps kicking out of Shawn’s pin attempts and the ring announcer is counting down from 20 seconds and eventually…the time ran out. We have a time limit draw. So does that mean we have overtime? No, both men are eliminated. What the hell? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So another favorite to win is eliminated and the winner of the next match moves on the finals without wrestling a semifinal. I’m completely perplexed at what is going on here. The next match may make clearer sense involving another big favorite to win. This match was fun but the result is stunning. Grade: **1/2
JT: Up next we are set for the first Shawn Michaels face match since Survivor Series 1991. It has been a while. Across the ring from him is Kama, who has been around for a bit but is competing in his first PPV match. We did see him at WrestleMania, where he stole the Undertaker’s urn and eventually melted it down into a chain. He also ditched the Hanes t-shirt that he wore under his tights early on. In a weird piece of foreshadowing, Michaels stops by the coronation stage to visit pitchman Barry Didinski. He would try the crown on, but it was too big for his head. Big time red flag there for the man many assumed was the favorite to win the tournament. I dug his black tights here as they offset his kind of lame red tinted sunglasses and awful hat. He is also rocking a five o’clock shadow for the first time too, which I guess is a little odd to grow for a face turn and not vice versa. Michaels was fast and crisp right away, avoiding Kama’s attack and landing a few shots in where he could. The Philly fans were super into Michaels here, cheering every bit of offense through the opening minutes. The tide turned when Kama dumped Michaels to the floor and then followed him out and rammed him into the post. As Kama worked the rehabbed back of Shawn in the ring, we got a glimpse of Smokin’ Joe Frazier at ringside. One of the many “luminaries” that Vince mentioned were in the house. Kama pounded the back with precise, stiff strikes and also kicked away when he could as well. With Michaels in pain, Kama went for the kill by hoisting him up into an old school hanging backbreaker. Michaels wriggled free and picked up a new fall but Kama went right back on the assault, whipping Shawn hard into the corner, causing him to flip out to the floor. DiBiase would lay in some kicks but Shawn barely beat the count to keep the match alive. Back inside, Kama rocked Michaels with three backbreakers and then pressed him over his knee in a submission hold. Kama started to get a little cocky and blindly charged into the corner, but Michaels rocked him with a boot. As Michaels started to make a strong comeback, the announcer let everyone know there were just two minutes remaining. After cracking Kama with a flying forearm, Michaels hammered away with right hands and hit an axehandle smash off the top for a near fall. As the clock ticked under :40, Kama rolled through a cross body and almost stole the match. Shawn would grab a near fall with a small package but just as Shawn hooked a sunset flip, time expired and both men were eliminated. And that was a kick to the nuts for the crowd. Everyone was frothing for a Michaels tournament win on this night, and out he goes in round one. Tough decision there. Michaels would hit the superkick after the match, but the finish here stung. And stunk. The match itself was fine enough, with good focused work by Kama, but after a while you could tell where it was headed, especially when they started flashing the clock. And all of a sudden things were looking very barren for the rest of the night. Grade: **1/2
*** As Vince McMahon and Dok Hendrix talk at ringside, two young fans are decked out in King of the Ring shirts and hats and are carrying a “Philly + WWF = Winning Tag Team” sign. Plant? We also see footage of Bob Backlund campaigning around Philadelphia. Shortly after his WrestleMania loss, Backlund announced that he would be running for President of the United States. ***
4) Mabel defeats the Undertaker with a leg drop after Kama interferes at 10:44
Qualifying Matches: Mabel beat Adam Bomb; Undertaker beat Jeff Jarrett
Fun Fact: As with Shawn Michaels, this was the only time Undertaker participated in the actual KOTR Tournament. It is also his first KOTR appearance. In 1993 he was out selling the injuries he received from Mr. Hughes, and in 1994 he was on sabbatical.
