Vintage Best And Worst: WWF Survivors Series 1996

– So we’re doing things a bit different this week. I usually alternate between WCW and WWE but I wanted to get back in order so I could do something special for the end of 1996 in a couple of weeks. So next week we’re doing Starrcade 1996 then finishing up 1996 with In Your House: Santa’s Crucifixion or whatever it’s called.

– As always, you can follow my ramblings on Twitter @DavidDTSS.

– As for my own personal viewing, I’m at the last WCW PPV, Greed. Which means I saw Sid break his leg in two parts a few days ago. While that gets all the attention, you definitely have to see the entire ending because it’s a sh*t show unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Anyway, on to the goodies!

Worst: Piped In Music Marathon

So because the 90s was a place where space and time didn’t matter, every wrestler got his own entrance music played for every Survivor Series match so we get eight theme songs before each match. So basically it’s WWF karaoke but with the Network it’s Generic Music Marathon. I really think Vince and his guys could have saved money and saved their stock by just hiring one guy to beat box in front of a mic for these entrances because generic music entrances are the bane of WWE Network’s existence.

Best: How Easy It Is To Have A Greaet Survivor Series Match

My heart sings for Survivor Series matches because they’re just so easy. Any group of decent wrestlers can put together a 20-minute match that’s compelling as hell and that’s what we got here. The Bulldhozers (this name is going to stick, dammit) teamed with the heel (!?!?!) Rockers to face the Godwins and Phineas and Ferb because that’s what my brain says when I hear Furnas and LaFon said out loud. The pacing was perfect and the pinfalls made sense. Then we got a dope showcase of Furnas and Lafon doing all sorts of super future mega flips to put them in the tag team picture against the Ascension. Wait.

By the time the match is over, we’re 30 minutes into the pay-per-view and my happiness is a warm set of pitfalls.

Worst: Bulldog Is Lost

British Bulldog. Water Yew Dewing. There were a few minutes in the match where I legitimately thought British Bulldog was drunk. First he doesn’t know when he’s getting tagged and once he does he just sort of stands in the corner still, missing his spot. Then the next few minutes are him just running around and blowing every spot he can. You can see Al Snow trying to help him pull it together but it’s not working. I’m not sure what happened, but there are definitely times in Bulldog’s career where he just has matches and he doesn’t appear to know where he is. I don’t know if this is a function of him just struggling as a wrestler, concussions taking their toll or too many nights out with Anvil but it’s amazing everyone is safe in this match.

Best: Undertaker Is Basically A Scorned Ex All The Time

Undertaker basically does all the stuff your ex does after a break up. Except instead of “break up” it’s “buried alive or set on fire in a casket or electrocuted until he craps out his brain” or whatever death scenario is drawn up for him. Every time he comes back, he makes some dramatic ex change. Either he’s cutting all his hair or going through a goth phase or a Limp Bizkit phase. Remember when HHH hit him with sledgehammers to death and Undertaker put out a video where he’s cutting his hair? You just never know what you’re going to get.

For the purposes of this pay-per-view, Undertaker returns from being buried alive to seek revenge (a month later, mind you). How does he respond? Full leather that makes Seth Rollins look like a member of PETA. And let’s not forget the brand new tattoo tear. Which is exactly what my exes did after break ups.

Worst: The Executioner

The match itself is a bit of a letdown after the Buried Alive match. Undertaker and Mankind basically go back to the same match the had minus as many hardcore elements. They clearly have a rhythm now and were running through the motions for the BIG ENDING.

Which never came. Instead of the requisite five minutes of Undertaker beating up Paul Bearer, we get the swerve from Kane! Ha, just kidding, Kane is dressed like Diesel tonight. No, we get the Executioner. For those who don’t know, The Executioner is the late Terry Gordy but dressed as an…executioner. Maybe I can’t take him seriously because he looks like ass. Either that or he looks like the guy who was all “no noose is good noose” from the end of Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Whatever the case, lulz Executioner.

Worst: One Of These Guys Isn’t The Best On The Mic

CAN YOU GUESS WHO IT IS?! If you guessed “Lawler” you were sort of right, but no, Crush talking is never a good idea.

Best: Sunny Is Watching Gotham Burn

Vince McMahon is a cruel, cruel man. I’ve noticed that he’s placed Sunny in positions where she had to look at her replacement while she’s incapable of doing anything about it. It’s pretty much Bane hanging up the TV of Gotham burning right outside of Bruce Wayne’s prison cell. I imagine this is leading to a feud between whoever Sunny manages next and Marc Mero. Or maybe not. What it does accomplish, though, is it causes Sunny to try to block the inevitable live in front of millions of people. It’s the cruelest thing Vince has ever done. And he made us watch Miz main event a WrestleMania.

