Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | RSS Feed | Email Newsletter
It’s been quite the month for WWF talent since the last pay per view, the only issue if you’re the WWF is that it was largely down to people leaving the company. Specifically Razor Ramon and Diesel who in the weeks since theill-fated In Your House have both shown up on WCW Monday Nitro. Ramon on the May 27th show walking out early in the show and two weeks later Diesel as Ramon’s big man. What follows is a massive scramble off screen as Hall and Nash are essentially accused of being presented as WWF wrestlers invading WCW and all of the legal ramifications that will play out long beyond this pay per view being over.
What follows in the WWF is, as you’d expect, a bit flat. With Bret Hart away, losing two more of their top half a dozen stars over exposed WWF’s mid card and made large swathes of television seem, well, mid-card. They did get one major up on WCW with the acquisition of Brian Pillman, a story as fascinating as it is long. His first appearance came on the Raw before the show, and he does feature on the pre-show of this months’ pay per view.
As for what we were building to in this months show – for the first time the King Of The Ring quarter finals happened on television, freeing up extra room on the pay per view after the last two definitely struggled to accommodate so many matches into a three hour show. After The British Bulldog handed in his notice (to stop his contract automatically rolling over) the feud between him and Shawn Michaels was significantly drawn back, but the previously advertised main event would still take place.
Shawn and Bulldog left In Your House last month with a lot to prove. The match which, on the face of it, was pretty underwhelming – was partly caused by Shawn and Bulldog not knowing that the main event was actually being shown live, and combined with some other things (both guys getting distracted by someone being bloody loud in the front row), meant that both men came in with a point to prove. And, to an extent, given how bad the edition of this pay per view was last year, it can be argued everyone had a point to prove.
With Mr Perfect on refereeing duties, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross were joined on commentary by the injured Owen Hart… this trio would possibly be the best announcing combination we’ve heard so far. Noteworthy, also, was the make-up of the two semi-finals… If you want go back twelve months, Austin (WCW), Mero (WCW), Vader (WCW) and Roberts (AWOL). I’m not sure what that says…
King Of The Ring Semi-Final #1 – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs Marc Mero (w/ Sable)
Both guys have been on TV a few months now, and both are trying to find their feet, I would say. This is reflected in both guys not particularly getting a strong reaction to begin with. Thankfully, the match, offered enough time, ends up being quite good. Austin has the heel basics down, which helps Mero probably put in his strongest babyface reaction since joining the company.
Austin dominates the middle section of the match, Mero recovers with a standing sleeper which Austin converts with a version of his new finisher, the "Stone Cold Stunner" (whatever that is), he can't get the cover, but he hits it again after a Mero Frankinsteiner for the win. I would say the best match of both men's relatively short WWF careers.
Vader (w/ Jim Cornette) vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts – King Of The Ring Semi Final #2
We can, and will, debate the WWF’s handling over in 1996 later this year. While it’s difficult to deny that they’re putting Vader in interesting angles, they’re not really treating him like the monster they probably should be. After a nothing match, Roberts goes for a DDT and Vader grabs a hold of the referee on his way down… looks a bit shit particularly as they bottle the live angle. The ref comes too and disqualifies Vader… looks like the ref took a dive to me. Vader beats up Roberts post-match before the referees run him off. Not the best action this.
The Godwinns (Henry O and Phinaes I w/ Hillybilly Jim) vs The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart w/ Sunny) for the WWF Tag Team Titles
Lots of attention on the new Bodydonnas manager “Cloudy” (a bloke dressed to look like Sunny). This action is savagely under-card, the WWF tag division at this stage is miles behind WCW’s and they’ve treated the tag titles like lower card fodder for about as long as I can remember. They’re telling the story that the Gunns are more aggressive now Sunny is managing them. Your usual tag match, we get a double hot tag, then the match breaks down, the Gunns retain after the illegal man – Bart, hits a double axe handle on Phineaus and Billy pins him.
Jerry Lawler vs The Ultimate Warrior
I mean, bless Lawler… but it really is time this act came off of national television. He cuts a horrendously long and predictable heel promo, it’s old fashioned heat but I’m not sure in 1996 it particularly works any more. The match is exactly how you’d expect; plodding, Lawler hits a piledriver, Warrior no sells it – hits a hat-trick of clotheslines and a shoulder tackle and that’s enough for the win. Mercifully short.
