Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that continues to take longer hiatuses than Jontron! It’s WWF King of The Ring 1997, a night of first for the WWF. We may have our first African-American WWF Champion, we have our first singles match between reigning tag team champions, it’s time for a good old tournament! HBK Shawn Michaels is back in the WWF taking off the fastest rising star in the WWF in Stone Cold Steve Austin, Faarooq is challenging for the WWF Championship against The Undertaker and of course, the super important King of The Ring Tournament which can bring superstardom for any WWF Superstar that is lucky enough to win the tournament! Will it be a home-run for the WWF? Let’s find out!
(KOTR Semi-Final Match) Ahmed Johnson vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley W/ Chyna
Big match to kick us off with Helmsley and Ahmed Johnson, Johnson is still over like rover and seems to have left the disappointing Nation feud behind him. Hopefully, we can get back to Johnson being super explosive all the time in the ring, surprised by Lawler being a semi-finalist at this stage of his career in the WWF. Lawler’s hardly ben involved in an angle for almost a year or two at this point.
Ahmed stares down Helmsley, Johnson shoves down Helmsley with ease. Massive shoulder block from Johnson, Johnson mocks Helmsley with his own pose before Ahmed asks for a test of strength. Helmsley goes low with kicks and a massive chop, no effect on Ahmed. Ahmed whips Helmsley to the buckle, military press slam from Ahmed. Helmsley powders before slowing re-entering the ring, Helmsley pokes Ahmed in the eye. Big Irish whip to the buckle but Ahmed explodes out of the corner with a clothesline, scoop slam but Helmsley dodges the elbow drop. Helmsley dumps Ahmed to the floor, Irish whip into the steel steps. Baseball slide from Helmsley, Helsmley’s punches are not working as Ahmed fires back with right hands.
Scissors Kick from Ahmed, back body drop from Ahmed. Spinebuster from Ahmed, Chyna is on the apron and Ahmed is focused on Chyna. Helmsley knees Ahmed into the turnbuckle and spikes Ahmed with The Pedigree for the win.
Wow quick as that, can you believe Helmsley pinned Ahmed just like that? No exposed turnbuckle to protect Ahmed getting pinned? Clean as a whistle, Helsmley takes down Ahmed? It’s hard to believe it happening to be honest, I see so much upside in Ahmed, could you not give him a bit more? Maybe they had lost faith in Ahmed? Anything’s possible in the WWF, decent match from these two with a shocking ending for sure.
Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley over Ahmed Johnson via Pedigree!
(KOTR Semi-Final Match) Mankind vs Jerry The King Lawler
Lawler talks massive amount of shit before Mankind has enough, ramming Lawler into the announce table. Raking at the eyes of Lawler, Lawler seems to be lost. Big right hands by Mankind, more face-ripping from Mankind. Right hands from Mankind, stomps and an Irish whip. Elbow from Mankind, Mandible Claw is dodged by King who rolls to the floor. Lawler has something in his tights and rocks Mankind with the foreign object. Big rights from Lawler, running bulldog from Lawler. Mankind is dumped to the floor and sent into the ring-post, Lawler works over the head of Mankind specifically the ear of Mankind. Lawler uses another foreign object to beat on Mankind, massive right to the head.
Mankind hurls Lawler to the floor, Mankind sends Lawler into the guardrail over and over. Mankind has Lawler against the steel steps, Mankind tries a spear but Lawler dodges. Piledriver on the floor from Lawler who celebrates inside of the ring, Lawler wants the count-out victory. Lawler dropkicks Mankind who was trying to return to the ring, beautiful piledriver in the middle of the ring for a close two. Doesn’t get the desired reaction from the fans as nobody believes Lawler is winning, Lawler smashes Mankind in the face with a foreign object once again. Mankind begins fighting back with big kicks, right hands and a running forearm from Mankind, Mankind lands a big leg drop.
