Happy Saturday Everyone!
Let’s stick with 1996 but jump over to the WWF this week, as we look at this IYH event from July featuring Camp Cornette Vs Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson and Sid in the Main Event. Ultimate Warrior was originally supposed to be on the babyface team, but he ended up getting let go for missing House Shows and Sid got inserted instead.
Elsewhere we’ve got Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Marc Mero in a King of the Ring rematch and Mankind takes on Henry O. Godwinn, who is subbing in for Jake Roberts. These IYH shows are usually a pretty easy watch as they come in under two hours, so this should be fun enough.
The event is emanating from Vancouver, British Columbia on the 21st July 1996
Calling the action are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Before the show started, a spat between Jim Cornette and Jose Lothario leads to Vader and Shawn Michaels getting involved
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart) w/ Sunny Vs The Body Donnas (Skip and Zip)
Sunny’s gimmick in 1996 was that she kept jumping to whichever team held the WWF Tag Team Titles. The Donnas had been one of her previous teams and they were looking for payback here, although the belts aren’t on the line. Skip and Zip had brought in a manager called Cloudy to replace Sunny but that had ended up being a disaster so they write them out here by just having Skip and Zip thanking them for their services but noting they’ve parted ways.
Skip and Zip would likely be better known as Chris Candido and Tom Pritchard respectively, and both of them are decent wrestlers so the actual wrestling in this match is good, but neither team is really that over so the crowd isn’t that into it. It’s still fine as a match though, as the bigger Gunns work well as bullying Heels whilst the smaller Donnas focus on trying to use speed and technical acumen in order to stay competitive.
Billy has a handkerchief wrapped around his ankle in order to win extra douche points here, as he was kind of coming into his own as a cocky Heel who was infatuated with Sunny. This might be one of the first instances of Ross using the term “jezebel” in the WWF in regards to Sunny, although he might have said it back in his NWA/WCW days to describe someone like Woman. Lawler meanwhile makes jokes at Jake Roberts’ expense saying that he’s had to pull out of his match tonight due to succumbing to the wrath of grapes.
Sunny ends up playing possum in order to lure Skip into a trap, which leads to The Gunns cutting Skip off and working some heat. Skip sells that well, although the crowd doesn’t really care about him. Sunny seems to be the only person involved in this match that is over to be honest, which was kind of the problem in that she overshadowed every tag team client she had during this run, meaning a lot of the matches were kind of heatless unless she was directly involved.
They tell the story that The Gunns are taking The Donnas lightly now that Skip is on the defensive, as they could probably win it a couple of times if they were a bit more clinical but choose to be cocky and give Skip openings to fight back. The crowd actually kind of starts to care about it as well, which is a testament to the sell job Skip does and the job The Gunns do at being unlikeable bad guys. There are a couple of instances in the heat where the timing is off (including a moment where The Gunns go for a double team move and don’t get it right) but they usually cover for it.
Zip eventually gets the hot tag, but he doesn’t get to do much until he is also cut off, which felt like a mistake to me. They should have let Zip actually look somewhat effective considering how long Skip was taking the heat for. It’s done to build to the finish though, as Bart has Zip all prepared for The Sidewinder (Bart does a back breaker and Billy does a leg drop) but Billy is too busy being distracted by Sunny. This allows Skip to come off the top with a dropkick, which causes Zip to fall on top of Bart for the three count.
WINNERS: THE BODY DONNAS
This was fine for an opener, although it took a while for them to get the crowd into it. There was the odd moment where the timing was off, but it was mostly well worked and the story of The Gunns taking The Donnas lightly and it eventually costing them made sense and was well told
Sunny freaks out over her team losing, even though she was partly to blame.
Mr. Perfect is backstage with Camp Cornette of Jim Cornette, Diana Smith, Vader, Owen Hart and British Bulldog. Cornette complains about Jose Lothario trying to shiv him with a switchblade earlier on, even though Jose clearly didn’t have a weapon. Cornette says he’ll refund everyone if the Heels don’t win the Main Event tonight, which I don’t think he had authority to say and kind of gives the finish away.
