December 26, 2006
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

King of the Ring 93
June 13, 1993
Nutter Center
Dayton, Ohio
Attendance: 6,500
Buy Rate: 1.1
Announcers: Jim Ross, Randy Savage, and Bobby Heenan

Dark Match:
1) Papa Shango (Charles Wright) pinned Owen Hart. Shango was the reigning USWA Champion at this point but was not recognized as such here and didn’t appear with the belt.

FIRST ROUND:

1) Bret Hart defeats Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) with a reverse back suplex off the top at 10:26.

Qualifying Matches: Bret Hart received a Bye into the First Round; Razor Ramon defeated Tito Santana (Mercedes Solis).

Fun Fact: This match was a few weeks after Ramon was upset by the 1-2-3 Kid on Monday Night Raw, a move that eventually led to his face turn. At this point, Razor kept challenging Kid to a rematch by offering him a large amount of money, an amount that increased with every week. Finally, Ramon offered $100,000 and the Kid accepted. After a few minutes into the match, the Kid knocked down Ramon, grabbed the money and ran off to his get-a-way car. Once again, Ramon was left looking stupid by the Kid.

Scott: In what would be the first new PPV since Royal Rumble 1989, Vince comes up with a tournament concept, complete with a throne, scepter, and crown for the winner. Some KOTRs in the coming years would have winners whose careers would skyrocket (1994, 1996, 2000), while others wouldn't (1995, 1998, 1999). Here, Bret opens the show with a good showing in a rematch from Royal Rumble. This would be Razor's last PPV match as a heel, as he'd face out over the summer, and eventually move onto bigger and better things This would be the start of a great night for the Hitman, on MANY fronts, as we’ll see later. Grade: 3

Justin: A really solid opener that is different, but just as good as, their Rumble match, mainly because Ramon was starting to hit his stride as a wrestler around this time. This match is faster paced with less of the big man beatdown heat segments that the Rumble match featured. At the time, I’m pretty sure everyone and their mother knew Bret was winning this thing, mainly as a consolation for the horseshit he had to endure at Wrestlemania and the clusterfuck of rebooking due to Hogan refusing to lie down for him at Summerslam. But, once again, Bret outclasses the Huckster and shines at a major event while the Hulkster looks like an idiot. Bret actually sets the KOTR bar a little too high here, as no winners could really top the great run he had at the first one, but then again, that is par for the course as Bret always set the bar too high for everyone else, which is what makes him one of the greatest champions of all time. Grade: 3

2) Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) beats Mr. Hughes (Curtis Hughes) by disqualification at 6:00.

Qualifying Matches: Mr. Perfect defeated Doink (Matt Borne); Mr. Hughes defeated Kamala (James Harris)

Fun Fact: Heading into this match, Hughes and Giant Gonzalez attacked the Undertaker on Superstars, stole his urn and put Taker and Paul Bearer out of action for a few weeks (which is why he is absent from this show). The weird thing is they never blew off the Taker-Hughes portion of the Taker-Wippleman feud with a PPV match. I am not sure why they didn’t do Hughes-Taker at Summerslam instead of the Gonzalez rematch. It couldn’t have possibly been any WORSE than that match turned out.

Scott: After a good showing against Lex Luger at Wrestlemania, Mr. Perfect carries the bodyguard of Harvey Wippleman to an average, at best, match. Perfect wins by disqualification when Hughes uses the urn, which was stolen from the Undertaker as part of the Giant Gonzalez feud. Hughes came in from WCW, and wouldn't make another PPV appearance for a while. Perfect, one of the hottest babyfaces in WWF at the moment, moves on to the semifinals against Hart. As for Mr. Hughes, he would move on to ECW and get involved in some big time storylines there over the next year, as they evolved from Eastern to Extreme! Grade: 1

Justin: This match is not only a waste of time, but a waste of Perfect’s talents as well. I think they should have put Doink in Hughes’ place instead of having Perfect-Doink as the Qualifier, as those two tore down the house when they fought on Raw, but what are you going to do. If anything, having Perfect escape Hughes and get clocked by the urn on the way out makes him more of a badass and a tough guy for surviving and moving on. It is sad to see Perfect slide further down the babyface ladder during 1993, as he had SO MUCH potential in late-92,early-93. But, I’m not going to harp on that because I’ve said all I need to say in past reviews. Anyway, nothing of note here, so move along swiftly. Grade: 1

3) Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Bigelow) pinned Jim Duggan at 4:58 with the Flying Head Butt.

