Tomorrow will be the 20th anniversary of the 1993 King of the Ring tournament. Now, that show is probably best remembered for Bret Hart’s efforts that night or it being Hulk Hogan’s last WWF appearance until 2002 but it’s a superstar that competed in one of the other matches that I want to discuss here. Namely Brian ‘Crush’ Adams who took on WWF IC Champion Shawn Michaels that night.
I can’t help but feel Crush was much maligned by wrestling fans. Many unfairly chastise him for being part of Demolition when the wheels were firmly falling off and fail to give him much credit as an in-ring performer and in this post I’ll consider the hypothetical that it was him and not Lex Luger that got the monster push back in 1993.
Now, while I say he was an impressive in-ring performer back in 1993 I am not suggesting that he was the heir to Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat but put simply, as big men went in the WWE in the early 90s, Crush was one of the better ones. It was really his match at the King of the Ring PPV that got me thinking.
At that event, and on the back of the awful feud with Doink the Clown, Crush locked horns with then Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels in what was the best match on that card that didn’t feature Bret Hart. You have to bear in mind that this wasn’t the HBK that we would soon grow to know and love as he was still really finding his feet as a singles superstar although by this time he was nearly there. What threw me most in this one was the performance from the big Hawaiian as he combined surprising levels of agility with a very impressive offensive arsenal.
What really surprises me more was that the WWE didn’t do more with him at this time as despite a very solid showing here, it wasn’t long before he was a glorified lackey for Yokozuna after a brief feud with The Macho Man. Vince McMahon’s fondness for big men is well documented and I’m very sure Crush would have done just as well, if not better, than Lex Luger had he been presented with the ball. At the very least, the WWE fans were very warm towards Crush and although not great on the mic, he had some charisma and was very fan friendly.
So what did go wrong? Brian Adam’s latter problems were well documented and he was probably quite lucky to be given a second chance by the WWE after his spell in jail for purchasing steroids and illegal possession of a hand gun. By the time of his return in 1996 as a biker, he was a shell of his former self and subsequent spells in The Nation of Domination, DOA as well as Kronik did little to shift that impression.
Hand it not been Luger that slammed Yokozuna during ‘the stars and stripes challenge’ in the summer of 1993, but Crush then things could have been very different indeed. I would guess that faced with a choice between the 6 foot 6 inch 315 pound Crush or the 6 foot 1 inch and 240 pound Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart then Vince would have opted for the man from Kona, Hawaii over the Excellence of Execution.
The face turn of Lex Luger, from the bad guy Narcissist to the Hogan lite American hero happened too fast and the fans didn’t take to him. The attempt to turn Luger into the new Hulkster didn’t work out and it was Bret Hart that got the nod to win the title at Wrestlemania X.
I truly believe that Crush would have made a very interesting main eventer in the WWE through 1993 into 1994. In no way am I suggesting he is ‘the best Champion the WWE never had’ or anything like that, merely that he would certainly have been a much better bet than Lex Luger. Hindsight though, huh?