KING OF THE RING (Qualifying Matches) 2000:
* So I finally remembered to do another one of these, though we’re past the point where I can recall most of the angles. The name of the game this tournament is the same as last one- Make A New Star. Hopefully this “Kurt Angle” guy will prove more successful than Billy Gunn. This will be a MONSTER set, so I’ll split it up for today and tomorrow.
This tournament is unusual due to the MASSIVE roster of guys- the jam-packed company and no Russo at the time (therefore his attention span couldn’t wreck it) made for a 32-man tournament! We’ve got a huge assortment, though, as all four Radicalz (then newly-hired by the company), Chyna, Jericho & Rikishi provide serious competition, while the company’s vast tag ranks fill out slots left & right for “easy wins” or upsets- Too Cool, APA, T&A, the Hollies, Dudleys & Edge/Christian. This is a verrrrrrrrry interesting time for the company, as they put the final nail in WCW by hiring away four of their top workers, while Jericho & Rikishi had gotten over and Angle was now a completely miraculous rookie find. And what was a company based around having shitty 2-minute brawling matches now had a ton of great wrestlers all over the place, which was kind of shifting the basic style to longer matches with high spots.
Of course, having looked at all these matches… they’re still mostly super-short (as KOTR matches have been since 1994, to be fair), and OH GOD a ton of guys are still stuck in the “Punch & Kick” mode. Bad agenting was all around at this time, with only a handful of guys avoiding it. But it’d be a long, hard road to hit the point of improvement, and a lot of dudes who couldn’t make that transition saw their careers die. You’ll see a very high level of “the guy who loses the match does most of the offense”, probably in a way to look a bit strong or make him feel better about losing- this goes back a ways (you see mid ’90s joshi do this a bunch, too).
I’ll do the first round in one post, then see what I can find for the second round for next week.
RIKISHI vs. SHANE McMAHON:
(May 29th, RAW)
* Okay, I forget the story behind this. Shane is entered in the KOTR, but has to fight Rikishi, who is in the midst of his biggest year ever before everything went horribly wrong. Shane, in a WWF shirt & regular jogging pants, boasts about “beating the Big Show” and how Undertaker couldn’t beat him, marking him as a smart-mouthed wimpy heel.