Scott: This match should be an even stronger foregone conclusion than the previous one. I guess I could understand not having a Shawn Michaels/Undertaker semifinal, but hell why not? Oh because face/face matchups weren’t on anybody’s radar in 1995. Undertaker winning KOTR would be a nice reward for this trash storyline with the Corporation he’s had to live through. I mean, Mabel is a mid-card tag team guy. Sure, he and Mo turned heel but please, that’s not on the level of Shawn Michaels turning babyface. Then again, you look at the layout of these brackets and nothing is making sense. Undertaker advances and faces either Roadie or Savio Vega? Ok I can see him facing Roadie and having to deal with a boatload of Jeff Jarrett/Corporation interference and still come out on top. The draw between Kama and Michaels still is puzzling me because even if Shawn lost by countout or DQ or maybe gets pinned due to outside interference, Taker wins here and then has an obvious storyline match with Kama, who’s got the urn around his neck as a chain. While this match is going on (including a long Mabel chin lock) there’s a guy with a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat in the front row. Man that guy looks familiar, along with some of the other guys sitting around him. Where have I seen him before? I’ll remember it at some point later in this review. Just like the previous match, Mabel is dictating the pace, which is very, very, very slow. This seems to be setting up for Taker to make a huge comeback and win the match. Maybe we will have Roadie/Taker in the finals. Sure it’s a little strange but hell most of 1995 has been a little strange. Kama comes out and interferes, leading to a….Mabel win? A MABEL WIN? Wait a minute, so Mabel is in the finals? The crowd in Philadelphia is stunned, and frankly a little irritated. All the favorites, the ones actually deserving of winning this thing are out. No Razor, no Owen, no Michaels and no Undertaker. Where the hell is Lex Luger? Or British Bulldog? Either of the Bushwhackers for Pete Sakes. There are so many more deserving candidates of this honor then what we are seeing here. So Mabel sits for an extra round to face the Savio/Roadie winner. This tournament officially hit the toilet, and the Philly fans just flushed it. Grade: *
JT: And with our previous finish, this opening round match all of a sudden becomes a semifinal encounter. The surprising push of Mabel continues here and if he wants it to move further, he has quite the challenge ahead of him. The Undertaker is competing at his first KOTR and as such, is involved in the tournament for the first time. At this point, he is the massive, overwhelming favorite when you analyze the remaining field. If Mabel were to pull the upset, he would then become the favorite as well. And you could feel the angst amongst all the fans in the Spectrum. And I was definitely feeling it watching at home. As Undertaker’s chill enveloped the arena and the wind blew and echoed out, the fans went crazy, hoping that the Deadman would be their savior on this night. Taker took the fight right at Mabel, rocking the big man with clotheslines, finally taking him off his feet with third one. I will say this match is aesthetically pleasing with all the black and purple on both guys. Mabel would drive Taker to the mat with a slam and clothesline the Deadman to the floor, but Taker landed on his feet and came right back. However, as he was getting back into the ring, Mabel tripped him up and he got his foot locked between the ropes, giving the big man a chance to hammer him unabated. Back inside, Mabel hit a pretty nice belly-to-belly and then put all his weigh on Taker’s back with a seated rear chinlock. That had to hurt. Things would spill outside, where Mabel ran Taker into the steps. Mabel continued to work the back, standing on it and then shooting Taker hard to the corner. He followed with a suplex but Taker snuck out the back door. Mabel would try to put the finishing touches on Taker with a big charge to the corner, but Taker got his boot up and stopped the big man in his tracks. For some reason, Taker went for a backdrop, but Mabel blocked it and rocked him with a really nice piledriver. That one shocked me. Taker survived and a moment later the two collided in the ring. Taker rallied and slammed into Mabel with a leaping clothesline in the corner but Mabel would reverse an Irish whip, sending the Deadman right in the official, knocking him out. Taker would hit a flying clothesline and chokeslam, but the ref was still down. As Taker covered, Kama snuck in and kicked Taker in the head. Mabel would land a big legdrop as the referee came to…and won the match. Mabel pinned the Undertaker. And Philadelphia wept. What a massive upset and the final three KOTR competitors inspire very low levels of confidence. The match itself was actually OK, with Mabel’s piledriver as the spot of the bout. Mabel looked fine out there, but nobody was ready for this push at all. Especially when you consider who was on top of the mountain. Taker’s feud with Kama rages on and Mabel inexplicably moves ahead. Grade: *1/2
