The Story behind The Harts vs. Shawn Michael’s Knights : Survivor Series 1993

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1993 was not exactly a marquee year for the WWE in terms of product. While there were definite bright spots sprinkled around the company, the majority of the roster was feeling a bit passe and gimmicky in terms of character development. Stars like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were materializing well, but were often used in odd feuds that didn’t make a bit of sense. Case in point, how the WWE managed to spread a Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler feud over a couple of years, culminating in infamous “classics” such as the “Kiss my foot” match or a little known USWA cage match in which Lawler played face for the Memphis crowd while Bret played heel; a contest decided by the interference of WWE’s nearly eight foot tall “Giant Gonzalez”. Regardless, 1993 saw Hart and Lawler feud from the “King of the Ring” event all the way to what was supposed to be a Survivor Series match pitting The Hart Family (Bret, Owen, Bruce & Keith) against Jerry Lawler and his “Knights”, an unknown team consisting of Lawler and three other participants. WWE used the angle of Lawler constantly belittling Stu and Helen Hart and the Hart family as a catalyst to make the match a “Family Feud” style affair in order to use “Family Feud” host Ray Combs as a special guest announcer. (Combs was absolutely terrible, might I add.)

Only 12 days before “Survivor Series”, Jerry Lawler was indicted on charges where he was accused of raping and sodomizing a girl reported to be between the ages of 13 and 15 earlier that year. Lawler was also reportedly charged with harassing a witness who was set to testify against him. WWE silently pulled Lawler from commentary and from the match, setting up Shawn Michaels as a replacement. Michaels and Hart had previously feuded and with both rising in the ranks of the company, the move made sense or at least more sense than any other last minute replacement could have. Shawn and Bret had previously met at Survivor Series 1992 with the Hitman reigning supreme in a “Champion vs. Champion” match pitting Hart (World Champion) against Shawn (Intercontinental Champion).  While the Harts walked into Survivor Series ’93 under their own names, Shawn Michael’s mystery “Knights” were legitimately unknown, masked superstars appearing in disguise. I remember that even at eight years old, this was disappointing and underwhelming as I couldn’t imagine three masked nobodies helping HBK to victory. It wasn’t until years later that I decided to randomly google their true identities and found that they were all actually accomplished wrestlers and not just local enhancement talent as I had previously thought.


 


The first of the bunch was the Black/White Knight (the internet community cant seem to decide) portrayed by Jeff Gaylord, a well known USWA wrestler who was the former partner of Jeff Jarrett. While I have heard his name and am familiar with him at a mention, I must admit I am not well versed in his resume and must apologize to any USWA fans for my lack of depth. The Red Knight was portrayed by long time WWE enhancement talent Barry Horowitz. This struck me as interesting as Horowitz went on to have a couple of small angles before returning to his jobber position in WCW. Who could forget his patented “pat on the back” during his introduction? Most memorably he defeated Skip (Chris Candido) in a short feud a couple of years after his “Red Knight” debut. By far, the most interesting of the bunch was the Blue Knight, portrayed by former WWE Intercontinental Champion and long tenured star Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Valentine had left the WWE for WCW in 1992 where he won the United States Tag Team Titles with Terry Taylor and seemed to be doing well. Valentine reportedly left WCW after Taylor was fired and somehow landed back in WWE in the one time role of the “Blue Knight” which was a far cry from his prime position of old.

While the match itself was pretty forgettable, the late Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was magic on commentary and provided a bright spot that remains memorable all these years later. This match was also the beginning of the Bret/Owen feud as Owen was the only Hart family member eliminated due to a miscue from Bret. It was the birth of Owen Hart’s “What about me?” phrase and the beginning of many memorable matches between the two brothers.


Bret Hart touches on the match in his book (how I took interest in telling this story via article)  and I found his prospective incredible interesting:


Transcription courtesy of ProWrestlingStories.com from Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart:

“In mid-November [1993], I heard that Vince finally had been indicted by the Feds. Then the WWF took another hit when Jerry Lawler was charged with having sex with an underaged girl. My entire Survivor Series match was centered around Lawler and his constant jabs at my family; without him, the match would mean nothing. Lawler was hastily edited out of the weekend TV show, with no explanation given to the fans, and Shawn was thrown in to replace him at Survivor Series.

On November 23, Smith, Bruce, Keith, Wayne, Ross, Georgia and my parents all flew into LaGuardia. Vince had invited my brothers to have a brawl at the Survivor Series against three masked wrestlers and Lawler—now Shawn would be standing in his place—with Stu managing from the floor, and he thought it best that we have a rehearsal at the WWF’s TV studio in Stamford the day before the pay- per-view. I got the Harts, Shawn and The Knights (the one-time-only name they picked for the masked wrestlers) in the ring to explain how the match would go. Owen gave me a nudge to alert me that Bruce had pulled the biggest and greenest of the Knights aside and was giving him a script the size of Gone With the Wind, with Bruce presumably playing Rhett Butler. I told Bruce the spotlight needed to be on Owen because Survivor Series would be the beginning of Owen’s heel turn on me. After I explained what everybody’s role would be, Bruce went right back to designing the match around himself, and I had to reprimand him in front of everyone. Shawn muttered at him, “If my brother was World Champion and the best in the business, I think I’d quit fucking arguing with him and start listening to him!” There was nothing Bruce could say in response to that. He shut up, but I could tell the reprimand stuck in his craw.

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