Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
King of the Ring 1994
Date: June 19, 1994
Location: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Randy Savage, Art Donovan
It’s tournament time and that means it’s not likely to be the most interesting show in the world. On top of that, this is one of the weaker fields they’ve ever had, which makes for a rather dull few hours. Finally, this show is infamous for the commentary, which really was a disaster and a horrible idea. Let’s get to it.
Earlier today, Jeff Jarrett came up to the official bracket board and tried to advance himself. This brought in Bam Bam Bigelow, Owen Hart and IRS to start a big argument.
Opening sequence which explains the tournament (including running down the card) and the rest of the card. They’re REALLY stretching to fill in time here.
The announcers welcome us to the show with Monsoon referring to Donovan as “Art O’Donnell”. Donovan, a former NFL player in his 70s who has NO IDEA what is going on, picks Razor Ramon to win the tournament, which seems to be the only wrestler he’s been told about.
Before we get started, here are the brackets:
Bam Bam Bigelow
King of the Ring Tournament First Round: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Razor Ramon
Ramon throws the toothpick at Luna Vachon and gets beaten down for his efforts. So Bigelow is just being chivalrous? Bigelow hammers him down and drops a headbutt as Art says he can’t stand to watch it. That’s one of the only things he’s said all match because, in theory, he has no idea what he’s watching here (not his fault).
Razor gets a running start and slides underneath the ropes to crotch Bigelow against the post. The middle rope bulldog gets two and it’s off to a leglock. Art realizes that Bigelow has Luna in his corner and asks about her as Bigelow misses an enziguri. A missed charge sends Razor flying over the top for a crash as the announcers talk about how tough you have to be to win one of these things. For some reason Savage doesn’t bring up the whole winning a one night tournament to win the WWF World Title at Wrestlemania IV, which they would never let him get away with today.
Bigelow kicks him in the face for two and Donovan is impressed. Well Bigelow has certainly made it then. Some headbutts to the back have Ramon in trouble and it’s off to a torture rack of all things. The hold stays on for a good while and Art thinks Razor is dead. Bigelow finally flips him down and gets caught in a belly to back suplex to put both guys down. Art: “What happens now?” Bigelow is too big for the Razor’s Edge so he slams Razor and loads up the moonsault. Razor is right back up though and kind of powerbombs Bigelow off the top into a rollup to advance.
Rating: C-. Pretty slow and plodding here but there’s only so much Razor can do with someone Bigelow’s size. It helps that Bigelow is able to move around far better than most giants and it made for a watchable power match. Putting Razor, probably the most popular guy in the tournament, through to the second round, was pretty much mandatory here.
We go to Todd Pettengill at the big board where IRS gives one of the most awkward interviews ever about beating Mabel and then wanting to face Tatanka in the finals. Mabel says he’ll never have his shoulders pinned to the mat. Mo agrees and is lucky that no one punches him out.
King of the Ring Tournament First Round: IRS vs. Mabel
Art as IRS comes out: “Randy, is this one of the wrestlers?” Then he doesn’t know Mabel’s name, which thankfully is ignored by the other announcers. I get that the guy doesn’t know any better but he’s already getting annoying. IRS tries to jump him from behind and gets sent into the corner over and over for his efforts.
Art wants to leave because of the danger of IRS having to fight someone twice his size and you can tell Gorilla and Randy are already sick of him. A Samoan drop sets up a big elbow as Art wants to know who the guy in the white suit (Mabel’s manager Oscar) is. Mabel misses a charge and gets kneed out to the floor. Back in and IRS hits a good looking jumping clothesline, which Savage says might be the best one in the history of the company. That’s a Michael Cole style line as commentary is just all over the place tonight.
In the HUH spot of the match, IRS tries a slam and gets small packaged for what looked like three, though the referee stops counting at two because I don’t think IRS could kick out. We hit the chinlock with Art thinking Mabel is wealthy because he has gold in his mouth. Mabel fights up and hits a backdrop followed by a bad looking Boss Man Slam. What looks like a middle rope splash is broken up though and IRS grabs a rollup (and a rope, which makes Mabel look like he’s on fire) for the pin.
