Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Adam Copeland - On Edge

WWE BOOK REVIEW: Adam Copeland - On Edge
Adam Copeland – On Edge is the entertaining and, at times, inspiring, autobiography of World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar, Edge.

Featuring a forward by Copeland’s real-life friend, and fellow wrestler-turned-author, Mick Foley, On Edge sees the man known to millions as The Rated-R Superstar set out to meet the high-standards set by Foley’s own literary efforts, and whilst this tome doesn’t quite get there, it’s still nonetheless a good read.

In a departure from the standard protocol used by WWE published books, Copeland does away with the need for a ghost-writer. Instead, his memoirs were written by hand during an in-ring hiatus brought about by a severe neck injury.

The result is an autobiography that bodyslams the majority of the competition to become, if not the heavyweight champion, then at least the Middleweight champion of professional wrestling books.

Writing in an honest, concise and often humorous fashion, Copeland details his early childhood without the self-pity of sympathy-baiting that such a tale of a hard-working single parent family living on the edge of poverty may warrant.

From there, Copeland wastes no time into getting into all the humour, tragedy and dedication that form the backbones of his transition from wrestling fan and uber-geek to one of pro wrestling’s brightest stars.

Stories of Canadian Winter Death Tours, cross-country jaunts financed by small-time independent wrestling shows and friendships with fellow stars such as Jason ‘Christian Cage’ RessoTerry ‘Rhyno’ Richards and others, are told with an earnest passion and a tongue occasionally planted firmly in the cheek.

Indeed, even when Copeland’s journey to the Big Time hits its most bleak, you still believe he sat and wrote about it with an insanely big grin on his mush.

Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of Adam Copeland’s book is that it rarely takes many potshots at others in the wrestling world.

Whilst some books of a similar ilk seem to have been crafted purely as a grievance for a wrestling star to lay into a fellow ring-warrior, On Edge seems more than content to focus on the good times and its author’s rise to the top, rather than laying into all and sundry.

Though the layout does leave something to be desired, the pulled-out quotes and randomly-inserted pictures do give the impression that you’re actually reading a journal rather than a mass-produced autobiography, and it’s that which makes Adam Copeland – On Edge such an engrossing read for wrestling fans.

See Also: 

Thinking of Ordering this book from Amazon? 

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Sunday, 18 June 2017


WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Event Poster
March 24, 1996
Tupelo Coliseum in Tupelo, Mississippi

Ranking up there with The Ding Dongs and "David Arquette - World Champion," The Doomsday Cage Match has always been regarded as one of World Championship Wrestling's biggest creative disasters, but was it really all that bad? 

Tonight, as we delve back in time to the company's second Uncensored pay per view,. we would find out for sure.

We'd also find out whether Sting and Booker T could co-exist as they went against The Road Warriors in a Chicago Street Fight taking place in Mississippi, and whether or not The Booty Man would prevail in a feud with Diamond Dallas Page that he'd originally had nothing to do with.

Yes folks, this was one show that -before it even begins- just has WCW written all over it.

Ready to check it out with me?

Let's head to the Tupelo Coliseum and get Uncensored, shall we?

The Alliance to End Hulkamania

Our show tonight began with the customary video package, this one showing various members of The Alliance to End Hulkamania promising Hulk Hogan that they would achieve their goal tonight and bring out the demise of Hulk Hogan once and for all.

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Bobby, Tony, and Dusty...not necessarily in that order
We should also remember that Macho Man Randy Savage was involved in this match too, but none of the bad guys seemed to care much about him.

This took us into the show proper, where Tony Schiavone was there to welcome us to the second annual WCW Uncensored PPV.

Joining Tony tonight, as always, was none other than The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

The trio hyped up tonight's main event before taking us to ringside for our opening contest.

World Championship Wrestling United States Heavyweight Championship
WCW United States Champion Konnan vs. Eddie Guerrero

One thing I've always liked about WCW, is that they were never shy about booking a lengthy, honest-to-goodness wrestling match in the opening spot, and that most of those openers really did deliver.

Such is the case here, as Konnan defended his title against the man the commentary team told us was his good friend, Eddie Guerrero.

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Konnan vs. Eddie Guerrero
Infinitely better than Konnan's title defence against One Man Gang at the previous month's Superbrawl VI, this was a tight, solid effort which really hit the spot.

Whilst  champ and challenger indulged in fast-paced exchanges and lucha libre style spots, this was by no means a 'flashy' opener. It was a straight up, hard fought pro wrestling match that this fan in particular really enjoyed.

The end came when the champ flashed a hint of the rule breaker attitude he would display after turning heel later that year, and apparently struck Eddie with a low blow for the three count.

You couldn't actually see the low blow of course, and for all intents and purposes, it looked merely as though Eddie sat on Konnan's face (there's something I never thought I'd write), but the announcers told us it was a low blow, and it was our job simply to believe it.
Your Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Konnan

Afterwards, Konnan tried to help his opponent up and raise his arm as a mark of respect, but Guerrero, visibly pissed at being shotted in the nuts, was having none of it.

Col. Parker Can't Wait to Beat Up Madusa

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Col. Parker (w/ Dick Slater) promised to beat up Madusa
After telling us all that we could chat with WCW wrestlers throughout the show via Compuserve (complete with footage of The Giant tapping away daintily at a laptop), Mean Gene Okerlund welcomed his first guests of the evening, Col. Robert Parker and 'Dirty' Dick Slater.

Parker claimed that when he went up against Madusa in their inter-gender match, he was going to beat up his female opponent on behalf of all men everywhere.

Dick Slater also added to the promo without actually adding anything, basically backing up the man he supposedly trained for tonight's match and reiterating the belief that Madusa was about to get beaten up by a man.

It was a cheap, dirty heel way to get heat, and it worked. After this, you definitely wanted to see Parker get his just desserts out in the ring.

Lord Steven Regal (w/ Jeeves) vs. The Belfast Bruiser Dave 'Fit' Finlay

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Steven Regal faced Fit Finlay in a brutal match
Even better in the ring than it sounds on paper, Steven Regal vs. Fit Finlay was another long, solid Wrestling match that was just a joy to watch.

The two European stars took turns beating the living daylights out of each other both inside and outside through ring, with the referee relaxing the rules so that the bitter rivals could really settle their score.

The result was a match which contained everything from violent brawling to punishing submissions and everything in between.

Sadly, the level of intensity was lost on the Mississippi crowd, who were mostly quiet throughout, but to sit here and just take it in, Regal/Finlay was a blast.

In the end, the Irishman won when Regal's Blue Bloods team mates Squire David Taylor and Sir Robert Eaton ran in and attacked him.
Your Winner by Disqualification: Fit Finlay

Post match, Finlay recovered and chased his attackers to the back.

Clearly this one was far from over.

Mean Gene Interviews The Giant and Jimmy Hart

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Mean Gene interviews Jimmy Hart and The Giant
Backstage, Jimmy Hart boasted to Gene Okerlund about humiliating Loch Ness by kicking him out of the Dungeon of Doom after the former Giant Haystacks put his hands on the Mouth of The South.

Turning his attentions to The Giant, Mean Gene informed us that the winner of tonight's Giant vs. Loch Ness would be the new number one contender for Ric Flair's World Heavyweight Championship.

The man who would one day be know as The Big Show promised to destroy Loch Ness tonight, and take Flair's title the following night on Nitro.

We next went back to the announce team, who prepared us for the upcoming inter-gender match before sending it back to Okerlund.

Loch Ness Talks

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Mean Gene Shills the Hotline 1-900-909-9900
No WCW show would be complete without Mean Gene urging you to ring the hotline on 1-900-909-9900, and you have to believe that he was in full force here, telling us that if we called, we'd get to find out which wrestling legend was considering hanging up the tights and heading to Hollywood.

