November 16, 2010
Survivor Series 1996, November 17, 1996, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, & Jerry Lawler
The look back at classic Survivor Series continues with a trip to 1996. By this point the elimination matches were clearly positioned at the bottom of the card as they’re just filled with midcard guys while the main eventers have much more heavily hyped singles matches. Our top matches here tonight include Shawn Michaels defending the WWF Title against Sycho Sid, while Bret Hart returns for his first TV match since Wrestlemania to take on Stone Cold Steve Austin. The show is also notable for the WWF debut of Rocky Maivia, later known as The Rock, who goes on to be one of the biggest stars in wrestling history.
Opening Match: The British Bulldog, Owen Hart, Marty Jannetty, & Leif Cassidy vs. Doug Furnas, Philip LaFon, Henry Godwinn, & Phineas Godwinn (w/Hillbilly Jim)
The Setup: Owen and The Bulldog were the tag team champions, but really had no credible teams to feud with. An attempt to fix that was made by bringing in Furnas and LaFon, who were stars in Japan while being pretty much unknown in North America with the idea being to build them up as babyface opponents for the Champs. This is their debut match in the WWF.
The Action: It goes back and forth for a bit, with everyone getting to show some stuff. Then, after no eliminations for a while, we get in to them as Henry Godwinn gets in with Jannetty and gets the first elimination with the Slop Drop at 8:12. Owen then immediately spin kicks him for the 3 count at 8:19. Phineas runs wild for a bit, but ends up falling victim to the running powerslam by The Bulldog at 9:04. Furnas gets worked over for a bit, but eventually escapes and tags LaFon, who finishes Cassidy off with an inverted superplex at 13:43. Now LaFon takes a beating from the champs, but a double team goes awry as Furnas trips up Owen from the outside and LaFon catches Bulldog with a crucifix for 3 at 17:24. Owen clips LaFon’s leg and works it over. He hooks the Sharpshooter, but has to break when Furnas comes in. Furnas then gets the tag and hits Owen with a dropkick, belly to belly suplex, and finally a German suplex for the pin at 20:42. Survivors: Doug Furnas and Philip LaFon
The Verdict: Furnas and LaFon looked good in their debut, but they didn’t really end up getting over and their push ended up drying up pretty quick. Overall, the match was really good, and a nice way to start things off. ***1/2
Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker
The Setup: These guys have been feuding since April. During a match at Summerslam, Bearer turned on Taker for the first time and sided with Mankind. They then had a Buried Alive match last month, which Taker won, but he got laid out afterwards and buried so the feud continues, this time with Paul Bearer locked in a cage above the ring. This also marks a change in look for Taker as he drops the purple gear in favour of the all black leather look.
The Action: This was kind of odd booking as they had already wrestled three times on PPV this year, including twice in gimmick matches, but for whatever reason they comeback again with another straight match. Taker scares Bearer into the cage, but then gets attacked from behind. Mankind takes it to the floor with a Cactus clothesline and then they brawl into the crowd for a bit. Back in the ring, he gets the Mandible Claw on, but Taker breaks it. He later gets it on again, but now Taker counters it to a chokeslam. A phantom foreign object turns the tide back for Mankind briefly, but he ends up getting caught with the Tombstone and pinned at 14:53. After the match, Taker waits for Bearer to be released so he can kill him, but The Executioner Terry Gordy makes the save and takes the beating for the sake of letting Bearer escape.
The Verdict: Another good match here as they had obviously developed quite a good chemistry with each other having worked together for most of the year. **1/2
Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Goldust, Jerry “The King” Lawler, & Crush (w/Marlena) vs. Wildman Marc Mero, The Stalker Barry Windham, Rocky Maivia, & Jake “The Snake” Roberts (w/Sable)
The Setup: The main feud here was Mero against Helmsley as HHH had won the IC Title from him last month. Roberts is a sub for Mark Henry, who they felt was not ready for prime time and was sent for more training, and he had been feuding with Jerry Lawler as of a few months ago. This, of course, is also notable for being the debut of Rocky Maivia, who goes on to become one of the biggest stars of the upcoming Attitude Era.
The Action: Sunny comes out to replace Lawler on commentary, and one thing we learn right off the bat is that she and JR do not like each other as they bicker back and forth for a good portion of the match, with Vince even becoming noticeably agitated at them. I wonder what could possibly have been up between them. The story early on is that HHH keeps avoiding Mero, tagging out whenever he gets in the ring. Rocky gets to show some stuff at the beginning, but then he tags out to Jake, who takes a beating. Lawler comes in and starts mocking Jake for being a drunk, but takes the DDT and gets pinned at 10:01. Windham is in next, but he’s easily dispatched with a Curtain Call by Goldust at 12:43. Mero gets beaten down so now HHH wants a shot at him. Mero makes the comeback though with a headscissors and then gets a bit of revenge on HHH by pinning him with a Merosault at 19:19. He then misses a sommersault plancha on Crush and takes the heart punch for the pin at 20:29. Roberts tries next, but also falls victim to the heart punch at 20:53. So Rocky is one on two, and the crowd is solidly behind him. That would change pretty drastically over the next few months, but for now they’re into him, even with his unbelievably goofy haircut. He holds him own until Goldust nails him with a low blow. Goldust then holds him for the heart punch, but Rocky moves and Goldust takes it. He comes off the ropes and gets Crush with a bodypress for 3 at 23:13. Goldust then takes his original finisher, the shoulderbreaker, and gets pinned to end it at 23:44. Survivor: Rocky Maivia
The Verdict: This wasn’t a bad match or anything, but it didn’t feel like it clicked like some of the other stuff on the card did. **
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
The Setup: Austin began challenging Bret while Bret was on sabbatical from the WWF. Bret turned down a lucrative offer from WCW to return to here for his first TV match since Wrestlemania XII. It’s also been announced that the winner here will get a shot at the WWF Title next month at It’s Time.
