Mike Reviews – “The Summer of 96” – Part One – WWF King of the Ring

Hello You!

Over the next three weeks all the reviews are going to have a theme, in that all of the events I will be reviewing will have all taken part in the summer of 1996. We’ll be journeying to the WWF, stopping off in WCW and then finishing our trip by paying a visit to ECW.

This week we’re starting off with the WWF and their King of the Ring event from June 1996. I went with KOTR over the other two pay per view events the WWF put on that summer because it’s probably the overall best of the three and we also get to see Stone Cold Steve Austin taking a step to becoming the biggest star in the entire industry, which should give us an interesting angle to view the show from if nothing else.

I’ll be watching the Silver Vision Tagged Classics version of the show over the WWE Network cut, mainly because I think the Silver Vision version doesn’t dub out “Don’t Go Messin’ Wit A Country Boy”, and if I’m going to suffer through a Godwinn’s match then I at least want to enjoy the only part of their act that I actually liked.

This show was originally supposed to be a real coming out party for Triple H, as he’d win the tournament and no doubt go on to get a sizeable push for the rest of the summer as a result. However, The Curtain Call incident at MSG put a stop to that, as Triple H was the only one of the four that Vince McMahon could actually punish for it, so poor Tri saw his reign as King snuffed out before it could even start. And thus, the wrestling world never heard of Triple H ever again…

Aside from the tournament itself, we’ve got a wacky storyline in the Main Event where Davey Boy Smith’s is challenging Shawn Michaels, Goldust is defending the IC Title against an enraged Ahmed Johnson and Mankind is having his first ever pay per view encounter with The Undertaker. So yeah, there’s a lot on the docket, so let’s stop chatting wham and watch some chuffing wrestling!

The event is emanating from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the 23rd of June 1996

Calling the action are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Owen Hart

This version opens with some clips from the Free For All, where Michael Hayes hypes the crowd up for the show. The Free For All was basically the pre-show that would play on the pay per view channel prior to the event actually taking place, where the WWF would have one last gasp attempt at convincing people to part with their pennies.

Free For All Match
The New Rockers Vs The Bodydonnas w/ Cloudy

The building is pretty empty here because apparently traffic is backed up outside. I guess we’ll find out if that’s really the case as the night progresses eh? Cloudy is wrestler Jimmy Shoulders in drag, who has been hired by The Body’s in order to offend previous manager Sunny. Yeah, let’s just say that the Cloudy character and the antics of Goldust likely made this a less than ideal time to watch the product if you were of LGBT persuasion.

Todd Pentingill can’t be at the show tonight due to a kidney stone, but they phone him during this one and his daughter predicts that Shawn Michaels will win later on in a cute moment. Vince seems to be genuinely amused by Todd’s jokes, which is probably why Todd enjoyed gainful employment for as long as he did. The action here is decent because all four guys in it can work, but there isn’t much in the way of atmosphere due to the empty seats.

Marty actually catches Candido with a powerbomb off the top rope at one stage, which isn’t even a near fall and is just used as a double down spot. What an absolute waste of an incredible big move that was, especially in a nothing match like this. The finish comes from Cloudy coming into the ring to make out with Al Snow, which leads to Tom Pritchard getting a roll up for the three count. This storyline was absolute death.

WINNERS: THE BODYDONNAS
RATING: *

Brian Pillman limps into the venue on crutches, where Michael Hayes is waiting for him. Brian is angry that his name isn’t on top of the marquee and guarantees the wretched refuse of the world that he’ll make his presence known tonight.

We get a video recap of Owen Hart knocking Ahmed Johnson out with an arm cast, which led to Goldust giving Ahmed mouth to mouth in order to revive him. Ahmed was furious because of this and went into an absolute rage. Jim Ross tries to interview Ahmed, but Ahmed isn’t interested in doing an interview right now. Ahmed was incredibly intimidating there it must be said.

We get a King of the Ring recap, in the form of 1993 when Bret Hart won the crown and then got attacked by Jerry Lawler.

Lawler cuts a promo next, saying he spilt boiling coffee on his hands earlier and he now has them all bandaged up. He says he isn’t trying to get out of the match with Ultimate Warrior later though. We get a video recap of why the match is happening. Lawler made a nice painting for the Warrior, but then smashed it over his head. They buried Warrior on The Self-Destruction DVD for wearing a baseball hat for that angle and I have to admit it was one of the few outlandish grievances on that hatchet job of a tape that I actually kind of agreed with, as the minute I saw him wearing that hat I knew an angle was afoot and it kind of telegraphed the spot. What amused me about this recap is that Lawler beat up Aldo Montoya to get some heat prior to the pay per view, which is of course what he did the previous year for his match with Bret Hart as well. I bet Justin Credible couldn’t believe his luck when he got to ECW in 97 and Paul Heyman actually started pushing him.

