Friday, March 16, 2018

WWF Survivor Series 1996

A buddy of mine suggested I do a musings on the 1996 Survivor Series since it features Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart. At the moment, the current crop of Wrestling Wednesday features is filled for the next couple months, but a quick musings done on March 16th (3/16. Get it? Of course you don't.) shouldn't be too much of a hassle.

This is the first of two PPVs that I'm posting today. The next one will be posted twelve hours later.

In a bit of a rarity, LET'S TALK ABOUT A PRE-SHOW MATCH!

Bart Gunn, Aldo Montoya, Bob Holly, and "The Real Double J" Jesse James defeated Billy Gunn, Salvatore Sincere, Justin Hawk Bradshaw Layman,and The Sultan.

The Sultan eliminated Aldo Montoya just shy of four minutes in. Then Billy Gun eliminated Salvatore Sincere a couple minutes later. Then the future JBL eliminates the future Hardcore Holly, only to see himself eliminated by the future Road Dogg, who then proceeds to eliminate the Sultan before getting himself eliminated by Billy Gunn. Billy is then eliminated by Bart Gunn, who is the sole survivor of this match.

Not much to say here since it's a pre-show match, but I guess for those who wanted a nice fast-paced match, this was enough to get the crowd going. It just didn't do much for me... so why did I include this match? Because I fast-forwarded the tape this was on and thought it was part of the PPV.

Doug Furnas, Phillip Lafon, Henry Godwinn, Phineas Godwinn defeated Owen Hart, British Bulldog, Marty Jannetty, Leif Cassidy, with Furnas and Lafon being the survivors of this match.

Marty Jannetty is the first one eliminated by Henry O. Godwinn, who shortly sees himself eliminated by Owen Hart. Sadly, Phineas I. Godwinn doesn't fare better, being eliminated by the British Bulldog in short order, leaving us with the guys who have some semblance of wrestling acumen and ability that we can take seriously. Phil Lafon manages to eliminate Leif Cassidy (poor Al Snow) and the British Bulldog, while Furnas wins the match by eliminating Owen with a suplex.

Started off a bit slow, but once the Goddwinns were out of the picture, shit got good and for those who like hard-hitting action, that's certainly what you got here. The team of Furnas and Lafon made their WWF debuts in this match and a little over a year later, they'd be out of the WWF for some reason I don't recall. They seemed like good enough wrestlers, but I guess they couldn't cut it personality-wise or something. Too bad; would've been cool to see them in action a little more beyond a couple times.

The Undertaker defeated Mankind while Paul Bearer was suspended in a cage above. Defeating Mankind meant Taker got five minutes with Paul Bearer, but unfortunately, the Executioner (Terry Gordy in a mask) came out and attacked Taker for the classic bait and switch. Well, at least it wasn't a Dusty Finish. This isn't KOTR 96 where the shock of the new monster beating Taker was the driving force, nor is it the Boiler Room Brawl of Summerslam; it's just a regular match between two guys beating the crap out of each other. Not a noteworthy match or anything, but still a pretty damn good one between two rivals who work well together.

Newcomer Rocky Maivia is the sole survivor of the next elimination match. This was the WWF debut of the man who would eventually become the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Rock. But that's much, much, MUCH later.

For those who care, Jerry Lawler is eliminated by Jake The Snake. The Stalker (Barry Windham) is soon eliminated by Goldust. Triple H sees himself getting ditched by Marc Mero, only for Mero to be eliminated by Crush, who earns his pay by eliminating Jake. Rocky, being the only one left on his team, overcomes the odds and eliminated the other two jabronis himself.

For a match putting over a new guy, this was probably a good showing even if the match itself wasn't all that great. What would've been a better showing is Rocky jobbing to a pair of scissors that would cut off whatever the fuck is on his head. Seriously, kid. Get a haircut and you'll be electrifying.

Bret "Hitman" Hart defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin in a grueling match that saw Austin catch Bret in the Million Dollar Dream and Bret leveraging himself to the ground with Austin's shoulders to the mat, thus scoring the pinfall win. There is nothing I can say about this match that hasn't already been discussed ad nauseum by everyone else who has talked about this match, so I will simply say that when it comes to star-making performances, when it comes to two rivals giving their all, when it comes to the end result making both guys look good, I would point to this match as a masterclass in how to make a new star.

It told a good story, it had two guys at their absolute best, it was compelling stuff, it had a satisfying ending no matter which side of the coin you were rooting for, with the additional bonus of providing a callback to a previous match Bret had in his storied career, and it didn't need any additional gimmicks, enhancements, or whatever the case may be to accomplish that task. This ran short of a half hour and despite my admittedly short attention span, I was very well invested in this match and I was enjoying every little minute of it.

The match between the team of Vader, Faarooq (Ron Simmons, debuting the Nation), Fake Diesel, and Fake Razor Ramon and the team of Flash Funk, Yokozuna, Savio Vega and mystery partner Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka (for some reason) ended in a no contest. This was a waste of ten minutes that saw Savio Vega eliminated, then Fake Razor, and then everybody started brawling and the match was thrown out the window. Holy fuck, this was a bad match and probably one of the worst Survivor Series-style matches I've seen thus far.

Sycho Sid Justice Vicious defeated WWF Champion Shawn Michaels with a camera to Jose Lethario (who was Shawn's manager at the time for some reason) and a powerbomb to Shawn to win the title. Since this is New York, the crowd approves this win and pop fairly loudly for it.

This Survivor Series PPV has a couple notable bits; it has the awesome Bret Hart/Steve Austin match, it has the WWF debut of the Rock (though long before he became The Rock), and it has a HBK fangirl screaming in agony as Sid wins the WWF title while everyone is cheering. Aside from that one jobber-filled Survivor Series match, you have a fairly decent wrestling card on hand here that goes by quickly enough for the most part, but it boils down to the one grudge match and the WWF title match being the highlights of the show and are the only true must sees on the card.

For more "classic" fun, there will be another Classic PPV musings from 1998 posted twelve hours later. So stay tuned!

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