Saturday, December 15, 2012

King of the Ring 1994: Enter Donovan

Given that my blog is called, "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?", it's a foregone conclusion that I would review 1994's King of the Ring, where the phrase was coined by Art Donovan. To write an original analysis of the event, however, is a daunting task, considering that Wrestlecrap's induction of Art Donovan years ago, along with compilation videos like Botchamania 72, not only have covered Art's antics at the PPV extensively, but were my inspiration for taking the name Art0Donnell in the first place. What could I possibly add to the conversation (assuming that there is indeed a "conversation" about an eighteen-year-old pay-per-view)? Fortunately, if you have ever read a single post of mine on this blog, you'll know that I have been following the Federation during this time period very closely, so you may yet learn something from this recap (besides how much Mabel weighs).


The show opens up with Gorilla Monsoon introducing tonight's announce team, which also includes Macho Man Randy Savage (recently reinstated as an announcer on Raw after the end of his feud with Crush), and Art Donovan, whom Gorilla calls, "Art O'Donnell." Since this event takes place at the Baltimore Arena (formerly the Baltimore Civic Center, and now the 1st Mariner Arena, site of my college graduation), it makes sense to invite a Baltimore sports legend to commentate, right? Wrong. Even if Art Donovan were a competent color commentator with a basic understanding of pro wrestling, this choice would still make no sense precisely because the event does take place in Baltimore. The only people who could possibly be interested in Art Donovan on commentary are wrestling fans who live in Baltimore. However, many of those people (who might otherwise have bought the event on pay-per-view) are in attendance at the arena itself and thus will not hear any of Art's commentary. Meanwhile, the viewers at home (of which a smaller-than-usual portion are Baltimoreans) are subjected to a sports figure for which they have no particular affinity (if they have heard of him at all). 

Razor Ramon vs. Bam Bam Bigelow


Art Donovan, when asked for a prediction for the tournament winner, says without hesitation, "Razor Ramon." The Macho Man, however, predicted that Bam Bam Bigelow, Razor's first round opponent, would win it all, plowing through not only the Bad Guy but fellow heels IRS and Jeff Jarrett. Bam Bam, whom Monsoon calls, "The Beast of the East" (which sounds like a Wizard of Oz character), but whom everyone else calls, "The Beast from the East," enters first, followed by Art's pick. Randy and Gorilla remind us that the first round of matches each have a 15 minute time limit, but fortunately there will be none of those at this year's tournament, although 1993 and 1995 saw boring encounters between Lex Luger and Tatanka, as well as Shawn Michaels and Kama, respectively. 

Bam Bam hits a "leg drop, and a beauty" on Razor, prompting Monsoon to remind Art that that kind of move isn't allowed in the NFL. "I can't even stand to watch it!" says Art, but Randy offers to hold his hand. Monsoon mentions that Bam Bam weighs 400 pounds, plus, perhaps inspiring Art to ask about every single other wrestler's weight throughout the night. Razor crotches Bigelow with the ringpost, prompting this probing question by Donovan: "Now, that hurt? That hurt." Randy, meanwhile, wonders if Luna will like Bam Bam the same after that move, and Gorilla pretends not to know that he's referring to Bigelow's injured testicles. Monsoon heard that Savage had been invited to the Luna-Bam Bam wedding, which is too bizarre a pairing to be real. Now, Luna Vachon and Gangrel, that's a real married couple. "What's the girl over there screamin' at?" asks Art, adding, "Oh, okay, I see, now I get it" after Monsoon explains the situation. "It looked like he t-- he tore off the time -- the top rope!" says Art after Razor is tossed over the top rope. 

Monsoon mentions that winning the King of the Ring did great things for Bret Hart's career, despite the fact that he was given the crown as a kind of compensation for Hogan refusing to drop the belt to him. Bam Bam hits an enziguiri on Razor, about which Art asks, "When ya do that kind of work with your feet can ya hit 'im?" "He's -- he's really some, uh, some athlete, really!" he adds.

With Razor in a torture rack on Bigelow's shoulders, Art asks, "What's he gonna do, throw 'im outta da ring?" He then notices that "this is the guy I picked to win, Razor!" seven minutes after Ramon's entrance. Fortunately, Donovan didn't place any bets, seeing as, in his words, "I don't have any money, Randy!" They didn't pay well in the NFL back in the day, apparently. "Gorilla, is he dead?" asks Art out of concern. Eventually, Bam Bam lets Ramon out, only to be dropped by a belly-to-back suplex by "The Razor Man," which is still a better moniker than Monsoon's previous nickname for Scott Hall, "The Ladder Man." "I thought the poor guy was dead! Now they're both out! What happens now?" Razor picks up the victory after "The Beast of the East" attempts a moonsault but gets pulled all the way down for a school boy, which is the only time I've seen that roll-up move delivered from the top rope. 

Art, in addition to his many questions, has thus far offered up such helpful tidbits as, "Whooooooaaaaaa!" "Whoa oh!" "Oohhh!" and similar ejaculations (of the verbal kind, thankfully).

