DVDVR 1 OFF: Survivor Series 1996
(by PHIL RIPPA)
As a reminder – I am a whore so people will send money for me to review things and I will review them. The trend has seemed to skew towards terrible WWE related PPVs (except for the constant pestering about Heroes of Wrestling which Dean thankfully reviewed years ago). So I have a few backed out now that I need to crank out – I think because the Giants actually beat the Broncos… which with the benefit of hindsight is not that impressive or surprising.
I am trying this new system of one time reviews because if I stack them in upcoming DVDVRs because at the rate those come out, I will be dead before they are finished. I mean that is a loophole. Hmm… I should insert that thinking emoji here.
Dolfan picked Survivor Series 1996 which, all things considered, isn’t too bad thanks to the Steve Austin/Bret Hart match which I already reviewed many moons ago. The issue is now having to rewatch the rest of the show that I had successfully purged from my memory banks.
So off we go. And you want in on the fun just let me know and I will tell you my Paypal and then I will probably use that money to go to another NOVA Pro Wrestling show or to finally get Powerbomb TV or on porn.
WWF SURVIVOR SERIES ’96 (11/17/96)
The PPV is being sponsored by Karate Fighters – is that really any worse than the sponsors we currently have?
Heck – that is basically a Will Ospreay match for me.
The WWE Network version of the PPV doesn’t have the Free For All matches so I get to avoid that nightmare. WHOO-HOO!!! LOOP HOLE!!! SUCK IT!!!
Oh god dammit… it’s on Dailymotion
JESSE JAMES/ALDO MONTOYA/BOB HOLLY/BART GUNN vs BRADSHAW/SULTAN/SALVATORE SINCERE/BILLY GUNN
Vince McMahon forgets where he is when doing the open so it was worth it to find this just to watch it. Road Dogg comes out to sing “With My Baby Tonight” because you know what will really get a New York crowd fired up? Karaoke Country.
As the babyface team is introduced, I realize that every single one of them is better as a heel. Okay that is untrue as Bart Gunn was better off being destroyed by Butterbean. I am going to put this in everything I write for this site now.
By the way, Vince says this is the Sultan’s Madison Square Garden debut. So by this logic, Rikishi had like six MSG debuts. And the best wrestler in this match is actually standing outside in the form of Dutch Mantel as Uncle Zebekiah. Number two is… fuck… I guess Rikishi???
As you can see – THE SMOKING GUNS EXPLODE~! Is the whole basis for this match? You see Billy Gunn has the black cowboy hat of heeldom now. Lord – this match has four different guys doing various version of cowboy gimmicks. Aren’t we all lucky.
For reasons unknown to all of us but the mania that is the inside of Vince’s head, Free for All opens with this match which would be one thing if it was like 25 minutes ate up all the time which would make sense if you were running a proper Survivor Series match that allowed you to tell multiple stories throughout the match and space out your eliminations. But nope – this is a 10 minute sprint that opens with Penis Head Montoya getting far too much offense in on the Sultan and then getting murdered with a piledriver and then eliminated with the Camel Clutch. Clearly Auska’s… err… the Sultan’s aurora is dead.
Okay – they were doing commercials during the preshow back then too. Steve Austin swearing at Bret Hart is gonna be better than anything else that occurs in this match. Perhaps for the next three hours.
Oh Doc Hendrix insert interview thingy too. All while dudes are getting eliminated. Jesse James goes on a small package rampage to eliminated Bradshaw and Sultan. The first one is totally blown as Bradshaw had clearly kicked out AND Billy broke up the pin by kicking James in the head. The second one is absurd as James just applies the small package out of basically a lockup and pins Sultan. If it isn’t obvious – they got the cue that they needed to wrap it up and nothing makes sense anymore.
The crowd is way into a Gunn vs. Gunn match up which surprises me. We New York folk are a stupid lot. Billy calls Bart a Son of a Bitch which Vince apologizes for so that makes me laugh. Oh, look at that, the match is over already. Bart is the sole survivor. You wouldn’t know that though as Vince has already started the hype for the Shawn/Sid Main Event.
