The countdown of the greatest WWE Survivor Series pay-per-views continues with #2: Survivor Series 1996. Once again I’m adding 2020 thoughts in blue font. This was written in 2016, I believe. Let’s get to it.
The tenth Survivor Series event took place in Madison Square Garden in New York City. It’s the most famous arena in the world, especially when it comes to World Wrestling Entertainment events. I’m actually surprised it took them ten Survivor Series events to finally head to MSG. Perhaps it was because they did several other PPVs there. Anyway, the MSG debut gave this show a bigger feel.
By 1996, WWE was starting to turn a corner for the better even though WCW was crushing them on Monday nights with Raw losing to Nitro regularly. Thanks to Steve Austin’s rise at King of the Ring 1996, the introduction of Mankind (Mick Foley) to WWE and the continued growth of others like Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the future was starting to brighten up a bit. Plus, this show also featured the PPV debut of a guy named Rocky Maivia, who ended up turning into quite a big deal (raise your eyebrow as you read that).
In addition to those guys, men like Bret Hart, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels did their part to lead the way. Michaels ascended to the level of World Champion in 1996 and he went into this show with an eight-month title reign. Hart took most of 1996 off after working so hard for over a decade without much of a break while questioning if he wanted to stay in WWE. With Hart paired with Mankind and Undertaker working with Mankind, they were put in positions to make those guys bigger stars just by being in the ring with the WWE veterans.
I have fond memories of this show because I was 16 years old and my passion for pro wrestling was as strong as ever. With WCW getting hot in the summer thanks to the New World Order angle, there was a buzz about the business again. Austin’s King of the Ring 1996 speech was huge too. He was thought of as a future main event guy, so to see him against Bret had me really excited.
WWE Survivor Series
Madison Square Garden in New York, New York
November 17, 1996
The opening video package let us know about the big matches coming up: Michaels vs. Sid, Hart vs. Austin, Undertaker vs. Mankind and the Survivor Series elimination matches.
It’s a packed house in MSG. The announce team of Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were ringside to welcome us to the show.
Survivor Series Elimination Match: Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, and The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Leif Cassidy) (w/Clarence Mason) vs. Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon and The Godwinns (Henry O. and Phineas I. Godwinn) (w/Hillbilly Jim)
Pre-match notes: Hart and Bulldog were the heel tag team champions. Cassidy was later more well known as Al Snow. The Godwinns were the face team. There wasn’t much of a crowd reaction for anybody here except Hart and Bulldog. Furnas and Lafon were newcomers who were brought in from Japan. They are all tag teams.
There were a lot of quick tags early on from both sides. Shoulder tackle by Phineas on Cassidy and then Cassidy came back with a body slam. Jannetty hit a knee to the back leading to Cassidy hitting a clothesline on Phineas. The heels worked on Phineas in their corner for a few minutes. Back elbow by Jannetty. He went up top, Phineas tripped him up, Jannetty shoved him down and missed an elbow drop. Jannetty was limping around the ring with some leg injury. Henry shoved him into the turnbuckle. Henry booted Cassidy and hit the Slop Drop reverse DDT to pin Jannetty.
Marty Jannetty eliminated by Henry Godwinn
Owen went into the ring and hit Henry with a spinning heel kick to eliminate him.
Henry Godwinn eliminated by Owen Hart
Phineas nailed a clothesline on Owen that sent him over the top to the floor. Bulldog nailed Phineas with a running powerslam because he was the legal man and eliminated Phineas.
Phineas Godwinn eliminated by British Bulldog
Furnas and Lafon were left for the faces against three heels. The heels worked on Furnas as Cassidy nailed a one-armed suplex. Furnas slammed him down. Owen nailed Furnas with a great dropkick as Furnas was running the ropes. Owen with a Perfect Plex for a two count. Delayed suplex by Bulldog as the heels continued to work on Lafon. Cassidy with a running clothesline in the corner. I almost wrote “Snow” for Cassidy because of his more well-known name. Lafon tagged in for the face, hit a reverse suplex off the top rope and eliminated Snow. Great move.