Hayes polls the crowd about whether Mr. Perfect will be a fair referee later, which leads to Perfect coming out to address them. He states he will call the match right down the middle, even though he’s had previous issues with Shawn Michaels.

And that’s it for the Free For All. The match wasn’t much, but I enjoyed the promos and videos

Opening Match
King of the Ring Semi-Final
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Marc Mero w/ Sable

Austin defeated Bob Holly and Savio Vega to get to this stage whilst Mero defeated Chris Candido and Owen Hart. Sable definitely looked to have had some work done between this period and her big push in 1998, and I have to say I liked her more here in all honesty. We see clips of Austin beating Savio with the Stunner, which was the first time he’d used it to win in the WWF.

What’s interesting about Austin during this period is how much more of a traditional styled heel he was, as he bumps all over for the babyface as well as stalling a lot. Being that this bout was prior to the gnarly injuries he would suffer to both neck and knee, Austin is moving like nobody’s business here and it’s night and day from the brawling main event style he would be forced to employ during the majority of the Attitude Era as a result of his physical limitations.

Austin really was a joy to watch in this period as his body could still cash the cheques that his excellent wrestling mind was writing, which meant he was a smooth technician and fantastic snide heel.  I’m a huge fan of Attitude Era Austin, but his ECW run up to the Owen Driver is probably my favourite period of his career from a strictly in ring perspective. Mero was also on a roll at the time as well prior to his own litany of injuries slowing him down, so both men make for perfect opponents.

Mero is great in this match as a gutsy face and Austin is equally great at being a truly vile and unlikeable heel, giving the match a great dynamic. Sable even does some good valet work for her then husband, by getting the crowd involved and also selling well as her hubby takes a kicking from the relentless Austin. She was still somewhat enthusiastic about the wrestling business at this stage in her life, and it comes across in her performance. Watching matches like this you can see why she got over, as when she cared she was a decent part of Mero’s act.

Austin actually gets cut open in this one, as Mero goes for a backwards rolling pin hold, and ends up catching Steve in the face with one of his boots, which was serious enough that Austin had to make a quick trip to the hospital to get it fixed up before returning later on in the show. Despite that though, Austin keeps going and they do some really enjoyable action in the closing stages, with Mero looking great as a fiery high flying babyface.

The crowd gets into it as well, especially when Mero starts doing dives to the outside. Austin even takes a rana off the top at one stage, but manages to kick at two. Can you imagine him taking something like that post Owen Driver? In a fun call back, Austin actually busts out the Stun Gun at one stage but it only gets two, but the Stunner right after gets the three count. If that was intended as a subtle suggestion that the Austin character had out grown his Stunning days and become better for it due to now having a better finisher, then this match deserves extra marks for storytelling!

WINNER: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
RATING: ****

This is one of those matches that you perhaps don’t expect to be great, but it genuinely is and it probably doesn’t get enough credit for being such a fun contest. I’d strongly recommend watching this one if you never have before, as both men were on point with their performances and the work was very enjoyable. It’s either this or the Pillman match at Fall Brawl 95 for peak Mero, and you can’t really go wrong with either of those two matches

Michael Hayes is backstage with Jake Roberts, who cuts a religious themed promo. At the time he was doing the born again thing, but sadly it didn’t stick at the time and he went back to his ways of vice and sin.

Match Two
King of the Ring Semi-Final
The Man They Call Vader w/ Jim Cornette Vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Owen keeps adding extra decades onto Jake’s age in a funny gag. Jake is the Cinderella Story here, with them acting like it’s almost impossible for a 41 year old man to win this thing. Of course, in modern WWE he probably would have only just gotten out of NXT onto the main roster at that age. Vader beat Ahmed and then got a BYE when Goldust and Ultimate Warrior went to a draw, whilst Jake defeated original intended winner Triple H and then Bradshaw.

