It’s Bound To Get Medieval. Brace Yourself. That sounds like something Ahmed Johnson will say. Could he be a shoe-in for the King Of The Ring tournament tonight? He’ll take on Hunter Hearst Helmsley in one semi final whilst Jerry Lawler will battle Mankind in the other. Much like last years tournament, we’ll only get the semi finals and final. Ahmed Johnson actually defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley by disqualification to get here tonight. Helmsley claimed that he thought it was no disqualification rules and thus got another shot, replacing Vader to take on Crush. Jerry Lawler beat Goldust when he pinned him with his feet on the ropes whilst Mankind got through Savio Vega when Vega got nailed by Crush. Tonight we’ll crown a new King.
There is one title match tonight and in that one we’ll see The Undertaker defend his WWF title against Faarooq. Faarooq was pretty much just named number one contender following his victory over Ahmed Johnson at In Your House: Cold Day In Hell. Since then Paul Bearer has blackmailed Undertaker into taking him back as his manager, holding a secret over his head that Undertaker doesn’t want the world knowing. Cracks have begun to show in the Nation with Savio Vega and Crush at each others throat whilst PG-13 have been taken out after being thrown to the Legion Of Doom. The tag team titles won’t be defended because the champions face one another. Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels defeated Owen Hart and British Bulldog for the titles and have been at each others throats ever since. Michaels was actually supposed to fight Bret Hart but Hart wasn’t cleared to wrestle. Austin was to fight Pillman but the Hart Foundation convinced Michaels and Austin to fight each other.
The Hart Foundation will be in action with Owen Hart, British Bulldog and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart take on Sycho Sid and The Legion Of Doom. Sid returned on Raw last week and we’ll have to see if Hawk and Animal can trust him. He’s still very over as a face. Owen Hart is still the Intercontinental Champion and The British Bulldog is the European Champion. Also tonight we’ll see Goldust take on Crush in an unadvertised match.
We kick it off with a video package. Tag Team Champions Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels go one on one tonight and we’ll also see Faarooq challenge for Undertakers WWF title and of course the King Of The Ring tournament. They’re the highlights so let’s get to it. Vince McMahon welcomes everybody to Rhode Island, I’m guessing we’ll kick it off with the King Of The Ring tournament semi finals, much like last year. McMahon is joined by Jim Ross. The owner of the WWF then introduces us to the Spanish and French commentators. Time to go.
Ahmed Johnson vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley – King Of The Ring Semi Final Match
McMahon says Johnson is the odds on favourite to win the King Of The Ring tournament, which means he won’t be winning it. I can definitely see an Ahmed Johnson/Mankind final though. This will be the first ever meeting between Johnson and Helmsley on Pay Per View. I don’t think Ahmed Johnson has ever lost a singles PPV match. He’s defeated the likes of Goldust, Faarooq, Jeff Jarrett and Buddy Landell. Ahmed seems to be over, he gets a big cheer. Helmsley has been on a good roll as of late though. Ahmed uses his power in the early going. At this PPV last year Ahmed Johnson won the Intercontinental title from Goldust. This is Helmsley’s KOTR debut as Ahmed Gorilla press slams him across the ring. It’s a slow start to this one. Helmsley goes to the outside to keep the match at a slow pace. He gets back in the ring and pokes Johnsons eye to gain the advantage. But he doesn’t keep it for long as Ahmed hits a big clothesline.
Ahmed powerslams Hunter but misses with an elbow. Helmsley then throws him to the outside, follows him out and throws him into the ring steps. Chyna smiles on the outside. She’s bound to be a factor tonight. Back in the ring and Hunter comes off the top with a double axe handle for a two count. The crowd get behind Ahmed Johnson who hits a big scissors kick to Helmsleys spine. There have been a couple of botches in this one so far. Big back body drop from Johnson and a spinebuster. Ahmed then motions for the Pearl River Plunge but Chyna gets up on the apron and distracts him. Hunter then hits a big knee to his back and nails the Pedigree! He covers Johnson and gets the three! Hunter Hearst Helmsley goes on to the final and gets straight out of there with Ahmed in tow! Helmsley advances in a very average match to kick things off.