Rating: D. I’ve actually seen worse as they just let IRS do his basic yet well done stuff while Mabel just looked imposing. The ending was the only real way to have Mabel get pinned and it didn’t even feel forced. We’ll call this a pleasant surprise, despite it still being a pretty weak match.
Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji are ready to have Crush and Yokozuna win the Tag Team Titles.
King of the Ring Tournament First Round: Tatanka vs. Owen Hart
Oh you can imagine how Art is going to handle someone like Tatanka. With Art annoyingly asking how much Owen weighs (WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE???), Tatanka jumps him to start in a rather heelish move. The announcers basically make it clear that Owen is the favorite, more or less guaranteeing an Owen vs. Razor final (not that that’s a bad thing). Tatanka gets two off a suplex and Art asks how much he weighs.
Monsoon just starts talking over Donovan as Owen works on a headlock. Tatanka gets sent over the top but lands on his feet to drag Owen outside for a chop off. Owen posts him and we cut to the back where Razor and IRS are in a fight. That goes nowhere so Owen hits the running crotch attack to the back of the head that needs a better name than the running crotch attack to the back of the head.
A missile dropkick gives Owen two and we hit the chinlock. Monsoon is now flat out ignoring Art’s questions, which is probably the best possible option. Back up and Tatanka hits the war path, including a DDT for a close two. Another near fall off a powerslam annoys Tatanka and Owen sits down on a sunset flip for the pin to advance.
Rating: C. The match was perfectly fine but sweet goodness Art is getting old. There’s just nothing there from him and it takes a lot to really get on Monsoon’s nerves. As mentioned though, Owen winning is the most obvious result in the world for this show and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when the first match was certainly watchable.
Shawn and Diesel liked hurting Bret and promise another Jackknife tonight. They’re not worried about any family member being in Bret’s corner either.
King of the Ring Tournament First Round: 1-2-3 Kid vs. Jeff Jarrett
Donovan thinks the Kid looks like a boxer. I don’t know many boxers with 1-2-3 on their singlet, or one with a singlet on in general for that matter. Jarrett starts fast and whips Kid hard into the corner and let’s keep hitting that NEW GENERATION catchphrase, which actually officially started tonight. So this is where the blame got started.
They trade clotheslines as Donovan thinks Kid has no chance here. Kid misses a Swanton but Jeff crotches himself (Donovan finds it HILARIOUS), setting up a high crossbody for two. The Bronco Buster misses and Jeff, who Art calls “a cutie” tries the Figure Four but gets small packaged for the pin.
Rating: B-. This is the kind of match where Jarrett excelled: fast paced, doing his basics and letting someone else do the hard work. Jarrett gets a bad reputation for not being the best character (he wasn’t) or not having the best matches (he didn’t), but he was going to give you a perfectly acceptable match, which is more important than a lot of things.
Post match Jeff snaps and piledrives Kid three times in a row.
The final four:
New Generation ad, focusing on old vs. new, including Hogan listed as old of course.
Bret is ready for Diesel, no matter how devastating the Jackknife is. He won’t stand for injustice though and has a surprise to deal with Shawn.
WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Diesel
Diesel is challenging but his Intercontinental Title isn’t on the line. For the sake of clarity, I’ll only refer to Bret as champ. Diesel’s pyro from the ceiling only goes down a few feet instead of nearly halfway down to the ring as usual. Maybe they just didn’t have the formula down yet. Bret’s surprise is…..Jim Neidhart, who hasn’t been around in a few years. Savage makes the mistake of mentioning that Neidhart played football, prompting Art to NEED to know if Diesel was a football player too.
Diesel elbows him in the face to start and easily wins a slugout. That’s pretty out of character as Bret isn’t going to start slugging away until things are a lot more even. He’s smart enough to avoid a charge though and it’s time for the headbutt to the abdomen. A thumb to the eye cuts Bret off, which Art says isn’t kosher. Diesel misses another charge though and that’s your story for the match: Bret can’t match him for size and power but he’s smart enough to avoid Diesel’s reckless offense.