Jake is actually taller than Vader, which should give you an idea of how big he really is. He’d probably get pushed like a monster these days if he were in WWE. It just shows you how the business has changed I guess. Jake’s selling is really good here, and he has to do quite a lot of it when Vader clobbers him at certain points. Vader does his fair share of bumping and selling for Jake too to be fair to him, and it’s not a bad match to watch as a result. Sadly the finish is rubbish, as Jake DDT’s Vader but Vader shoves the ref on the way down for the DQ.

WINNER: JAKE ROBERTS
RATING: *1/2

They didn’t get a lot of time, but what time they did have led to them having a decent enough effort. The finish was super lame though, and they really should have just put someone else in there if they didn’t want to beat Vader. Heck, Yoko was a big bloke on his way out, stick him in the match instead and have him eat a DDT on his way out the door

Vader destroys Jake following the match, injuring his mid-section in the process.

We get a Silver Vision exclusive, where Vader is angry and Cornette desperately tries to calm him down. I did enjoy seeing a Cornette shoot interview where he talked about how sometimes Vader would grab him so hard that Cornette’s clothes would be stained by Vader’s gloves following it, to which Cornette then mused “And he wasn’t even mad at ME!”

Match Three
WWF Tag Titles
Champs: The Smoking Gunn’s w/ Sunny Vs The Godwinn’s w/ Hillbilly Jim and some goats

Hey the music does indeed survive! Sunny’s whole thing in 96 was that she kept dumping whoever she was managing so she could manage the Tag Champs. She started out as the manager for The Bodydonnas, but ditched them for The Godwinn’s when they won the belts and then ditched THEM for The Gunn’s when they won them, which led to The Gunn’s going heel in the process. This was all building to the logical final match between all three teams at Summer Slam, although for some reason The New Rockers got shoved in there as well to make it a Fatal Four Way.

I thought The Gunn’s were a decent babyface team, especially when they had some good teams to work with, but I found them less entertaining in the heel role, although it gave Billy a chance to start getting his heel persona down. Ross laments The Gunn’s new heel ways, adding in a story that they refused to give a pair of young fans an autograph earlier in the day. Did they smash a trophy over someone’s head and then shove down a granny in the lobby as well?

Phineas Godwinn (Mideon) was doing a simpleton gimmick at the time where he was smitten with Sunny, and Billy antagonises him early on, which leads to Phineas going into a rage like Adam Sandler in The Waterboy. Cloudy has a cut-in promo during this, and it’s absolutely horrible. This was a disaster and I think they killed the character off soon after. Things settle down following Phineas’ early assault, and The Godwinn’s shine until a Billy cheap shot on Henry leads to the cut off.

The crowd doesn’t really care about this match, even though Henry does a good job selling in the heat and The Gunn’s make an effort to show some heel personality. I do sometimes wish that The Gunn’s had gone to WCW instead of the WWF, as I could see them tearing the house down with teams like The Hollywood Blondes, especially down south where they really bought in to the tag team formula when it was done well.

Eventually Henry’s hard work reaps some reward, as the crowd starts getting behind him, and to be fair he deserves it as he’s sold really well. Eventually he’s able to dodge a leg drop from Bart and tags in Phineas, who runs wild on The Gunn’s, with the crowd responding. The Godwinn’s have it well in hand, but whilst the ref is arguing with Henry it allows Bart to cheap shot Phineas so Billy can get the pin.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: THE SMOKING GUNN’S
RATING: **

This one felt pretty flat for about three quarters of its length, but Henry sold and sold in the heat until the crowd kind of cared, at which point they took it right home before it had a chance to evolve into a genuinely good match, which was a shame. Still, the finish kept the feud cooking along and it was all building to a blow off at Summer Slam, so the booking made sense in itself

Hayes is backstage with Jim Cornette, Clarence Mason and Davey Boy Smith. Cornette cuts a great promo building Davey Boy up for the match later. Mr. Perfect is getting changed in Davey Boy’s locker room, but that doesn’t mean he won’t call it fairly later on though according to Davey.

Match Four
Jerry “The King” Lawler Vs The Ultimate Warrior

Lawler of course insults the crowd with a promo during his entrance, making fun of the King of the Ring set as well. It’s all total cheap heat, but it works at getting him over as a heel. He notably steals a sceptre from the set, which will probably come into play later. Warrior wasn’t long for the company at this stage, and he’d leave a few weeks after this. Normally I’d forgive a wrestler for flaking out like that, but his leaving meant they panicked and pressed the “Sid” button, which means I have nothing but scorn for the jerk for subjecting me to Sid’s horrendous wrestling.

