Gund Arena – Cleveland, Ohio – Sunday, August 18, 1996
Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Mr. Perfect are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Savio Vega vs. Owen Hart
This was during the time Owen was wearing a cast on his arm. Vega wisely goes right to work on the injured limb. After several minutes of abuse, Owen is able to kick Vega shoulder-first into the ring post, and now Owen is in control. Owen goes go work on the shoulder, keeping Vega mostly on the mat. Vega tries to fight back but Owen cuts him off with an enziguiri. Clarence Mason is out to watch the match for unknown reasons. Finally Vega is able to land a spin kick and gets some time to recover now. Back on their feet Vega starts building momentum with a flurry of offense. Owen cuts him off with a hangman’s neckbreaker. He follows with a missile dropkick but it only gets two. Owen goes up again, backwards this time, and Vega kicks him down. Vega goes up for a belly-to-back superplex, and the back of his head falls on Owen’s cast! That’s a cool spot. Owen takes his cast off and is able to hit Vega with it, and the referee somehow didn’t see it. That’s just poor officiating. Owen then pouts on the Sharpshooter to get the win at 13:23. That was a real solid opener and had a pretty cool spot near the end, and some classic cheating by the wily Owen Hart.
MATCH #2: World Tag Team Title Four Way Elimination Match – The Smoking Gunns vs. The Godwinns vs. The Body Donnas vs. The New Rockers
Billy and Bart have been Champions since 5.26.96, and this is the third defense of their third reign. Henry Godwinn and Billy start the match, with Henry using his power to dominate. Phineas and Zip tag in and Phieas keeps up the advantage. The two opposing teams get clever and tag both Gunns at once, and the commentators say that contact has to be made before either man can tag out. So not much happens and we end up with Zip and Billy in the ring. Marty Jannetty trips Zip from the floor and Billy is able to steal a pin and score the first elimination at 4:00. The Gunns and the Rockers try to work together on the Godwinns, but that backfires of course. The two teams get into an argument and the Godwinns take the opportunity to clean house. Cassidy gets thrown into the corner and accidentally back body drops Jannetty into the ring. Henry then hits Jannetty with the Slop Drop for the second elimination at 7:18. We’re down to just two teams now. Bart and Henry go back and forth and take each other down. Henry tries to make the tag but Bart cuts him off. The crowd is just dead for this, not caring at all. Finally Henry is able to catch Billy in mid-air on a Stinger Splash attempt and he hits a powerslam. Phineas finally gets the hot tag and he cleans house. Henry and Bart tumbleover the top rope to the floor, and Phineas hits Billy with the Slop Drop. Bart comes off the top rope with a forearm to the back of the head and places Billy on top to get the pin and retain the titles at 12:18. That was a bit of a mess, and with no contributions from Chris Candido the match suffered. It was all just so painfully dull, and felt way longer than it actually was.
MATCH #3: Sycho Sid vs. The British Bulldog
Bulldog tries to take Sid down with shoulderblocks but that gets him nowhere. Sid hits a clothesline and a bodyslam, sending Bulldog scurrying to the floor. Back in the ring Sid works a headlock and then hits a powerslam for two. Bulldog comes back with a very impressive delayed vertical suplex. Clarence Mason is out to watch this match too. Bulldog clotheslines Sid to the floor, and then knocks him back down when he gets to the apron. He picks Sid up from the apron and drops his midsection on the top rope. Sid reverses a whip into the corner and hits a running shoulderblock. He tries to repeat that move but Bulldog avoids it. Bulldog hits the Running Powerslam, but gets distracted by Jim Cornette coming out to argue with Mason at ringside. When Bulldog goes for another powerslam, Sid slips out and hits the Chokeslam. One powerbomb later and Sid gets the win at 6:24. That was wisely kept short, and they played to each other’s strengths well.
MATCH #4: Marc Mero vs. Goldust
They start slowly with a feeling out process. Mero quickens the pace, which will be to his advantage. He targets the arm and starts wearing Goldust down. Goldust responds by backdropping Mero to the floor. Back in the ring Goldust keeps Mero grounded and works him over. Meanwhile, Mankind emerges from the locker room to frighten Sable, and then he runs away. After several minutes Mero is able to make a comeback and he strings together a flurry of offense. Mero flips Goldust over the top rope to the floor, and then follows him out with a flipping dive. Back in the ring Mero hits the slingshot legdrop. Mero slams him down and hits the Wild Thing, which I believe is the first time I ever saw the Shooting Star Press. Unfortunately for Mero, Marlena has the referee distracted so he can’t make the count. Goldust fights back and hits the Curtain Call for the pin at 11:01. Mero had his working boots on and Goldust kept up his end of things too. The finish felt a little anti-climactic, but the match was perfectly solid up until that.