Art's Question Count: 6

We go backstage where Todd Pettengill is standing with the "KORB," an unnecessary acronym for "King Of the Ring Board," where Razor's name has been advanced in the tournament bracket. IRS proves why he's the master of promos, vowing to beat Mabel, then Razor, and hopefully Tatanka, "'cause this is the last time he'll... hafta... face IRS." Mabel tells IRS, who has already rushed out of the room, that he better worry about "M to the A to the B-E-L." He claims to have a personal grudge against IRS, although they have no history together. Mo, by the way, has been injured, giving Mabel an opportunity to prove himself as a singles star and giving Vince McMahon an opportunity to see how bad an idea a singles push for Mabel would be and cancel all future plans with the 500-pounder. Sadly for wrestling fans watching the next year's King of the Ring, Vince would not take that latter opportunity.

IRS vs. Mabel

IRS goes on his typical rant about tax cheats, also threatening the camera man, telling him to "get that outta my face or I'll ram it down your throat!" I bet Pat Patterson wrote that line for him. "Randy, is this one of the wrestlers? ...He looks like... he looks like a business man!" IRS ends his rant by pointing out one last tax cheat in the audience, admonishing him to get a job and pay some taxes in this country. Which one is it, Irwin? Is he a tax cheat, or just unemployed? Mabel then enters to Oscar's rapping, leading to an easily misinterpreted and potentially offensive remark by Macho Man, who notes to Monsoon, "IRS doesn't like this, Gorilla." That comma makes all the difference in the world; without it, Randy would sound more like Michael Hayes, who would commentate the next year's tournament. Both IRS and Mabel qualified for the tournament by beating wrestlers from tag teams on their way out of the WWF (Scott Steiner and Quebecer Pierre, respectively).

"Is this the way he's gonna wrestle, with his clothes on?" asks Art. "Oh, no, he takes all of that off, Art," clarifies Gorilla. "Oh, I see, yeah. Look at the size of that what's-his-name?" says Art. Gorilla calls the wrestler in question, "five hundred pounds worth of Mabel of Men on a Mission," pre-emptively answering Art's impending weight question. Art asks it anyway. 

"How, how much does that guy weigh?" "Five hundred pounds, plus, Art!" "Oh that's not fair! The only guy, the other fella only weighs half the amount!" "I think I'm gonna get outta here. Dis is dangerous!"
Don't think that Art is alone in his commentary gaffes on this show, as Monsoon shows off his pop culture knowledge by "recognizing" a chant of "Oops, There It Is."
"Gorilla, who's the guy in the white suit?" "That's Oscar, the manager of Men on a Mission, Art." "Oh, I thought maybe he was the guy comin' to take 'im to the hospital. Ha!"
Randy Savage then uses the forbidden R-word ( rasslin'); perhaps that's why he's not in the Hall of Fame.

"Did you two guys enjoy doin' this? ...I can't imagine that! This is far worse than playin' football. At least we had pads on!" Don't tell Rima Fakih, Art. She'll get in trouble on Tough Enough. 
IRS hits "the best-executed clothesline that ever was," in Randy's words, to flatten Mabel, but gets powered out of a pin. Mabel then hits the largest small package in history, which could have been dubbed the "Large Package" and used as a finisher during his "World's Largest Love Machine" gimmick. It would have at least been better than his dry-humping move. Art, meanwhile, thinks that somebody is bleeding (they're not), then notes Mabel's gold teeth and says, "He's got a lotta gold in his mouth there, huh? He must be a very wealthy fella!" "He could hunt a bear with a switch, that guy!" "Gorilla, they're gonna go right through the ring one of these times!"     

IRS finally prevails when he shakes Mabel off the second rope, then pins him with the help of the ropes. Mabel is unable to kick out, despite only one of his shoulders being actively held down by Irwin.   
Note: He would not get him back.
"Whoomp, There It Is"?
But Gorilla said it was "Oops, There It Is"...

Art's Question Count: 13

Tatanka vs. Owen Hart


The Twice-Defeated Native American Tatanka, who beat Crush in a lumberjack match thanks to interference by Lex Luger, enters first, as Art asks, "How much does this fella weigh? Tatanka. How much does he weigh? Tatanka" He gets no answer, however, as "The Rocket" Owen Hart enters and immediately gets attacked by Tatanka. A pin attempt by the Native American is "a little premature," which might explain why his wife decided to cheat on him with Paul "Max Moon" Diamond in early 1993. "How much does he weigh? Tatanka." The third time is the charm, as Randy finally gives an estimate of 260-280 pounds. "Really?"    
Owen had to defeat "The Doinkster" to qualify for the tournament, which was "no easy task" according to Gorilla. Hey, it's 1994. Tatanka then hits a "leapfrog, and a beauty" on Owen and hits another beauty of a Japanese arm drag (or, as McMahon likes to call it, a Mexican arm drag). Art thinks that both men would make great linebackers. "Put some pads on 'em, they'd scare the hell outta the other team!" "The key to success is survival," opines Randy. "Even the officials have to survive, huh?"   
As the action spills to the floor, Macho Man says that he refuses to pick a winner in this match, which is just as well, seeing as he has picked Owen and Tatanka, respectively, on consecutive episodes of Raw. Hart rams the Native American, who does not have Hall of Famer Joe "Jay Strongbow" Scarpa in his corner, into the steel pole at ringside. "He knocked the hell outta the ring post!"  says Art. "These guys need a helmet with a face mask!"    