Warrior is pretty over here, thanks in part no doubt to Lawler’s scathing promo on the crowd, as they are ready for someone to shut him up now. Lawler jumps Warrior with the sceptre during his entrance, which allows him to get a brief advantage with his traditional Mempho heel tactics, but it doesn’t last for very long as Warrior no sells the Piledriver and then destroys Lawler with the clotheslines and shoulder tackle for the three count to pop the crowd. You can tell Lawler wasn’t a serious opponent because Warrior didn’t even bother to splash him. Even Honky got splashed!

WINNER: ULTIMATE WARRIOR
RATING: N/A

This was more of an elongated angle than a wrestling match, but the crowd liked it, so it did its job and was pretty much the perfect way of booking a match between these two in 1996

Warrior mugs with the crown post-match.

Hayes is backstage with WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. Gorilla says that Jake is determined to compete later on, but he’s going to be watching the match closely and he will stop it if he needs to.

Match Five
Mankind Vs The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer

Undertaker had been an invincible undead zombie wrestling monsters pretty much exclusively since his initial Face turn in 1992, so they decided to try something different here by bringing in Mick Foley as the deranged Mankind, a character that could absorb all of the punishment Taker could throw at him and could mess with him psychologically. This helped turn Taker into a more three-dimensional character who could actually be hurt and suffer from human emotions, which was essential in keeping him relevant during the more realism based Attitude Era.

This becomes clear in the early going, as Taker leaps off the top rope onto Mankind right from the off and throws a slew of vicious punches at him, showing genuine anger and rage instead of being his usual stoic self. Mankind of course sells all of this really well, and the crowd is into the idea of Taker giving him a good kicking. Mankind gets plenty of licks in himself throughout the match though, with Ross in particular doing a great job of getting across how no one has ever really worked over Taker like this before, which is true because previously he was fighting big stiffs who weren’t really capable to doing the quicker paced more vicious offence that Foley does here.

Mankind is prepared to hurt himself in order to hurt Undertaker for instance, such as when he drops an elbow off the apron, which is not something you would have seen someone like Giant Gonzalez do, so Taker is on the back foot against an unpredictable opponent that can match him for pace and pain tolerance, which is something Taker hasn’t really come up against since his Face turn. Mankind also has practically zero fear when it comes to fighting him as well, because he not only can’t be hurt like a normal guy but there’s also a suggestion that he even enjoys it. It’s just the perfect opponent to help advance and evolve The Undertaker character, which is why this feud worked so well.

Mankind of course takes some of his trademark silly bumps, such as a back body drop out on the concrete, and the crowd responds by really getting into the idea of a wild brawl. It’s really good chaotic brawling too, the sort of stuff you didn’t really see in America outside of ECW up to this point, and ironically WCW had just started doing it too by bringing in The Public Enemy and having Chris Benoit fight into the ladies bogs with Kevin Sullivan on pay per view.

Things slow down a little bit at one stage when Mankind works a nerve pinch, but it’s already been established that he has a good understanding of the human anatomy due to his Mandible Claw finisher, so it actually makes sense that he’d use it, and it works in getting the crowd behind Taker. It’s funny actually, because it feels like the crowd are shocked more than anything else that Mankind is doing so well here against Undertaker, almost like they’re kind of in awe. You can feel like something is crackling in the atmosphere surrounding the match, it’s really cool.

Undertaker does eventually make a comeback by blasting Mankind with a chair, and the crowd is engrossed. The finishing sequence is great too, as Paul Bearer sees his client is in bother and tries to help him by hitting Mankind with the urn, but he ends up clocking Taker by mistake, which allows Mankind to slap the Mandible Claw on a stunned Taker for the clean win when Taker passes out. The crowd are utterly shocked by that finish and Mankind’s post-match piano music is always a great touch, which apparently came to Foley after watching Silence of the Lambs.

WINNER: MANKIND
RATING: ***3/4

This was not only a great brawl but it was also absolutely perfect not only at getting the Mankind character over but also laying the groundwork for Undertaker’s continued character evolution, as he didn’t really have an answer for Mankind in this first outing and had to go back to the drawing board. If I could use a more modern analogy, it was a bit like how Kevin Owens came out of nowhere to beat Cena in 2015, except they actually stuck the landing with this feud

Mankind tries stalking Bearer following the match, but Bearer manages to get away. Bearer would eventually turn on Taker at Summer Slam, giving Mankind yet another win.

