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The SmarK Retro Repost – Summerslam 1996

July 28, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SK Retro Rant for WWF Summerslam 96

– Welcome to another re-rant, as the original Summerslam 96 review, done as I was watching the show in 1996, is so embarrasingly bad that I declined to repost it last year when I was doing the whole series of Summerslam rants for Wrestleline. Finally, a plea from a particularly oddball reader, who actually bought a copy of the book in exchange for a redo of this show, prompted me to pull out the tape and give it that ol’ college try. Fun fact: I hadn’t watched this show since the original airing.

– Live from Cleveland, OH

– Your hosts are Vinnie Mac, Good Ol’ JR and Mr. Perfect.

– Free For All: Steve Austin v. Yokozuna. It should be noted that I did NOT tape the 6 hour pre-game show, because this show had to share a 6-hour tape with Bash at the Beach 96. And yes, having nothing better to do at the time, I did sit through the entire pre-game show. Austin attacks Yoko to start, with no luck. Two clotheslines are no-sold and Austin walks into a samoan drop. Big fat legdrop (and I mean BIG FAT legdrop – Yoko was pushing 700 pounds at this point) sets up the Banzai drop, but the top rope breaks and Austin gets the “upset” win at 1:50. DUD

– Opening match: Owen Hart v. Savio Vega. Owen of course has that Iron Mike Sharpe slow-healing arm injury going here. The ref thwarts an Owen attack and warns him that using the cast means a DQ. Wristlocks are traded to start, as Savio goes for the cast. He goes to the armbar (cast-bar?), but misses an elbowdrop. Back to the armbar, and that lasts a while. Owen goes to a headlock, but gets armdragged for two. Back to the armbar. Rollup gets two for Savio, but Owen pushes him into the post to take over. He works the shoulder as Vince puts Bret over bigtime in his non-stop attempt to get him to return to the WWF. Irony can be so ironic sometimes. Owen’s armbar lasts a while. Single-arm DDT gets two. Back to the armbar. Owen pounds him down, but misses a dropkick. Savio gets a bodypress for two, but takes the ENZUIGIRI OF DOOM for two. He comes back with a small package for two. Blind charge hits boot and Owen uses the ropes for a two count. Savio rollup gets two. Owen hits a mule kick for two, but he charges into the corner and eats a leg lariat. Savio comes back with an atomic drop and clothesline. Legdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. Owen gets a neckbreaker and goes up for a missile dropkick for two. Back upstairs, but Savio crotches him and superplexes him, but lands headfirst on Owen’s cast and both guys are out. Owen recovers first, blasts him with the cast, and slaps on the Sharpshooter for the win at 13:23. Savio had no business going 15 minutes, even with Owen. **1/2 Justin Hawk Bradshaw attacks Vega after the match, setting up the strap match at Mind Games where ECW first invaded. So there ya go.