Leif Cassidy eliminated by Phil Lafon
Bulldog slowed down Cassidy by sending him into the ropes and dropping him face first. Owen with a belly to belly suplex for two followed by a neckbreaker and an elbow drop off the middle rope for a two count. Enziguri kick by Owen for two as Vince thought the last two nearfalls were the end of the match because that’s his commentary style. Bulldog nailed a low blow kick right in front of the ref and the ref Jack Doan did nothing about it while the announcers complained. Lafon hit a sunset flip on Bulldog while Furnas grabbed Owen out of the ring. That was enough to beat Bulldog.
British Bulldog eliminated by Phil Lafon
After the elimination, Bulldog did a chop block to the left leg of Lafon. Owen was left alone for his team against Furnas and Lafon as Owen worked over the leg of Lafon. Sharpshooter by Owen on Lafon, but Furnas made the save. Spinning back kick by Lafon knocked Owen down. Furnas tagged in with a shoulderblock and a great dropkick for a two count. Belly to bell suplex by Furnas followed by a release German Suplex led to Furnas pinning Hart. That was nearly a nasty landing for Owens, but he got his hands in there to prevent his head from hitting the mat at a bad angle. The match went 20:41.
Owen Hart eliminated by Doug Furnas
Survivors: Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon
Analysis: ***1/4 The match had a slow start, but it picked up after the crappy Godwinns were out of there. It would have been easy to put over Owen and Bulldog as the tag champs, but they chose to put over the newcomers to help build them up as contenders. That’s something WWE did a lot with champions losing in elimination matches. Furnas and Lafon were great workers although they didn’t have a strong connection with the crowd because they were great wrestlers that didn’t have any sort of gimmick.
(Good opener with Furnas and Lafon looking impressive as a new team that would go on to feud with Hart and Bulldog, so that’s why they were the final four guys in the match. It was a bit of a showcase to show what Furnas and Lafon can do. They weren’t big names or strong personalities, but in the ring Furnas and Lafon could have great matches with anybody.)
Mankind and Paul Bearer were interviewed by Kevin Kelly in the Boiler Room. Bearer complained about how he had to be in a cage for this match. Mankind told him not to worry.
Mankind and Bearer made their entrance. Bearer was put in the cage that was suspended above the ring. Lawler left the announce team since he was in a match later.
The Undertaker made his entrance. It was a spectacular entrance for him as he descended from the rafters. That was pretty rare for him, but it was a cool visual. Huge ovation for him.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind
Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the face while Mankind was the heel. It was a continuation of this feud that saw Bearer turn on Undertaker to align himself with Mankind at SummerSlam 1996.
Undertaker is wearing different ring attire from what he wore in previous years. It was more of a black leather look. There were a lot of shots from a wide-angle to show Bearer hanging from the cage above the ring. They also had a “cage cam” to show Bearer freaking out while in the cage. Undertaker rammed Mankind’s hand into the guard rail and the ring steps to injure the right hand of Mankind that is used for the mandible claw. Undertaker with a slam followed by a missed elbow drop. Mankind nailed the Cactus clothesline that sent both outside the ring as Undertaker landed on his feet. Mankind jumped the guard rail as they went into the crowd. Undertaker gave him back a back body drop over the guard rail back to the ring area. Mankind nailed a running dive off the apron that knocked down Undertaker on the floor. Mankind nailed the running knee attack against Taker against the turnbuckle. Undertaker took control back as he bit the hand of Mankind. Mankind nailed a piledriver. Boot to the face by Undertaker and Mankind fought out of a slam attempt with the mandible claw. Undertaker was able to break it by sending Mankind to the floor as Mankind took a nasty fall hard onto the floor. Bearer was saying it was all over for Undertaker. Undertaker kicked Mankind so that his head struck the steel outside the ring. Two nasty bumps in a row from Mankind.