His obligatory shill out of the way, Gene next introduced us to his guest, Loch Ness.

I'm not sure if they ever explained why a wrestler named after a place in Scotland spoke with a thick, Manchester accent, but he did so as he called Jimmy Hart a "Weasel Face" and promised to crush The Giant by dropping all 700lbs of his weight across the Dungeon of Doom member.

Our promo this evening finished with Okerlund suggesting that Loch Ness, who to be fair did look a mess, should see a dentist. It was hilarious and cruel at the same time.

Mean Gene, you sassy bitch.

Man vs. Woman
Col. Robert Parker vs. Madusa
WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Madusa faced Col. Parker in a Man vs. Woman match
Dressed in slacks and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, Col. Parker sent the commentary team into frenzy when he proved he actually knew how to wrestle by locking up with Madusa in the opening moments of the contest.

What followed was actually more entertaining than it probably had any right to be.

No, this wasn't a technical masterpiece, and you got the same feeling that it had been heavily scripted as you typically got with any match featuring a non-wrestler.

Still, there was a certain mad  hilarity to the whole thing, assisted of course by Dusty Rhodes pronouncing words wrong left and right.

When Parker went on the offence, Dream cried out:


You have to trust me on this one, it was hysterical.

What wasn't so funny was the ending, which came when Dirty Dick Slater got involved, helping Parker to first kick out of a pin, and then score one of his own.

Whilst it may have been more rewarding to give the former Alundra Blayze the win here, it was still a decent effort regardless.
Your Winner: Col. Robert Parker

Out in the back, Lee Marshall caught up with The Road Warriors to talk about their upcoming Chicago Street Fight against Sting & Booker T.

The story here was that Lex Luger, officially Sting's co-champ, was in the Doomsday Cage Match main event, so Booker T was filling in against The Road Warriors.

Not that Hawk nor Animal seemed to care. The latter promised that he and his partner would emerge victorious tonight, whilst the latter yelled his head off about destroying the medulla oblongata of both of his opponents and leaving them paralysed.

This was your typical lust-for-violence promo from the LOD, conducted in front of a chalkboard on which the heels had apparently been planning a strategy on how to beat Hogan and Savage in tonight's main event.

'I Quit Wrestling' Match
Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Booty Man (w/ Kimberly)

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Diamond Dallas Page lost to The Booty Man
Though the announcers definitely called this an 'I Quit' match, it wasn't what you're probably thinking.

Rather, it was an "I Quit Wrestling" match, the confusing name referring to the fact that Diamond Dallas Page would be forced to quit wrestling if he lost this match.

If he won however, he would once again acquire the services of Kimberly, and would also win back the millions of dollars he lost the previous month in his match against Johnny B. Badd at Superbrawl VI.

The name of the match wasn't the only confusing thing going on here though, just the fact that it was The Booty Man going up against Page and not Badd needed some explaining.

In storyline terms, Page had been feuding with Johnny B. Badd and lost everything to him, including Kimberly, six million dollars, and the WCW Television Championship.

Seeking revenge, Page had cost Badd the title to Lex Luger, causing Johnny to blame Kimberly, lose his shit and leave the company, with The Booty Man stepping up to, supposedly, defend Kim's honour, and her money, against her ex, Page.

This of course gave the WCW announcers plenty of opportunity to bury the real life Marc Mero just 12 days before he debuted for the opposition at Wrestlemania 12.

This of course, was the real reason why Brutus 'The Booty Man' Beefcake had now been shoehorned into a feud which originally had nothing to do with him.

Whilst Tony & Co. we're busy telling us that Johnny B. Badd just couldn't cut it 'where the big boys play,' Dallas Page came to the ring with Sideshow Bob hair and an unkempt, really committing himself to the role of a down-on-his-luck pro wrestler who had just about lost everything.

Not that we were supposed to feel sorry for him.

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Kimberly cheers on The Booty Man against Diamond Dallas Page
Page was most definitely the heel here, antagonising the crowd and generally being a bastard as he went up against Booty Man in a very mediocre outing.

The crowd were into it in parts, especially when Booty Man, as a red hot face, took control, but for every spot that was genuinely enjoyable, there were two more that were either deadly dull or decidedly awkward.

The main problem here was length. Given half the time, you have to believe that both men would have been able to deliver a short, explosive contest.

Instead, this really dragged on, meaning it was a great relief when Kimberly responded to Dallas forcibly kissing her by slapping him across the mush, sending him smack into the match-winning High Knee.
Your Winner: The Booty Man

Celebrating his big win, Bruti snogged a clearly smitten Kimberly and led her backstage before she fainted under the awesome power of The Booty Man's magnetic charms and great ass...or something.

Lex Luger is Worried About Sting

Emotions were running high backstage as Jimmy Hart pretended to be choked up about tonight being the final time he led Lex Luger to the ring.

Mean Gene reminded us that  Hart was responsible for ejecting Loch Ness from the Doomsday Cage Match and inserting Luger in his place.

Hart neither confirmed nor denied that, but did present Luger with special Jimmy Hart style jacket with Luger's image on it as a weird kind of 'going away gift' or something.

'I love you man!' Yelled Hart, before running off camera as fast as his little legs could carry him.

This left Lex to talk to Mean Gene about the cage match, something he wasn't all that good at.

Honestly, Luger's bemusing promo here made him sound like he had no idea what the Doomsday match was all about, nor why he was part of it.

He did however, know much more about his best friend Sting teaming up with Booker T to face The Road Warriors.

Despite Okerlund reminding him that he had bailed on Sting on more than one occasion, The Total Package claimed that he was very emotional about watching Sting defending the titles without him, especially since he was a Chicago native and wouldn't be competing in the Chicago Street Fight.

You know, the one taking place in Tupelo, Mississippi?

Anyway, Luger vowed to be watching out for his buddy no matter what, and thus ended a wonderfully over-the-top promo that proved to be one of the most enjoyable things on the show so far, especially compared to the atrocity we got next.

Giant vs. Giant (Winner becomes number one contender to the WCW title)
Loch Ness vs.  The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) 

The opening graphic here had the 'n' in the first 'giant' blacked out, so it actually came up as 'Gia t vs. Giant'

After that, Loch Ness came out to the music Rey Mysterio would use only a few months later, and trip up on his way to the ring.

That was about the only interesting thing about this mercifully short match, apart from the one high spot in the whole thing.

After trading blows, The Giant had 'Ness backed into the corner. He hurled himself at him, Loch a Ness moved, and The Giant went crashing over to the outside.

For a man of his size, it was a pretty impressive move.

The rest however, was just damn ugly, so it came as a great relief when The Giant dropped a leg drop on his opponent and won the match.
Your Winner: The Giant 

Screaming into the camera after the bell, The Giant claimed that the leg drop was for Hulk Hogan, before promising to beat Ric Flair for the title on the following nights Nitro.

Sting and Booker T Get it On Like a Pot of Neck Bones, Sucka 

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - Booker T and Sting teamed up to face The Road Warriors
Backstage, Lee Marshall wanted to ask Sting about the upcoming Chicago Street Fight, but his temporary partner Booker T interjected, ranting and raving and basically promising that he and Sting were on the same page and ready for war, because can you dig it and it's on like a pot of neck bones sucka, and all your standard Harlem Heatisms.

That's not me being a racialist, if you were around at the time,I'm sure you can back me up that Booker T and Stevie Ray's mic work from this time consisted of basically being as over-the-top black as possible.

Sting was fired up too, declaring that his 'brothers in paint' had thrown friendship out of the window and thus he was going to kick some ass.

