Date: June 13, 1993
Venue: Nutter Center (Dayton, OH)
Commentators: Jim Ross, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, & “Macho Man” Randy Savage
The inaugural (PPV version of) King of the Ring features a show-long master class from Bret Hart, the real end of Hulkamania in the WWF, and much more. I’ve revisited this before not too long ago but not on JVPW so let’s do this!
- WWF CHAMPION: Hulk Hogan
- WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels
- WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Money Inc. (“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster
- KOTR QUARTERFINALS: Bret Hart vs. Razor Ramon (***)
- KOTR QUARTERFINALS: Mr. Perfect vs. Mr. Hughes (*)
- KOTR QUARTERFINALS: Jim Duggan vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (*)
- KOTR QUARTERFINALS: Tatanka vs. Lex Luger (**)
- KOTR Semi-Finals (****1/4)
- Hulk Hogan [c] vs. Yokozuna for the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (*1/4)
- The Steiner Brothers & The Smoking Gunns vs. Money Inc. & The Headshrinkers (*1/2)
- Shawn Michaels [c] vs. Crush for the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (**)
- KOTR Final (***3/4)
-OPENING VIDEO: Vince McMahon goes over the KOTR quarterfinal matches.
-Ross and company welcome the home audience at ringside. Savage wishes Hogan luck in defending the WWF Championship and AMERICA against Yokozuna. Heenan backs Michaels over Crush in the Intercontinental Championship match.
KING OF THE RING: QUARTERFINALS
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon
Ramon recently lost to the 123 Kid on Monday Night Raw, the show’s first big storyline, and he’s greeted with “1-2-3” chants as he makes his entrance. Hart and Ramon have no love lost between one another, as the former defeated the latter back in January at the Royal Rumble to retain the WWF Championship.
Ramon throws his toothpick towards the kid that Hart gave his shades to, that’s great. Hart ducks a pair of clotheslines and connects with a series of right hands, taking Ramon to the mat and settling into an armbar. Ramon with an Irish whip, Ramon blocks a hip toss and counters with a hard clothesline. Hart dodges a follow-up elbowdrop and goes back to the armbar. Ramon misses a corner splash and ONCE AGAIN Hart outsmarts the Bad Guy and puts him back into the armbar. Ramon tries to escape with a slam, Hart rolls through and keeps the hold applied. Nice. I love that spot. Ramon escapes with a thumb to the eye, Hart kicks out of a lateral press and slides under and into a hammerlock, executed excellently. Ramon catches a charging Hart with a knee and sends him into the ring post like a lawn dart. DANG. “1-2-3” chant from the crowd, irking Ramon as he stomps on Hart’s hands, trying to negate the potential of a Sharpshooter (he still has arms though). Ramon with a fallaway slam, Hart kicks out of the lateral press in the nick of time. Ramon with a running powerslam, Hart kicks out once again. Hart mounts a comeback, belting Ramon after an inverted atomic drop but Ramon kicks out of the follow-up pin attempt. Hart with a side Russian Legsweep for the 1…2…Ramon’s not done yet. Backbreaker, Ramon kicks out for the third time. Elbow from the middle buckle, Ramon kicks out AGAIN, refusing to be taken out by the five moves of doom. Ramon counters a bulldog by sending Hart chest-first into the buckles, taking time to gloat which Heenan admonishes him for. Hart escapes the Razor’s Edge and rolls Razor up with an inside cradle for the 1…2…RAMON KICKS OUT AND THE CROWD CAN’T BELIEVE IT. Awesome. Ramon places Hart on the top turnbuckle, Hart shifts his weight and counters the belly-to-back suplex with a lateral press for the 1…2…3!
Bret Hart defeated Razor Ramon via pinfall (10:28)
- A good match that made both guys look like a million bucks. The nearfalls were fast and frequent, and built the drama up beautifully, and Hart managing to sneak out the win by outthinking his opponent was a nice touch. These guys had good chemistry together, I think. (***)
-A clip from Superstars plays of Mr. Hughes beating down The Undertaker and Paul Bearer with the urn.
