Prior to the first match, we see highlights of how Austin ascended to the semifinals. Ross actually refers to Austin’s finisher as the Stone Cold Stunner. We then see Mero’s ascension as Owen badmouths Sable and refers to Mero as a “cheater.”
Match 1 (KOTR semifinal): Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Marc Mero (w/ Sable)
Mero came off the ropes but ate a back elbow.
Flying headscissors by Mero sent Austin outside the ring to regroup.
Hip toss by Austin was answered by a mule kick by Mero.
Holy flying insults, Batman! Owen referred to Sable as a “hosebag.”
Thesz press by Austin, but Mero responded with a back drop.
Austin used Mero’s momentum to send him over the top rope to the floor.
He then followed him, lifted up the mat exposing the concrete, and press-slammed Mero. OUCH!
Back In the ring, Austin delivered a vertical suplex.
Twice Austin pulled Mero to the apron and gave him an elbow to the throat.
A pair of hard cross-corner whips by Austin caused damage to Mero’s back.
After a snap mare, Austin mounted the second turnbuckle, and delivered a pointed elbow for 2.
Backbreaker by Austin got 2.
Boston Crab by Austin, but Mero flipped out of it.
Inside cradle by Mero only got 2.
Back elbow by Austin swung the tide back in his favor.
A second Boston Crab by Austin, but Mero countered into a pinfall reversal sequence for a series of 2-counts.
Rollup by Mero almost got the pin.
Mero reversed an Irish whip and applied a sleeper.
Austin countered with a jawbreaker but also busted open his lip.
After receiving a cross-corner whip, Mero rebounded with a butt bump.
Dropkick by Mero was followed by the ten-punch count-along.
After a back drop, Mero mounted the top turnbuckle and hit the double axe handle for 2.
Austin’s mouth was a bloody mess.
Upon giving Austin a cross-corner whip, Mero ate boot on his follow-through.
When Mero used Austin’s momentum to toss him over the top rope, Austin hit his back on the apron.
Mero followed with a somersault plancha.
He tossed Austin back into the ring to attempt another high-risk maneuver; however, Austin exited the ring quickly.
Mero responded with a tope suicida.
Next, he tossed Austin back into the ring, mounted the top turnbuckle, and hit him with a missile dropkick.
That only got 2.
Mero then placed Austin on the top turnbuckle and hit a super huracanrana.
Stungun by Austin only got 2.
Stone Cold Stunner got the pin.
Austin advanced to the finals.
Summary: An excellent match between these two combatants. But will Austin make it to the finals with his bloody mouth? According to Ross, this is Mero’s first defeat in the WWF. He must have been drinking a McMahon cocktail because Mero lost on 4/28 and 4/29 in singles matches.
Backstage, Dok Hendrix interviews Roberts who uses his faith as his strength.
Prior to the next match, we see highlights of Vader’s ascension to the semifinals. After Roberts tossed the snake in the ring, we see highlights of how Roberts ascended to the semifinals.
Match 2 (KOTR semifinal): Jake “The Snake” Roberts versus Vader (w/ Jim Cornette)
A pair of running body blocks by Vader was followed by a splash for 2.
Owen kept referring to Roberts as old.
Knee lift by Roberts, but Vader blocked a DDT attempt.
Vader missed a clothesline, but Roberts didn’t miss a short-arm clothesline.
Running body block by Vader put Roberts down on the mat.
Cross-corner whip by Vader, but he missed an avalanche.
DDT by Roberts, but Vader grabbed referee Mike Chioda on the way down.
Chioda called for the bell. BOO!
Summary: Shitty finish to a short match. I understand a heel-heel final matchup would generate zero heat, but Roberts had no business being in the final.
After the match, Vader demolishes Jake with a pair of avalanches. He then drags him to the corner and delivers a Vader bomb. Officials enter the ring before Vader can further injure Roberts.
COLISEUM VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Back in the locker room, an agitated Vader yells at a very nervous Cornette that he’s the King of the Ring.
Last month on the Free for All, the Gunns stole the titles from the Godwinns.
Prior to the next match, Hendrix interviews the Gunns with Sunny. The latter is infuriated by the presence of Kloudy in tonight’s Free for All. Click at your own risk!
