Monday 23 November 2020

WWF King of The Ring 1996 Review


Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that is more interesting than a Jim Herd interview! It’s WWF King Of The Ring 1996, where one man can reach the ultimate goal and become King of The Ring which can lead to a WWF Championship match. Also, Shawn Michaels defends his WWF Championship against The British Bulldog after the controversial finish to their match at Beware of Dog. Ahmed Johnson gets his hands on The Bizarre One Goldust and The Ultimate Warrior battles Jerry Lawler! 1996 has been a mixed bag, I’ve enjoyed the work of certain talent while other matches and angles have been as flat and as bad as 1995. There is potential here with Vader possibly winning The King of The Ring, Ahmed destroying Goldust and Michaels having another show-stealing performance but only time will tell! Let’s get it on!


(King Of The Ring Semi-Final Match) Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Wildman Marc Mero W/ Sable

Austin defeated Bob Holly and Savio Vega to make it to this match, Mero defeated Skip and Owen Hart. Big win for Mero over Owen Hart, surprised that Mero would not be a heavy favourite against Austin. Sable is already overshadowing poor Mero with her outfits, the poor guy never had a chance. Austin and Mero lock-up, side headlock from Austin. Takedown but Mero uses his legs to counter Austin, another headlock from Austin. Mero is in a hammerlock, Mero counters the hold. Austin counters again, tripping up Mero. Mero elbows his way free before Austin elbows Mero in the jaw. Lefts from Mero, shoulder block from Mero. Flying head-scissors from Mero, Austin is on the floor taking a breather.


Side headlock from Mero, Austin pulls his hair and breaks free with a big hip-toss. Mero kicks away Austin, arm-drag into a side headlock from Mero. Austin pulls the hair again, shoulder block from Mero. Austin answers with a Thesz press, elbows to the back of the head. Mero whips Austin though, massive back body-drop. Austin asks for a time-out, Austin slowly re-enters the ring. Austin asks for a handshake, test of strength. Austin boots down Mero, Austin assumes control. Mero answers back but Austin side-steps Mero who is wiped out on the floor. Austin rips up the protective padding, military press slam from Austin onto the concrete.


Austin poses in the ring, suplex from Austin. Elbow to the back of the neck, Austin is on the floor. Elbow across the throat, Austin does it again on the opposite side of the ring. Mero tries fighting back but Austin scrapes his boot across Mero’s face. Austin is whipped hard across the ring, Austin does it again for opposite buckle. Middle rope elbow from Austin for two, massive back-breaker from Austin for two. Boston crab from Austin, all solid work on the ribs and back of Mero from Austin. Mero desperately reaches for the ropes but Austin drags Mero back to the centre of the ring before Mero uses his leg strength to shake off Austin. Small package for two, Austin whips Mero. Elbow from Austin, stomp to the mid-section.


Austin applies the Boston crab once more, crowd is with Mero who reverses using his leg strength for a close two. Austin whips Mero to the buckle, Mero flips out of the suplex, variation of the O’Connor roll from Mero for a close two. Austin kicks out and nails a right hand, Mero reverses an Irish whip and applies a sleeper but Austin counters with a jaw-breaker. Whip to the buckle, Mero jumps to the middle rope and drives his elbow into Austin. Austin eats a massive dropkick from Mero, right hands from Mero. Ten punches in the corner, Austin is bleeding from the mouth. Irish whip, back body drop from Mero. Mero climbs high, diving double axe handle for two. Whip to the buckle, Austin counters with a boot, Irish whip with Mero sending Austin to the floor.


Mero takes out Austin with a tope con hilo, Austin is down and bleeding heavily from the mouth. Mero climbs high but Austin rolls out of the ring, suicide dive from Austin. Mero rolls Austin into the ring, missile dropkick from Mero. Two for Mero, Austin is placed on the top rope. Super hurricanrana from Mero for two, Austin catches Mero with a boot. Alley Opp bomb into a stun-gun, close two for Austin before Austin drops Mero with The Stone Cold Stunner!