Lawler is in the corner, running corner knee from the deranged Mankind and gives us a little Bang Bang. Irish whip to the corner and big back body drop from Mankind, Lawler blocks the back body drop on the second attempt and lands the neck-breaker. Diving Fist Drop from Lawler, Mankind back-drops Lawler to avoid the piledriver. Lawler looks for the sunset flip to counter the back body drop but Mankind stops it with The Mandible Claw for the win.
Decent match, I think it’s going to be a challenge to turn Mankind but with Lawler and Helmsley as opponents, it should be a simple transition for Mrs. Foley’s baby boy. Lawler being a semi-finalist just rubs me the wrong way for some reason, I think it shows a lack of depth to an expanding roster. For all the praise I have been given the roster, it seems like a step-backward. On top of that, even with a massive Piledriver in the middle of the ring, nobody bought that finish at all. Not one person thought Lawler would be walking away victorious which makes for an awkward match for sure. Right result in the end with Mankind going onto the finals but I am just thinking who could have been used instead of Lawler in that spot.
Winner: Mankind over Jerry Lawler via Mandible Claw!
Crush W/ The Nation of Domination vs Goldust W/ Marlena
Goldust the babyface who has moved on since his feud with Hunter Hearst Helmsley takes on Crush who has had a decent push as a member of The Nation of Domination. There seems to be a lot of tension in The Nation with Savio and Crush having problems, causing each other matches and such. Crush jumps Goldust and throws The Bizarre One to the floor, Goldust sends Crush into the steel steps. In the ring, Goldust hammers Crush with ten punches. Goldust kisses Crush and batters him with more right hands, massive flying clothesline for two. Crush reverses an Irish whip but ducks his head, neck-breaker from Goldust. Crush comes back with a massive belly to belly suplex, forearm shots from Crush. Axe handle to the spine of The Bizarre One, Goldust fights back and tries a scoop slam but his back gives out. Crush is back on top with a back-breaker, close two for Crush. Camel clutch from Crush, Goldust struggles and fade before escaping the hold. Goldust ducks the clotheslines before eating a military press into a gut-buster for two.
Elbow from Crush, nerve hold from The Nation Member. Goldust fights back, Crush rakes the eyes. Goldust lands one of his uppercuts, massive clothesline and Goldust fires up with massive rights and a slap. Mounted punches from Goldust, Clarence Mason and D’Lo Brown are threatening Marlena. Goldust lands a running bulldog before spotting trouble on the floor, D’lo is decked by Goldust but Crush surprises Goldust. Irish whip in the ring, Goldust slides out of the military press and Goldust walks away with the win after planting Crush with a DDT.
Solid match from these two, I have seen much worse from Goldust but his babyface run is finally starting to find some momentum and The Bizarre One looks to be getting the reaction he wants from fans. Meanwhile, the big man Crush seems to be eating the most pin-falls in the Nation which I would have not said when trying to guess who that person would be, looks like Crush has hit his ceiling in the WWF which is a shame. Solid match from both men though, I have definitely seen worse from both!
Winner: Goldust over Crush via DDT!
The Hart Foundation (Owen Hart/British Bulldog/Jim Neidhart) vs The Legion of Doom (Animal & Hawk) & Sycho Sid
This is interesting for sure, I thought Sid was gone from the WWF but maybe the big man was simply injured after Mania? Regardless, Sid wants to take out The Hart Foundation due to Bret Hart costing Sycho Sid the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania with his interference. Big six-man tag here with Team Sid looking like the most badass team of all-time, you don’t get much bigger than those three!
Lots of LOD chants to kick us off, Animal and Owen square off with Owen grabbing the side headlock but Animal picks up Owen and launches him across the ring, Animal misses a clothesline but lands a scoop slam. Owen dodges the elbow drop, Animal avoids Owen’s grapple attempts. Owen brings Animal to the corner, boots by Owen before Animal reverses an Irish whip and sends Owen to the corner and lands a back body drop. Massive catapult to Team Sid who pummel Owen before Animal lands a powerslam. In comes Sid who nails an axe handle, Owen rakes the eyes of Sid. Shoulder block from Sid, test of strength but no Owen tags in Bulldog. Bulldog wants the test of strength, Bulldog goes low and delayed vertical suplex from Bulldog but Sid shakes it right off and batters all of The Hart Foundation. Tag to Hawk who batters Bulldog and then Bulldog tags in Jim Neidhart.
