Wrestling Observer Flashback – 12.23.96
By Scott Keith on 22nd September 2023
Wrestling Observer Flashback – 12.23.96
IT’S TIME. For It’s Time.
– Dave sums up the last PPV of 1996 as “solid but unspectacular”. But it probably bombed because it was clearly a throwaway show. It drew a legit sellout of 5708 to West Palm Beach.
– In the dark match, Rocky Maivia beat Sal Sincere via DQ in 6:01 when Jim Cornette interfered. Rocky looked “green, but showed athletic potential”. *1/4
- Flash Funk pinned Leif Cassidy in 10:34. Lots of high risk spots but a disappointment overall. Lots of missed spots and Funk was moving slow. Funk got the win with a Scorpio splash. (No rating given from Dave)
- Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith beat Razor Ramon & Diesel to retain the tag titles in 10:45. JR snarked on other promotions using guys who are “45 to 50 years and bald with artificial body parts”, which Dave thought wasn’t really the time, since Rick Bogner isn’t exactly Ric Flair or Roddy Piper. (Can you imagine the WWF champion being BALD? It would set the business back 40 years! The horror!). Pierroth and Cibernetico came out to pose and JR put them over as high flyers and risk-takers, which Dave thought was the funniest line on the show and also thinks they’re in for a very rude awakening. Anyway, there was also run-ins from Steve Austin as he does an angle with Davey Boy while Owen works the match as a babyface, which Dave thinks will lead to Bret & Davey v. Owen & Austin eventually as a big program. (OR…something else). Owen hit a spinkick on Razor and Davey fell on top for the pin. **1/4
Ahmed Johnson did a promo while yelling at the Nation of Domination, which Dave accuses of being an nWo ripoff. But he does concede that the angle was pretty good.
- Marc Mero beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley via countout in 14:03. They’re already rewriting the history books with Mr. Perfect’s involvement. Hang on, I’ll let Dave explain:
“In the pre-match video of the feud, they transposed a series of events. It’s been changed from when Helmsley rammed the cart into Mr. Perfect’s knee having taken place instead of before the Mero-Helmsley title match and the whole angle being a work within a work, to the worked angle now being a shoot and having taken place after Helmsley had won the title as Helmsley eliminating Perfect from the scene with the cart deal.”
(And you wonder why it takes me so long to do these things?)
Anyway, apparently Hunter has new music that’s from the NBC show “Suddenly Susan” and Vince did inside jokes on commentary about Hunter getting court-martialed from military school because that’s something that happened to him. (That also happened to a certain future multi-time World champion later on, I believe.). This was the best-worked match on the show, but had the worst finish. Goldust came out and tried to hit Hunter with the belt, but Hunter ducks and Mero gets knocked out instead. So Goldust also hit Hunter with the belt and both guys were out cold on the floor, but Mero beat the world’s longest 10 count to win. Dave of course relates this to the famous Inoki-Hogan match in Sumo Hall where they did the same finish and caused a riot. (Luckily for us all, there was no New Japan World in 1996 for fans to study and get all mad about them stealing that finish.). ***1/4
- Undertaker beat the Executioner in an Armageddon Rules match in 11:31. Basically just a Texas Death match. Thankfully Mankind only let them go 4:00 before running in to save the match. He took all the bumps for Taker for a while and then Taker tombstoned Gordy for the win. **1/2
- Sid powerbombed Bret Hart to retain the WWF title in 17:03. Shawn Michaels was “trying to look like a combination of Brad Pitt and Kevin Nash” with his beard, firing off shoot comments on commentary about how terrible Sid is. Dave: “I’m just waiting for the day somebody in WCW builds up an angle with Hogan by saying that he’s won all those matches because he insisted on booking his own finishes. Maybe we’re a few years from that one.”
Anyway, Bret carried Sid to a decent match, and then a bunch of people ran in like every other match on the show, leading to Bret colliding with Shawn on the apron and getting pinned. After the match, Bret beat the crap out of Shawn to get some revenge, and the fans were cheering that, so Shawn threw a tantrum and started swearing at a fan at ringside who was making fun of him. ***
– After the live broadcast, Braccus pinned Dr. X and then Steve Austin pinned Goldust.
– In other news, WCW and WWF made PPV announcements at an annual cable convention, and it’s looking like PPV is here to stay, with both companies putting out at least 12 shows in 1997, plus whatever ECW does and whatever UFC can get on the air. Paul Heyman is still talking about 3/30 for the first ECW PPV, but the date given at the convention was 4/13, which seems more likely. Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to get clearance in Canada due to the Tyler Fullington angle, as Viewer’s Choice PPV refuses to carry any ECW product thanks to the angle. (And indeed, it wasn’t until 1999 that we were able to order ECW shows up here and had to get them after the fact or watch them in very questionable bars with grey market satellite feeds.). Dave notes that it’ll hurt them pretty badly to not be in Canada, but not enough to where it’s not worth trying anyway.