Mankind Vs Henry O. Godwinn w/ Hillbilly Jim
Mankind was supposed to wrestle Jake Roberts here, but Jake wasn’t there, possibly due to coming down with a serious case of No-Condition-To-Performitus, so Henry is subbing for him. Sadly the WWE Network dubs out “Don’t Go Messin’ Wit A Country Boy” for generic Hillbilly music that sounds a bit like the Wild West levels on Busby for the SNES. Mankind is pretty funny as he looks on bemused at the Hillbillies dancing around before the match starts.
Mankind had recently defeated Undertaker at the King of the Ring and this match was more there to give him a win on pay per view. Ironically Henry was a member of Undertaker’s real life BSK backstage faction. He still takes some big bumps for Henry in the early stages of course though, because Mick Foley. It’s a fun match actually, although I don’t think the crowd ever really thinks that Henry has much of a chance to win.
Mankind reveals the mats at ringside at one stage, and gives Henry a neck breaker out there, but Henry fights back when they get back into the ring and his offence continues to look good thanks to Mankind taking big bumps for him. Mankind even takes a bump off the apron onto the concrete for Henry at one stage, which gets a surprised pop from the crowd. The crowd has dug this considerably more than the opener actually. Henry tries a reverse DDT back inside following that, but Mankind grabs the ropes to block and then goes to the Mandible Claw for the victory.
This was a fun outing, with Mankind taking a number of big bumps in order to make Henry look good so that the match wasn’t just an outright squash
Brian Pillman is on the Superstar Line with the tag teams from the opener.
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Marc Mero w/ Sable
Austin had defeated Mero back at King of the Ring but Mero had ended up cutting up Austin’s mouth by going for a roll-up at one stage so both men are out for revenge here for different reasons. This one probably isn’t as good at the match the two had at King of the Ring but it’s still a solidly worked match, with a good mix of work on the mat and some additional brawling elements as well. Strangely Mero’s punches look worse than Austin’s, even though Mero used to be a boxer in real life.
There’s a clever call back to the King of the Ring bout at one stage, as Austin pretends his mouth has been cut open again when Mero goes for the same pinning hold, and that gives him an opening to cut Mero off for the heat. That actually got Austin some cheers from the crowd, as tricking someone so you can successfully cheat was pretty much a babyface move in the cynical second half of the 90’s. Mero sells well in the heat, including when he gets catapulted into the ring post outside the ring and also when he gets knocked off the apron down onto the metal railings.
Some of Mero’s bumping in the heat really is great, as he’s got a fantastic snap when he gets knocked down and it really gives an extra bit of “oomph” to all of Austin’s offence. Austin botches landing crotch first on the ropes at one stage, but he doesn’t panic and just ad-libs another spot for it in order to set up the double down. That is Marlena’s cue to join us with a cinema usher, as she gives something to the commentators.
Whilst that is going on, Mero and Austin tumble over the ropes to the floor and Mero comes off the apron with an impressive looking Moonsault before getting a slingshot splash back into the ring for a two count. As someone who mostly grew up on 98 Heel Marc Mero, it’s easy to forget just how good a high-flyer he was at this stage. We get some more good near falls back inside the ring, and eventually Austin chop blocks a Marlena distracted Mero and then follows up with the Stunner for three and a noticeable pop from the crowd.
WINNER: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
There were a few moments where things didn’t quite go as they wanted them to (most notably when they spilled out of the ring at the end and it took them a couple of tries) but overall this was a very good outing and the crowd enjoyed it for the most part. King of the Ring is the better match but I wouldn’t kick this one out of bed for custard creams either
Bob Backlund is annoying the crowd.
We get a hype video for Raw, as The Smoking Gunns will be taking on Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson for the tag belts. Sod it I might tack that on at the end of this review as I’m suitably intrigued.
Goldust w/ Marlena Vs The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
This was a pretty insipid feud throughout 1996, mainly because these two made terrible opponents for one another due to both of them working a slow deliberate style. There’s a reason the Mankind Vs Undertaker and Goldust Vs Shawn Michaels matches were so good, because they actually put both Goldust and Taker in there with guys whose styles complimented their own, whereas when they wrestled one another there wasn’t that contrast and the bouts were often plodding and incredibly boring.
