On the Card: Attitude Era #13 King of the Ring 1997 – June 8, 1997
In the previous entry, I looked at In Your House, the fifteenth of its name. It had a Taker vs. Stone Cold match. I see what they did there. The next PPV was King of the Ring, the second I have reviewed since starting this blog.
Over the next few weeks, I will review this PPV from the perspectives of a fan looking back at it after two decades as well as my original thoughts as a teenager watching it at the time (though this particular PPV was one I watched in 1998 as my family did not have the channels necessary to watch wrasslin’).
WWF King of the Ring 1997
“It’s Bound to Get Medieval. Brace Yourself.”
Kings. Rings. Medieval. I see where they were going with this. However, of the one hundred and ninety-five countries in the world, only… forty-four of them have monarchies. Forty-four? Huh. That’s a lot more than I expected. I had a whole bit about how archaic monarchies are but… But surely not that many of them can be absolute monarchies, right?
Oh, wait, seven are absolute, sixteen are commonwealth realms and twenty-one are constitutional. Shit. What an archaic system. I mean, democracy isn’t perfect but God damn who still wants to be ruled by a family?
Oh, wait, the WWF is ruled by the McMahons. Let’s continue.
The poster has Shawn, Taker, Stone Cold and Ahmed Johnson and threatens to be a damn good show. Let’s see if it’s true.
The announcer tells us that tonight will be the night of firsts: Shawn and Stone Cold are going to put aside their tag team belts to kick the shite out of each other for no gold; we might see Faarooq as the first WWF champion and what a champion the heel black-supremacist will be and the announcer even reminds us that Faarooq has manipulated the Nation of Domination; someone new will be crowned the King of the Ring for the first time, despite the fact that there have only been four other PPV KOTR competitions and even if you include the normal tournaments, of the previous winners, only four other men are active competitors in the WWF at the time (Owen Hart, Bret Hart, Mabel and Stone Cold) sooooo… ppftttt.
Speaking of, farty pyro hits and crappy music as Vlad cheers, welcoming us to the Super-Soaker-sponsored Providence Civic Centre in Providence, Rhode Island, where our announce team is Screaming Vince McMahon and Jumping Jim Ross. Immediately, the crowd is on fire. It is a real Attitude Era crowd here, one year after Stone Cold uttered the famous Austin 3:16 promo and half the signs are some play on it. There’s still a lot of kids and young girls in the crowd. That will teeter off over the next wee while, I’ll bet. 9,312 souls in attendance and 177,000 PPV buys at home or thereabouts.
Jumping Jim Ross tells us that it’s like the Superbowl here, with the same atmosphere. Vince tells us (and the cameraman) to follow him to the other announce teams who don’t have names on the screen: Tito Santana and Carlos Cabrera for Mexico with Raymond Rougeau and Jean Brassard. He can barely pronounce their names.
Ahmed’s music hits and down he strolls to the ring, spitting water and wearing a fetching handlebar moustache. He pours water everywhere. The crowd pop for him. He slaps hands, looks like he hardly knows who he is and gets annoyed at a fan for putting their sign in front of the camera. JR reminds us that Ahmed is a big lad. He hops into the ring and jumps, throwing up some westside signs. Westside is the bestside.
The EU music hits and down comes Trrrrrrrriple H with our girl Chyna. Chyna without her implants and looking fantastic. Vince tells us they are chiselled from granite. She hops up and enters the ring through Bret’s rope. We are told that Ahmed and Trips faced each other in the first round, which Ahmed won, but – apparently – Trips was unaware that a loss to Ahmed would mean elimination from the tournament, and so was given a second match versus fellow heel Crush, who he beat, allowing Trips to go through. Vader apparently broke his nose in his match with Ken Shamrock back in A Cold Day in Hell and so could not fight Crush. He fought Ahmed at Raw instead, but lost. So both Ahmed and Trips have fought twice to get to this point.
Vince tells us that Trips is an American blueblood. JR tells us that most American households have $900. The bell rings.
(Note: Before the PPV began there was a match on Free-For-All featuring The Headbangers, Mosh and Thrasher defeating Billy Gunn (no longer in his Rockabilly getup) and Jesse James.)
King of the Ring Semi-Final: Ahmed Johnson vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna).
Trips and Chyna stare at Ahmed. Ahmed stares back. Ahmed gets a pop from the crowd. Chyna leaves the ring. JR tells us how tough Ahmed has had a life and how he left home and joined the Bloods. Trips had a wrasslin’ tutor. Ahmed tosses Trips and curls his finger at him. Lock up and a headlock. Trips runs at Ahmed, who shoulder tackles him to the crowd. Some smells mark in the crowd in a Sunny T-shirt whoops. Ahmed courtesies to Trips and calls for a show of strength. Ahmed slowly walks from the corner before Ahmed Gorilla presses him into the air. Vince asks us to forget about it.
