#05-08800 – Action Zone!
James Dixon: Presented by Arnold Furious’ favourite host; Todd Pettengill. The Todd promises two exclusive matches and 60-minutes of action. Then we start with the Godwinns. You are a lying little shit, Pettengill!
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Godwinns (c) vs. The Smoking Gunns
The Gunns had been champions prior to this on a few other occasions. Billy Gunn would go on to hold the belts a number of times more, with various different partners. Bart Gunn would go on to be knocked out by Butterbean. I really cannot express how much I detest the country bumpkin gimmick, and how tiresome and boring I find it. What was Vince’s obsession with the South, really!? I mean, why is he so insistent on portraying everyone from there in such a negative light, and making them all inbred morons? I think it is overcompensation for the fact that he really is a redneck at heart, and it is his way of distancing himself from it. There is no “wrestling” to speak of in this match, unless you count the plethora of armbars? Sunny shows the world what we all already know, that she is a slut, when she kisses Billy Gunn. Her distraction flusters Phineas and causes her charges to lose the belts. Sunny doesn’t care, as she has struck a deal with the Gunns. Vince spent the entire match trying to shill the main PPV and ignoring the non-action in the ring. I don’t blame him, it was another Godwinns humdinger. If you want to see more from this dreadful storyline, get the atrocious Sunny tape where this and the rest of the woeful saga is fully documented.
Final Rating: ¼*
King of the Ring Quarter Final
Vader vs. Ahmed Johnson
It’s clobbering time! Vader won’t stand for any of Ahmed’s sloppy shit. There is something strangely appealing about this match; the prospect of it doesn’t completely suck the life out of me. This happened on Raw, rather than the King of the Ring PPV, with 1996 being the first year that the quarter finals didn’t take place at the event itself. Owen Hart joins Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler for commentary, and he is pretty decent at it. He reprised the role at the KOTR PPV too, so someone else must have agreed with that assessment. The start is impressive, and the crowd goes absolutely mental for Ahmed as he unloads like a madman on Vader in the corner. Ahmed might have been a dangerous bastard in the ring, but I really think the WWF were onto something with him prior to his injury later in the year. He had charisma, an incredible look and was believable as a powerhouse. He was not technically savvy, but he didn’t need to be. He also did wild things, such as topes, and each one would make you hold your breath until you knew if he broke his neck or not. I am actually stunned he didn’t with some of them. Johnson gets battered around by Vader for a bit thanks initially to Jim Cornette and his ever-present tennis racket, but eventually fires up, with Vader’s mask coming off in the melee. Cornette jumps in to save his man but he ends up getting a pasting. Ahmed hits a spinebuster on Vader as the crowd comes unglued, but Owen Hart jumps in and nails Ahmed with his cast in the back of the head, giving Vader the win and Johnson his first TV loss. My pre-match optimism was right, and it turned out to be a fun match with a red hot crowd. I think the sad thing about it actually, is the relative lack of success both guys had with the WWF, compared to what they could and should have been. Ahmed Johnson gets a very unfair rap from critics, but the guy could have been a player. His problem was the way he was booked. He was not suited to work longer matches; with his explosive style, he needed to be booked more like the Ultimate Warrior was in the past, or how Goldberg and Ryback would be used in the future.
Final Rating: **½
Marc Mero & Ahmed Johnson vs. The British Bulldog & Owen Hart
Despite how good Ahmed’s performance was in the prior bout, two matches from him in a row may be a bit much. This match is exclusive to this tape! To be fair, it could have been much, much worse. This is a dark match from after a long block Superstars TV taping and the crowd is fairly muted. It is very brief, clocking in at around four and a half minutes, and Mero pins Hart with a roll-up. There was a little more stalling than you might expect from a match of such brevity. To put it bluntly; they did nothing. It was a bog standard basic match that failed to do anything for anyone in it, and should have been far better considering the participants. Not bad, just entirely pointless.