Mankind vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler – King Of The Ring Semi Final Match
It seems as though they’ve been turning Mankind face as of late. He’s been in sit down interviews with Jim Ross that have made you sympathise with the strange individual. Mankind defeated Savio Vega to get here and he gets on the microphone before the bell. He tells us “Uncle Paul” (Bearer) has got more important things to do. He gets a lot of cheers. And he makes some good jokes about Lawler. We then see how Jerry advanced, by cheating against Goldust. The King is backstage with Todd Pettingill but Jerry takes the mic and heads to the ring. Lawler badmouths the fans as you’d expect then turns his attention to Mankind. Basically taking the piss out of how he looks. Mankind attacks Lawler on the outside before the match begins. Lawler doesn’t have a great record at KOTR PPVs. After attacking Bret Hart on the 1993 PPV he’s lost to Bret, Roddy Piper and The Ultimate Warrior.
Back in the ring and Mankind continues to take it to Lawler, knocking him down then motioning for the Mandible Claw but Jerry gets out of there. Lawler reaches into his tights and nails Mankind with something twice but it doesn’t take the deranged one down. Lawler has the advantage now though and hits a bulldog. He then chucks Mankind out of the ring. A big “Lawler sucks” chant breaks out. He’s been in the WWF longer than most, his WWF debut was in the 1993 Royal Rumble match. Mankind has been around for about a year, he defeated The Undertaker at last years King Of The Ring event. Lawler chokes away at Mankind and even bites his ear! Lawler once again hits Mankind with the foreign object although I don’t think he has anything in his tights. Mankind soon takes the advantage but misses with a charge into Lawler and goes straight into the steel steps. Jerry then throws Mankind into the railings.
Mankind is 1-0 at KOTR PPVs whilst Lawler is 0-3. Jerry hits a piledriver on the outside and rolls back into the ring. Back in the ring and Lawler hits another piledriver! That’s his finisher he’s hit twice but he only gets a 2! Mankind hits a right hand and a legdrop then slams Lawlers head into the turnbuckle. Big back body drop from Mankind who is yet to win a title in the WWF yet, much like Lawler. There’s a bit of a botch and Lawler takes the advantage. He goes for another piledriver but Mankind hit a back body drop and locks on the Mandible Claw! Lawler taps and Mankind wins the match! We’ll have a Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Mankind final! This match was better than the previous one. Two very good workers.
Now to an interview with Brian Pillman. He’s here tonight to give his support to his family. He also wants to see Steve Austin get his ass kicked. Austin then appears behind him and beats the hell out of him! He even puts his head down the toilet.
Crush vs. Goldust
No Savio Vega in Crush’s entourage today. Goldust is VERY popular, he gets a great ovation. This is the first one one one contest on PPV between these two. They were on opposite teams at In Your House: Final 4 and they actually teamed together at Survivor Series last year but tonight they go one on one. Goldust has different face paint today, like a star. They get into it and Crush throws Goldust to the outside. Goldust bounces Crush;s head off the ring steps and throws him back into the ring. Crush is a former tag team champion as part of Demolition. Goldust lays into him in the corner. Both of these men went out in the quater finals of the King Of The Ring tournament. Goldust hits a clothesline for a two count. He then hits a swinging neckbreaker for another two. Crush reverses an Irish whip to gain the advantage then hits a belly to belly suplex. Crush and Savio Vega have had their problems as of late which is probably why he’s not out here at the moment. If I was to make a prediction, it’ll be Savio costing Crush this match.
