The SmarK Rant for WWF King of the Ring 1997
By Scott Keith on 10th August 2018
The SmarK Rant for WWF King of the Ring 1997
(This was originally written sometime in 2000, during the period when I changing from “Netcop Rant” to “SmarK Rant” for stupid legal reasons and didn’t yet have the new website name nailed down yet. We are of course at this point in the 97 RAW rants, but FUCK OFF if you think I’m watching this show again. Sure it’s not BAD, but it’s deathly dull and watching the buildup didn’t make me want to sit through it again in the least. Now of course, all the interesting stuff happened AFTER the show, which we’ll get to in the next RAW ‘97 rant…)
Live from Providence, Rhode Island, drawing 9312 and a paltry 177,000 buys on PPV, lowest of all-time for the KOTR and one of the lowest WWF buyrates in history.
Your hosts are Vince and Good Ol’ JR.
King of the Ring Semi-Finals: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Ahmed Johnson.
Headlockery to start. Ahmed shrugs him off and yells something at the crowd that sounds like the lyrics to the Smackdown theme. Ahmed no-sells some weak HHH offense, and press-slams him, doing some reps using him a barbell. Steve Williams used to do that, too, and it’s STILL a cool spot. Hunter bails. Back in, HHH gets nowhere. Fascinating fact from JR: Ahmed was trained by Ivan Putski. This was during the period when Vince finally took the muzzle of JR and let him say EVERYTHING he wanted to. The problem then became shutting him up once he got into football backgrounds. Brawl outside sees HHH take over with a whip into the stairs and back in for some formal bowing. Hunter goes all lucha with a baseball slide, and comes back in with a forearm from the top for two. Ahmed shrugs him off and won’t sell. Bad, miscommunicated sequence follows, leading to Ahmed hitting an axe kick way off the mark (to HHH’s lower back!) and a spinebuster. Chyna distracts him, and BAM! Pedigree finishes at 7:34. That match was uglier than Ahmed. ½* Crowd is completely deflated by the favorite to win going out.
King of the Ring Semi-Finals: Mankind v. Jerry Lawler.
Mick cuts a weird pre-match promo, lamenting the absence of his Uncle Paul (Bearer). He goes on a weird tangent about naked people, and finishes with a “Bang Bang”. (In the Observer, Dave notes that out of 10,000 people in the arena, the only one laughing was Vince McMahon. Sounds a lot like today.) Lawler of course has a mike and insults everyone in the front row. Brawl outside to start. Lawler runs away and stalls. Back in, the King plays “Fantom Foreign Object” to control. He tosses Mick as JR runs down Lawler’s career highlights. Lawler finds another foreign object (never seen, of course) and works on the ear with it. Thrilling stuff, no? Back outside for some brawling of the weak variety. Mankind takes a sick bump headfirst into the stairs, and another one into the railing. Good lord. No wonder he can’t remember where he lives. Lawler piledrives him on the floor. OH MY GOD, CALL AN AMBU…oh, wait, sorry, we’re not in Memphis. Mick fights to the apron, and Lawler…DROPKICKS HIM?!? JR is caught off-guard by that one. Piledriver gets two. Mick fights back, driving a knee into Lawler’s face. Lawler sort-of gets a neckbreaker, and drops a fist. Piledriver is reversed, and the Mandible Claw finishes at 10:23. It’s Jerry Lawler, you were expecting something good? *
Classic moment: Pillman is in the bathroom to cut some goofy promo, but Steve Austin sneaks up behind him and punks him out, then sticks his head in the toilet (with a camera conveniently set up above the bowl) and delivers…THE SWIRLY OF DEATH! Pillman, bless his soul, sells it. How they did this without completely losing it, I’ll never know.
Crush v. Goldust.
WHY, GOD, WHY? Brawl outside to start. Back in for some kick and punch from Goldust. Lariat gets two. Bagwell-esque neckbreaker gets two. Crush comes back with a belly-to-belly for two. Crowd is actively bored. Crush works the back. Some vicious restholds follows. To pass the time, I come up with the top 10 rejected Kronic t-shirt slogans:
1. “Hey kids, smoking pot is cool!”
2. “Tammy Sytch is NOT our dealer.”
3. “Winners inhale.”