The Action: Here of course, is what I really wanted to watch the show for. They start with a staredown, and Austin flips him the bird. The early part of the match consists of trading holds and counters. Austin then gets him with a stungun and goes to work on the neck. Bret comes back with an inverted atomic drop and a Russian legsweep, but when he tries a bulldog, he gets shoved to the buckle. Austin sets him on top, but Bret shoves him off and then drops an elbow for 2. Austin rakes the eyes to take over again, followed by hitting a suplex and rope straddle. It breaks down into a slugfest, which Bret wins, and then he gets Austin with his own stungun for 2. Piledriver gets another 2 and then Bret goes up, but gets crotched and superplexed. Bret however gets him with a cradle after the mover and gets another 2. They get up and Austin nails the Stunner out of nowhere, but it only gets 2. He then starts working submissions such as a Texas cloverleaf and a bow and arrow, but Bret gets his way out of both. Bret can’t get the Sharpshooter, but he does get a sleeper, which Austin counters with a jawjacker. He hooks the Million Dollar Dream, but Bret walks up the ropes, kicks off, and lands on top for the 3 count at 28:34.
The Verdict: This was an awesome comeback match for Bret and an equally awesome way to signal the arrival of Stone Cold as a top level player. I like Wrestlemania 13 better, but this on isn’t that far off of it. ****3/4
Faarooq, Vader, Razor Ramon, & Diesel vs. Yokozuna, Savio Vega, Flash Funk, & Superfly Jimmy Snuka
The Setup: This was basically a meaningless, thrown together thing. The closest thing to a feud was Yoko and Vader which was over back in the spring. One notable thing we do have is the Debut of Faarooq’s Nation of Domination gimmick, which was a significant improvement over the Gladiator deal.
The Action: Funk is actually making his debut here, and what a horrible way to do so by the way, so he wows the crowd by knocking Vader to the floor and hitting him with a moonsault to the floor. Yoko then goes with Vader, and he looks terrible. This ended up being his final appearance as they sent him to get his weight under control which he never did, leading to his death about four years later. So they continue tagging around with everyone getting a chance to do stuff, but there’s nothing exciting about any of it. Diesel hits Savio with the Jackknife and pins him at 8:31. Snuka then goes with Razor and beats him with the Superfly Splash at 9:34. This draws Diesel in with a chair and that triggers an all out brawl that ends with everyone getting disqualified at 9:45. I guess they were running short on time or something. Survivors: Nobody
The Verdict: 1990 had a lot of lame finishes as we saw last week, but this trumps anything from that show in terms of lameness. Why even have the match in the first place? DUD
Main Event, WWF Championship Match: Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Sycho Sid
The Setup: These two had been positioned as friends since Sid’s return back in July, but when Sid won a number one contenders match last month over Vader, tension began to develop, culminating with Shawn Superkicking him during a tag match against Owen Hart and The Bulldog.
The Action: They’re both babyfaces, but Sid is the clear crowd favourite here. They start with some power vs. speed bits to establish each guy’s strengths. Sid then wins a slugfest and goes for a press slam, which Shawn escapes, and then sets up the Powerbomb, which Shawn also escapes. Shawn then hits a chop block and goes to work on the leg, including hooking a figure four. Sid takes over on the floor by dropping him on the barrier. He works Shawn over for a bit with Shawn getting a comeback now and then which quickly gets cut off. Sid hits a chokeslam and sets up the Powerbomb, but Shawn small packages him for 2. Shawn then hits the flying forearm and kips up, but it’s right into a clothesline for 2. Sid then grabs the camera away from the cameraman, which draws Lothario onto the apron, so Sid nails him with it and he collapses to the floor. Shawn hits the Superkick, but instead of covering, he checks on Lothario, and that allows Sid to attack from behind. They go for a bit and the ref gets bumped, so Shawn goes back to Lothario. Sid just grabs the camera again and this time nails Shawn with it. He then rolls him in and hits the Powerbomb for the 3 count at 20:00. Shawn acts more concerned about Lothario then the fact that he just lost while the crowd still loves Sid in spite of what he had to do to win.
The Verdict: Another pretty good match here as Shawn’s first Title run comes to an end to setup him winning it back in his hometown at Royal Rumble. Nice way to close out the show. ***
Overall Thoughts: With Hart/Austin leading the way, this is a really great show. That match gets strong support from the main event and the opener, and other than that waste of time third elimination match, we have a great top to bottom show. Thumbs Up for Survivor Series 1996.