That was the worker match of the night for sure, no surprise that they let these two go out there and tear it up as best as they can. With the right opponent  I do think Mero can get a lot done in the WWF, Austin was solid here and Mero is a much better babyface than Savio Vega so things are looking up for The Texas Rattlesnake. The finish looked great, I thought they shouldn’t have had the kick-out after the modified stun-gun but that’s just nit-picking. I do love Austin’s no nonsense style, really stands out in the WWF since coming in, similar to Triple H. Both men have been a breathe of fresh air in the WWF, cannot wait to see both of them develop over the next two years.


Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin over Marc Mero via Stunner!


(King of The Ring Semi-Final Match) Jake The Snake Roberts vs Vader W/ Jim Cornette

Vader vs Roberts, Roberts has been born again, recovering from his drug addictions to become a better man while Vader has been built solidly with victories over Razor Ramon and Yokozuna to name a few on his way to this match. Vader works the arm, Fujiwara arm-bar from Vader. Vader clotheslines Roberts down twice, massive splash from Vader for two. Irish whip to the buckle, boot counter from Roberts. Rights and lefts from Roberts, knee-lift downs Vader. Vader counters the DDT, massive hooks from Vader. Roberts fires back though, short-arm clothesline before Vader lands his hammer. Down goes Roberts, Irish whip to the buckle. Roberts dodges the splash, DDT from Roberts but the referee is wiped out by Vader. Vader is disqualified and Vader attacks Roberts after the match.


I was not kidding about that worker match, this was hardly a match it was so brief. Vader gets his heat back after losing, not the best decision to do this to Vader though. I don’t see why Vader was in this tournament to lose, seems like a step back considering how well we were doing. Roberts does well though with the match being so brief, we get exactly what we want as Vader decimates Roberts and then we have a beautiful DDT.


Winner: Jake Roberts over Vader via DQ!


(WWF Tag Team Championship Match) The Godwinns W/ Hillbilly Jim vs The Smoking Gunns © W/ Sunny

So, Phineas was in love with Sunny who manipulated the simple-minded Godwinn boy and The Smoking Gunns are heels because why not? He tag team division is quite brutal at this point anyways, Billy pisses off Phineas which leads to Bart destroying Phineas to kick us off, tag to Billy. Rights and lefts from Billy, Phineas is down. Slaps from Billy, Phineas comes back with right hands on Billy, right hands on Bart too. So, The Bodydonnas have a new manager who is clearly a man because Sunny left The Bodydonnas for The Smoking Gunns. Bart and Henry reset the match, hard Irish whip from Bart. Boot counter from Henry with a clothesline for two, Henry works the arm before tagging Phineas. More shots to that arm of Bart, it’s all on the left arm which is great considering Bart’s a southpaw.


Tag back to Henry, arm-breaker from Henry. Bart reveres an Irish whip, Billy lands a cheap-shot from the apron. Henry’s back is now the target, multiple stomps to the spine. Snap-mare with a knee drop for two, Bart is legal now. Knees to the spine from Bart, tag to Billy. Massive right to the spine, Henry counters the Irish whip but Billy lands his Fameasser years before it was a finisher for a close two. Tag to Bart, back-breaker from Bart. Bart stretches Henry across his knee, Henry is in dire straits. Billy whips Henry hard, Henry dodges the corner splash. Bart tags in illegally, back-breaker and elbow drop from Bart. Bart’s on the top rope, Henry dodges the leg drop.Phineas gets the hot-tag, right hands to both Gunns. Godwinns swing around and nail the Gunns, Bart nails Phineas from behind with a boot and just like that, Billy pins Phineas for the win.


Well, I definitely don’t want to see that match again. How am I meant to get excited or believe in Phineas again when Phineas cannot even get a hot-tag going, Henry as babyface-in-peril was a tough sell for me, I just had no patience for this match.


Winners: Smoking Gunns over Godwinns via Boot to the Head!