Hayes is with Perfect, and Perfect is insistent that he will be calling the match fairly later on. Shawn Michaels comes over and warns him to call it fairly.

Match Six
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Goldust w/ Marlena Vs Ahmed Johnson

I’ve always found the body of this match to be a little dull, mainly because Goldust worked this slow deliberate style that could make his matches near tortuous at times. In moment that really gets across how angry Ahmed is, he flings the door to the entrance way open, sending the doormen flying. Ahmed genuinely looks like one of the scariest men alive in the early going here, and if he could have just learned how to be fake scary without hurting opens and stayed healthy he could have genuinely been a mega star because the crowd is into him here.

Ahmed destroys Goldust in the shine, clobbering him with clotheslines, with Goldust selling it all fantastically. Ahmed even busts out a plancha at one stage and nearly brains himself on the floor in the process. Owen is hilarious saying that all Goldust did was try to save Ahmed’s life and he doesn’t deserve this. I do wonder what made the Goldust character decide he wanted to mess with Ahmed actually. With Razor Ramon it was because he was IC Champ and with Roddy Piper it was because he was acting President and had power, but with Ahmed it seems like he kicked a hornet’s nest just for the heck of it.

Ahmed eventually misses a tackle attempt on Goldust and goes tumbling out to the floor, where Goldust adds a shot with the ring steps whilst Marlena distracts the ref. At this point the match slows to a crawl whilst Goldust works Ahmed over, although to be fair to Ahmed he does a decent job selling, which wasn’t an aspect of his game that he was always known for. The heat does drag though, and to be honest I’m not sure it’s really believable that the Goldust character would be capable to laying a whupping on Ahmed Johnson for as long as he does here.

Eventually Goldust locks on a sleeper hold and would appear to have it won, but he lets his cockiness get the better of him once again by reviving Ahmed with yet more mouth to mouth. This leads to Ahmed going almost serial killer, by calmly grabbing Goldust by the throat and shoving him into the corner before DESTROYING him with clubbing forearms, getting angrier with each one. Seriously, Ahmed went from zero to “oh, he dead” in less than five seconds there and it was utterly terrifying. Pear River Plunge comes after that, but it was already academic, and that gives Ahmed the belt.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: AHMED JOHNSON
RATING: **

The finish made Ahmed look like a huge star, but the heat went on for way too long and I just can’t even with long Goldust matches from this era. I can appreciate that Goldust was a really strong character, and I’m by no means a work rate junkie who can’t appreciate good character work, but there’s a limit you know? Shave five minutes off this one and it would have been much better

Ahmed puts the belt on following that and the crowd reacts to it big time. Shame he was seemingly even more of a sick note than Darren Anderton or this push might have stuck.

We get a video hyping up the next In Your House, as a dude gets abducted by aliens but asks them to forgo it so that he can watch the WWF, which the aliens excitedly agree to, eventually beaming in Sunny for good measure.

Silver Vision XCLOOSIVE is Ahmed getting a champagne shower from the locker room.

“Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman arrives on crutches, courtesy of a traffic collision. That injury would sadly never heal properly and Pillman’s misery because of it caused him to get even worse with his drug use. Pillman cuts a rather rambling Heel promo, but he has plenty of charisma and he could have been a tremendous Heel manager for someone.

Semi-Main Event
King of the Ring Final
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Jake Roberts

Pillman and Austin have a brief interaction during Austin’s entrance as a call back to any long-time WCW fans. Austin has apparently had stiches in his tongue, which sounds positively horrendous. This match is all Jake selling, as he drags himself down to the ring and Austin works him over in vicious Rattlesnake fashion. It’s not much of a technical exhibition, but it’s good storytelling and on another night they could have had Jake catch Austin with a DDT out of nowhere for the upset win and blew the roof off the joint, but that’s not the story we’re telling tonight.

Austin mercilessly taking it to Jake and Jake refusing to give up as a result is just tremendous, as both men just totally understand both their characters and the roles they need to play here. Gorilla Monsoon eventually comes down and looks to end the match, but Jake begs him not to and keeps fighting. Again, Jake winning here would have been sensational for a short term pop, but for the long term the finish they do is the right one, as Austin fights off Jake’s DDT attempt and drops him with the Stunner to win the crown.