BRITISH BULLDOG/OWEN HART/NEW ROCKERS (Marty Jannetty/Leif Cassidy) vs. PHILIP LAFON/DOUG FURNAS/GODWINNS (Henry/Phineas)
This match is… boy… it is something. Designed to be a showcase for Lafon and Furnas (it was their WWF debut match) it accomplished that… I guess. I mean the old Ralph Waldo Emerson quote is “Life is a journey, not a destination.” In this case, it’s “Oh Thank God we reached our destination. Please ignore the journey.”
The Godwinns are here just because the teams need to be even. Both are eliminated in what feels like three minutes but Wiki says was eight minutes and I call bullshit on whoever’s stopwatch they were using. Jannetty blows out his knee early in the match so he limps along until being the first guy eliminated. I really liked the part where when Jannetty gets hurt he tags out and lays on the apron only to be tagged back in immediately by Snow… err… Cassidy (fucking WWF gimmicks). I like it even more when Jannetty gets to collapse multiple times running the ropes because good ole Al is clueless. But remember kids – only he and Vince Russo understand how the wrestling business works.
Remember when I said this is supposed to be a showcase for Furnas and Lafon? Well – clearly Bulldog didn’t get that memo as he instantly blows Furnas’ signature dropkick spot by just running straight through it. I spend the rest of the face convinced that Furnas concussed himself on the landing since, ya know, he wasn’t expecting to just hit fucking air. He seems off the rest of the match. And if it wasn’t from the blown dropkick it was from when Owen accidentally missile dropkicks him in the dick.
Lafon gets the hot tag and hits a second rope reverse suplex to eliminate Cassidy which baffles everyone as the cadre of announcers all yell WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?! It was a simpler time.
HA! Bombed out of his mind Bulldog goes to kick Lafon in the gut and somehow kicks him straight in the dick. Chad Patton (the ref) is staring right at it so he has to pretend that Lafon DIDN’T just get kicked straight in the dick. No condition to wrestling Davey Boy Smith is killing me.
Really the only thing you want to see out of this match is seeing what a professional Owen Hart is. Watch him call a match for eight where one guy can’t walk, another is concussed, another is high, another took a shoot kick to the dick and another is Al Snow.
If I am being honest – the announcing (which often is the case on a WWF/WWE show) became distracting. The crew is Vince McMahon and Jim Ross with Jerry Lawler out for this match (he is wrestling on the show later.) Everyone is in his prime but not in the good way. For whatever reason, JR clearly seems to be irritated at having to work this show so it’s All Japan, football backgrounds, shitting on the refs (this one was valid) and being snarky to Lawler. He also seems to believe that the Godwinns are responsible for Bill Clinton being in office. Okay JR. And then out of nowhere, he decides to spend minutes calling Finneas dumb. Lawler has Lawler jokes. Vince is Vince and just cackles at shit that no one else would find funny. JR makes a Suzanne Somers reference and you can hear Vince slapping his knee from here. Man – no wonder Dolfan has fond memories of this show. Being in the crowd meant you didn’t have to hear this fucking announcing.
The best example might be right at the end. Owen took the loss on a German suplex that he decided at the last minute “Hmm… maybe I should rotate onto my stomach for this.” Upon watching the replay.
Lawler: “That can break someone’s neck!”
Vince (monotone): “Anything could happen.”
Yes. Yes it could Vince. Like repelling at guy from the ceiling going horrible wrong.
And this is moment I fell asleep. I woke up just in time for the finish of.
UNDERTAKER vs. MANKIND – Paul Bearer in a Shark Cage
Hold up – did the WWF have playsets to sell all the way back in 1996? I honest to God didn’t remember that Bearer was getting stuffed into a shark cage until I woke up and was really confused. Taker was winning and then the Executioner shows up to save Paul Bearer and I get said over the end of Terry Gordy’s career and that he is dead. Fuck this match.