Goldust stalls a lot in the early going, which isn’t an ideal way to get me invested in this match if I’m being honest. The match has decent crowd reactions at least, mostly when Undertaker does something, such as when he gets sick of the stalling and gives Goldust a Choke Slam onto the ring steps at ringside. That did not look like a fun bump to take. Marlena plays the role of human shield to prevent Taker flattening Goldust with the steps following that, so Taker just puts Goldust back in the ring and keeps walloping him.
Goldust eventually manages to remove a turnbuckle pad and flings Undertaker into the buckle-like structure for the cut off. Undertaker was humanised a bit during the feud with Mankind and would actually start selling more like a wrestler instead of an undead zombie, so he does a decent enough job on the defensive here and the crowd cheers him on to make a comeback. He does just that, and when Goldust tries countering the Tombstone, Undertaker counters that into a rarely seen inside cradle for two before following up with the genuine article. Sadly Mankind is slightly late on his cue to come from under the ring for a DQ, so Taker has to wait a bit before making the pin and it undercuts the drama a bit.
WINNER BY DQ: THE UNDERTAKER
This was rather dull but the wrestling itself wasn’t bad or anything
Smoke comes from the hole in the ring after Mankind drags Undertaker down there, which leads to the fans chanting for Undertaker again, leading to him creating his own hole on the other side of the ring before climbing out for a brawl with Mankind. The brawl is executed well and the crowd enjoys it. This was an excellent feud.
An Olympic themed promo video for SummerSlam featuring the WWF wrestlers. Team Great Britain won just one solitary gold medal at the summer games in Atlanta in 96, and that was in rowing. Kind of hard to have a street parade based off that one you know?
Mankind and Undertaker continue to brawl backstage, setting up the Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam.
We get a video package to hype up the Main Event. Shawn Michaels got jumped at King of the Ring 1996 by Vader, Owen Hart and British Bulldog, leading to Ahmed Johnson and Ultimate Warrior making the save. However, Warrior missed some House Shows and refused to put up a bond for upcoming shows as a result, so he was promptly let go and the WWF scrambled to put Sid in there instead. Sid had himself parted ways with the company earlier in the year when he decided playing softball was a better option than turning up for Raw.
Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson and Sid cut a promo backstage with Michael Hayes. Michaels was good here, Ahmed less so and Sid was somewhere in the middle.
Camp Cornette (Vader, Owen Hart and British Bulldog) w/ Jim Cornette Vs WWF Champ Shhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn Michaels, WWF Intercontinental Champ Ahmed Johnson and Sid w/ Jose Lothario
Shawn is super over here, so much that fans collapse a guardrail in an effort to get to him. Ahmed was clumsy and Sid was awful, but Shawn Michaels was one of the best ever and the Heel team is made up of three very good workers, so this match is entertaining as a result, especially the sections where Vader and Shawn go at it in order to set the table for SummerSlam. Vader probably does bump around a bit too much for Shawn at points, but it’s still good action. All of the Heels bump around like crazy for Sid when he gets in there, and the crowd loves it. All three of the bad guys were excellent there, as they made Sid actually look like a wrestler for a few seconds.
Ahmed comes in for a bit with Owen at one stage, leading to rolling German Suplexes, which is a move I don’t even remember Ahmed doing but it certainly works for him. Ahmed is crazy over with the crowd too, and the crowd roundly boos the Heels, even though Owen is a native Canadian and Davey Boy wrestled in Canada previously for Stampede. Ahmed gets to catch a Vader corner splash attempt at one stage and slams him down, which was an impressive example of Vader going up light and the slam looked very cool.
The babyface shine goes on for quite a while and the action is good due to the Heels bumping and feeding for everything so well. Shockingly it’s Sid who gets selected for the heat segment, as Vader cuts him off with a sly splash behind the referees back, leading to the Heels working Sid over for a bit. Sid was probably the last guy I would have chosen for this assignment as he can’t sell to save his life, and in fact he makes his own comeback on Bulldog before tagging Shawn back in. The babyface shine continues, with the action remaining fun, until eventually Owen clocks Shawn with the cast on his broken arm for the cut off.