*** We review footage of the WWF Hall of Fame ceremony from the previous evening. The 1995 inductees were Antonino Rocca, Ernie Ladd, George Steele, Ivan Putski, Fabulous Moolah, Grand Wizard and Pedro Morales. ***
5) Savio Vega defeats the Roadie with a roll-up at 6:22
Scott: So, um…here we are. The winner of this match makes the finals of the tournament against Mabel. One month ago we had no idea who Savio Vega was, and now he’s wrestling his third match of the night. This isn’t exactly Randy Savage at WrestleMania IV, as the crowd really couldn’t care less. I’m not sure what we are going to get in this match since the fans haven’t seen either guy that much. This match feels like something you’d watch on Superstars. Having Razor Ramon at ringside is doing nothing for the fans, or this match. You can really hear a pin drop as Roadie is calling himself the “Road Dog”. Hmmmm, interesting. Roadie is trying to antagonize the crowd, and they honestly don’t care. Heel miscommunication leads to Savio Vega winning the match and moving on to the finals against Mabel. I wouldn’t call it an upset per se since Roadie is about as green as he is. Razor Ramon comes in to congratulate his friend and again the crowd doesn’t care. Savio’s music is so loud because there’s no crowd noise to quell it. This PPV was booked during a heavy night of drinking, I’m convinced. The highlight is Dok Hendrix saying Savio steals hubcaps in the South Bronx. Mabel vs. Savio Vega for King of the Ring 1995. Feel the juice. Grade: *1/2
JT: In our only semifinal match, Savio Vega is looking for third win in ninety minutes to be an unlikely participant in the KOTR finals. Vince even notes that Savio probably can’t believe where he is at as they continue to push the hell out of the underdog angle. And as Vega and Roadie opened up the match, we look to the floor, where Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon stand as cornermen. Savio stayed hot, shooting Roadie into the corner and then hip tossing him across the ring, sending Roadie out to regroup. Once he slid back inside, Savio grabbed hold of the arm and started to work it over. Roadie stopped the momentum with a knee to the gut and a sloppy swinging neckbreaker for a near fall. Roadie followed up with some very pedestrian offense and you could tell he was struggling a bit to connect the dots and progress things. Savio eventually got to his feet and punched his way back as the crowd started to turn on everything, audibly booing and chanting for anything but what was happening in the ring. Eventually, Savio would shove Roadie into Jarrett, who was on the apron, and roll him up to win and advance to the finals. The match was pretty bad as Roadie looked lost and the crowd dumped all over the whole thing. I mean, the story here is fine. The underdog keeps sneaking out wins and advancing on, sure. But it wasn’t really too inspired just based on the guys being used in this tournament, especially when you look at the cache of talent on the sidelines. But, we can touch on that later. First, we have Dok translating an interviewed between Savio and Spanish announcer Carlos Cabrera. It was amazing…and racist. Dok is the man, though. And on we march. Grade: 1/2*
6) Bret Hart defeats Jerry Lawler in a “Kiss My Foot” match when Lawler submits to the Sharpshooter at 9:15
Fun Fact: This feud was still boiling after Jerry Lawler picked up the cheap win at In Your House. On the 5/22 Raw, Bret Hart came to ringside and got in Lawler’s face. Bret slapped his headset off and requested a rematch. Lawler granted the Hitman his rematch but with the weird stipulation that the loser must kiss the winner’s feet. To prepare, Lawler did not wash his feet for about a month heading into this match. Every week on TV he was shown walking through mud and horse shit and all sorts of fun stuff. On the 6/10 Superstars, Lawler beat Aldo Montoya and then stuffed his disgusting foot in poor Aldo’s mouth.