Undertaker nailed the rope walk clothesline. Mankind came back with a neckbreaker as fans chanted “rest in peace” in support for Undertaker. They brawled by the turnbuckle with Mankind jumping off the top rope, but Undertaker choked him and Mankind came back with the Mandible Claw submission in the throat of Undertaker. It weakened Undertaker so much so that he was out on the mat. The ref raised his arm three times, but Undertaker kept going after the third time. The crowd isn’t into this match as much as you might think. Undertaker broke the hold and nailed Chokeslam. Undertaker missed a charge because Mankind ducked, so Taker went crashing to the floor. Mankind went for a running attack off the apron, Undertaker moved and Mankind crashed back first on the floor. Mankind went for a sleeper, but Undertaker countered with a back suplex. JR noted Undertaker is doing more traditional wrestling moves. Mankind pulled out some weapon from his tights that he used to hit Undertaker in the head with it. Mankind jumped on the back of Undertaker, so Undertaker flipped him over and hit the Tombstone to win the match after 14:52 of action.
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: *** A good match as usual from them. They had a lot of matches together and as long as they got 15 minutes like they did here you knew it would be a physical match that was fun to watch. Undertaker must have loved working with Foley because of his willingness to take punishment. It was better than all of the matches that Undertaker had with the superheavyweights. There were some brutal bumps by Mankind, which is something he always did even though it wasn’t the smartest thing. It’s also why he had to retire as a full-timer about four years after this when he was still in his 30s.
(The Undertaker gets his win back after the SummerSlam loss and the months that followed that. They had good chemistry together. The crowd was into it.)
Post match, The Undertaker was supposed to get his hands on Bearer. However, The Executioner (a masked wrestler) showed up to attack. He went after Undertaker, so Bearer left the ring. Undertaker hit a clothesline and The Executioner just left. The announcers put over how Undertaker was versatile and more aggressive.
Analysis: The announcing during this match and post match segment was Vince and JR’s way of telling us that the character was evolving. There was less of the sitting up and cheesy stuff. He was more of a traditional pro wrestler in this match.
(As we saw going into 1997 and 1998, he was more of a regular guy as a wrestler and less of the “Deadman” persona although there were still those elements as well. I think it was a smart move to show that Undertaker’s character was evolving with the edgier product.)
The lovely Sunny walked down to ringside to join commentary for the next match. Vince did some dancing that looked bad as JR said that Vince’s posterior will block out the sun.
The heel team in the next match did a promo. They made their entrances immediately after.
The face team made their entrance. The announcers put over Rocky Maivia very hard immediately after he made his entrance.
(The WWE television debut of Rocky Maivia aka The Rock. Kind of a big deal.)
Survivor Series Elimination Match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Crush, Jerry Lawler and Goldust (w/Marlena & Clarence Mason) vs. Marc Mero (with Sable), Rocky Maivia, Jake Roberts and “The Stalker” Barry Windham
Pre-match notes: The heel team was led Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who was the Intercontinental Champion. Mero led the faces. The Stalker was Barry Windham with a terrible looking mustache. Mark Henry was originally on the face team, but was replaced by Jake Roberts. This was Rocky’s big debut.
The fans chanted “Burger King” to piss off Lawler early on. Mero worked on Goldust for a bit as there were close-ups of Sable and Marlena watching at ringside. Sunny ripped on Sable saying she looked empty on the inside. Every time Mero tagged in, Helmsley tagged out to avoid him. Rocky hit a dropkick on Lawler followed by a punch that sent him over the top to the floor. Helmsley vs. Rocky in a preview of what was WWE’s biggest feuds in the next five years. Helmsley suplex and Goldust dropped an elbow for two. The heels worked on Rocky for a bit with most of the guys doing some basic punches. Sunny was insulting Vince’s toupee, which was funny. Back body drop by Rocky on Helmsley and there’s the tag to Roberts. Back body drop by Roberts on Helmsley followed by the short arm clothesline. The crowd was going wild, but Helmsley drove him back into the corner. Goldust tagged in Lawler, who hit a shot to the ribs of Roberts. They had a feud earlier in the year. Lawler went for a slam, Roberts slipped out and hit a DDT to eliminate Lawler.
Jerry Lawler eliminated by Jake Roberts
Goldust nailed Roberts with a punch followed by a chinlock. Roberts hit a jawbreaker and brought in Windham. Suplex by Windham gets a two count. Punch to the gut by Windham to counter an attack off the middle ropes. Crush nailed a cheap forearm to the back of Windham and Goldust capitalized with the Curtain Call to eliminate him.