Jerry Lawler vs The Ultimate Warrior

Lawler blows most of the WWF away on the microphone, it’s a shame his comedy style matches do not pack the same punch in the WWF as they did in Memphis. Anyways, Lawler builds all the hype in this match with his promos just like with Piper and this match starts with Lawler cheating his way into a dominant position. Lawler smacked Warrior with his sceptre and choked Warrior with the referee helpless. Lawler chokes Warrior with his trench-coat, Lawler chokes Warrior with his fist-tape. Lawler runs into a boot, right hands from Warrior. Lawler uses something from his tights to smack Warrior, more choking from Lawler. Lawler wants the piledriver, Piledriver connects but Warrior no-sells it. Three clotheslines from Warrior, flying shoulder tackle and the match is over. What a waste of a match, I do love Lawler used as much cheating as humanly possible to try and defeat Warrior though.


Winner: The Ultimate Warrior over Jerry Lawler via Flying Shoulder Tackle!


Mankind vs The Undertaker W/ Paul Bearer

Mankind made his presence known at the previous In Your House, costing Undertaker the Intercontinental Championship against Goldust in their casket match. Mankind has continued to torment The Undertaker with his Mandible Claw, will Mankind be like those who came before him though? Will Mankind be like Giant Gonzalez? Like Kamala? Like The Million Dollar Corporation? Undertaker surprises Mankind by starting the match on the top rope, Taker pummels the life out of Mankind with rights in the corner. Mankind thumbs the eye, whip to the buckle but Taker flies out and pummels Mankind with rights and lefts.


Mankind is tossed to the floor, Mankind stalks Paul Bearer. Choke from Taker, Taker claws at Mankind’s face. Old School from Taker, hard Irish whip from Taker but Mankind answers with an elbow. Scoop slam from Mankind, Undertaker sits up but Mankind answers with a clothesline. Taker boots away Mankind but Mankind rips at the face of Taker. Stomps and running knee from Mankind, elbow across the throat from Mankind. Mankind has Taker down, Taker answers with right hands. Mankind answers with a clothesline, Mankind throws Taker to the floor. Mankind starts pulling out chairs, Taker boots the chair into the face of Mankind. Mankind is whipped into the apron and back body-dropped onto the chair and concrete.


Mankind is in the ring, looking to crawl away. Taker has the chair, Mankind is waffled in the spine with the chair. Taker chokes Mankind through the ropes with a boot, Irish whip and big boot from Taker. Mankind avoids the tombstone and lands a neck-breaker, leg drop from Mankind. Mandible Claw is blocked by Taker, Mankind decides to boot Taker in the ribs and head. Elbow drop from Mankind, Taker sits-up once more before Mankind looks for a nerve-hold on The Deadman. Taker begins to fade though, Paul Bearer is asking the people to come alive for The Phenom. Taker escapes and lands huge rights and lefts, Mankind is clotheslined to the floor.


Mankind pulls out Taker, rights and lefts from Mankind. Taker is down by the steel steps, Mankind runs at full-speed and knees Taker into the steel steps. Scoop slam on the concrete from Mankind, Mankind attempts the Cactus Jack elbow but Taker blocks with the chair. Chair-shot from Taker to the head, Mankind is down. Headbutts in the ring from Taker, Mankind is barely able to stand. Mankind reverses an Irish whip but Taker ducks and lands his flying clothesline.


Irish whip by Taker, Taker lowers the head and Mankind answers with a piledriver. Two and a half for Mankind, Mankind is angry at the referee and begins ripping out his hair. Mankind steals the urn from Paul Bearer, Mankind is stopped by Paul Bearer, Taker comes back up but Mankind has The Mandible Claw. Taker attempts a Chokeslam, Mankind falls back and Paul Bearer nails Taker with the urn by mistake and Mankind applies The Mandible Claw choking out The Deadman.