Final Rating: *
King of the Ring Quarter Final
Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega
More King of the Ring action now, this from the same show as the Ahmed-Vader bout and thus once again from Raw. These two feuded extensively for the early part of 1996, and had some pretty decent matches, then Austin took off into the stratosphere and left Vega in the dust. Vega has past KOTR experience, having wrestled an unprecedented four times on route to defeat in the final last year by Mabel. Though I apologise for bringing it up, seeing as though we are all trying to forget that show ever happened. These tapes are so lazy, they don’t even remove the plugs for the other matches taking place on this particular Raw event, and the commentary hypes the upcoming pay-per-view and segments later in the show. They could have at least redone it and made it feel like this tape was something other than bungled together highlights of a random TV show. WWF releases really were all over the place in this era, what with lazy match choices, even lazier editing and frankly absurd numbering of the tapes. Bastards. Anyway, this is another good match from these guys, a real hammer and tongs affair with back-and-forth action and no resting. Austin wins it after debuting a new finishing move, some of you might have heard of it: the Stone Cold Stunner. Everything really came together for Austin in the space of a few short months; the look, the name, the finisher and then the attitude. Despite all my past criticisms of Goodtimes, this was a good choice for inclusion.
Final Rating: **½
The Bodydonnas vs. The Bushwhackers
You have got to be kidding me!? I did not expect to have to sit through The Bushwhackers on a 1996 tape release. Somebody at the WWF video department must have had a real hard on for these idiots, because they show up on practically every release. Here, they come to the ring with a mascot in a kangaroo costume. Obviously. The Bodydonnas are the reigning tag champions at this point, but this is non-title. I mean, can you imagine those half-pint morons with the belts in 1996!? I am actually surprised they never got a run with them in 1992 actually. It just puts into perspective how bad they were when the goddamn Natural Disasters got a brief reign. Harvey Wippleman turns up in the middle of the match to interrupt, and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see him. JR interviews him to find out what is going on, and it turns out he is making notes on the officials so he can make a report on them to present to Gorilla Monsoon. How splendid! What a simply fantastic use of TV and video time. And then the Godwinns come out with some slop. If you could pick the last thing I wanted to see in this match (or any match for that matter), it would be that. In the ring, the Bodydonnas control until Skip misses coming off the top. Butch gets a hot tag and flurries briefly until Sunny distracts. The Godwinns come to ringside from the aisle and Phineas threatens to slop Sunny, but Zip kicks him and knocks the bucket out of his hand… Only he doesn’t, because Phineas missed the spot. He is so incompetent, he couldn’t even drop the bucket right. What actually happened is Zip kicked him and Phineas dropped the bucket STANDING UP, meaning it didn’t spill. Phineas “secretly” pushes it over anyway. What a grade-A plank. Travesty follows as Phineas nails Skip with the bucket and dumps the remainder of the contents over Zip’s head, and the Bushwhackers win the match, beating the tag team champions! No wonder the division was down the shitter.
Final Rating: *
The Undertaker vs. Vader
Another exclusive to this tape, but again it is a worthless dark match (from the San Diego show that gave us the useless exclusive tag match earlier), and it is massively unsatisfying and incredibly short. The guys in it are certainly good, two of the best big guys ever, but then again, the guys in the tag match were all decent too and that was four minutes long and full of stalling. These guys did have a good match 15-months down the line at Canadian Stampede, and one a few months prior at Royal Rumble ‘97 which Vader actually surprisingly won. Here, Taker sits up after two Vaderbombs and hits the flying clothesline and chokeslam to win it. Three minutes this lasted, giving us a grand total of SEVEN whole minutes exclusive content to this tape. Well, thank you very much, Goodtimes!
Final Rating: *
Summary: Seven minutes of exclusive content is a joke, especially when all the rest was available on free TV. Nothing on here stands out as particularly worth tracking down, though the two KOTR quarter final matches were decent enough and managed to keep a humdrum tape from becoming a completely dire one. Still, entirely missable.