In one of the most hilarious moments of this wildly entertaining segment, The Stinger tried to get his partner fired up, yelling at him about it being on like neck bones.

This whole promo was personally my favourite part of the show so far.

Chicago Street Fight
WCW Tag Team Champion Sting & Booker T vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) 

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - The Road Warriors faced Booker T and Sting in a Chicago Street Fight
The longest match on the card by a mile, this street fight lasted 30 minutes but felt like it went on for 3 days, which is odd, because parts of it were actually quite good.

The thing started off with a big brawl in and out of the ring that was as chaotic and out-of-control as you could expect to see in a match like this.

Then it all slowed down, the four combatants fully failing to use the freedom of a no holds barred situation to its potential and instead merely slugging it out in a long, dull and repetitive stretch that almost sent this writer to sleep.

Thankfully, things picked up towards the finish, with Booker T luring Animal backstage, where a
trap awaited.

Channelling his short-lived Narcissist gimmick, Luger was backstage, posing in a mirror as Animal and Booker brawled nearby.

The Road Warrior felled Booker and attacked Luger, prompting The Total Package to retaliate.

Stevie Ray joined in, and the three-on-one beatdown resulted in Animal being tied to a post, unable to continue.

Booker returned to ringside, where he helped Sting pick up the win, finally bringing this one to an end.
Your Winner: Sting & Booker T 

Finally, after some last minute comments from our announce team and some pre-match hype from Michael Buffer, it was onto a match that has been criticised over and over again in the years since.

Was it really all that bad?

There's only one way to find out.

Doomsday Cage Match
The Alliance To End Hulkamania (WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, The Enforcer Arn Anderson, The Taskmaster, Lex Luger, Meng, The Barbarian, Z-Gangsta, The Ultimate Solution w/ Jimmy Hart, Woman, and Elizabeth) vs. The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan & Macho Man Randy Savage) 

Having never actually seen this match before, everything I'd read about it led me to believe that it was
basically Hogan and Savage working their way through eight heels, giving their opponents no offence and destroying everybody in their path.

Of course, I was misinformed. Hulk and Randy did indeed absorb a whole host of punishment from their adversaries, but it turned out that this was actually the least of the problems with this match.

With the cameras placed only outside the cage, and the whole thing shot with very little lighting, it was difficult to tell what was going on.

WCW UNCENSORED 1996 - If you think this picture sucked - imagine how the rest of The Doomsday cage match looked
You had to admire WCW's effort; had this been a Hollywood production, it would have no doubt looked phenomenal.

But it wasn't, it was a pro wrestling match filmed through a cage wall with TV cameras, and it looked terrible. What made things worse, is that when you did see something, what you saw was mostly dull and not actually worth watching..

The problems didn't end there, either.

Clocking in at a little over 25 minutes, the match was at least 15 minutes longer than it should have been.

Trust me, 25 minutes of not very good wrestling shot mostly in darkness with a mesh cage wall obscuring the view is not an easy thing to watch.

Yet watch this stubborn reviewer did, long enough to see The Mega Powers get the win, but only after The Booty Man snuck in to give them eye-blinding powder and frying pans (of all things) to use as weapons.

Even then, it looked as though The Alliance might actually prevail until Flair held Savage in place for Luger to drill him one.

Savage got out of harms way, Luger stopped, thought about it, then decided to hit Flair anyway.

Hogan hurled Lex out of the way, Savage got the pin, and he and Hogan escaped the cage before fleeing to the back.
Your Winners: The Mega Powers 

Afterwards, the two fled to the back, leaving Tony, Dusty, and Bobby to wrap up tonight's show and remind us to check out Nitro tomorrow night for the big World Title fight between The Giant and Ric Flair.

So, was The Doomsday Cage Match as bad as everybody says it was?


It was worse.

I usually try to err on the side of the optimistic when reviewing pro wrestling, but even I have to admit the whole thing was garbage. That said, we shouldn't be too surprised.

The whole of WCW Uncensored 1996 wasn't exactly a joy to watch. In fact, some of it was downright painful. 

My recommendation is that you check out the Finaly vs. Regal bout (the only must-see thing on the show), and possibly Eddie/Konnan if you want to see Guerrero as he was just breaking out into a mainstream role with WCW, but otherwise, save your sanity and avoid this show at all costs.

Next time, we'll look at WCW Slamboree 1996. Until then, thanks for reading, and remember that you can join me on Facebook or on Twitter @Retropwrestling.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


WCW SUPERBRAWl VI 1996 - Event Poster
February 11, 1996
Bayfront Arena, St. Petersburg, Florida.

For most pro wrestling fans, Ric Flair is as synonymous with World Championship as the company's other marquee attraction: Sting. So it was fitting that tonight, as WCW entered its final few months before the arrival of the New World Order, that The Nature Boy should be attempting to capture the group's World Heavyweight Title for an unprecedented 13th. 

Not that Flair and his opponent, defending champion Macho Man Randy Savage were the only main event here.

As the first WCW PPV of 1996, we were nearing the end of Hulk Hogan's initial babyface run with the company, a company which appeared to be less and less successful with passing show. Everywhere he went, the chants of "Hogan Sucks! Hogan Sucks!" were growing louder and more noticeable, serving as the catalyst for Hogan's eventual heel turn at Bash At The Beach 1996 later that summer.

Would The Hulkster manage to win the favour of the Florida faithful as he went up against arch-nemesis The Giant in the second of two steel cage matches tonight?

Would his Mega Maniacs partner Randy Savage prevent Flair from breaking a new record when they met in part one of our big double main event?

Let's head to the Bayfront Arena to find out, shall we?

Welcome to Superbrawl VI, Welcome to the 1990s

Our show tonight began with a cheesy video package which basically told us what was on tonight's card, but could have just as easily have been a kid's toy commercial. Seriously, don't just take my word for it, watch it here:

After that, Tony Schiavone welcomed us to the show without telling us it was the most historic night in the history of our sport. Instead, he introduced us to his colleagues Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes before taking us down to ringside for our opening contest.

Street Fight:
Public Enemy ('Flyboy' Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Saggs)

WCW SUPERBRAWl VI 1996 - The Nasty Boys faced Public Enemy in a Street Fight
Give credit to WCW where it's due, the company did know how to utilise Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags effectively.

This was a team that were never going to deliver a classic in a textbook tag bout, but book them in a wild, out of control brawl like this one, and the many others they had throughout their tenure with Turner, and The Nasty Boys could prove to be as entertaining as anybody on the roster.

Going up against 'Flyboy' Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge in a match which channelled the spirit of that team's former home in ECW, The Nasties spent several minutes trading chair shots, trash can attacks and table bumps with their opponents in an enjoyable -if hardly spectacular- opener.

Must-See TV this certainly wasn't, but as a way to get the crowd pumped for the show, the weapon-based madness on display here certainly worked well.

In the end, Rocco Rock hurled himself off the top of an obviously fake merch stand, hoping to crash onto Brian Knobbs and send him through a table.

Knobbs moved, made the cover, and won the match.
Your Winners: The Nasty Boys

All the while, your writer was still thinking about that merch stand. I mean seriously, it was next to the entrance, blocked off from the fans.  Who were they going to sell merchandise to, the wrestlers?

Did Mean Gene Foretell The Arrival of The Outsiders? 

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund shilled the WCW Hotline by telling us that he and Mike Tenay would be discussing the rumour that 'two World Wrestling Federation former champions could be on their way to World Championship Wrestling.'

Of course, I never heard that Hotline talk, but I do wonder if Okerlund was referring to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who would be debuting just a few months later.