– WWF tag title match: The Smokin’ Gunns v. The New (and Improved) Rockers v. The Bodydonnas v. The Godwinns. Al Snow’s gloriously over-the-top performances as 70s wannabe icon Leif Cassidy put Mike Awesome’s half-assed job as That 70s Guy to shame. The main problem with the New Rockers (besides Marty Jannetty’s rampant drug use) was that it wasn’t spoofing the Rockers so much as it was spoofing the 70s, and the WWF’s predominantly young male audience at the time had no idea who Leif Garrett or David Cassidy were. Anyway, ever notice how disturbingly excited Vince gets in the presence of hillbillies? Whenever a Godwinn or a hillbilly character in general comes out, it’s always like “Yee-haw!” with him. I really think he has some sort of bizarre fixation with them related to his hatred of Ted Turner. Anyway, this would be the first ever four-way dance in the WWF, and it’s elimination rules. Speaking of drug addicts, Sunny the Crack Whore is managing the Gunns at this point, and Skip (Chris Candido) is wearing a neck brace from an injury suffered a couple of nights previous. He never even tags in as a result. HOG tosses Billy Gunn around to start, and Billy quickly tags out to Zip (Tom Pritchard). Zip and PIG go for a bit as Billy displays the heel charisma that won him a push by yelling “SHUT UP!” at the front row. Who WOULDN’T wanna push this guy? Zip and PIG double-cross the Gunns by tagging both at once and forcing them to fight each other. While I’m on the subject of the Gunns, the fundamental flaw with the team during this point was that they were being played as heels despite having one of the most over people in the promotion as their manager. Adding to that the fact that they were the only team in the WWF worth a damn at the time and the fans basically wanted to cheer them but felt obligated to boo because Billy Gunn was such a dickhead. Anyway, Bart tags Zip back in, but Jannetty trips him up and Bart gets a weak pin at 4:02 to eliminate the Bodydonnas. Not surprisingly, Chris Candido made his exit from the WWF soon after and didn’t return. Leif & HOG go next, and the Rockers double-team him. However, heel miscommunication between the Rockers and Gunns lead to HOG slopdropping Leif for the pin at 7:20. As usual, Snow worked his ass off while Jannetty tagged in, did a few punches, and went back to the apron to plan his next big buy. Bart pounds on HOG, but a blind charge hits boot. NOT IN THE JAW! Good god, given Bart’s glass jaw, you might kill him with that. HOG fights back but the Gunns keep their boring heel offense going. Another point about them: They were 100% better when Bart was getting pounded for the entire match. Billy runs into a powerslam, hot tag PIG. He’s a-fussin’ and a-fightin, but Bart nails him off the top for the pin at 12:19. I swear, this match literally had no heat. No reactions, no basic crowd heat, nada. ј* Sunny goes for cheap heat by unveiling a huge picture of herself from the ceiling after the match. Fun fact: That’s actually to scale if you count her last WCW appearance.

– British Bulldog v. Sid. Speaking of drug addicts… Sid shrugs Bulldog off and Bulldog bails. Back in, Sid works a headlock for two. Powerslam gets two. Bulldog gets a delayed suplex and pounds on Sid like they’re married or something. Okay, you knew I was gonna work in a wife-beating joke at some point, so don’t act so shocked. We hit the chinlock. I wonder if Davey was blown up when he was going after Diana, too? You know you’ve fucked up your life beyond all control when Vince won’t even sign you to spite Bret anymore. Sid powers out, but Davey puts him on the floor. Bulldog suplexes him back in, onto the ropes, for two. Sid comes back with an avalanche, but a second try misses. Bulldog gets the powerslam, but Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason are having a difference of opinion at ringside, which distracts Bulldog. Sid comes back with the chokeslam and the BEST POWERBOMB EVER for the pin at 6:08. I mean, he just DROPPED him with that one. *

– Marc Mero v. Goldust. Goldust stalls to start, and Mero armdrags him until he bails. Mero gets a bodypress for two and works an armbar. Goldust uses his dizzying array of punches and backdrops Mero to the floor. Up to the apron, where Goldust bumps him to the railing. Back in, lariat gets two. Mankind then wanders out and propositions Sable in his own unique way (“Mommy?”) and then retreats again in an angle that went absolutely nowhere. Goldust hits the chinlock in the meantime. Mero comes back with a buttbutt and takes over with an atomic drop and lariat. Kneelift sets up the Enemy Pummel, but both guys end up on the floor. Mero heads in and out again with a somersault plancha, and a slingshot legdrop back in…then he debuts the Shooting Star Press in the WWF to a monster pop that FINALLY wakes up the dead crowd. Of course, this being the height of the WWF’s retardation, that’s not the finisher, and Goldust quickly gets the Curtain Call for the pin at 10:59. Ѕ* I guess the thinking here was that they could always rebuild Mero, and that Goldust would get over again after being crushed by Ahmed Johnson with a few key wins. While the former was indeed true, Goldust ended up being a lost cause that sputtered along for another three years.

