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Random Network Reviews: WWF King of the Ring 1996

February 21, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: WWF King of the Ring 1996  

WWF King of the Ring 1996
June 23rd, 1996 | MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Attendance: 8,762

Here we have one of the most historic Pay-Per-Views in the history of the WWE. On this night, the infamous Austin 3:16 promo was uttered and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin became a star. This also marked the final WWE PPV appearance of the Ultimate Warrior as his failure of a 1996 run ended. The WWF was about to face a really tough time as the formation of the nWo was on the horizon and the WWF would start to take a pounding in the ratings war. That’s rather ironic since this show ignited the fuse that launched Austin, who would become the star that helped them beat WCW. This is the fourth ever King of the Ring Pay-Per-View.

“THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION…FOR OVER 50 YEARS…THE REVOLUTIONARY FORCE IN SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT.” That brings me back to my childhood. The four King of the Ring Semi-Finalists as well as the rest of the card are highlighted in the opening video package. They also hype it as the greatest KOTR card ever. Owen Hart comes out to join Vince McMahon and Jim Ross for commentary.

King of the Ring Semi-Finals: Steve Austin def. Marc Mero w/ Sable in 16:48
Austin defeated Bob Holly and Savio Vega to advance here. Mero beat Skip and Owen Hart. Owen hilariously says that Mero held his tights and blamed his post-match attack on Mero on him slipping off of the apron. They work the mat, jockeying for position. Austin was a stud before his neck injury. Mero’s speed advantage swings the momentum. To combat this, Austin takes a few breathers and stalls Mero’s momentum. Austin gets in some cheap shots and sends Mero outside. He does one of my favorite spots when he removes the protective mat outside for a quick press slam. We continue to see a lot of Austin’s repertoire when he applies a Boston Crab to wear down the back more. Mero gets some flash pines before eating a Stunner variation. Austin’s lip is bleeding pretty badly. Mero really brought his working boots, hitting a somersault plancha and suicide dive. He gets two on a top rope rana and the crowd is in a frenzy now. Austin comes back with an alley-oop version of the stun gun for a near fall. He then nails the Stunner, complete with ridiculous sell by Mero, to hand Mero his first defeat. Better than I ever expected. Mero came to play despite knowing he was doing the job and Austin was in the early stages of an awesome 1996. Lots of action, a fast pace, smart wrestling, a hot crowd and a clean finish. ****

Jake Roberts is interviewed about his upcoming match and is way into the revelations stuff. It never quite clicked for me.

King of the Ring Semi-Finals: Jake Roberts def. Vade w/ Jim Cornette via disqualification in 3:39
Vader advanced after beating Ahmed Johnson and via a bye, while Jake beat HHH and Justin Hawk Bradshaw. Vince says Jake is 41, but Owen claims he’s either 51 or 61. Vader’s power is way too much for old Jake from the get go. Vader blocks the DDT and pummels him in the corner. He misses a corner splash leading to the DDT. The referee gets hit on the hold and immediately calls for the DQ, awarding the match to Jake for some reason. What a garbage finish. Vader agrees and attacks Jake afterwards with splashes and a Vader Bomb. Too short to be offensive. ½*

Hey, the WWE Network gives us a Coliseum Home Video exclusive where Vader freaks out backstage.

WWF Tag Team Championship: The Smoking Gunns (c) w/ Sunny def. the Godwins w/ Hillbilly Jim in 10:10
Man, the tag team division was in shambles here. Dok Hendrix interviews Sunny beforehand about the Bodydonnas’ new manager, Cloudy, who was a dude in drag playing the new “Sunny”. Billy stumbles through the promo because he’s Billy Gunn and he’s horrible at that. The cameraman almost reaches New Japan Maria Kanellis levels of zooming in on Sunny’s assets. The storyline here is that Phineas has a thing for Sunny, but she’s with the Gunns now and he’s jealous. Phineas goes into a few fits during the match but mostly ignores Sunny’s attempts to flirt with him. The Gunns take control after a cheap shot and work over Henry. Usually Henry was the hot tag guy since Dennis Knight is awful but I guess it works here since Phineas was the main part of the angle. Billy hits the Fameasser before it was famous for two. The champions use a bunch of basic heel tag tactics until Phineas gets tag and the Godwins kick ass. They aren’t too bright though as Bart takes off his boot and hits Phineas, leading to the win. This was pretty boring.

Dok Hendrix interviews British Bulldog, Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason about the main event. Dok suspects collusion because the special referee for the main event, Mr. Perfect, is in their locker room. Bulldog’s promo sucks.

The Ultimate Warrior def. Jerry Lawler in 3:50
Jerry Lawler comes out first and spends a ton of time just running down fans. He pretty much picks out a bunch of people in the front row and just annihilates them. Warrior’s entrance feels very overproduced here with all of the pyro. Lawler attacks during Warrior’s entrance with a scepter he took from the KOTR crowning area. He chokes Warrior and brings out a bunch of underhanded tactics. Lawler hits the piledriver but Warrior immediately pops back up. Warriors does his typical comeback and wins handily. Pretty much exactly what it needed to be, though that doesn’t mean it was any good.¼*