Okerlund Interviews Konan 

WCW SUPERBRAWl VI 1996 - Konnan kept looking at the wrong camera for his interview with Mean Gene Okerlund
From there, Mean Gene invited his first interview guest of the evening, Konnan.

The United States and AAA Americas Champion saddled up to Okerlund wearing a truly hideous outfit that looked like some mad dress one of the ladies from Abba might have worn back in the '70s.

Promising to beat One Man Gang in his upcoming US title defence, Konnan delivered his entire promo looking at the wrong camera.

Either that or he was reading from an autocue.

World Championship Wrestling Television Championship
WCW TV Champion Johnny B. Badd (w/ Diamond Doll) vs. Diamond Dallas Page  

It was all on the line here. If Diamond Dallas Page won, he not only became the TV champ again, but also won back the services of the Diamond Doll.

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Kimberly Page The Diamond Doll rooted for Marc Mero against her real life partner, DDP
If Johnny B. Badd won, he not only kept both the belt and the girl, but also won $6 million for Kimberly, which DDP had taken from her in the first place.

Things started interestingly enough, and not just because it is still weird to see DDP heading to the ring to anything other than his famous Nirvana Rip Off theme music.

Badd's entrance was particularly explosive, with a Kimberly backflipping out of the curtain and leading her man to ringside.

Diamond Doll's presence, like some kind of super dynamic, super energetic children's TV presenter, turned out to be one of the most entertaining parts of the match.

That however, is not saying much.

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Johnny B. Badd won $6 million from DDP for The Diamond Doll
In the ring, her real life partner Dallas Page was in control for much of the contest. Though this did mean that the bout occasionally dragged in places, it was saved thanks to the combination of Page's natural cockiness and Badd's in-ring talent.

Indeed, it was when the champ was in control that this one was at its best, especially when he brought it to an end by reversing a tombstone pole driver and landing one of his own to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Television Champion: Johnny B. Badd 

Post-match, Badd and Diamond Doll celebrated with the oversized cheque representing the latter's cash prize.

Harlem Heat Suck At Their Sucky Sucka Promo, Sucka 

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Harlem Heat gave a terrible promo about their match with Sting and Lex Luger
Backstage, Mean Gene asked Stevie Ray and Booker T about their upcoming tag team title match against champions Sting and Lex Luger.

The 'Heat responded with a terrible promo in which every other word was 'Sucka' and the other words were badly phrased attempts at saying 'we're going to win.'

Seriously, you'd have no idea from watching him babble on in this promo that Booker T would go on to become one of the biggest stars to ever come out of WCW.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat (Stevie Ray & Booker T)

The winners of this one would go on to defend the titles later on in the night against The Road Warriors.

At this point, you had to imagine they were saving any excitement for that bout, because that's the only logical reason for a match which should have been entertaining instead delivering ten-plus minutes of tedium that was an absolute chore to watch.

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Sting & Lex Luger defended the WCW Tag Team Titles against Harlem HeatEven the apparent dissection between champions Sting and Lex Luger wasn't enough to make this one even mildly captivating, and when The Road Warriors ran in at the finish to help the champs retain, it came as a huge relief to this terribly bored writer.
Your Winner and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: Sting & Lex Luger 

In a hilarious post match promo, Mean Gene tried to question the champs on the cheap way that they had won the match. Sting and Lex were apparently too pumped up from the bout itself (God knows why, it was so dull), and instead just yelled over the top of Okerlund, congratulating each other on a great victory.

The break in the action continued with Heenan, Schiavone, and Rhodes discussing the card so far.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Konnan vs. One Man Gang 

I'd love to tell you that this was surprisingly enjoyable, that the two men worked hard to deliver a bout which was better than it looks on paper.

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - One Man Gang challenged Konnan for the US Title
I'd love to, but of course, I can't.

This was dreadful.

It started bad enough, the champ throwing himself at the challenger with some sloppy looking offence which honestly looked as though he didn't care less whether he injured his opponent, or himself.

Then One Man Gang took over, and things went from bad to worse, the match only serving to ensure that the few fans still awake after the earlier tag team snooze fest were sent right to sleep.

A boring match in front of a lifeless crowd, if you only ever see this match once in your life, it will be one too many times.

Konnan threw himself recklessly off the top rope at his opponent to retain his title. Nobody cared.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Konnan

Out in the back, Mean Gene informed us of a plumbing problem in the arena, before telling us that it was totally irrelevant and instead shilling the Hotline and the big rumour about the two WWF stars jumping ship.

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - The Road Warriors challenged Sting & Lex Luger for the Tag Team Titles
What I can't understand now, is that if WCW themselves were hyping this as a potential big story as early as February, why were we supposed to be surprised when Scott Hall finally turned up on Nitro that summer?

Anyway, moving on, Okerlund brought on The Road Warriors who, in their typical rant and rave fashion, refused to apologise to Harlem Heat for costing them the titles, and promised that they were looking forward to locking up with Sting and Lex Luger.

"I Respect You" Strap Match
The Taskmaster (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. 'Flyin' Brian Pillman 

In one of the most infamous moments in WCW history, Pillman rushed to the ring for a quick, intense brawl with The Taskmaster before running to the corner, stealing the house mic and yelling 'I respect you, Booker Man.'
Your Winner: The Taskmaster 

I've read elsewhere that the 'Booker Man' part was edited out of the VHS release of this event, but it is still included in the copy we're watching today.

As the story goes, the line was part of Brian Pillman's run where he was working everybody, including Bischoff.

Eric would agree to release Pillman for real as part of a long term angle to bring him back as an even bigger star. Pillman, of course, would never return, ending up in the WWF by the summer.

Arn Anderson Steps Up

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Arn Anderson stepped up to fight The Taskmaster in a Strap Match
Back to tonight, after Pillman had stormed off, Sullivan basically stood around looking both confused and pissed off whilst Jimmy Hart ran to the back, apparently to fetch 'The Enforcer' Arn Anderson.

Shirt tucked into shorts and big, clobbering boots on his feet, Anderson came to the ring attired in a way that can't have looked good even in the '90s.

Apparently, he was going to step up and take the place of his Four Horsemen comrade Pillman in tonight's strap match.

"I Respect You" Strap Match
The Taskmaster (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. 'The Enforcer' Arn Anderson 

1996 was seemingly the year of strap matches, yet unlike Savio Vega's strap match against Steve Austin (and later Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw), the two veterans here really knew how to make the gimmick work.

For the first couple of minutes, both men went at it in a heated exchange which had all the signs of turning into a really great match.

It didn't however.

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Ric Flair told Arn Anderson and Taskmaster to work together to destroy Hogan and Savage
Instead Jimmy Hart ran to the back again, this time bringing out Ric Flair, who put a stop to the whole thing by insisting that The Horsemen and The Dungeon of Doom should work together to take out Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage.

Anderson claimed that if it meant getting his hands on the good guys, he would get in bed with the devil himself. Sullivan said nothing because Flair took the mic from him and bounced around the ring being Ric Flair, but a silent nod and a handshake from The Taskmaster was enough to cement the truce.
No Contest

Out in the back, Mean Gene managed to interview somebody without shilling the WCW Hotline.

This time, his guests were The Giant and his manager Jimmy Hart, both of whom promised us that tonight, we would see the end of Hulkamania forever.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) 

Further teasing a heel turn that would never fully come to fruition, Luger spent the opening moments of this contest threatening to head to the back and not compete at all.

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI - 1996 - Lex Luger wanted no part of The Road Warriors
This was entertaining for about a minute, and worked well as a storytelling device, but when it went on for a full five minutes, it became just as boring as Luger & Sting's earlier outing against Harlem Heat.

