The WWE King of the Ring pay-per-view debuted in 1993. Prior to this show taking place, WWE had the “big four” PPVs with WrestleMania taking place in late March or early April, SummerSlam in August, Survivor Series in November usually around US Thanksgiving time and the Royal Rumble in late January.
Adding a fifth pay-per-view to the schedule was a big deal. It was two years after this when WWE decided to do monthly PPVs mostly as a way to counter what WCW was doing at the time as well.
The King of the Ring concept wasn’t new because they had tournaments to crown kings like Don Muraco, Harley Race and Randy Savage among others. Even Bret Hart won King of the Ring in 1991 two years before the PPV took place. That one was just at a live event. This one was a lot more important.
There’s an interesting backstory to this show. WrestleMania 9 ended with Hulk Hogan leaving with the WWE Title after beating Yokozuna in a short match. Bret Hart lost the title to Yokozuna right before that due to the dreaded Fuji Dust from Mr. Fuji. Bret has claimed that there was a deal for Hogan to put Bret over at King of the Ring while Hulk claimed that wasn’t true. Since Bret is an honest man and Hogan is one of the biggest bullshitters in the history of wrestling, I’ll take Bret’s side on that. Hogan did work this show against Yokozuna in what was Hulk’s last televised match in WWE (he did work some house shows after King of the Ring 1993) for about nine years until his 2002 comeback.
Here’s what Bret Hart wrote in his book about it, which goes from WrestleMania 9 leading to King of the Ring 1993. Thanks to my friends at Prowrestlingstories for it so I don’t have to write it myself from Bret’s book. I’ll put it in blue font and then I’ll take over again in regular black font:
A few minutes later (after WrestleMania 9), Hogan came up to me excited and happy and said, “Thank you, brother. I won’t forget it. I’ll be happy to return the favor.” I looked my old friend in the eye and said, “I’m going to remember that, Terry.”
As for Yoko, I was always a little pissed off at him for going home on me and not letting me show Vince, Hogan and everyone else that we could tear the house down without their bullshit finish. Even so, it was the best match that Yoko ever had.
On May 29, Vince called me at home to tell me the big news that I was getting the belt back. What I didn’t expect to hear was that he was getting ready to call Hogan and hated the thought of telling him that he was too old and tired for a company whose marketing strategy was now based around a “new generation” concept. Vince wanted to make Hogan into the Babe Ruth of the WWF and use him as more of a special attraction. He asked me not to say anything until he had spoken to Hogan. Ten days later, Vince called again. He warned me that he was about to tell me something that would make me really angry: Hogan was flat-out refusing to put me over, saying I wasn’t in his league. Vince had decided that Yoko would be getting the belt instead. I couldn’t believe that Hogan would do this to me. I remembered him shaking my hand at WrestleMania 9, and telling me he’d be happy to return the favor. Vince said he’d have one more meeting with Hogan to try to sell him on it, but if he didn’t go for it, I’d work with Lawler at SummerSlam instead.
Hulk Hogan didn’t go for it. I wanted to believe that Vince hadn’t told me the whole story, and I made up my mind to confront Hogan as soon as he’d dropped the belt to Yoko. I’d wait till then because it didn’t seem right for me to change Yoko’s destiny.
I showed up in the dressing room for King of the Ring in a dark mood and promptly drew a blackboard cartoon of Beefcake with his face buried in Hogan’s ass cheeks with a caption that read, “Be careful, Brutus, you don’t want to loosen the screws in your face . . . speaking of screws . . .” I was taking my frustration out on Beefcake, which wasn’t right, but I was too pissed off to know it at the time.
What Hogan had done was perfectly clear to the boys, and they enjoyed the humor of my cartoon. Since Hogan rarely bothered to come into the dressing room, he didn’t see it, but Beefcake sure did and went slinking back to Hulk. But it didn’t matter to me: Hogan was no longer one of the boys, and he never would be again.
I was determined not only to have the three best matches on the pay-per-view but three of the best matches of my career.”
After Hogan’s match with Yokozuna, according to Bret in his book, Bret let Hogan know how he felt and told Hogan to “go f**k himself.” Enough said.
Anyway, that’s the story going into the show. It’s more than what I usually write in the introduction section, but I felt I needed to cover it. They should have had Hogan put over Bret Hart on this show. Instead, Hulk got his way, brother.
King of the Ring did a pretty good number on pay-per-view with 245,000 buys. It was the best number for King of the Ring in its first five years, then was beaten from 1998 to 2002 (the company’s peak years), but it did better than Survivor Series and nearly beat SummerSlam. Not bad for a debut KOTR event.
Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:
“The inaugural King of the Ring tournament features Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Bam Bam Bigelow, Lex Luger, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Mr. Perfect, Razor Ramon and other Superstars competing for the crown. Hulk Hogan defends the WWE Championship against Yokozuna. Shawn Michaels defends the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Crush.”
The VHS looks like this:
WWF King of the Ring
June 13, 1993
Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio
The show began with a yelling Vince McMahon giving us a rundown of the King of the Ring tournament matches.
The show began with the announce team of Jim Ross, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage on commentary. They mentioned some of the big matches. They said that they were in the “Heartland of America” and also said “Dayton, Ohio” a few times.
Razor Ramon entered for the first match. The fans chanted “1, 2, 3” at Razor since he lost to the 123-Kid on Raw in one of the biggest upsets ever. Bret “Hitman” Hart got a big pop from the crowd. There’s a one fall, 15-minute time limit in King of the Ring quarterfinal matches.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Razor Ramon
Pre-match notes: Bret Hart was the babyface while Razor was the heel. These two men had a pretty good WWE Title match at Royal Rumble 1993 when Bret beat Razor to keep the title.
Bret was in control early with an arm drag into a knee drop and armbar. Razor blocked a hiptoss with a clothesline, then he missed an elbow drop and Bret hit an armdrag. Razor with a body slam while Bret applied an armbar, so Bret was able to hold on. Razor with a thumb to the eye followed by an elbow smash for two. Bret with a hammerlock to wear down Razor. Bret charged, Razor with a knee to the face and Razor whipped Bret shoulder first into the ring post. Back in the ring, Razor stomped on Bret as the fans chanted “1, 2, 3” at Razor. A fallaway slam by Razor got a two count. Razor with a running Powerslam for a two count. Razor with a sidewalk slam followed by an elbow drop, but Bret avoided three elbow drops. Bret came back with punches, the fans were into it, Bret with an atomic drop and a clothesline for two. Bret hit a side Russian legsweep for two and a backbreaker for two. Bret hit the diving elbow off the middle rope for two. Bret got a rollup sitting on top for two. Razor countered a bulldog with a shove into the top turnbuckle. Razor wanted the Razor’s Edge, but Bret slipped out of it as they fought for a backslide. Bret flipped off the ropes and got an inside cradle for two! That was very close. Razor came back with a clothesline. Razor with a belly to back suplex off the middle rope, but Bret countered it and landed on top for the pinfall win at 10:25.
Winner by pinfall: Bret Hart
Analysis: ***1/4 Good opener with Bret finding a way to win against the bigger opponent in Razor. The spot where Razor hit the belly to back suplex off the middle rope is something that Razor did in nearly every match, so it was smart to use that for the finish with Bret landing on top to win.
There was a video from Superstars when Harvey Wippleman handed Mr. Hughes the urn belonging to The Undertaker and Hughes hit Undertaker with the urn repeatedly. Giant Gonzalez was fighting with Undertaker as well. Hughes hit Undertaker with the urn repeatedly.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Mr. Hughes (w/Harvey Wippleman) vs. Mr. Perfect
Pre-match notes: Mr. Hughes was the heel while Mr. Perfect was a face. Mr. Perfect was a heel for most of his career, but at this point, he was in a face role.
Hughes with a shoulder tackle. Perfect with a leapfrog followed by a dropkick with Hughes standing up against the ropes. Hughes punched Perfect, who bumped over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Hughes applied a chinlock, Perfect ran the ropes and Hughes hit a boot to the face. Hughes with a clothesline that knocked down a running Perfect. Hughes continued the offense with a hard whip leading to Perfect taking a ridiculous bump. Hughes whipped Perfect into the turnbuckle. Bret Hart was interviewed saying he would rather face Mr. Perfect. They messed a spot where Perfect went charging in, Hughes looked like he was going to hit a slam or suplex and messed it up. Hughes went for a running attack against the ropes, Perfect moved and Hughes hit the ropes. Perfect with a hip toss, then a back body drop and Perfect hit the flipping neckbreaker. Hughes grabbed Undertaker’s urn and hit Perfect in the head with it, so that’s the DQ finish at 6:02.
Winner by disqualification: Mr. Perfect
Analysis: *1/2 A weak match because Mr. Hughes wasn’t very good, but at least the right guy won. Perfect did a really nice job of selling Hughes’ offense, which is no surprise since Perfect was incredible at selling. Lame finish with the DQ ending.
There was an interview with Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna where Yokozuna told Hulk Hogan that Hogan and America will go down.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
Pre-match notes: Bigelow was the heel and Duggan was the babyface, of course. This was Duggan’s last year in WWE as a full-timer.