The Stalker eliminated by Goldust
Mero with a knee lift to Goldust. Helmsley tagged in to work over Mero with some punches, then a knee drop and a backbreaker. Crush hit two backbreakers on Mero followed by a leg drop. Leaping clothesline by Goldust gets two. Crush with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker as the heels kept Mero in their corner with Hunter applying abdominal stretch. Mero got out of it, did a sunset flip and Goldust tagged in for the heels. Mero with a headscissors on Helmsley followed a back body drop. Roberts went after Hunter, Mero went up top and hit the Merosault to pin Hunter.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley eliminated by Marc Mero
Crush punched Mero a few times and then Mero nailed a dropkick. Mero missed a diving attack outside the ring. He landed hard on the floor. Crush hit his crappy looking heart punch to beat Mero.
Marc Mero eliminated by Crush
Roberts went after Crush, who avoided the short arm clothesline and Crush hit a heart punch to eliminate Roberts.
Jake Roberts eliminated by Crush
Rocky was alone for his team. Sunny: “Two on one sounds kinda good.” Rocky with an inside cradle on Crush followed by a body slam. Goldust attacked Rock with punches. Rock hit a cross body block on both guys and then dumped Goldust over the top to the floor. Low blow by Goldust that the in-ring ref didn’t see. Goldust held Rocky, so Rocky moved and Crush punched Goldust. Cross body block by Rocky eliminated Crush.
Crush eliminated by Goldust
Goldust went for a slam. Rocky slipped out of it, picked him up and hit a shoulderbreaker. Rocky pinned him to win the match. The match went 23:44.
Goldust eliminated by Rocky Maivia
Survivor: Rocky Maivia
Analysis: *1/2 It was an average match with some boring eliminations The finish was okay. The goal of the match was to tell the fans that this Rocky Maivia guy was a star on the rise. If they cut out 5-7 minutes from this match it probably would have helped because it was an uneventful match. Historically speaking, it is important just because it helped to put Rocky Maivia on the map. Two years later he was in the main event. It wasn’t easy to see at this point, but clearly Vince, JR and WWE management believed in him. They were right.
(There were high expectations for Rocky immediately. Was this match great? Absolutely not. But how many people have great matches in their debut? It’s rare. Anyway, you can check out the video below from 2016 with The Rock reflecting on his debut.)
There were videos shown to set up Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin. The gist of the story was that Bret took a six-month break and said that things changed in WWE because he wasn’t there. While he was gone, Austin was a star on the rise after winning King of the Ring. Hart called Austin the best wrestler in the business at the time, which was a shot at then World Champion Shawn Michaels. Austin called out Hart, saying he wanted a match with him and Hart accepted. There was a great line from Austin: “If you put the letter ‘S’ in front of Hitman then you have my opinion of Bret Hart.”
Austin was interviewed by Todd Pettengill backstage. He told Bret that clichés are clichés and that Hart is going to get an ass-whipping from Austin. Austin made his entrance to a lot of cheers, but there some boos as well.
Analysis: This was when the support for Austin was really starting to grow. The Austin 3:16 speech was huge for him. It led to a lot of signs from fans as well as merchandise being sold.
Hart was also interviewed by Pettengill backstage. Hart said that MSG is holy ground and he’s got his fans out there that were waiting for his comeback. Hart said that he’s greedy for respect and Austin will respect him.
Bret Hart received a massive ovation from the crowd since it was his first televised match since WrestleMania 12 when he lost the WWE Title to Shawn Michaels. This was probably one of the loudest ovations of Hart’s career.
Analysis: I was so ready for this match. By this point in my life, I was 16 years old with much more of an appreciation for match quality. Austin was on fire thanks to his promos, but he was also very good in the ring. It was easy to see his star power. Plus, I knew him from WCW and thought he could have done more there. The WWF at the time needed some new stars. Austin was the perfect hit, so matching him up with Hart was the right move. I missed Hart a lot too.
(The pop for Bret was pretty huge. When you’re a top guy that is gone for over six months, fans are going to miss you and that’s why it was such a special reaction.)
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin
Pre-match notes: Austin was the heel and Hart was the face. The winner of this match gets a WWE Title shot at the December PPV.
