Live from Anaheim, CA

Airdate: March 31, 1996

Attendance: 15,855 (12,909 paid)

Hosted by Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler

For those of you who need the epic match-up during the Free for All between the Huckster and the Nacho Man, here ya go! The less said about it, the better. Also, the Bodydonnas beat the Godwinns to win the WWF tag team titles in the finals of the tournament.

Match 1 (six man): Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts (w/ Mr. Fuji) versus Vader, Owen Hart, and the “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (w/ Jim Cornette)


Rating: ***1/2

Summary: Anti-climactic finish to a really good tag match. Unfortunately for Yokozuna, he will not get five minutes with Cornette.

Promo for Piper and Goldust.

Marlena sits in the dressing room with champagne on ice in anticipation of some type of victory.

Match 2 (Backlot brawl): “Rowdy” Roddy Piper versus Goldust PART I


Rating: TBD

Summary: Pre-taped segment that resembled an action movie. To be continued.

Prior to the next match, Dok Hendrix interviews Vega. Due to Scott Hall’s suspension a random drawing, Austin was Vega’s partner in the tag team tournament on Superstars. After a couple of instances where Austin refused to tag Vega, the Caribbean legend nailed Austin. After a spinning heel kick put Vega in position to win the match, Austin delivered a top rope forearm smash to knock Vega out and lose the match (aired 3/23, taped 3/10). The following weekend on Superstars, Austin used the Million Dollar Dream to put Ben Greer to sleep. Afterwards, Vega came to Greer’s aid but was put in the hold as well (aired 3/30, taped 3/10). During the interview, Vega is fired up and “ready for anything.”

Match 3: Stone Cold Steve Austin (w/ the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase) versus Savio Vega


Rating: *1/2

Summary: Decisive win for Austin, but the crowd was completely COMATOSE during the match.

After the match, a fan holds up a sign stating “Bite Me, WCW.” Stay classy, Anaheim.

More OJ Piper Bronco footage.

In the dressing room, Mr. Perfect interviews Diesel. They revisit IYH VI then RAW with the Undertaker’s mind games. Diesel’s cool, calm, and collected.

Match 4: The Ultimate Warrior versus Hunter Hearst Helmsley


Rating: DUD

Summary: The Warrior returns…to a mild reaction. Meanwhile Helmsley’s career took a detour. According to James Dixon’s Titan Shattered, Helmsley’s reward for being professional with Warrior was the crown at King of the Ring. Hmmm…did that really happen?

Backstage Todd Pettengill interviews the newest member of the WWF roster—“Wildman” Marc Mero. Holy jump-the-shark, Batman! Johnny B. Badd is in the WWF! Oh, wait, he can’t use that name. As Pettengill interviews Mero, Helmsley bumps into him. As Helmsley blames Sable for his loss, he and Mero fight against the steel door.

More OJ footage disguised as Piper’s return to the arena. Sigh.

Match 5: The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) versus Diesel


Rating: ***1/2

Summary: Great big man match that I didn’t expect to reach anywhere near this high of a level.

Backstage Pettengill stands beside the security TVs. Both the gold Cadillac and white Bronco pull into the arena. Piper cuts Goldust off by blocking the driver door with the Bronco. As Piper stalks Goldust, Marlena takes a bloody Goldust to safety. As Goldust heads for higher ground, Pat Patterson was spotted backstage. Both Goldust and Piper make their way through the gorilla position out to the ring.

Match 2 (Backlot brawl): “Rowdy” Roddy Piper versus Goldust PART II


Rating: *1/2

Summary: Sports-entertainment mixed with hardcore wrestling made this match watchable. Despite that, the WWF took the Goldust character way too far including here.

After the match, the bagpipes play as Piper thanks his fans. I wonder when the next time we’ll see him will be.

Promotional video for the main event narrated by Michael Cole. That doesn’t make sense. Cole didn’t begin working for the WWF until ’97. I wonder who narrated this piece previously that they overdubbed it.

Prior to the main event, ring announcer Howard Finkel informs us that Gorilla Monsoon is now the official WWF President. Congratulations!

Match 6 for the WWF title (Iron man): Bret “Hitman” Hart (champion) versus the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario)


Rating: ****1/2

Summary: Only two things kept this match from being perfect—the mild reaction from the crowd and the numerous rest holds. I understand it’s a long match, but there are ways around them. This match ranks as one of the best matches of 1996 thus far. I wonder if anything will beat it.

Please allow me to add more commentary about this match: If you haven’t watched matches prior to this era, the old school approach that Michaels and Hart used in the early portion of the match may not sit well with you. As a fan for over four decades, I truly appreciate the hard work invested for this match. I certainly hope you can too.

After the match, it would appear that Hebner is waiting for Bret to pass the torch, but the “Hitman” just leaves. Rumor has it that Michaels told Hebner to make Bret leave with an expletive, but I’m not certain if it’s true. Regardless, as Bret returns to the dressing room, Michaels can’t believe his dream has been realized. Michaels stands up, puts the belt on his shoulder, and gets his arm raised in victory. Hebner then fastens the belt around Michaels’ waist. Finally, Michaels thanks his fans and poses for them.

Conclusion: With the opener, the Undertaker-Diesel match, and the Iron man match, this show is a big recommendation to watch on my list. But, be forewarned, the rest of the show is either RAW fodder or not very good.

With that being said, the Shawn Michaels era has begun. I wonder what the WWF has in store with him on top. RAW should be very interesting.

See you for Monday Night War week 30!

Buyrate: 1.20 (Wow!)

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at rsg@rockstargary.com and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202).

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