Eye rake by Anvil, clothesline from Hawk with no effect. Anvil tees off with forearms, Hawk boots back Anvil and clubs the shit out of Anvil. Diving clothesline from Hawk for two, tag to Animal. Big kick from Anvil, in comes Sid. Team Sid batter Anvil behind the referee’s back, tag to Hawk. Sanp-mare and reverse chin-lock, Anvil is on his feet though. Dropkick from Hawk, Anvil is up though. Anvil lures in Hawk and tags in Bulldog, piledriver from Bulldog but Hawk no-sells and lands a clothesline. Tag to Animal, blind-tag to Owen though who lands a massive spinning heel kick on Animal. Owen dumps Animal to the floor and Anvil puts the boots to Animal. Steel chair to the spine, Owen suplexes Animal for a close two. Slingshot shoulder block for two, Animal has a sunset flip on Anvil while Bulldog distracts the referee.
Missile dropkick by Owen on Animal for two, The Hart Foundation batter Animal before Hawk gets a sliver of revenge. Animal is still isolated, double clothesline from Bulldog & Owen. Scoop slam, Bulldog gets caught from the middle rope with Animal landing a powerslam. Animal climbs to the top rope, Bulldog cuts off Animal for a top rope superplex. In comes Anvil, forearms from Anvil. Shoulder blocks in the corner, Animal is being battered. Reverse chin-lock, Animal fights out but the onslaught continues with Owen landing a big neck-breaker. Animal is caught in a sleeper from Owen, Animal is fading fast but Hawk is now the legal man. Scoop slam and Hawk is up top missing a headbutt with Bulldog landing big forearms. Scoop slam but Hawk dodges the leg drop, Hawk is caught by Bulldog and in comes Owen and Anvil.
Hawk powers through Anvil and Owen for a double clothesline, monster tag for Sid who clotheslines everything in sight, big boot for Owen. Owen is dumped to the floor, Chokeslam to Bulldog. Sid wants the powerbomb on Bulldog, Owen lands a diving sunset-flip off the top rope and gets the pin on Sid.
Wow, Sid must have been on his way out with a finish like that? An abrupt end to the tag match for sure, all that build-up for that? Disappointing for sure, no problem with The Hart Foundation stealing the win but couldn’t Owen have grabbed the tights, it just seemed far too easy. Even a missile dropkick to the jaw of Sid could have been more effective, Sid was still hugely popular garnering the biggest reaction in the match and by the end of the night, Sid might still have the biggest pop of the night so it would be sad to see Sid leave the WWF but I felt this match could have been so much more!
Winners: The Hart Foundation over Team Sid via Diving Sunset-Flip!
(KOTR Final Match) Mankind vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley W/ Chyna
The final between Hunter and Mankind, Mankind has been injured at the hands of Lawler due to repeated attacks to his neck. Chyna is at ringside, will her presence be felt in this match? Side headlock from Helmsley, Helmsley wrenches the neck. No purpose beyond hurting that neck, Helmsley goes after the neck once more. Mankind elbows Helsmley who tried a third headlock, Mankind stomps Helmsley again and again, Mankind rips at the face of Helmsley and bites the head of The Connecticut Blue Blood. Irish whip with Helmsley holding onto the ropes and powdering, Mankind continues to dish out the punishment with Helmsley dropping Mankind face-first onto the turnbuckle.
Irish whip to the buckle and neck-breaker from Helmsley, Mankind battles back but a clothesline puts down Mankind. Right hands from Helmsley, clubbing blows down to the neck again and again. Right hand takes down Mankind, Chyna decks Mankind with a massive forearm. Mankind low-blows Helmsley though, Mankind was looking for a clothesline but Helmsley dodges, Mankind is tied up in the ropes, Mankind slips out of the ropes but the damage has been done. Baseball slide from Helmsley, Mankind meets the steel steps too. Right hand by Helmsley, knee drop to the neck. Vicious looking manoeuvre, make it two knee-drops. Mankind stun-guns Helmsley for a close two, Mankind stun-guns Helmsley again but Mankind tries a third time but Mankind cannot carry Helmsley.