Match 3 for the WWF tag team titles: The Smoking Gunns (champions w/ Sunny) versus the Godwinns (w/ Hillbilly Jim)
Phineas and Hillbilly Jim brought baby goats with them to the ring. OK, where’s the petting zoo keeper?
Before the match began, Billy got on the microphone and made Phineas jealous.
After a slam, Bart gave Phineas a knee drop.
In a split-screen interview, Kloudy blew a kiss to both Vince and Ross.
After giving Henry a cross-corner whip, Bart ate a knee on his follow-through.
Clothesline by Henry got 2.
As Phineas distracted referee Jack Doan, Billy put a knee in Henry’s back.
Knee drop by Billy only got 2 on Henry.
Henry reversed an Irish whip but received a Rocker Dropper from Billy.
It earned Billy a 2 count.
Backbreaker by Bart continued the Gunn’s effort on Henry’s back.
Inside cradle by Henry almost got 3 on Billy.
After giving Henry a cross-corner whip, Billy came up empty on his follow-through.
Bart illegally tagged in, gave Henry another backbreaker, and mounted the top turnbuckle.
Unfortunately, he missed the guillotine leg drop.
Hot tag Phineas.
Double cross-corner whip by the Godwinns reversed by the Gunns into a do-si-do by the Godwinns.
Each Godwinn then nailed a Gunn. But did they use one of these?
While Henry distracted Doan, Bart removed his boot and walloped Phineas with it.
The champs retained.
Summary: Without the tag formula, both teams would lose the audience. As it was, this was a very mediocre tag match with barely any heat.
Back in the locker room, Hendrix interviews Davey Boy Smith with Cornette, Mason, and Diana Smith. In the background, Mr. Perfect was putting stuff into a bag. The less said the better.
Match 4: The Ultimate Warrior versus Jerry “The King “Lawler
As Lawler made his entrance, he admired the set up for the coronation then cut a promo with an RF Video poster in the audience behind him. To generate heat, Lawler made fun of the Brewers and members of the crowd.
According to Meltzer, Warrior was working with a shoulder injury so that may affect this match.
Speaking of Warrior, in typical fashion, he stormed to the ring but ate a shot with a scepter by Lawler.
Outside the ring, Lawler choked Warrior with the scepter.
After ramming Warrior face-first into the steps, Lawler choked Warrior with his robe.
As the crowd chanted Burger King, Lawler choked Warrior with his wrist tape.
When Warrior tried to come back, Lawler pulled a foreign object from his trunks and nailed the Warrior.
Piledriver by Lawler…no-sold by the Warrior.
After a series of clotheslines, a flying shoulder block helped Warrior to get the pin.
Summary: Historically speaking, this was Warrior’s last WWF PPV match. It wasn’t good AT ALL.
Backstage, Hendrix interviews WWF President Gorilla Monsoon while doctors work on Roberts. He will let Roberts wrestle, but if he must stop it then he will.
Prior to the next match, we revisit how Mankind humanized Undertaker.
Match 5: The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) versus Mankind
Before the match began, Ross called this match a “slobberknocker.”
Speaking of slobberknockers, does anyone else remember and used to read Slobberknocker Central?
Bearer came down the aisle sans Undertaker.
As the lights came on, Undertaker appeared then took down Mankind with a top rope clothesline.
Cross-corner whip by Mankind, but Undertaker grabbed him and tossed him into the corner.
Ropewalk by Undertaker followed by the shoulder smash.
Cross-corner whip by Undertaker but he ate a back elbow on his follow-through.
After a slam, Mankind delivered a clothesline.
With the Undertaker down in the corner, Mankind gave him a knee to the head.
As Undertaker had his head draped over the apron, Mankind hammered him.
Outside the ring, Mankind leaped from the apron and delivered the Cactus elbow.
Back in the ring, after Undertaker caught his boot and spun him around, Mankind clotheslined the Undertaker.
Outside the ring, Mankind rammed Undertaker into the steel steps.
He then grabbed a pair of steel chairs from under the ring.
Charging at Undertaker, Mankind ate the chair shot himself due to Undertaker’s putting his boot up.
After whipping Mankind back-first into the apron, Undertaker delivered a back drop on the concrete floor. OUCH!