Okay – I like these guys enough to go back see what happened since I have zippy memories of the match since watching it live 20 years ago at Schneider’s place. I think – THINK – it is the most mundane of the Taker/Foley matches which is probably why I can’t remember it.
Oof… so upon going back to watch the whole match I see that they drop Taker down from the ceiling dressed like a fucking bat. So that stuff I wrote like 40 words ago seems even more appropriate.
I actually kinda dig this as they actively do a bunch of stuff that I liked… especially when I was young and dumb in the mid-90s. Taker spends a lot of time trying to destroy the Mandible Claw hand and Mankind takes a lot of ill-advised bumps that I am sure how no bearing on his body being destroyed now. As per usual in a Mankind match – you have to accept the Mandible Claw as being a legit finisher but that is all of wrestling period.
Underrated moment is watching the foreign object that Foley is supposed to use fly out of his ring gear and then lays on the mat for like five minutes before Foley finally picks it up and sticks it back in his pants just in time for the spot where it was necessary. Pretty good ring awareness Mike Chioda!
Anyhoo – this is a sleeper hoss match.
Ooof… Sunny is out to do commentary. Least shocking news alert – those in attendance do their best to molest Sunny as she walks down to the ring (same goes with Marlena and Sable). You have some explaining to do Dolfan.
HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY/CRUSH/JERRY LAWLER/GOLDUST vs. MARC MERO/THE STALKER/ROCKY MAIVIA/JIMMY SNUKA
Sunny and Ross are yelling at each other so much that Vince needs to tell them both to stop and we have reached the point of this review where I want to die. Barry Windham’s mustache is the only thing that stops me from doing so.
Mark Henry is injured and gets replaced by Jake Roberts. Everything sucks.
I have no interest in this match because as we all know – it’s the Rock’s debut so we have seen the dopey entrance and the dopey shoulder breaker hundreds of times. I am positive JR was not allowed to stand up while calling the match or we would have had a problem.
I am debating if I want to go back and figure out why HHH and Mero were beefing. Do I hate myself that much? (For once the answer is no) Really, who the fuck cares as the match should have been dubbed “Rocky and the Seven Guys Who We Can Afford To Sacrifice To Put Him Over”.
Jim Ross thinks that Windham’s Zubaz are too restrictive to wrestle in. Yes, these are things that happen in this match. JR also just said “Crush is like Michael Irvin! Keep him out of jail and he can play!”
Aww… I shouldn’t be as amused as I am at Lawler being the person who has to eat the DDT so Jake can getting some shine. I also shouldn’t be as amused as I am by it being 1996 and suddenly it is HEART PUNCH MANIA~! In the WWF as Crush is eliminating folks left and right with it.
HA! Mero’s tope to nowhere just made me spit my drink out. I am a terrible person. Oh and Mero gets eliminated while they are showing the replay of the tope to nowhere so it was never too early for Kevin Dunn to be striking.
Blah blah blah. Rocky is down 2-1 and magically wins the whole match by himself. I am shocked – SHOCKED – by these developments. This match was way too fucking long.
And to put a bow on the match – Sunny “I am proud of him (Rocky) and I haven’t had a chance to seduce him yet!”