The Double Feature split-screen shows a fight backstage between IRS and Razor Ramon. Owen lands a missile dropkick on Tatanka, but only gets a two-count. "I can't believe the whole thing! They're killing each other.... Gorilla, is Tatanka getting any, uh, any air at all?"  With the babyface in a sleeperhold, Monsoon pretends not to have heard Art. In fact, he actually says, "I couldn't hear you." Gorilla is apparently catching on to Donovan's schtick. Tatanka goes on the warpath, demonstrating his resolve to even the densest of viewers. "He really means business now!" Tatanka hits a "DDT, and a beauty" and a flying tomahawk chop, but still only manages near-falls on The Rocket. "How can a man take that type of beating?"
After even more near-falls, the Twice-Defeated Native American Tatanka attempts a sunset flip, but gets blocked by Owen for the three-count, making him the Thrice-Defeated Native American. "Hey, Randy, there's gonna be a lot of American Indians mad."   

Art's Question Count: 20  

Jeff Jarrett vs. The 123 Kid


Double J, who defeated Lex Luger by countout thanks to interference by Crush, comes to the ring next. "Double J is going after what, 1-2-3? ...They're not as big as some of these other fellas, are they?" Art thinks that Jarrett must have been down in the islands, somewhere, based on his tan. Gorilla Monsoon remarks about how big an ovation the 123 Kid gets during his entrance, so naturally, Art asks, "Who's this now, Randy?" "Who are we talking about, 1-2-3? ...He looks like a boxer!" The Kid defeated Adam Bomb to get into the tournament, and who could forget his upset victory over "The Razor Man" (Monsoon's term, not mine) back in May of last year?  
The dreaded ass-to-face
pinning combination
Jarrett gets tossed from the ring at the outset of the match, which Art interprets as aggression towards him by the country singer. "I said, 'Are you nuts?'" He then compares wrestling to football again, remarking that he has seen more clotheslines tonight than in thirteen years in the NFL. "These guys are too much! They're gonna kill each other!" He also doesn't like 1-2-3's odds in the tournament, believing that "he's gonna get murdered!" Homicides aside, the Kid nearly beats Jarrett with a victory roll. Macho would like to party in Baltimore for two and a half months should the Kid win, and fortunately Art offers to let him stay at his place. A missed flipping senton off the top by the 123 Kid knocks the starch out of him. "It'll take a lotta other things out of ya, too! Not only the starch!" 
A missed guillotine splash to the Kid crotches Jarrett on the middle rope, making him do "the two-step" according to Savage. "He's got two, all right!" says Art, referring to Double J's testicles. Speaking of which, the Kid gets knocked off the top rope and lands jock-first on the top turnbuckle. Jeff Jarrett takes the opportunity to showboat. "This guy Double J's a cutie!" Jarrett works the Kid's legs, attempting a figure four leglock but instead getting pinned with an inside cradle. Hey, after that last bump, you can't blame the 123 Kid for his small package! 
Surprisingly, The Kid makes no mention of
the three piledrivers he got after the match. I guess
the WWF Magazine editor who wrote this quote
forgot to watch the end of the match.

The Kid gets the surprise pin, but gets spiked with three piledrivers by Jeff Jarrett. "They better call out the Marines!" "Well, what's wrong with the official? Why don't he stop it?" More officials arrive, warning Jeff visibly with the "money" hand gesture, but the defeated country singer continues to hit fist and knee drops. "How can this poor guy wrestle anymore, after taking a beating like this?" Macho Man explains the difference between being famous and being infamous, a distinction that most wrestling announcers today are unaware of. Ever heard of the "infamous" Savage-Steamboat match? "Double J, brother, you're infamous. And that doesn't mean, 'famous,' that means, 'infamous.'" Are you listening, Michael Cole?   

Art's Question Count: 28


Diesel vs. Bret Hart (c) - WWF Title Match


Diesel comes to the ring for his WWF title shot, marching down to his classic theme song. Great, now I'm going to have it stuck in my head all day. Accompanying him is Shawn Michaels, with whom Art Donovan is (and this will shock you) unfamiliar. "Hey Gorilla, who's the guy leading? Is that his second? ...Is he another wrestler?" At least Monsoon is acknowledging Art again. Gorilla then wonders who the Hart family member will be who seconds Bret, predicting either Bruce or Keith (which would surely result in a refund to the live and PPV audience) or even his father, Stu. As for Diesel, Art is impressed. "How'd you like to face him on the line?" Does that count as a question? Yes, it does. It's also about the tenth football reference of the night, putting Art about an eighth of the way to Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler's total at the Raw Bowl. Art doesn't let up, though, pointing out that Bret's "second," Jim Neidhart, looks like an offensive guard. "How 'bout the big guy here, uh, Diesel?" "Did he play football, also?" Questions aside, Art volunteers to defend Randy Savage should Diesel get physical with him, suggesting that he get undressed and be Randy's "second."   