Worst: Speaking Of Batman – Here’s The Mad Hatter

Barry Windham. Oh man. Here’s an artist rendering.

Best: The Debut Of The Biggest 100% Samoan Wrestler Of All Time

The second traditional Survivor Series match is a pretty newsworthy one. Because Mark Henry was injured again, we got the return of Jake The Snake and we got the aforementioned Barry Windham. But really this match is all about building the “blue chipper,” Rocky Maivia. Just to double back to the Atlantic debate from last week, his Samoan heritage doesn’t get mentioned (except for a Samoan drop) and there isn’t a mention of African-Canadian or whatever heritage. Just that he’s grandson of Chief Peter Maivia and that his dad is Rocky Johnson. The end.

The match is notable for fact HHH, Rock and Goldust look like the future. Rock is clearly green but in hindsight he did have the tools. He was crazy athletic and had a charisma that most guys wouldn’t come close to in their first match. In the end, it’s Rock against Crush and Goldust and he gets the win. One problem: the MSG crowd is probably the worst crowd to have that sort of debut. A white bread babyface beating two heels on his own in Madison Square Garden does not a huge pop get.

…we know the rest.

Best: I Got Ridiculously Excited For This

Something weird happened while I was watching the build-up video: I got really excited. I’ve seen this match probably a dozen times and it never gets old. So as the hype video was playing I got really pumped like I was watching the match live. And, guess what, it was just as good as I remember.

Best: Austin vs. Hart Is It Was Written… Let Me Explain

So, about the Nas reference: Nas’ first album Illmatic is easily one of the top handful of rap albums ever released. It’s just monumentally classic and sent rap into a new stage. That’s pretty much what the Bret/Austin I Quit match was. It was perfect. It changed everything and suggesting anything else is tantamount to blasphemy. However, there is a loud minority of fans who think Nas’ second album was superior. And those people usually get cursed out at every turn.

I guess I’m that second album guy, because I love the Hart/Austin Survivor Series match as much as their I Quit match. It’s hard to compare them because they’re so different, but I don’t think this match gets mentioned as much as it should. The build centered around two guys who wanted to prove who was better and the match played out like that. There was wrestling, one upsmanship, and a battle of skill that was missing in the violence of the I Quit match. Then when things kick into high gear and they f*cking rock for the last 15 minutes. It’s beautiful and a look at what Austin could have done if he stayed healthy his whole career.

Is this better than the I Quit match? Not sure, but it’s damn closer than it should be.

But their best match is the No Holds Barred match from RAW IDC IDC.

Worst: Oh My God These Rappers

What in the hellfire were these two rapper guys who brought out Farooq and the Nation (by the way: that Farooq Asad thing came and went with the quickness. Maybe it was Farooq’s stripper costume)? Apparently they’re wrestlers named PG-13 whose members are JC Ice and Wolfie D. I don’t remember their existence. And I don’t ever want to forget them. They are the absolute worst. I think they may have jobbed out a few times on RAW but mostly they just rapped for the Nation and sucked at it. They’re almost as bad as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Worst: A DQ?!

How do you DQ a Survivor Series match?! How does this happen? Sure, we probably didn’t need to see a full match with Fake Diesel and Fake Razor and everyone in the match was getting too protected to take a pinfall (except for Savio Vega, ha). So what happens, the match ends in a schmoz. I’m not sure, but this has to be the first ever Survivor Series match to end with a DQ with just about all the guys still in the ring, right?

Meanwhile, the WCW fanatic in me is wondering how Vader and Ron Simmons can even coexist but I’ll get over it. The keeper in the match, though, is getting a sneak peak at Yokozuna and Vader. That’s really one of the beauties of the match concept as we get a fresh feud coming out of it and my soul is ready for Yokozuna vs. Vader.

Best: Shawn Michaels Performs A Minor Miracle

You know, I don’t want to disparage a crowd as legendary as MSG, especially 18 years after the fact, but do you guys realize you were cheering f*cking Psycho Sid and booing Shawn Michaels? I guess the HBK babyface stuff was wearing thin and Sid was in his prime in terms of being a badass babyface, but still. Sometimes even the almighty MSG crowd gets it wrong. Also, they started looking funny in the light ever since the entire crowd screamed like eight year olds when John Cena made his return at the Rumble a few years back.

But alas, here we are in 1996 with a crowd that’s turned on Shawn Michaels and wants nothing more than to have Psycho Sid win the title. As much as Shawn gets crap for letting a turning crowd get to him, he handled it pretty well. He pivoted ever so slightly to come off as more of a heel and let Sid look strong. Unfortunately, the match was booked for Sid to turn heel by murdering Jose Lothario via camera, except the super edgy MSG crowd was totally behind him the whole time.

Best: Except For Her

She wasn’t behind it. At all. Also, creepy guy, give her some space. Sh*t.