Now, for my old school reviews I have bought you a very mixed bag of the good, bad and outright ugly…and this week I have being nominated to watch the annual 1996 Survivor Series event. Now, to do this I contemplated a couple of options: watch the WWE Network on my laptop and get annoyed, got to Redditch CEX to buy the Tagged Classic version, dig out the VHS and clean the video head to be able to watch it or hook my XBOX 360 to the Internet and get the Network through that. After nearly going for the VHS option, I opted to hook the XBOX up…I will dig the VHS out another time when I get chance to clean the video head. So, for the first time ever I bring you my old school review via my XBOX (am a little excited by this prospect)…
For individual match breakdown and statistics, you can view them here.
The show begins with a mediocre video package highlighting the festivities in the days leading up to the event, including the Hall of Fame Banquet but it also showcases the main event and the return of Bret Hart after a 7-month absence. We go straight to ringside, where we have Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross ready to call the action before we are off to our first match.
Traditional Four-on-Four Elimination Match – The Godwinns (Henry O. and Phineas I.), Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon vs. The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Leif Cassidy), Owen Hart and The British Bulldog
Whilst I can appreciate that The Godwinns were one of the notable tag team duos at the time, personally in this match I only really care about is Owen Hart and The British Bulldog, two guys who are greatly missed but that is another story. Sadly, this match seems to be nothing more than filler material as there was no buildup prior to this match as some background or insight would have allowed me to care more about it, but more notably…the usually hostile New York crowd are exceptionally quiet. The action is average, with quick and succession tags occurring the teams in an effort to keep the action fresh. Following the elimination of The Godwinns, the action improves massively due to the efforts of Bulldog and Owen. The survivors are Doug Lafon and Phil Lafon following the elimination of Owen Hart in a match which got better as time went on, mainly the second half.
Match Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars
We now go to the bowls of Madison Square Garden where Kevin Kelly is with Mankind and Paul Bearer, in a very compelling interview which shows true storytelling but again how much a manager can add to a storyline.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind with Paul Bearer suspended in a Cage above the ring
Arguably one of the most intensive rivalries throughout the later part of 1996, which featured very compelling matches at both SummerSlam and IYH: Buried Alive but this match should be very solid and a compelling case of great storytelling, I personally find the very early rendition of the Mankind character very compelling and entertaining. I am surprised this match is so early on the card, but hopefully it is something to walk up this silent New York crowd. The Undertaker enters the ring, in one of his most impressive entrances to be frank as he descends from the ceiling like batman…now should The Undertaker win, he will be left alone with Paul Bearer who is portraying a terrifying man brilliantly. The match itself begins with the style of a brawl mixed with wrestling holds which works quite well to be honest, not what I expected. The Undertaker picks up the win following a Tombstone in a really compelling and enjoyable match. Sadly, The Undertaker doesn’t get Paul Bearer as he is attacked by The Executioner, but it certainly added suspense and teased the audience.
Match Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars
Coming up next, we have another elimination match but Sunny joins Vince and JR for commentary as Lawler is competing. Backstage, Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s team are interviewed where they all give a boost to the forthcoming match.
Traditional Four-on-Four Elimination Match – Marc Mero, Rocky Maivia, Jake Roberts and The Stalker vs. Crush, Jerry Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Goldust
Had it not being for the interview segment just before this match, it could have arguably being made out as filler content but this match is notable for the WWE debut of Rocky Maivia, who would later become known to millions as The Rock. The match itself should be quite good, as it has several really good competitors who whilst are in their early days at this time can still tell a great story in the ring. A short but good promo by Marc Mero introduces the mystery partner…Jake “The Snake” Roberts who comes out to a great reaction but adds to the match considering his early 1996 rivalry with Lawler. The match starts off with Lawler and Mero, which quickly changes to The Stalker and Helmsley, before switching back again. The match itself, isn’t to bad and is pretty much of a consistent standard throughout the match but I am surprised how little Maivia is in the ring, especially in the early part of the match. Anyhow, Rocky Maivia remains the sole survivor in a good match, but honestly one that could have been much better.
Match Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0 Stars