Diesel corners Bret and pounds away with forearms, then chokes him with his boot, exhausting half his arsenal. Hart ducks a big boot, though, then teases a sharpshooter before headbutting Diesel's, uh, "abdomen." Art compares this match to David and Goliath. "We know what happened in that story," says Gorilla. "Yeah," says Art. "He hit 'im widda rock. Ha!" After Big Daddy Cool (or "Cool Daddy," as Jerry Lawler recently called him by mistake) gouges Hart's eyes, Art is outraged. "Can he do that? That's like sticking your fingers in the facemask. Can you stick your fingers in the guy's eyes? That's not kosher."  "I'm not sure that actually happened, Art Donovan," says Randy. Amazingly, it did happen. Art Donovan is on the ball right now. Speaking of rule-breaking, Diesel chokes Bret in the corner, with his hand this time, but misses another big boot to the corner and gets taken down, where Hart works his legs. Careful with those quads, Bret. The champion then clamps on the figure four leglock. Bad Bret, bad. "Right now, Diesel looks like a shrub." 
The Intercontinental champ grabs the bottom rope to break the hold, but Bret continues to kick away at his legs. "He almost beat something to-- to hit the table here," adds Art. Bret then gets booted out of the ring, but he fortunately does not beat something to hit the table there. He does, however, trip Diesel up and ram his leg against the ring post before Shawn Michaels blindsides him, sending Jim Neidhart running in pursuit of Shawn.  Bret then attempts a clothesline from the top rope, but seems to trip and is almost caught by the challenger. The two fall over and Diesel has to pull him up off the ground for a bearhug. Bret bites his way out of the hold and knocks Diesel out of the ring, only to follow up with a missed plancha. Diesel then rams the Hitman's back into the post, after which Art asks Gorilla and Randy, "How do these guys get outta bed in the morning? How did you guys get outta bed in the morning?" If you've read the Hitman's autobiography, you already know the answer: getting woken up by one of the many, many women you've been sleeping with on the road.  
"They're right back at it, huh?" Indeed they are, Art, as Diesel hits Hart with a side slam, erroneously called a "side suplex" by Monsoon. Meanwhile, Jim Neidhart looks on intensely, stroking his beard with concern. Art says that there's "no way he can -- he can win this match now, the way that guy's beatin' him up." I think that Art is the reason Vince put a ban on the announcers using pronouns in place of the wrestlers' proper names. "What's that?" I said, Vince doesn't like his commentators calling the superstars, "him," "he," or "that guy." 
Shawn slaps Bret while he's down, and Diesel follows up with an Irish whip to the turnbuckle, a bump the Hitman takes chest-first. The WWF champion nearly scores a surprise pin with a schoolboy, but Diesel kicks out. Art thinks that Bret is basically fighting two guys, but Macho Man says that Diesel alone is like two guys, so with Shawn Michaels he's like three guys. "Then it's three, the guy-- is, uh..." "I know what you're talking about," assures Randy. I don't think he does. As Diesel lifts Bret over his shoulder for a backbreaker, Art tells his colleagues to "look at this guy's move!"  Savage, meanwhile, thinks that Jim Neidhart has got Shawn Michaels in his "danger zone." Bret counters the move into a sleeperhold but gets backed into the corner. "Diesel with a sense of knowing where he is!" says Savage, reminiscent of Mike Adamle's praise of Shelton Benjamin and Kofi Kingston's "ability to do a variety of different things."   
Hart again tries a sleeper, jumping onto the challenger's back, but he gets run into the corner once more. Bret gets thrown into the ref, who twists his ankle, allowing Diesel to expose the top turnbuckle in hopes of beating Bret like he beat Razor Ramon for the IC title. He then tries to ram Hart into the buckle, but Hart reverses it, dazing the big man. Bret hits a "clothesline, and a beauty," followed by some more, apparently less beautiful clothelines to knock Diesel over and score a near-fall.  He then hits a "neckbreaker, and a beauty" to Diesel, which is neither a neckbreaker nor all that beautiful (in fact, it was a Russian legsweep, the first in Bret's five moves of doom). Next comes an elbow smash from the ropes, allowing him another near-fall. "Whoa!" A second rope bulldog fells Diesel again, setting him up for the sharpshooter, which makes four moves of doom, not five. I have never successfully counted the five moves of doom in any of Bret's matches. Michaels looks to interfere, but gets knocked off the ring apron. Bret hits a flying clothesline and scores another two-count, then tries a backslide pin. Instead, Diesel backs Bret into the corner, allowing the Hitman to climb the turnbuckles and backflip over his large opponent, nearly pinning him with a small package. Bret gets thrown to the turnbuckle and tries to float over Diesel, but instead gets caught. He avoids snake eyes by sliding down Diesel's back, but then gets hit with a big boot. While Diesel poses in victory, Bret pulls him down for a modified version of the Sharpshooter, which Diesel escapes via a rope break. Did you ever think a Kevin Nash match would have to be described in such detail? Even Art Donovan is practically speechless. Pay your respects to the Hitman, ladies and gentlemen.
Bret dropkicks Diesel to the outside. The Anvil stalks Bret's opponent, but for some dumb reason turns around and lets Diesel ram his head into the ring post. Shawn Michaels sneaks into the ring with the ref distracted and hits Bret in the back with the IC belt. Macho Man says, "I pinched myself" in disbelief, but it sounds like, "I pissed myself." Bret kicks out of an elbow drop, leading Diesel to signal for a jackknife. Shawn goes after the Anvil, who fends off HBK, then topples Diesel after the challenger had hit the jackknife, ending the match. Even with the DQ finish, this match was a minor miracle, an inexplicably good match between Bret Hart and the highly-limited Diesel. Hart's fortunes would even out when a sure-fire classic with Bob Backlund at Wrestlemania XI turned out wall-bangingly awful.    
He sure did.
She's going to submit to
Bret's "sharpshooter" tonight.
With his brother-in-law's title saved, Jim then leaves the ringside area, allowing Michaels and Diesel to pummel Bret. Randy Savage is suspicious, too. That one WWF official with the crazy blonde hair and thick glasses enters the fray, along with several referees, leading Art to wonder, "Who's that other guy up in the ring, with the grey suit?" For the record, it's Rene Goulet. Gorilla reminds the viewers (and Art) that titles can only change hands via pinfall or submission, but this isn't enough to prevent Art from shouting, "The referee's stealing the belt! Where's he going with the belt?" when the refs confiscate the WWF title from Shawn. "Well that guy's a cocky guy, huh?" says Art about Diesel, who poses on the ring apron. Diesel's infectious theme music plays as Bret Hart sits up in the ring. "Isn't anyone gonna help the Hitman out?" The ring announcer then reminds Art Donovans everywhere that the title cannot change hands by a disqualification, meaning Hart is still champion. "Do you think he'll sleep good tonight?" Only if he doesn't hook up with that lovely Hitman fan in the front row, Art.      

