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, 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

Tuesday, 9 May 2017


WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Event Poster
October 20, 1996
Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana

As far as I can recall, In Your House 11: Buried Alive, was the first World Wrestling Federation Pay Per View not to feature the reigning champion in an actual match. 

Yes, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels would make an appearance on the show, and yes, he would later wrestle in a dark match main event against Goldust, but as far as actually locking up in the ring, this was perhaps the first time in history that the champion was not the main draw of the pay per view.

Whether that was a comment on Michaels' lacklustre drawing power or not is something that I won't go into today, but it is worth mentioning because tonight, our main attraction actually featured the man who had been the number one contender to that title just a month earlier, Mankind.

In another first, the former Cactus Jack would be going up against arch-rival Mankind to close the first chapter in his epic, multi-year long rivalry with The Undertaker.

Before that however, there was all of this:

The World Wrestling Federation...For over fifty years, the revolutionary force, in sports entertainment. 

The Destruction of Mankind 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Undertaker faced Mankind in the main event
Our show tonight began with a dark, dramatic video hyping tonight's Buried Alive main event between Mankind and The Undertaker.

With soundbites from each man's recent promos cleverly edited to sound as though they were engaging in a most menacing conversation, and with the visuals taking on a chilling quality all of their own, this came across less like a pro wrestling vignette and more like a trailer for some sinister horror movie.

Not that this in itself is a bad thing. The video did what all good videos should do - it made tonight's main event seem like the most important event that ever occurred, or in this case, like the most must-watch horror film of the year.

Jim Ross is Pissed Off

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Jim Ross was angry about his microphone not workingFrom there, we cut straight to the arena, where Vince McMahon greeted us with his trademark "Welcome everyone!' growl.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler joined McMahon in hyping tonight's card, whilst fellow commentator Jim Ross griped at ringside about not being given his own microphone.

This, you see, was during the time when Ross was doing his ill-advised heel run in which he outed Vince as the owner of the WWF and was pissed off at both the boss and the company as a whole.

Whilst the idea of JR sticking it to Vince McMahon may sound appealing, it got very old, very quickly.

Kevin Kelly Interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin 

Ross barely had time to greet the fans before we cut to Hunter Hearst Helmsley, making his way to the ring for a rare heel vs. heel match against rising star Stone Cold Steve Austin.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Steve Austin faced Triple H in the opening match
Austin however, wasn't going to just come to the ring. First, he had a few choice words for Hunter, and for the man he had been calling out for months, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

Interviewed by Kevin Kelly, Austin addressed the fact that his upcoming match was originally scheduled to be against old nemesis, Savio Vega.

Vega however, had suffered an injury, leading to the future Triple H to stand in as a last minute substitute.

In a promo that only hinted at the kind of compelling performance that would later become such an integral part of the Stone Cold character, Austin gave fellow baddie Hunter a modicum of praise for stepping up the plate, before shooting him down again by vowing to kick his ass.

Turning his attentions to Bret Hart, the King of the Ring winner claimed to be looking forward to The Hitman's return the following evening on Raw, before finishing up by refusing to apologise for his supposed "foul language" - which was basically saying the word "ass" and occasionally flipping the bird.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Triple H lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin in the opening match
Though it may have paled in comparison to some of the top-level matches these two would have later in their careers, Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin at In Your House: Buried Alive, was undoubtedly one of the best pay per view opening matches of 1996. 

Not that anyone could blame you if you failed to notice it. 

Sadky, the match itself played second fiddle to the ongoing saga known as The Conspiracy Against Jim Ross. 

Throughout the match, Ross' microphone would frequently cut out, leading to the legendary commentator growing increasingly more frustrated and yelling at Vince McMahon. 

Believe me when I tell you, this was distracting to the point of making the entire bout almost unwatchable. 

This was disappointing, because when you take away the commentary, what you were left with here was a good, long opening bout that saw both men working hard to entertain the live crowd. 

Such was their performance this evening, that when Ross did manage to get his mic working, he telling put them over as two future world champions. 

Oh what an understatement that would be. 

The end of this one came when HHH's long-time rival Mr. Perfect came down to do the usual routine in which he escorted Hunter's woman to the back. 

This time however, both Austin and Hunter got up in Perfect's face. The outside fracas distracted Hunter so much that he eventually fell victim to the Stone Cold Stunner and was put out of his misery.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - The Smoking Gunns failed to reclaim the WWF tag team titles from British Bulldog and Owen Hart
Prior to our next contest, Doc Hendrix interviewed The Smoking Gunns in what would be their final pay per view together as a tag team. 

