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

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 stablemates 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

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.

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.