Austin flashed the middle fingers at Hart right away. JR noted that neither man had submitted in their career and he thought a submission might end the match. Hart with a hammerlock as the crowd chanted for Bret. Austin came back with a drop toe hold, but Hart got out of it and applied the hammerlock again. Hart with a legdrop to the arm followed by another armbar. Austin grabbed Hart and hit the stun gun that he used to use as a finisher in WCW. Austin drove Hart throat first into the bottom rope. Chinlock by Austin to slow down Hart. They got back to their feet and had a slugfest with each guy throwing a lot of punches, which was won by Austin as he knocked Hart down in the corner. Hart came back with a clothesline, atomic drop and another clothesline. Rollup by Hart gets two. Side Russian legsweep by Hart gets two. Austin countered a bulldog by shoving him into the turnbuckle and Hart took the bump sternum first. That’s his great bump that he did in every match. Hart countered a superplex attempt by slamming Austin face first. Hart nailed a diving elbow smash off the top rope for a two count.
Austin raked the eyes to counter a backbreaker with Vince saying Austin was very clever. Austin dumped Hart out of the ring. Austin drove Hart back first into the ring post. Hart tackled Austin out of the ring and sent him over the guard rail. Hart rammed Austin face first into the guard rail with the guard cheering the aggressiveness. Austin was back in the ring, rolled out the other side and Hart attacked him out there. Austin tripped him up and hit a slingshot move onto the Spanish announce table. It didn’t break the table, but it was a unique spot. Austin went after Hart again with more punches. JR: “It seems like it always happens to the Spanish guys!” I wonder why haha. Austin slammed Hart onto the announce table. Austin with an elbow smash as Hart was on the table. None of those moves were designed to break the table, but the aggressiveness was really good. Austin hit a suplex that brought Hart back into the ring. Fans were chanting “Let’s Go Hitman” as Austin whipped him hard into the corner. Austin nailed a running attack to the back of Hart while Hart was up against the ropes. Abdominal stretch by Austin included him grabbing the ropes for leverage as the heel in the match, ref Tim White told him to break it up, Austin shoved him and gave him the middle fingers.
They exchanged punches as the crowd went wild for it. Hart won that slugfest by knocking Austin down. Hart with the stun gun just like Austin did earlier in the match. Rollup by Hart got two. Piledriver by Hart perfectly executed gets two. Of course, in less than a year after this it was a Tombstone piledriver by Bret’s brother Owen that nearly paralyzed Austin. Backbreaker by Hart. Austin came back as they battled on the top rope and Austin nailed a superplex. Bret hooked his legs for a two count with Vince busting out “WHAT A MANEUVER~!” two times. Both guys struggled to their feet and Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner. He pulled Hart away from the ropes and Hart got his shoulder up. JR said he thought Austin made a mistake pulling Hart from the ropes because it gave him time. Austin went for repeated pinfalls. Austin applied the Texas Cloverleaf submission. Hart got to the ropes. Austin whipped Hart across to the ring with Hart taking the bump by rolling rib first into the ring post. What a great bump as JR explained it that Hart’s knee gave way. Austin with a bow and arrow submission to work on the back. Hart went for the Sharpshooter, the crowd went wild and Austin got to the ropes before Hart could apply the move. Hart with a sleeper, but Austin broke out of it with a jawbreaker. Austin applied the Million Dollar Dream sleeper. Hart walked him towards the turnbuckle, kicked the top turnbuckle and landed back onto Austin. The ref counted one…two…three. Hart wins because Austin held onto the Million Dollar Dream and that led to his shoulders being pinned to the mat. As soon as the ref’s hand hit the mat the third time, Austin kicked out, but it was too late. Hart won the match at the 28:36 mark.
Winner by pinfall: Bret Hart
The crowd was happy about the win from Hart. JR did a great job in pointing out that Austin lost because he wouldn’t let go of the hold. Both guys were selling fatigue after the match. Austin walked out of the ring looking frustrated with his hands on his head. Hart celebrated the win. The announcers talked about how there was no way this was the end of the rivalry. There were replays of the finish showing Hart’s technique in countering the Million Dollar Dream to win. Bret shook hands with people at ringside including Vince, who said congratulations to him.