Art's Question Count: 46  

Semifinals: Razor Ramon vs. IRS


Razor Ramon comes to the ring for the second time tonight. Art Donovan, ever the astute observer, asks, "Hey, this is my man, Razor, right?" The second round of the tournament features thirty minute time limit, although no semifinal match has ever gone the distance and shortened the tournament by an entire round. IRS cuts another tax-related promo on the way to the ring, calling Ramon a "fool's gold-wearing tax fool tax cheat idiot." Razor takes exception to the strange insult by taking the fight to IRS outside the ring.   
IRS corsping? Send for the man...
When both men enter the squared circle, IRS tries to turn the tide with a "backbreaker not all that well-executed" (in Monsoon's words). "The Razor Man" recovers quickly and lets Irwin fly over the ropes after ducking a clothesline. "That's like missing a trap block!" "Well, you'd certainly know about that Art!" says Gorilla. "Exactly like it, except completely different!" adds Macho. Irwin gets back into the ring and starts stomping at Razor's legs. He then switches up to the upper body, which Monsoon points out is bad strategy. Announcers today just don't point out bad wrestling psychology anymore. Irwin puts Razor in a sleeper on the mat, using the ropes for leverage. "What does that, what does that give him when he has his two feet on the, on the rope?"  The announcers then wonder if the 123 Kid would even be able to compete. "He'll never show up!" says Art, in a valiant effort to sell the Kid's injuries.    When Razor starts whipping IRS around the ring, Art thinks that he might have picked the winner. Credit goes to Art for remembering who Razor Ramon is. Razor puts Irwin in the Razor's Edge for the victory, sending Art's pick to the finals.   

Art's Question Count: 48  

Meanwhile, Bret searches for Jim Neidhart backstage, but can't find him, despite yelling a lot.
The Toddster is backstage with the KORB, but the 123 Kid is still nowhere to be found, either. What if Jim Neidhart and the 123 Kid are the same person!? And he's left the arena to try out as an offensive guard and/or boxer?!  



Semifinals: Owen Hart vs. 123 Kid


Owen Hart is out once again as Art details the rest of the card. "Now after this... semifinal, then the final, and that's it, huh?" "How much does this fella weigh?" asks Art. "235, give or take an ounce," says Randy. After much hesitation, the Kid walks through the entrance way but gets dropkicked hard right as he tries to enter the ring. Owen grazes the Kid with a plancha, then takes him back to the ring and hits a splash for two. "That Kid is a tough guy, I'll tell ya!" Owen then gets whipped chest-first, Hitman-style, into the turnbuckle and gets hit with a body press, then a magistral cradle for two-counts. Macho Man puts over the New Generation as Owen and the Kid flip in and out of wristlocks. Macho is at a loss for words, and hopefully Art is, too. Owen hits an enziguiri for a two-count, forcing Randy to give him "not a little bit of credit, but a lotta little bit of credit!" 

Owen Hart, who could very well go on to face "The Razor Man," Razor Ramon in the finals, telegraphs a back body drop and is nearly pinned with a Northern Lights Suplex by the 123 Kid. Owen gets his foot on the ropes before the ref counts to three. Owen exits the ring, but The Kid then levels him with a somersault plancha, erroneously called a "moonsault" by Monsoon. Randy announces his official retirement from the sport; if he had followed through on that promise instead of jumping to WCW, he would be in the WWE Hall of Fame right now. Owen counters a spinning heel kick by the Kid with a German suplex, then hits a belly-to-belly after whipping the Kid to the ropes. "How can you be so agile?" asks Art. The Kid then tries a victory roll, which is later reversed for dueling near-falls.  Owen catches the Kid with a powerbomb, then puts him in the sharpshooter for a submission victory in one of the best short matches of all time. "What kind of a hold was that?" asks Art, after having seen Bret do it to Diesel two matches earlier. If this match had gone about 26 minutes longer, Razor would have won the King of the Ring crown by default, and Art would be a richer man (in spirit only; remember, he doesn't have any money).    

