It’s me again with another installment of Vintage Best and Worst.
This time we’re doing an In Your House, which I forgot is only a couple of hours long, so we’re getting a shorter thing this week. Bummer. Also, most of them aren’t that great so that’s a bummer too. Next week, though, things pick up substantially as we get WCW Fall Brawl 1996: THE EVENT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING.
Without further ado: With Leather. We’re here. *blows out lantern*
Worst: Phone-In Intro
I spent a lot of time last week talking about how great the WWF/E videos are in comparison to WCW and how it’s a sign they were always meant to win the war. Well, that didn’t happen for In Your House. For this intro, we get the last two minutes of Free For All – which I wish they would include on the Network – then a quick graphic and boom: PPV time.
Way to make me look dumb, WWF.
Worst: Do We Really Need Longer Matches?
One of the big complaints we’ve gotten about pay-per-view matches over the last decade or so is that guys don’t get enough time in the ring. Like, why have a three week build for a match that’ll only last eight minutes? Next time you have that question, just crank up this Body Donnas vs. Smoking Guns tag match. They go for about 15-minutes and twelve of those minutes are placeholders. They’re just wrestling for wrestling’s sake. There’s no story. No build. Just four guys having a No Mercy match with each other until someone has “PIN” next to his name. These two teams could have had a really nice, compact, eight minute match and got the point across. That point being: Sunny’s boobs.
Instead, four mediocre wrestlers try to tell a story that’s as long as an episode of Robot Chicken and zero percent of it is compelling. There’s a beauty in putting on a good, tight match that would have benefitted both of these teams (and those of us who watched it). So give me that. A RAW match. Or, you know, have better wrestlers wrestle matches more often.
Worst: Sunny Storylines
Sunny is still with the Smoking Guns. But she used to be with Chris Candido, who’s with the Body Donnas. In between that time, she was with the Godwins. Why? Because she’s a slut or something – at least that’s what WWF taught me as a kid.
The problem with Sunny’s stories is that they were literally all the same and they all happened within the course of a few months. Here it goes:
1) Sunny’s boobs
2) Sunny’s boobs make a guy fall in love with her
3) Sunny’s boobs become said guy’s tag team’s manager
4) Deep in love guy gets so in love with Sunny’s boobs that he becomes a distraction to his team.
5) Sunny’s boobs get tired of the guy’s team losing, so she leaves.
This happened literally for like a year and a half with different teams and they all had the exact same story. I get it. Boobs. But try switching something up. Also, Sunny was good looking but she definitely benefitted from the WWF not having a Divas division yet. Big fish. Small pond. And by “fish” I mean “boobs” because of course.
Best: Unexpectedy Decent Hoss Fight
This match was supposed to be between Mankind and Jake The Snake but Jake no-showed, which makes me sad because of Jake’s history and the fact that match would have been pretty great psychologically. Anyway we get a Mankind vs. Henry Godwin match and that made me even more sad until Foley adapts to Godwin’s style and hosses it out for 15 minutes.
Unless I’m forgetting a feud here or there, Mick Foley never had a big feud in WWE with another guy with a similar body type to his like he did with Vader in WCW. So it’s easy to forget that he can pull out a decent power match even with Henry Godwin (who was slightly underrated the more I see his matches).
Still, this gets a worst in my brain because I would have preferred Jake. I’m sad enough to write a Sylvia Plath poem.
Best/Worst: Tell Me What The Superstar Line Was Like
Anyone reading this ever call a Superstar Hotline or the WCW Hotline? I always wanted to call as a kid but my parents didn’t let me because it was a pathetic money grab or something. When these throwback PPVs plug hotlines, it takes me back to a time when I was denied something I really wanted, Mom and Dad!
Sorry, I just finished a Sylvia Plath poem.
Best: This Is How I Look When I Type
Look at this sh*t. Look at it! This is what Marlena looks like when she’s answering fan mail on America Online. Everything Goldust did meant something and this is no different. It’s incredible. This is also what my house looks like when I’m working and my wife is done teaching for the summer.