Bigelow ran the ropes, he couldn’t knock Duggan down and then Duggan hit multiple clotheslines to knock Bigelow out of the ring. The fans chanted “USA” for Duggan. Bigelow with a whip into the corner, Duggan avoided a charge and Bigelow hit a headbutt. Bigelow worked on the ribs of Duggan with forearms. Duggan with punches and then Bigelow did an eye poke. Bigelow missed a headbutt when Duggan moved and then Bigelow landed on top during a body slam attempt. Bigelow went for a kick, Duggan moved and Duggan hit a body slam. Duggan charged, Bigelow ducked and Duggan hit the turnbuckle. Bigelow went up top and hit a headbutt to the arm for the pinfall win at 4:59.
Winner by pinfall: Bam Bam Bigelow
Analysis: *1/4 This was pretty bad, but it was short and they got through it. Duggan wasn’t really known for having good matches. Bigelow was a star on the rise, so it was the right call to have the veteran Duggan putting over Bigelow like this. Duggan looked old here, but that final bump by Duggan into the turnbuckle was a good one and then Bigelow hit his finishing headbutt to win.
The Steiner Brothers and The Smoking Gunns were interviewed by Terry Taylor, who said this was a Coliseum Home Video exclusive. It was a basic interview with these babyfaces talking about how they are ready for the match and feel confident they can win.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: “The Narcissist” Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Pre-match notes: Luger was the heel and Tatanka was an undefeated babyface.
It was announced that if Lex Luger doesn’t put on an elbow pad on his right arm then he will be eliminated from the tournament. Luger had a steel plate on his right elbow, so they used it as a spot with Luger using it as a move that knocks people out.
Luger sent Tatanka out of the ring and then Tatanka tossed Luger’s mirror over. Tatanka with a body slam on the floor. Back in the ring, Tatanka with a back body drop followed by a clothesline. Tatanka was in full control with an armdrag and then he hit a leg drop on the left arm. Tatanka applied an armbar again. Bam Bam Bigelow did a promo inset saying he wants to get his hands on Tatanka. There was a cross body block from Tatanka for a two count. Tatanka applied another armbar, then Luger got to the ropes and Luger hit a back elbow to break free. Luger with a knee drop followed by an elbow drop. Luger with a backbreaker and an elbow drop. Tatanka got a surprising rollup for a two count, but then Luger stomped on him to remain on offense. Luger applied a chinlock to kill a minute, Tatanka broke free, but Luger hit a lefty clothesline to knock him down. Tatanka got an inside cradle for a two count. Tatanka charged and went for a sunset flip for two with Luger kicking out. Luger with a double axehandle to put Tatanka down again. Luger with a kick to the ribs. JR noted that it was 11 minutes into the match with 4 minutes left because there’s a 15 minute time limit in the first round. Tatanka did a no selling routine, hit repeated chops and got a two count. Tatanka hit a powerslam for two followed by a body slam. Tatanka jumped off the top with a chop to the head for two. Tatanka went up top again, he jumped off with nothing, Luger moved and Tatanka hit the mat. Luger with a clothesline for two followed by Luger hitting a powerslam for two. The announcers said one minute remaining and it was not announced in the arena for some reason. Luger with a back body drop followed by a suplex for two. Luger with a backbreaker that got a two count. The bell rang repeatedly to signal the time limit expired at 15:00.
Match Result: Time Limit Draw
Analysis: **1/4 It was just an average match where they were clearly killing time during some parts of it with the long armbar spots and things like that. It was a legitimate 15 minutes rather than WWE lying about it, so at least they were honest. They should have announced the time left in the match to the crowd so they would have cared more. If you’re going to build up to the draw, then you need to announce it to the crowd. Luger could have a good match with the right opponent. They just didn’t work that well together. This just wasn’t that interesting although I give credit to Tatanka for doing a nice job as the babyface making the comeback towards the finish.
It was announced that Luger and Tatanka were both eliminated from the King of the Ring tournament. It also means that Bam Bam Bigelow advances to the finals of the tournament.
Lex Luger did a promo saying he wanted five more minutes. The fans cheered that. Luger took off the elbow pad and hit Tatanka with the running forearm (with the elbow pad off), so Tatanka sold it like he was knocked out. Luger was booed by the crowd. Tatanka was helped to the back by two referees.
Analysis: Luger turned babyface a few weeks after this when he bodyslammed Yokozuna during a July 4 weekend event. If you would have told me that Luger would headline the next pay-per-view SummerSlam in August as a babyface after this booking I would have thought no way, but that’s what happened.
Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect were interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund at the same time. Bret said he respected Perfect’s wrestling ability. Bret claimed that his dad beat Perfect’s dad. Perfect said he remembered SummerSlam and he’s going to pay him back. Perfect said that he’ll do what he has to in order to win. Bret said he didn’t win at SummerSlam. Bret said he’s going to win. Perfect wanted a handshake, then he pulled the hand away and Bret made his entrance. Perfect said he owes him for SummerSlam and Mr. Perfect is going to prevail.
Analysis: The SummerSlam comments were in reference to their classic match at SummerSlam 1991 when Bret beat Perfect to win the Intercontinental Title in what was Bret’s biggest win of his career at the time. I rated that SummerSlam 1991 match ****1/4 in case you’re wondering.
There is a 30-minute time limit in the semifinal matches.
King of the Ring Semifinals: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Mr. Perfect
Pre-match notes: Both guys were babyfaces. They were both 35 years old with Bret one year older and he was nearly 36 at the time. I was actually surprised to find out that Bret was a year older.
Bret with a shoulder tackle, then a hip toss and Perfect with a leg scissors around his head. Perfect connected with a hard chop, Bret with a body slam, then Perfect with a body slam of his own and Bret with a side headlock takeover. Bret got a crucifix pin for two leading to another headlock. Bret with a cross body block and also a sunset flip for a two count. Bret grabbed another headlock, Perfect grabbed hair to turn Bret a bit and Perfect hit a knee lift to the ribs. It was nearly a low blow. Perfect with a standing dropkick that sent Bret out of the ring. Perfect opened the ropes for Bret to come back in the ring and then Perfect kicked Bret to knock him down. Perfect with forearms to keep Bret down followed by a knee lift for two. Perfect kicked Bret out of the ring. Perfect chopped Bret, then Perfect sent Bret into the apron and back into the ring. With Bret on the apron, Perfect pushed the ropes leading to Bret taking a bump off the apron to the floor with Bret crashing into the barricade. Bret was selling a right knee injury, then got back into the ring and Perfect hit a knee lift for two. Perfect went up top, Bret back up and Perfect hit a missile dropkick because Bret had his foot on the rope. Perfect with a hard whip into the turnbuckle with Bret taking a sternum bump. Perfect went up top again, Bret punched him and Bret hit a superplex from the middle rope for two.
Bret kicked the back of the left leg of Perfect leading to a Figure Four Leglock submission. Perfect was selling the submission very well, then he got near the ropes and grabbed the bottom rope leading to a break. Bret stretched the left leg of Perfect some more. Perfect did a blatant hair toss across the ring. Perfect applied a sleeper hold, but Bret managed to get to the ropes where he leaned across the ropes and Perfect broke the hold right before the five count. Perfect applied a sleeper again while putting his right foot on the bottom rope since he used to be a heel. The match was around the 15 minute mark according to JR. Bret countered the sleeper hold by sending Perfect face first into the turnbuckle. Bret with a forearm, then he sent Perfect into the turnbuckle and Bret with a hair toss that sent Perfect across the ring leading to a bump against the ring post. Bret with an atomic drop followed by a Russian legsweep for two. Bret with a leg drop and a backbreaker. Bret jumped off the middle rope with a diving elbow smash for two. Bret went for the Sharpshooter, but Perfect bent back Bret’s left hand that was taped up. Perfect stomped on the left hand. Perfect teased a Perfectplex, Bret ended up blocking it and Bret suplexed Perfect over the top with Bret going over the top to the floor with Perfect. That was awesome! You don’t see moves like that very often, but they made it look good. Back in the ring, Perfect was faking a left knee injury, so referee Earl Hebner made Bret move back and Perfect got an inside cradle for two, but then Bret countered with his own inside cradle for the pinfall win! It went 18:56.
Winner by pinfall: Bret Hart
Analysis: ****1/2 This was an outstanding match. I rated it a bit higher than the SummerSlam 1991 match because it had so much action and it was an impressive showing by both men. There were so many brilliant counters from both guys, the match could have ended several times and I know these guys loved working together. If you paid attention to the interview before the match, Perfect said he would do anything to win, which set up the finish beautifully as Perfect tried to do a fake knee injury to get Hart to be unprepared, but then Bret countered that to get the win. That meant the story was even more brilliant because it put over Bret as being too smart to be outsmarted by Perfect trying to be a bit heelish. I think by having Bret win with an inside cradle instead of a Sharpshooter (like at SummerSlam 1991), it showed that Perfect was tougher to beat this time around. Hart and Perfect wrestled a match where it was even the whole way from the opening bell all the way to the finish with Bret doing the same move as Perfect and then Bret managed to get the win. This was arguably the WWE Match of the Year 1993. Definitely a contender.