As Bearer distracted referee Mike Chioda, Undertaker took the steel chair and walloped Mankind in the back with it.
Big boot by Undertaker followed by a tombstone attempt.
Instead, Mankind escaped and gave him a swinging neckbreaker.
Leg drop by Mankind, but he didn’t make the cover.
Mankind attempted the Mandible claw, but Undertaker blocked it.
Elbow drop by Mankind, but Undertaker sat up.
Nerve hold by Mankind as he channeled his inner Yokozuna.
Clothesline by Undertaker sent Mankind over the top rope to the floor.
Mankind pulled him outside the ring and hammered him.
Running knee from Mankind sent the back of Undertaker’s head into the steel steps.
He then slammed Undertaker on the concrete floor. YEE-OUCH!
Mankind attempted a second Cactus elbow from the apron but ate a chair shot to the head instead. Wow!
Unprotected chair shot from Undertaker knocked Mankind silly.
Back in the ring, Undertaker delivered a series of head butts.
After being reversed on an Irish whip, Undertaker ducked a clothesline and hit a flying clothesline.
Piledriver from Mankind only got 2.
He then threw a temper tantrum and pulled his own hair out.
Next, he grabbed the urn, but Bearer stole it back.
Mankind then applied the Mandible claw.
Bearer got back up on the apron in an attempt to nail Mankind with the urn.
However, he nailed Undertaker by mistake.
A second Mandible claw won the match for Mankind as Undertaker passed out.
Summary: Excellent match as Mankind appears to have Undertaker’s number. Interestingly, this is a rare job by Undertaker.
After the match, Mankind chases Bearer back to the locker room while wielding a chair.
Backstage, Hendrix interviews Mr. Perfect and accuses him of collusion. Michaels interrupts and wants Perfect to call it down the middle.
When Hendrix “threw” it back to ringside, Owen then badmouths Hendrix for not mentioning him. HA!
Prior to the next match, we revisit highlights of Goldust’s mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of Johnson.
Match 6 for the WWF Intercontinental title: Goldust (champion w/ Marlena) versus Ahmed Johnson
Johnson exploded through the doors at the entrance bulldozing the doormen. I wondered why Goldust came out first.
When Johnson hit the ring, he clotheslined Goldust as Marlena escaped unharmed.
Clothesline by Johnson resulted in a 360° sell by the still-robed Goldust. Woohoo!
As Goldust exited the ring to regroup, an amazing no-hands tope by Johnson took him down again.
Back in the ring, a cross-corner whip by Johnson rammed Goldust back-first. Goldust again exited the ring to regroup.
Next, he grabbed Johnson by the legs and pulled him outside the ring.
However, Johnson whipped Goldust into the steel steps.
Johnson separated the steel steps and tossed them at Goldust. Fortunately for the androgynous one, he missed; otherwise, Goldust would no longer exist.
Back in the ring, Johnson gave Goldust another hard cross-corner whip.
After a third cross-corner whip, Johnson charged, came up empty, and went over the top rope to the floor.
Goldust joined Johnson on the floor and rammed him into the other set of steel steps.
He then picked up the top portion of the steps and dropped it on Johnson’s back. OUCH!
Ross let us know that Marlena had distracted referee Jack Doan or Goldust would have been disqualified. You’ll get ZERO arguments from me about commentary with Ross over McMahon.
Back in the ring, Goldust channeled his inner Dustin Rhodes and delivered a lariat.
After yet another cross-corner whip, Johnson missed on his follow-through.
Upon caressing Johnson, Goldust continued to work on the back.
Sunset flip by Goldust thwarted by Johnson.
Piledriver by Goldust followed by some slithering.
That only got 2.
Johnson fought out of a rear chin lock then gave Goldust a series of clotheslines in the corner.
Goldust reversed a cross-corner whip then put a knee into Johnson’s back.
A fist drop by Goldust was followed by a peck.
After an Irish whip, Johnson missed a dropkick.
Goldust attempted a cover but only got 2.
Sleeper by Goldust, but he released the hold with Johnson looking passed out.
Goldust gave Johnson mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and woke him up.
I’m betting he wished that he hadn’t woken Johnson up.
Johnson hammered Goldust repeatedly then gave him a spinebuster.
Pearl River Plunge got the pin.
WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!
