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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Survivor Series 1996

December 15, 2007 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Survivor Series 1996  

Survivor Series 1996
by J.D. Dunn

The WWF was just starting to heat up under Vince Russo. Bret Hart returned after months of hype and announced that he would be staying with the WWF forever. **cough** Austin broke into Brian Pillman’s home and nearly got shot. In midcarder news, Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Marc Mero for the Intercontinental Title with the help of Mr. Perfect. Unfortunately, Mr. P would leave the WWF just before this show and show up in WCW.

Btw, if anything looks off here, it’s because Microsoft Word just loves to malfunction when I’m in the middle of a review, so this is a “rescued” version of the document I was working on.

  • November 16, 1996
  • Live from New York, N.Y..
  • Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

  • Opening Match: Owen Hart, The British Bulldog & the New Rockers (w/Clarence Mason) vs. Doug Furnas, Philip LaFon & The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly Jim).
    This is the debut of Furnas and Lafon after exceptional careers in All Japan. They were kind of the second generation of the British Bulldogs with Lafon (formerly Dan Kroffat) playing the part of the Dynamite Kid and Furnas playing the part of Davey Boy. Lafon does a little segment with Janetty, but it soon turns into the Rockers versus the Godwinns. Phinneas blocks Henry from going into the buckle by laying across the corner, so Leif tries the same trick and gets kicked in the gut. That leads to Janetty taking the Slop Drop (Reverse DDT) at 8:11. Henry stands up and turns right into Owen’s leg lariat at 8:18. Phinneas gets “all riled up” and cleans house on the heels. Bulldog jumps him from behind and finishes him with the powerslam at 9:04. Nice teamwork from Owen and Bulldog as Owen gets the blind tag and nails Lafon with a missile dropkick. Owen and Furnas get into a fight on the outside, allowing Lafon to hit a crucifix into a sunset flip to eliminate Bulldog at 17:19. Bulldog clips Lafon on the way out, making his knee a target for Owen. Owen decides to go with the Sharpshooter but drops it to knock Furnas out before he can break it up. Lafon gets out of trouble with a great reverse enzuigiri that hits Owen right on the chin (as opposed to the ones from Jeff Hardy or Rob Van Dam that may or may not make contact). Furnas tags in, hits Owen with a devastating dropkick (Furnas had one of the best in the business). A wicked All-Japanish released German Suplex sends Owen home at 17:37. Furnas and Lafon would gain a decent following through the force of workrate before their contracts expired a year after this and they decided to call it quits. ***1/4

  • A soft-spoken Rocky Maivia talks about how great it is to be here and how he wants to give 110-percent and not let his teammates down. Who in the hell is this guy?! It’s funny because Kevin Kelly has to walk him through the interview and five years later, Rock would force Kelly to pick his own nose.
  • Mankind and Paul Bearer join us from the basement.
  • Mankind vs. The Undertaker.
    Paul Bearer is suspended in a shark cage for this match, and if the Undertaker wins, he gets five minutes alone with him. Undertaker repels from the top of the arena while wearing bat wings. Now play “Crazy Train!” Taker locks in a cross armlock and tries to break Mankind’s fingers, which Ross rightly notes is illegal. Pretty cool psychology, which it took Shawn Michaels to think of. Taker continues to work the hand until Mankind goes low and hits a cannonball off the apron. Back in, Taker bites Mankind’s fingers, so Mankind piledrives him. He goes for the Mandible Claw, but Taker tosses him to the floor to counter. I like the psychology of the match here, and it really puts over the Mandible Claw because the Undertaker has designed his entire strategy around it. Taker catches Mankind going up and yanks him down for a chokeslam, but Mankind grabs a Mandible Claw. Taker teases going out before powering up and chokeslamming his way out of the hold. Taker rolls out of the ring to recover, so Mankind tries that cannonball again – and misses. Cool finish as Mankind produces a foreign object and starts stabbing the Undertaker with it. He leans too far over, though, so Undertaker simply yanks him down over his shoulder and finishes with the Tombstone at 14:54. After the match, Undertaker is supposed to get five minutes of violent satisfaction from Paul Bearer, but that stipulation *never* works, and it doesn’t work here. The Executioner (Terry Gordy in a mask) comes down and saves Bearer from a beating. Mankind and the Undertaker’s best match to that point. ***
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Jerry Lawler, Crush & Goldust (w/Marlena) vs. Marc Mero, The Stalker, Jake Roberts & Rocky Maivia.
    Sunny joins commentary because she doesn’t wrestle, and she overshadows the men she manages, so they have no idea what to do with her. I think that may be the first real instance of being too over for your own good. The Stalker is Barry Windham. “Stalker” sounds like he should be one of those generic masked heels from the NWA in 1988. “That’s right! I’m watching all of your wives as they leave the house! AND I’LL WATCH YOUR WIFE TOO, LEX LUGER!” Jake is subbing for an injured Mark Henry. Lawler must have fed Sunny a few lines because she busts out the old joke that Jake wanted to be a lawyer but he couldn’t pass the bar. She also gets some catty comments on Sable, but nothing to rival her shoot interview: “Sable, Rena Mero, is a cunt. Total bitch. Envious, jealous person. Evil, very evil.” Rocky smacks Lawler around for a while, and Jerry bumps around. When you need a young stud put over, call in the King. Hunter gets in and dominates Maivia. Isn’t it appropriate that Rock would debut against perennial rival Triple H? They explain Mr. Perfect’s absence by saying Hunter fired him because he was tired of Perfect taking all the credit, which is silly because he only sided with Perfect three weeks before this! Jake tags in but, much like his shot glass, his tank is empty. He does some comedy stuff with Lawler before finishing him with a DDT at 10:00.