– Jake Roberts v. Jerry Lawler. Hey, Wrestlecrap guys, here’s a good candidate for you right here. The story here is that Jake Roberts was supposedly clean and sober and had found Jesus, but Jerry Lawler kept taunting him for his past. Now then, in one of those incredibly bizarre (but completely understandable in hindsight) coincidences, Jake really WAS off the wagon again at this point, and Lawler was absolutely correct – Jake WAS a fraud and a hypocrite who was cheating churches by giving speeches while still doing crack and getting bombed on the side. The buildup for this saw Aldo “That’s Not Just the Coolest, Not Just the Best, That’s Justin Credible, You Killed My Father, Prepare to Die” Montoya get involved and score various upset wins, and Mark Henry, before he had even debuted in the ring, got stuck in there somehow too. It constantly amazes me that NO ONE in the WWF could quite figure out why WCW was kicking their ass so handily. Mark Henry is doing color commentary for this match, and the most insightful comment he makes is “that’s a good move”, but I don’t remember which move it was for. Jerry of course breaks out the Baltimore Ravens jersey to remind Cleveland that they just lost their football team. Just in case there was anyone in the audience who didn’t get the deep layers of the storyline yet, he also pulls out two bottles of Jim Bean and a giant Texas mickey to bribe Roberts with, unsuccessfully. Tons of stalling to start. Into the ring, Roberts goes low and slams Jerry on the floor. They brawl for a bit, and Lawler gives him the PEPSI OF DOOM, which Jake sells. There’s a time to no-sell, and when someone throws a glass of soda in your face, that’s it. Unless it’s some sort of weird Cleveland thing where the vendors serve the Pepsi piping hot instead of cold, or else there’s some really deep psychology involving a brainfreeze going on, but I don’t think that applies unless the weapon in question is a Slurpee. Mmmm…Jim Bean Slurpees. Now there’s an idea waiting for someone to cash in. Of course, the alcohol would prevent the ice from staying frozen, thus defeating the purpose of the Slurpee, but it’s the 21st century…I’m sure some technogeek at MIT has already come up with the solution for an essay question and is just waiting to patent it in his spare time. Jerry goes for a bottle of whiskey, but Jake kicks it away and comes back. Short-arm clothesline hits, but King uses the ref to block the DDT, and then nails Jake with the Jim Bean for the pin at 4:05. I guess the idea was for Jake to give the rub to a youngster like Lawler. -* Jerry pours a bottle of the booze into Jake’s mouth, but Mark Henry saves. The Lawler-Henry feud ultimately went nowhere, and Jake Roberts was fired and sent to wallow in his own excesses in the gutter very soon after this. I think Barry Blaustein had the definitive quote about Jake for Beyond the Mat, where he showed the heartfelt scene with Jake reuniting with his daughter, and then the next scene started with “When I came back, Jake was smoking crack…” Either that or Bill Watts, who has on a couple of occasions basically let the world know what a pussy he thinks Jake is, and that he’d happily pound the shit out of him and then piss on his grave. Either one, take your pick.

– Boiler Room Brawl: The Undertaker v. Mankind. I’m sure you know the deal here – they start in the boiler room and fight there, and the first one to escape and claim the urn from Paul Bearer, back in the ring, wins. This was actually intended to be the start of something pretty weird for Undertaker, but I’ll get to that in a bit. Taker checks out the boiler room, but can’t find Mankind. He gets attacked with a pipe, however, and Mankind lays him out from behind. Taker comes back with a handy trashcan lid, but gets hotshotted onto a sawhorse. This is pre-taped so there’s no commentary, but I forget how one followed from the other. I just remember some sort of technical glitch where the announcers couldn’t see what was happening properly or something like that. “Transmission problems” disguise various edits. Mick gets some shots in with a garbage can and pounds on Taker. UT hammers on him with a pipe, but he gets a faceful of steam. He comes back again with a vicious pallet to the head, but he takes a pipe to the groin. Mankind runs into him against a door and rams him into another sawhorse. He drops an elbow off a ladder in a pretty sick bump and gives him an exceedingly weak DDT. The crowd heat is obviously piped in. They crawl along the floor as we get another obvious edit and come back with Mankind trying another elbow off another ladder. I believe they blew the spot the first time so they re-shot. He misses the elbow and lands in a pile of pipes. They fight towards the exist, and UT uses the FIRE EXTINGUISHER OF DOOM before they head out. Mankind barricades UT in the boiler room, but the POWER OF THE URN breaks him free. Mankind uses the devastating DOUBLE DECAF MOCHACINO HALF-CAF (WITH A TWIST) OF DEATH to blind Taker, as I’m aghast at the blatant hypocrisy of the WWF to book a coffee spot only 4 months after the last Billionaire Ted skit, where they spent the better part of 6 weeks mocking WCW for doing exactly that sort of thing. They head into the arena, as UT shakes off the scalding temperature of the coffee but uses the caffeine buzz to break a 2×4 over Mankind’s head, and they brawl to the ring. Mankind piledrives him on the concrete, but Taker no-sells and poor Mick has to take the Nestea Plunge. That move makes me cringe every time I see it. UT goes to claim the urn, but of course Paul Bearer turns his back on him, allowing Mankind to slap the Mandible Claw on him, and Bearer to crack the urn over his head for good measure. Mankind claims the urn at 27:20. Good lord that was a long match. It was certainly the template for nearly every “hardcore” match in the WWF that followed, but it was REALLY slow at times, so be warned. ***1/2