That was a very good match, I ‘ll call it a great match for Taker because of what I had to sit through for Taker over the last few years. Owen nails it as Owen states this is a new Taker and it sure feels like it. Taker is still slow at times, playing up his gimmick but we get a taste of Taker throwing those rights and lefts, ramping up the violence with the chair and just brawling with Mankind. Mankind more than holds his own, you can feel the hatred and fury behind each attack, Mankind is a great addition to the WWF roster and with Taker, Taker plays to Mankind’s strengths. Mankind takes an incredible beating here, the fans are all into this match and we get a finish that has you wondering did Bearer attack Undertaker or was it a honest mistake? Either way, that is a cleanest win you will see over Undertaker for quite some time.


Winner: Mankind over Undertaker via Mandible Claw!


(WWF Intercontinental Championship Match) Goldust © W/ Marlena vs Ahmed Johnson

Goldust gave Johnson CPR which led to Johnson murdering everyone in sight, Johnson sprints to the ring and clotheslines Goldust twice, Goldust rolls to the floor. Suicide dive from Johnson, hard Irish whip to the buckle which leads to Goldust powdering. Goldust manages to pull out Johnson but Johnson blocks Goldust’s attacks. Goldust meets the steel steps, Johnson has the steel steps but Goldust dodges. Johnson misses a corner splash, Goldust can finally land some attacks on Johnson. Massive slap from Goldust, right hands from The Bizarre One. Johnson meets the steel steps, Goldust smashes Johnson with the steel steps.


Goldust whips Johnson, flying clothesline from the champion. Right hands from Goldust for two, Goldust slaps the head of Johnson, rights and left to the body before applying a camel clutch. Johnson escapes but misses a corner clothesline, rights and lefts to the ribs from Goldust. Goldust chokes Johnson with the top rope, Goldust slaps the ass of Johnson rubbing his back up and down. Snap-mare with a reverse chin-lock, Johnson fights out and avoids a sunset flip, Goldust lands two big uppercuts though and continues to pummel Johnson. Goldust lands a massive piledriver, Goldust suggestively crawls up Johnson for a close two.


Camel clutch from Goldust, Johnson escapes with elbows. Three corner clotheslines, Goldust reverses the Irish whip to the opposite corner and drives a knee into the spine of The Bizarre One. Johnson fires back though, Johnson lands two right hands before missing a dropkick. Goldust is frustrated though, sleeper from Goldust. Johnson is out, Goldust wants to give him CPR again. Goldust does just that, Johnson comes back to life though. Johnson beats the piss out of Goldust, spinebuster from Johnson. Pearl River Plunge and we have a new champion!


I thought this was a little long, the heat segment on Johnson was lacking for me with Goldust not doing enough to keep it interesting as Johnson does not have what it takes to suck me in with his selling. However, there were little touches I really liked, Johnson is explosive as always so when Johnson lets loose and is allowed to destroy people, it’s fantastic fun. Some of Goldust’s antics were interesting to, large amounts of heat from the homophobic crowd. Big win for Johnson, if they can find the right opponent and the right feud, Johnson will continue to deliver in that role.


Winner: Ahmed Johnson over Goldust via Pearl-River Plunge!


(King of The Ring Final Match) Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Jake The Snake Roberts

Before the match begins, we have Brian Pillman in the WWF. Pillman had started his Loose Cannon gimmick, turning up in ECW and swearing right here on WWF PPV. Strong interview from Pillman, great look too. Pillman and Austin interact, Hollywood Blondes fans would be happy. Roberts is holding his ribs coming to the ring, Austin stomps the ribs over and over. Middle rope elbow to the ribs, Roberts is doing a fine job of showing how badly Vader damaged The Snake. Austin slaps Roberts, another slap from Austin. Stomps from Austin, Roberts fights back with massive kicks, a right hand floors Austin before Austin goes back to the ribs with a left hand. A stomp sends Roberts down, Austin opens up the injured ribs.


Gorilla Monsoon is here, standing inside of the ring as Austin continues decimating the ribs of Roberts. Monsoon is asking Roberts if he wants to continue, Roberts wants to continue fighting. Rights and lefts by Roberts, Roberts calls for the DDT. Austin backs Roberts into the corner, shoulder thrusts in the corner. Austin poses on the buckle, Stone Cold Stunner and we have a new King of The Ring.