The win by Bret Hart meant that he made the finals against Bam Bam Bigelow.
Post match, Mr. Perfect was frustrated about the loss as he walked around the ringside area. Perfect went into the ring and offered a handshake, so Bret shook his hand to show that there was mutual respect.
Analysis: Bret has talked about how Mr. Perfect was one of his favorite opponents. When you think about this match and SummerSlam 1991, it’s easy to see why. I think Perfect was one of Bret’s three best opponents along with Steve Austin and Bret’s brother Owen Hart. Instant chemistry in all three cases, plus multiple great matches between them.
They showed the announce team at ringside with Macho Man talking about how excited he was after that last match.
Hulk Hogan and manager Jimmy Hart were interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund. Hart was wearing a jacket with Hulk’s face on the back of it. Hogan did one of his usual promo about how he’s got the power of the Hulkamaniacs. Hogan reminded us that he was a five-time WWE Champion. Hogan said he’s going to put the big man Yokozuna down.
Yokozuna made his entrance as the former WWE Champion that was the challenger in this match. Yokozuna was introduced as being from the “Polynesian Islands” and Mr. Fuji had a Japanese flag. They claimed that photographers from the Orient were documenting Yokozuna’s every move. This would play into the finish. JR claimed that Yokozuna was 550 pounds.
Hulk Hogan got a huge pop as the WWE Champion with Jimmy Hart by his side. This was nine years after Hogan’s first WWE Championship win and he still had a lot of support from the fans. Hogan was in good shape with JR saying he was “leaner and meaner.” Savage and Ross talked about how fans wanted Bret Hart vs. Hulk Hogan, but WWF President Jack Tunney named Yokozuna as the challenger for this match.
Analysis: Hogan was definitely slimmer. Part of it was because of the WWF/E Steroid trial going on, so Hogan did slim down. He was still big, but not as big as in his prime years.
WWE Championship: Hulk Hogan (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji)
Pre-match notes: Hogan was the babyface WWE Champion. He was a five-time WWE Champion. Yokozuna was the heel challenger that was the former WWE Champion. Hogan was 39 years old at the time of the match (turned 40 in August). A few years after this when he was in WCW, Vince McMahon would do Hogan parodies of “The Huckster” mocking how old Hogan was. Meanwhile in current WWE, they have plenty of guys in their early 40s that are key contributors. Funny how things change.
Yokozuna was dominant early with punches, chops and a forearm to the back that knocked down Hogan. Yoko with a body slam. Yoko with a hard whip that sent Yokozuna hard into the turnbuckle. Yoko with a corner whip, then Yoko charged and Hogan moved out of the way. Hogan with punches along with some dreaded face biting. Hogan with a running clothesline against the turnbuckle. Hogan tried a body slam, but he couldn’t lift Hogan and Yoko hit Hogan in the back. Hogan with more strikes followed by another body slam attempt, but that failed again and Yoko stomped on Hogan to keep him down. Hogan ran the ropes with two clotheslines that rocked Yoko, but Yoko came back with a clothesline to stop Hulk’s momentum. Yoko missed a running splash when Hogan moved out of the way. Hogan ran the ropes with a shoulder tackle, but Yoko knocked him down. Yokozuna applied a bearhug to kill a few minutes, which is a famous spot in most Hogan matches against bigger opponents. “Give me the bearhug, brother.” The fans chanted “USA” for Hogan. After about two minutes in the bearhug, Hogan fought back with punches and Yoko knocked Hulk down again with an elbow to the face. Yokozuna with a belly to belly suplex that looked impressive. Yokozuna covered Hogan, but Hulk powered out leading to the Hulking Up routine. Hogan no sold the punches of Yokozuna, then the dreaded finger point. Hogan with another block, then punches and a big boot to the face, but it didn’t knock Yokozuna down. Hogan with another big boot to the face to stagger Yokozuna. Hogan with a third big boot to the face led to Yokozuna taking a back bump. Hogan with a leg drop on Yokozuna for two and Yokozuna kicked out of that. It was rare for people to kick out of the leg drop. Hogan punched Mr. Fuji off the apron. There was a photographer on the apron, he kicked away Jimmy Hart, the referee was looking at Fuji on the floor and as Hogan approached the photographer, the photographer snapped a photo that was a fireball that hit Hogan in the eyes! Yokozuna chopped Hogan. Yokozuna hit the leg drop on Hogan and pinned for the pinfall win at 13:09. The photographer was Harvey Wippleman in case you don’t know.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW WWE Champion: Yokozuna
Analysis: *3/4 Boring match with a cheap finish to give Hogan an out for the loss. Yoko looked exhausted as usual. Going over ten minutes was too long for him. Hogan didn’t put people over clean that often. They did a lot of the spots that were familiar in a Hogan match like the bearhug and other things that led to boring matches. Hogan failed to body slam Yokozuna throughout the match, so that was part of the story too. The finish was done to protect him by giving him an excuse for losing because the photographer (Wippleman) shot a fireball into Hogan’s face. I will say that there was a cool moment in the match where Yoko kicked out of the leg drop, which is not something that happened very often, so at least that put over Yoko in a big way.