Mankind vs The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
A vastly different Undertaker match from the norm, in large part down to the fact he's losing, but also wrestling an opponent that can go toe to toe with him. This is a proper brawl at times, with the match spilling to the outside for large parts of it. After an apron elbow drop, Mankind rounds first base for a great running strike to Undertaker's head while it's rested up against the ring steps.
Mankind shapes for another elbow drop, but Undertaker hits him with a chair, before just nailing him over the head with the same chair. Undertaker kicks out of a piledriver, Bearer attempts to hit Mankind with the urn (after Mankind tried to steal it) but Mankind moved and Bearer ended up hitting Undertaker. Mankind then synches in the mandible claw for, what it should be said, is a pretty clean victory. Really good with a surprising finish.
Goldust (w/ Marlene) vs Ahmed Johnson for the Intercontinental Title
This feud began whenGoldust gave Johnson mouth to mouth in an attempt to revive him after an attack. Ahmed did come to, but then laid waste to everything in sight in an attempt to get to Goldust. The match had it's moments, basically the bits at the start and end when Ahmed was going nuts on offense, but Goldust didn't really do anything here. Johnson hits the pearl river plunge and that's enough for a new Intercontinental Champion..
Brian Pillman limps out to ringside for an interview with Jim Ross. Pillman says he “does and says whatever he wants” about five seconds after calling himself, and I quote, “Brian effing Pillman”. He says he’s going to “rape, pillage and plunder” this entire federation. As Pillman hobbles to the back, out walks Steve Austin. We get a nice stare down between the two.
King Of The Ring Final – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts
They're selling the idea that Roberts is barely in a condition to fight thanks to Vader's attack. Roberts opens up doing it a lot of selling, but every time he attacks it makes his injuries worse. Gorilla Monsoon walks out and breaks up the match, wanting a consultation on Roberts' injuries – Roberts uses this break to get a free shot on Austin, which seems a tad unfair. Austin hits the stunner soon after and wins the match.
Austin goes up on the stage for the coronation. He says: “get that piece of the crap out of my ring. You thump your bible and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your psalms and your John 3:16, Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass. As the King of the Ring, I’m service notice to everyone of the WWF Superstars, they’re all on Stone Cold’s list. Piss off. I don’t give a damn if it’s Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin’s time has come, and when I get the shot you’re looking at the next WWF Champion. And that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so”. Quite good that!
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (w/ Diana Smith and Jim Cornette) vs Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) for the WWF Championship with Special Guest Referee “Mr Perfect” Curt Hennig.
Well, they then have Monsoon come out and say that while Perfect will be allowed to be referee of the match, he can only be the ref on the outside, Earl Hebner will do the officiating. Fans chant USA, Owen says “hear that? They’re saying U.K. U.K U.K” – which is great.
This really was rather excellent. We've been covering Bulldog matches on this podcast for the past three years, and there's always been the thought that, with the right opponent, Bulldog could mesh as good as anybody. Thankfully, Shawn Michaels was that anybody and the pair both had a score to settle after what happened last month.
There's a great spot where Bulldog picks up Shawn in a press slam position, walks back a couple of paces then just straight drops him to the outside, that looked fantastic as Shawn plummetted out of view. Almost as good was the release (yes, release) superplex Bulldog hit on Shawn. After a ref bump, Shawn just about connects with a super kick. Perfect slides into the ring to make the count (at the same time as Hebner) Owen pulls Perfect out of the ring but Hebner calls it anyway. Fantastic stuff that.
After the match, we get a staggered six man brawl, ending up with Warrior storming out to the ring and clearing house. (In theory) it will be Michaels, Ahmed Johnson & Warrior vs Vader, Owen and Bulldog at the next pay per view. Five out of the six make it...
Score Rating: 7.5/10
Go Back And Watch: It's by no means perfect, but you can perhaps justify watching the whole thing as it's the best WWF pay per view in at least 18 months. I'd say Austin vs Badd, Mankind vs Undertaker and Michaels vs Bulldog. Austin's promo is pretty sharp too.