Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Series of Surviving: 1996

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart on Twitter

As the 2011 edition of WWE’s Thanksgiving tradition, the Survivor Series, approaches I felt it would make sense to look at the previous Pay Per Views. Originally I was going to do a review of all the previous Survivor Series but I didn’t know if I could watch all the shows in time to do reviews. Plus, I decided to do the Chikara High Noon promotion and there was no way I could have done two blogs a day. So I decided since I only had five days to write about Survivor Series I should pick 5 years that had some significance.  As I started to thinking about what shows I would write about I realized the first three shows I thought of were a year or two apart. That realization lead to picking out a 5 (technically it’s going to be 6) year span that I think are probably the most historically relevant in the history of the Survivor Series.

Since this year’s show sees the Rock returning to the ring after a seven and a half year hiatus, I thought it was only fitting to start this series in 1996 with the show where Rocky Miavia made his debut. The show had three main matches besides the traditional Survivor Series matches, Undertaker vs. Mankind, Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels vs. Sid for the World Title.

Undertaker or Batman?
If you think Michael Cole is annoying, go back and watch this show. The announcer team was Jim Ross during his heel phase, Jerry Lawler as the prototype to what Michael Cole is now and Vince “what a maneuver” McMahon. Not a good three-man booth.

Doug Furnas/Phil LaFon came into the WWF at the wrong time. Other than the New Rockers and Owen Hart there really wasn’t anyone else who could keep up with them. Their lack of over the top personality was also a hindrance. Was surprised to see Doug Furnas be the sole survivor of the opening match.

Undertaker’s winged leather suit was an interesting look. Wonder how Mick Foley’s WWF career would have gone had he not feuded with Undertaker as his first major feud.

Forgot The Stalker wrestled on this show. His awesome mustache should have won the match. Watching Stalker and Goldust fight each other while not using their real names is slightly odd.

I miss the pissed off Stone Cold character.

Lenny, the ECW fan that looks like Rob Zombie is in the audience next to the entranceway. Wonder what that guy is doing now.

The New York crowd turning on Shawn Michaels is always entertaining.

Why hasn’t TNA brought in Sid yet?

Rocky vs. Goldust (from WWE )
This was the debut of the blue chipper, Rocky Miavia. Rocky, while a rookie, showed glimpses of natural athletic ability.  Since he was the sole survivor and with the way Vince McMahon and Sunny put him over on commentary, you could tell there were big plans in place for The Rock from the beginning. Rocky was on a team with “Wildman” Marc Mero, Stalker, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Mark Henry was originally supposed to be on the team but a leg injury took him out of action so Jake was a surprise replacement. They battled a team captained by Hunter Hearst Helmsley and featuring, Goldust, Jerry Lawler and Crush. While the big feud in the match was Mero and Hunter who were feuding over the I-C title, the focus of the match was Rocky.

The sole survivor
It would take a little under two years for Rocky to really transition into The Rock and convince the fans he really is the most electrifying person in sports entertainment. Though judging by his first six months in the WWF, I doubt many would predict the eventual outcome of young Rocky’s career. Much like Steve Austin, Rocky wouldn’t win the fans over until he had the chance to showcase his verbal skills and create a unique persona.

Austin vs. Hart
In addition to Rocky’s debut, the 1996 Survivor Series also marked the return to the WWF of Bret Hart who hadn’t wrestled since losing the World Title to Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12 earlier in the year. Bret battled Steve Austin in a well-executed technical match.  I really wonder how Steve Austin’s career would have played out had he not suffered the neck injury at SummerSlam ’97.  Austin went from a talented mat based wrestler to WWF style brawler. Not that there is anything wrong with that.  This feud will continue until Wrestlemania 13 where they had a match that many consider to be the match that turned stone cold steve austin into STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. 

Hey yo! Is that Kane? 
In another highlight of this show was the return of Razor Ramon and Diesel. The two Superstars teamed with Farrooq and Vader to do battle with Savio Vega, Yokozuna, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Flash Funk. Flash, aka 2 Cold Scorpio, had wrestled the night before in ECW coming up on the losing end of a Loser Leaves ECW match which was convenient for his WWF debut. I still don’t know if Vince really thought the fake Razor and Diesel idea was good or if it was just a ploy to gain some legal ground in WWF’s lawsuit against WCW. If I remember my dirt sheet gossip, the non-reaction to the Fakes proved WCW having Hall and Nash use similar mannerisms to the Razor and Diesel characters hurt WWF trademarks, or something like that. WWF winning the lawsuit is what would eventually lead to them being able to buy WCW for pennies on the dollar.

After re-watching this show if you take out the commentary it’s a pretty solid Survivor Series. There’s nothing horrible and the Bret/Austin match is just as good as their Wrestlemania match. Coming up tomorrow, a show I would like to wipe off the record books.

Give your thoughts on favorite Survivor Series moments on our Facebook or Twitter pages. 


  1. well stated. much better than your counter-part kevin.

  2. I don't think I said anything, or are you talking about my posts in general?

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