If you recall, the Gunns lost their WWF Tag Team Championship to Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart at the previous month's In Your House 10: Mind Games.

Following the loss, the two were fired by manager Sunny, but tonight, Billy Gunn was wholly convinced that not only would he (not his team) beat Owen and the Bulldog, but that Sunny would immediately return to their side. 

Partner Bart Gunn however, was more concerned with working as a team to regain the championships, and not their manager. 

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/ Clarence Mason) vs.The Smoking Gunns

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Owen Hart & British Bulldog retained the WWF tag team titles against The Smoking Gunns
You know, as I watch Owen and Bulldog make their way to the ring, it truly saddens me to know that neither of them are with us any longer, especially when they were capable of being so highly entertaining once in the ring. 

Both men worked hard to make this tag team title rematch highly enjoyable from start to finish, pitting their own solid teamwork against a Smoking Gunns team who just couldn't stay on the same page. 

Despite being the second match on the show to feature a heel vs. heel dynamic, it worked as well as anything else on the show, especially since the whole "Jim Ross is an Angry Man" thing became a lot more subtle in this one. 

After a solid outing, the champions thwarted the challengers' attempt at sidewinder, picked up their win, and gave The Smoking Gunns their final pay per view loss.
Your Winners: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog 

Afterwards, Billy and Bart began to argue, the former eventually storming off to the back leaving the latter, frustrated, to contemplate the future of his team. 

Jim Ross Promises The Return of Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Heel Jim Ross was very angry at this show
Despite the fact that the following night's Raw show had been hyped as the big return of Bret Hart, Angry Jim Ross felt it important to leave the commentary booth and personally promise us that The Hitman would be there.

Bret, claimed Ross, was bringing a shovel with him, because he planned to bury some people, and not in the worked-entertainment way we would see later on in tonight's main event. 

After taking more shots at McMahon, Ross decided that he had enough for the evening, hurled his microphone at the boss, and stormed off backstage. 

Ahmed Attacks Farooq

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Farooq was attacked by Ahmed Johnson
This was one of the few In Your House shows I own from this time that didn't have the Free For All included. Thankfully, I didn't have to miss out on anything important as McMahon and Ross took us back to the earlier confrontation between Ahmed Johnson and Farooq. 

It was during the Free for All that both men had given backstage promos vowing to tear each other apart, and though Ahmed wasn't yet cleared to compete, that wasn't going to stop him from then getting into a confrontation with his nemesis and beating him up with what looked to be a 2x4.

That, naturally, meant that Farooq could not challenge Marc Mero for the Intercontinental Championship tonight as he had originally been scheduled to do. 

A Word With the Wild Man

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Marc Mero defended his WWF Intercontinental Title against Goldust
Flanked by an anxious looking Sable, Mero claimed that Farooq's injury was unfortunate, but that  ultimately, it didn't really matter. The Wild Man was already prepared for his replacement challenger, Goldust, and would defeat The Bizarre One just as he would have done Farooq. 

Like most of Mero's promos from around this time, this one felt incredibly forced, and even got a little awkward when The Wild Man almost accidentally referred to himself as the World Champion.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena) 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Marc Mero vs. Goldust for the WWF Intercontinental Title
Just when you thought the absence of JR on commentary meant no more distractions from the broadcast team, along came Mr. Perfect to take his place on the headset. 

For the next ten minutes or so, Perfect spent most of his time ignoring the in-ring action, instead choosing to put himself over and hype his ongoing rivalry with Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

Again, this took away from what was otherwise a good little match. 

Sure, Mero/Goldust wasn't quite on a par with HHH/Austin, but it was enjoyable, or at least it was when the commentators actually allowed you to enjoy it. 

The only time Perfect gave us any respite from his voice was when he got involved in the finish. 

Playing up to his role as friend/mentor of the champion, the former champ prevent Goldust from delivering a vicious beatdown on the outside. 

In another distraction, Triple H then came down to confront Perfect, whilst back in the ring, Mero regained the upperhand, hit the Wild Thing 450 Splash, and retained his title. 
Your Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Marc Mero 

Post match, Perfect celebrated with Mero and Sable.