(I like how they made this win feel like a big deal right after it was over. It told the audience that the Hitman was back in action and competing at a high level.)
Analysis: ***** Wow! What an awesome match! Five stars out of five. It’s not a rating I give very often, but this was a special match that was so entertaining from start to finish. I like how each guy kept going for pinfalls throughout the match and coming close so many times. This was the biggest match of Austin’s life at the time with a lot of pressure on him to perform at a high level. He delivered the best match of his career at the time. What made the match worked so well was the aggressiveness shown by both men. It felt like a real fight, which is when pro wrestling is at its best. One of the big spots was when Austin hit the Stunner and Hart kicked out. Guys weren’t kicking out off finishers that much in this era, so that was significant. The finish was really well done because Austin went for multiple submission moves in the match. It was the story of Austin trying to end the match in different ways, but he was unable to do so. Then he lost because he held onto the Million Dollar Dream for too long. If he let go of the hold then he would have been able to kick out. It’s a finish that Hart did with Roddy Piper to beat him at WrestleMania 8 in 1992 as well. I think their WrestleMania 13 match was even better than this and also a match I rated at five stars. There aren’t many feuds in wrestling history that have multiple five star matches, but these guys did it. This is one of the best feuds in wrestling history although they never finished it with Austin winning the rivalry in the end. That’s because of what happened at Survivor Series one year after this.
(The best match in Survivor Series history. As I noted there, it’s not as good as the Hart/Austin WrestleMania 13 match, but it’s still an outstanding technical wrestling match that never gets old.)
The win by Hart meant that he gets to face Shawn Michaels or Sycho Sid for the WWE Title at the December PPV.
Sycho Sid was interviewed by Dok Hendrix. He did a quick promo about the WWE Title match.
Survivor Series Elimination Match: Faarooq, Vader, Razor Ramon and Diesel (w/Clarence Mason & Jim Cornette) vs. Savio Vega, Flash Funk, Jimmy Snuka and Yokozuna
Pre-match notes: Faarooq was the leader of the heel team. Razor and Diesel were the ripoff versions of the characters. Fake Diesel was Glenn Jacobs, who was previously Isaac Yankem and later Kane. The face team were led by Savio Vega. Yokozuna was in a face role for the first time in his career. Snuka was a mystery partner. He was way past his prime by this point.
Jim Cornette joined the commentary team for this match. He was managing Vader at the time. Vader worked on Funk early, but Funk came back with a cross body block that sent Vader out of the ring. Moonsault off the top by Funk onto Vader on the floor. Great move. Back in the ring, Vader nailed a clothesline followed by a Powerbomb. Yokozuna looking bigger than ever went into the ring for a sloppy one-handed slam. Cornette on Yoko: “He’s bigger than a mobile home!” Vega with a spinning back kick on Faarooq. Vega nailed Razor with punches. Fallaway slam by Razor on Vega and then they tagged out. Diesel crushed Funk with a clothesline. Dropkick by Funk on Faarooq, but then Faarooq came back with a spinebuster. Vader clothesline on Funk. Vega showed a lot of fight against the heels. Snuka went in for the first time with chops on Diesel. Snuka nailed a flying headbutt to Vader followed by a body slam. There were some quick tags. Vader sent Vega out of the ring and Faarooq sent Vega back first into the ring post. Diesel was the legal man, so he hit a Jackknife Powerbomb to eliminate Vega.
Savio Vega eliminated by Diesel
Snuka with a body slam on Razor with Vince noting that Snuka was put in the Hall of Fame one night earlier. Snuka went up top and hit the Superfly Splash to eliminate Razor.
Razor Ramon eliminated by Jimmy Snuka
Diesel hit Snuka in the back with a chair. Vega ran back down to the ring and all eight guys started to brawl. Vega nailed Diesel with a chair and Snuka hit Diesel with a chair shot as well. It was announced that there were no winners due to a disqualification. JR said that was premature and Vince disagreed. The match was over at the 9:48 mark.
Match ends by disqualification. No survivors.
Analysis: 1/2* Brutal match with a horrible finish. Vader should have been the sole survivor here, but WWE soured on him. The reality is that no matter what match was in this spot it would have a hard time following the classic match before it. The match may have been cut short because it was such a shitty finish.
