Vintage Best And Worst: WWF Summerslam 1996

By: 06.05.14
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Fashion Break: Mark Henry In All-White Everything

You couldn’t tell Mark a damn thing when he broke out this Kangol hat and matching white denim outfit for his WWF debut. Eat your heart out “Make A Difference” Fatu.

Best: Mark Henry Is Legit Scared Of Snakes

God, Mark Henry on commentary for the Lawler/Snake match is the greatest. How can you not love Mark Henry because seriously. The beauty starts when Vince McMahon lets him know that yes, Jake The Snake brings out snakes to the ring and Mark is all “wait, you didn’t tell me about that sh*t” because he’s legitimately scared of snakes. And not, fake wrestler scared of snakes. I mean Mark spends the next five minutes like “no, but seriously, we’re not going to have a goddamn snake out here, right?” Vince and Mr. Perfect are trying to build the Lawler/Snake match about alcoholism and Mark Henry is still, “nobody’s answered my question about snakes, mother*ckers.” The guy writes poetry and is deathly afraid of snakes. Just love him, everyone.

Then, of course, Lawler comes out and gets 10 minutes of mic time for whatever reason and gets all “if Mark Henry had a gold medal he’d just get it bronzed” because Lawler is pretty much the cop that pulled me over in Memphis that one time. The best part is Henry legitimately might be watching wrestling for the first time ever. Perfect keeps making alcohol jokes and Henry says out loud, “oh, I get it. Everything turns into a joke” like he’s learning how wrestling people talk right before our eyes. I half-expected him to say, “ah, I get it. He’s hitting him but not really, so it’ll look like it hurts more than it does. I understand now.”

If you watch one thing out of this whole pay-per-view. It’s Mark Henry being real-life amazing.

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Worst: Possibly The Worst Live Experience Ever

So there’s this Boiler Room Brawl between Undertaker and Mick Foley and it’s at least 17 times better than it has any right being. This is the type of match that they would have been one of the legendarily awful Undertaker matches if it were between him and Kamala or someone, but the boiler room stuff is basically a hardcore match that’s entertaining despite some of the slow moments. We get huge metal pipes to the scrotes, burning via hot steam and hot coffee attacks.

But man oh man, f*ck Cleveland. Right, WWF? I don’t know if that arena had a huge tron or something to show the match for the fans in attendance or not, but I do know that they set up four regular TVs in BLACK AND WHITE around ringside for the entire arena to look at. That can’t be right, can it? There had to be a monitor at the top of the arena. There definitely wasn’t a Titantron or anything. What’s funny is the crowd starts booing when the signal fades as if they’re not getting screwed over by a 20-minute match they’re watching in WORSE quality than the people watching from home.

As for the rest of the match, we get Undertaker’s big vulnerable moment as Paul Bearer turned on him for the first of many times. And he plays it to perfection. If you ever question Paul Bearer as a manager, just look at how much of a slime ball he is here. You think Seth Rollins turning was a big deal? This was unthinkable.


I’m convinced. Wrestling fans in 2014 are spoiled brats. We’re so smart and smarky that we know who should get booked when and who should become the next big star. Yes, a year ago none of us would have had Roman Reigns as the biggest star in The Shield but whatevs.

Here we are, two months after Stone Cole Steve Austin become one of the biggest stars ever at King Of The Ring and he’s not even booked for Summerslam. No run-in. No promo. Nada. He pops up backstage during the Taker/Mankind match in his pirate mustache and that’s it.

This made me think: imagine Austin not being booked in 2014. He was easily one of the most over guys in the company and not having him in a pay-per-view would have all of us yelling that WWE does’t know who to push. Well, what do ya know? I think they did okay with Austin. It’s easy to forget that it was a solid 18 months between Austin’s I Have A Dream speech or whatever and him winning the belt. Sometimes, the people who get paid to make these decisions are smarter than we are. Sometimes.

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Best: Fat Vader vs. Asshole HBK

This is the match HBShizzle was made to have with Vader. The only thing missing was Vader’s potato-ing Michales with his WCW punches. Still, this is Michaels getting tossed around and showing off how much of a monster Vader is. It’s lovely minus that dumb ass rest hold me and my bae thing Vader did last month. Sure, the ending it overbooked and the worst possible example of 50/50 booking, but I guess the point was to keep Vader strong so he could win the title at Survivors Series. Oh.

Despite the silly ending and the rest hold, we get another great Michaels match that holds up well. Hell, we even get the skin the cat/tombstone spot from The Greatest Match Of All Time, too.

Then, of course, the infamous A-hole Shawn Michaels rears his ugly head. You may know the spot by now, but HBK went up for the elbow drop, expected Vader to move, stopped, yelled “MOVE!” and kicked him in the head as hard as he could. I know Michaels is a saint now and all that, but gee whiz what a d*ckhole. The fact he kicked Vader after bitching about Vader hitting too hard still makes my blood boil. Add in the fact that Leon White is a legit teddy bear and Michaels knows it so he bullied a guy twice his size. This is the moment that ruined Vader’s run. Some guys play politics and some guys just want to wrestle. Michaels ruined Vader in WWF just like Hogan did to him in WCW and it’s just not fair. Dammit.

Hey, did I mention that Sting/Vader feud from the early 90s was boss? You damn straight it was.

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