Qualifying Matches: Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Typhoon (Fred Ottman); Jim Duggan defeated Papa Shango.

Fun Fact: Jim Duggan would appear in WCW by mid-1994 as part of the Hogan Renaissance down South (just to show you how Hogan was WORSE there than he was in WWF, Duggan beat STEVE AUSTIN in about 30 SECONDS to win the US Title in his FIRST MATCH in WCW!) Duggan’s final WWF PPV Record (including dark matches, Rumbles and Survivor Series matches) was: 9-8-1. Not counting Rumbles or Survivor Matches, his straight up MATCH record was 7-2!!! He was undefeated at Summerslam and won one Royal Rumble match. Also, most of his losses (of the 8) were by Count-out or DQ, as he was only pinned TWO TIMES on PPV: once by DiBiase at Wrestlemania IV and by Bigelow here. Maybe we should be blaming him for holding guys down and NOT Hogan.

Scott: This, my friends, was the second most satisfying moment of this show. There wasn't a single wrestler in the first era of the WWF (1985-1993) that I couldn't stand more than Jim Duggan. He comes out with that stupid look on his face, and a 2X4, a weapon, that he consistently used to win matches, as a face! I don't want to hear about how he's getting back at the heels, that's ridiculous. It never worked that way, and frankly, I probably would have liked him more as a heel. In any case, I was the biggest Bigelow fan in this match. When he landed that head butt, and moved on to the semifinals, I felt such joy and happiness; I wanted to sing "Good Day Sunshine"! By the end of the summer Duggan was gone and wouldn't be seen on WWF TV again until 2005. Bigelow moves on to face the Luger/Tatanka winner. Grade: 1

Justin: Well, now that we know Duggan’s pinfall record on PPV, this was quite the win for the Bammer. Bigelow was always VERY underrated for a big guy, but I think part of that is because he doesn’t carry lesser workers to good matches. He can more than hold his own with good workers, but he struggles with lesser workers. Regardless of who was across from him in the ring, Bigelow has received a strong push since returning at the start of the year, and his roll continues here as he sends Hacksaw packing in under five minutes. Duggan has been a solid mainstay throughout his WWF run. His matches were never great, and rarely had a clean finish, but the crowd was always into his character and he had charisma that can’t be ignored. Regardless, his time has come and gone and he had gotten pretty stale in the Federation, thus he is jobbed out and had a one-way ticket down South. Grade: 1

4) Lex Luger (Lawrence Pfohl) and Tatanka (Chris Chavis) are both eliminated from the tournament when they wrestle to a 15 Minute Time Limit Draw.

Qualifying Matches: Lex Luger defeated Bob Backlund; Tatanka defeated Giant Gonzales (Jorge Gonzalez) via disqualification.

Fun Fact: Tatanka is STILL undefeated at this point. His streak is 16 Months long at this point. Luger was also undefeated on TV at this point, but his streak was only 6 months old.

Scott: In what would be Lex Luger's last PPV match as a heel before he is shoved down our throats, he wrestles a very good match against the Native American, a match that actually starts an interesting feud that pauses for a few a while, but then picks back up in 1994. Luger wants to continue the match into overtime, and then changes his mind and proceeds to crack Tatanka in the head with his forearm, which is full of metal. This means that Bam Bam Bigelow gets a pass to the finals, a la Ted DiBiase in Wrestlemania IV. The reason here is to add time to a couple more matches, including the only semifinal, which would more than make up for the missing match. Luger should have stayed a heel, and we’ll see in the next review why. Grade: 3