– Okay, so Undertaker gets carried off by a group of druids after the loss, and the assumption at the time was that he was going to be repackaged with a totally new look, the look that ended up being his “leather vampire” one as seen at Survivor Series. However, for some reason they balked at the change right away, and he just kinda showed up on RAW the next night with no mention of being carried to Valhalla or wherever the druids took him. Well, that’s the WWF for you at the time.

– WWF World title: Shawn Michaels v. The Man They Call Vader. Vader pounds him to start and kills him dead with a short-arm clothesline. Shawn ducks a kick and legsweeps him down, then hits a seated dropkick and ground-pounds him. Hey, Shawn Shamrock! Vader goes to toss him, but Shawn shifts his weight and it’s Vader who hits the floor. Shawn baseball slides him and follows with an awesome tope con hilo. Back in, he goes up and hits a double axehandle, then blocks a powerbomb with a rana. He goes onto Vader’s shoulders, and when Vader tries to dump him out, he hangs on and Vader goes out again. Shawn jumps him again, but gets powerbombed on the floor. Oops, so much for stick and move. Vader carries him back in and casually dumps him there. He goes to work in the corner and suplexes him. Vader sends him to the floor in dramatic fashion, and back in for some more vicious bodyshots. Shawn blocks a suplex and fights back, but Vader ignores him. Blind charge misses, but Vader ignores hitting the turnbuckles and simply turns around and clotheslines Shawn again. Shawn escapes another suplex, but Vader dumps him. He hangs on and skins the cat back in, but Vader catches him and drops him rudely facefirst to the mat. Vader goes to a bearhuggish looking thing, but Shawn fights out. Vader ignores a comeback attempt, but a buttsplash hits knee. Shawn clotheslines him down and goes up, but Vader is out of position and Shawn loses his cool. Always nice to see main eventers throwing a tantrum like a 5-year old. Boy guys head out, and Vader pounds him into goo and gets the countout at 13:30. BUT WAIT! Jim Cornette won’t take that victory, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Vader chases Shawn back in. Belly to belly gets two. Shawn escapes the powerbomb and comes back. Flying elbow hits this time, and Shawn grabs the tennis racket and gets DQ’d at 17:36. Do I even need to tell you what Cornette does next? Indeed, the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Shawn gets another elbow and Sweet Chin Music…for two. Uh oh. Ref is bumped, but another 14 are at ringside when Vader powerbombs him…for two. He drags Shawn to the corner, but gets cocky and tries the moonsault, misses, and Shawn bodypresses him for the pin at 22:15. Not exactly vintage Vader or anything due to his injuries, but Shawn bumped well enough for 10. ****1/4 In case you don’t know already, Vader was booked to go over here, but Shawn threw a backstage hissy fit and the finish was changed to the goofy mess we got instead.

The Bottom Line: Definitely a show where you wanna fast-forward to the last two matches if you rent it. Unless you’re Vince McMahon, in which case I highly recommend the Godwinn match.

Mild recommendation to avoid.

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