Art's Question Count: 52    

Yokozuna & Crush vs. The Headshrinkers (c) - WWF Tag Team Title match


Now it's time for the match everyone has been waiting for, the tag team title match between the Headshrinkers and the challengers, Yokozuna and Crush. The wait is over, people. You no longer have to hold it in. As the ring announcer introduces the title match, a smattering of cheers are heard, faintly, presumably from people now rushing to get in line for the bathroom (Hey, it's a famous bathroom; in 1996, a lady would come into the men's room to watch Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan duke it out in front of the urinals, to Dusty Rhodes's amazement). "So this is it, then?" asks Art, apparently thinking that this is the finals of the tournament. Jim Cornette comes out first but must wait for Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna to waddle out, followed by Crush. "How, uh, how, how much does this guy weigh? Is this Owa-zuna?" "600 pounds, plus." "Oh, a-ho!" Gorilla praises the "cunningness" of the challengers.  The Headshrinkers then enter with Capt. Lou Albano and Afa. That means that both teams are made up of Pacific Islanders, each with one foreign manager and one American manager. Art Donovan, now overwhelmed, asks, "How many guys are gonna wrestle now?" The Headshrinkers, Macho Man says, beat the Quebecers for the titles, then beat them again on the Countdown to the Crowning special on Monday Night Raw (in the French-Canadians' last WWF match as a team until 1998). Johnny Polo even had to shave his beard as the result of a bet. Art is still confused, though. "Who are these guys? These guys from the Pacific Islands or what?" "They're from America Samoa," says Randy, in a sentence that I have in no way altered or misspelled. 
Macho Man is still wondering where Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart is, while Art is wondering, "How can you even hurt him?" referring to Yokozuna. The Headshrinkers scuffle amongst themselves, then focus their attention on their challengers, knocking Yokozuna out of the ring within seconds of the bell. Macho Man compares the impact to that of an earthquake (not to be confused with "Earthquake" John Tenta, who just a few weeks ago left the Federation abruptly after beating former champion Yokozuna in a sumo match). "Jim Cornette alleviated the area in a hurry," says Monsoon in a Backlund-esque misuse of vocabulary. Macho Man points out that Crush is the "small guy" of the team, yet still weighs over 300 pounds, perhaps in an effort to nip Art's weight-related questions in the bud.   
Macho Man's "new favorite tag team of all time" awaits the return of the challengers to the ring. Samu, sporting his new mullet, goes at it with Yoko while Art complains of being unable to see because of Mr. Fuji's flag (though he doesn't identify "the guy" by name). Art is apparently not looking at his monitor like announcers are supposed to (which to me is a rather silly practice, considering that the commentators have the best seats in the house, yet are expected to watch the action on a tiny TV). Fatu, the future dancing man in a thong, squares off against Crush, a future KISS-themed wrestler replaced by Dale Torberg, after their partners tag out. Crush hits one of his patented crappy piledrivers, then tags in Yokozuna, of whom Art says, "He'd take over a whole defensive line." Yoko, AKA Rodney Anoa'i hits a legdrop on his cousin Solofa Fatu, but the pin is broken up by their cousin Samula Anoa'i. Fatu gets isolated by the heel team, but Yoko misses a running butt splash and falls on his face to the mat. The crowd chants "USA" for the Headshrinkers, even though Crush is the only one in the match (kayfabe) born in one of the fifty states, while American Samoa is the kayfabe origin of not only the Headshrinkers but Yokozuna as well. Okay, technically, Yokozuna is from "Polynesia," but he was really born in San Francisco, anyway.   
The Headshrinkers knock Yokozuna out of the ring once again, this time with dual savate kicks. "He's gonna go right through the concrete floor!" Fatu smashes Yokozuna into the ringpost, causing Samu to crotch himself on the top rope. Crush then hits a crappy superplex on Samu to take advantage of the mishap. The audience rises to its feet as Lex Luger arrives at ringside in an American flag shirt. Lex Luger, whom Crush had cost a spot in the King of the Ring tournament in a countout loss to Double J, argues with the big man from Kona, Hawaii. Lex Luger, who is "made in the USA," certainly has a score to settle, say the announcers. "Who's the fella with the American flag?" Crush nearly gets pinned with a schoolboy while distracted, then gets hit with a savate kick and pinned while Monsoon is busy explaining who the fella with the American flag is. Not until Mike Adamle would an announcer completely miss the finish of a match like that. Crush then pummels the American Original, who is wearing candy-striped tights apparently borrowed from Doink the Clown. He then rolls Luger into the ring, where Crush is vanquished by the tag team champions and Luger. 