I am not sure how to feel about this one, I thought they would have given more to Roberts considering how he refused to give up and they even had Monsoon come down and dramatically ask if Roberts wanted to continue the match. However, it’s a brief match and Austin still impresses with the attacks on the ribs, ripping at the ribs and even jumping Roberts to begin the match. 1996 could be a great year for the WWF as things develop, Austin cuts his iconic 3:16 promo after the match. Finally, seeing this for the first time I will be able to tell whether Austin exploded overnight or was it a much slower climb than the WWF narrative will tell you!


Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin over Jake Roberts via Stone Cold Stunner!


(WWF Championship Match) Shawn Michaels © vs The British Bulldog W/ Diana Hart Smith/Jim Cornette/Clarence Mason

Mr. Perfect is our special guest referee for this championship match, interesting to see Mr. Perfect back again considering how the last time Perfect was a referee we were meant to have a feud between Luger and Perfect but Perfect’s back problems flared up and we did not get that feud. We might get something out of this though, Michaels and Bulldog battled at Beware of The Dog which ended in controversy as both men had their shoulders counted to the mat and both men were declared winners before Gorilla Monsoon declared the match a draw and Shawn Michaels retained his championship so we have this rematch.


Monsoon is here at ringside, what is going on here? Mr. Perfect will be the official on the outside of the ring and referee Earl Hebnar will keep charge of things in the ring. Bulldog and Michaels lock-up, Bulldog shoves away Michaels. Lock-up, Bulldog shoves down Michaels too. Michaels takes the arm, Bulldog counters and wrenches the arm. Japanese arm-drag from Michaels, headlock takedowns from HBK but Bulldog counters twice before Michaels has his hair pulled by The British Bulldog. Bulldog escapes but ends up in another side headlock takedown from HBK. Bulldog pushes off HBK, shoulder blocks do not phase Bulldog who side-steps Michaels. Michaels skins the cat after a headscissors leaves Bulldog on the floor. Apron diving hurricanrana from Michaels, Cornette eats a boot and is whacked on the ass with his own racket.


Side headlock takedown from Bulldog, Bulldog is pushed off but Bulldog lands a shoulder block. Leapfrogs from Michaels, mis-communication in the middle of the ring. HBK escapes a military press slam, leg trip and arm-drags from HBK. Michaels continues wrenching the arm of Bulldog, Bulldog stomps on the face of HBK to escape the hold. Bulldog whips Michaels to the corner, second sloppy sequence from the two with HBK eventually getting down Bulldog with a Fujiwara arm-bar. Michaels tries a hip-toss, Bulldog misses a clothesline and Michaels clamps on a sleeper. Bulldog drives HBK into the corner, Irish whip to the buckle and down goes Michaels.


Two successive hard Irish whips from Michaels, snap-mare into a reverse chin-lock. Michaels escapes and lands a massive diving axe handle, knee-lift from Michaels. Bulldog reverses an Irish whip and military press slams Michaels to the floor, massive bump. Perfect argues with Jose while Bulldog goes after Michaels. Vertical suplex on the floor, Bulldog presses Michaels back into the ring for two. Bulldog clamps on a reverse chin-lock, Michaels sends Bulldog to the buckle with shoulder thrusts but Bulldog reverses an Irish whip. Michaels flips out of the corner and Bulldog annihilates Michaels with a clothesline. Bulldog wants a Romero Special, Bulldog transitions to a pin for a close two.


Another chin-lock from Bulldog, Michaels escapes before a Bulldog knee floors Michaels. Back body-drop from Bulldog, leg drop across the neck for two. Reverse chin-lock from Bulldog, Michaels escapes and lands a flying crossbody for two. Clothesline from Bulldog for a close two, Bulldog clamps on another reverse chin-lock. Irish whip from Bulldog, Michaels counters with a crucifix for two. Michaels wanted a powerslam, Bulldog counters but Michaels slides out. Michaels shoves off Bulldog, Bulldog holds onto the ropes to avoid the kick and lands a massive clothesline. Piledriver from Bulldog, Bulldog climbs high and misses a diving headbutt. Michaels did not even need to move, Bulldog jumped nowhere near high enough.