Yokozuna was announced as the new WWE Heavyweight Champion. Hogan was down selling the eye injury after the fireball hit him in the face. Yokozuna gave Hogan a clothesline. Yokozuna set up Hogan by the turnbuckle and Yokozuna delivered the Banzai Drop on Hogan. JR: “Yokozuna has squashed Hulkamania!” Something like that. The announcers claimed there were children crying about what happened, but none of the kids they showed were actually crying. Hogan was helped to the back. They showed replays of what happened.
Analysis: That was Hulk’s last televised match in WWE for nine years until he returned in 2002. He was off to WCW in 1994.
Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji posed in the ring with the WWE Title as Japanese photographers went into the ring to take pictures.
Mr. Perfect was interviewed by Terry Taylor for Coliseum Video. Perfect didn’t say that much. He said Bret Hart was a great wrestler and Perfect will be back for more.
Shawn Michaels, the Intercontinental Champion, was interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund. Michaels had his bodyguard Diesel with him. Michaels trashed Hogan for being a dinosaur and Yokozuna gobbled him up like a Brontosaurus Burger. Michaels said his big man’s name is Diesel as in diesel fuel because that’s what makes a Mack Truck go. Michaels said this man protects Shawn Michaels. That was it.
Analysis: It was the official name debut of Diesel.
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) and The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) vs. Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase & Irwin R. Schyster) and Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) w/Afa
Pre-match notes: The Steiner Brothers and Smoking Gunns were faces. The Steiners were real brothers while Smoking Gunns were fake brothers. Money Inc. were the heel WWE Tag Team Champions and the Headshrinkers were also heels. Fatu was best known as Rikishi in his career.
Dibiase with an arm drag on Scott. Scott with a clothesline that sent Dibiase out of the ring, then Rick punched Dibiase and Scott hit another clothesline to send Dibiase out of the ring. Rick with another punch and Dibiase was back in the ring. Bart with a dropkick on Fatu, who then no sold a head slam (do not attack the head of a Samoan!) and Fatu with a superkick. Samu with a headbutt on Bart. Schyster with a back elbow on Bart along with a leg drop. Dibiase back in with a back elbow on Bart followed by a suplex. Headshrinkers hit a double team back body drop on Bart. Fatu with a backbreaker on Bart. Irwin was back in with a punch off the top rope. Bart with a sunset flip on Irwin for two. They ran the ropes leading to a double clothesline spot. Billy tagged in for the first time against Dibiase. Billy with a back body drop, two clotheslines and then Dibiase did a stun gun to send Billy into the top rope. Dibiase applied the Million Dollar Dream submission on Billy, who was fading and Dibiase let go of him. Dibiase went for a body slam, but then Billy got an inside cradle to get the pinfall win at 6:48. Savage: “That’s what you get for being stupid!”
Winners by pinfall: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) and The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn)
Analysis: ** A decent tag team match for the most part with a rushed finish. Some of the guys on the babyface team barely did anything. The inside cradle was used multiple times on the show, so it wasn’t a fresh finish to this match. The Smoking Gunns were a new team around this time, so it was just a way to give Billy a big win by beating Dibiase. More time would have been nice here.
Post match, the heels tried to attack, but the faces beat them up and cleared the ring.
There was a backstage scene with WWE Champion Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji and WWE President Jack Tunney with Mean Gene Okerlund there to conduct interviews. Tunney congratulated the new champion. Fuji said he told us that Hogan would go down. Fuji said that America and Hulk Hogan is finished. Fuji said that they will have a big celebration. That was it.
Intercontinental Championship: Shawn Michaels (w/Diesel) vs. Crush
Pre-match notes: Michaels was the heel Intercontinental Champion while Crush was a babyface. Crush had a lot of different gimmicks in his career. Crush was a smiling Hawaiian at this point in his career. Michaels won the IC Title back from Marty Jannetty one week earlier with Diesel getting involved in the match.