WINNER AND KING OF THE RING: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
RATING: **

This seems to get bad ratings a lot of the time, but I honestly thought it was exactly what it needed to be and both men were excellent in their respective roles. It’s not like we were robbed of any good matches in the tournament either, as Austin/Mero really delivered on that front and the crowd was into Jake as the underdog

Austin cuts a famous victory speech following that, coining the phrase “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your A$$”. It’s genuinely a really good promo outside of that line too, but it took the feud with Bret Hart later in the year for Austin to really get through the glass ceiling, as he was kind of just winning matches in the mid-card up to that point and not really doing much.

Main Event
WWF Title
Champ: Shawn Michaels w/ Jose Lothario Vs Davey Boy Smith w/ Diana Hart and Jim Cornette

The story here was that Diana had accused Shawn of stalking her, so Bulldog was out to get him as a result. Normally this would make Shawn the heel, but they pushed very hard the idea that she was making it all up, so as to keep Shawn as a face. According to a shoot interview with Jim Cornette the storyline eventually go toned down and ultimately cancelled when Stu Hart complained that it was making Diana look like a “Hoooooooooooorrrrreeee”. An additional twist is that Shawn and Bulldog did a double pin finish on the previous pay per view, so Mr. Perfect is supposed to be the referee to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Gorilla Monsoon comes down before the match starts and states that Perfect will only be the referee outside the ring, whilst Earl Hebner will be the referee inside the ring (Wow, remember when referees were actually allowed to have names?). This annoys guest commentator Owen Hart, who is blatantly cheering for Davey in hilarious fashion. The Milwaukee crowd boo’s Davey when he waves the Union Jack around (Hey, stuff you too you beer guzzling pigs!) which leads to a good old fashioned “USA” chant. The old ones are still the best ones I guess.

We get a quick and exciting open, as both men do some nice chain wrestling and Shawn eventually sends Davey outside the ring with a head scissors before following with a rana out on the floor. Shawn continues to shine on Bulldog back inside with arm drags and the like, with most of it being good but there are occasions here and there where their timing is off, leading to some awkward moments. We get a couple of annoying shots of Diana as she watches whilst showing off her early afternoon soap opera acting skills.

Eventually Davey presses Shawn over the top rope to the floor, which leads to Vince crying on commentary that it should be a disqualification and has me longing for Jesse Ventura to put him in his place by pointing out that such a thing isn’t actually a DQ in the WWF. Davey adds a vertical suplex out on the floor for good measure before pressing Shawn back into the ring for two. Shawn bumps for and sells for all of this is his usual impressive fashion, and does so for the rest of the heat, including when Bulldog busts out a full on Surfboard Stretch.

The crowd stays with Shawn and pops whenever it looks like he might make a comeback of some kind. Both men slip out of the others finisher attempts and Davey finishes off the sequence by giving Shawn a clothesline. That was great to watch, as the execution and timing were both excellent. Bulldog sadly botches the follow up dive from the top rope though, missing by a mile whilst Shawn didn’t even move, but he quickly gets back on the horse with a superplex for two.

Davey tries a super back drop next, but Shawn shifts his weight and lands on top for two, in a similar instance to when he landed on top of Bulldog to win the IC Title back in 1992. Shawn tries another rana after that, but Bulldog counters it into a nice sit out power bomb for a two of his own. Shawn does the full comeback, with the referee getting momentarily dazed when he catches a stray leg to the face from Bulldog when Shawn slams him down, and Sweet Chin Music follows. The referee recovers in time and, along with Perfect, they both count along together for the finish (Although Owen drags Perfect out before he can count three thus leaving a question as to whether he actually would have counted or not).

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SHAWN MICHAELS
RATING: ***1/4

When they were “on” this was awesome, but when they were “off” it started getting a bit sloppy. The finish came off a bit flat as well, due to Davey having to get pinned for close to a ten count due to how long it took for Hebner and Perfect to get synchronised. Still, it was a fun match for the most part and these two always had solid if not spectacular chemistry together, with most of their matches ending up around ***ish to me. It could be worse at the end of the day, at least they were capable of having a good match together.

Vader, Owen and Bulldog attack Shawn post-match, which leads to Ahmed Johnson and The Ultimate Warrior running down to make the save and set up a six man tag for the following months’ pay per view event. Sadly Warrior wouldn’t end up making that show though, which led to us all being punished with the return of Sid.

In Conclusion

This is a really good show and possibly a genuine contender for the best “Big Five” event the WWF put on 1996. It’s an easy recommendation from me!

Next week, The Big Man, the Medium-Sized Man and their mystery partner are gonna Carve. You. Up