    Windham and Goldust go next, and nothing of note happens until Goldust sends him packing with the Curtain Call at 12:44. Mero plays face-in-peril for a while, getting tripleteamed by the heels. Mero comes back with a headscissor on Hunter but gets tossed. Jake comes in to pick a fight with Hunter, allowing Mero to finish Helmsley with a moonsault at 19:17. Mero, who has apparently decided to take on all the heels by himself, doesn’t tag out. Instead, he dropkicks Crush to the floor, but Goldust pushes Crush out of the way of the somersault plancha. Mero gets counted out very quickly at 20:36. Jake hops in and gets punched right in the heart by Crush at 20:51.

    That leaves Rocky alone in a 2-on-1. The fans are all on his side until he starts busting out the 1970s offense and Superman comeback. Crush accidentally takes out Goldust and falls to the flying crossbody at 23:10. A shoulderbreaker finishes Goldust at 23:49. Big pop for the Rock, but fans would turn on him immediately after this, and he wouldn’t get over again until he turned heel. Sunny’s commentary was the most entertaining thing about the match, because she didn’t adhere to any heel or face rules, she just put over who she thought was hot. Of course, a lot of it was inside commentary looking back because she put over the Rock (whom she helped put through the business when he was poor) and Hunter (because she was “the Clique chick”). *

  • Austin cements his coolness with a great promo – “Clichés are clichés, and an ass-whippin’ is an ass-whippin’!”
  • Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin.
    If Bret wins, he gets a title shot at the next PPV. Bret, to his credit, goes all out to make Austin look like the superstar that he is, which is just good business on Bret’s part because it set him up for the next year and a revitalized career. They do some great counter wrestling early until Austin gets sick of that and wins a slugfest. Bret goes for a bulldog, but Austin just shoves him into the buckle. Bret blocks a superplex and hits a top-rope elbow for two. They brawl out into the crowd, which became a staple of big WWF matches for the next four years. Back to ringside, Austin slingshots Bret into the Spanish announce table and turns his forehead into hamburger with right hands. He adds an elbow, and Bret just crumbles. Back in, Austin can’t finish him off with the abdominal stretch, so Bret fires back, triggering a big slugfest. This time Bret wins to a HUGE pop. Great idea there. Bret hits a Stun Gun and a piledriver for two. Austin takes Bret up and delivers a top-rope superplex. Bret turns it into a small package for two, though. Austin hits the Stunner but can’t cover immediately, so it only gets two. He keeps covering for two counts. Austin grabs the Texas Cloverleaf, but Bret reverses to a bow-and-arrow. Bret grabs a sleeper, but Austin rams him into the buckle and applies the Million Dollar Dream. That allows Bret to walk up the ropes and flip backwards, putting Austin on his back. Austin is so intent on choking Bret out that he doesn’t release the hold and gets pinned at 28:33. Incredible match that showed that Austin could match Bret in building a match. Of course, Austin wouldn’t be satisfied and would continue hounding Bret for the rematch that signaled the changeover from guys like Bret and Shawn to Austin, Hunter and Rock in 1997. ****3/4

