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Random Network Reviews: WWF SummerSlam 1996

April 24, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: WWF SummerSlam 1996  

WWF SummerSlam 1996
August 18th, 1996 | Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio | Attendance: 17,000

A rather infamous show here. Not only does it feature an infamous Shawn Michaels hissy fit, but it also sees a huge angle involving the Undertaker and one of the first true hardcore matches in WWF history. While I think Survivor Series 1996 was more pivotal, this show does mark a shift towards the upcoming Attitude Era.

The opening video package focuses on the “monsters” that are Vader and Mankind, and how the “slayers”, the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, will attempt to take them down. Commentary for the evening is Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect.

Owen Hart def. Savio Vega in 13:24
Originally, Owen was supposed to face Ahmed Johnson for the Intercontinental Title, but Ahmed was out due to injury. I know, not a surprise. Owen is sporting a cast on his arm and has for months at this point. Vince talks about Jim Cornette focusing on Vader instead of coming out with Owen. Savio works him over and targets the hand with the cast. The ring sounds weird here. You can clearly hear it when Savio reels off some arm drags. Owen turns it around and also focuses on the arm a bit. He ties it up in the ropes at one point, which I like since it isn’t seen often. Clarence Mason walks out for a closer look. Savio rallies and tries a top rope back suplex but lands on Owen’s cast. Owen plays possum, removes the cast and knocks out Savio with it. He puts it back on and wins with the Sharpshooter. Decent opener. It was full at points but I liked the cast coming into play for the finish. **¼

Justin Hawk Bradshaw comes out and yells about Savio Vega being Puerto Rican or something.

Todd Pettengil interviews Mankind in the boiler room and he pretty much calls the boiler room his home. He warns the Undertaker not to come inside.

WWF Tag Team Championship: The Smoking Gunns (c) w/ Sunny def. The Body Donnas, The Godwins w/ Hillbilly Jim and The New Rockers in 12:18
Sunny managed each team in this match (and they all held the Tag Titles) at some point in 1996 except for the New Rockers. This is under elimination rules. A few minutes in and the Gunns both get tagged in so they can face each other. Hilariously, Phineas and Zip strut across the ring after tagging them in. They don’t end up fighting and Zip comes back in. He gets hit from behind by Jannetty, which opens the door for Billy to eliminate them at 4:01. The Gunns and Rockers seem to be on the same page and work together to take down the bigger Godwins. Still, the Godwins overcome this and a Slop Drop sends the Rockers home at 7:19. The seemingly never ending feud of the Godwins and Gunns is the focal point after all. The Gunns work heat on Henry for what seems like an eternity. The hot tag comes to Phineas but a Sunny distraction allows the Gunns to retain after a cheap shot. It’s the tag division in this era, so it was way dull. The only highlight of these matches is Sunny. ½*

After the match, Sunny cuts a promo running down the fans before revealing a giant picture of herself from the ceiling to show everyone what a real woman looks like.

They go in a really long video that shows various Superstars and what they did in Cleveland over the previous few days.

Sycho Sid def. British Bulldog in 6:25
Sid is way over, which is part of why he would win the WWF three months from this show. No Cornette again in this match. Sid overpowers Bulldog early on but then Bulldog hits the stalling vertical, which is very impressive. Clarence Mason is back out to cheer on Bulldog. As Bulldog continues to stay in charge, Cornette shows up. Bulldog hits a powerslam but Cornette and Mason argue, which distracts Bulldog. Sid escapes another powerslam and hits a chokeslam. Powerbomb follows it up and Sid wins. They did a lot of nothing until the finish. *

Goldust w/ Marlena def. Marc Mero w/ Sable in 11:02
I’d say this was the first note that Goldust wasn’t flat out gay. He was infatuated with Sable in this story and not Mero. Mankind, Goldust’s accomplice, creeped out Sable on recent WWF TV by calling her “mommy.” After Goldust freaks out Mero with his antics, Mero comes back and works the arm. He takes a back drop outside and Goldust gets in control. Mankind comes out to stalk Sable but officials take him away. Mero begins to turn things around, hitting a slingshot leg drop. Marlena distracts the referee while Mero hits the shooting star press. That gives Goldust the chance to kick out. Goldust kicks him in the ass before hitting the Curtain Call to win. Not bad, but not very good either. It was a really basic match and about what you’d expect from these two. **¼

Goldust creeps on Sable and holds her hand while she yells for Marc. He goes in for the kiss but Mero is up and just lays in shots before crotching him on the top rope and dropkicking him outside.

They recap the recent debut of Faarooq Asad and his attack on Ahmed Johnson, which injured Ahmed and caused the title to be stripped. Faarooq, in his stupid gladiator outfit and helmet, comes out with Sunny for an interview with Todd Pettengil. Faarooq says that the IC Title should be his. Gorilla Monsoon has announced a tournament to determine the next champion and Sunny says Faarooq will win because what Sunny wants, Sunny gets. This didn’t do much.