KING OF THE RING: QUARTERFINALS
Mr. Perfect vs. Mr. Hughes [w/ Harvey Wippleman]
Hughes and Wippleman still possess the urn from last weekend’s attack. Perfect throws his towel at Hughes during his entrance, Hughes is just collecting all sorts of memorabilia. He’s going to make a killing on eBay.
Perfect with an armdrag and a dropkick to start, staggering the big man (some would say a Big Cat?). Hughes with a right hand that Perfect oversells by flipping out to the floor. Hughes slows things down with a neck vice, Perfect escapes but runs right into a big boot. Back to the neck vice we go. Perfect uses Hughes’ tie to get to his feet, Hughes sends him into the corner and the impact is so hard that it sends him flipping to the mat. Bret Hart says he’d rather wrestle Mr. Perfect in the semi-finals via insert interview. Hughes tries for a spinebuster but it’s botched so Hughes rakes the eyes instead. Hughes misses a leg lariat and goes crotch-first into the middle rope. That’ll ruin your day. Perfect mounts a comeback, snap mare into the neck snap. Perfect with corner jabs, ref separates them, Hughes grabs the urn and belts him with it, causing a DQ.
Mr. Perfect defeated Mr. Hughes via DQ (6:00)
- Props to Mr. Perfect for trying to keep it entertaining with his selling, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for just how slow and sloppy Mr. Hughes was. It’s only his third year I think in pro wrestling so it can be forgiven somewhat, but it did not make for an interesting watch. Perfect winning via DQ was cheap, but Hughes needed to “stay strong” for his Undertaker feud, I guess. (*)
Perfect is announced as the winner, Hughes talks trash from inside the ring.
–“Mean” Gene Okerlund conducts a pre-recorded interview with Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji. A boombox plays traditional Japanese music as Fuji says that Hulk Hogan CHEATED to steal the Championship at WrestleMania IX. Yokozuna says that Hogan and America will GO DOWN tonight. BANZAI.
KING OF THE RING: QUARTERFINALS
“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
It’s a Jim Duggan match so the “USA” crowd chants begin almost immediately, Bam Bam is unfazed because he’s also from America. Duggan and Bigelow collide, no one budging for they are BIG BOIS. Duggan takes Bigelow down after three clotheslines, Bigelow rolls to the floor. Duggan gets sent into the corner and injures his ribs, giving Bigelow a weak point to work on. Duggan tries to slam Bigelow but can’t do it, Bigelow traps Duggan in a standing bear hug. MEH. Duggan fights out, Bigelow pokes the eye and focuses his kicks to the injured ribs. Duggan dodges a headbutt and tries to slam him again but his ribs hurt too much and Bigelow lands on top for the 1…2…Hacksaw kicks out. Back to the standing bear hug, Duggan escapes by biting Bigelow’s nose. Duggan reverses a corner Irish whip and dodges a kick, this time able to slam the Beast from the East without feeling any pain from his ribs. Duggan misses the 3-Point Stance and hits nothing but buckle, Bigelow follows up with the Flying Headbutt for the 1…2…3.
Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Jim Duggan via pinfall (5:01)
- Could have been cool, but the half-assed follow-through of the injured ribs story dragged it down for me. I love Jim Duggan the character but not so much his matches. (*)
–Terry Taylor is in the locker room with The Smoking Gunns and The Steiner Brothers for a Coliseum Video exclusive interview. Both teams seem confident about their chances in the eight-man tag team match later in the show. WHAT AN EXCLUSIVE.
KING OF THE RING: QUARTERFINALS
Tatanka vs. “The Narcissist” Lex Luger
Ross brings up the time limit and the fact you can only advance if you win during Luger’s entrance, telegraphing the sh*t out of the finish for this one. Both men are undefeated at the time of this match. Officials force Luger to put an elbowpad on his surgically repaired arm, as it’s full of screws and plates and is a dangerous weapon.