Michaels whips Bulldog hard, Bulldog and Michaels are down. Bulldog dropkicks Michaels to crotch HBK. Superplex connects, Michaels kicks out at two. Bulldog wants a super back suplex but Michaels floats over in mid-air, close two for Michaels. They trade right hands, both men collide as they bang heads. Michaels ducks a clothesline and tries a hurricanrana but Bulldog lands the most beautiful sit-out powerbomb for two and a half. Bulldog is whipped to the buckle hard, flipping on impact.


Irish whip from HBK, Bulldog reverses but Michaels lands the flying forearm. Kip-up from HBK, scoop slam with the referee being whacked by Bulldog’s legs. Diving Elbow drop from Michaels, Sweet Chin Music with Mr. Perfect looking like he was going to screw Michaels but no, Earl Hebnar keeps on counting and Michaels retains his championship. Owen and Bulldog attack Michaels after the match, Ahmed Johnson comes down and clears house because Ahmed Johnson is intense as fuck. However, here is Vader and Vader don’t care who you are because It’s Vader Time. Camp Cornette destroy Johnson and Michaels before Warrior makes the save to setup a six-man tag team match for In Your House.


Solid championship match, the first sequence dragged for sure with Bulldog being a little too reliant on the headlock to wear down Michaels. However, things start going faster after that with Michaels doing what he does best, being the most exciting man in the WWF without anyone coming close as a babyface. Bulldog is dominant and nails some great looking spots in the match, the suplex on the floor and the powerbomb stand-out for sure. Not sure what they wanted to do with the finish, what was the purpose of Perfect? What did that setup? Where was it meant to go? No idea but the action in the ring was solid after the first ten minutes, exciting finishing sequence with the confusion and the blown spots hurting the match’s final impression on me.


Winner: Shawn Michaels over The British Bulldog via Sweet Chin Music!


That was WWF’s King of The Ring 1996, a step in the right direction for sure for the World Wrestling Federation. Things kick off with Mero and Austin tearing it up, Mero shows a babyface fire that was lacking in his earlier WWF matches while Austin continues to be a menace and a no nonsense brawler who stands out among the talent in the company at the time. They work at a fast pace and get the crowd involved with a match that hits the right spot. Vader vs Roberts is all angle, surprised that Vader would not win the tournament considering where we are going but this fine as it leads into the angle of the final. The tag team championship match was worse than the slop in one of the Godwinn’s buckets, boring action with 2 teams who combined had less than half the personality of Sunny, I say again that Sunny is being wasted in the WWF. Ultimate Warrior vs Jerry Lawler was everything I expected it to be, it was what it needed to be and it was still ok at best.


Undertaker vs Mankind is the most interesting match Taker has had in years, it’s intense and Undertaker is working a faster-paced, Mankind is willing to do anything to get a reaction and Mankind goes over on Taker with The Mandible Claw. They brawled and just kicked the crap out of each other, using chairs and the concrete floor, it’s the kind of Taker match I have wanted for years and after suffering through all the lumbering giants, we finally have an interesting feud for The Deadman. Goldust vs Ahmed Johnson was fun in parts but far too long, they could have done much better with less time because Ahmed’s flaws are exposed here, his selling ain’t great and with his size, it’s hard to be sympathetic or believe in someone actually hurting him. However, when Ahmed comes back to life and powerbombs Goldust = Fantastic and underrated moment right there. The main event is a story of two halves, the first half has two mis-communications and blown spots along with a never ending series of headlocks. Part two is action, balls to the wall and both men taking impactful and meaningful bumps. Finish is a little confusing , still not sure what the purpose of Perfect was but I am glad to say that Michaels rose to the occasion again after a subdued performance with Bulldog at Beware of Dog. Things are improving slowly but surely, Austin and Mankind are solid additions to the roster and things could be very interesting as we continue through this year. Thanks for reading and remember: There’s always another night!

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