Justin: An OK match that tends to drag a bit, as most time limit draws do, mainly because they are trying to stretch for time so there tends to be a lot of restholds. Luger was in the final days of his heel run and before we know it the entire landscape of the WWF changes. For now, Luger continues being a dickhead heel by preening before the match and then pasting Tatanka with the loaded forearm post match. Vince booked himself into a corner by putting two undefeated guys into the tournament that he didn’t want to a) LOSE or b) WIN, so this Draw was pretty much a given. It was solid enough, but as is usual with time limit draws, it featured a LOT of restholds and stalling on Luger’s part. Both men are now eliminated, and Bigelow seemed to now have a clear path to the crown. Grade: 2.5

SEMIFINAL:

5) Bret Hart pins Mr. Perfect with a Small Package at 18:54.

Fun Fact: This awesome match is preceded by a great interview segment where Mean Gene interviews both guys before they head to the ring. The interviews starts amicably, but Gene immediately stirs shit up by saying that Bret said earlier that he would rather face Mr. Perfect than Mr. Hughes, and Gene eggs Perfect on to take that as Bret means Perfect is easier to beat than Hughes (of course Bret only meant he would rather wrestle than brawl). As they start to argue, Gene yells at them to calm down (the best part is that Gene started the fight). Gene then asks if their fathers (Stu Hart and Larry “the Ax” Hennig) ever fought, which leads to a great exchange of “my father beat you father,” “your father could never beat my father.” To make the tension even better, Perfect references the Summerslam 1991 match, telling Bret that he “owes him from Summerslam.” What a great fuckin’ interview, followed by a kick ass match.

Scott: This was a rematch of a great Intercontinental Title match at Summerslam 1991, but there Perfect was a heel, and wrestled a little dirtier. Here, it is a great clean match between two fantastic technical wrestlers, with a little dirty play sprinkled in. Bret is one of the best at taking big bumps, and a general overall beating. Bret has also wrestled almost 30 minutes total in this show, and his night is not over, as he must face a rested Bam Bam Bigelow in the Finals. Perfect does the classy thing, cementing his WWF legacy by grudgingly shaking Bret's hand after the match. I know Justin agrees with me that Curt Hennig definitely belongs in the group of 50 greatest superstars in WWF history. An awesome match that punctuates Perfect’s career, and is another building block to how great the worker Bret Hart is. Add a hot crowd, and this is almost “perfect.” Grade: 4.5

Justin: A flat out awesome match featuring two of the best technical wrestlers of all time. It is a fast paced, hard hitting match with great back-story and a lot on the line (the final spot in the first ever KOTR tournament). This match is definitely better than Summerslam ’91 for a couple reasons: 1) Bret is more seasoned as a singles wrestler and had become great at carrying guys and 2) Hennig isn’t injured like he was at Summerslam, so he can bump better and work faster. This definitely was the best match of the card, and I believe the best WWF PPV match of 1993. Bret is the MAN at this show, as he goes 20 minutes with Hennig and still has another match to go. Looking back, this could have been the finals, and they should have had Lawler cost Bret the match. Bret didn’t NEED the win; they gave it to him as an apology. Perfect could have benefited greatly from winning the whole thing, but, alas, hindsight is 20/20. If you have never seen this match, hunt it down and check it out because it is definitely a classic and a beautiful textbook exhibition of wrestling at its best. Grade: 4.5

***At this point, we have the GREATEST crowd interview of all time, as Terry Taylor interviews the TYPICAL white trash Ohio family. There is the hick dad “Halk Hogun All Da Way,” the nasty wife “I love Bret Hert,” the little scummy daughter who is walking around the arena BAREFOOT and the fat little son, Wesley. The highlight is when Taylor asks the kid his name…”WESSSSSSSLEY,” and if he is having a good time “YEAH!!!” The pudgy little bastard is HILARIOUS. What a great interview***

6) Yokozuna (Rodney Anoia) pinned Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) with a Leg Drop to win the WWF Title at 13:09.

Fun Fact: This is Hulk Hogan’s last PPV match until March 2002. For the hell of it, let’s run down his final record. Including Rumble and Survivor Matches, his record was: 17-7-1. He was only pinned 3 times: Warrior at WM VI, Undertaker at Survivor Series 1991 and Yokozuna here. He was only pinned cleanly once (Warrior).