(This wasn’t good with a terrible finish. There needed to be something in between Hart/Austin and Michaels/Sid, but this match could have been a lot better than what WWE presented here. No winners due to disqualification? That’s lame.)
There was a video package about Shawn Michaels’s eight-month run as WWE World Champion and Sid’s psychotic desire to become the champion.
Sid made his entrance. He received a lot of cheers. He was a bit of a tweener at this point because some fans liked him, but he was also a crazy kind of character. There were plenty of “Sid” chants.
Shawn Michaels, the WWE World Champion, walked out with his mentor Jose Lothario. He was the babyface champion that was loved by the crowd especially the younger crowd and the women that screamed for him. Some fans even grabbed him on his way to the ring, so security had to break it up.
Analysis: I went into the match thinking that there might be a title change just based on Sid having a lot of momentum and WWE possibly wanting to end the long title reign of Michaels. It could have been Vader in this spot, but Michaels complained about working with him, so Sid was put in this position.
WWE World Championship: Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Sycho Sid
Pre-match notes: Sid was the bigger heel with Michaels as the babyface champion although the crowd reactions were different for this match.
It was even early on as Sid went for a press slam, but Michaels fought out of it. The crowd went wild when Sid teased a Powerbomb. Michaels did a chop block to knock Sid down. There was a “Sycho Sid” chant. Michaels applied a Figure Four Leglock, but Sid got to the ropes soon after. Sid kicked Michaels into the shoulder so that Michaels’ left shoulder hit the ring post. A camera guy was too close, so Sid shoved him. That’s important for later. Sid missed a running kick and Michaels came back with a dropkick to the knee. Sid hit a clothesline that sent Michaels over the top to the floor. Sid whipped Michaels back first into the ring apron and then dropped him throat first on the guard rail. Sid rolled a battered Michaels back into the ring for a two count. Sid with a running kick in the corner. Michaels stunned him on the top rope by ramming his throat into it. Michaels jumped off the top, Sid caught him, the crowd cheered and a backbreaker by Sid gets two. Sid whipped Michaels hard into the corner two times in a row as he continued to dominate. Comeback by Michaels with punches and then a body slam. Michaels jumped off the middle rope, Sid got his boot up and Michaels landed on his head…which gave us this meme…and then Michaels went down. Michaels’ bumping was pretty incredible even if it was over the top a bit.
Michaels nailed some punches, Sid wanted a Chokeslam and Michaels blocked it with an eye poke. Sid blocked Sweet Chin Music, spun him around and nailed a one-armed Chokeslam to a huge ovation. Wow what a pop for that. Sid took a long time to set up a Powerbomb, so Michaels got a small package for a two count. Powerslam by Sid gets two. Michaels came back with a flying forearm followed by a kip up and Sid knocked him back down with a clothesline for two. Sid grabbed a camera from a ringside cameraman. Jose Lothario was on the apron, so Sid hit him with it. The silliest thing about it was that referee Earl Hebner looked only at Michaels, so the idea was he never saw what Sid did. When Sid turned back around, Michaels nailed the Sweet Chin Music superkick to knock Sid down. Michaels looked down at Lothario on the floor and then left the ring to check on him. He yelled at somebody to come down to the ring to check on him. Sid went out of the ring, rolled Michaels back in and they did a spot where Michaels hit a cross body block on Hebner after Sid moved out of the way. Michaels checked on Lothario again, so Sid picked up the camera and hit Michaels in the back with it. There were a lot of cheers for that. JR was saying he hoped Jose wasn’t having a heart attack. Sid rolled Michaels back into the ring. Sid set up for a Powerbomb and he connected with it. A groggy Earl Hebner counted the pin…one…two…three! Sid wins the WWE World Title at the 20:02 mark. Vince: “I can’t believe it!”
Winner by pinfall and New WWE World Champion: Sycho Sid
Analysis: **** Four stars out of five. One of the best matches in Sid’s career as well as an example of why Michaels was one of the best wrestlers ever. Sid was not known for great matches, but Michaels had the ability to carry inferior workers and that’s what he did here. Michaels was really on his game in this match as he bumped all over the place to make Sid look strong. The crowd reactions were so interesting because normally Michaels would have been cheered heavily at the time, but New York was such a different crowd during this show. The bit with the camera was a unique finish as well as a way for Sid to beat him in a controversial way. It’s a good ending because it set up the rematch well to make fans wonder what it will be like when they faced off again.