Luger attacks Tatanka and tosses him out of the ring so he can pose more in front of his mirror. Tatanka pushes the mirror over onto Luger and sends him to the floor with a series of chops. Luger begs off as Tatanka starts war dancing. Tatanka reverses a corner Irish whip and connects with a back bodydrop followed by a clothesline for the first two-count of the match. Tatanka slows things down with an armbar, working over the arm that ISN’T surgically repaired for some reason. Bam Bam Bigelow wants to get his hands on the “Indian” via insert interview. Tatanka catches Luger with a crossbody for a two-count then goes back to the arm. Luger counters into a hammerlock, Tatanka counters back and Luger escapes with a cheap shot back elbow, taking control of the match. Luger drops a (padded) elbow and takes awhile to cover, Tatanka kicking out at two. Luger drops another elbow, getting some elevation this time, and covers for another two-count. Luger argues with the ref, Tatanka rolls him up for the 1…2…Luger kicks out and immediately stomps him. Lots more talk about the time limit, PLEASE MAKE IT MORE OBVIOUS GUYS.
Luger settles into a chinlock, digging his knee into Tatanka’s spine. Tatanka breaks out and runs right into a clothesline, Luger popping his pecs in celebration. Terry Crews approves. Tatanka counters a slam with an inside cradle for the 1…2…Luger kicks out and goes right back on offense, refusing to let up. Tatanka counters a backdrop with a sunset flip for the 1…2…Luger kicks out and clubs Tatanka in the back with a double axhandle. Luger kicks Tatanka hard in the ribs so hard that he almost trips over the body. Tatanka goes war dancing and begins his comeback. Knife-edged chop gets a REAL CLOSE two-count, powerslam gets another SUPER CLOSE two-count. Tatanka takes flight with a flying tomahawk chop for the 1…2…LUGER KICKS OUT AGAIN. Tatanka goes back to the top but misses a flying crossbody and both men are down with two minutes remaining. Luger belts Tatanka with a clothesline for the 1…2…Tatanka kicks out. Luger with a powerslam of his own for the 1…2…nope! Luger with a vertical suplex for the 1…2…Tatanka kicks out with thirty seconds remaining. Luger with a backbreaker for the 1…2…Tatanka kicks out and the bell rings. DRAW.
Tatanka and Lex Luger fought to a time limit draw; both men are eliminated from the KING OF THE RING TOURNAMENT and Bam Bam Bigelow advances to the Finals (15:00)
- The time limit draw was telegraphed from the very beginning so I was expecting a lot of padding, but to their credit Tatanka and Luger kept the match relatively interesting for the entire duration. They did pad here and there, mostly by taking extra seconds to go for a pinfall, but there wasn’t an extended chinlock or anything to really drag stuff down. Better than you’d think it would be, and this wouldn’t be the last time these two would meet as they would feud once again in 1994. TAKE THE MONEY, LEX. (**)
Luger wants FIVE MORE MINUTES and knocks Tatanka out with his METAL ELBOW to win the war. HA.
-“Mean” Gene Okerlund is standing by with Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect, set to do battle next in the semi-finals. Hart’s fingers are taped up from Ramon’s stomping in the opening round. Okerlund stirs the pot like a jerk, Perfect says he owes Hart for SummerSlam 1991 and that Hart’s dad could never beat his dad.
KING OF THE RING: SEMI-FINALS
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
Hart connects with a hip toss into a side headlock takeover, Perfect quickly counters with a headscissors. Hart grabs a side headlock, Perfect backs him in the corner and breaks with a knife-edged chop. OUCH. Hart reverses an Irish whip and connects with a slam, Perfect kicks away, Perfect with a slam, Hart kicks him away and connects with another side headlock takeover. Both men evenly matched. I’m loving this already. Hart rolls Perfect up with a crucifix, Perfect kicks out and Hart immediately slows it back down with a third side headlock takeover. Hart catches Perfect with a crossbody, Perfect kicks out and sends Hart to the floor. Hart immediately climbs the apron and rolls Perfect up with a sunset flip for the 1…2…Perfect kicks out and once again Hart keeps things in control with a side headlock. Perfect backs Hart into the ropes and drives a knee right to the ribs of Hart, breaking the hold and sending the Hitman crumpling to the canvas. A Perfect dropkick sends Hart to the floor and pulls a strap down to show off ONE manly nipple. Perfect holds the ropes open to allow Hart in, Hart takes the bait and gets kicked for his troubles. Perfect penalty kicks Hart in the ribs, sending him back to the floor. This time Perfect follows him out, driving his head into the apron. Hart climbs the apron, Perfect uses the rope to launch him right into the…area in front of the railing, injuring his right knee.