Trips rolls out onto those lovely new mats on the ground. Ahmed is showboating and grandstanding. He reenters the ring. Ahmed looks like a sexual predator. Irish whip into the corner and Ahmed jumps back out and knocks Trips down. He goes for the body slam and elbow but misses. Ahmed is tossed out and Hunter is after him, tossing him into the ring steps. A countout starts and a boo for Helmsley. Ahmed tries to get into the ring but a baseball slide knocks him out. Trips goes to the top rope and a double axe handle smash – the most devastating move in wrasslin – knocks Ahmed back down. He shrugs off blows from Trips and knocks him down. Vince tells us that Trips is intimidated by Ahmed. A scissor kick to Trips kidney knocks him down again. Nice wee spinebuster and Ahmed calls for the Pearl River Plunge. He lifts up Trips and – predictably – Chyna interrupts. Trips takes advantage, hits a potentially dangerous Pedigree and gets the pin.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley has pinned Ahmed Johnson in 7:42.
Crap curtain-jerker, but we always knew it would be because Trips has another match at the end of the night and Ahmed can’t wrassle for toffee.
I can’t stay mad at you, Chyna.
Trips disappears backstage, followed by the ref, who is trying to tell him he won. Ahmed sprints after them, big head of steam on him.
There is little time to breathe as Mankind rolls down to the ring, still in his brown gear and getting a bit of a pop from the audience. Even Vince comments on it.
Cut back to Raw on Monday, where Mankind attacked Jerry Lawler as he was doing commentary. Irish Referee Tim White called the match. Great lad.
Mankind has the mic and gives off that Paul Bearer isn’t there. It won’t stop Mankind, though. He’s going to be King of the Ring. There’s a wee bit of history lesson there, too. Cut to the crowd and girls not giving a fuck about this promo as someone in bad Sting makeup hangs out behind. Mankind reveals to us that he is, “Mrs. Foley’s baby boy.” Break kayfabe much? Mankind riffs about the Emperor’s new clothes, says that the only thing worse than Jerry being naked is Mankind being naked, apparently.
Backstage, ould Todd Pettingill reveals that in his match vs. Goldust, he cheated and got his comeuppance quickly. King takes the mic, walks into the ring and begins to cut a promo on the crowd. Some buck in the audience has a Dude Love sign. He turns to a woman and suggests that the massage parlour is closed. He turns to another guy and asks him if the parole officer knows where he is. People give him the fingers. Jerry slags off Mankind for a bit and laughs at his ear. He reveals that Mankind’s mother couldn’t tell the difference between his arse and his face and suggested she had conjoined twins. Jerry stays out of the ring, but the bell rings anyways.
King of the Ring Semi-Final: Mankind vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Mankind starts on Jerry and bounces his head off the announcers table. Jerry, amazingly, doesn’t blade straight away. Mankind pulls at Jerry’s nose and beats on him for a while, biting him. The crowd chant something as Mankind beats on Jerry, goes for the Mandible Claw, but King disappears, slipping out. Jerry distracts the ref, takes out some brass knuckles and whips Mankind before slipping them into the tights and hitting the bulldog. Mankind goes flying out. More crowd chants. I think they’re chanting, “Burger King”.
JR reminds us that Mankind has lost half an ear. Lawler exposes it and attempts to bite it. King is, of course, not actually the King of the Ring. Another whip of the brass knuckles and Jerry is still in control, Irish whipping Foley into the ropes and giving him a lovely punch. They brawl to the outside and Jerry’s head bounces off the barricade and then into the steel ring steps. JR name-checks Cactus Jack – and so all the faces of Foley have been mentioned this evening. Jerry tosses Mankind into the barricade. Shouting between King and the ref. Replay of Jerry dodging Mankind and a gruesome piledriver from Jerry to Mankind. A ten-count starts, Mankind gets on the apron and Jerry dropkicks his face. Another piledriver mid-ring and a big whoo from the crowd followed by a two-count.
Jerry goes to get the brass knucks from his tights. The ref gives off, asks him to show his hands and sees that Jerry has nothing in his paw. Mankind fights back, holding his head in pain. Big leg drop from the man himself and Jerry gets a back body drop. King goes top rope, gives Mankind a wee punch, goes for the third piledriver but Mankind counters and hits the Mandible Claw. Jerry stops moving and the ref calls the match in Mankind’s favour.
Mankind has defeated Jerry “The King” Lawler by knockout in 10:24.
Ugh. I mean, it’s Mick, so, you know, eleven stars or whatever, but it’s also Jerry so minus them all again.
I can’t stay mad at you, Mankind.
Mankind is getting cheers. Vince is very surprised. Face turn, perhaps?
On the Card will return on June 15 2017 with the second part of King of the Ring 1997.