Summary: Match was too long to enjoy, but this was a huge moment in Ahmed Johnson’s career. Perhaps a better ring general could entice a better match from him.
Promo for IYH VIII: International Incident coming next month.
COLISEUM VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Johnson receives a champagne bath celebration backstage.
Back in the arena, Ross interviews Brian Pillman who comes out on crutches with a walking boot. He insults the crowd and makes a Jeffrey Dahmer remark. He calls Ross a “stupid son of a bitch” then states that he’ll “rape, pillage, and plunder this entire Federation.” The “Loose Cannon” has landed in the WWF! As Austin makes his way to the ring, former Hollywood Blond Pillman gestures toward him wishing him luck.
Match 7 (KOTR final): Jake “The Snake” Roberts versus Stone Cold Steve Austin
According to Vince, Austin paid a visit to the emergency room after beating Mero to stitch up his lip. He ended up getting SIXTEEN STITCHES! According to Meltzer, the stitching was performed backstage rather than in the hospital.
Austin attacked Roberts as the latter entered the ring.
He worked on Roberts’ ribs then mounted the second turnbuckle.
Next, he delivered a double axe handle to the ribs.
Again Austin mounted the second turnbuckle and delivered another double axe handle to the ribs.
Austin then removed the protective tape from Roberts’ ribs.
Monsoon came to the ring with a physician and asked Roberts if he wanted to stop. Roberts said no then attacked Austin.
DDT attempt was blocked and followed by some shoulder blocks.
Stone Cold Stunner got the pin.
Stone Cold Steve Austin became the 1996 King of the Ring!
Summary: This was supposed to be Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s crowning moment. Due to the “curtain call” incident, instead of his being in the finals against Austin, his first-round opponent limped to the finals and lost. Fortunately, better matches were in Austin’s future.
Hendrix interviews Austin during the coronation ceremony. Here’s Austin’s monologue:
“The first thing I want to be done is to get that piece of crap (Roberts) out of my ring. Don’t just get him out of the ring. Get him out of the WWF! Because I’ve proved, son, without a shadow of a doubt, you ain’t got what it takes anymore. You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers. And it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your psalms. Talk about John 3:16. Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!”
That last statement was the shot heard around the world. Be on the lookout for Austin 3:16 EVERYWHERE!
“All he’s gotta do is buy a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and try to get back some of that courage he had in his prime. As the King of the Ring, I’m serving notice to every one of the WWF superstars. I don’t give a damn what they are. They’re all on the list. And that’s Stone Cold’s list. I’m fixin’ to run through all of ‘em. As far as this championship match is concerned, I don’t give a damn if it’s Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels. Steve Austin’s time has come, and when I get the shot, you’re looking at the next WWF champion. And that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.”
In effect, A STAR IS BORN, ladies and gentleman!
Owen states that he’ll remain at the broadcast table rather than get involved in the main event. Foreshadowing, perhaps?
Match 8 for the WWF title: The “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (champion w/ Jose Lothario) versus the “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (w/ Jim Cornette & Diana Smith)
Smith’s giving notice to the WWF removed the Diana lawsuit angle that was the whole premise for this rematch. Therefore, the only important factor surrounding this match was the terrible match at Beware of Dog. I truly hope this match surpasses that dreck. We get highlights of the finish of said match prior to the beginning of this one. I wonder if Smith’s new contract included a title reign.
As stated earlier, the special guest referee for this match was Mr. Perfect.
Owen stood on the broadcast table and applauded his brother-in-law.
Before the match began, Monsoon came into the ring and spoke with ring announcer Howard Finkel. According to Monsoon, Mr. Perfect will be outside the ring while Earl Hebner will officiate within the ring. That was a subtle bait-and-switch. But I smell Lloyd’s of London’s involvement with this situation.
Owen crapped all over that decision. Not literally, but I wonder what Perfect put in his bag.
In order to generate negative heat, Smith grabbed the Union Jack and waved it to a chorus of boos. Subsequently, Michaels encouraged the crowd to chant “U-S-A.”
After a leap frog, Smith used Michaels’ momentum to send him over the top rope. Michaels, however, used a headscissors to maneuver Smith outside the ring then skinned the cat back into it.
From the apron, Michaels gave Smith a huracanrana.