Battle of the Power Bombs

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Vader faced Sid to determine the number one contender to the WWF title
Prior to our next match, we got a hype video featuring Vader and Sid powerbombing the everloving shizzle out of half the roster, overlaid with soundbites of Jim Cornette talking smack about Sid and Sid himself doing his usual psychotic "Master and Ruler of the World" stuff.

Shawn Michaels is Your Guest Commentator 

With both men already in the ring, WWF Champion Shawn Michaels interrupted proceedings, making his way to the ring to join Vince and Jerry on commentary and see first hand which man he would end up facing come Survivor Series 1996.

WWF Championship Number One Contender Match
Sycho Sid vs. Vader (w/ Jim Cornette)

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Sid faced Vader to determine the number one contender to the WWF title
Once again, the commentary here detracted from the match itself, with the camera frequently cutting back The Heartbreak Kid despite the decent action going on inside the ring. 

And decent it was too. Though hardly the greatest match in the world, it was a fair and passable big man match in which neither man could land their own devastating version of the powerbomb. 

In the end, Sid had to resort to his back-up finisher, the chokeslam, to put Vader out for the count.
Your Winner and Number One Contender to the WWF Championship: Sycho Sid 

Afterwards, Michaels got in the ring for the inevitable champ-challenger showdown, before shaking Sid's hand and leaving him to bask in the glory of his victory. 

Doc Hendrix Interviews Sid 

After a quick commercial for the upcoming Survivor Series weekend in November (including the "Hall of Fame Banquet" on the Saturday), we were taken backstage where Doc Hendrix was standing by for an exclusive interview with our new number one contender. 

Unfortunately for Doc, he wasn't going to get to do his interview as Jim Ross randomly intervened, sticking the mic in Sid's face and claiming that he was going to ask the kind of questions people really wanted to know. 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Sid vowed to do whatever it would take to defeat Shawn Michaels
Isn't it true that Sid was once HBK's "best friend" (doubtful) and bodyguard?

"Yes I was!" screamed Sid. 

Did you powerbomb him five times on Raw?

"Of Course I did!"

Would you do anything -including breaking Shawn Michaels' back- to become WWF Champion?

"The question [I think he meant answer] is simple: Yes I will. I will do whatever it takes!'

Sid then got himself confused before regaining his composure and once again claiming to the master...and the ruler...of the world.

Buried Alive Match
Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Undertaker beat Mankind in the Buried Alive match
Finally, it all came down to this; a simple, no rules match in which the only way to win was to literally bury your opponent alive. 

A final recap video kicked things off, after which both men made their way to the ring whilst Vince McMahon reminded us that this was an "unsanctioned" match - meaning anything goes and -in kayfabe terms at least- the World Wrestling Federation could not be held responsible. 

What followed was one of the most entertaining matches this writer has ever had the pleasure of reviewing here on RPW. 

Much like the Boiler Room Brawl from Summerslam 1996, this was unlike anything we'd seen on WWF TV up to that point; a violent brawl which saw both men pusing the boundaries, and The Undertaker in particular diving all over the place in a manner in which I don't believe he ever had done before. 

In other words, this was awesome, and by far one of 1996's better pay per view matches. 

The end came when The Undertaker hit a wicked chokeslam, driving his arch-nemesis Mankind deep into the open gave, and scooping a few shovels-full of dirt on top of him.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

The Dead Man may have won the battle, but he was certainly far from winning the war.

From out of nowhere a hooded-mask  wearing Terry Gordy (later to be named The Executioner) walloped The Undertaker with a shovel, pulled Mankind out of the dirt, and then threw The Phenom into it.

As the two began scooping dirt, a gang of heels including Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw, Crush, Goldust, and Triple H all came out to help bury The Undertaker once and for all. Yes, this was basically Royal Rumble 1994 all over again.

Little fact for you: Crush -who hadn't been seen on a WWF PPV since teaming with Yokozuna at King of the Ring 1994 was the only villan to be involved in both the Royal Rumble '94 and the In Your House: Buried Alive "Heels Kill The Undertaker" segments.

Not that they managed to kill him at all. As the show came to a close, lightning struck the grave, and The Undertaker's hand shot through the dirt.

The Dead Man would rise again.

Such was the dramatic finish to that show that I'm almost tempted to write "end scene, fade to black" and leave it at that. 

I won't however, because hey, I always wrap up these reviews with a few final comments. 

Today, those comments are basically this: 

You could spend the rest of your life never actually watching this show and you wouldn't be any worse off for it, but for a good bit of entertainment, definitely get on the WWE Network and watch the Buried Alive match itself. 