Fun Fact II: This match happened because Hogan refused to drop the title to Bret at Summerslam like he originally promised. Yoko winning the strap back made sense, as Hogan could at least give a rub to him, which could be transferred to Bret at some point in the future (Yoko beat Hogan, Bret beat Yoko = Bret beat Hogan). Hogan refusing to drop the strap to Bret was the last straw for Vince, as he forced Hogan to job here and then let him go for good.

Scott: FINALLY! FINALLY! FINALLY! After the debacle that ended Wrestlemania IX, Hulk Hogan gets his just desserts in his final PPV until WM XVIII. You can feel the tension around the arena as both combatants are in the ring. Hogan's about to win until a photographer shoots a ball of fire into Hogan's eyes, causing his fifth world title reign to end. Now, Justin will give his input on Hogan's 10-year legacy, one that was about a year and a half too long, so I'll give mine as well. Hulk Hogan is one of the greatest superstars in professional wrestling history. He sold out arena after arena after arena. He headlined 7 Wrestlemanias, and countless other PPVs, and is a 5-time World Champion. But, by late-1991, times were changing, and "Saying your prayers, training, and eating your vitamins" was getting awfully stale. Then, he is shaken by the arrival of Ric Flair in September 1991, and Flair instantly cuts a hysterical promo on Hogan, calling him Thunderlips, and pretty much challenging him to a world title match. Instead, Hogan and Vince convolute some bizarre events with Sid, Flair, Perfect, and Randy Savage, to avoid being embarrassed on TV by the "Real World Champion". In the end, everyone in the storyline looked better than him (just watch the 1992 Royal Rumble to prove that point). Hogan needed to leave at this point; he looked out of place with the younger, more vibrant superstars coming up the ladder. Yokozuna emphatically shut the door on the first chapter of Hogan's WWF career in this match, and Hogan would disappear from WWF television until the No Way Out PPV in February 2002. However, even him leaving still caused problems. We'll elaborate on those in the next review. For now, let's enjoy the end of "Ego-Mania." Grade: 2

Justin: Well, Scott and I have said everything that needed to be said on Hogan’s WWF career (especially the last few years), but let us take a look at what his departure led to. Hogan needed to leave. He was not only holding down young stars, but his shtick was old to WWF fans. He just wasn’t getting it done anymore. On the flip side, WCW needed some star power, which Hogan did provide, so it made perfect sense for WCW to sign him in mid-94. However, WCW was in a weird spot, because they had a real solid talent roster (similar to WWF in late-92) and were putting on some of their best PPVs ever (Spring Stampede ’94 was excellent). However, no one was watching because they did not have that big STAR power that they really needed to get noticed. Bischoff decided to sacrifice good workrate, young stars and a happy, yet smaller, fan base, for worse matches, old wrestlers and a larger, mainstream fan base. Of course, Hogan signing led indirectly to the NWO (although, you can attribute that more to Hall, Nash and Japan), which led to WCW’s huge rebirth and WWF’s collapse and rebirth, but we are getting WAY ahead of ourselves. Anyway, what I am saying is that Hogan needed to leave WWF, as neither he nor the Federation was going to grow with him there. Vince thankfully learned his lesson this time around, as Hogan called him and asked if Vince wanted to match Bischoff’s offer in 1994, and Vince turned it down. In the end, everything worked out, although WWF would suffer for about a year, as they tried to re-do the Hogan formula with someone else playing Hulk’s role. As far as the match goes, it is a slow, plodding match that had a somewhat controversial ending, as Hogan failed to slam Yoko, Yoko kicked out of the Leg Drop, Hogan has a camera explode in his face and eventually gets pinned by a leg drop by Yoko. Yoko then seals Hogan’s WWF career for good by dropping a Banzai Drop on him. Ross promises updates on Hogan’s condition, but those updates never come and Hogan is not mentioned again on WWF TV in a positive light for a LONG time. Grade: 2

7) Steiner Brothers & Smoking Gunns defeat Money Inc & Headshrinkers when Billy Gunn (Monte Sop) pinned Ted DiBiase with an inside cradle at 7:00.