Scott: We will give Bret Hart a pass as to not being in the tournament since he already won it two years ago, plus this feud NEEDED TO END. It actually started two years ago at this PPV and except for Bret’s World Title run in 1994, has gone on non-stop. Incidentally the Philly crowd does forget how awful the night has been so far and goes crazy for the Hitman. The stipulation is actually quite stupid and for the crowd in Philly they should have done a street fight or a no-DQ match or something with a little juice to it. Kissing one’s feet? That is another example of how Vince’s booking strategies of the 1980s are finally starting to feel outdated and bland. Now that I think about it, this match should have had no-DQ rules to it if it had a stipulation on it. I feel attention to detail was largely ignored when booking this show, that is definitely evident. Lawler dominates the action but Lawler’s stalling is killing the flow. At least the crowd is into it, which if they weren’t would have really murdered this show. Lawler hits Bret with his boot, revealing his gross sock and dirty foot. Lawler has to hide the boot, which again is so dumb. A stipulation match shouldn’t have countouts or DQs. Hakushi comes out (Hell HE could have been in the tournament) and distracts Bret but it didn’t work. Both men are in the ring and eventually the Hitman cranks up the Sharpshooter, and mercifully Lawler taps out. Bret finally puts this feud to bed (or so we thought) and he unlaces his boot and puts his foot in Lawler’s face. Then Lawler, Hakushi and Shinja try to get their heat back but thankfully Bret cleans them out. To finish it off and make things even worse for the King, Bret makes Lawler kiss his own disgusting, manure-filled foot. The Philly crowd gets their last real fun moment of the night as the Hitman gets his final revenge (Vince even mentions it’s their final match) on the King. The match is easily one of the best two of the night, which doesn’t say much. Grade: **1/2
JT: We finally deviate from this tournament but things don’t really get much better. Well, they do, but not as good as they could have been. The Bret Hart/Jerry Lawler feud was reignited a month ago and saw the King pick up an unexpected win over the Hitman at In Your House #1. They tussle here again, but this time we have a stipulation in place as the loser must kiss the foot of the winner. Many assume this was a rib on noted foot enthusiast Jerry Lawler, but it also made some sense when you look at the feud as a whole. It was still goofy and feels like such a step back for Hart when you consider what he was doing during the previous two KOTR events. To amp up the heat for the match, Lawler had been basting his feet in trash, manure, dirt and whatever else he could find along the way. We got to look at his mangy, torn up sock earlier in the night, really adding to the anticipation here. The depressed and angered Philly fans get it together to cheer on Hart, temporarily allowing us to forget the nonsense that preceded this bout. Hart was aggressive early, looking for revenge, but Lawler staved him off and ran him into the stairs. Dok wondered if Hakushi and Shinja would make their presence known again and I just shake my head remembering he is another guy left off this mess of a show. Hart slid back in and Lawler went to work, slowly laying the boots in before spiking the Hitman with a piledriver. The King would play to the fans a bit before hitting a second piledriver to a cascade of boos. However, again, he didn’t cover and continued to jaw with the fans at ringside. King would then hit a third piledriver and again didn’t cover right away. He finally would, but Hart kicked out. That would be a felony in Memphis. Lawler stayed on Hart, continuing to argue with the fans the whole time. After dumping Hart to the floor, Lawler removed his boot, exposing his rancid foot. The Hitman climbed back inside, but Lawler pelted him with his boot for another near fall. Lawler would try to jam his foot in Bret’s face but the Hitman blocked it and started beating on the King. Lawler used his boot as a weapon but Bret yanked him into the post a moment later, taking control and slugging away. As he did, Hakushi and Shinja did indeed show up. With Shinja tying up the referee, the interference backfired as Hakushi cracked Lawler with a right hand by accident. A moment later, Hart locked in the Sharpshooter and picked up the win, assumedly putting this feud to bed. Bret would unlace his boot but Hakushi showed up again. And again, he failed. Hart ran him off and then stuck his foot in Lawler’s mouth. He also shoved the King’s very own grotesque foot into his own mouth to cap things off. I love both of these guys, but man were they just sloshing through a paint-by-numbers version of what they were both capable of. We got some Lawler cheating and some strong Bret execution, but both of those strong points swam amidst a pool of blah. Even the crowd wasn’t too into it, which tells you how burnt out they were. King dominated most of the action here, but Hart gets the win and humiliates the King in the end. Hart deserves better. Especially when you look at what is going on around him. Grade: **
7) Mabel defeats Savio Vega to win the 1995 King of the Ring with a big splash at 8:09