The highlight of an otherwise mediocre show, this was another landmark moment in the World Wrestling Federation's gradual shift away from the family-friendly nature of the New Generation era. 

Next time, we'll head to the Survivor Series, where Sycho Sid cashes in the Number One Contenders spot that he earned tonight against on-again-off-again friend Shawn Michaels.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Event Poster
September 22, 1996
CoreStates Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For most fans and wrestling experts, the WWF Attitude Era didn't truly begin until sometime between late 1997 and early 1998. 

Yet if you look far back enough, what becomes apparent is that this change in the company's direction was not a dramatic, overnight overhaul.

Rather, the Attitude Era began subtly -very, very subtly- with the first, tinest shifts towards an edgier product beginning all the way back in April 1996 at In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies.

Back then, Shawn Michaels had made his first valiant title defense in a brutal no-holds barred match against his on-again/off-again buddy, Big Daddy Cool Diesel.

Tonight, The Heartbreak Kid would continue to lead the World Wrestling Federation towards a more violent, risque approach to sports entertainment by battling the deranged Mankind in what was sure to be the kind of brutal, all-out war usually reserved for renegade promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling.

So, where better to do just that than in the home of ECW itself, Philadelphia, PA.

Here, it wasn't just the champion and his psychopathic challenger who were channeling the spirit of Paul Heyman's hardcore outfit. No, tonight, the entire company seemed to be not only pushing the boundaries, but also pushing themselves one step further away from the cartoon campness of the New Generation and one step closer to the sexed-up, blood-filled orgy of OTT entertainment that was the Attitude Era.

Would that actually make for a good show? Let's head down to the Corestates Centre to find out.

The World Wrestling Federation, for over fifty years, the revolutionary sports entertainment. 

That still gives me chills.

When I heard that as a kid, it meant one thing: Wrestling time. It was time to get excited. Time to come alive.

Whether or not tonight's show is worth getting excited over remains to be seen, let's get straight on with the Free For All and find out, shall we?

Marty Jannetty (w/ Leif Cassidy) vs. Savio Vega 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Marty Jannetty faced Savio Vega in the Free for All
Our Free For All tonight skips all the formalities and gets us right down to ringside for our opening contest as Savio Vega looked to get the better of Marty Jannetty, all whilst avoiding the distraction of Jannetty's New Rockers partner, Leif Cassidy.

Whilst the action itself was fairly enjoyable, it only really served as a background to the commentators' last minute shill for the show itself.

After hyping up tonight's epic Mankind/Michaels main event, Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect, and Jim Ross next took us to a split-screen interview with one Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw.

As Uncle Zebekiah stood by, Bradshaw ranted and raved about being left off every single Pay Per View since his WWF debut nine months ago. That wasn't all, Bradshaw also complained about how his long-time rival Savio Vega continued to get PPV opportunities, even though it was quite clear that Vega was only on the mid-90s equivilent of today's Kick Off shows.

If Bradshaw was pissed about mising out on a Free for All match, he only had to jog his memory back a few months ago to WWF In Your House: International Incident, when he and Vega did inded lock up in the opening contest.

Cutting back tot he ring, the fans were just as uninterested in watching Vega/Janetty, opting instead to start an ECW chant as Tommy Dreamer, Paul Heyman, and The Sandman made their way to the front row and took seats.

Surprisingly (for the time at least), McMahon actually aknowledged the chants, saying:

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw (JBL) was unhappy about not being on the PPV
"By the way, if you do hear some unusual chants here from this extraordinary crowd gathered for In Your House: Mind Games, bare in mind that there is a local wrestling franchise -so to speak- here in town, [and their fans are] very vocal."

"Oh yeah, they have a small, vocal contingent, and this is their home base, and we're just glad they bought tickets!" added Jim Ross.

Back to the in-ring action, this was a relatively decent match that Savio won with a roll-up.

The crowd were only mildly pleased.
Your Winner: Savio Vega 

In a repeat of last month's Summerslam 1996 (and what felt like just about every PPV of that year), Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw ran down after the match and beat up on his adversary, whipping him with his patented bull rope before skulking to the back.

The Face of Fear

Would Shawn Michaels continue to live the boyhood dream or would he find himself trapped in Mankind's diabolical nightmare?

Would The Undertaker finally be able to settle the score with rival Goldust, even after Paul Bearer so deviously turned his back on The Dead Man at last month's Summerslam 1996?

