Owen Hart vs. 1-2-3 Kid (6/19/94)
WWF – King Of The Ring 1994 – 1-2-3 Kid vs. Owen Hart
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But there were occasional flashes of brilliance, here and there. This match, from the 1994 King of the Ring tournament, demonstrates the WWF New Generation at its best–two skilled workers in the ring with no gimmicks, nothing on the line but respect. Few people ever brought it like Owen Hart did, and it’s amazing to me that, for all he went through in the WWF, he was never given a World Title run. Here’s a guy who slummed it up in the tag team ranks (with Koko B. Ware and Jim “The Anvil” Niedhart, both teams being garishly dressed), in the midcard, as his brother Bret’s shadow. His feud against Bret in 1994, including a win at Wrestlemania X (in probably one of the best ‘Mania matches ever), virtually carried the promotion that year, and after the 1997 Montreal Screwjob, he stayed with the WWF and feuded against Shawn Michaels. But he was quickly forgotten, languished in the midcard again, and the rest is history. This match is prime Owen, before injuries sapped him of his speed and forced him to modify his style.
It’s also prime Sean Waltman, who was pretty popular as 1-2-3 Kid (he probably set the mould for guys like Evan Bourne, come to think of it), pretty annoying as Syxx in WCW, and an odd combination of the two as X-Pac once he returned to the WWF in 1998. Waltman was basically wasted potential. His early run in WWF made him a star for his style, as WWF fans had rarely seen his kind of offense. In WCW, he was hit or miss. He couldn’t cut a promo to save his life, grew a beard, became “cool” as part of the nWo. His career there is hard to judge…he had good matches with the likes of Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero, but the nWo made everything a series of kind of terrible (part of his ladder match with Guerrero was filmed with a fish-eye lens). He got injured, got fired, and wound up in WWF again, where he was part of Degeneration-X and, motivated to prove the WCW brass wrong, had a two year run of very, very solid work. People loved X-Pac. And then they hated him. Really hated him. So much so that his theme music acknowledged it, that wrestlers who fans hated regardless of their push or stature were said to have “X-Pac heat” (think Vickie Guerrero’s crowd reaction, but unintentional). It probably didn’t help that Waltman looked lethargic as the leader of X-Factor and had been drastically slowed by his own injuries.
But here, he’s at his underdog best against smarmy heel Owen, who was maybe the best smarmy heel Vince ever had. This match is an absolute sprint, clocking in at just under six minutes, and yet there are more suplexes here than you’re likely to see in a month of current WWE programming. Not that suplexes matter or anything, but it’s kind of nice to remember a time when matches weren’t 85% punches. If I were showing somebody who’d never seen wrestling before a match, this would probably be it. Short, sweet, and with no wasted movement, Owen and the 1-2-3 Kid do in five minutes what some wrestlers struggle to do in 30. Absolutely worth the smoke break it’ll take to watch.
Paul Arrand Rodgers
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