Perfect pulls Hart back into the ring and hits another kneelift, covering for the 1…2…Hart’s not done yet. Perfect takes flight and connects with a MISSILE DROPKICK OF ALL THINGS for the 1…2…Hart gets his foot on the rope so Perfect hooks that leg for the 1…2…Hart still kicks out. Perfect sends Hart chest-first into the buckles and covers again for the 1…2…nope! Perfect back to the top, Hart crotches him and connects with a Superplex from the middle buckle for the 1…2…Perfect kicks out! Hart goes after Perfect’s leg, kicking it out from under him and sending Perfect crashing on top of his head (JEEZ). Hart applies the Figure Four in the center of the ring, Heenan gets so involved he accidentally cheers for Perfect like old times. Perfect struggles and eventually forces a rope break, but the damage has been done. Hart grapevines the leg and applies a leglock, twisting the ankle for extra torque. Perfect breaks out with a shot to the nose. Perfect throws Hart across the ring by the hair, desperate to find some way to beat his rival. Perfect cinches in a sleeperhold in the center of the ring, Hart almost fades but gets himself into the ropes to force a break. Perfect chops Hart again and reapplies the sleeperhold, putting his foot on the rope for extra leverage before remembering he’s a good guy now and stopping.
Hart breaks the hold by sending Perfect into the buckles and belts him with a European uppercut. Hart flings Perfect across the ring and crotch-first into the ring post (YIKES). Inverted atomic drop right into the Side Russian Legsweep for the 1…2…PERFECT KICKS OUT. Elbowdrop from the middle rope for the 1…2…Perfect gets his shoulder up in the nick of time. Hart goes for the Sharpshooter, Perfect grabs Hart’s taped fingers and bends them back to counter, then stomps on them. NICE. Heenan takes credit for that move. Perfect goes for the Perfect Plex, Hart blocks it and sends himself and Perfect out to the floor with a suplex! HOT DAMN. Perfect makes it into the ring first and rolls Hart with an inside cradle for the 1…2…Hart shifts his weight and reverses it for the 1…2…3!
Bret Hart defeated Mr. Perfect via pinfall (18:56)
- Great match, great psychology, great action, the near-falls built the drama perfectly. Very little negative to say about this one. There’s a debate between fans on if this is better than their SummerSlam 1991 I think I like the 1991 better only because Perfect worked hurt and STILL pulled off a tremendous encounter, but this is really damn good as well and worth checking out. Likely the match of the night unless Hart/Bigelow somehow tops it. (****1/4)
A disappointed Perfect throws a mini-tantrum at ringside, then charges back into the ring to give Hart a reluctant handshake. Sportsmanship!
-Cut to a pre-recorded interview between Okerlund, Hulk Hogan, and Jimmy Hart. Hogan vows to remain WWF Champion after testing the power of Yokozuna. Lots o’ patriotic talk to throw shade at the EVIL FOREIGN MENACE.
–Yokozuna makes his entrance, led by Mr. Fuji and surrounded by photographers…including a dude in a VERY FAKE BEARD. How the hell did I miss that when I was a kid? Yoko’s gifted flowers from a couple of Japanese women in traditional wear.
“The Immortal” Hulk Hogan [c] [w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart] vs. Yokozuna [w/ Mr. Fuji] for the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP
Hogan defeated Yokozuna in mere seconds at the end of WrestleMania IX to win the WWF Championship for a record fifth time…and then vanished until tonight’s rematch. Ross and Savage talk about the fans wanting Bret Hart to face Hogan instead of Yokozuna, which is interesting. Didn’t think they would have admitted to not putting on the match people actually wanted to see.