These were the main questions presented in our opening video package this evening, a dark, dramatic affair voiced by Todd Pettingill which set the stage well for the show's two biggest matches.

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mr. Perfect, Vince McMahon, and Jim Ross did commentary
With that video over, Vince McMahon welcomed us to Philadelphia, PA and to the CoreStates Center, which at the time was still basically a brand new venue.

Joining McMahon on commentary for In Your House 10: Mind Games was none other than Mr. Perfect, and the one and only Jim Ross.

The trio briefly hyped tonight's big two matches before getting down to ring side for our opening contest.

Caribbean Strap Match
Savio Vega vs. Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw (w/ Uncle Zebekiah) 

Following Bradshaw's attack during the Free For All, Savio had apparently challenged him to a Carribean Strap Match, something I suspect the future JBL accepted as much to finally get his in-ring PPV debut as it was to settle his long-running rivalry with Vega.

In some respects, you'd have to imagine Bradshaw would have preferred to wait a little long for his big match if he knew it was going to be as terrible as this one.

Duller than the proverbial dishwater, literally the only exciting moment occurred when the two brawled to the outside.

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - ECW's Sandman and Tommy Dreamer got involved in the opening Savio/JBL match
There, The Sandman, Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer could be seen on camera watching the show.

A second later, Sandman spat beer at Savio Vega, causing a commotion which Vega and Bradshaw cleverly sold as a legit shoot.

We would see more from the company that Vince McMahon would only refer to as "a local promotion here in Philadelphia" in the coming weeks, but for now, it was back to one of the most mind-numbingly tedious bouts your writer has ever had this displeasure to watch.

Making things worse here was the fact that they copied the exact finish from Savio's earlier strap match against Steve Austin from In Your House 8: Beware of Dog.

I don't mean it was similar, I mean it was exactly the same, right down to Bradshaw playing the Austin role and dragging Vega into the final corner to give him the win.

If this was a redo of a match from many years ago, nobody would have cared. The fact that they repeated a finish from just five months prior made this whole thing look dumb.
Your Winner: Savio Vega. 

As Savio celebrated his big win and hopefully put this never-ending feud to bed once and for all, we were taken to a video package highlighting the -ahem- epic rivalry between James E. Cornette and Jose Lothario.

That match, if you could call it such a thing, was next.

'Razor and Diesel' Attack Savio Vega 

As Jim Cornette made his way to the ring for what was sure to be a thrilling contest, we were taken to backstage in one of those "OMG, something is happening in the back! We'll get you exclusive news on what's happening RIGHT NOW!' segments that were such big part of mid-late '90s American pro wrestling. 

As it happened, the 'something' that was happening was the first glimpse of Fake Diesel and Razor Ramon in a blurry, from-a-distance shot as they beat up Savio Vega.

Battle of the Managers
James E. Cornette vs. 'Super Sock' Jose Lothario

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Jose Lothario faced Jim Cornette
As as 12 year-old mark such as I was at the time that this show went out live, I swallowed just about anything and everything the World Wrestling Federation wanted to shove down my throat. 

I ate it all up happily, and enjoyed almost every match I saw with none of the cynicism or pessimism that inevitably crept in once I grew up into an adult and continued to watch pro wrestling. 

I saw almost, because I remember quite clearly that, even as a wide-eyed, 12 year-old kid who lapped up everything the WWF put out, I just couldn't see the appeal in watching a flabby non-wrestler like Jim Cornette lock up against a retired old man who looked older than my granddad. 

To this day, I can't quite get my head around the idea that Vince and his booking crew thought anybody wanted to see this match. 

But hey, clearly that's what they thought, and here we were. 

Thankfully, this was mercifully short. 

Cornette did the usual heel shtick of berating his opponent and the live audience on the microphone, then Lothario came down, whipped him from corner to corner and pinned him in about a minute flat. 

I'd call this one a dud, but it was barely a match at all, just a short angle that neither served to further a long-term story nor as a short-term spot of entertainment.
Your Winner: Jose Lothario 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Savio Vega was interviewed after being beaten up by Fake Razor and Diesel
Afterwards, we were taken to the back for a Coliseum Home Video Exclusive, in which Doc Hendrix caught up with Savio Vega following the latter's beat down at the hands of the men who may or may not have been Razor Ramon and Diesel.