Scott: Any excitement and fun this crowd had during the last match is completely gone. For those who are long-time wrestling fans, there are certain WWE hotbeds that know wrestling and will let you know if something is good or bad. I’m talking the New England/Tri-State area and Chicago in particular. But Philadelphia definitely belongs in that conversation as well. If you give them a hot product and a great show, they will be very loud and into everything you give them. Tonight was probably the WRONG night to do any kind of roster or booking experiments because Philly wants the best and when you don’t give it to them, well let’s just say they’re not like the West Coast where they sip their lattes and leave early. This honestly feels like a house show match with bonus commentary. Where the crowd is half paying attention and the wrestlers are going through the motions. Vince and Dok are doing their absolute best but they’re cooked and they know it. The crowd is dead silent; you can hear the beer guys selling in the upper deck. Mabel puts Savio into a bear hug and the crowd is…well doing nothing. This may be one of the worst matches I have ever seen in PPV history. Fat Mabel, a tag team mid-card joke and a guy, who to his credit, is working but Savio Vega just debuted in the company LAST MONTH. I understand wanting to showcase new stars but considering the dearth of star power on the roster you may want focus on the guys that already have credibility with the crowd, like Michaels, Undertaker, Bulldog, or Luger. Any of those guys would have been a fine move, but instead after a lazy fat splash, Mabel joins the Hart brothers as WWF King of the Ring. The crowd is beyond quiet, they are absolutely livid right now. Now to gain more heel heat, Mabel and Mo beat down the injured Razor Ramon and the crowd STILL doesn’t care. Vince should have called an audible and just let this go, but instead they’re trying way too hard to put Mabel over here and even with the run in of 1-2-3 Kid (who also gets beaten down) it doesn’t help. Finally Mabel and Mo get to the stage with the throne and props. Now the crowd starts chanting, and what are they chanting? You got it, “ECW…ECW…ECW”. Now I remember where the guy with the Hawaiian shirt and straw hat and his other misfit friends are from. They are regulars at the ECW Arena, and after all the great stuff ECW was doing in 1995, they show up on this night and get this pile of crap. Suddenly cups, batteries and trash are being thrown at the stage while Mo attempts (and fails miserably) to read the scroll. Vince says the fans are so angry at what’s transpired. Well no shit, but not exactly the way Vince wanted it to go. This is definitely the nadir for the WWF. You really can’t sink any lower in terms of booking than you have on this night. From the entrance to the terrible proclamation, this is utter garbage. Grade: DUD
JT: Welp. Pick your poison. At the time, I really bit on the underdog story and thought Savio may win this and cap off his miracle night. Perhaps that was just wishful thinking. Fresh off burying the Deadman, Mabel had a bit more swagger to him and he was clearly the heavy favorite heading into this. A loss to Vega would be brutal, making this a must win. And as Vega and Ramon entered for the fourth time on the night, we faded to the front of the Spectrum, where the statue of Rocky Balboa stood. Can Savio live up to the Stallion’s legacy? We will find out. Savio laid in some chops off the bell and then mounted Mabel in the corner and slugged away. Mabel came back but missed a legdrop and Savio followed by clotheslining him to the floor. Mabel would yank Savio outside but Vega rammed him into the steps, perhaps looking for a replay of his opener with Yokozuna. Not happening. Mabel sent him into the steps as well and slid inside, with Razor then shoving Vega in ahead of the ten count. The action really picked up with a Mabel bear hug that really sucked the final drops of excitement out of the crowd. Vega worked out of the hold but Mabel slugged him back down and then hit some sort of jumping clothesline into a uranage type slam. He followed that with a rear chinlock, which is not what we needed. Even if it made sense from a psychology point of view, and God bless Dok, he tries to explain it as such, it just wasn’t happening for these two. As Savio snuck in a roll up off a missed charge, the crowd came to life…chanting “ECW” loudly. Not good. Savio would hit his spin kick for a near fall, actually getting the crowd back into it for a minute. He would follow with a body press, but Mabel caught him and hit a slam for a close two count. The big man popped up and hit a big splash to finally end Savio’s dream and win the crown. Sigh. The match picked up in that final minute, but really had nothing else going on for the rest of it. Ramon would come in to check on his buddy, but Mo got in his face, triggering a brawl that ended with MOM laying the Bad Guy out alongside Vega. That beating was better than the match. What a mess. The 1-2-3 Kid would try to help out and actually landed some offense in, but he got beat down as well. These men certainly are on a mission. Officials finally busted things up and MOM headed to the podium for the coronation. I will give them this. They showed conviction with this push. They identified Mabel as their guy and didn’t look back. That doesn’t mean it was the right choice or the right path to this point. It wasn’t. All hail King Mabel? I guess now we know why that crown was so damn big. Grade: *
*** Mabel is officially crowned King and Mo is dubbed Sir Mo by his friend. Mo would then butcher his way through a royal proclamation as fans pelted the two of them with trash. Very fitting. ***
*** Backstage. Jerry Lawler is brushing his teeth and rinsing with mouthwash in between bouts of vomiting. ***
8) Diesel & Bam Bam Bigelow defeat Tatanka & Psycho Sid when Diesel pins Tatanka with an elbow drop at 17:33
Fun Fact: On the 4/24 Raw, Bam Bam Bigelow lost a World Title match to Diesel after Tatanka accidentally tripped him. After the match, DiBiase fired Bigelow from the Corporation. However, Bigelow said it was too late to fire him, as he had already quit. The Corporation jumped Bigelow and Sid came out and dropped him with a powerbomb. Diesel came back and made the save, solidifying Bigelow’s face turn. On the 5/8 Raw, Bigelow spoke candidly about the Rumble incident, Lawrence Taylor, Diesel and DiBiase. He claimed he was going to take apart the Corporation one by one. On the 5/7 Action Zone, Bigelow debuted his new music, pyro and flame shooting costume. The main event here was announced on the 5/15 Raw, with DiBiase laying down the challenge. Later on the show, Bigelow continued his mission of destroying the Corporation by beating IRS. Bigelow continued on his warpath, destroying jobbers on his run up to the PPV. Finally, in a memorable moment and show of unity, after Shawn Michaels beat King Kong Bundy in his return match, Diesel and Bigelow came out to congratulate Shawn and pose in the ring.