Crush with a running shoulder tackle leading to Michaels taking a ridiculous bump to the floor. Michaels got in a jab on Crush leading to an armbar. Crush did two leapfrogs, ducked a superkick and Crush hit two dropkicks to knock Michaels out of the ring. Good athleticism shown by Crush there. Michaels tried a takedown, but Crush tripped Michaels, then an armdrag and Crush did a press slam. Crush with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, so Diesel pulled Michaels out of the ring to give Shawn a breather. Michaels used Diesel to his advantage by having Diesel distract Crush and then Michaels hit Crush into the ring post. Diesel sent Crush into the ring apron. Michaels sent Crush’s back of the head into the ring post several times. Michaels lifted Crush back into the ring leading to a two count. Michaels went up top and jumped off with a double axe handle to the back. Michaels grabbed a chinlock for about a minute with Crush powering out of it, so when Shawn went for it again, Crush powered out of it again. Crush powered out of it again so that he sent Shawn across the top rope leading to Shawn bumping to the floor. Shawn jumped off the top, Crush avoided it and sent Michaels to the mat. Crush with a back body drop. Crush with a backbreaker for two. Crush with a whip into the ropes followed by a boot to the face along with a leg drop for two, brother. Crush with a running clothesline that sent Shawn over the top to the floor. There were two guys dressed as Doink the Clown making their way down to the ring. Crush had an issue with Doink at this point. Crush was looking at both Doinks, so Michaels gave Crush a superkick to the back of the head, Crush hit the turnbuckle with his head and Michaels covered for the pinfall win at 11:14.
Winner by pinfall: Shawn Michaels
Analysis: **1/2 It was decent with a cheap finish to show that Michaels needed help to get the win since Shawn was a crafty heel. Crush wasn’t a very good in-ring performer while Michaels is one of the best ever, so he could always get a decent match out of anybody. Michaels did some big bumps throughout the match to put over Crush’s power moves. The finish with the two Doinks was a bit lame, but it fit the storyline Crush was part of at the time.
After the match, Crush didn’t sell much at all because he went running after the two Doinks going to the backstage area. Michaels celebrated with the title with Diesel by his side.
Bam Bam Bigelow was interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund, who mentioned that Bret Hart has had two matches tonight while Bigelow had only one match, so Bigelow was fresh. Bigelow said he had the opportunity to be the first King of the Ring, so he left.
King of the Ring Finals: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Pre-match notes: Bret Hart was the face and Bigelow was the heel.
There was a 60-minute time limit for this final match. Bigelow used his power to knock down Bret with punches and then Bret came back with a cross body block. Bigelow with a running shoulder tackle. Bret with a press slam above his head that sent Bret over the top to the floor. Ouch. Back in the ring, Bigelow with headbutts to the lower back. Bigelow with a hard whip into the turnbuckle leading to another headbutt to the back for two. Bigelow with a belly to back suplex for two. Bigelow with another hard whip into the turnbuckle with Bret selling a back injury. Bigelow hit another headbutt to the chest. Bigelow applied a bearhug to weaken the lower back even more. Bigelow delivered a belly to back suplex on Bret for a two count. Bigelow tossed Bret out of the ring, but Bret was able to get some offense by whipping Bigelow into the barricade. Bret jumped off the apron, Bigelow caught him and Bigelow drove Bret back first into the ring post. There it is working on the back of the Hitman again. Bigelow with a body slam on the floor and then Bam Bam went into the ring to talk to the referee. That led to Luna Vachon going down the aisle and hitting Bret in the back with a steel chair. Cheap heel move that the referee never saw. Bigelow with a hard body slam. Bigelow went up top, jumped off with a headbutt and hit Bret in the shoulder for the pinfall win…but wait it’s not over.
Referee Earl Hebner went down to the ring to tell the referee Joey Marella (son of Gorilla Monsoon) that Luna hit Bret with the steel chair. Howard Finkel said that the referee reversed the decision, but then Earl Hebner freaked out on him and it was announced by The Fink that “this match will continue.”