They lock up and Yoko throws Hogan to the mat with ease, surprising the champ. Yoko clubs Hogan with chops and headbutts, throwing in a back rake for the heck of it. Yoko whips Hogan into the corner but misses the splash and Hogan fights back with a series of rights. Hogan whips Yoko into the opposite corner, moving the ring, and connects with a clothesline. Hogan tries for a slam but can’t do it and Yoko clobbers him back to the mat. Hogan tries for another slam, getting one leg up, but Yoko once again overpowers and swats him off. Hogan rocks Yoko with a pair of clotheslines, Hogan goes for a third and gets dropped with a clothesline from the challenger. Hogan just BARELY dodges a splash, saving his spine and his WWF Championship. Hogan runs into Yoko and falls to the mat, not even fazing the big man. Standing bear hug, Hogan almost fades but the “USA!” chants wake him up and he escapes with a series of right hands. Hogan favors his back and runs right into a back elbow. Yoko follows up with a belly-to-belly suplex, causing the Hulkster to twitch, and Yoko covers for the 1…2…IT’S HULK UP TIME, BROTHER. Hogan does his thing, but it takes THREE Big Boots to finally send him to the mat. Hogan follows up with the Big Legdrop for the 1…2…YOKO POWERS OUT WITH EASE. Hogan clears the apron of Fuji and signals for a slam. The FAKE BEARD PHOTOGRAPHER shoots a fireball in Hogan’s face, Yoko follows up with a legdrop for the 1…2…3!
Yokozuna defeated Hulk Hogan [c] via pinfall to win the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (13:09)
- I’m not surprised this one was slow and plodding, but it didn’t make it any better to sit through. Felt like they were moving through molasses for the bulk of the match, but I did like the end of Yoko beating Hogan with HIS OWN FINISHING MOVE. Well-played. Oh just in case you’re wondering the photographer with the exploding camera is never identified and never factors into anything going forward. (*1/4)
Yokozuna puts an exclamation on his victory with a Banzai Drop, squashing Hulkamania in the WWF for the next decade or so. Hart and various officials pull Hogan out of the ring to prevent further damage, camera cuts to a couple of sort-of sad kids in the crowd. Yoko and Fuji pose for the Japanese photographers with WORKING cameras. People give a lot of sh*t to Hogan for not putting people over, but this is a good example of him actually doing the deed. Sure he lost the match to shenanigans, but he also lost the post-match war and Yoko came off looking like a monster by easily dismantling the WWF’s biggest star in history at that point.
-Terry Taylor catches up with Mr. Perfect for a Coliseum Video exclusive interview. Perfect doesn’t want to talk about losing the match. ANOTHER GREAT EXCLUSIVE.
-“Mean” Gene is standing by with WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels and his imposing bodyguard. Michaels gives him his name: Diesel. I think he also talks about his title defense but I already can’t remember.
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) & The Smoking Gunns (Bart & Billy Gunn) vs. Money Inc. (“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) & The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) [w/ Afa]
DiBiase connects with a pair of armdrags, Scott Steiner responds with some chain wrestling and a dropkick. Scott clotheslines him out to the floor, Rick Steiner gets a shot in and rolls him back in. DiBiase argues with the ref, Scott sends him back to the floor with another clothesline, Rick with another right hand and roll-in. Fun game of catch. Fatu and Bart Gunn tag in for their respective teams. Bart connects with a dropkick and a drop toehold into an armbar. Fatu whips him off, Bart rams his head on the apron but HE’S GOT A THICK SAMOAN SKULL so Fatu quickly hops back up and belts him with a superkick. Samu tags in and drops a headbutt, Heenan making fun of the Gunns’ rodeo past. IRS tags in and drops the leg between the leg, DiBiase quick tags and drops Bart with a back elbow and a textbook vertical suplex. The Headshrinkers keep the momentum going with a double backdrop. Fatu goes for the cover, Bart kicks out at 2. IRS tags in and connects with a right hand from the top rope followed by a legdrop for a two-count. Afa is confused by IRS’ metal briefcase at ringside, which I laughed at for some reason. Bart and IRS drop one another with a double clothesline as the crowd struggles to get invested.
DiBiase tags in but so does Billy Gunn, who connects with a backdrop followed by a pair of clotheslines. Bart goes for a Thesz Press, DiBiase counters with a stun gun. DiBiase locks in the Million Dollar Dream but lets it go early out of arrogance. This costs him as Billy surprises DiBiase with an inside cradle for the 1…2…3!