Goldust attempts to slam Crush but he can’t lift up the big man who lands on him and gets a two count. Crush hits a backbreaker for a two. Crush has fought on two KOTR PPVs before and lost on both of them. He lost to Shawn Michaels at the 1993 PPV and the Headshrinkers at the 1994 show. Goldust has fought once and lost once. So both men look to get their first win at this PPV. All three previous matches for these two men were title matches. Crush locks on a Camel Clutch. Goldust gets out of it and hits some right hands but Crush hits a gorilla press slam into a gutbuster for a two count. Crush slows the match back down locking on a nerve hold. But here comes Goldust now with a clothesline and some Dusty Rhodes looking right hands.
D-lo and Clarence Mason surround Marlena now as Goldust hits a bulldog. Goldust nips outside and hits a right hand on D-lo. Crush attacks him from behind and throws him back in the ring. But Goldust hits a DDT for a three count! That came from nowhere. Goldust wins the match and gets a shot at the European title on Raw tomorrow night. Big win for Goldust who has needed a win on PPV for a while. Not the best match but it was essentially filler.
Dok Hendrix is backstage with Sycho Sid and the Legion Of Doom. Hawk is serving up some revenge tonight and Animal claims he and Hawk are a tight knit unit. Sid says tonight will be the worst night for the Hart Foundation.
Todd Pettingill is with Owen Hart, British Bulldog and Jim Neidhart. Bulldog says that he and Owen have defeated Legion Of Doom on PPV before. Owen says that they are family and you won’t beat that. Neidhart says that he is far more crazy that Sycho Sid. That one is up next.
The Hart Foundation (Owen Hart, British Bulldog & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) vs. Sycho Sid & The Legion Of Doom (Hawk & Animal)
This match could have quite easily happened six years ago when all of these men were previously employed by the company. This was originally going to be a tag tea title match between Owen, Bulldog and LOD but Owen and Bulldog lost the titles to Austin and Michaels and so this one became a six man tag. I believe this is Neidharts first PPV since Survivor Series 1994 nearly three years ago. Sid gets a great reaction. I’m a big fan actually, he’s awesome. This is Sids first PPV since Wrestlemania. Animal starts things off against Owen Hart. Owen and Bulldog are in the top 5 for most PPVs competed on. Animal hits a powerslam on Owen but misses with an elbow. Animal looks like he might have put a bit of weight on. He hits a big powerslam for a two. Animal tags Sid who comes in off the second rope. He knocks Owen down easily.
Sid goes for a test of strength and Owen tags out to Bulldog. These two have met once before, at Summerslam 1996. Bulldog hits a suplex on Sid who gets right up and takes down everyone! Sid tags Hawk and Bulldog tags Neidhart. Both men hit clotheslines, neither men go down. Hawk goes to the top and hits a clothesline which takes Neidhart down for a two. Hawk tags Animal who tags Sid. All three men beat Neidhart down and it’s Animal that stays in the ring until he tags Hawk. Sid is the only man in this match to not have held the tag team titles but he’s the only man to have won the WWF title. In comes Bulldog now and he hits a piledriver on Hawk but Hawk gets straight up and hits a clothesline for a two. In comes Animal and in comes Owen who hits a spinning heel kick. He throws Animal out of the ring and The Anvil throws him into the steps then hits him with a chair! Unbelievable. Back in the ring and Owen hits a suplex on Animal for a two. Owen tags Neidhart who slingshots into the ring.
Jim tags Owen who hits a dropkick off the top for a two count. Owen tags Bulldog and they hit a double clothesline on Animal. Animal catches Bulldog and powerslams him before going up to the top but the European champion goes up with him and hits a superplex for a two. Bulldog tags Neidhart who hits some right hands then goes to the sleeper. Animal breaks the hold but keeps the advantage, tagging Owen. Hart hits a neckbreaker for a two. Owen then locks a sleeper on Animal. The Legion Of Doom haven’t lost a PPV match since returning to the WWF. Animal gets out of the sleeper and tags Hawk who misses with a splash off the top. Owen tag Bulldog who misses with a legdrop! Bulldog takes Hawk down though and in comes Neidhart. Hawk takes him and Owen down though and tags in Sid who goes nuts on everybody! All six men are in now as Sid boots Owen Hart. Sid then chokeslams Bulldog then goes for the powerbomb! But Owen comes in off the top and sunset flips him for the three! And that gets a pretty good cheer actually!