Eventually, Sting put us all out of our misery by persuading Luger to stick around and join him in what turned out to be by far the better of the two tag title bouts on tonight's show.

Don't get me wrong, that's not to say that this was in anyway a great match, because it wasn't.

It took forever to get going, and once it did, the whole thing failed to reach the kind of momentum you had to believe both teams were working towards.

Still, compared to the earlier snooze fest, this was a decent effort which ended on a double countout when all four men started brawling on the outside.
Double Countout 

Post match, The Road Warriors went after Luger, seeking revenge for the heel-like shenanigans that had been the catalyst for The Total Package's recent teased turn.

Sting came to his partner's rescue, and all four men brawled to the back.

The Nature Boy is Ready for Randy Savage 

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Ric Flair and Woman gave a backstage promo
Backstage, our old buddy Mean Gene was standing by to get some pre-match comments from The Nature Boy Ric Flair and his consort, Woman.

Teasing Okerlund, who always came off like a dirty old man in these segments, Woman promised that she always got what she wanted, and tonight she wanted her man Flair to capture the gold from Savage.

For his part, Flair basically lost his mind and began ranting and raving about Hulk Hogan, before presumedly remembering he was fighting Savage and promising to beat him, take his title, and take Miss Elizabeth, too.

Flair may have a reputation for being gold on the mic, but tonight was certainly not a good example of that. The Nature Boy came off as delirious and non-sensical in a segment that just didn't achieve anything.

From there, we got more analysis from Dusty, Tony, and Bobby, followed by much hype and fanfare as the cage lowered from the rafters in time for tonight's main event.

A quick commercial for the following month's WCW Uncensored 96 PPV followed, after which it was time for more Mean Gene.

Macho Man Hijacks Elizabeth's Interview 

Okerlund was about to ask Miss Elizabeth some questions, only for her man, the WCW World Heavyweight Champion Randy Savage to burst onto the scene and begin putting over how awesome it was that he, Elizabeth, and Hull Hogan were back together again as The Mega Powers.

Tonight, Savage promised that he would beat up Ric Flair, and that's just what we were about to see next... after more pre-match analysis from our commentary team of course.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Cage Match
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Ric Flair (w/ Woman) 

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Ric Flair beat Randy Savage for his 13th World Heavyweight Title
At Wrestlemania 8, Savage and Flair had an epic match which to date remains one of your writer's all time favourites.

Whilst this rematch lacked some of the drama of that original WWF encounter, WCW's version of Savage vs. Flair was still very good.

The best match on the card so far, this intense contest made it more than worth sitting through all the dross that went before it.

Looking to capture his record-breaking 13th World Title (back in the days before titles changed hands every week, this sort of thing was a big deal), Nature Boy controlled much of this wild and wonderfully entertaining title match, only for the champion to continually fight back.

Just when it looked like Macho Man was about to put Flair away for good, Miss Elizabeth did the unthinkable; turning her back on Savage by giving Flair her shoe to hit him with.

Flair did just that, and a three count later, became the 13 time World Champion.
Your Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair 

Afterwards, as Flair and Arn Anderson celebrated in the ring, Elizabeth and Woman looked to make a break for it, only for Hulk Hogan to come running down and threatening the with a chair.

Hulk sent Flair and Anderson packing and helped Savage to the back, stealing Ric Flair's moment to celebrate his record breaking title win whilst the crowd chanted 'Hogan sucks! Hogan sucks!'

Mean Gene Interviews Hulk Hogan 

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1996 - Hulk Hogan talked about being stabbed in the eye by Ric Flair (with Elizabeth's shoe)
After more comments from the announce team, we went to the back one last time, where Hulk Hogan told Mean Gene that he didn't understand why Elizabeth had turned on Savage, but that didn't stop him being furious about it.

Now that he thought about it, Hogan said that it seemed funny just how easy Elizabeth's shoe had come off on WCW TV when Flair used it to stab Hogan in the eye, causing him to be effectively blind in one eye for tonight's match against The Giant.

Speaking of that match, The Hulkster told us that it was unsanctioned, with the referee remaining on the outside merely to declare the winner.

Unlike the previous bout which could be won only by pin or submission, Hogan reminded us that his match was basically what we'll call WWF rules: with escaping the cage the only way to win.

That match was next, Brother.

Unsanctioned Cage Match
The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart and The Taskmaster) vs. Hulk Hogan 

WCW SUPERBRAWL VI 1986 - The Giant faced Hulk Hogan in an unsanctioned street fight
As The Giant made his way to the ring, Michael Buffer referred to him as 'The man who literally came back from the dead' at the previous year's Halloween Havoc.

Yes, literally.

I'm just going to leave that alone and concentrate on the match, which was better than I expected, but not by much.

Indeed, the bulk of the bout was so nondescript and uneventful that I had a hard time paying attention, though once Hogan hulked up to take us towards the finish, things did start to get exciting.

Replicating his Wrestlemania 3 moment with The Giant's storyline father, Andre, Hogan made a big deal out of slamming his larger adversary, before planting him with a Leg Drop of Doom hat trick.

The Giant shook off all of these, but wasn't able to stop Hogan from eventually making it out of the cage to win the match.
Your Winner: Hulk Hogan 

The moment Hulk landed on the outside, he was stacked by a chair-wielding Kevin Sullivan.

Hogan fought back, taking the chair for himself and chasing Sullivan into the ring.

The entire Dungeon of Doom ran in, though in a typical example of Hulk putting himself over at the expense of everybody else, he single handily beat every one of them up without selling so much as a single punch.

Finally, newcomer and Dungeon of Doom member Loch Ness (popular British wrestler Giant Haystacks) waddled down to get a piece of Hogan, only for his stable mates to pull him away as the shoe cane to an end.

Looking back, it's fascinating to see how different the landscape of World Championship Wrestling was just months before the New World Order came in and changed everything for good. 

No cruiserweights, none of the edginess and sense that anything could happen which came post Hogan heel turn, just an old fashioned pro wrestling show with a few notable moments, namely Pillman going into business for himself, and Flair capturing his 13th world title in a great match with Randy Savage. 

Speaking of which, that match may be the only reason you need watch this show. 

After all, when a match featuring the Nasty Boys turns out to be the second best on the card, that doesn't exactly speak volumes about the show's over all quality, does it? 

Next time, we'll review WCW Uncensored 1996. To be among the first to read that review when it is published, join me on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page, or follow me on twitter at @Retropwrestling.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1996

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: event poster
November 17, 1996
Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.

In November, 1996, the World Wrestling Federation celebrated the 10th annual Survivor Series by presenting a product which was a far cry from the one seen at the first event back in the mid 1980s. 

The original 5 vs. 5 concept of the first ever Survivor Series had gone, replaced now with a tidy 4 vs. 4 set-up for the elimination matches.

Most of the roster had gone too, with Bret 'The Hitman' Hart being the only man to perform at the first ever Survivor Series, and tonight's encounter.

Back then, he was part of a huge 10 vs. 10 elimination bout which went nigh on 40 minutes. Tonight, he returned from a six month absence to battle one of the company's newest rising stars, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

The days of Hulkamania were long gone too, with the man who had helped the original Survivor Series defeat the NWA's Starrcade event now gearing up to compete at that same event 10 years later as the evil leader of industry-changing faction, the New World Order.

Yet if the WWF ever stood a chance of recapturing the magic of Hulk Hogan's groundbreaking 1980s run, that chance was likely tonight, with the monster Sycho Sid riding an unprecedented wave of popularity into tonight's WWF championship match against reigning champion, 'The Heartbreak Kid' Shawn Michaels.

Would Sid stand tall as the WWF's first real hope of countering WCW's recent run of dominance?