Selling the attack for all it was worth (or else just doing a really bad promo), Vega admitted that despite once being the absolute best of friends with Razor Ramon and rescuing him from an attack at the first ever In Your House ppv, he could not actually tell if The Bad Guy and his buddy Big Daddy Cool were indeed the men who had beaten him up earlier.

This, he attributed to the fact that both men attacked from behind after he'd already had his ass kicked by Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw.

The segment -which like many of this time period was simple yet effective- ended with Vega swearing revenge on whoever it was that had attacked him the very first chance he got.

A Hollywood Blondes Reunion featuring The Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Bret Hart refuted Brian Pillman's claims that he was going to be there
Back in the arena, Brian Pillman came down to continue the slow, slow build up to the return of Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

In recent weekends, The Loose Cannon had been claiming that he had personally been in touch with The Hitman, and that he would deliver him to the Philly audience here at In Your House: Mind Games. 

Not too surprisingly, it transpired that the devious heel Pillman had been lying this whole time, with Bret issuing a firm rebuttal in a pre-recorded segment live from South Africa. 

Pillman, it appeared, was here to address said rebuttal, and in doing so, managed to orchestrate one of the most entertainment segments of this entire pay per view.

Pushing the envelope in a way that no other promo in recent memory had, The Loose Cannon asked his former Hollywood Blondes partner Austin whether he thought Bret Hart was chicken. 

The response from Stone Cold?

Bret Hart doesn't even qualify as being a chicken, he's the slimy substance that runs out of the south end of a chicken.
Let me make myself clear, if you put the letter 'S' in front of Hitman, you get my exact opinion of Bret Hart.

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Steve Austin, Brian Pillman, and Owen Hart cut a promo on Bret Hart
Considering what was to come just a short time down the line in the Attitude Era, such remarks may seem quite tame, but when you consider that this was still New Generation time, a time when babyfaces smiled, little kids supposedly looked up to their heroes, and nobody made even the vaguest of references to chickenshit on a live pay per view.

The fact that this took place in the home of  ECW was not an accident. The fact that it may have just been the next inevitable step towards the no-holds-barred, x-rated approach of the Attitude Era, may have been.

Mark Henry Explores Philly 

As entertaining as that last segment may have been, it did feel as though the WWF were stalling here, as if for some reason they just didn't have enough in-ring content to make their show worth watching and were filling up on as much added stuff as possible. 

More filler came next with a short clip of Mark Henry walking around Philadelphia, visiting the Liberty Bell and generally having a nice time. 

Quite what the point of this was is anybody's guess, but it did at least kill at minute of time before our next match.

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Clarence Mason tricked Jim Cornette into signing over Owen Hart and British Bulldog's contractsClarence Mason Swindles Jim Cornette 

Next, we went to the back where Jim Cornette was being tended to by a doctor after his -ahem- punishing contest with Jose Lothario. Taking advantage of Cornette's dazed and confused state, Clarence Mason arrived and had him sign his signature to a document, telling the distraught manager that it was a legal document needed to sue Lothario. 

In recent weeks however, it would be revealed that Mason had actually tricked Cornette into handing over the managerial rights to Owen Hart and the British Bulldog. 

Speaking of those two, they were up next.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn)  vs. Owen Hart & British Bulldog

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the beginning of the end of The Smoking Gunns.

Making their pay per view debut at WWF King of the Ring 1993, the team's three year reign would ultimately come to an end here, all thanks to the self-obsessed seductress known as Sunny. 

This was at the point when the former Body Donna was doing her full Yoko Ono on the one team that had been a consistent part of the company's tag division for several years. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Sunny fired The Smoking Gunns after they lost the WWF tag team titles
Billy had become so enamored with the blonde bombshell that he was frequently distracted in his matches, and it would cost him dearly here in an entertaining match against Owen and Bulldog. 

To be fair to them, the now-former Camp Cornette members had the Gunns' number right from the start, revealing that they had defaced a huge drop-down poster of Sunny, similar to the one she revealed at last month's Summerslam 1996. 

From there, the two teams engaged in what was so far the best match on the card. Though I appreciate that isn't saying much, it was nonetheless a good effort which ended when Sunny's distraction allowed the British Bulldog to get the cover, the count, and the tag team titles.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Owen Hart & British Bulldog beat The Smoking Gunns for the WWF Tag Team Titles
Post match, Sunny got mad at her charges, claiming that she had given them her time, she had given them her money, and she had given them Everything, implying, you know, everything that you could probably get from Sunny today if you had enough money.