BRET HART vs. STEVE AUSTIN – #1 Contender
Already reviewed this back in DVDVR #128
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin – Survivor Series ’96 (11/17/96) (Rippa)
“This was so typical of the pathetic WWF back in the day – an amazingly crappy card (this one included that oh so savvy decision to put the title on Sid) that had this one gem buried right in the middle of it. (On a “More Things Change The More They Stay The Same Note: Rocky Maivia was the only survivor in his match.) Boy, this is so much better than their Wrestlemania match. I didn’t think the Wrestlemania match had aged well while I forgot how great this match was. Now, I am pissed at myself for not rewatching this match before I voted. (God – the WWF ballot seems like it was ages ago. Misty Colored Water Memories…) This was professional wrestling (I promised myself I would not refer to anything in this match as “old school”) at it’s simplest and finest. Hart was returning to the WWF after his hissy fit of having to drop the title to Shawn Michaels. Austin had started to emerge into the next great star of the fed and, of course, Hart hated the heelish Austin. The match drips with so much psychology that I can’t even describe it all. Hart tries to outwrestle Austin figuring that there is no one who can outwork him. Shocking Hart though, Austin hangs with the Hitman on the wrestling aspect and continuously gains the advantage through basic heel tactics (eye rakes, holding the rope on the abdominal stretch, etc.). There is absolutely beautiful storytelling through the match and it works on a myriad of levels. The best is how Austin starts to work over Hart’s throat. Hart is obviously known for his conditioning. Hell, he had wrestled for 60+ minutes in his last match and you figure he has kept himself in shape by wrestling sheep or whatever the hell he would do in Canada.) So Austin, who is in fairly good shape himself, makes a point of shortening Hart’s endurance. A Stun Gun, a sleeper, elbows, knees and boots directly to the throat all work over Bret who is gasping for air within the first 10 minutes of the contest. Hart gains little respites of offense in but he continually gets overwhelmed by Austin. Finally, Hart figures out how to get the best of Austin and that is to start brawling with him. He even starts to lift moves from Austin as he hits a Stun Gun of his own to finally gain control of the match. I should note that Jim Ross is really hit and miss in this match – and the misses solely rest on Vince McMahon’s shoulders. McMahon and J.R. do the whole bickering bitter announcer routine that was old before it even started. And Vince, as we all know, is beyond terrible in calling a match, not so much for his “What a Maneuver” act but more because he didn’t feed his partner’s anything to work with and would often drift onto completely unimportant tangents. So Ross at times tries too hard to compensate for the void that is McMahon. But when J.R. is focused in this match, you remember why he was, at one time, one of the best announcers in the game. Ross had the ability to call the action that would be entertaining to the hardcore wrestling fan yet still educational and informative for the person watching their first PPV – like comparing this match with Hart’s previous big matches held in Madison Square Garden (against Mr. Perfect and his two Wrestlemania X matches). Okay dokey, back to the match. Now, the first half of the match was pretty great but there are parts of the second half that are even better. Austin continues to break out every move he learned from the Chris Adams School of Wrestling. The problem he finds out though is that, none of it is enough to put Hart away. He tries his own submission move – the Texas Cloverleaf – but Hart escapes that. He tries the Stunner but makes a questionable call in judgment. The Stunner gets hit right by the ring ropes. Austin takes the time to drag Hart to the middle of the ring so he can’t use the ropes to escape. Unfortunately for him, Hart has enough time to get a shoulder up. He does the neat looking Bow-and-Arrow, which Hart reverses into a Sharpshooter – in what should have been a better looking spot. Austin has one last trick left. He goes for the Million Dollar Dream (the move he had been taught by Ted DiBiase during his comically bad Ringmaster days). The tactical error with that idea is that Hart loves people to put him in sleepers because it allows him to push off of the turnbuckle and get the stunning pinfall. Someone didn’t watch his Wrestlemania VIII tape. Anyway, this thing went almost 30 minutes and it was really fucking great throughout. I guess some newer fans might not like it because there is no blood, Austin doesn’t drink beer, no one dives off a ladder and no one shows their titties but I got no complaints. Plus, the magic of fast forward allows me to watch this match and only this match.”
“Plus, the magic of fast forward allows me to watch this match and only this match.” Fuck you Dolfan.
