— Hi guys, I took a break last week so that people could call me racist a lot. But I’m back with another recap.
— The next installment is something special: Instead of doing another pay-per-view we’ll be doing a Best Of 1996 Awards thingy that I haven’t come up with a good name for yet. So get ready for fake awards to get handle out to people.
— As always, follow me on the Tweeters and make sure to pay your taxes. Now, on to the goods.
Best/Worst: The Moment That Explains It All
So the pay-per-view starts off with Flash Funk vs. Al Snow and my initial reaction is to be upset at how much the Funkasaurus was a carbon copy of Flash Funk’s gimmick, down to the two dancing Funkettes with him. Sure, there’s part of this that’s just WWE Recycled Gimmick 101, but a large part of it is WWE Ethnic Guys Get To Pick From A Hat Of Five Gimmicks 102. I’m not surprised, just…annoyed. Then, this really random moment happens that opened my eyes to everything. To Vince. To the state of the WWE. To decades of crappy minority relations that’s plagued the company since before I was born.
It was Vince dancing.
As part of Flash Funk’s entrance he goes to the announce team and he starts dancing. And Vince, guys, you have to see this, starts funky chicken-ing or something and he’s having the time of his life. He’s legitimately enjoying himself as much as I’ve ever seen Vince McMahon legitimately enjoy himself on camera. And it all makes sense.
Vince doesn’t see anything wrong with putting a fur coat and a white hat on a guy and calling him Flash Funk because he’s Black. It’s less “we’ll funk up the Black guy, f*ck it” and more “naturally we should put fur on the Black guy.” Vince just doesn’t get it. He’s as oblivious as that Mike guy on Real World saying that Black people are less educated. It’s not malice, just ignorance. The ignorance of a 60-year-old guy who doesn’t care enough to learn about the nuances of race/gender/anything but White male relations. He sees a Black guy and thinks “naturally he should be a pimp or a dancer or a thug” without blinking or thinking anything is wrong. Vince McMahon is a lowest common denominator guy who gets a script and write “this segment needs more vomit” in red ink because it makes him laugh.
Do I think Vince McMahon is a racist intending to play on stereotypes and demean for his own personal enjoyment? No. I just don’t think he knows any better. And I swear I have no clue what’s worse.
Best: Randomly Solid Flash Funk/Al Snow Match
On Paul Heyman’s documentary, he mentioned that WWE got Flash Funk in a trade for Al Snow and some other talent to develop, so I’m not not sure how they’re on the same show. Anyway, they had a match that nobody cares about that’s a pretty good showcase of their talents. However, it’s one of those matches that’s too long for a major debut. It’s rarely a good look for new guys to have these competitive matches that aren’t meaningful at all, especially for a mid-90s WWF crowd that’s still being conditioned to appreciate good matches. So everyone sort of snores through it, watches Funk and Snow do some hurancanranas and 450s then DANCE TIME.
Worst: Fake Razor Ramon and Earth-2 Kane
Well, this was the moment we’ve been waiting for. The first (and maybe last) pay-per-view match involving Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon. It’s amazing that WWF really seemed to be trying to get these gimmicks over…I think? We all know what became of Fake Diesel but Fake Razor is another thing. So I decided to see who he was and his Wikipedia page says “Richard Bognar is a retired Canadian professional wrestler. He is best known as the second Razor Ramon.” Also, people who searched for “Fake Diesel” also searched for “Horace Hogan,” which may be the most depressing thing I’ve ever typed. And I’ve written about Macklemore before.
As for the match itself, it’s another case of the audience sitting on their hands because it features a heel team vs. a heel team. And as we’ve established, nobody cares about one of the heel teams. The only excitement comes when Austin comes in and you realize how much Dean Ambrose is like him. Austin really got his ass kicked a lot and his run-ins ended in him getting jumped a bunch of times but there was still a huge pop and I can’t wait for his next one.
Fashion Break: Ahmed’s Fanny Pack
Worst: Ahmed Johnson Is Black Curtis Axel
Want to read the transcript of Ahmed Johnson’s promo? “AHEJAIREAPJREWPRJEWAPREJPWATEJWAPPAWJR”
He’s Curtis Axel yelling during matches but during promos. I don’t know if he was doing roids but I swear he sounds like a roided up psycho. The Farooq shows up sounding like W.E.B. Dubois by comparison. Actually, I’m starting to realize how underrated he was as a talker. Unfortunately for him, The Rock outshined him so frequently that he never recovered. Still, I hear you, Mr. Asad.