Much as she had done with The Body Donnas and The Godwins previously, Sunny promptly fired The Smoking Gunns. 

In the weeks that would follow, this would cause Billy and Bart Gunn to turn on each other, bringing the team to an end, but not before they had one last match at the following month's In Your House: Buried Alive. More of that later this month..

The Challenger Speaks...

Cutting to the back of the building, Paul Bearer and Mankind gave a so-so promo about the latter's upcoming title match against Shawn Michaels. 

Bearer claimed that just as it was The Undertaker's Creatures of The Night that had forced him to turn on The Phenom, it would HBK's Kliq (the fans, not the backstage group), that were to blame for what Mankind was about to do to the champion. 

For his part, Mankind gave an eerie and gruesome account of himself, claiming that it was his destiny to hear Michaels' liver rupture, and to become the WWF champion.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Mark Henry 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mark Henry beat Jerry 'The King' Lawler
Going into this one, I did wonder why the WWF would invest so much in hyping the debut of Olympic athlete Mark Henry only to have his first match be against Jerry 'The King' Lawler, a man who had mostly been used for comic relief over the course of 1996.

Then the story was revealed, and suddenly this became close to perfect.

You see, this was about Jerry Lawler, the wiley veteran and celebrated pro wrestling star mocking newcomer Henry for not having the skills to back up his overly-hyped debut. 

Lawler was going to "take Mark Henry to school" and show him that wrestling wasn't as easy as it looked.

What followed was a very basic, text-book pro wrestling match that somehow proved to be a whole lot of fun. 

All credit here has to go to The King, who basically wrestled himself for the duration of this short but enjoyable bout. Lawler through himself around and worked the crowd to perfection before finally succumbing to a backbreaker and giving Henry the win in his first WWF wrestling match.
Your Winner: Mark Henry 

Afterwards, a weird contingent of heels, including The New Rockers and Hunter Hearst Helmsley ran in one after the other in attempt to attack The World's Strongest Man.

Henry fought back, cleaned house, and then celebrated as fireworks exploded from the rafters. 

I'm sure the reason for the post-match beat down was explained on Raw or something, but for now, I'll have to imagine that the story line was perhaps that the baddies were jealous and upset about this huge superstar non-wrestler coming in and trying to compete on their turf.

Coliseum Home Video Exclusive Interview with the New World Tag Team Champions

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Coliseum Home Video Exclusive
Backstage, Doc Hendrix caught up with Clarence Mason, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog.

In an entertaining promo, the new WWF tag team champions gloated about their victory, insisting that The Smoking Gunns -even with "that hosebag" Sunny in their corner- just didn't have what it took to beat the two.

Just when it looked like this interview was all wrapped up, Doc asked about the absence of James E. Cornette. Still enthralled with his big win, Owen claimed that Cornette had been "throwing some confusion into [his and Bulldog's] strategy" but that he didn't really care anyway, and was glad that Clarence Mason was in their corner as their "lucky leprechaun."

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Owen Hart & British Bulldog gloated about their big win
It was at this point that Mason revealed he had indeed tricked Jim Cornette into signing over the management contracts of the new champs.

Though of course, being the cowardly bad guy, he made it seem like it had all been a big mistake.

Not that it mattered, Owen and Bulldog seemed perfectly Ok with the situation, smiling and nodding happily as we cut back to the arena.

Hype for Undertaker vs. Goldust 

For most of 1996, The Undertaker had been at war with both Goldust and Mankind, alternating between the two on most pay per view bouts since the spring. 

This one began at the aforementioned Beware of Dog back in May. It continued just two months ago at In Your House: International Incident, but tonight -so Todd Pettengill informed us via this generic 90s video package- it would all come to an end. 

There would be a winner, and this rivalry would be settled tonight.

Final Curtain Match
Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Undertaker beat Goldust in a Final Curtain match
If the rules of a Final Curtain match were ever fully defined, they certainly were not explained to either of the two combatants, nor to referee Tim White. 

In the aforementioned video package, Pettengill had informed us that the only way to win this one was by pinfall. 

This, you would assume, would make this a no disqualification, no count out match, right?

Yeah, I thought so too, but even as Vince McMahon was telling us on commentary that there was no dq, White was there calling a ten count.

Even when 'Taker and Goldie were on the outside, nothing happened that wouldn't happen within the confines of your standard match. 