Fun Fact: This is PPV debut of the Smoking Gunns, who made their TV debut in May. Also, for some reason, Rick Steiner never gets in the match.

Scott: After the huge controversy and hoopla over the last match, this was kind of thrown together, and had no real energy from the Dayton crowd. This was the PPV debut of Billy & Bart Gunn, a fun and exciting team of gunslingers. The problem with this match was that there were too many guys in the ring, and the action was very scattered and bland. Not much action here, in fact with the inside cradle it seems like the match ended rather abruptly. That was because the final two matches took over half an hour. Grade: 2

Justin: Not much here, as this match is just used to cool off the crowd, as they all sit in shock after the last match. The main issue here is between the Steiners and Money, Inc. who had been feuding back and forth over the tag titles at various house shows throughout the country. The Gunns and Headshrinkers would just tread water and battle in mid-card tag feuds for the next year or so before steeping into the roles of major players in the tag division. Anyway, this really is not much here, just a palette cleanser for the crowd. Grade: 2

8) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) pins Crush (Brian Adams) with a Superkick at 11:12 to retain WWF Intercontinental Title

Fun Fact: Shawn Michaels had actually lost the I-C Title about 4 weeks before this event (May 17), when Marty Jannetty made his surprise return on Raw and defeated HBK for the title (in the Match of the Year for 1993). The week before KOTR (June 6th), Michaels regained the I-C Title at a house show in Albany with the help of his debuting bodyguard who was unnamed for one week. Michaels officially names him Diesel (Kevin Nash) in the pre-match interview here.

Fun Fact II: This match was signed originally as a non-title match because both men fought to a double count-out in their KOTR Qualifier, thus eliminating both men from the competition. When Michaels won the belt back from Jannetty, it was changed to an I-C Title Match.

Fun Fact III: Back to Kevin Nash for some background. Nash played basketball in college, and was the #2 high school player in the country in 1977 behind Magic Johnson. He was good enough to possibly go pro, but his knees could not hold up, so Nash didn’t hit the hardwood. After toiling in the independents, he spent time in WCW under the forgotten cult characters of Oz and Vinnie Vegas before Shawn Michaels noticed him on TV and mentioned his name to Vince McMahon.

Scott: Another "near-miss" for a Shawn Michaels opponent, as he continues to walk the tightrope of almost losing his IC title. A few points to note: First, we see the PPV debut of Big Daddy Cool, Oz, Vinnie Vegas, the man known as Diesel (Kevin Nash). He is the bodyguard for HBK, but will strike out on his own within a year and a half, and become one of the 90's most enigmatic superstars, as he would have his strengths, and, sometimes more importantly, weaknesses. Secondly, we see the continuing storyline of Crush and Doink, as the two Doinks cost the big Hawaiian the title. Shawn is also starting to hit his stride as a performer. This, to me is the first match where he really dictates tempo, and carries a slower opponent to an OK match. He isn't the "Showstopper" just yet, but he's getting there. Grade: 2

Justin: A decent match here that is used more to further the Crush-Doink storyline than anything else. Unfortunately, the Crush-Doink story would quickly be aborted before Crush could finally get a measure of revenge. The Double Doinks continue to haunt him here, as they march out and distract him, allowing HBK to nail a Superkick from behind. Heading in, this was the 3rd straight PPV Title Defense where everyone thought HBK would drop the strap, but he continues his domination over the division with another win here. You can start to see glimpses of Michaels’ greatness, but he is not quite there yet as he is unable to carry Crush to a really good match. If this match took place in 1995, I’m sure it would have been light years better. Next time we see Crush on PPV, he has a pretty different look and demeanor about him. Grade: 2

FINAL:

9) Bret Hart pins Bam Bam Bigelow with a Victory Roll at 18:17 to win King of the Ring

Fun Fact: Bret Hart becomes the first “King of the WWF” since Randy Savage retired the crown in 1991. The previous “Kings” had been Harley Race, Haku, Jim Duggan and Randy Savage.