Would The Hitman prevail, chalking up a victory for the old guard after originally performing as an up-and-comer on this very show ten years earlier?

Let's head to the world famous Madison Square Garden to find out.

"As if every New Yorker had consumed an extra cup of caffeine..."

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels appeared together on radio
Our show tonight began with a terrible opening video telling us that whilst New York had always been The City That Never Sleeps, this past weekend, it was as though the entire population had downed "an extra cup of caffeine."

The way our voiceover man made out, this was about on a par with people gaining a second head or being invaded by aliens in terms of seriousness.

As dumb as it all sounded, the point here was to tell us that the World Wrestling Federation had well and truly invaded New York.

First up, there had been the 1996 Hall of Fame banquet (and I believe this is on the Network, so I'd love to review it), and then with tonight's Survivor Series.

In between, we got random clips of fast-paced New York interspersed with footage from both the Hall of Fame, and WWF Superstars doing media interviews.

That included a brief -and I mean *really* brief shot of WWF Champion Shawn Michaels and former champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart sharing a laugh with each other whilst being interviewed on Todd Pettengill's radio show.

Oh how different their relationship would be exactly one year from that point.

The whole package ultimately culminated in clips of tonight's wrestlers, hyping the big matches on the show.

Honestly, the WWF did some great video packages around this time, but that, I have to tell you, was certainly not one of them.

Welcome to Madison Square Garden, Welcome to The 1996 Survivor Series 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Vince McMahon and Jim Ross did commentary (Lawler joined for first match)
From there, we began, as always, with Vince McMahon growling his head off and welcoming us to the show before introducing us to his broadcast colleagues Jim Ross, and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

Whilst Ross was pumped up about the entire show, Lawler was only concerned with being the sole survivor for his team later on in the show.

In fact, we would only see Lawler temporarily. He would get up to wrestle and that was him done for the night.

That was later however, for now, we had our first traditional Survivor Series match of the evening to get round to.

4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Elimination Match
The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy) and WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/ Owen Hart) vs. Doug Furnas, Philip Lafon, and The Godwins (Henry O. & Phineas I. Godwin w/ Hillbilly Jim) 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Doug Furnas and Philip Lafon debuted
Apparently the version of this show that I'm watching is the heavily edited one in which "Don't Go Messin' With a Country Boy" has been replaced with some crappy, generic banjo music.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing that was crappy.

Making their WWf Pay Per View tonight (one of a couple of stars to do so), Doug Furnas and Phillip Lafon had an enjoyable early exchange with Leif Cassidy and Marty Jannetty, the latter appearing in his second Survivor Series opening match in a row after an incredible effort in 1995.

Once The Godwins came into play though, the first part of this match quickly became dull as the proverbial dishwater.

Fortunately, at least one of them was soon gone, with Owen Hart getting a quick pin over Henry, after the latter had disposed of Jannetty via the deadly Slop Drop.

Not long after, Davey Boy Smith sent Phineas Godwin to the showers, giving the bad guys a three-on-two advantage over the new boys, Furnas and Lafon.

From there, things did start to get better, kicking off with a fast-paced exchange between British Bulldog and Furnas which screeched to a halt via a badly-botched dropkick from Furnas.

Honestly, I saw that, and I immediately stopped what I was doing to see if I could find any instance of that dropkick appearing on Botchamania.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: The Legendary Owen Hart was in tonight's opening match
I couldn't, but I'm willing to bet you it's there, somewhere.

Anyway, back to the match, Furnas' fail set him up nicely to play the babyface in peril role, taking punishment from all three of his opponents.

This once again slowed things down, but did occasionally give us some good wrestling to watch.

Speaking of good wrestling, Furnas eventually made an underwhelming tag to Phil Lafon, who took Leif Cassidy up to the top and hit a Super Special Super Suplex that looked incredible but which sadly, your writer doesn't know the name of.

That left us at two on two, the new guys vs. the champions, for the final stretch of the match.

A reasonable exchange followed that would have potentially come across better if it weren't for the crowd, who were mostly silent save for the occasional chant in favour of WCW (or was it ECW? I couldn't tell).

Things got heated, with Furnas and Owen battling on the outside whilst Lafon used one of the Bulldog's favourite moves -a crucifix- against him to eliminate the tag champ from the competition.

Irate, Bulldog returned to the ring moments later to take out Lafon with a chop to the knee from behind.

Owen picked up the pace, working over his opponent's leg and even locking in a sharpshooter. Unfortunately it wasn't enough for the reigning champ to score a victory.

Doug Furnas got the hot tag, stormed the ring, and suplexed the ever-loving hell out of Hart to get the win.

Somewhere in Minnesota, Brock Lesnar was taking notes.
Your Winners and Sole Survivors: Doug Furnas & Philip Lafon. 

Cutting away from the in-ring celebration, we were shown a quick clip of Madison Square Garden, before heading somewhere deep into the bowels of the building, where Kevin Kelly was standing by with Paul Bearer and Mankind.

An Interview with Bearer and Mankind 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Mankind and Paul Bearer
Kelly first asked Paul Bearer for his thoughts about being suspended above the ring in a cage.

Of course, this wasn't just some random, out-of-leftfield questioning from Kelly. This was actually the stipulation for this match, not that Bearer himself had any intentions of actually getting in there.

"I'm not an animal!" he exclaimed, before reasoning that he didn't have to get in the cage because -and I quote- "I'm Paul Bearer, and you're not."

As catchphrases went, there was one that never quite caught on.

Turning his attentions to Mankind, Kevin Kelly next questioned the deranged one about his upcoming match against The Undertaker.

Mankind claimed that after getting the better of The Dead Man at King of the Ring 96,  Summerslam 96, and the previous month's In Your House: Buried Alive tonight would be the night that he finally destroyed him.

Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker

Stipulation: Paul Bearer suspended in a cage, if Undertaker wins, he gets 5 minutes alone with Paul Bearer. 

Six years after making his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, The Undertaker descended from the rafters like a gothic Batman and revealed a whole new look that looked as awesome reviewing this today in 2017 as it did when I first saw this show as a 12 year-old kid back in 1996.

The arrival of new uber-goth 'Taker was enough to frighten Paul Bearer into jumping into the cage (McMahon called it a shark cage) to escape the wrath of his former charge.

The Undertaker stalked Bearer, but was attacked from behind by Mankind, signalling the start of another classic war between two of the World Wrestling Federation's most otherworldly combatants.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: The Undertaker debuted new attire
Classic though it may have been, this fan has to believe that the Survivor Series version of Undertaker vs. Mankind was the least engaging of their three 1996 pay per view outings.

Though it was certainly a very good contest, it lacked the violent edge of their first encounter at King of the Ring, the drama and novelty value of their Boiler Room Brawl at Summerslam, and the surprise Rumble '94 Redux ending of the previous month's Buried Alive outing.

Still, even the worst that these two bitter rivals could come up with was better than many lesser talents best.

The Dead Man worked early on to take out his opponent's Mandible Claw, only for Mankind to prove that it wasn't the only tool in his arsenal by holding his own from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish, that came when Mankind pulled out the same Mystery Foreign Object he had used at Buried Alive and used it to pummel Undertaker into the corner whilst Paul Bearer distracted the referee from up in the cage.

Undertaker battled out of the corner by grabbing his foe in the Tombstone, and cementing the victory with a well-earned three count.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

As per the stipulation, The Undertaker was now supposed to enjoy getting his hands on Paul Bearer, but as it always did in these scenarios, wrestling history repeated itself and things didn't go according to plan.