In this writer's opinion, this means that both men squandered a perfect opportunity to really do something different and make their match stand out. 

Instead, we got a decent, run-of-the-mill match which ended when The Undertaker tombstoned Goldust to win the match and end this rivalry once and for all. 
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

Afterwards, The Undertaker celebrated his big victory by posing in the ring, doing the now famous pose without the urn for the first time on WWF PPV. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Shawn Michaels admitted to being nervous in his pre-match promo

Shawn Michaels Is Nervous 

Backstage, Kevin Kelly asked the World Wrestling Federation champion about his thoughts going into tonight's main event. 

Playing down his usual charisma and jovial nature, The Heartbreak Kid admitted that for the first time since winning the gold, he was nervous about defending it. 

Sure, he could out-wrestle anybody in the WWF, but would he even get the chance to straight up wrestle with someone as deranged and -as HBK put it- "whacked out" as Mankind?

Shawn himself wasn't exactly sure, and told us that he was about to go to the ring with no idea about how to deal with the number one contender and his manager, Paul Bearer. 

That match, ladies and gentlemen, was next. 

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)

Mick Foley has often referred to this as his favourite match, though to be honest, some 21 years down the line, I still haven't seen the whole contest in its entirety. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mankind challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWF title
So, was this one really as good as Foley, and countless fans have claimed it to be?

In a word, yes.

A riotous back-and-forth battle that only got better the longer it went on, this nigh-on 30 minute classic had literally everything. 

You wanted wild, out-of-control brawling? You got it. 

You wanted actual, honest-to-goodness wrestling holds? They were here in abundance, even from Foley. 

You wanted high spots like Michaels and Mankind crashing from the top turnbuckle through the Spanish announce table? That happened and looked awesome. 

There was even some wonderful storytelling going on, with Shawn Michaels destroying the Mandible Claw and forcing Mankind to actually use wrestling holds to try and make a pinfall. 

The end, which I really want to describe as beautiful, came when the challenger -who at this point was firmly in control of the match- looked to leap off the top turnbuckle and smash the champ's head open with a steel chair. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mankind locks the mandible claw on Shawn Michaels in the WWF title match
Michaels ran up, used a second chair (this one fully set up) as a springboard, and hit a flying Sweet Chin Music, smashing the chair into Foley's head and causing him to crash down. 

Just when it looked like Michaels would get the pin however, Vader ran down to the ring, disqualifying Mankind. 
Your Winner by disqualification and still WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

Post match, Michaels disposed of Vader, only for Paul Bearer to knock him out cold with the urn. 

Vader looked to strike again, but this time Sid came out and saw him off. 

This gave Mankind time to recover and shove his bare fingers into Michaels throat. The deranged one then called for the casket (which he had traveled to the ring in) to be opened, assumedly to dispose of HBK's body in it. 

Instead, The Undertaker popped out and saw off Mankind, leaving the ring clear for HBK to celebrate another hard fought victory, and one of the best matches of his 1996 title run. 

Coliseum Home Video Exclusive: Mankind Swears Revenge on The Undertaker 

Wrapping things up, another Coliseum Home Video Exclusive took us to the back, where Paul Bearer tried in vein to console a visibly distraught Mankind.

Raging away somewhere deep in the bowels of the building, Mankind promised to get revenge on The Dead Man when they met next month at In Your House: Buried Alive. 
But that, my friends, is another review for another time.

For now, let's get on with the usual summing up, shall we? 

From an in-ring stand point, WWF In Your House 10: Mind Games was a reasonable effort, though with only the Michaels/Mankind match really worth repeat viewing, it has to be said that this one was memorable not for the matches, but for the shift in tone that was a little less subtle than the companies previous steps towards an edgier product.
From the ECW invasion at the start of the show to to the dramatic and violent main event, via Stone Cold Steve Austin's 'off-colour' comments and the occasional use of suggestive language, this was a milestone in the World Wrestling Federation's gradual transformation into the Attitude Era. 

On a personal note, I'd like to apologise for the poor quality images on this review. Wherever possible, I try to use my original copies of shows. Whilst that does mean I review shows closer to how they were presented at the time rather than the heavily edited versions that can appear on the WWE Network, it also means that sometimes I end up with a shitty-quality video, such as this one. 

And finally, thanks once again for reading. To keep up with the latest from RPW, come join me on Twitter, or hit Like on the brand new Retro Pro Wrestling 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.