Jerry Lawler def. Jake Roberts in 4:10
Mark Henry makes his debut and joins commentary. Lawler is out in a Baltimore Ravens jersey to garner heat from the Cleveland faithful. He cuts a promo bashing Roberts and it goes on for too long. Jake finally comes out and goes after Lawler with the snake. All of this takes forever and then the bell finally rings. They work a Memphis style match with a lot of Lawler antics. He prevents a DDT by pulling the referee. He then takes a bottle of liquor that he brought to the ring with him and cheap shots Roberts in the throat with it to win. Why the hell did I just watch this? Garbage between two guys that shouldn’t have been in the ring in 1996 together. Seriously, who benefitted from this? DUD

Boiler Room Brawl: Mankind def. The Undertaker in 26:27
I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this one. To win, you have to escape the boiler room and make it to the ring to retrieve the urn from Paul Bearer. Undertaker pretty much tiptoes around the boiler room looking for Mankind, who attacks from behind with a weapon. They do some back and forth brawling and whack each other with various objects found in the boiler room. This was recorded a day earlier to avoid any blown spots. When they do have to edit something, the screen gets all fuzzy due to “technical issues.” The weirdest thing about this is that commentary isn’t silent and they aren’t really talking either. We hear random tidbits from them every few seconds, making it awkward. The crowd boos heavily whenever this happens. They seem to flub a ladder spot and we get edits. After one of these happens, Mankind climbs a wooden ladder set up against the wall. Undertaker sits up and pulls it backwards, sending Mankind crashing into a bunch of cardboard boxes. They finally make it out of the boiler room and Mankind places a bunch of garbage cans in front of the door to barricade it. It’s a waste of time because Undertaker just barges through it. Various jobbers (and Steve Austin) watch as they fight through the halls. Mankind tosses a coffee pot at him, which Taker mostly no-sells. They finally are at the arena. They make it to the apron and brawl there, where Undertaker pulls the ropes and Mankind takes a sickening back first bump onto exposed concrete. Undertaker does his signature pose in front of Bearer, who just awkwardly looks at him and turns away. Mankind gets up and uses the Mandible Claw while Bearer laughs. Bearer slaps up Taker while Mankind holds him. Bearer lays out Taker with the urn and gives it to Mankind to end it. Not the best brawl but a massively important one. It not only ended Taker and Bearer’s relationship but it set a blueprint up for future WWF brawls, which would be a key piece of the Attitude Era. I think if they cut it down a bit, had less edits and consistent commentary, it would have helped. ***

After the match, druids come out and carry out the lifeless body of the Undertaker.

WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels (c) w/ Jose Lothario def. Vader w/ Jim Cornette in 22:19
Right off the bat, Jim Ross does a great job explaining how Michaels needs to move around and force the match to go long since he has the speed and stamina advantage. Shawn shows fire early and gets Vader down to right hands. He uses Vader’s momentum to send him outside and follows with a baseball slide and gorgeous plancha. You know it, they’ve shown it for years on end. Shawn finally makes a mistake by trying a rana outside, which Vader counters into a powerbomb. Unfortunately, it looked like the softest powerbomb possible. Now comes the part where the big heel beats the shit out of the plucky babyface. Each time Shawn seems to find an opening, Vader is there to overwhelm him. Like when Shawn does his signature “skin the cat” spot, Vader stops him and just launches him across the ring. Shawn rallies and comes off the top. He seems to think Vader is gonna get a boot up but it’s nearly impossible at Vader’s position. Shawn throws a hissy fit and yells at Vader for it. He even slaps away the camera after a cross body spot outside. Vader drops Shawn across the guardrail and wins via countout. Cornette gets on the mic and says they came here to win the title and challenges Shawn to get back in. Shawn returns and gets beat up until he makes the comeback. Flying forearm and kip up time. He hits the elbow and Cornette tosses in the racket. Shawn takes it and hits Vader with it, getting disqualified. Again, Cornette goads Shawn into a restart. Shawn attacks quickly and hits the elbow again. Sweet Chin Music connects but Vader kicks out. Vader hits a powerbomb and Shawn kicks out now. He looks for the Vader Bomb that beat Shawn at the last PPV. Cornette wants the moonsault instead, giving Shawn time to move. Shawn goes for and wins with his own moonsault. This effectively ended the career of Vader. Shawn politicked his way to retaining the title here in a bad decision. The match had a very good big man/little man dynamic but got overbooked in the end which hurt it. ***¾

4.0
The final score: review Poor
The 411
I really wanted to like this show. I enjoy a lot of the later 1996 stuff and parts of this show really let you know about the potential the company had moving forward. The main event was the easy MOTN, but got bogged down by too much bullshit to be truly great. The Boiler Room Brawl is a spectacle that help set the tone for the future. The rest of the show ranges from piss poor (Jake/Jerry Sid/Bulldog and the Tag Titles) to average at best (Mero/Goldust and Savio/Owen).
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