Mankind def. the Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer in 18:18
Since his debut the night after WrestleMania, Mankind has made the Undertaker’s life hell. He’s laid him out three times with the Mandible Claw as well. Undertaker doesn’t come out with Bearer, instead showing up and leaping from the top onto Mankind. Regardless, Mankind takes control and continues to have Undertaker’s number. Jim Ross does a good job putting that over and really talking about how much of a force Mankind’s mandible claw is. Mankind does the Cactus elbow but ends up taking a backdrop onto a chair. Undertaker also uses the chair behind the referee’s back, really showing his desperation to turn things around. Mankind escapes the tombstone and gets back on the offensive. Undertaker blocking the mandible claw gets a great pop from the crowd. Undertaker takes a rough steel stair bump before getting a chair up on a Mankind apron leap. He also just levels him with one big chair shot to the skull. Strange to see those considering I’ve grown used to no unprotected chair shots. Back inside, Mankind hits a pulling piledriver and starts pulling his hair out. Foley nailed every mannerism of the character. He applies the mandible claw again and Bearer is on the apron. Undertaker fights it but accidentally gets hit with the urn. Mankind reapplies it and Undertaker passes out. A good first chapter of a really good feud. This rivalry did wonders to ignite a motivated Undertaker and establish Mankind. ***¼

In the back, Shawn Michaels comes up to Mr. Perfect to tell him make good on his name and referee a perfect match. Nobody seems to believe that Perfect will do it though.

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Ahmed Johnson def. Goldust (c) w/ Marlena in 15:27
Goldust’s character clicked so well in this era because he was so different. Last month, Ahmed Johnson was knocked out on a stretcher and Goldust took to mouth to mouth to wake him up, freaking out the homophobic Ahmed. Ahmed busts out of the entrance and knocks over the doormen in a moment that has become a popular GIF. Ahmed spends the first few minutes just kicking Goldust’s ass. Thanks to a Marlena distraction, Goldust slams the steel steps onto Ahmed. This is where we get the Goldust head segment and at this point in his career, those were very dull. Come to think of it, his work was better as a face, though he does draw heat by fondling Ahmed. He goes all out with the rubbing, licking and does mouth to mouth again, causing Ahmed to explode. Not in the way he wanted though. Ahmed gets his flurry in and becomes champion with the Pearl River Plunge. Way too long for the two men involved. Cut this to about ten minutes and it would have worked much better. Ahmed would never pass this peak of his career. **

Ahmed Johnson gets a champagne celebration in the back with mostly jobbers, but Shawn Michaels hugs him as well.

Recently signed Brian Pillman, who appeared in WCW, ECW and now the WWF all within six months, comes to ringside for an interview with Jim Ross. He is nuts and claims that Jeffrey Dahmer should have eaten this entire state. Wow. He is going to rape, pillage and plunder the WWF.

King of the Ring Finals: Steve Austin def. Jake Roberts in 4:35
Roberts drags the snake bag since he’s too beat up to carry it. Vince puts over his heart for being 41 and still competing after earlier. Austin goes right after the ribs. Austin just beats the hell out of Jake to the point where President Gorilla Monsoon has to come out and decide if he wants to stop the match. Jake declines and fights but falls to a Stunner shortly after. They wisely kept it short and it wasn’t much of a match. I can’t go less than a star though simply due to the important of the win. *

The history making moment comes now as Dok Hendrix interview the winner near the throne. “The first thing I want to be done is to get that piece of crap out of my ring. Don’t just get him out of the ring, get him out of the WWF because I’ve proved son, without a shadow of the doubt, you ain’t got what it takes anymore. You sit there and you thump your bible and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your psalms, talk about John 3:16…Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.” And with that, a star is born.

WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels (c) w/ Jose Lothario def. British Bulldog w/ Diana Smith and Jim Cornette in 26:23
A month earlier, these two met in a match that ended in controversy, leading to the rematch with Mr. Perfect as the guest official. Monsoon makes the decision to only have Perfect outside, while Earl Hebner handles the in-ring duties. Owen just goes full asshole on commentary, running down Michaels at every chance and it’s great. Shawn skins the cat after taking Bulldog over and out before whipping Cornette with the racket. The crowd comes unglued for that entire sequence. Owen is quick to remind everyone of kick that nearly ended Shawn’s career last year. After Shawn works the mat for a while, Bulldog press slams him backwards outside. Vince complains about that being intentional like this is early 90’s WCW and over the top means a DQ or something. Bulldog also hits a suplex on the outside before press slamming him back inside. Now it’s Bulldog’s turn to wear down the champion with chinlocks and such. Bulldog makes a key mistake by going up top and BADLY whiffing on a flying headbutt. Shawn goes up, but Bulldog hits a big dropkick to stop him and follows with a sick release superplex. Shawn again tries to rally with a rana but Bulldog busts out a sweet sitout powerbomb for two. Bulldog really brought his A game. Shawn finally rallies and hits Sweet Chin Music. Mr. Perfect comes in to count with the actual ref for some reason. Owen pulls Perfect out but the official referee still counts the three and that’s all. Wonky finish, but before that this was going very well. Bulldog stepped up big time and Michaels was in the midst of a string of awesome PPV Title matches. ****

Owen Hart attacks and get put in the figure four. Bulldog tries to help but Shawn pulls him into an inside cradle for no reason since the match is over. Owen and Bulldog continue the beatdown until Ahmed Johnson runs out to make the save. IT’S VADER TIME! Vader destroys Ahmed while Owen puts the boots to Shawn. Vader goes up top to hit a big splash but Ultimate Warrior charges out to make the save. This was supposed to set up Ahmed/HBK/Warrior against Camp Cornette at the next PPV, but Warrior would be gone by then and Sid would replace him.

The final score: review Average
The 411
If you only looked at the first and last matches, you’d think this was an incredible show. Two four star matches bookended the event though the stuff in the middle disappointed for the most part. Undertaker and Mankind was the other highlight, kick starting their series of matches in a solid way. The Roberts KOTR matches, Intercontinental Title, Tag Title and Warrior/Lawler matches all pretty much sucked. However, Austin’s win is the real treat and I’d recommend this show purely for that reason.