(It was definitely one of Sid’s best matches. Yes, Shawn is a big reason why because Shawn is a special in-ring performer, but Sid worked his ass here too. The crowd reacting so strongly towards Sid helped the match too. I liked the heelish booking of the finish. Sid had to cheat to beat him and that would set up the rematch two months later.)
Post match, Sid celebrated with the WWE Title. Michaels checked on Lothario as EMTs showed up to wheel Lothario to the back. Michaels stumbled to the back to be with Lothario.
Analysis: It was just a story and Lothario was fine. They used Lothario as a way for Sid to win the title in a cheap manner.
After the match, Sid walked around the ring with the WWE World Title in his hands. Vince busted out the catchphrase about how anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation. Replays aired of the finish with Sid winning with the Powerbomb. Vince thanked us for watching and that was the end of the show.
Analysis: Sid’s title reign lasted two months. They did the title change because they wanted Michaels to win it back at Royal Rumble 1997 in Shawn’s hometown of San Antonio. This was also during the period where Shawn was causing a lot of problems backstage and plans changed all the time. There were also reports that Bret was going to win the World Title from Sid leading to Bret vs. Shawn at WM13, but that didn’t happen. I’m not going to get into all of it. I just want to point out how much things were changing during this time.
(I was never a huge Sid fan, but he had a presence about him. You can’t deny that he drew reactions from the fans too. It made sense for Sid to have a title run at this point.)
The show had a run time of 2 hours and 54 minutes.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– It was a well-booked show all night long aside from the last elimination match, which was a mess. The winners of the big matches made sense while newcomers such as Rocky Maivia and Lafon/Furnas were booked in a strong way on their debut night.
– I think it was obvious that Bret Hart was Mr. Survivor Series after ten years of this event. He wrestled in the show every year and had the three best matches in the history of the event up to this point. All three matches were different with opponents that had unique styles. It really showed how awesome Bret was.
— I’ll always remember this show for Austin stepping up to that next level. He had a lot of pressure on him to deliver in this match and he absolutely brought it. Going nearly 30 minutes with Bret Hart isn’t easy, yet Austin proved to the world that he was good enough to be a top guy in WWE. It’s not always about winning matches. It’s about telling stories. In this case, the story was Austin’s rise to the top.
– This was the last Survivor Series with Vince McMahon working as an announcer. He was busy doing other things the next year. You know what I mean.
– I noted this in the 1995 review and it’s worth mentioning here too. The roster was changing for the better. Steve Austin, Rocky Maivia and Mankind made their Survivor Series debuts. They were obviously key performers in the company over the next several years. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was still developing as a performer that would become a top guy. Some of the others that made their Survivor Series debuts here like Lafon, Furnas, Vader, Funk and Mero didn’t end up having huge success in WWE, but it helped the depth issues that the company previously had. They were well on their way to turning a corner very soon.
Best Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin
Worst Match: Team Faarooq vs. Team Savio
Most Memorable Moment: Sid wins the WWE World Title after using a camera as a weapon. I could have picked something from Hart/Austin, but I thought the cheap title win was more memorable.
- Bret Hart – Like I said above, he really was Mr. Survivor Series.
- Steve Austin – A breakthrough performance for him.
- Shawn Michaels – An incredible job in defeat. Bumped his ass off to make side look like a badass.
- Sycho Sid – I criticized him a lot in his career, but he came up huge in the biggest match of his career up to this point and the crowd loved him.
- The Undertaker – I liked the change in his look. Made him look more human and less like a zombie dude.
Show rating (out of 10): 8.5
When you have a five-star match, another one at the four star level and a really good opener then you have to consider this one of the best Survivor Series events ever. It was the best Survivor Series ever up to this point.
(I think that rating is fair. If that elimination match before the main event was booked better it could have been a show that I rated at 9 or higher. It’s still an outstanding show.)
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.
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