It’s already time to go after the knee, including the Figure Four. Diesel kicks him away so we hit the spinning toehold as the match flashes back to days when Donovan was just ancient and not….well Art Donovan. Bret wraps the leg around the post (Savage: “Go ahead and do it. I won’t look!”) but Shawn clotheslines him down, sending Neidhart into the chase.
Back in and Diesel grabs a bearhug but Bret bites his way to freedom, only to miss a dive to the floor. Donovan wants to know how these guys get out of bed in the morning (I’d assume they stand up) and Monsoon cuts him off with a level of rudeness you’ll never hear from him again. We hit the backbreaker with Bret being bent over the knee for a bit before hitting the running crotch attack to the back.
Another backbreaker gets another two as Diesel doesn’t exactly have his full offensive skill set yet. I mean, he only had about six or seven moves at his peak so you can imagine how bad things are here. Diesel grabs an over the shoulder backbreaker as Shawn tries to take off a turnbuckle pad. Bret slips out and starts trying a sleeper, only to be shoved into the referee.
NOW the buckle pad comes off but, of course, Diesel eats the steel instead. Bret slugs away (makes sense now, which is often the case with him) and gets two off a clothesline. That means the Five Moves of Doom but Shawn’s distraction breaks up the Sharpshooter. Bret tries to slug away a bit more and walks right into the big boot.
Diesel stands over him and gives the Jackknife sign but Bret rolls into a Boston crab (with the legs crossed but Bret’s legs are spread instead of intertwined). Of course it doesn’t last long as Diesel goes outside, allowing Shawn to hit Bret with the belt. There’s the Jackknife but Neidhart comes in for the DQ.
Rating: B. I actually like that finish as it keeps Diesel looking strong, meaning he wasn’t taking a pin while still Intercontinental Champion. Bret was carrying Diesel here and that’s exactly why they were put together. Diesel was VERY weak in the ring at this point but he could do a few things well, which Bret was more than capable of working with to make a good match. These two always had great chemistry together and that’s all you need a lot of the time.
It was all Diesel needed too, as this was the match that made Vince decide to push him to the moon, including making him champion in about five months. The problem was he didn’t have much beyond looking cool, a good finisher and a strong Royal Rumble performance. DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR TO ANYONE TODAY???
Neidhart leaves for some reason (Dun dun dun?), allowing Diesel and Shawn to lay Bret out.
Lawler insults Donovan a bit and says he’s the true king and that’s the bottom line. He loves the idea of beating Piper so the kids in Toronto (who Piper had promised some of his winnings to) get NOTHING. Now that’s as heelish as you can get: “I want to beat you so poor sick kids are left out in the cold!” And people wonder why Lawler is considered one of the best of all time.
King of the Ring Tournament Semifinals: Razor Ramon vs. IRS
Razor jumps him in the aisle as Monsoon thankfully reminds us that these two fought at the Royal Rumble. IRS gets in a few shots but Razor takes him outside and sends him into the steps to really stagger him. A kick to the knee slows Razor down though and we hit the chinlock. Razor fights up without too much effort (because it was a kick to the knee and a chinlock), only to get caught with the running clothesline. Not that it matters as Razor hits a quick Razor’s Edge for the pin.
Rating: D. I wonder if Razor was injured here. There was barely any offense from Ramon until the very end and he spent a good chunk of a five minute match in a chinlock. Injury or not though, you have to put Ramon against Owen in the final, just for the sake of ANY star power/a threat to Owen in the last match.
Bret is looking for Neidhart.
There’s no update on the 1-2-3 Kid’s status after the attack.
King of the Ring Semifinals: Owen Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid
This one is kind of famous. Kid is fine enough to get in the ring, making the previous backstage segment rather worthless. Owen baseball slides him through the ropes and hits an even harder suicide dive to start things off. A top rope splash is good for two on the Kid but he sends Owen chest first into the corner, setting up a twisting high crossbody for two of his own. Kid gets the same off a crucifix as we’re not even a minute into this yet.