Art's Question Count: 60  

Finals: Razor Ramon vs. Owen Hart


Before the finals of the tournament, the announcers congratulate Art Donovan for his prognostication skills, pointing out that his pick, Razor Ramon, is a win away from the King of the Ring title. "And then he'll be a king? He'll be crowned the king, right?" Razor Ramon makes his third entrance of the evening, and "the fans are going' crazy here!" Actually, the fans are rather polite in their cheering of The Bad Guy. Randy Savage says that history will remember the winner of this match, but not the loser. Art is more concerned about Razor getting rid of that toothpick in his mouth. As Owen enters, Savage says that he'll need a psychiatrist if he doesn't win. In truth, the only Hart who might need a therapist after a loss would be Bret sometime around November 1997. Monsoon claims that Stu Hart is proud of all his children. "Equally?" asks Savage. Of course not, Randy. One of his children named his daughter, "Satanic Ecstasy Hart."  
Sadly, "The Tough Latino" never replaced "The Bad Guy"
as Ramon's nickname.
"This guy over, with uh, Razor Ramon really outweighs him what, by about 30 pounds?" A slingshot (and a beauty) by Razor nearly earns him a quick pinfall victory. The announcers emphasize the fatigue factor that both men must overcome in this, their third bout of the evening. "These guys are so well-trained, they could play a football game forever!" Owen bridges out of a pin by Razor, then attempts a backslide, which is reversed by Ramon. Ramon is firmly in control of Owen, locking him in a headlock, so naturally Art Donovan pipes in, "You know what I think? I think that, uh, Razor's gonna lose." Owen then hits Ramon with a spinning heel kick. Maybe Art is on to something.    Randy mentions that this final match has a sixty-minute time limit. "How can they go that long?" Owen locks Razor in a "European-style" abdominal stretch. I don't know what distinguishes this variation of the abdominal stretch from an American version, but if anyone should know, it's abdominal stretch connoisseur Gorilla Monsoon. As good as the action has been so far, he adds, there's still one more match (and a beauty!)  
Owen gets flattened by a Razor Ramon chokeslam following a series of coounters. Ramon then throws Owen down with a fallaway slam for a two-count. Owen lands a Russian leg sweep, then tries a moonsault, but gets crotched on the top rope and dropped with a belly-to-back superplex. Razor then goes for the Razor's Edge, but he sets it up right by the ropes, Unless he's planning on tossing Owen to the arena floor, he's just asking for trouble. Owen back body drops Razor to the floor, where he is met by Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. The Anvil appears to be on his side but then clotheslines him and rams him into the ring post. "What are they doing now?" He then rolls the injured Razor into the ring and acts innocent, combing his hair and turning away from the ref. Owen lands a flying elbow drop on Razor and picks up the pinfall victory.  
"Well, tell me what's going on?" Randy tries to do exactly that as the two brothers-in-law double-team the defeated Razor with the Hart Foundation's Hart Attack. Sadly, they do not don the pastel parachute pants and checkered jackets like they did as the New Foundation. By the way, remember how Savage said that no one would remember the loser of this match? Art Donovan's prediction of "Razor Ramon" has ensured that years later, everybody knows that Razor was the man who was not, in fact, crowned the king. Ray Rougeau, the only remaining Rougeau brother in the company, asks for Bret's thoughts on Owen's victory. Bret can't believe what just happened, and he doesn't have any comment. "I can't believe what just happened. I don't have any comment."
Savage is starting to make sense of Jim Neidhart's actions tonight, suggesting to Monsoon that The Anvil was only interested in keeping the WWF title on Bret so that Owen Hart could become King and then take it from his older brother down the line. Art Donovan interrupts the storyline exposition with an important announcement. "Can I ask you guys a question? Did you guys act like that in the ring when you were wrestling?" Monsoon carries on as if that last question never happened, asking Macho if he thought that Neidhart was really that smart.     

Monsoon then sends it to "The Toddster" for the coronation ceremony. 
Owen stands on stage with fellow Canadian Jack Tunney and fellow pink-wearer Jim Neidhart. Owen demands respect from everyone, then rejects Jack Tunney's presentation of the crown and robe, opting instead for Jim Neidhart to crown The Rocket. He then issues his proclamation, declaring himself the King of Harts. He's certainly come a long way since last year, when he was simply cannon fodder for Jerry Lawler's feud with Bret.  

Art's Question Count: 69

Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - The "New Generation" Match


We then see a video package promoting tonight's "main event" and documenting the feud between Jerry Lawler and Roddy Piper, which consists of The King making fun of Roddy Piper's movies, "dress," and talk show, then Roddy Piper responding via home video and not letting the insults faze him, until The King speaks ill of The Hospital for Sick Children, which the Hot Rod thinks is going too far. Piper vows to donate his winnings to the sick children. Who booked this feud, Helen Lovejoy? For good measure, Lawler brought out a Roddy Piper impersonator to kiss his feet two weeks ago on Raw.  "This is the New Generation! This is what it's all about! This is the WWF as only we can deliver it!" At least that's what Gorilla Monsoon says. In reality, this is about the worst possible match the WWF could have chosen to showcase the "new generation," since it consists of one man who's been wrestling since the 1960s, and another who was a star in the 80s and is coming out of retirement for one match only (he says). And all this comes after a King of the Ring showcasing Owen Hart, the 123 Kid, Razor Ramon, Jeff Jarrett, and Tatanka. It's like if the WWF had chosen to launch the "Attitude" campaign with a pay-per-view main event of Doink the Clown vs. Bob Backlund. But, hey, they can't have the night end with a heel victory, so they picked this match to send the crowd home happy. And by "happy," I mean, "early," because the only thing this match is good for is an opportunity to get a head start on exiting the parking garage. Believe me, I've been stuck in the garage for literally hours after crowded events at the Arena.   
"Now, was he the king at one time, Jerry Lawler?" The same ring rat rooting for Bret earlier tonight is now holding a sign that says, "Piper for President," which Lawler derisively points at and laughs. He's right, you know. Piper is Canadian and thus ineligible for the presidency. Lawler then grabs the microphone to tell the "Baltimorons" to kiss his royal feet in a bit of foreshadowing of next year's "Kiss my Foot Match."
The King then heckles Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer, who is not amused. He'll be even less amused when he watches this match. Lawler and Schaefer have a lot more in common than they think, by the way. The King then vows that the sick kids in the hospital at Sick Kids Hospital won't get a penny because he's going to beat Piper tonight. "He's not very well-liked, is he?"   
More guts? Just wait till you hit your 50s, Roddy.
If Roddy had actually brought
his daughter to ringside with him,
Jerry Lawler would have been far more distracted.
Roddy Piper is preceded by a group of Scottish pipers. The reaction to Roddy Piper, Monsoon predicts, will "literally tear the roof off the Baltimore Arena." It's a good thing it's not raining on this night. Piper comes through the entranceway, sans beard (which he had grown out for his classic film, Tough and Deadly), then brings out the Roddy Piper impersonator, "the young boy that was humiliated by Jerry Lawler on Monday Night Raw on the King's Court." In truth, he was clearly in on the joke, as anyone who actually watched the segment would know. Roddy and his lookalike recite that line from They Live about bubblegum, even saying the word, ass. Piper is in "unbelievable shape," which is quite a contrast to how he would look in, say, 2006.    
Roddy comes out swinging, whipping Lawler to the corner. "Boy, he's really mad, huh?" The King tries to duck out early, but Piper hauls him back into the ring. "We are seeing, no question, vintage Rowdy Roddy Piper," says Monsoon, foreshadowing a decade of Michael Cole commentary in the 21st century. "You know, I don't think Roddy Piper likes this guy." When he hears that Piper is a former boxing champion, Art is incredulous. "Really?" You've got to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on old Art. After Roddy has clobbered Lawler for several minutes, Monsoon claims that Lawler "has been hammered ever since the get-go," perhaps confusing him for Jake Roberts. King oversells some more for Piper's punches, kicks, and atomic drops. Lawler chases after the fake Piper, but gets stopped by Roddy, who blocks his punch and rams the King's fist into the ringpost. Lawler continues to pursue the impostor Piper, choking him and throwing him into the ring as Roddy tries to protect him. I don't know how old this kid is, but Monsoon keeps calling him a "youngster," so I can assume that he's no older than 44, which was Carlos Colon's age at the 1993 Rumble     