The Hart Foundation win the match with Owen pinning Sid. Probably the right decision, it shows the unity between the Hart Foundation. Enjoyable enough six man tag match there.
We get a video package showing Steve Austin winning the King Of The Ring last year. Then to Todd Pettingill who is with Mankind. Mankind sells his injuries. He says Hunter Hearst Helmsley will have to run Mankind over with a train to defeat him tonight. He then quotes Simba from the Lion King.
Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley – King Of The Ring Final
Who will follow in the footsteps of Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Mabel and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin? All four previous winners have had WWF title shots on PPV following their KOTR win within the next year. Both of these men were successful at the last PPV, coincidence? This is the first meeting between these two on pay per view. It’s a slow start with Mankind taking down Hunter and stomping on him. He goes for the Mandible Claw early but Hunter gets out of the ring. Helmsley takes the advantage with a rake to the face. He then sends Mankind to the outside. He pulls Helmsley out and hits him with right hands before banging his head off the railings. Helmsley has had the harder route to the final having beaten Crush and Ahmed Johnson whilst Mankind had to get through Savio Vega and Jerry Lawler.
Helmsley hits a spinning neck breaker and chokes Mankind on the ropes. He’s targeting Mankinds injured neck in this one. The two men then slug it out until Helmsley hits a clothesline. It’s not long until Chyna gets involved, hitting a right hand. But Mankind hits a low blow on Helmsley to take back the advantage. He runs at Hunter who gets out of the way and Mankind gets his head stuck in the ropes. He manages to fall to the outside where Hunter throws him into the ring steps. Both men get back into the ring and Mankind drops Helmsley on the top rope for a two count. There’s a bit of a botch, not sure what happened but both men go down. Some “boring” chants break out. Mankind takes the advantage with some right hands in the corner then a running knee to the face. Mankind then hits the tree of woe which looks like it hurt Mankind too. Mankind throws Hunter to the outside of the ring then back body drops him on the entrance ramp then follows it up with an elbow off the apron.
Back in the ring and Mankind hits a double armed DDT but Chyna distracts the referee long enough for Hunter to kick out. Helmsley then goes for the Pedigree but Mankind back body drops him and locks on the Mandible Claw just like he did to Lawler earlier. Chyna pulls Mankind to the outside though! The referee didn’t see it so can’t disqualify her. Mankind rolls back in and Helmsley rips the mask off! He then goes to the top but Mankind meets him up there with the Mandible Claw! A thumb to the eye stops that. Mankind still has control though and hits a clothesline for a two. He then clotheslines Helmsley over the top and goes over with him! Mankind then attempts an elbow to the outside but Chyna pulls Helmsley out of the way and Mankind goes into the steel railings!
The referee deals with Chyna and Helmsley throws Mankind into the ring steps. He then puts Mankind on the announce table and Pedigrees him right through it! Helmsley rolls back into the ring and Chyna smashes Mankind with the sceptre, shattering it into a million pieces. Hunter then knocks Mankind off the apron and onto a photographer. Helmsley rolls Mankind back into the ring and covers him but only a two! Helmsley then hits the Pedigree! And gets the three. Hunter Hearst Helmsley wins the match and becomes King Of The Ring!
Todd Pettingill gets in the ring after the match and hands Helmsley his robe and crown which he then uses to pummel Mankind with.
Next up is a package showing the history between Shawn Michaels and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Michaels and Austin won the tag team titles from Owen Hart and The British Bulldog but have never seen eye to eye since.
