We have reached a milestone in our 1996 timeline. A world class performer has made his debut in a new industry and changed the way we view sport and entertainment forever. Yes, that’s right, this week back in 1996 saw the release of Space Jam! As well as Michael Jordan hanging out with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck there was also something called The Survivor Series. All this and more in this week’s The Way We Was…
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like change then Survivor Series 1996 is not the show for you. Amongst all the debuts, returns and gimmick changes we have a new WWF Champion. Yes, against all popular logic at the time, Sycho Sid defeated The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels to capture his first WWF Title. What’s more, it was actually a relatively entertaining bout, due in no small part to HBK’s sterling efforts. Not that these efforts were recognised by many of the fans in attendance mind you. With the show held at Madison Square Garden, the audience was typically vocal, with the higher pitched (female) voices very much behind Michaels and the deeper (male) voices audibly against him. While such crowd reactions are not new, the boos seemed far louder than previous instances. As for the match itself, the better than expected bout ended with Sid appearing to complete his heel turn by using a TV camera and a chair to get the job done. The camera did not strike Michaels but did mentally eliminate him from the bout. Sid actually smacked Michaels’ manager, Jose Lothario, with the pricey piece of equipment. What followed was particularly distasteful as the 61-year-old clutched his chest while Vince McMahon – instead of calling for help or helping himself – theorised that he may be suffering a heart attack. Michaels understandably leapt to his mentor’s aid and was suitably distracted for the remainder of the bout. That said, all that remained was a rather awkward ref bump, a chair shot from Sid and a powerbomb for the pinfall and the WWF Championship.
In Other News From Survivor Series –
- Despite the surprisingly entertaining main event, there was only one contender for match of the night. The much-anticipated bout between a returning Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin did not disappoint. After The Hitman kicked out of an early Stunner, Jim Ross suggested that it may boil down to a submission match, and he wasn’t far wrong. Austin utilised a Texas Cloverleaf, Bow and Arrow and a Million Dollar Dream, but to no success. Hart claimed victory after reversing the Million Dollar Dream into a pin via the turnbuckle i.e. the same spot from his match against Rowdy Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania VIII. The slightly fortuitous nature of The Hitman’s win leaves the door wide open for a rematch
- Also, as a result of his victory, Bret will now face Sid for the WWF Title at In Your House 12: It’s Time
- Doug Furnas and Philip Lafon (aka Dan Kroffat) made a very impressive debut. The duo formally known as The Can-Am Express were the survivors in a match also featuring WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and The British Bulldog. Moreover, Furnas and Lafon were responsible for the eliminations of Owen and Bulldog. The exchanges between these four wet my appetite for what appears to be the perfect feud to reignite the WWF’s all but extinct tag team division
- The Undertaker has returned from the grave and has a new look. The leather-clad, make-up wearing Deadman descended from the ceiling wearing Batman’s cape prior to his victory over Mankind. The Executioner made the save after the match, so we’ll have to wait for The Phenom to exact his revenge on Paul Bearer
- Flash Funk made his WWF debut. The artist formally known as 2 Cold Scorpio was dressed like a 1970s pimp
- Faarooq debuted some new, more sensible, ring gear. He is no longer a roman gladiator
- In a match that saw the returns of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Yokozuna, Superfly Jimmy Snuka and Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s weird British accent; Rocky Maivia made his in-ring debut. The fiery young babyface was popular with the crowd and was the sole survivor in his match after defying the odds to pin Crush and Goldust
- Free for All: Jesse James, Aldo Montoya, Bob Holly, and Bart Gunn defeated The Sultan, Justin Bradshaw, Salvatore Sincere, and Billy Gunn (w/ The Iron Sheik and Uncle Zebekiah) in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match
- Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon, Henry Godwinn, and Phineas Godwinn (with Hillbilly Jim) defeated Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Marty Jannetty, and Leif Cassidy (w/ Clarence Mason) in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match
- The Undertaker defeated Mankind
- Marc Mero, Rocky Maivia, Jake Roberts, and The Stalker (w/ Sable) defeated Crush, Jerry Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Goldust (w/ Marlena) in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match
- Bret Hart defeated Steve Austin
- Faarooq, Vader, Fake Razor Ramon, and Fake Diesel (w/ Clarence Mason) fought Flash Funk, Jimmy Snuka, Savio Vega, and Yokozuna to a no contest in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match
- Sycho Sid defeated Shawn Michaels (c) (w/ Jose Lothario) to win the WWF Championship
So Sid is the WWF Champion, what did the Master and Ruler of The World have to say for himself this week’s live episode of Raw? In an interview with Jim Ross the big man appeared to backtrack from full-blown heel status, which he appeared to reveal at Survivor Series. He said that he respected Jose Lothario, but when HBK’s manager stood on the ring apron he “got involved in the game”, and thus got smacked with a camera as a result. Sid also had no problem offering Shawn Michaels a rematch and said he would be a fighting champion for all the fans that believed in him. The almost babyface again Sid ended on a confident note by saying that he would defeat Bret Hart at In Your House 12.
In Other News From Raw –
- Speaking of Jose Lothario, he appears to be okay. He reportedly refused medical attention and is recovering at home in San Antonio. By refusing medical attention Jose would not have been given a diagnosis and thus the WWF could not say that one of their characters suffered a heart attack. Why do they dig themselves into such holes?!