Scott: I have a really bad feeling about this. The crowd is already rankled and pissed off at everything given them so far, but now we get our main event. Sure the fans did like most of the guys in this match but not only have we had bad booking decisions but we’ve also had some pretty terrible matches preceding this as well. If the In Your House #1 main event hadn’t happened already, I think fans would be kind of looking forward to this main event, but since we already knew that Diesel vs. Sid by themselves is a stinker, well I’m not sure there’s much hope that this match will be any better. The crowd is a little better than before but not much better. Wait, how about replacing Michaels with Bigelow in the tournament and have him team with Diesel in this match? Wow there’s a great idea. You avoid that awful time limit draw and Bigelow can win the tournament, getting rewarded for jobbing to a football player at WrestleMania. You keep the juice in the match with the Michaels/Sid stuff still percolating. Tatanka is a game worker in the ring and Diesel can be protected a little bit if he is injured. This match feels like we are on Raw, and the crowd knows it. The other option is have a Diesel World Title match against somebody, since we had ZERO title matches on this show. That’s another bone of contention for me and others: No Tag, IC or World Title matches on this show. Yokozuna’s in the tourney and Owen doesn’t even wrestle; Jarrett is seconding Roadie to the ring for the KOTR, and Diesel is in this mess. This is 17 minutes of boring rest holds and complete lack of energy. What could Vince possibly be thinking right now? This entire night has been a disappointment and his main event isn’t saving it. Tatanka and Bigelow do the yeoman’s work of the match, which may have been the saving grace of the match as both guys did the best they could. Diesel gets tagged in and jackknifes (poorly) Tatanka but instead of pinning him and ending this terrible night, he pulls Tatanka up and wants Sid in the ring. Well Sid, who used to be a great heel in other promotions, begs off like a WWF coward heel. That pretty much caps off the night. Diesel drops a pitiful elbow and finally ends this horrendous night. Sid was booked so horribly in 1995 compared to his other incarnations. The fireworks and music go off and we can mercifully say this night of wrestling is over. Grade: 1/2*
JT: And it is time for our main event. The match everyone just wants to be done so they can all go home. Poor Tatanka. Finally gets into the main event scene after a solid heel turn, but it all feels so flat. He really needed to change his look. Sid is still pretty awesome but it is clear he is losing steam after being booked as a bit of a pussy as opposed to the wrecking ball he was set up as back in May. The big story here is the injured elbow of Diesel, as it is heavily taped up after a rough bump back at IYH#1. Diesel still had great presence and swagger but things are falling apart around him and this feud isn’t quite lighting the world on fire. It was cool seeing Bam Bam Bigelow getting such a strong push as Diesel’s right hand man, one that he has easily earned. The fans even give the big man a little love. Diesel and Bammer ran the Corporation to the floor, resetting things before the bell. That was followed by a lengthy bout of stalling as Sid jawed with fans and plotted his next steps. Diesel dominated Tatanka once things got going, but Sid reach in from the apron and wrenched the champ’s arm, radiating pain through his injured elbow. Tatanka took it from there, dancing around the ring and attacking the elbow. The fans actually chanted for Diesel as Sid and Tatanka worked him over in the corner. Sid would eventually miss a legdrop, allowing Diesel to make the tag. Bammer came in hot, running through both men, knocking Tatanka to the floor and planting Sid with DDT. Bigelow is flashing some real energy and it is good to see. He deserved the spotlight. Bigelow dropped his top rope headbutt, but DiBiase had the referee tied up and there was no count. Sid battled back and took Bigelow off the top rope with a chokeslam in a nice spot. Tatanka would come in and as he put the boots to Bammer, Dok pointed out that Tatanka is still angry about Bigelow costing them the tag straps back