Welcome back to the WABAC. This week I’m here to amuse you, make you laugh. We start off our Slammin’ Summer with a 1 on 1 match between Owen Hart and Savio Vega. It’s an enjoyable match, though a bit of a complicated opening as the ref and Owen go back and forth over the use of the cast- Owen Hart apparently broke his wrist? It happened before I started watching and he’s been wearing a cast since I started. So, no doubt its going to play a role in the match. Vega and Hart put together a pretty decent match, with Vega targeting the cast and Hart trying to find ways to use it without getting caught. Vega is really kind of athletic for a guy his shape, especially with his kicks. Eventually Owen gets away with using the cast, then sets an unconscious Vega up in the sharp shooter for the TKO win. After the match, Clarence Mason, the lawyer for Crush, is in the ring celebrating with Hart.
That enjoyable match is followed up by a pretty dreadful 4 team tag team match. The Gunn’s vs the Godwinns, vs the Rockers vs the Bodydonnas. Its really not good, and there’s an absurd moment when both Gunn’s are tagged in and play-by-play makes it out like they have to fight or they’d get DQ’ed. But they never do and just make a tag to get back out. A totally bizarre waste of time. The Gunns team up with the Rockers and defend their titles. Leave the Gunns, bring the cannoli.
(They’re going to PUMP YOU UP)
Up next, Psycho Sid vs the British Bulldog. And Vince, on Sid’s way to the ring comments on the voices in Sid’s head. And somewhere a little baby Randal J.Orton (I’m imaging a Muppet Babies style Viper at this point, even though he was 16 at the time) gets a big smile on his face. Clarence Mason comes out to ringside after Bulldog shows off his rather impressive strength. Bulldog hits a slam on Sid, after dominating for a while, but then Jim Cornette comes out and argues with Mason, wartime consigliere or no its Cornette's Camp, distracting Bulldog. Bulldog eats a choke slam and then a powerbomb for the loss. Went from bad to worse for poor Davey Boy.
This is followed by Marc Mero vs Goldust, the running narrative being Marlena vs Sable. Decent back and forth, Goldust playing the heel pretty well. Then Mankind comes out and starts being creepy around Sable, Sable then helps put women’s rights back a decade by doing nothing but crying and screaming and backing away from Mankind. We then go back to the ring, the match is getting enjoyable, and Mero looks to win with a pretty looking shooting star press but can’t get the 3 count due to a Marlena distraction. Goldust recovers, hits the curtain call for a win. After the match, Goldust gets his pervert on with Sable because he knows; first you get the win, then you get the power, then you get the women. Sable once again proves to be a useless human being and just screams and crawls away instead of stabbing a fingernail into the jugular of the goldman. Mero recovers and makes the save, driving Goldust away.
(The WWF’s Power Couple of 1996. One guy who keeps doing the job and a woman who keeps being of less help than a 1970’s Doctor Who companion.)
We come back after a weird Shawn Michaels commercial, we get the announcement that Johnson will be out for at least 3-4 months, and in the meantime we’ll have a IC title tournament! I love tournaments and will always forever mark out for them. And now we get Farooq and Sunny in the ring, they cut a promo it’s kind of forgettable. Now we get a review of the Lawler-Roberts rivalry. Up next, Mark Henry on commentary while Jerry Lawler comes out with a big bag (like Jake Robert’s). He steps into the ring… and reveals under his coat that he is wearing a Baltimore Ravens Vinnie Testaverde jersey. As a Browns fan who left Ohio when the Browns left, this made me want to strangle Lawler, which I know is the point. But Lawler, a professed Browns fan, doing this makes me even more angry. You would have to pay me amounts of money as of yet unheard to put on a Ravens jersey. I hope you spent your thirty pieces of silver well Mr. Lawler.
(Never take sides against the family)
Roberts and Lawler have a match, its bad. Lawler (And his giant bottle of wine) wins, and Mark Henry apparently doesn’t like snakes. Lawler goes after Roberts after the match, but Henry makes the save causing Lawler to flee. Next we get our Boiler Room Brawl. Its good for its time, doesn’t have the big spots you’d expect but the feel of it was good, very dark and creepy and unexpected. One big bump for Foley falling off a ladder into a pallet. And later Mankind goes off on Taker with a big pipe between the legs, ensuring that there will be no little undertakers in the future. Apparently the goal of the match was to escape the Boiler Room and reach the center of the ring and grab the urn, somehow I missed that.
The fight continues for a while, going out into the hall for the obligatory "hot coffee to the face" bit. As an aside to this, is there really anyone who could take scalding hot coffee to the face and still wrestle a match? I mean, anybody not strung out on PCP. They get outside to the ring and SWERVE. Taker gets belted by Paul Bearer, Bearer has turned heel! The Undertaker is out cold on the mat. The crowd is absolutely stunned as Mankind gets the win. After the KO, the Druids show up and carry Taker from the arena. Moth of mercy… Is this the end of the Taker?
(What’s the Meaning of Stonehenge?)
Its Time! Its Time! ITS VADER TIME. Vader vs HBK for the title finishes off our show. JR refers to Vader as a "Manster" and Vince calls him a "Mastodon". I’m getting a "he’s big" vibe… anybody else pick up on that? Good match start, back and forth, then Michaels his mega air on a cross body onto Vader who is outside the ring. For some reason the ref starts a 5 count when Michaels gets up on top of Vader to try and do a Hurricana. Vader gets back in command and does the heeling thing (grabbing the hair, locking him up in the corner, etc.). Its really enjoyable, best match I’ve seen thus far. But man, Vince is bad on commentary. At one point he sort of just rambles for want of something to say. Then Vince mentions that Shawn is "feeding off the power of the kliq". Which is just Hulking Up with a different name. Its goofy when Hulk does, its goofy when Cena does it, its goofy when Michaels does it. The narrative of being beaten down then magically finding a second wind is just overdone to the extreme.
Anyway, Michaels starts his comeback, Vader stops it then Michaels hits a major cheapshot to bring Vader down. Vader recovers they both go outside and Vader drops Michaels onto the barricade. Some woman is absolutely losing it and screaming for Michaels to get up. But he doesn’t and Vader wins via Count Out. Cornette demands a rematch, and eventually goads Michaels into accepting… guess it’s true what they say about a kind word and a Vader. Apparently in WWF land you get to determine when you fight for your title belt despite official rulings (sound familiar?). The bad guys use some ref distraction to take down Michaels. Michaels recovers, hits the elbow drop (which Vader was too far away from the post for earlier, causing Michaels to start yelling at a prone Vader) and then starts tuning up the band. But Cornette distracts Michaels, and tosses the racket into the ring. Michaels uses the racket and gets DQ’ed. Then we get our 3rd title match when Cornette demands a rematch. Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him right back in.
Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music but Vader kicks out shocking everybody. Then we get a ref bump from Michaels (via a Vader shove), then Vader hits a power bomb, but no ref can count the three, giving Michaels time to recover. Vader sets up for the Vader Bomb off the rope, but Cornette tells him to keep climbing. Made it Ma! Top of the world! MOONSAULT HOLY CRAP, I’ve never seen a guy that size do a moonsault. But yeah Michaels rolls away, so Vader hits the turf. Michaels climbs up, hits a move off the top rope to defend his title.
(This is a Youtube Video of Vader doing moonsaults because reasons)
Episode 4 Bonus Feature: name all the random (somewhat on the nose) Gangster movie references you can find in this post.