The Steiner Brothers & The Smoking Gunns defeated Money Inc. & The Headshrinkers via pinfall (7:02)
- Crowd was struggling hard to maintain interest after watching the WWF Championship change hands, and I can’t blame them. This was fine for what it was, but felt unnecessary. Billy Gunn getting the pin was a nice touch though, help give the newest team on the roster a little rub and a claim to a Tag Team Title shot. It’ll take a little longer for the Gunns to get there though. (*1/2)
Everyone starts brawling, the faces clear the ring and stand tall. Afa still has IRS’ briefcase.
-“Mean” Gene is in the dressing room with new WWF Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji, the gaggle of photographers, and WWF President Jack Tunney. Tunney congratulates Yoko on the win and doesn’t seem too concerned about the PHOTOGRAPHER WHO TRIED TO LIGHT HOGAN ON FIRE. Fuji gloats about killing Hulkamania as the camera focuses on Yoko’s face. They aren’t going back to Japan, they’re going to celebrate in America to rub it in even more.
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels [c] [w/ Diesel] vs. Crush for the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Michaels cost Crush a spot in the King of the Ring tournament, so Crush is here for revenge. Honestly he should thank Michaels, a title shot is way better than a spot in a random tournament.
Crush controls things early, connecting with a shoulderblock so strong that Michaels flies out of the ring. Crush shows off some athleticism with back to back dropkicks that send the champ back out to the floor. Crush trips Michaels up and military presses the champ before slamming him to the mat. Michaels tries to bail, Crush pulls him back in for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Diesel pulls Michaels out of the ring to protect him. Crush climbs out of the ring, Diesel distracts him and Michaels clobbers him from behind sending him into the ring post. Michaels repeatedly bounces the back of Crush’s head into the ring post while Diesel distracts the ref, though I don’t think he would have been DQed. Pointless distraction. Michaels rolls he barely conscious Crush into the ring and covers for the 1…2…Crush kicks out and Michaels repeatedly stomps him in frustration. Michaels connects with a double ax from the top to the back of the head. Front chancery by the champ. Crush gets to his feet and tosses Michaels onto the top rope, flinging him to the floor. Michaels to the top, Crush sidesteps and swats him to the mat. Crush mounts a string of offense, concluding in a backbreaker for a close two-count. Crush with a big boot and a standing legdrop for the 1…2…Michaels kicks out again. Crush blocks an O’Connor Roll and clotheslines Michaels out to the floor. Crush tries to follow-up but out comes Doink The Clown smoking a cigar to distract his archnemesis, a second Doink following behind in lock step. Michaels takes advantage and hits a Superkick to the back of the head, sending Crush into the buckles and to the mat for the 1…2…3.
Shawn Michaels [c] defeated Crush via pinfall to retain the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (11:14)
- An okay match that did a good job of showcasing Crush’s strength and athleticism, but all the props go to Michaels for carrying the awkward big man to a watchable match. We even got an EVIL DOINK CAMEO, which almost makes this ***** but I’ll try to contain my fanboyishness. (**)
Crush chases after the evil Doinks as Michaels celebrates his victory.
-“Mean” Gene is in the hallway with Bam Bam Bigelow, well-rested after receiving a bye into the Finals. Bigelow says he has the opportunity to be the first King of the Ring and he’s going to get the job done.
KING OF THE RING: FINALS
Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Hart sidesteps a charging Bigelow and they trade right hands. Bigelow clubs Hart to the mat, Hart ducks a clothesline and counters a military press with a lateral press for a two-count. Hart with a standing armbar, Bigelow escapes with a rake of the eyes. Bigelow drops Hart with a shoulderblock and tosses him out to the floor with a gorilla press slam! HITMAN DED. Bigelow whips Hart into the corner, moving the ring, and connecting with a headbutt to the back for the 1…2…Hart gets his foot on the rope, Bigelow hooks said leg for the 1…2…kickout. Bigelow with a measured belly-to-back suplex, Hart gets the shoulder up just in time to prevent the pinfall. Hart tries fighting back, Bigelow pokes the eye and hammer throws Hart back into the corner. Standing bearhug on Hart, lifting the Hitman in the air and walking around the ring with him. Hart escapes, Bigelow immediately drills him with another belly-to-back suplex for the 1…2…Hart barely gets his shoulder up. Okerlund watches from the KOTR coronation set as Bigelow tosses Hart to the floor. Hart reverses an Irish whip and Bigelow goes ribs-first into the guardrail, damn near squashing the front row crowd. Hart comes off the apron, Bigelow catches him and rams him spine-first into the post. Bigelow follows up by slamming Hart on the carpeted floor, away from the padding. Luna Vachon shows up while Bigelow distracts the ref and hits Hart with a chair, scurrying off before she can be seen. Bigelow rolls Hart into the ring and connects with the Flying Headbutt for the 1…2…3?!?
