Beginning in 1994, the World Wrestling Federation started to promote a “New Generation” of talent to combat their rival organization, World Championship Wrestling, who was promoting older stars that had made a name for themselves in the WWF previously.
With a lack of stars, WWF focused on highlighting their overall youth that included Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, 1-2-3 Kid, Razor Ramon and Diesel. This younger generation was significially better in the ring than the older Hogan, Savage, Flair and various other 80s stars that had landed in WCW.
By the time 1995 rolled around, the WWF was in dire need to establish fresh upper card talent. WWF World Champion Diesel didn’t have a lot of credible challengers on the heel side of the card outside of seemingly Yokozuna and Owen Hart. Thus, the WWF had to take a risk and that risk is highly regarded as being a failure by epic proportions.
That risk involved a popular tag team that had been around since mid-1993. Mabel and Mo consisted of Men on a Mission and had a manager named Oscar. For two years they chased and briefly held the WWF World Tag Team Championships. Their reign lasted only a few days in 1994 before losing them back to the Quebecers during an overseas tour.
By the end of 1994, Mo had been dealing with injuries and the popularity of the rap team appeared to dwindle while a tag team named the Smoking Gunns started to garner more and more cheers. So much so that Mabel and Mo turned heel on the Gunns on an episode of Wrestling Challenge on March 26th. The attack also saw Mabel leg drop Oscar, which would be the last appearance of Oscar in the WWF.
Mo would become more of a manager for Mabel as the idea was to make Mabel into a heel monster as they worked their way into the King of the Ring.
The top candidates to win the King of the Ring where former WWF World Champions Yokozuna, the Undertaker and former WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. Michaels fought to a draw with Kama in the first round while Yokozuna actually lost to Savio Vega continuing his fall down the card.
As for the Undertaker, Taker would lose in the first round to none other than Mabel with help from Kama, whom had been feuding with Taker weeks leading into the event and would continue to do so after the event. Mabel pinning Taker gave him a big win, even if it weren’t to be a clean victory.
Mabel wouldn’t have to compete in the semi-finals due to the draw with HBK/Kama, thus he defeated Savio Vega in the finals and to prevent the underdog story of Vega being a smaller competitor from realizing a dream.
Of course, the Philadelphia crowd crapped on the entire event and a few ECW chants could be heard. However, was Mabel winning the KOTR really that awful?
Sure, he wasn’t the greatest wrestler in the world, but everyone knew that. The company was looking to create new stars and they took a shot. Nowadays, it seems as if the WWE doesn’t want to take a risk and make a new star. Was Mabel a star? I think so, just not as a heel.
Whether anyone remembers it or not, Mabel was actually pretty over as a baby face for the WWE. He also was able to deliver some impressive moves for a guy his size. Seeing Mabel hit a spinning heel kick was a sight to see, I must admit.
The build-up for Mabel to be a main event guy may have contributed some backlash for his win at KOTR. He didn’t have a slow build and was considered a main event guy within two months of a heel turn. He needed to beat credible names in the weeks after to be sold as such, and I don’t recall that happening.
Instead, we were supposed to believe in Mabel being a threat to WWF World Champion Diesel when they didn’t really have a huge storyline for SummerSlam. It kind of feels like Mabel wasn’t given the right opportunity to succeed at the new role.
When I look back at the Mabel heel run, I don’t consider it the worst thing ever. Hell, it’s not even the worse thing that year in professional wrestling. It was a misguided decision that didn’t execute Mabel at his fullest potential.
I think Mabel would have been far more successful had be played the part of a baby face as he was always capable of getting the crowd behind him. Mabel was also able to get sympathy despite his large physical nature.
The attempt to make Mabel a monster heel was a risk, which needs to happen and should be commended for attempting. Sometimes, risks don’t workout but this mistake didn’t hurt the WWF.
What were your memories of King Mabel? Did you like the attempted heel run or did you think it was a huge mistake?
Thanks for reading.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.