The 1997 King of the Ring was built around one match: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels. The WWF title match was almost an afterthought. So, of course, it would suck!
Vince McMahon and Jim Ross are on commentary, and Vince motions for the camera man to look at all of the international tables but he doesn’t – so Vince stands up and walks him there! Carlos Cabrera is highly amused by the excited chairman! Vince informs us that it’s time for Ahmed “Get In Your Face” Johnson is on his way out, COVERED IN BABY OIL. Ahmed faces the MAN. I’m talking about the guy that runs the joint, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He’s also coming out to Beethoven’s 5th, I believe, now. JR tells us Ahmed Johnson is a member of the Bloods! That’s a new tidbit for me, and a lot edgier than just a few months back. As I mentioned in the last In Your House, a change was noticeably in the air. Ahmed military presses HHH, and asks “How do you like that shit?” Well, Ahmed, I like it. He seems a little angry, which I always look for from the loser. Some of these grits think it’s real. Triple H gets a quick Pedigree in and wins!
The next semifinal is Mankind vs Jerry “The King” Lawler. Mankind does a charming promo that is the character we all know Mankind to be, now. Then, King comes out to treat us! He trolls the crowd bad! “I’m surprised to see you here. Is the massage parlor closed?” Jim Ross mentions Lance Russell discovered him and Jackie Fargo trained him. King actually rather dominates in this match. He piledrives Mankind on the floor and in the ring but on a third attempt, he counters and wins with the Mandible Claw.
Brian Pillman delivers another brilliant promo, even mentioning “Seek and you will find.” They were toying with more Biblical undertones around then. Stone Cold sneaks up and attacks him! He shoves Pillman’s head into the toilet!!
Crush is out next to face Goldust, who is surprisingly over. This was during the angles that showed them and their daughter Dakota and all of that. King used to make fun of her, LOL. Ross mentions that he was called “The Natural, Dustin Runnels,” and all of that. He kisses Crush a one point. Vince says “knowing who Goldust is NOT,” referring to him NOT being one of the gays. Really. They’ll edit that shit out before long. JR mentions Gorilla Monsoon is at home under the weather, and he says our “tharts are” with him. Goldust picks up a win and starts kissing Marlena a bunch, it makes me want to puke. She’s NASTY.
The Legion of Doom with Sycho Sid face The Hart Foundation – Bulldog, Owen and Neidhart. Sid takes a while to get to the ring. Bulldog gets Sid up in a big vertical suplex, which Sid no sells. I’d like to tell you this was a good match. I’d like to, but I can’t because it was an awkward CF. Vince mentions a snap suplex “shades of the Dynamite Kid.” Yeah? Send the guy some money then, Vince. He’s a wreck. The botchfest concludes with open overshooting Sid in a sunset flip from the top rope. Sid has to step back so Owen can grab him, and that’s the bullshit Owen wins with…
We see a package showing what the King of the Ring did for Stone Cold. Mankind and Hunter Hearst conclude the tournament next, on top of kicking off their incredible feud. The two future legends put a great match, in my opinion. Some of the fans are bitchy and I guess want Riverdance to come out and start kicking but the match mixes story, psychology and high spots well. “How do you learn how to fall on concrete?” JR asks. Dude, shut up. We know it is fake. Chyna interrupts Mankind’s momentum anytime be builds any. Triple H hits a WICKED Pedigree THROUGH THE TABLE (OMG! Moment). The table doesn’t break at first, it cracks – then slowly breaks. Looked fucking AWESOME. Then, a photographer is trying to set Vince’s monitor back up to kiss his ass and Mankind gets knocked off of the apron onto him! The little idiot falls down like a sack of potatoes!! Even with that and a scepter smash by Chyna, Mankind kicks out! But another Pedigree finished him. Hunter is the new King of the Ring!
Hunter has said in interviews that he didn’t want to wear the stupid crown and robe gimmick shit. I don’t blame him. He destroys the ugly ass crown by hitting Mankind with it.
So we see the buildup to HBK and Michaels and when Stone Cold tackled the FUCK out of Bret on stage, it looks like Austin jammed his head into the ground.
Bret Hart is out with his foundation. He’s out of the wheelchair and he challenges 5 wrestlers to the “In Your Hase” PPV.
Pillman laughs a the botch. So I think a headset was broken during the previous match that Bret was supposed to use. He goes to join them on commentary but the officials come out to take them back. Pillman goes nuts!
So they do the coolest thing here. Austin does a pre match interview with Doc Hendrix. Cameras following him, he walks out of his locker room and by the Harts. He flips them off, walks through the entrance as the same camera is behind him and the glass breaks. Cool entrance. Shawn is with Doc and has the dumbest fucking gear yet. A bunch of washers tied together with bungee cords. Hey, this is weird. Shawn’s pyro goes off in the aisle, like his later WWE/Raw brand run. Vince mentions Shawn’s pierced naval!
So a Down syndrome guy goes nuts and jumps the rail. I think Austin’s middle fingers set him off. Like 8 security guards come over but probably don’t have the strength he has in a finger. Vince calls him a “mentally challenged individual,” before amending that to “Special Olympian.” Shawn runs over to him and actually escorts him out. Not before he turns around and points at Stone Cold. His mother runs over to join the fray and help him out. Shawn pushes off security, who actually just walk off. He leaves without further incident and goes on to invent cold fusion technology. Just kidding, but wouldn’t that be funny?
With the match sufficiently interrupted, we continue and it’s largely a boring ass stalemate. Two people refusing to be booked weak. I think these two just didn’t mix. Austin knocks the cameraman off of the ring apron. The crowd is split, kids and girls for Shawn, men and adults more for Austin. Shawn Michaels takes a bump on the guardrail and keeps chewing his gum. So after fucking around for long enough, both men hit their finishers on each other, no referees are able to count. Both men hit their finishers on referees. Earl Hebner comes down and DQs everyone, even the popcorn stand guy. Then, they leave together and go 69. Some stupid little bitch screams her lungs out.
Main event is next. Will we get the first African American WWF Champion? No. But he will face the Undertaker. Farooq says “Undertaker, you don’t worry about Paul Bearer’s blackmail…you worry about THIS black male.” You know, Ron Simmons was really in his game back then. “Blackmail” was in reference to Paul Bearer holding it over Undertaker’s head that he killed his parents and Kane was alive and shit. Strange angle. A fan has a sign that says “Kill Farooq.” It really feels like they were considering Farooq for the world title here, but backed out last minute. Taker jumps off the top rope mid-Old School onto the Nation outside in a wild spot for him. He just sort of jumps at them with his back. Vince calls a back body drop a “sunset flip.” The sort of unwilling manager jeering Undertaker is an interesting concept. The Nation is on the outside and gets into a fight, which distracts Farooq. Undertaker hits a Tombstone and, after an eternally slow 3 count, wins. It was an unexpected ending for me. Bearer commands Taker to beat up Farooq some more. He chokeslams him three times and Ahmed Johnson charges out with two bottles of baby oil fully applied. He asks Undertaker what he’s doing, “tired ass sucka.” Taker swings at Ahmed after he gets a little aggressive (Apple corrected this to “agree sauce”) and Ahmed Johnson Pearl River Plunges Undertaker.
Fans throw a bunch of trash into the ring and they should have, because this event was a trash show, except for Helmsley and Mankind.