– Dave also notes that although RAW has been getting slaughtered by Nitro every week, they’re still above USA’s network average and thus are in no danger of getting canceled. (Not true as it turns out. They were in very real danger of it, as we found out later.).
– To AAA, as Pena is trying desperately to sign El Hijo del Santo, Negro Casas and Hector Garza by floating the supposed WWF connection at them. Santo basically blew him off and told him that if WWF is so interested, they should call him directly. (I believe Pena countered by offering to introduce Santo to his girlfriend from Canada, who you’ve never met before but totally exists). There’s actually a lot of resentment from the AAA guys who didn’t get the big fat WCW contracts, and the quality of the shows is dropping fast because Pena is just replacing all the talented guys with knockoff gimmicks like “La Parka Jr” and such.
– To Memphis, where crowds were up slightly this week at the Flea Market. However, the Hooters Girls are no longer there, so Dave is pretty sure this means Jerry Lawler is no longer booking. Also the NOD continues to run roughshod on the promotion, with newest addition Sir Mo, who is 40 pounds heavier.
– On ECW TV this week, Chris Candito was suffering from a bad cold, which was apparently a case of “Kerwinsilfitis”.
– AWF President and owner Paul Alperstein (TAKE A DRINK!) is saying that the AWF is still in business and will be doing a taping in January, despite them losing all their syndication deals. Dave is skeptical.
– An indie show in Hollywood featured a wrestler under the name of The Original Jesus Christ. (10/10, no notes)
– To WCW, where the first hour of Nitro on 12/16 was branded as “nWo Nitro” with a really obnoxious Eric Bischoff and Ted Dibiase on commentary, as a test run for the new show. It was mostly non-nWo guys on the show.
– Expect Tatanka to join the nWo shortly under a new name. Also Bam Bam Bigelow, even though there’s some reservations about Bam Bam based on his relationship troubles with Hall & Nash in the WWF.
– There’s talk of doing a Miss NWO pageant at the NWO PPV in Janauary. (Sounds like a can’t-miss idea!).
– Apparently the horrible Germany tour numbers were because they tried to headline with Alex Wright in tag matches against Harlem Heat. They’re going to return with an actual lineup of stars next time.
– Glacier has been working matches on the tour with someone named Mortis, who will end up being his partner in the Blood Runs Cold team. Dave doesn’t know who it is, but suspects it’s Chris Kanyon.
– Randy Savage will be signing his new deal shortly, with reports being that he’s not happy with it, but it’s better than what Vince was offering.
– A party at DDP’s house turned ugly this past week! The joke is that they call his place “Silicon Valley” because Kimberly has all her model friends hang out there. Anyway, Van Hammer crashed the party and started going on a drunken rant about “little Mexican wrestlers” and how WCW was wasting their time pushing them, which made him look dumber than usual. But then he started spouting off on British wrestlers also being a waste of money, at which point Steve Regal and Dave Taylor got involved and Regal headbutted Hammer into unconsciousness. Bischoff was saying afterwards that Van Hammer’s chances of getting back into WCW went from “slim” to “NEVER” after that. (Narrator: Van Hammer was hired back in December of 1997 and remained employed by WCW until they closed in 2001.)
– Oh also Raven was at the party but don’t read anything into it.
– To the WWF, where they did a double turn by making Goldust both a babyface, and heterosexual, in an angle with Jerry Lawler. Also Marlena has been softened a lot after her initial character was supposed to be a cigar-smoking lesbian.
– They also did an angle with the former Smoking Gunns on RAW where Billy supposedly broke his neck in the blowoff match with Bart, although no one is buying it this time, unlike with the Shawn Michaels match last year.
– For the second hour of RAW taped, Pierroth and Cibernetico did a match with the New Rockers that was really bad, and Dave suspects that they already might have figured out that they’re not the high-flying risk takers that Jim Ross announced them as.
– The original plan was to tape Superstars after the two hours of RAW, but so many people left after the RAW taping that they just gave up after a couple of matches and shut it down. (See at least we’ve never hit that point with AEW tapings yet.).
– The impression Dave is getting is that they are very aware that this Razor & Diesel thing just isn’t working, specifically the Razor thing, but they’re going to try to salvage something out of Glen Jacobs because he’s got the size and motivation. (Does he have any relatives in the business to help him out, I wonder?).
– And finally, still no official word on the Shotgun Saturday Night show yet, aside from a late night slot and Vince doing commentary with Todd Pettingill. But the WWF is still claiming that the show will revolutionize the world of pro wrestling. So there’s that.
And that’s the news and I’m OUTTA HERE.