at the Royal Rumble. Sid and Tatanka meandered through more offense, kicking and pounding on Bigelow at a leisurely pace. We would get a lukewarm tag, but Diesel whiffed on an elbow drop, leading to further injury and forcing a quick tag out. Tatanka grabbed a near fall with a body press on Bigelow before going to a chinlock. The story here works a bit, as Diesel is so injured, Bigelow is forced to do yeoman’s work and it is costing them. Tatanka would land a leaping DDT and I guess it is a nice touch to have these two spend so much time battling, considering their history feuding since 1993. Bammer came back with a DDT and tagged in Diesel, who hit Tatanka with a Jackknife. However, he pulled up the Native American at the two count because he wanted another crack at Sid. But Sid wouldn’t comply. Instead, like a pussy, he walks off and leaves ringside while the fans tossed trash at him. Weak. Diesel would drop an elbow (which doesn’t make sense, all things considered) and grabs the win for his team. Well, that was a match. Bigelow and Tatanka did work hard and Diesel gave it a go, despite the injury. Some of the psychology was on point, but there just wasn’t much heat here. Sid is being booked like a bitch and it is killing his heat. Plus the crowd was already wiped out. OK match but we needed a classic to save this disaster. Grade: *1/2
Scott: It’s been very easy to trash this PPV as the worst in WWF history. Before I tell you whether I think that, let’s discuss why people feel this way. There were a decent number of stars on the roster left off this show, including British Bulldog, Lex Luger and Owen Hart. Owen is easily one of the best workers on the roster, and he spent the show in a tuxedo ON THE HOTLINE! Now decisions like that are why this PPV failed. No disrespect to Savio Vega, who worked his butt off from the dark match to the end. However it took Randy Savage, a future hall of famer, three years to get set up for WrestleMania IV and his epic effort for the crowd to care. We were getting a month to get invested in Savio Vega. As much as the crowd tried, it wasn’t worth an entire PPV. Then there’s Mabel. This was a guy who was nothing more than a mid-card tag team joke; a goofy guy who rapped with a big ugly outfit and once dressed as a clown. Now suddenly he’s being thrust upon the crowd as a legit heel monster. Absolutely not. By the time the Savio/Mabel match started the crowd totally gave up and started chanting for ECW. We had zero title matches, and a main event tag team match that was slow, boring and lacking any energy. Shawn Michaels was wasted in a draw, and the Undertaker was sacrificed in the tournament for storyline reasons. Bret Hart finally ended his feud with Jerry Lawler, or so we thought. I may be more mature in my criticisms of this show than I used to be, but I’m giving this show the same grade I gave when I first wrote it. Final Grade: F
JT: This was real bad. Easily the worst PPV we have watched to date. The whole thing was botched from the start. First off, know your audience. The show is in Philadelphia during the rise of ECW. Why assume they would eat this stuff up without dumping on it? Secondly, you have an all star crew sitting on the sidelines. Even if Mabel HAS to win the tournament, why not stock up the tournament accordingly? Give us Owen Hart, Lex Luger, Hakushi, Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon. Or if Ramon really is too injured to go, slide in the British Bulldog. Then add in Shawn Michaels, Kama and Mabel and now we are talking. Have Mabel survive THAT with a hard fought win over Luger or Bulldog to close it out. Easy choices with guys on the roster and very little other shuffling needed. Instead, we got this. Add on the weak non-tournament offerings and there was nothing left to save this show. Bret Hart is wasted again. A meaningless tag main event that was set to go nowhere good. Just run Diesel/Sid II here and get it done. Then maybe Bigelow could even be in the tournament! Tatanka main eventing a PPV as a heel in 1995? On top of this. Again, real bad. Irredeemably bad. It was clear that the WWF was due for some sort of shakeup and it is amazing how quickly things have fell apart, both from a holistic point of view and with their once promising WWF Champion. Final Grade: F