- Faarooq has formed The Nation of Domination. Introduced by his former manager, Sunny, the now leather-clad Faarooq entered along with Clarence Mason, a 2×4 and a couple of white rapper chaps (they will later be named as PG-13). Faarooq’s nemesis, Ahmed Johnson, watched from the crowd and stormed to the ring to save Savio Vega from a beat down. With his suspension for battering Faarooq over, Ahmed seized control of the 2×4 which may prove to be a useful ally in his forthcoming battles with The Nation
- Yokozuna was given the credit for injuring Vader at Survivor Series
- Vince McMahon begrudgingly admitted Shawn Michaels’ flaws (arrogance, womanising etc.) before praising him for opting to help Jose Lothario instead of maintain focus on Sid at Survivor Series
- The British Bulldog said that he and Owen Hart let their guard down, allowing Doug Furnas and Philp Lafon to defeat them the previous night. Owen said that tag team wrestling is different to elimination matches and that the result would not be repeated. Clarence Mason – who is still their manager – said that the newcomers will not be granted a title shot and that they would have to climb the ladder like everyone else
- Raw started with a wild brawl between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mankind. Once the two heels actually managed to fight each other in the ring the match was thrown out after The Executioner interfered. The Undertaker then ran out – yes, The Deadman can run now – to get a piece of Paul Bearer’s duo. Austin then clotheslined Taker out of the ring, but The Deadman landed on his feet. The pair had a tense stand-off to end the segment
- Steve Austin defeated Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) via disqualification
- Farooq (w/ Clarence Mason & PG-13) defeated Savio Vega
- Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon defeated Leif Cassidy & Bob Holly
An eventful few days in the WWF was trumped by what WCW offered us on Nitro. Play by play announcer, executive producer and most powerful man in the company, Eric Bischoff, has turned heel and joined the New World Order. A heel authority figure, eh? Wonder if that’ll catch on?
One could argue that given the verbal and physical abuse he has suffered at the hands of the nWo, Bischoff joining them makes zero sense. But hey, we didn’t question The Giant joining the group, so let’s not start now. Let’s just say he did it for the money, that’ll do. Also, using the benefit of hindsight it is now clear that the seeds for Bischoff’s heel turn were planted weeks ago. So subtle were these seeds that I genuinely did not twig that I was watching Eric Bischoff’s heel turn until Rowdy Roddy Piper insinuated that Bischoff was lying about his negotiations with the Canadian Scotsman. For weeks Bischoff has been telling us of the slow negotiations with Piper’s representatives regarding a match with Hollywood Hogan were progressing. However, this week Piper actually showed up and quizzed Bischoff over his bullshit. At this point the entire nWo came out and all was revealed. The outcome of the segment – other than Bischoff turning heel – was that Piper accepted the challenge and will bring a contract for Hogan to sign to this Sunday’s World War 3 pay per view.
In Other News From Nitro –
- Along with the abnormal length of time it was taking Bischoff to negotiate with Piper, we got a few clues to his heel turn during Nitro. Firstly, Larry Zbyszko again made reference to how nWo members were able to get microphones on the WCW frequency. Secondly, in another unsuccessful recruitment segment with Diamond Dallas Page, Nash, Hall and Syxx said DDP “didn’t get it” with specific reference to Page’s friendship with Bischoff. Thirdly, and most obvious, Nash provided the following quote; “it’s going to be something very beautiful that happens tonight”
- Nitro started with The Outsiders hassling Tony Schiavone after they had laid out The Nasty Boys and High Voltage, who were competing in a dark match. Quite understandably Schiavone was pissed off at Zbyszko – and ex-wrestler – for not sticking up for him. Poor Tony then took a hike for the evening, with Mike Tenay subbing for him
- Other than bullying a commentator, the purpose of Nash and Hall’s presence was to pick a fight with The Faces of Fear – who they face along with The Nasty Boys in a triangle match at World War 3. The two hardest men in wrestling duly obliged and the tandems brawled in the back
- La Parka – a Skeletor lookalike – made his WCW debut in a winning effort against Juventud Guerrera
- The cruiserweights will dominate the World War 3 undercard. Dean Malenko will defend his title against Psychosis and Rey Mysterio Jr will face J Crown holder Ultimo Dragon
- In a bizarre relic from WCW’s past, Ultimo Dragon defeated Dean Malenko after the Cruiserweight Champ was disqualified for lobbing the J Crown Champ over the top rope
- All is not well in camp American Males. I have a feeling a break up may be immanent…
- A fresh from surgery Ric Flair showed up in a sling and Christmas jumper to endorse Jeff Jarrett
- Sting showed up during a Lex Luger promo. Stinger said nothing, but did shove The Total Package with a baseball bat before handing him the weapon. Hmmm…
- Due to the 3 ring, 60 man battle royal this Sunday’s World War 3 is quite light on the undercard front. This goes a long way towards explaining why this weekend’s episode of WCW Saturday Night will be live and has a better card than usual. We knew that Chris Benoit would face Kevin Sullivan but Arn Anderson will face Lex Luger too
Quote of The Night
“Jeff Jarret’s in because The Nature Boy says so”
Ric Flair, confirming Double J as a Horseman?
- La Parka pinned Juventud Guerrera
- The Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) defeated Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko via DQ
- Jacques Rougeau & Carl Oulette (w/ Col. Rob Parker) defeated The American Males
- Lex Luger defeated Hugh Morrus via submission
- Chris Jericho pinned Johnny Grunge
- Jeff Jarrett defeated Bobby Eaton via submission
- Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) pinned Jim Powers
- Chris Benoit (w/ Woman) pinned Eddie Guerrero
Nitro’s 3.2 trumps Raw’s 2.4. That said, neither show could lay a glove on this week’s Monday Night Football which drew a 21.4. The Dallas Cowboys picked up a 21-6 win at Green Bay
You can read all previous ‘The Way We Was’ pieces here.