The Executioner ran down, ate a clothesline for his troubles, and hightailed it with Mankind and a much-relieved Paul Bearer in tow.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Sunny was guest commentatorSunny is Your Guest Commentator

In a complete change of tone, the show next saw Sunny making her way to the ring to join Vince and Jim Ross on commentary.

From there, we went backstage for a pre-match promo from the heels in our upcoming match.

Doc Hendrix Interviews The Bad guys 

In one of those "throw a bunch of guys together" Survivor Series matches, we were about to see WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley lead Crush, Goldust, and Jerry 'The King' Lawler into battle against Marc Mero, The Stalker, and some young newcomer called Rocky Maivia.

Before we got to that part however, Hunter and Lawler addressed the fact that Mark Henry had been injured and would not be able to take his spot as the fourth man on the babyface team.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Hunter Hearst Hemlsey (HHH), Crush, Goldust and Jerry 'The King' Lawler
The two promised to destroy the good guys three-on-two before Crush yelled about how Survivor Series was an appropriate title. Why exactly he didn't say.

He wasn't the only one to offer little in the way of substance during this time-filling backstage promo.

All Goldust could give us was the reminder that we would never forget his name, and with that, it was on to ringside.

4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Jerry 'The King' Lawler, Crush, Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. Marc Mero, The Stalker, Rocky Maivia, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

It's funny how anybody watching this show at the time would have had no idea that of all the things to happen at Survivor Series 1996, this right here - the debut of perma-grinned wunderkind Rocky Maivia- would be the most historically significant thing to happen on the entire show.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: The Rock Rocky Maivia made his debut at the show
Yes, McMahon, Ross, and Sunny all got excited about the WWF's first third generation Superstar making his debut, but even still, the first in-ring appearance of WWE legend, Highest Paid Hollywood Superstar and Potential US President The Rock didn't seem like that big of a deal, especially when it was overshadowed by Marc Mero introducing Jake 'The Snake' Roberts as Mark Henry's replacement.

The match itself started slow with the heels stalling before Mero and Goldust kicked us off proper.

Things picked up further with a fun exchange between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Rocky Maivia, the announcers telling us how the latter has changed his name from Dwayne Johnson in order to pay tribute to his father Rocky Johnson and grandfather, Peter Maivia.

The excitement dulled somewhat when Jake Roberts and Jerry Lawler tug in. Roberts (who did actually look like hell here) pretended to be drunk and fell on his ass, luring in Lawler so that he could plant him with his DDT and score the first elimination of the match.

Making his first WWF pay per view appearance since Wrestlemania 1, Barry Windham was the next man to be eliminated thanks to Goldust, who quickly planted the man now known as The Stalker with the Curtain Call to level the playing field, 3 vs 3.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Barry Windham as The Stalker - Great worker, dumb gimmick
Honestly, the idea to take a star like Barry Windham, stick him in some camouflage pants and pretend like he'd been out in the wilderness for years still boggles the mind, especially since at this show he looked more like a dodgy wife beater or you know, an actual stalker, rather than a guy who liked hanging out in the woods.

Anyway, enough about Windham. With him gone, it was up to our two team captains, Helmsley and Mero to take centre stage, with the IC champ dominating  before Mero made a comeback and sent his long time rival back to the showers with a Merosault.

Despite getting a pinfall, The Wildman wasn't out of danger yet.

Stepping up against Crush (who was wrestling on his first WWF PPV since King of The Ring 94) Mero dove after his opponent onto the outside with a head-first fuck up that looked both horrible and dangerous, and missed anyway because Goldust pushed the former Demolition member out of harms way.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: The Rock Rocky Maivia against Goldust and Crush
That caused a nearly-dead Marc Mero to be counted out, after which Jake Roberts was quickly pinned and sent packing.

This left Rocky Maivia alone against Crush and Goldust.

If you couldn't predict the ending from here, you obviously hadn't seen enough wrestling.

Of course, the bad guys got the upperhand to begin with, but when Goldust held Rocky in place for Crush to land his heart punch finisher, the new kid inevitably ducked out of harms way, hit the ropes, and took out crush with a flying cross body.

That sent him packing, after which all it took was -of all things- a shoulder breaker (remember when that was The Rock's finisher?) to score the big win.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: Rocky Maivia. 

So far we were two for two on newcomers winning their debut matches at this show, and the response from the crowd to this one, to seeing a bonafide future superstar emerge victorious was..well, lukewarm at best.

Seriously, for some reason they even cut to shots of kids in the crowd looking bored and confused at Rocky's big win.

The Hitman Faces Stone Cold

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Bret Hart returned to WWF to face Steve Austin
A great video package followed next, reminding us that Bret 'The Hitman' Hart had accepted the challenge of the man he called 'The best wrestler today," Stone Cold Steve Austin.

This was neatly followed by Todd Pettengill showing us clips of Stone Cold stunning the life out of everyone from Freddie Joe Floyd to Bob 'Spark Plug' Holly, and finishing up with Austin insisting that, unlike Hart, he didn't need a bunch of dumb catchphrases or slogans...and that was the bottom line, because Stone Cold so.

Out in the back, Pettingill stood face to face with Austin, reminding him that he was about to face 'the legendary,' Bret Hart, with a shot at the WWF title on the line.

Unimpressed by Pettengill 'bigging up' The Hitman, Austin gave a compelling promo in which he insisted that he didn't give a damn about Bret's accomplishments, nor his claim to the 'The best there is, the best there, was, and the best there ever will be.

'Cliches are cliches,'warned Austin, 'and an ass whippin, is an ass whipping."

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Steve Austin looked like a star against Bret Hart
With that, Stone cold made his way to the ring to await the arrival of Bret Hart, who first offered a verbal retort via Todd Pettingill, who continued to big up Hart's return as if he'd been gone years, rather than just six months.

In one of his better promos (Hart was never all that gifted on the mic if you ask this long-time fan), The Hitman promised to beat some respect into Steve Austin,

With that, he too stormed off, ready to do battle.

Winner Becomes Number One contender to the WWF Title
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

The first thing that immediately strikes you as you sit down to watch Austin/Hitman I, is just how important this match looked and felt.

By doing simple things like staring at each other from across the ring, pacing, and finally coming face-to-face, the two future Hall of Famers both created an air of electricity that created the kind of "big match" feel most bouts from this time sorely lacked.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Bret Hart beat Stone Cold Steve Austin in a great match
As the two began feeling each other out, Jim Ross told us  that neither man had ever submitted in their entire careers, and speculated that it might just come down to a submission finish tonight.

"How ironic would it be if Stone Cold Steve Austin placed the sharpshooter on Bret Hart and won by submission?" asked Vince McMahon in a very eerie moment which would foreshadow the events that would take place 12 months down the line.

From there, this one gradually became an absolute, all out war for the ages.

In what was probably Steve Austin's longest WWF match to this point -and by far and away certainly his best- the future champion looked like an absolute star as he traded submission moves, wild left and rights, and honest-to-goodness pro wrestling moves with the man who had been one of the company's biggest ever stars.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin had an epic war
Indeed, whilst his earlier coronation at King of the Ring 1996 may be more memorable, it was this incredible battle with The Hitman that really made Steve Austin a superstar by the time the year was out.

That's even without him winning the match.

Towards the finish, Austin locked on his old finisher, The Million Dollar Dream, only for Bret to kick back off the turnbuckle, crash onto his opponent, and score a fluke three count.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Hart may have won this truly awesome match, but as Austin stared him down afterwards, you knew that this one was far, far from over.

Sid is Focussed 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Sid told Doc Hendrix he would do anything to become WWF Champion
Standing by with Doc Hendrix, Sid delivered a short, sweet, and wonderfully psychotic promo in which he once again repeated that he would do anything and everything to defeat Shawn Michaels in their upcoming championship match.

