Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura call today’s action, wrapping up the television taping cycle in Binghamton, New York.
WWF KING OF THE RING QUALIFYING MATCHES (1993):
* So for this week’s “Dream Matches” column, I decided randomly to take a look at the build up to 1993’s inaugural King of the Ring. As a 12-year old fan, I was way into the idea of this big tournament, and even now the set-up seems great- you have an 8-man tournament in one night on PPV, and in the weeks leading up to the show, you stick your stars up against JTTS guys in “Qualifying Matches” that are mostly foregone conclusions, except a couple of them have a legit question mark. It lets your “Featured Matches” actually count for something, and gives your name guys a big win on TV- and if you were watching back then, you know you only saw “Star vs. Star” matches once per week if you were lucky. I’ll see what I can find on YouTube for these (turns out it’s everything but Shawn/Crush, which ended in a Double Count-Out, which disqualified BOTH for some reason, so we had a different Qualifying Match instead).
The issue with KOTRs, of course, is that with 16 guys, 15 have to do the job. And when times are tough, Vince is squirrelly about letting guys drop legit falls. The real purpose of the first King of the Ring, of course, was to return some credibility to former champion Bret Hart, and set off his new feud with Jerry Lawler.
RAZOR RAMON vs. “EL MATADOR” TITO SANTANA:
* So Razor had debuted the previous year and been given arguably his biggest solo push ever, teaming with Ric Flair in the main program at Survivor Series and then facing Bret Hart for the WWF Title at the Royal Rumble. After his loss there, he was cycled into the upper-midcard, beating Bob Backlund at WMIX. Here, we’re a little bit away from the face turn that would forever change his career. Santana, meanwhile, has fallen all the way down the card and is only rarely featured on TV anymore- he’s been a JTTS for years by this point, and was looking pretty flabby compared to the ’80s. Both guys are in black, here- I don’t recall Tito in that look.
As noted in prior columns, this show was a joint effort by the WWF, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and All Japan Pro Wrestling. The WWF was looking to expand its global presence while New Japan and All Japan felt threatened by Akira Maeda’s shoot-like Universal Wrestling Federation, which drew a 50,000 person crowd to the Tokyo Dome for a big show in November 1989. To counter them, New Japan and All Japan worked together on a supershow at the Tokyo Dome on February 10. Then, they built on that effort by partnering with the WWF for another big card in Tokyo on April 13 that was named The Wrestling Summit. According tothehistoryofwwe.com, the show drew a crowd of 53,742.
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan are tonight’s studio hosts. Monsoon asks Heenan if the Heenan Family is seeing growing defections. Heenan is aghast at what happened with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania, opining that the big man cannot take directions. Monsoon makes a good point that Heenan failed to help get Andre out of the ropes at WrestleMania, thereby costing his team the WWF Tag Team Championship.
Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura are in the booth and they are live from Toronto, Ontario, Canada in what will be Ventura’s last appearance calling a WWF pay-per-view. According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the show drew a sellout crowd of 67,678, a new attendance record for the venue. It drew a buyrate of 3.8 (an estimated 550,000 purchases). This was a decline from the 5.9 buyrate of WrestleMania V, but this can be attributed to more homes getting pay-per-view access by 1990, thereby messing with the buyrate average.
Robert Goulet sings the Canadian National Anthem. According to Bruce Prichard, Goulet was picked for this spot because he badly botched signing “The Star Spangled Banner” several years earlier and this was a chance for him to redeem himself in front of a live crowd. The WWF put the lyrics on the Skydome’s video screen to ease Goulet’s nerves. And if you watch his body language during the performance, he goes from a bad of nerves to a guy having the time of his life halfway through. His wife, who watched backstage, cried her eyes out after he nailed the song.
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan are hosting tonight’s broadcast. Heenan announces that Mike Tyson will not referee the WWF title match between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage on The Main Event. Monsoon follows up by saying that Buster Douglas will take Tyson’s place. Heenan is discouraged by this news because he hoped to referee the bout.