The crowd is furious at that of course, as they’ve been really into this and it’s really helped with making the match enjoyable to watch. Shawn does an excellent job selling in the heat, and in other news water remains wet. One fan gets so angry that he tries to storm the ring and ends up getting chased off. Imagine hopping the rail to try and save Shawn Michaels from a rest hold, in 1996. Did that same idiot storm the stage at his kids nativity play when King Herod plotted to kill off Jesus? I shouldn’t make jokes about that to be honest as there a lot of wacky messed up folk out there.
We do get another instance of Sid just completely not understanding wrestling, as Bulldog slams Michaels and makes the cover. It’s Sid’s job to break up the pin, but rather than just running into the ring and breaking up the pin, he instead has to run past it first so that he can hit the ropes first and drop a leg and thus ends up taking far longer than 3 seconds and the referee has to hold his count up like a goof so that Sid can get there in time. I mean, how bad do you have to be that you can’t just break up a pin-fall attempt properly without first hitting the ropes to do your pre-practiced move? Did Sid have even the remotest idea as to what wrestling was?
Sid is the one to eventually get the hot tag, which leads to Choke Slams on all of the Heels, followed by a Shawn Rocket Launcher onto Vader for a near fall. Things break down following that, with everyone going at it. Shawn uses Cornette’s racquet for a near fall, but a Cornette distraction allows Vader to squish Shawn in the corner before following up with a Pump Splash for the semi-clean three count in order to build Vader up as the challenger for Shawn at SummerSlam. Cornette now doesn’t have to refund the crowd at least.
WINNERS: CAMP CORNETTE
Sid powerbombs all of the Heels sans Vader following the bout, leading to Shawn diving out onto Vader for a brawl to continue to lay the table for SummerSlam.
WWF President Gorilla Monsoon is with Michael Hayes. Gorilla books Mankind Vs The Undertaker in a Boiler Room Brawl. Holy Mackerel!! Cornette and Vader storm in and demand a WWF Title shot for Vader.
This was kind of a throwaway show to build up SummerSlam, but Austin/Mero and the Main Event were all good. I don’t think you need to go out of your way to watch the whole show, but the Main Event is certainly worth your time.
Not a recommended show overall, but maybe seek out the Main Event.
Right, whilst we’re here, let’s review that Smoking Gunns Vs Shawn and Ahmed match
Monday Night Raw 22nd July 1996
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart) w/ Sunny Vs WWF Champ Shawn Michaels and WWF Intercontinental Champ Ahmed Johnson w/ Jose Lothario
Sunny and The Gunns have a birthday cake with them, which Vince guesses is for Shawn Michaels. It’s all for a distraction though, as The Gunns jump Shawn and Ahmed whilst Shawn admires the cake. Billy takes a Sweet Chin Music following that and Sunny gets caked by Ahmed. The crowd goes nuts for all of that. Shawn trying to force a kiss on the cake covered Sunny was a bit skeevy though I must say. The pre-match wackiness causes the match to be re-scheduled to later in the night.
The two teams do indeed come out later in the night and the match happens, as someone in the crowd has a big ECW sign that they’re parading around. The match starts hot, with all four guys going at it tornado style to start until the babyfaces clear the ring. Things settle down into a standard tag match following that, with the challengers getting the babyface shine and the Champs doing a good job bumping around and selling for it.
The crowd is reasonably into the action and the match has a decent atmosphere as a result. The Gunns eventually cheat to cut Shawn off when Billy gives Shawn a hot shot when Shawn is trying to give Billy a jumping head scissors, which leads to Shawn getting worked over. Shawn of course sells that well, and in other news grass is green. The crowd gets behind Shawn and The Gunns do a decent job on offence, so it ends up being a good heat segment.
Eventually it’s hot tag Ahmed and he looks great as the Heels bump all over the shop for him and the crowd loves it. Billy low-bridges him out of the ring, which leads to Faarooq making his WWF debut so that he can kick Ahmed in the kidney and then put a serious beat-down on him for the DQ. Faarooq was still in his wacky Spartan Gladiator gimmick here before they went in a more serious direction with the whole Nation of Domination thing.
WINNERS BY DQ: SHAWN & AHMED
Lame finish aside, this was some good tag action
Faarooq is revealed to be a new client of Sunny and we’re out.