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Monday, April 24, 2017

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EOTR Rewind: WWF Summerslam 1996

By @TrueGodImmortal

When the WWF was in a very dark period, we watched them lean on Shawn Michaels to lead the charge. After losing Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to WCW, and the start of the NWO with Hulk Hogan back in prominence and the hiatus of Bret Hart, the WWF turned to Shawn Michaels to be the star and the guy. Going into the 2nd biggest event of the year, Shawn needed a challenger. Enter Vader. A former WCW main eventer, Vader was on a rampage and this would lead to a huge clash against HBK on the biggest stage of the summer. In addition to HBK vs Vader, Summerslam featured a plethora of interesting matchups, kicking off with a hilarious 2 minute contest between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Yokozuna on the Free For All. Today, we wanted to take a rewind back to Summerslam 1996, and reflect on the PPV. Was it solid? Was it a good event? That's what I'm here to find out. Let's get into it.

*Owen Hart vs Savio Vega 

-This opening match was actually pretty good. Going a solid 14 minutes, Owen was a ring general to the fullest, helping to lead Savio to one of his best matches in the WWF. Owen was wearing the cast for his injury, and would utilize it to help him get the victory over Savio. The finish was Owen locking Savio in the sharpshooter after hitting him with the cast, and though Owen was the heel in this match, he would receive a number of cheers for walking out with the win. A solid opening match.

*WWF Tag Team Championship 
The Smoking Gunns vs The New Rockers vs The Godwinns vs The Bodydonnas 

-This was an interesting match. It was a fatal four way elimination match for the tag titles, but for some reason, it just felt extremely rushed. There was a weird element in this match, as Sunny had left the Bodydonnas and ended up turning heel by managing the Smoking Gunns, who came into this match as the defending champions. The Bodydonnas replaced Sunny with.... with.... a man in woman's attire named Cloudy. While today's society might enjoy this angle, it was disturbing and still is regardless. The Smoking Gunns would retain in this match and hold onto their titles however, leaving these three teams in the dust.

*Sycho Sid vs British Bulldog 

-Despite what Phranchize wants you to believe, Sycho Sid sucks. He always has. He was never a good wrestler to watch, and this match was short and sweet because he wasn't a great worker. Bulldog was a solid worker, but what more can be done to help Sid? Nothing. He picks the win in a slightly glorified squash that saw Sid look pretty dominant in the match. Bulldog deserved better than this to be honest.

*Goldust vs Marc Mero 

-This match was pretty standard, but was still fun. I think Goldust was on a role of sorts in 1996, and Marc Mero was still trying to find his footing. Both men were solid workers, and this match doesn't necessarily disappoint, especially with Marlena and Sable at ringside. Goldust picks up the win in a 12 minute contest, which I personally think Mero should have won.

*Jerry Lawler vs Jake Roberts

-I hated this feud. I hated this match. Lawler wins, when he shouldn't have, and this was essentially the beginning of the end of the 2nd run for Jake Roberts. I really didn't like how the WWF exploited his return from his demons, because I feel like this should have ended with him beating Lawler.... instead Lawler wins in 4 minutes. The less said about this the better.

*Boiler Room Brawl 
The Undertaker vs Mankind

-This match is one of a kind. It was interesting because the Mankind vs Undertaker feud was one of the best that I witnessed during the 90's. These two odd personalities kept clashing for months and after everything they had been through in 1996, this seemed to be the culmination of it. The first ever Boiler Room Brawl saw Taker and Mankind bring their best before the crazy ending that saw Paul Bearer turn on Undertaker at the end of the match leading to Mankind getting a victory. The 5 year partnership between Bearer and Taker came to an end, and Mankind seemingly got even stronger as a result. This is the best match of the night IMO, as it had enough drama and fun in it to make it work.

*WWF Championship 
Shawn Michaels vs Vader 

-This match was weird. One, it was far too long. Two, it had a bunch of finishes and restarts that didn't make much sense. First, Vader wins by countout. Cornette asks for the match to be restarted. Then Vader wins by DQ. Then they restart it again. It was really odd to watch and at the end of the match, HBK stood tall. I think the restarts and finishes were just to stretch out the match and try to make Vader look slightly strong, but it killed his entire credibility afterwards. Vader was a monster and to lose cleanly to HBK just felt as if his whole push was gone, and basically that was the case. He never got another big time shot at the WWF Title and after HBK won this match, he just sort of jumped from random feud to feud until Vader eventually became a glorified monster jobber until his departure.

Truthfully, Summerslam 1996 is a fairly weak event by WWF standards. Sure, there were a few decent matches, but overall, this PPV shows exactly why the WWF was losing the ratings war. Where does Summerslam 1996 rank on a scale of 1 to 10? I'd give it a 5 overall, meaning it's not horrible, but it definitely falls short of being a good event.



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