4. “Honest, officer, I was just holding it for Rob…”
5. “If you’re stoned, no one will notice how much you suck”
6. “Huh huh, he said ‘suck’ in the last one.”
7. “We’ve got two words for you…uh…sorry, we forgot…”
8. “If you’ve got some Doritos or Taco Bell, give me a HELL YEAH!”
9. “Was it you or me who used to be Adam Bomb?”
10. “Dammit, did you let Scott Hall sell you his lawn clippings AGAIN?”
Anyway, Goldbore makes the comeback but walks into a gutbuster. JR resorts to telling high school football stories about Dustin, noting that he was a defensive lineman and “covered sideline-to-sideline”. Do you really NEED me to make the Dusty Rhodes joke here, or can you do it yourself? Goldust mounts the comeback, but stops to beat up D-Lo and gets jumped. Back in, Goldust gets the DDT out of nowhere for the pin at 9:54. Wow, boring AND a dumb finish, what a combo. I think I need some of the Kronic’s medicinal marijuana to recover from gnawing my own foot off in boredom. DUD
The Hart Foundation v. Sid & The Legion of Doom.
I don’t foresee much selling here. JR notes that Kerry Von Erich once called Sid the toughest man he ever faced. Sid was Kerry’s drug dealer? Animal and Owen do a nothing sequence that sees Animal bumping him all over. On the anti-WWF side of the Owen lawsuit, if he was still alive he could be having ****+ matches with Benoit & Jericho as we speak. Sid no-sells some stuff and the faces beat up Bulldog. Anvil v. Hawk…who sells first? Actually, yes. Anvil suckers Hawk into the corner and he just HAS to get piledriven so he can no-sell it. Animal comes in, and since he’s the only one on the team even CLOSE to professional, he gets to be face-in-peril. Standard stuff here. JR goes into METAPHOR OVERDRIVE, and I’m waiting for some patented Jim Ross Mixed Metaphors ™. They never come. Bulldog superplexes Animal for two. More beatings. It’s a free country, so I exercise my right to FAST-FORWARD as the announcers shill Canadian Stampede. Hot tag Hawk, then hotter tag to crowd fave Sid. He tries to powerbomb Bulldog, and Owen comes off the top with a sunset flip for the pin at 16:51, shocking the crowd. This was Sid’s final appearance on WWF PPV. ½* (Dave had a funny line in the Observer about this crappy match, in that he thought perhaps they misinterpreted the USA Network rules as applying to PPV and as a result Sid ended up selling the sunset flip on a seven second delay as well.)
King of the Ring: HHH v. Mankind.
Wristlock stuff to start. Mick chokes him out. HHH bails. This is exciting stuff. They brawl a bit, and HHH rests outside. Well, I didn’t need that 5 minutes of my life anyway. HHH gets a neckbreaker and does some choking. It’s no Rumble 2000 street fight, that’s for sure. Slugfest, and HHH catches him with a clothesline. Punch, kick, punch. Mick misses the Cactus clothesline and hits the floor. HHH baseball slides him and lays some shots in. Back in, HHH works the neck. Anyone who complains that the Iron Man match was boring should be forced to watch THIS. Mankind gets a stungun for two. They fuck up…something…as the crowd gets seriously restless. This match has zero heat. Out to the floor, where Mick drops a Cactus elbow (no Bang Bang). JR goes into his little “How do you learn to fall on concrete, smart guys?” spiel against skeptics. Mick actually answered that question in his book: With practice. (I’ve heard that’s also how you get to Carnegie Hall.) Back in, double-arm DDT gets two. Pedigree is reversed and the Claw applied, but Chyna pulls him off and out. Back in, HHH rips off the mask, annoying Mick. Cactus clothesline, but HHH dodges an elbow and Mick takes the Nestea Plunge. HHH Pedigrees him through the announce table and Mick is in bad shape. Chyna smashes the sceptre over his head for good measure, and HHH knocks him off the apron, into a photographer. Back in, all that gets two. Pedigree finishes at 19:24, and HHH is the King of the Ring. Who decided to give them TWENTY MINUTES??? * (Dave gave it ***1/2. God bless freedom of expression, but I’ve watched this match again in a couple of different places since this original review and I just can’t see it.)