FAAROOQ/FAKE RAZOR RAMON/FAKE DIESEL/VADER vs. SAVIO VEGA/JIMMY SNUKA/YOKOZUNA/FLASH FUNK
Fuck this match and fuck everyone who put it together. Fuck Faarooq and fuck that suit because I am secretly jealous I can’t pull it off. Fuck MSG for being a tiny building so PG-13 doesn’t have that long of time to keep rapping the Nation of Domination theme. Fuck Jimmy Snuka because fuck that murderer. Also Fuck Jimmy Snuka for being the mystery partner. You’re cool Flash Funk. Fuck Jim Ross for being part of the whole THESE FAKE GIMMICK GUYS ARE THE BEST! Fuck Glen Jacobs for agreeing to go along with this. I feel like THAT should be a fucking talking point for whomever the fuck is running against him. Oh Vader is in this match – I am down with that. Fuck Savio Vega – he knows what he did. Fuck Vince McMahon. Fuck Face Yokozuna. Wait… that doesn’t sound right. Fuck Jim Cornette. Fuck Clarence Mason. Fuck the no contest this match ends in because apparently Jimmy Snuka is the only one who can get a pinfall.
SID vs. SHAWN MICHAELS – WWF WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Lord that might be the worst promo video I have ever seen the WWE production staff put together. Yeesh. I guess they were ahead of the curve on Snapchat filters. God Bless.
And people not knowing how to fist bump Sid will never not be funny.
SUDDENLY I’M DOMINATE~! When did that become a fucking thing? What at least was always a fucking thing was WWF security not being able to do its job. Michaels gets grabbed by some girls at ringside and they won’t let go. Ladies – he is not your boy toy.
I want to make a joke about how Jose Lothario is now the world’s greatest wrestler because a couple of matches from Texas showed up but I am lazy and Matt is still sad over the NWA Streaming service ending. RIP. JR says he is a great coach because he trained Michaels in “How not to get powerbombed”. Well that is a metric I have never heard of before.
This match is awkwardly fun. First part of the match is all based on the notion that Michaels is just as strong as Sid – which is absurd. Plus, the New York crowd likes Sid WAY more than Michaels so that brings out cranky Shawn because the crowd isn’t doing what he wants (The part where he spits at the crowd is a notable highlight). So Shawn playing heel while being managed by Lothario is weird. Not as weird as Sid trying to sell his leg though. People not knowing how to fist bump Sid might be #1 and the best. Well, Sid trying to remember which leg to sell is #2.
Also, Sid is the only person who would use a Million Dollar Dream but try and get pinfalls with it. And point of order – a Million Dollar Dream was part of the finish of the Austin/Hart match. Sid gives no fucks. God, I really haven’t loved Sid as much as I should.
Something to watch for in this match – the three guys sitting in the front row with their arms crossed constantly checking their watches. Even better, wait for them to recognize that the finishing sequence of the main event has started and they start putting on their jackets because clearly the need to beat cheeks to the D Train.
Speaking of the finish – it is some bullshit. Sid grabs the camera from the cameraman on the ring apron (Side note – Sid already ran into him once accidentally). Sid then waffles Lothario because he is PSYCHO~! (Wait I am hearing due to trademark issues that should be SYCHO~!) Lothario sells as if having a heart attack – which NO ONE on the WWF medical staff or MSG medical staff seem to care about at all. Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music but instead of going for the pin goes and checks on Lothario. He also swears at the camera a lot (that part is muted on the Network version but I have to assume it aired live because clearly that is how the WWF was going to combat ECW). It becomes obvious that someone blew the sequence because Sid rolls out to hit Michaels with the camera but Earl Hebner yells at all of them and they get back in the ring so Earl can take a ref bump off a high cross body. Michaels goes back outside where Lothario is STILL playing dead and no one but fucking Michaels cares. God that really is amazing. Sid this time clubs Michaels with the camera, hits the powerbomb and wins the title. Meanwhile – four dudes finally show up and just throw Lothario like a sack of potatoes onto a stretcher – one that they don’t even take the time to properly setup. Yeah – I may have peed my pants a little.
HA! Vlad doesn’t know how to fist bump Sid either. Okay – that might have made this all worth it.