Bret Harts music hits and out come The Hart Foundation. Bret gets the mic and tells us he’s no longer a cripple and at the next PPV “Canadian Stampede” he will return to action. He challenges any five wrestlers to battle the Hart Foundation on that night. Bret and co then want to stick around for the next match but referees and agents come out and kick them to the back.
Dok Hendrix is backstage with Steve Austin who says that he wants to keep Shawn Michaels around to keep the big pay cheques coming.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels
This is the first PPV meeting between these two and I can’t help noticing how little Shawn Michaels seems to care as he makes his way to the ring. The two men go face to face to start the match and have a bit of a chat. Austin becomes the first man to have fought on all six PPVs in 1997. A fan tries to get in the ring who looks like he has special needs. Michaels goes out to help him and Austin comes after him and this one gets underway. Back in the ring and Michaels hits an armdrag. Michaels once again goes over to help the fan who is apparently a special Olympian. Back in the ring and Austin works the arm. Only Bret Hart has had more PPV matches than Shawn Michaels. He seems to have a smile on his face as he applies a headlock to Austin. Austin gets out of it and mocks Michaels and we have a bit of a back and forth. Jim Ross loves telling us who everybody is trained by.
Michaels goes back to the headlock. This is his first PPV match since winning the WWF title at the Royal Rumble. Austin gets out of the headlock and clotheslines Shawn out of the ring. He tries to suplex Michaels back in but Shawn drops down the back and rolls Austin up for a two count before going to the armbar. A few “boring” chants break out. Austin gets out of the armbar and exits the ring before walking half way to the back and deciding against it. He gets back in the ring and challenges Michaels to a test of strength. Austin then cheap shots Michaels and stomps him down to the floor. There are a lot of female sounding screams as Michaels makes his comeback. He goes back to the armbar which won’t go down well. Austin has been very loud with his talking in this match. He hits a Lou Thesz press on Michaels but Michaels rolls him up and we have a succession of pinfalls.
Austin chucks Michaels out of the ring hard. He almost gets counted out but Austin helps him up onto the ring apron then shoves him back off onto the barricade. Stone Cold then pulls back the mats outside the ring exposing the concrete floor. He then throws Michaels into the ring steps before gorilla press slamming Michaels onto the concrete floor. Michaels gets back into the ring and rolls Austin up for a two before getting a clothesline for his troubles. Stone Cold then comes off the second rope with an elbow for a two count. Last years King Of The Ring winner then locks on a headlock and uses the ropes for leverage. The two men get up and slug it out before Michaels throws Austin out of the ring. Plenty of boos for Michaels as well as high pitched screaming. Back in the ring and Michaels hits a flying forearm and nips up but misses with charge in the corner. I was wondering what all the screaming was for but then realised Michaels arse is hanging out. Austin hits a clothesline and gets a near fall.
Austin goes for an Irish whip but Michaels reverses it and accidentally throws Austin into the referee. Austin then reverses Sweet Chin Music into a Stone Cold Stunner but the referee is down! Austin then gets the referee up and Stunner him! He turns around into Sweet Chin Music and another referee comes out and checks on the original referee. Michaels then nails the second referee with Sweet Chin Music! Michaels then pins Austin and the original referee counts a two. A third referee then comes out and disqualifies both men! Not a popular decision. Both men then leave together because neither man wants to turn his back on the other. Not a bad match but a rubbish conclusion.
Todd Pettingill is backstage with the Nation Of Domination and he uses a good line “Undertaker, don’t worry about Paul Bearers blackmail, worry about this black male.”
The Undertaker (c) vs. Faarooq – WWF Title Match
This is certainly Faarooqs biggest match since comes to the WWF. He attacks Undertaker before the bell as Paul Bearer was berating the champion. Undertaker soon takes the advantage hitting a big boot. Faarooq hits a big powerslam and gets a two count. It’s not long until Crush and Savio Vega get involved. They pummel Undertaker as Paul Bearer has the referee distracted. The challenger can’t capitalise though and Undertaker spins his arm and heads for the top before launching himself onto the Nation of Domination! Undertaker gets back into the ring and once again spins Faarooqs arm but as he goes up top D-lo shakes the ropes. Faarooq chucks Undertaker to the outside then picks up the steel steps, runs at Undertaker but gets a boot to the face. Back in the ring and Undertaker hits some big right hands.