Running corner knee from Mankind after a flurry of punches, Helmsley is in the tree of woe. Running elbow drop to the face from Mankind, Mankind misses a baseball slide but Mankind back-drops Helmsley on the concrete. Apron diving elbow drop Cactus Jack style from Mankind, Double Arm DDT from Mankind with Chyna distracting the referee long enough for Helmsley to kick out of the manoeuvre. Helmsley wants a Pedigree but Mankind back-drops Helmsley, Helmsley wants the sunset-flip but Mankind has The Mandible Claw. Chyna drags out Mankind, saving Helmsley for the second time in this match. Neck-breaker with the ropes by Helmsley, Helmsley stomps away at Mankind. Helmsley rips off the mask and climbs to the top rope, Mandible Claw from Mankind. Helmsley uses a thumb to counter, inverted atomic drop from Mankind.
Clothesline from Mankind, Cactus Jack clothesline from Mankind. Chyna pulls Helmsley out of the way of an elbow, Mike Chioda is sick of Chyna. Helmsley sends Mankind into the steel steps, Helmsley is clearing the announce table. Pedigree through the announce table, talk about hardcore! Chyna cracks a sceptre across the back of Mankind, Helmsley knees Mankind into a cameraman. 1…2.. Mankind kicks out, Helmsley is furious with even Chyna doubting herself now. Helmsley drills Mankind with the Pedigree and it’s over, Hunter Hearst Helmsley is The King of The Ring!
Very good match, I have enjoyed Helmsley’s work since joining the WWF with Helmsley always being an enjoyable wrestler, just not the total package as of yet but here Helmsley has a great story to work with, Mankind’s neck is damaged and Chyna is going to allow Mankind to cheat as much as possible. What we get here is Helmsley working the neck of Mankind with knee-drops and neck-breakers while Chyna batters Mankind on top of it. Mankind takes one hell of a beating and survives, showing his fighting spirit inside of the ring, his desire not to give up or be beaten. Mankind is now very much a sympathetic babyface figure with an antagonist in Hunter Hearst Helmsley. That finish is great too, puts over how tough Mankind is inside of that ring. Pedigree on the announce table looked brutal and then the bump into the cameraman too, Mankind comes off great in defeat here. Big moment for both men here, their feud over the next few months will be crucial to their rise on the cards.
Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley over Mankind via Pedigree!
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels
Two unlikely partners winning the tag team championships, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels as partners. Austin and Shawn Michaels have big problems with one another as Austin is more concerned with wiping out Bret Hart, these two brawled on Raw and now they face one another at King of The Ring. Interesting match-up for Shawn Michaels’ PPV return and Austin, a big test for Austin but another babyface vs babyface encounter for Rattlesnake. I’m curious as to whether it was best for Austin’s direction to go up against more established babyfaces like The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels when first turning babyface. Regardless of his anti-hero character, is it the best choice?
How I have missed HBK in that ring, I already feel this is going to be quite the match. In one another’s face from the beginning, massive amounts of trash has been talked. Lock-up with a side headlock from Austin, massive shoulder block from The Rattlesnake. HBK pulls himself up after Austin gives HBK his salute. Austin is staring down on a fan at ringside, something has happened with a young man with disabilities. Austin rolls out as HBK tends to the young man, nice little moment there as Austin wants HBK to re-enter the ring. Lock-up with Austin working the arm, arm-bar from The Rattlesnake. Side headlock from HBK, Austin grabs the hair but HBK continues to hold onto the side headlock, determined to maintain control in this match.