MATCH #5: Jake Roberts vs. Jerry Lawler
Lawler mocks Roberts with a huge bottle of wine, so Roberts sets his snake “Revelations” on the King. The crowd appreciates that, and it sends Lawler running towarsd the back. Eventually the match starts proper via the bell, and Lawler goes right to the floor and talks more trash. Robets gets tired of waiting in the ring and surprises Lawler on the floor, slamming his head off the ring steps. Back in the ring Roberts unloads with punches and the like. They head back to the floor and Roberts hits a bodyslam. Roberts throws Lawler into the ring post repeatedly. Lawler counters by throwing a glas of beer in Roberts’ face. He then ties Roberts up in the ropes and tries to pour alcohol down his throat. Roberts fights up and tries the DDT but Lawler counters with a back body drop. The persistent Roberts hits the Short Clothesline and signals for the DDT but Lawler hangs on to the official. While Roberts and the referee argue, Lawler grabs one of the booze bottles and strikes Roberts in the throat with it, pretty much right in front of the referee. Lawler grabs a handful of tights and scores the pin at 4:09. There wasn’t much action in the match, and what was there wasn’t particularly inspiring. After the match Lawler humiliates Roberts by pouring liquor on him. Mark Henry, who was on commentary, has to come to the rescue and run Lawler off.
MATCH #6: Boiler Room Brawl – The Undertaker vs. Mankind
The object of this match is to escape the boiler room and make it to the ring, where Paul Bearer is stationed with the urn. Undertaker cautiosuly enters the boiler room and begins the search. Mankind pops out and attacks Undertaker with a board, and the fight is on. The commentary here is very minimal, which is a nice touch. Mankind and Undertaker brawl throughout the boiler room, hitting each other with whatever they can find. This environment seems to benefit Mankind, who appears much more at home than the Undertaker. They finally make their way out of the boiler room and fight through the backstage area with the other wrestlers cheering them on. Mankind is ahead of the Undertaker, and he puts roadblocks in his path. He throws hot coffee on the Undertaker, but that hardly slows him down. The fight makes its way into the arena and to ringside. Mankind pulls back the ringside padding and delivers a piledriver. He tries to get in the ring but Undertaker stops him, and then pulls the ropes back, slingshotting Mankind back to the floor with a nasty bump. Undertaker gets in the ring and takes a knee, expecting Bearer to give him the urn. Bearer is reluctant for some reason, and Mankind sneaks in and puts Undertaker in the mandible claw. Now Bearer is laughing, and he is ready to give the urn to Mankind! Bearer puts the final nail in the coffin by bashing Undertaker’s head in with the urn, and then handing it over to Mankind for the win at 26:40. That was totally unique and a nasty brawl between two of the most interesting characters WWE has ever seen, and a shocking turn at the end. This holds up surprisingly well.
MATCH #7: WWF World Heavyweight Title Match – Shawn Michaels vs. Vader
Vader is accompanied by Jim Cornette. Michaels has been the Champion since 3.31.96, and this is his sixth defense. Vader attacks right away and uses his size and power to gain the early advantage. Michaels comes back with a series of kicks and dropkicks to take Vader off his feet. He sends Vader to the floor and follows him out with a beautiful tope. Back in the ring Michaels continues using his speed and agility to keep Vader off balance. The Champ sends Vader to the floor again and tries a slingshot hurricanrana but Vader catches him in a powerbomb! That turns the tide in a major way. Back in the ring Vader wears Michaels down, dominating him with his size and power. Michaels makes a comeback and goes to the top rope and messes something up, landing on his feet and then just stomping Vader’s face. They head back to the floor and Vader press slams Michaels right onto the guardrail. Michaels gets counted out and Vader is declared the winner, but Cornette doesn’t want it that way and he challenges Michaels to restart the match. Michaels agrees and it’s on. Vader immediately resumes control and flattens Michaels with a belly-to-belly suplex for two. He goes for the powerbomb but Michaels escapes and gets his second wind! Michaels goes up top and hits the big elbow smash. He signals for Sweet Chin Music and Cornette grabs his foot. The tennis racket gets thrown in the ring and Michaels uses it as a weapon, getting himself disqualified. Once again Cornette challenges Michaels to restart the match and the Champion agrees. Michaels quickly hits Sweet Chin Music but Vader actually kicks out! The referee gets bumped and Vader hits the powerbomb and another referee comes out to count but Michaels kicks out at two! Vader sets up for the Vader Bomb but decides to go up top! He misses the moonsault and Michaels takes the opportunity to go up top. Michaels hits a moonsault press and that’s enough to get the pin at 18:59! That was a chaotic brawl and a great big man versus little man match. The restarts were unique for the time and helped add to the chaotic atmosphere of the match. It’s really a shame that this is the only match these two had.