Worst: Marc Mero Is Good At Nothing
Remember for King Of The Ring 1996 when I said that Marc Mero was the worst wrestler I’ve come across on the Network (tied with Marcus Alexander Bagwell)? Well, sh*tty Mero reared his ugly head again in this match with Austin. God bless Stone Cold because he really tried to carry Mero to a good match, and he got repaid by almost getting his neck broken twice.
At one point, Austin seems to be trying to get Mero to do something, gives up, walks away in frustration and says f*ck it and just pushes him off the apron.
Mero had sort of an anti-Sheamus thing going on where he’d look sweaty, his hair would get matted and it’d look like he’s just had a good match. But in actuality he’s just been getting sweaty by blowing spots and almost killing people. I hope they put quotation marks around the word ‘wrestler’ next time he whores out for a CNN appearance.
Best: Pre-Crisis Sable
Sable really was a beautiful woman. It’s just that the older she got, the more skin she showed and it was sort of counterproductive. But 1996 Sable in the full leather is victory for everyone.
Best: Undertaker As A Human Being
It’s so much fun to watch the Undertaker transform in 1996. That and the rise of Austin are probably the two most important developments from that year in the WWF. Here, Taker is still doing his full-on Deadman gimmick but he’s showing vulnerability and an a healthy wrestler hatred of gay people.
His match with Goldust here is a more realistic Undertaker style as he’s brawling outside, choke slamming Goldust on steps, breaking out inside f*cking cradles (which he had to use to get out of a blown spot, making it even more impressive) and keeping his sit-up no-sells to a minimum. It’s these subtle changes that make Mark Calloway so brilliant. He took a gimmick that wasn’t built to last and turned it into a thing that’s lasted damn near a quarter of a century. Not only that, it also spawned a career of a another guy whose gimmick has lasted 15 years.
Best: Taker’s Misfit Feud
If you watch all the WCW pay-per-views in 1996 and 1997, then you probably will have seen about three hours of Glacier vs. Mortis/Wrath matches. They’re all horrible and the gimmicks are all absolute trash. Meanwhile, in WWF, Undertaker has his own sort of misfit weirdo feud with Goldust and Mankind. There’s no comparison between the feuds. Undertaker’s story had a complexity and match quality that the Glacier matches couldn’t touch. That probably went without saying, didn’t it?
Fashion Break: Ahmed Johnson Hates Gay People. Wears This Shirt.
Remember how Ahmed tried to kill Goldust for gaying on him? This airbrushed shirt he got made for himself, Shawn Michaels and Sheamus (?) really nails the “I’m totally too manly for gay stuff” thing he was going for.
Best: Let’s Live In This Moment Forever
So, according to one of those Jim Cornette shoot interviews, Shawn Michaels was having a house show match with Vader where he cursed the big man out for being too stiff and said he’d end his career. That basically took Vader’s spirit from his body and ruined any chance of their feud progressing. So instead we got another HBK/Sid title feud that was pretty unspectacular.
I’m pretty sure all of that happened after this match between Vader/Bulldog/Owen and HBK/Johnson/Sid (though I think someone already told Vader about being too stiff because he’s tossing out softies left and right), so I invite you all to pretend that a long Vader vs. HBK feud is still happening. Because it would have been the best thing to happen all year. This is the part where I mention that Vader vs. Sting from the early 90s was so great. Have I told you that before?
Anyway, the opening minutes with Michaels basically flying across the arena like Speedball while Vader catches him and tosses hims round some more are just magic. So let’s watch and live in this fantasy where we’re going to see like four more Vader/HBK matches and never watch anything else again. It’s better that way.
Worst: Okay, Not This Moment
What the hell sort of submission hold is this? They’re basically in the same position I got in when I posed for keychain pictures with my high school girlfriend at the mall.
Best: An Actual IYH Main Event Finish
You remember great IYH main events, right? Well, about 97 percent of them end in DQ or no decisions. So it’s refreshing when we get to see an actual pin. Not only that, but it’s pretty clean. And Vader goes over. I want to be friends with this main event.