Austin pulls the hair, shoulder block from HBK but Austin counters with a back elbow. Austin does HBK’s pose and nails an elbow to the back of the neck three times. Snap-mare with HBK escaping the chin-lock attempt, side headlock from HBK. Shoulder block from Michaels, drop-downs and leap-frogs before Austin delivers an inverted atomic drop and clotheslines Michaels to the floor. Michaels counters the suplex from the apron into an O’Connor roll for a close two, drop toehold into an arm-bar from Michaels. Austin reaches the ropes and powders for a breather, Austin wants a test of strength with Michaels. Boots by Austin who wrenches down on HBK, great camera shot of Austin staring into the eyes of Michaels. Michaels powers-up and boots Austin around the ring, back body drop from Michaels for close two. Michaels misses an elbow as Austin dodges, Austin knocks a cameraman to the floor and misses an elbow.
Austin is on his feet, pushing off HBK who gets the shoulder block again, HBK dodges the elbow but Austin answers with the Lou Thesz Press. Mounted punches by Austin before HBK counters with a roll-up, the two trade pin-falls before Austin lands a knee and right hand. HBK is side-stepped and sent crashing to the floor. Austin has Michaels on the apron, Michaels is clotheslined off the apron into the guardrail. Austin pulls up the protective mats at ringside, Austin wants to cripple his tag team partner? Michaels is dropped on the guardrail by The Rattlesnake, Michaels is in big trouble right now.
Michaels fights back though with right hands before Austin lands a knee and sends Michaels into the steel steps. Military press slam on the concrete by Austin, Austin lands big rights on Michaels. Michaels wanted a flying forearm but Austin avoids it, small package from Michaels for two but Austin levels Michaels with a clothesline for a close two. Snap-mare and Austin wants that elbow drop, beautiful on the money for two. Austin locks in the sleeper using the ropes for leverage, the referee catches Austin with Michaels coming back into the match with right hands. Shoulder block, Austin is sent to the floor. Baseball slide from Michaels, flying forearm inside of the ring by HBK. Irish whip and back body drop to The Rattlesnake, Austin begs for mercy.
Inverted atomic drop from Michaels, whip to the corner but Michaels misses the corner spear. Michaels hits the ring-post hard, advantage goes to The Rattlesnake. Austin exposes the ass of Michaels, right hands by The Rattlesnake, Irish whip but Michaels counters with a crossbody for with Austin rolling through for a close two. Clothesline by Austin, HBK corner bump. HBK sends Austin into the referee, HBK tries Sweet Chin Music but Austin counters for a Stone Cold Stunner. Austin stunners the referee out of frustration, Sweet Chin Music from HBK. A new referee comes to ringside checking on the original referee, HBK cannot believe his luck and Michaels nails the new referee with Sweet Chin Music. Austin kicks out of the superkick due to wasted time, Earl Hebnar has had enough and calls off the match.
Not a popular decision for sure but I think it was best for both men. Why would you want to have either of these men lose when they are so popular and neither one needs a lost at this time in their career. Regardless of the finish, this was a very entertaining match with both Michaels and Austin having their moments in this one. HBK picks up right where he left off, stealing the show with ease while Austin continues to be the asshole that everyone loves in the WWF. Fun match, big statement from Austin showing that he can hang with the top names of the WWF. The WWF Championship cannot escape Stone Cold Steve Austin for much longer. Fast-paced with good psychology throughout, both men having their finishes protected and the finish itself protecting both men, I imagine it was the best way this match could have ended and turned out for both parties.
(WWF Championship Match) The Undertaker © W/ Paul Bearer vs Faarooq W/ The Nation of Domination
Paul Bearer had been burned by Undertaker but now Paul Bearer holds a deep secret of The Undertaker’s past, what could be this secret? This secret has Undertaker doing the bidding of Paul Bearer once more though, it must be important but we are all left wondering what could it be? Meanwhile, Faarooq ran through a number of WWF superstars including dominating Ahmed Johnson in their last encounter so it makes sense that Faarooq would be a challenger for the WWF Championship. I am excited to see how Faarooq does in the main event, could be a really entertaining match too because Faarooq can dish it out for sure.