Some spinning kicks drop Owen again but the enziguri gets him out of trouble. Kid gets two more off a northern lights suplex with Owen going to the ropes for the break. Owen bails so it’s a BIG flip dive over the top and Savage announces his retirement from this level of action. Back in and a German suplex gives Owen two, followed by a snap overhead belly to belly for the same. A victory roll gives Kid another near fall but his hurricanrana is countered into a powerbomb, setting up the Sharpshooter to send Owen to the finals.
Rating: A-. That’s the best under five (four actually) minute match I’ve ever seen as they beat the heck out of each other and packed in about fifteen minutes of stuff into just over three and a half. Kid saves face because he came in injured so it’s even well booked on top of being entertaining. Check this out and see what these two could do when they were trying to show off.
Roddy Piper cuts a promo about taking his pants off, not remembering what town he’s in, loving Hershey bars, spaghetti with mosquito bites, various movies he’s been in, eating flies, not trusting people with no necks, “King Toady”, Don King, King the Dog and there being no such thing as a king. Piper is known for his crazy interviews and this was one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen from him. That includes the time he took over Alcatraz or the time he rambled about Hulk Hogan and hopped away for no apparent reason.
Tag Team Titles: Yokozuna/Crush vs. Headshrinkers
The Headshrinkers are defending of course. For once, Art asks the right question when he wants to know Yokozuna’s weight. He also brings up a good point: why are there eight people out here (Mr. Fuji/Jim Cornette/Lou Albano/Afa are all out as well) for a two on two match? The staredown (kind of a family reunion save for Crush) leads to a big brawl until the Headshrinkers start fighting each other for no apparent reason.
Yokozuna gets headbutted to the floor and we settle down to Yokozuna vs. Samu to start. A spinning kick to the face and a dropkick stagger Yokozuna and knock him outside again. It’s off to Crush vs. Fatu, who will have none of this faceplant nonsense. A piledriver plants Crush and a middle rope headbutt gets two. Fuji gets in a cheap shot from the floor and Crush grabs a piledriver of his own to really take over. It’s off to Yokozuna for the big fat leg but he misses a charge in the corner.
Samu comes in for a powerslam (I’ll let you guess to whom) and everything breaks down. A double superkick knocks Yokozuna outside for the third time (not a good sign less than eight minutes in) but he’s still able to crotch Samu on top. More managerial interference brings out Lex Luger (oh yeah he’s still around) to stare at Crush, allowing Samu to get in a superkick to retain.
Rating: D+. This was a decent power brawl but it was clearly just there to offer some extra flavor to go with the tournament. The Headshrinkers are one of my favorite teams from this era (or the 90s in general actually) and they were beating the heck out of Yokozuna here. That would be part of the huge downfall for Yokozuna, who went from beating Hogan the previous year to this in twelve months. It’s the problem with being a monster and someone whose gut probably has its own zip code.
Crush beats on Luger until the Headshrinkers make the save.
Owen promises to win and wishes his dad a Happy Father’s Day.
King of the Ring: Razor Ramon vs. Owen Hart
Razor punches him down and stares at him because they’re filling time despite the match not likely having much of it to work with in the first place. They do an awkward slam spot and Owen slaps him in the face to earn himself a catapult into the corner. A slow motion bridge into a backslide gives Razor two and Art changes his pick to Owen. The spinwheel kick drops Razor, who Art cheers for three seconds after changing his pick.
We hit an abdominal stretch to stay on the ribs but Razor hiptosses out and grabs a chokeslam for two. The belly to back superplex looks to set up the Edge but Razor gets backdropped to the floor. Here’s Neidhart to check on Razor and then deck him, setting up Owen’s top rope elbow for the pin and the crown.
Rating: C-. Obvious ending and unnecessary interference aside, this was the only way they could have done. Owen was still hot from beating Bret at Wrestlemania and needed a major win without changing the Intercontinental Title from one heel to another. Giving him the crown was as good of an option as they had and it made him look like a real threat in his big title shot against Bret.