It’s been a very back and forth match this one as Faarooq takes the advantage with a piledriver. He covers The Undertaker for a two. Could Faarooq actually win the WWF title? I have my doubts. He locks on a sleeper now using the ropes for leverage. Undertaker hits a jawbreaker to get out of it then tries a splash but Faarooq gets his knees up. The challenger tries for another piledriver but Undertaker hits a back body drop and misses a legdrop. Faarooq launches himself off the second rope but Undertaker catches him with a powerslam! Once again it’s advantage Faarooq as he avoids a flying clothesline from the champion. Crush and Savio Vega start kicking off at one another on the outside of the ring which distracts Faarooq long enough for the Undertaker to get up. He scoops up Faarooq and Tombstones him for the win!
Undertaker wins the match but has to deal with Savio Vega and Crush after the match, hitting both men with chokeslams. Paul Bearer demands that Undertaker chokeslams Faarooq again and reluctantly he does. Faarooq receives two more chokeslams that he can thank Paul Bearer for. Ahmed Johnson then runs out and tells Undertaker to get it together before hitting the Pearl River Plunge on the WWF Champion! Is that a heel turn for the Pearl River Powerhouse? Not the best main event in the world by a long way but it throws up lots of questions going forward.
And that was the 1997 King Of The Ring pay per view. Obviously the focus of these PPVs is the King Of The Ring tournament and this years was no different. Mankind had two good matches tonight, he is such a top performer. The match between Helmsley and Ahmed Johnson was the weakest of the three but it kept Ahmed relevant thus making his appearance later in the show more impactful. Helmsley is a perfect candidate for King as he’s a heel on the rise. I like Chyna in his corner too, the two of them could fly up the card together. I can see him continuing his feud with Mankind or maybe Ahmed Johnson if he’s not turning heel.
We had somewhat of a double main event. Undertaker and Faarooq didn’t put the best main event ever on but what is more intriguing is the interjection of Ahmed Johnson. Is this a heel turn? Could he join the Nation Of Domination? He’s definitely put himself next in line for the WWF title shot. The other main event seemed more important than the WWF title match and that was the match between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. Those two guys a big main event figures in the company right now and the draw was probably the right result in the end to keep both guys hot. It’ll be interesting to see whether they stay in the tag team title picture although I can definitely see both of them accepting Bret Harts challenge for the next PPV, Canadian Stampede.
Speaking of the Hart Foundation, Owen, Bulldog & Neidhart teamed up and defeated The Legion Of Doom and Sid in 6 man tag action. This was a decent enough match and gave the Hart Foundation a big win going into the next PPV where they will need to look like a decent unit. Sid took the pin so they were trying to keep LOD hot. Maybe they’ll be back in the tag title hunt before long. Then the other match tonight was filler really and that was between Goldust and Crush. The Nation have been on a downward spiral as of late and this one gave Goldust a much needed win. Going forward I could see the five guys that accept the Hart Foundations challenge being Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Sid & The Legion Of Doom. This was a pretty good pay per view that had a few good matches and no terrible ones. I would prefer to see the quater finals of the King Of The Ring tournament on the PPV itself.
Overall Rating: 61 out of 100 (Ranked joint 6th out of 69)
Match Of The Night: Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels
Worst Match Of The Night: Ahmed Johnson vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Surprise Of The Night: Ahmed Johnson heel turn
Worst Booking Of The Night: None
Superstar Of The Night: Hunter Hearst Helmsley
KOTR 97 Will Be Remembered For: Hunter Hearst Helmsley becomes King