Faarooq jumps Taker to begin, big right hands from the leader of The Nation. Irish whip to the buckle but Taker fires back with rights and lefts, clothesline from Taker. Faarooq dodges an elbow drop but eats a boot from Taker, uppercut brings down Faarooq. Two for the champion, behind the referee’s back The Nation decimate Taker. Faarooq talks massive amounts of trash, Taker works the arm with Faarooq screaming out in pain. Taker fakes doing Old School and dives onto The Nation. Crush, D’Lo and Savio are all decked by The Phenom, didn’t expect it but I loved it. Hot-shot from Taker, Faarooq is down. Taker tries Old School on the opposite side of the ring but The Nation members pull down Taker who crotches himself on the top rope. Suplex from Faarooq for two, low blow from Faarooq with the referee missing the move. Two off the low blow, Savio and D’Lo attack Taker behind the referee’s back. How can Taker survive with all of The Nation at ringside?
Faarooq is ripping at the steel steps, this is not no DQ but Taker boots the steps into the face of Faarooq. Taker ducks off an Irish whip, Faarooq spikes the bejesus out of Taker with a piledriver for a close two. Faarooq applies the reverse chin-lock while using the ropes for leverage. They move towards the centre of the ring, jaw-breaker from Taker. Taker misses a leg drop though, Taker sends Faarooq to the buckle. Knee counter from Faarooq, Faarooq is on the middle rope. Diving crossbody is countered for a powerslam, knees from The Deadman who scares off the referee. Faarooq ducks the flying clothesline, Taker is in dire straits. Savio and Crush are having words on the floor, this was a little random with Faarooq getting distracted by the dissension and walking right into The Tombstone and Taker retains his WWF Championship.
Disappointing main event no doubt about it, I thought they could have gotten a lot more out of this match. Faarooq was dominating so they just randomly had Savio & Crush get into a war of words and cost Faarooq the match? I know they were issues between the two but this seemed like they brawled for no reason whatsoever. I thought this was a missed opportunity to build a lot of drama for this championship match with Taker overcoming the odds of beating all members of The Nation. Instead, Faarooq is an afterthought to The Nation breaking up and Paul Bearer’s manipulation of The Undertaker. After the match, Ahmed Johnson lays out The Undertaker with The Pearl River Plunge, I guess we will have a match between the two? I think the real main event was the match before with Michaels and Austin despite the non-finish.
Winner: The Undertaker over Faarooq via Tombstone Piledriver!
That was WWF’s King of The Ring 1997, a better PPV from the WWF despite some hiccups along the way. The first two matches of the night are nothing to write home about especially when you put them in the context of the main event with Ahmed Johnson being soundly defeated by Helmsley only to lay out the WWF Champion at the end of the night, maybe Ahmed should not have been in the tournament if that’s where you are going? Anyways, Helmsley beats Ahmed which looks even more bemusing once the main event ends while Lawler never had a chance against Mankind and the crowd knew that. Things look like they have potential with the six-man tag, six great athletes who have the crowd all-in on the match, the fans want Sid and they get Sid for about twenty seconds before Sid is rolled-up without a handful of tights or any sort of damage done to him, it’s not an easy pill to swallow because I thought this is where the show would turn a corner for me.
However, that comes next with the final match. Mankind delivers ana amazing underdog performance as the man who won’t quit. Attack after attack on his next, Chyna interfering and a brutal announce table Pedigree all come together with JR putting over the heart and fight of the deranged Mankind. A babyface is on the rise in the WWF and his name is Mankind. Things continue to turn with Austin vs HBK, two babyfaces who put on quite the show. The finish was the right call and fans may have been disappointed initially but you receive one hell of a match and Austin continues to catch fire in the WWF. The main event may have been a little disappointing in my eyes but Taker is over with the fans and this angle is drawing me in, I want to know what this mysterious secret is because no matter how average the matches may be for Taker, the angles are always interesting and well thought-out and of course, I was a big fan of Taker vs Mankind because of Paul Bearer’s involvement so to see another twist in the tale is good for me! Maybe my favourite PPV of 1997 so far but it’s not saying much, I still think there is work to be done and every angle could mean much more but this was a positive PPV compared to others from the year. Thanks again for visiting and taking the time to read this, I love cataloguing my thoughts about the sport that has given me so many memories and remember: there’s always another night!