Cornette got involved and received a spanking with the tennis racquet.
As Vince brought up Bret Hart, Owen disparaged his brother.
After a leap frog by Michaels, Smith military-pressed him.
Michaels escaped, gave Smith a double-leg takedown, and got 2.
Smith gave Michaels a cross-corner whip but missed a clothesline.
Smith missed another clothesline, so Michaels applied a sleeper.
Smith broke the hold by backing Michaels into the corner.
Pair of cross-corner whips by Smith as he worked on Michaels’ back.
After a single-arm DDT by Michaels, he mounted the top turnbuckle and hit a double axe handle for 2.
Smith reversed an Irish whip but ate a knee lift.
Military press by Smith who then dropped Michaels all the way down to the floor.
As Mr. Perfect was distracted by Lothario, Smith joined Michaels outside the ring and gave him a vertical suplex.
Smith imitated the Giant by military pressing Michaels on the floor and tossing him back into the ring.
A reversal of a cross-corner whip by Smith resulted in a Michaels flip followed by a Smith clothesline.
Smith then hooked a Mexican surfboard and got a 2 count.
Knee to the midsection by Smith was followed by a back drop.
After Ross exclaimed “You normally get peanuts on a flight like that,” Smith delivered a leg drop and got 2.
Cross body block by Michaels got 2.
Vicious clothesline by Smith almost got 3.
Crucifix by Michaels got 2.
Smith countered a powerslam and attempted his own; however, Michaels escaped and tried a superkick.
He missed, and Smith nailed him with another clothesline.
Piledriver by Smith who then mounted the top turnbuckle but missed a diving head butt.
After a cross-corner whip hurt Smith’s back, Michaels mounted the top turnbuckle.
Smith caught him and delivered a dropkick.
With Michaels perched on the top turnbuckle, Smith hooked a top rope superplex. Wow!
Do we have a new champion?
Upon setting Michaels up on the top turnbuckle, Smith hooked a belly-to-back superplex.
Suddenly, Michaels shifted momentum to land atop Smith and almost got the pin.
Double shoulder block put both men down on the mat.
After Smith missed a clothesline, Michaels attempted a second huracanrana.
Smith countered with a sit-out powerbomb for 1-2…NO!
Reversal of a cross-corner whip by Michaels resulted in a Smith flip.
Flying forearm by Michaels, and he nipped up.
In the process of slamming Smith, Hebner was knocked down by Smith’s legs. But was he OUT COLD?
Michaels mounted the top turnbuckle and hit the big elbow.
Sweet Chin Music hit for Michaels.
Both Hebner and Mr. Perfect counted the pin, but Owen pulled Perfect out at 2. Hebner continued the count as Michaels won.
Summary: This match was eons better than last month’s crap fest. While it’s not historically important, it helped to solidify Michaels as a solid WWF champion.
After the match, Owen enters the ring only to get walloped by Michaels. An atomic drop followed by a right hand puts Owen down on the mat. Michaels attempts a superkick to Owen but misses. Owen tries to give him an enziguri, but Michaels ducks. The WWF champion then hooks a figure-four leg lock on Owen. Smith tries to break it up but falls prey to an inside cradle. Finally, a spinning heel kick by Owen, in a tuxedo no less, stops Michaels’ momentum.
Double suplex by Smith and Owen puts Michaels down until NEW Intercontinental champion Ahmed Johnson runs in. He gives Owen a military press slam then slams Smith. Vader hits the ring and runs over Johnson with a running body block. Vader gets whipped and delivers an avalanche to Johnson. Owen mounted the top turnbuckle and nails Michaels with his cast. After Smith and Owen put Michaels in position, Vader mounts the top turnbuckle. All of a sudden, Warrior hits the ring and tosses Vader down to the mat. He then gives both Owen and Smith a clothesline for each as the heels head for higher ground. I smell a six-man tag match at the next PPV.
COLISEUM VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Backstage, Ross interviews Cornette with Smith, Vader, and Owen standing alongside him. They’re ready for an International Incident in Vancouver.
Conclusion: A great main event preceded by a stellar interview by the 1996 King of the Ring Steve Austin makes this a must-see show from my perspective. If that wasn’t enough, the Mankind-Undertaker match was also great, so what are you waiting for?