The King gets Roddy on the ground and starts dropping fists at a leisurely pace. "I think Piper's in trouble!" "You know what, Art Donovan? I think you're right." "Huh-huh-ho!" Lawler then puts Piper in the "patented sleeper of his," which has not only been used tonight by Owen Hart, Bret Hart, and IRS, but was Piper's finisher for years. I hope Gorilla never worked at a real patent office. It would be a shame if Lawler were to win because, you know, the sick children. Piper takes wild, blind swings, then falls prey to a Lawler piledriver. The Hot Rod kicks out as Randy urges him on. "Do it for the kids in Toronto!" "And then start playin' the bagpipes!" The two men stagger around and trade punches. Piper then spits at Lawler (a fire-able offense in this day and age) and continues trading punches. He then pokes Lawler in the eyes, Stooges-style, then hits two bulldogs. A third bulldog attempt is blocked, with Jerry pushing Roddy into the referee, who goes down. Lawler hits Piper with a foreign object hidden in his tights. The ref counts at about a mile an hour as Lawler blatantly uses the ropes for leverage.   

The fake Piper pushes Jerry's feet off the ropes at the last second (or, to use a more appropriate phrase given the speed at which the referee was counting, at the eleventh hour). Roddy then hits a weak belly-to-back suplex and pins Lawler for a very slow three count. Roddy lifts the kid in a kilt up on his shoulders. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that the emaciated young man dressed in the Hot Rod shirt is going to be one of the beneficiaries of Piper's donation to the Sick Kids Hospital. At least that's what I assumed when I saw his picture in WWF Magazine.    
Until 1996. And 2003.
And 2006. And 2009
This main event featured every single tired wrestling trope used by veterans relying on goofy Vaudevillian antics in place of athleticism. Tried and true stalling tactics might have even worked had there been any real feud to speak of between the two; Bret vs. Lawler at Summerslam 1993 wasn't a technical classic, after all. This match, however, was the kind of match that the wrestlers could work in their sleep, which is how most of the audience spent the match, as well. Thus concludes the first pay-per-view of the official "New WWF Generation" campaign. If that weren't enough of a mind-bending letdown, consider this: Of the announce team for the evening, 89-year-old football veteran Art Donovan was the last man still alive.    

Art's Question Count: 73    

As always, I refuse to give "objective" ratings to any of these matches, as I am unable to discern the difference between a two-and-a-half and a two-and-three-quarters star match. This was a good pay-per-view overall, despite the baffling ending, with the highlights of the night being every match featuring a Hart brother. And of course, with Art Donovan on commentary, it's like your grandpa is on the couch watching with you!
See, I told you you might learn something.


  1. Dude, this was - and I hate to use this term - an EPIC review. I appreciate the time and effort it took to write this. For a review of a mediocre 20 year old PPV from a truly awful year in the business - it really held my attention. The jokes were unexpected and hilarious. The links sprinkled throughout were a great touch. Top notch, man. Seriously. Top notch.

  2. i agree with drew

  3. Couldn't agree more. Couldn't have said it better.

    I remember watching this as a 14 year old and once again bemoaning how much I missed having Bobby Heenan on commentary with Gorilla. I held on watching WW(F) for another year before the product simply became too unbearable. I told myself, "dude, you're high school. Stop watching this crap and go find yourself a girlfriend."

    And so I did, and it would be another 10 years before I got back into watching WW(E) steadily.

    EPIC review, man. Thanks for the memories.