Owen and Neidhart beat Razor down with a Hart Attack and CANADIAN (and American) stomping. Bret doesn’t save for no apparent reason.
We go to Bret in the back and he has no comment. Is there ANY reason why he didn’t come out here? I guess he’s supposed to be shocked but that doesn’t quite endear him to Razor. Not that he needed to do so but it would have made sense given how much he wanted to go after Neidhart.
Donovan asks Monsoon and Savage if they acted like that when they wrestled. Monsoon COMPLETELY ignores him and asks Randy about Neidhart’s sanity.
It’s already coronation time with Neidhart standing at Owen’s side. Owen brags and dubs himself the King of Harts, an awesome nickname.
Long recap of Piper vs. Lawler, which is mostly just them doing the exact insults you would expect from both of them. Like I mentioned, there’s also a children’s hospital shoehorned in here for the sake of some emotion.
Roddy Piper vs. Jerry Lawler
Lawler being a king confuses Donovan even more. Before Piper comes out, Lawler does his usual crowd insults and again promises to keep all the winnings. As is his custom for a big match, Piper is played to the ring by a pipe and drum corps. In the first pay per view main event ever between two wrestles over forty years old, Monsoon has the gorilla testicles to call this a NEW GENERATION match.
Piper even comes out with the imitator from Raw, who was rather insulting to him during the King’s Court. Apparently Piper has forgiven him….and I guess we’re supposed to be impressed. Uh, right. The kid (who is about seventeen at the youngest) does some Piper jokes (to be fair he does a great impression) and we’re FINALLY ready to go. Piper hammers away to start and Monsoon dubs it vintage. In the NEW Generation.
The kilt is thrown over Lawler’s head and Piper bites in the corner as I don’t expect much in the way of wrestling here. A big right hand sends Lawler bailing to the floor and the kid gets in a poke to the eye. Back in and Piper slugs away before telling Lawler to bring it. Piper starts going to the hamstring (psychology you see) and an atomic drop sends Lawler outside again.
Lawler’s hand is sent into the post as there’s nothing resembling wrestling anywhere in this match. The kid gets dragged inside and instead of BEATING LAWLER UP, Piper shoves the kid back to the floor. A bunch of punches set up….even more punches and we hit the sleeper on Piper. Monsoon says that’s a patented hold, even though I don’t think I ever remember seeing Lawler using one.
The piledriver (to NO reaction, just like most of this match) gets two (no reaction again) as Savage is trying everything he can to make this interesting. Piper spits at him and slugs back, followed by a pair of bulldogs. The ref gets bumped (you knew this wasn’t ending clean) and it’s a foreign object to knock Piper out. Lawler gets two with the kid making the save, allowing Piper to grab a belly to back suplex for the pin.
Rating: OG. For Old Generation. This was straight out of the nightmares of Memphis in front of a bored crowd who wanted to go home after a not great night. I get the idea here but this needed to go on about second, as there was no way these dinosaurs were going to be able to produce anything worthwhile. It just wasn’t a story that people were going to care about and there was no way around that. Terrible main event, and perhaps the worst in company history.
Piper celebrates with the kid…..and we go to Shawn telling Diesel that he’ll get the title soon enough to end the show. I guess the main event was so bad that it screwed up the show format. You know, even worse than it already did.
Overall Rating: D+. Art Donovan issues and main event aside, there’s enough good stuff going on here to help carry it over the line. The problem here is the lack of interest from the backstage forces, mainly due to trying to keep Vince out of jail and all that good stuff. There’s enough good wrestling to keep the show from flatlining but you’re much better off watching those individual matches rather than the full two hour and forty five minutes, which crawl by on more than one occasion.
The interesting thing here is how fast the show got through its ten matches though. Outside of Bret vs. Diesel, nothing breaks thirteen minutes with none of the tournament matches even getting nine minutes. To be fair though, it’s not like there was a reason to stretch out a predictable tournament and the World Title match more than makes up for it. Not as bad as remembered, but still not great or even good for the most part.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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