Shawn Michaels v. Steve Austin.
Pre-match, Bret and the Hart Foundation come out and issue an open challenge for Canadian Stampede. Austin & Shawn are the tag champs at this point, but they don’t like each other very much. Austin knocks him down and flips him off to start. We head out and back in, as Shawn gets a quick armdrag…and flips AUSTIN off. Odd moment as Vince Russo accidentally falls over the railing from his position at ringside…oh, wait, sorry, that’s a Special Olympian. My mistake. Shawn helps him to the back. Back in the ring, they trade armbars. Shawn tenaciously holds a headlock. Don’t see much of that these days. Austin breaks out and mocks HBK’s pose. Nice little mat reversal bit puts Shawn in control with a chinlock, into a full headlock. Criss-cross, and Austin counters a Thesz press attempt with an atomic drop, and he dumps Shawn out. Back in with a suplex, which Shawn reverses to a rollup for two. Shawn goes to the arm. Test of strength is offered by Austin, and Shawn accepts, like an idiot. Once in that position, Austin kicks the crap out of him. Shawn comes back with a backdrop for two. Austin drops two elbow, but Shawn goes back to the arm. Criss-cross and Austin gets the Thesz press…which is reversed into a pinfall attempt by Shawn, and they go into an Eddy-ish pinfall reversal sequence. WHOMPASS! Take that, Russo-lovers! It ends with Austin kicking out of a backslide and tossing Shawn. Steve pounds him coming in, sending him crashing to the railing in a Pillmanesque bump. Austin heads out and drops him on it again. Shawn fights back, but gets sent to the stairs. Steve press-slams Shawn face-first to the concrete in a sick bump. We head back in, where Shawn gets a surprise inside cradle for two. Austin drops an elbow for two. He hits the chinlock, cheating for good measure. Shawn fights back, and they slug it out. Steve gets tossed, and Shawn baseball slides him. He suplexes Austin back in, but it’s reversed into an irish whip. Shawn rebounds with the flying forearm and a backdrop, however. Atomic drop, but a blind charge goes WAY wrong. Austin stomps a mudhole, but Shawn gets a cross-body out of the corner, which is reversed for two. Lariat gets two for Austin. Cross-corner whip, reversed, and the ref is bumped. Superkick is countered with the Stone Cold stunner as JR has an Oklahomian reaction at ringside. Austin revives the ref…and stunners him. Shawn superkicks Austin as another ref runs in…and checks on the first ref. What a tool. Shawn rightly kicks his ass. He wakes up the first ref, who counts two for Shawn. A third ref finally runs in and stops the whole thing at 23:00 for the Sports Entertainment Finish. BOOOOOOOOO! If that match had a finish, it’s a MOTY candidate, but as it stands we’ll go ****1/4 and leave it there. Man, did Austin have a run of great matches in 1997 or what? This one LITERALLY saved the show.
WWF World title: The Undertaker v. Faarooq.
What, you mean YOU wouldn’t buy a PPV with the promise of seeing this classic? Faarooq jumps UT, which doesn’t accomplish much. Powerslam gets two. The NOD lays the beats on UT. UT comes back and works the arm in plodding fashion, stopping to hit the NOD with a tope off the ropewalk. Neat spot. Back in, ropewalk again, but the NOD knocks himoff. Faarooq gets a suplex for two. More shenanigans from the Nation. To the floor, where Faarooq eats stairs. Back in, UT punches a lot. Faarooq gets a quick piledriver for two as the announcers declare him the new champion. Uh huh. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, BABY. At least he cheats. UT block and reverses the Dominator, but a legdrop misses. Faarooq tries a cross-body, but gets powerslammed. Flying clothesline misses. Much standing around follows. Savio & Crush argue, distracting Faarooq. Tombstone, sionara, at 13:40. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? Put Faarooq in a MAIN EVENT, against the worst wrestler on the roster to carry someone like him, and then give it nearly fifteen minutes? No wonder WCW was kicking their ass. –*
The Bottom Line: With everything but one match at * or less, this would be an easy candidate for worst PPV ever, but Shawn Michaels saves the day, as usual. Amazingly, Shawn was coming off that crippling smile-ectomy, too. What a trooper.
Strong recommendation to avoid.