A second referee runs in and tells the first about Vachon’s interference, so the match WILL CONTINUE. Bigelow continues dismantling Hart, who’s barely able to stand. Why not just pin him immediately? He was still out of it. Bigelow switches the bearhug up into an over the shoulder Sammartino version. Hart almost passes out but finds the strength to continue, escaping and countering with a belly-to-back suplex! Bigelow misses a senton but rakes the eyes to stop a follow-up. Another Sammartino backbreaker, Hart rakes the eyes to escape and counter into a backpack sleeper. Bigelow flings Hart off, Hart gets to his feet and dropkicks him from behind, sending him into the ropes. Hart dumps him over and follows up with a slingshot splash, peppering the Beast from the East with right hands. Back in the ring Hart belts Bigelow with a flying clothesline for the 1…2…Bigelow kicks out. Hart with a side Russian Legsweep and a flying bulldog from the middle buckle. Hart goes for the Sharpshooter, Bigelow easily powers out and applies another bearhug but Hart quickly escapes by biting him. Hart goes for another suplex, Bigelow shifts his weight and lands on top with a lateral press for the 1…2…HART KICKS OUT. Hart catches a charging Bigelow with a boot and climbs on his shoulders, rolling him up with a victory roll for the 1…2…3!
Bret Hart defeated Bam Bam Bigelow via pinfall; Hart is the 1993 KING OF THE RING (17:21)
- Helluva match to end the show on, and a great cap to an all-time Bret Hart performance. He wrestled three different matches with three different styles and excelled in all of them. Bigelow for his part hung in there really well and did a great job dismantling the Hitman right from the start. I had forgotten the initial false finish so for a moment there I thought Bigelow had won it and I somehow fever dreamed the rest of 1993. Hart/Perfect is the match to watch on this show, but this a close second due to the storytelling and gutsy babyface performance of the Hitman. (***3/4)
CLOSING SEGMENT: BRET HART’S CORONATION
After briefly embracing Randy Savage, Hart is whisked away to the interview stage/coronation area where “Mean” Gene is standing by to help him put his King of the Ring gear on (scepter, crown, cape). So goofy. Okerlund officially proclaims Hart the King of the Ring and they’re immediately interrupted by Jerry “The King” Lawler who confronts the pretender to his throne. Lawler says he might make Hart his prince if he gets on his hands and knees and kisses his feet. Hart throws shade at Lawler for not even getting involved in the tournament to begin with, and leads the crowd in a “BURGER KING” chant. Lawler cheap shots Hart with the scepter and beats him up with various pieces of the set, crushing Hart’s crown in the process. Lawler gets back on the mic and says he’s going to let Hart kiss his feet…meaning a KICK TO THE FACE which sends Hart rolling down the stairs to the stage. Officials check on Hart as Lawler keeps kicking and we conclude the show.
- I’ll admit that seeing Jerry Lawler come in as an actual wrestling heel and lay waste to Bret Hart felt really weird after his decades-long commentating career, so it took me a moment to really get into this. But it worked and was a decent, if lame (kings in wrestling are usually dumb), way to kickstart Hart’s summer (and beyond) feud. Great way to give Lawler some searing heat too by having him beat down Hart after his grueling path to victory. I was VERY into this as a kid and I’m still into this now.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The 1993 King of the Ring belongs almost exclusively to Bret Hart, who put on three great matches with three different opponents and had a true all-time top WWE performance. Yes this show also includes the historic “end of Hulkamania” and crowning of Yokozuna as the true big bad of the WWF going forward, but that match stunk so I remember this show more for Hart doing his thing and also Evil Doink smoking a cigar because he’s Evil Doink and he’s the best. Watch Hart’s matches and the Hogan/Yoko for historical reasons and skip the rest.