Up next, WWF Hall of Famer Captain Lou Albano kind of sauntered his way to ringside looking for all the world as though he wasn't supposed to be there and didn't actually know where he was going.

Fortunately, this wasn't a case of the legendary manager suddenly losing his mind. He was out there, apparently, to join the Spanish announce team on commentary.

The Nation of Domination Arrives 

True story time, a few days after this event, I attended a house show at the Birmingham NEC here in England. I don't remember much about the event except that Sid and Bret Hart were there, and that I was totally confused when the Nation of Domination's music played.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: PPV debut of Farooq's Nation of Domination gimmick
I'd never heard it before, and wasn't entirely clear who was coming out to wrestle.

It's because of this -and because I can't find any proof otherwise- that I have to believe that Survivor Series 1996 saw the proper in-ring debut of the faction known as the Nation of Domination.

I'm happy to be proven wrong on that one, but what I won't be proven wrong about, is that Farooq's new gimmick was infinitely better than the Roman Gladiator thing he was doing just a month prior.

4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Match
Faarooq, Vader, Razor Ramon, and Diesel (w/ Clarence Mason and Jim Cornette) vs.  Flash Funk, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Savio Vega, and Yokozuna

Here, the new Nation of Domination leader teamed up with Vader, Fake Razor Ramon, and Fake Diesel, the latter of whom was the only man on his team to have wrestled at a Survivor Series before, having appeared as Isaac Yankem at Survivor Series 95

Back then, one member of the opposing team had been Savio Vega, and it was the same here too, with the Caribbean sensation teaming up with newcomer Flash Funk (formerly 2 Cold Scorpio), new WWF Hall of Famer Superfly Jimmy Snuka, and Yokozuna, who, not counting Free for Alls, hadn't appeared on a WWF PPV since May's In Your House 8: Beware of Dog

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Flash Funk (formerly 2 Cold Scorpio) made his debut
It was Funk, the fourth man to make his debut at this show, who got things going, locking up with Vader for the start of what would turn out to be a short, if reasonably entertaining match.

The two former WCW stars went at it slowly at first, The Mastadon's brute strength countered by Funk's *ahem* flashy offence, including a top rope moonsault to the outside which elicited a small "ECW" chant from the marks in the first couple of rows.

Vader got the better of his foe, only for Yokozuna to step in and turn the tables. 

This opened up the match for all eight men to get their moment in the spotlight, culminating in the babyface's mystery partner Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka hitting a wicked looking bodyslam on Vader that was legitimately impressive. 

Unfortunately for his team, such a move didn't do them any favours. Vega tug in, only to find himself on the outside in the heel's corner, getting slammed repeatedly into the ring post by Farooq whilst the rest of his team caused a commotion to distract the referee. 

Farooq then rolled Savio into the waiting hands of Fake Diesel, who hit a powerbomb to score the bout's first elimination.

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Hall of Famer Jimmy 'Superfly Snuka' dives onto Fake Razor Ramon
Snuka quickly retaliated, slamming Fake Razor down and landing the patented Superfly Splash to even the scores.

That effectively spelled the beginning of the end.

Fake Diesel returned to the ring, hitting Snuka with a chair, at which point Savio Vega magically returned, showing no effects of the powerbomb he'd taken just a few moments ago, and brandishing a chair of his own.

This caused all hell to break loose, and for the referees to throw this one out as a double disqualification.
No contest - Everyone DQ'd. 

The babyfaces cleaned house, before the show cut to a final video package detailing the storied two-year history between reigning WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, and his challenger for this evening, Sycho Sid.

Champ and Challenger Make an Entrance 

This was back in the time when the World Wrestling Federation began playing that ominous, low bass note as the wrestlers walked backstage towards the ring for main event matches.

It helped add an air of anticipation to proceedings, and despite only being a small thing, is something that I do miss about the wrestling of yesteryear. 

With Sid out in the ring, HBK not only got the super-cool backstage build up music but also got The Goldberg Entrance, with backstage officials knocking on the door of his private locker room to let him know it was time for action.

The champion's first appearance on the screen elicited a loud chorus of boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd that was completely at odds with the reception he received when he made his entrance.

Michaels barely made it three feet down the entrance way before he was being molested by the New York faithful to the point that a couple of agents had to come to his rescue and fend off the over-zealous fans.

Luckily, Michaels made it to the ring, where he caused Vince McMahon to laugh out by simulating masturbation in the middle of the ring.

I wish I was making that up, honestly I do.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
World Wrestling Federation Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Sycho Sid 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Sid bt. Shawn Michaels to win the WWF titleMcMahon may have been on HBK's side, but if there was any question as to who the MSG fans were really behind, you only had to wait until the bell rung. 

From there, the crowd were firmly, and loudly, behind the challenger, cheering his every move with a passion not heard since the height of Hulkamania and boing every bit of the champion's offence as though he were the world's most effective heel. 

It was this passionate audience that really helped elevate this one into a fantastic match, though that's certainly not to say that the two combatants didn't carry their weight here. 

Yes, it was Shawn Michaels who was the workhorse, bumping about the place with gusto and selling for all he was worth, putting Sid over much as Bret had done with Stone cold earlier in the show. 

Yet, to give him his credit, Sid himself was no slouch, and played his role as the unstoppable, dominant monster to perfection. 

With every crushing boot, with every vicious blow, the crowd roared louder and louder. The louder they roared, the more Sid played to them, working into a frenzy in such a way that - watching this back right now- it's hard to believe that we weren't witnessing the birth of pro wrestling next true, bonafide mega star. 

After a dramatic and highly enjoyable bout, the dominant challenger wrestled a camera away from a cameraman and used it to knock Michaels' manager, Jose Lothario, off the apron. 

The move naturally caused Michaels -in the midst of a brief comeback- to head outside and yell for help for his fallen mentor. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 1996: Sid Smashes Shawn Michaels with a camera
Sid brought him back in the ring, but HBK got out of harms way and flew off the top with a crossbody block which was intended for Sid but which actually struck referee Earl Hebner

From there, the ending was inevitable. 

Michaels returned to the outside to demand that somebody fetch help for Lothario (and really, in kayfabe terms, the fact that nobody did made everybody working for the WWF at the time look like absolute dicks), and took a camera to the head from Sid, was returned to the ring, and powerbombed into oblivion. 

After that, Hebner delivered the world's slowest, most agonizing three count, and Shawn Michaels' first WWF Championship run was over.
Your Winner and NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion: Sycho Sid 

Post match, EMT's finally came to poor Jose's rescue, carrying him off with Shawn Michaels literally crawling after him. All the while, Sid stood tall and proud, not only as The Master and The Ruler of The World, but as your new WWF Champion.

And that was it for the tenth annual Survivor Series, a milestone which neither Vince McMahon nor anybody involved bothered to make mention of. 
Perhaps this was on purpose, a chance to officially sever all ties from the Hulkamania fuelled days of the 1980s and kickstart a brand new era, one with the enormously popular Sid as its champion and figurehead.

Of course, we all know exactly how that turned out, but you can't deny that this was the start of a very interesting time for the World Wrestling Federation. 

As for the show itself, there was actually a lot to enjoy here. The elimination matches ranged from really good (the opening match) to relatively decent (everything else), The Undertaker and Mankind ended chapter one of their epic rivalry with another good outing, and both Hart/Austin and Sid/Michaels were fantastic bouts in their own right, all creating what was surprisingly one of the best pay per views of 1996. 

Next time, we'll head to the WWF's final PPV of the year, In Your House 12: It's Time. Be the first to check that out by following Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter, or the brand new Facebook page

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.