  • Austin is the kind of character that was missing from 2002-2006. If you look at the guys who they tried to push during that era, most of them just sat back and waited until it was their turn. Only John Cena really went out there and took what he wanted, and it should be no surprise that he’s the biggest star in the promotion right now. Now look at a guy like Mr. Kennedy, whose push mirrors Austin’s in that he just went out there and *took* the main event spot away from everyone. MVP is the same way now that they’ve realized that they can make more money with him as a real superstar than they can as an “overhyped” superstar.
  • Faarooq, Vader, “Diesel” & “Razor Ramon” (w/Clarence Mason, PG-13 & Jim Cornette) vs. Flash Funk, Savio Vega, Yokozuna & Jimmy Snuka.
    This is the PPV debut of Flash Funk, WHO WAS AWESOME! I don’t care what you say, Funk and the Funkettes would go over great today. In fact, the Godfather and MVP took much of the pimp/superstar act and perfected it. If you don’t already know, Flash is 2 Cold Scorpio of WCW and ECW fame. Sadly, his debut came in one of the worst elimination matches in Survivor Series history. The orange and yellow doesn’t help, though. He does some good stuff with Vader, who was also in need of a career revitalization after being politicked out of the main event of this very show. JR and Cornette have a hilarious argument on commentary. Corny complains about the Insiders and how stupid the whole concept is, blaming Jim Ross for it, so Ross says he could manage Vader better. Corny retorts, “You couldn’t manage a Wendy’s!” to which Ross shoots back, “I could if you lived in the town!” By the way, Yoko has gotten tremendously big at this point. In fact, if you look closely, you can see that he can’t even stand on the Ring apron without the weight from his ass pulling him backward, so he has to leaves one foot on the steps. You’ll note that I’m not recapping much of the match. That’s because nothing interesting is happening. Diesel Jackknife Powerbombs Savio to eliminate him at 8:33. The second ref comes down, and you can see him telling them to go home. Snuka eliminates Razor with the Superfly Splash at 9:26. That leads to a big fracas where everyone is eliminated at 9:44. Horrible match. You’ll notice that all of the elimination matches introduced some new talent, and the announcers hyped them to the hilt. Flash didn’t get the rub here, for whatever reason, which is too bad. But his body quickly deteriorated over the next few years, and he became a jobber anyway. 1/4*

  • WWF Heavyweight Title: Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Sycho Sid.
    The Northeastern crowd, which always seems to be a bit ahead of the curve as far as wrestling, boos the hell out of Shawn. Sid is beloved, though, and gets a big pop when Sid slaps Shawn right in the face. Shawn comes back by going after the leg and locks in a figure-four, drawing chants of “Let’s go, Sid!” Sid powers to the ropes. Shawn avoids a corner charge and does back to the knee. Shawn tries to skin the cat, but Sid just casually clotheslines him back out. Sid changes the script and actually plays up his face reaction. Back in, Shawn comes off the top for a crossbody, but Sid just catches him and delivers a backbreaker for two. Shawn fires back and comes off the second rope…right into Sid’s boot. Sid locks in the shinni no make like he’s back in Continental or something. Shawn goes to the eyes and goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Sid just catches him and counters to a chokeslam. Shawn comes back with the flying forearm, but Sid no-sells and takes his head off with a clothesline. Sid, apparently a big ECW fan, grabs a camera from the cameraman and knocks out Jose Lothario. He turns around into SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but Jose is “having a heart attack.” Tasteful! Shawn goes outside to check on Jose, so Sid drags him back in. The ref gets bumped, so Sid smashes Shawn in the back with the camera and finishes with the powerbomb at 20:01. Ha ha! Sid celebrates with his fans. Shawn would go heelish for the next few weeks before they realized that it would be stupid to book him as a heel in his own hometown at the Royal Rumble. Despite the tastlessness of the heart attack angle, the booking and psychology of the match were excellent. ****

  • A somber Todd Pettingill reports that Jose refuses to go to the hospital and leaves it at that.
  • The 411: The WWF's best PPV in 1996. It features not one but two ****+ matches, plus a decent Mankind/Undertaker match and a lot of debuts. Of course, a lot of what they were doing here would have to be reworked the following year, but they finally had a good, solid core in place that could compete with WCW.

    High recommendation for Survivor Series 1996.

    411 Elite Award
    Final Score:  8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend

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