Worst: The Carry Marc Mero To Mediocrity Tour Continues
I don’t want to spoil my Best Of 1996 idea but hot damn Marc Mero continues to be horrendous in the ring. He’s basically John Morrison with only one jumpy move thing. We’ve seen Austin, Goldust and now HHH try to get a good match out of him and each performed miracles in his own way. Nobody could really pull out a great match, but they were decent, which is a lot to say for someone who absolutely stinks at the wrestling.
The match is mostly HHH telling a story, dragging Mero’s carcass along and selling like a crazy person when he has to. HHH looks like someone trying to control Fei Long on Street Fighter. See, Mero looks like a guy who can do something amazing but when you get him, you realize you can’t really control anything he does and none of his moves really work when you want them to. Then he does one moonsault or a flaming leg thing and you forget how difficult it is to get any enjoyment out of the experience. Except you totally don’t forget how hard it is to enjoy a Marc Mero match.
PS. You don’t have to wave your arms like a…a…mad man just because you punch a guy twice, Marc. God, I hate all the things you ever do.
Worst: The Blowoff To The Feud Is…The Executioner?
We left off the Undertaker/Mankind feud with Taker getting a decisive win and almost getting his hands on Paul Bearer before The Executioner came in to build to a Taker/Executioner match nobody wanted to see. For everyone who forgot, Executioner is Terry Gordy because WWE does these sort of things to people.
As for the match itself, yikes. There wasn’t any chemistry here and it goes to show how much of an art it was for Taker/Mankind to put on so many brawls and make them exciting. Speaking of, Mankind makes an appearance and basically steals the match from Gordy and we get another Taker/Foley brawl. Mankind even takes the bump through the house and we get to forget we’re in the middle of a shitacular match.
I think Gordy was brought to WWF as part of the aforementioned talent exchange with ECW and I’m pretty sure WWF shipped his ass back after this match.
So to recap, we get Fake Diesel, Fake Razor and The Executioner in the longest matches of the year so far. This is really a bang-up pay-per-view guys.
Best: Bret And Shawn Hate Each Other
Oh, yeah. Here we go. Suddenly, we’re knee-deep in the Shawn/Bret Hate Tour where nobody knows if they’re shooting or not. It seems like at this point in the feud they’re just needling each other enough to make the story compelling. HBK seems relatively sober and Bret seems motivated because he thinks there’s a WM main event in his future.
Joke’s on you, buddy.
Anyway, Psycho Sid wrestles Bret and Shawn in back-to-back months and it’s cool to see the differences between the matches. It’s fascinating to compare as it’s hard to tell who pulled out the better match but you can see the differences in style between the two. HBK is a high octane match that has ebbs and flows, but he’s still working out how to fill in the downtimes. Hart’s match doesn’t have the peaks that Shawn’s did, but it told a consistent story throughout. They’re different styles and there isn’t one that’s better but you can pinpoint their different philosophies about matches and how it can lead to a clash.
What both men share is an ability to have great matches with anyone over 6’8″. So we get an era where Psycho Sid has two great matches in a row which hasn’t happened since 1991 and Sting was carrying him to something decent. In the end, Sid power bombs Bret and gets to say he pinned Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in two consecutive months. I still can’t believe Sid was ever this hot and got this much of a push. What kind of world is this?
Best: The Best Era Ever Begins
I’ve been watching Attitude Era WWF (1998-1999) and…it’s not that good. The WWF’s true Monday Night War prime came in 1997 and this In Your House kicked it off. Just look at the main event: Hart/Michaels beginning their history-altering feud, Austin reeking havoc on everyone, and that’s not even mentioning the guy in the match who’s the world champion. We’re about to enter one of the best creative years in the company’s history and I’m all the way here for it. The feuds and stars were aligning and things are about to get pretty great pretty quickly. I think.
Worst: In Your House Is A Chore
I remember In Your House fondly for its more memorable matches like Michaels/Mankind. But I didn’t realize just how bad these events were in retrospect. For their time, they were great: high stakes matches at a discounted rate. But in 2014, where RAW is three hours long and features at least three 15-minute matches on average, eace In Your House is basically a sub-par episode of Smackdown. They’re about an hour and 45 minutes long with meaningless matches and maybe one really good main event. And they’re about half as newsworthy. It’s worse than an episode of Impact because at least TNA gives us legendarily shitty things to make fun of every week. In Your House is just…there.
At least I have Canadian Stampede to look forward to.