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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 446 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: January 30 2012
Although it was released a year or so earlier than The Best Of In Your House (recently reviewed here), The Best Of King Of The Ring has similarities with the IYH compilation: it is a match compilation of a specific show which largely covers the mid-to-late ’90s time frame. However, this DVD set is unique in its selection of bouts, although at first glance it can seem confusing.
As the name suggests, King Of The Ring is the focus, and when one thinks of this title, one immediately thinks of the tournament of the same name. As such, the KOTR finals are included from 1993 to 2002 (the time that the PPV ran), although the 1995 and 1999 finals aren’t included for unknown reasons. That said, the event also hosted major title matches, so the World Title bouts from the 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2000 shows are here too.
However, the most famous match ever held at King Of The Ring was the 1998 Hell In A Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind, and as such several notable KOTR clashes are here which weren’t in the tournament or for the WWF/WWE Title: namely, the Bret Hart-Jerry Lawler Kiss My Foot match from 1995; the Goldust-Ahmed Johnson IC Title bout from 1996; Stone Cold vs. Shawn Michaels from 1997; the aforementioned HIAC from 1998; Jeff Hardy vs. X-Pac for the Light Heavyweight Title and a Kurt Angle-Shane McMahon Street Fight from 2001; and Angle vs. Hulk Hogan from 2002.
Finally, the DVD acknowledges the house show tournament winners from 1985-1991 but, as they were non-televised, no matches are included here from those cards; but as the tournament was revived in 2006, 2008 and 2010, the finals of those three events are all featured here to round off the DVD. More confusion comes from the chronology: some matches from the same events are shown out of order, even if the final actually went on after another bout from the same card which is on the DVD. Confused yet?
Once you take all this into account, however, the DVD can be taken for what it is, and the set is rather enjoyable. Bret Hart vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (1993), Shawn Michaels vs. British Bulldog (1996), Triple H vs. Mankind (1997), Angle vs. Hogan and Sheamus vs. John Morrison (2010) are the in-ring highlights, whilst the 1998 HIAC match is unmissable due to the chaos that unfolds before your eyes; the Angle-Shane fight is also very brutal (I forgot just how brutal until re-watching it here). Stone Cold’s two bouts are a little disappointing, but his 1996 triumph over Jake Roberts does allow for the birth of Austin 3:16 in the post-match.
The other bouts are either here due to them being finals (which makes the absence of the ’95 and ’99 finals even odder) or seem to be filler, although some do have their moments, including an insane top rope chokeskam by Taker to Shane through an announcer’s table in a 2000 six-man bout. As for potential inclusions: besides Mabel vs. Savio Vega from 1995 and Billy Gunn vs. X-Pac from 1999, as mentioned earlier, I would have liked to have seen some non-final tournament bouts, the 1998 First Blood showdown between Austin and Kane, and the handicap Ladder match for ownership of the WWF from 1999. The Blu-ray does have some bonus bouts, although all but one non-final tournament match come from the more recent, non-KOTR PPV events.
Oh, and the host is King Booker! (Or, KING BOOKKAAA!) Booker T left WWE in 2007 as King, and hasn’t been King on ‘proper’ WWE TV since his return at Royal Rumble 2011, but he does revive the character as the presenter of this DVD. His links aren’t exactly hilarious but, taken for what they are, you shouldn’t have a problem watching them.
The KOTR history opened me up to a few interesting points: did you know that a proper fan favourite hasn’t won the tourney since 1998? (Edge was in between being a villain and a face when he triumphed in 2001.) And, if you ignore the house show wins (which WWE usually does), only two babyfaces have ever won the tournament. Watching this also makes you hope for the event’s return; there has been no tournament since 2010, and surely KOTR would be better than Battleground or Payback, especially if the winner was rewarded with, say, a World Title shot at SummerSlam (which was applicable in 2002).
So, The Best Of King Of The Ring is a strange one. It feels a bit unnecessary, the match selection is difficult to explain, the chronology is a bit weird, and some bouts are clearly filler and feel odd on a best-of compilation. That said, there are still some very good and very historic matches here, so whilst I wouldn’t class this as being anywhere near a must-own set, you should get a fair amount of enjoyment out of the DVD if you do choose to buy it.
Overall Rating: 7/10 – Respectable