Scott: JR, Bobby, and Macho Man were talking up Bret Hart big as he defeats the Beast from Asbury Park, New Jersey to win the first King of the Ring. Bigelow really looked good in this match, a big man much more mobile than he was given credit for. Bret wrestled a total of 47:37 on this night, a testament to the Excellence of Execution. Since his first big singles match, beating Mr. Perfect at Summerslam 1991, Bret Hart has only wrestled one PPV match less than ten minutes, and that was at Wrestlemania IX against Yokozuna (and we all know why that was). After Bigelow won thanks to Luna Vachon's interference, the decision is reversed, and Bret goes on to win the match. Once he gets to the throne, he is interrupted by Jerry "The King" Lawler, thus starting a great, but strange, storyline that begins with Lawler beating Bret down to end the show. Unfortunate because Bret really busted his ass at this show, but it does start up a fun run with "Burger King." Grade: 2.5

Justin: A really solid ending to the show and Bret hits a Grand Slam, as he has three fantastic matches on one show alone. Bret really proved his stock at this event, and, as Scott said, the commentators build him up big time, with Savage actually jumping in the ring to congratulate the Hit Man on his win. I’m divided on whether the Lawler beating was a good thing or not. On one hand, it jumpstarted a great feud that would last the next 3 years, but on the other hand, it really ruined Bret’s big moment in the spotlight and sort of killed the crowd. Plus, it is now well known that Lawler actually messed up Bret’s back with the scepter shot he gives him at the end, so maybe it wasn’t such a good thing. After a strange little Dusty finish in the middle of the match, Bret fights all the way back and catches Bigelow with a Victory Roll to grab the crown. The Bammer carries his end of the match, and the two tear down the house to end the first ever King of the Ring. Grade: 3.5

FINAL ANALYSIS

Scott: For a debut, this wasn't too bad a show. I also saw two fantastic personal moments for me occurred (the final match ever for Jim Duggan, and the last Hogan match in WWF for 9 years), plus this was a good showcase for some of the new talent the WWF has to offer. Everything could have worked out; IF Vince hadn't panicked again for a big ALL-AMERICAN STUD to push through the summer to face the new World Champion, Yokozuna. This was a great stage for Bret "Hitman" Hart to show everyone he can be a main-event force for the next few years. Unfortunately, just when he thought Hogan was out of his hair, the Clique would push him down for the next 3-plus years, but we'll save that for the future. Right now, Hogan's gone, Yoko's the champ, and Lex Luger says goodbye to the Narcissist, and hello to a nightmare of bad wrestling, and bad booking. Final Grade: B

Justin: A pretty good KOTR event, but admittedly, the show is single handedly carried (match wise) by Bret Hart’s awesome three match showing. However, the show has strong historical value, as it is the first King of the Ring (on PPV at least…more on that in a minute), has a major title change, and is the show that officially buried the first phase of Hulk-a-Mania. This is once again a transitional show, but Vince would shift gears again a few weeks later, so it is hard to call this a flagship show as far as major shifts go. Also, a forgotten detail is that WWF had been running yearly KOTR shows (as house shows) since 1985, with the first two being in Foxboro, MA and the final 4 (1987-1989, 1991) taking place in the Providence Civic Center. Here are the winners of those tournaments: 1985: Don Muraco, 1986: Harley Race, 1987: Randy Savage, 1988: Ted DiBiase, 1989: Tito Santana, 1991: Bret Hart. Anyway, a solid show that has some historical significance and three excellent matches, and, again, thanks to Bret Hart, not many KOTR winners put together an impressive string of victories as Hart did in ’93. Over the 10-year history of KOTR, it ends up as a hit or miss show, as shortening of the PPV portion of the tournament started to hurt the importance, intrigue and specialness to the show. But on this night in Dayton, despite all the politics and lies, the Excellence of Execution shone through as a true class act and champion, while the Hulkster went out like the chump he had become. Final Grade: B+

MVP: Bret Hart
Runner Up: Mr. Perfect
Non-MVP: Hulk Hogan
Runner Up: Jim Duggan

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