From November 16, 1996
Introduction - I've wanted to review this show for a long time. Not only because of Bret vs Austin, but a number of debuts amidst a series of disorganized looking 4-on-4 matches. Let's see where the cards fall. Is this show impactful or just yet another throwaway Survivor Series?
Opening video package - Weird. This is more akin to "WWE brags about Wrestlemania weekend events" than "WWE plugs a PPV", as the HoF inductions are in November at this time, as well as some local WWF event hype that the company only spotlights around Mania.
Doug Furnas, Henry O. Godwinn, Phil Lafon and Phineas I. Godwinn (with Hillbilly Jim) vs. The British Bulldog, Leif Cassidy, Marty Jannetty and Owen Hart (with Clarence Mason) - 6.5/10
This is our tag team division match of the evening. This is Furnas and Lafon's debut, who I will call Can-Am connection. We got some cool character work with the Godwinns and we got some fast eliminations but from there it was all Can-Am Connection. Can-Am Connection and Owen/Bulldog put on a good match. I wish both of Can-Am hadn't survived so they could've each gotten a showcase.
Paul Bearer and Mankind promo - Great if for no other reason than Paul trying to get "I'm Paul Bearer and you're not" over as a catchphrase.
Undertaker vs Mankind (Paul Bearer is in a shark cage) - 7.25/10
Undertaker gets a dope ass Batman entrance swooping down from the ceiling. This is the first time they you see Undertaker using technical wrestling and working a body part. Mankind does a cannonball off of the apron to get the heat back but Undertaker fires back. We get some teases and finishers but Undertaker goes back to working the arm, sensible thing to do if you were almost just put in the Mandible Claw. When Mankind finally lock on the Claw, Jim explains that the reason why it's taking Mankind so long is because the hand has been weakened mankind tries the mandible claw again but misses. Mankind uses a weird foreign object. Taker gets the tombstone out of nowhere for the win. This was a serviceable chapter in the Taker/Mankind feud, but nowhere near the best match they would have.
Post-match - Bad. Executioner runs in to save Bearer, but gets clotheslined and the heels leave, and Taker celebrates. This is the worst kind of subversion of expectation.
Team Triple H interview - Generic "over the top but without the charisma to pull it off" New Generation promo. Goldust just says his catchphrase.
Jake Roberts, Marc Mero (with Sable), Rocky Maivia, and The Stalker vs Crush, Goldust (with Marlena), Jerry Lawler and Hunter Hearst Helmsley - 4.5/10
Jake Roberts is the mystery man on the babyface team. Also Rocky is debuting tonight. Jake clears the ring with his snake. They tease Hunter vs Mero but don't deliver. Lots of stalling. It picks up when Rocky gets in. He gets a few flourishes but gets his ass kicked by all the heels. Jake tags in and immediately gets his ass kicked . He nails a DDT to eliminate Lawler. Mero eliminates Hunter clean, and then he himself is eliminated to no fanfare. Jake is then eliminated. Now this is the part where Rocky comes back and wins . Ballsy of WWE to make a brand new guy look this good . This was a tale of two plotpoints , the faces getting their asses kicked forever and being eliminated to no fanfare, all so Rocky can look good. This is so transparent it actually hurts the match
Hart vs Austin video package - Hart accepts the challenge of Austin upon his return and an angry Austin wins a lot and cuts angry promos . This was awesome.
Steve Austin interview - Awesome. Early heel Steve Austin rules.
Bret Hart interview - Bret says that his fans will help him through and vr the end of the night Austin will respect him. That part sounded especially heelish
Bret Hart vs Steve Austin - 9.5/10
It's weird to see Austin in regular knee pads . Jim Ross sells a first time submission loss for one of these two which is awesome storytelling. The story of the match at first is that they are even in a technical sense but Austin wins the striking exchanges. Austin works the neck. Jim Ross is explaining the psychology of literally everything that's going on and it's awesome. Bret fires back but Austin wins the fist fight . Bret makes a comeback but we get Bret's gross sternum into the turnbuckle spot. Austin rakes the eyes to get out of the backbreaker, which you don't see often. Austin is wrestling like he's furious now and just going for punches and high impact brawling moves. We get a crowd brawl which I wasn't expecting. Catapult into the Spanish announce table which is more realistic then the contrived announce table spots we see today. An announce table elbow drop sees Bret do a dramatic crawl back to the ring . Austin has control. Dueling chants are drowned out in favor of Hitman, awesome . Bret fires back and hits a Stun Gun which Austin hit earlier. The crowd mark out for a two count on a piledriver. Bret gets a small package off his own Superplex which was awesome. Bret kicks ouf of a stunner at two and people freak out . Bret rolls in an Irish whip to hit back first into the ring post. Bret wins by pushing off the ropes in the Million Dollar Dream into a pin. Jim sells this as Austin being so obsessive he refuses to break the hold, which makes Austin look like a psychopath.
This was a near perfect match and it roves that Bret and Austin are a step above everyone else.
Sycho Sid interview - He's wearing a baseball cap backward which is weird. Beyond that, this is a typical Sid promo
"Diesel", Faarooq, "Razor Ramon" and Vader (with Clarence Mason and Jim Cornette) vs. Flash Funk, Jimmy Snuka, Savio Vega and Yokozuna - DUD
It's weird to see Farooq in his Nation gimmick with no other wrestlers and on a random heel Survivor Series team . Jim Cornette joins commentary to bitch about Vader being on a random team. This is Flash Funk's debut , and Jimmy Snuka is the mystery partner.
Funk makes his debut by getting beat up by Vader. The guys hit moves with no reason or rhyme. Flash is made to look competent against bigger guys but then immediately gets beat up. Superfly tags in and everyone jobs to him, until he gets some offense and tags out. Now Savio gets eliminated by Diesel Superfly eliminates Razor with his splash then it immediately brakes into a brawl and ends in a draw. Why even waste guys like Vader Snuka, and the DEBUTING Flash Funk on a match like this?
Sid vs HBK Package - Weird .HBK helps Sid not be a psycho by being his friend but then we get the same miscues HBK did with Diesel and Sid is heel.
WWF Championship Match
Sycho Sid vs Shawn Michaels (c) (with José Lothario) - 7/10
The crowd is overwhelmingly pro-Sid. Sid dominates early but HBK gets him off his feet and works the leg. Sid fights back and gets some power stuff, but Sid misses a boot and works the leg but Sid fights back with big power moves. Sid dominates until HBK fights back . Sid blocks the elbow drop with one foot and locks in the cobra clutch. HBK fights back but Sid blocks the Chin Music and hits a chokeslam. A roll-up win is teased but Sid kicks out. HBK fights back but Sid cuts him off. Sid grabs the camera and wacks Jose when the refs back is turned. Jose holds his chest and Shawn asks for the EMTs,. goes back in to accidentally crossbody the ref and goes back out to check on Jose. Sid hits HBK with the camera and powerbomb for the win. The commentary team does a terrible job selling 60+ year old Jose having a heart attack, in the driest, most unconcerned affect possible
This was a better match than if had any right to be, but the finish was clunky.
The singles matches were good to great. The Survivor Series matches, for the exception of the tag division, featured some awful storytelling with abysmal debuts (especially if your name was Flash Funk). Pop on Austin vs Bret, or Taker vs Mankind if you're watching a compilation of their matches and skip the rest.