Bigelow continued the offensive attack with a headbutt to the back. Bigelow with a hard whip into the corner and Bigelow with a headbutt. Bigelow applied another bearhug to work on Bret’s back some more. Bigelow held Bret on his shoulder in a backbreaker position, but Bret refused to quit. Bret got back to his feet leading to a belly to back suplex. Bigelow went for a running back splash like a senton, but Bret moved and Bigelow hit the mat. Bigelow with a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Bigelow with another backbreaker stretch on the shoulders, but Bret eye gouged out of it and applied a sleeper hold. Bigelow put his hand over his mouth, so they were likely talking to eachother. Bigelow slammed Bret off his shoulders, but then Bret came back with a dropkick that sent Bigelow to the floor. Bret with a slingshot cross body block over the top onto Bigelow on the floor. Bret jumped off the middle rope with a clothesline for two. Bret with a side Russian legsweep, then Bigelow back up in position and Bret hit a bulldog off the middle rope. Bret went for the Sharpshooter, but Bigelow powered out of it. Bret bit Bigelow’s head, then went for a suplex and Bigelow landed on top for two. Bigelow charged at Bret in the corner, Bret got a boot up, Bret jumped on Bigelow’s shoulders and into the victory roll pin with Bret holding Bigelow’s legs for the one…two…and three! Bret wins! It went 18:11.
Winners by pinfall: Bret Hart
Analysis: ***3/4 This was a great big man/smaller man match with Bigelow using his power offense the whole way while Bret was terrific in terms of selling the back injury throughout the match. It was an easy story to tell since Bret was in his third match against a bigger man like Bigelow and the wrestlers executed the stories well. The part with the referees is questionable because there are times when cheating moments are not reversed while in this case, they reversed the decision because of cheating. So if you can reverse this time, then why not all the time? We’ll never get an answer to that. It’s WWE. That’s just how they are. Anyway, it was still a great match.
Bret Hart was announced as the winner with Macho Man going into the ring to hug Bret for the amazing performance. Bret quickly walked over to the stage for the coronation ceremony.
When Bret got onto the stage, Mean Gene Okerlund put the purple cape on Bret, who also lifted up the scepter. Gene put the crown on Bret’s head as well. The fans popped for King Bret Hart.
Jerry “The King” Lawler showed up in his King outfit saying he’s the only king in the WWF. Lawler said he might allow Bret to be a prince if he kisses Lawler’s feet. Bret said that Lawler didn’t even have the guts or the integrity to be in the tournament. Hart said he thinks that Lawler is only the Burger King. That led to “Burger King” chants. Lawler hit Bret with a scepter and then a scepter shot to the back. Lawler punched Bret on the stage and Lawler tossed the chair onto Bret’s back. Lawler hit Bret with the scepter followed by some choking with the scepter. Lawler did a promo saying he gave Bret a chance before, but now he’s going to let Bret kiss the feet of the only king in the World Wrestling Federation. That led to Lawler kicking Bret in the face, so Bret went down the stairs. Lawler celebrated the attack while officials checked on Bret. JR: “This is terrible! This is terrible! Goodnight everybody.” That was the end.
Analysis: No happy ending to the show. Bret has talked about this many times saying that Lawler hurt him with some of the weapons he used and Bret was feeling the pain for several weeks after that. This would lead to Bret feuding with Lawler throughout the summer as well years after that as well. I think WWE knew Lawler was the kind of heel that would make Bret even more likable, so that’s why they were paired together so often over the next couple of years. Anyway, it does taint the King of the Ring win a bit because Bret was attacked right after it, but clearly WWE felt like they needed to run the angle on the PPV instead of doing it on Raw the next night.
This event had a runtime of 2:42:57 on WWE Network.
Show rating (out of 10): 7
This was the Bret Hart Show in a lot of ways even though he wasn’t the WWE Champion. Bret had three matches in one night where he wrestled about 47 minutes total with Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect and Bam Bam Bigelow. Bret’s semifinal match with Mr. Perfect was one of the best WWE matches of 1993 and I think it was a bit better than their SummerSlam 1991 match although the SummerSlam match was big for Bret at that point in his career. It was interesting also that Bret won three matches, but none of them were with the Sharpshooter. Due to Bret’s performance, I’ll always think highly of this show because it set the stage for the next decade of King of the Ring PPVs while also making Bret a bigger star.
The most controversial match was when Yokozuna beat a slimmer Hulk Hogan for the WWE Title thanks to the dreaded fireball of death from a “photographer” (Harvey Wippleman). It was Hogan’s last televised WWE match until he returned nine years later, so if you want to see Hogan’s last WWE match from his first run, this is it.
The rest of the matches were just okay. I think 1993 was one of the worst years in WWE history (maybe the worst of them all), but at least I can still watch the first King of the Ring PPV all these years later and enjoy it.
- Bret Hart – No doubt about that.
- Mr. Perfect
- Bam Bam Bigelow
- Shawn Michaels
Best Match: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (****1/2 out of 5)
Worst Match: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan (*1/4)
Most Memorable Moment: Jerry Lawler attacking Bret Hart after Bret won the King of the Ring tournament.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.
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