Continuing along our historic look at past WWF April pay-per-views, we arrive at Revenge Of The Taker. After The Undertaker had defeated Sycho Sid and won the belt at Wrestlemania, all was good in the world. Except for the fact that Mankind still hated the big lug, so he decided to throw a fireball in the face of our new champion just to make that point. Keep in mind, the only time that Undertaker had even defeated Mick was in a Buried Alive match, and even then it was Undertaker who wound up 6 feet under at the end of the night. So, the threat was posed, and our World Title match was made…
Meanwhile, Steve Austin was still pissed off at Bret Hart about their submission match at Mania, and a rematch was signed. And oh boy, this feud was about to skyrocket into a whole other world after this show was all said and done. So let’s do it.
We are LIVE from Rochester, New York, and with VINCE MCMAHON yelling and screaming, we MUST be In Your House!!! JERRY LAWLER and JIM ROSS are with him, and Ross has already reverted to face status, which immediately makes him completely intolerable.
THE LEGION OF DOOM vs. OWEN HART and THE BRITISH BULLDOG (for the WWF world tag-team titles)
The Hart Foundation had just re-united recently on RAW, thanks to Bret Hart’s newfound leap to the dark side, so the heel side is drawing a decent amount of heat here. Owen and Animal start, with Animal kicking the crap out of Owen. A shoulderblock takes Owen down, and they finally lock up. Owen kicks Animal in the midsection and beats him down, but it’s more or less no sold, and Owen takes a vertical suplex. Bulldog and Hawk tag in, with Bulldog on the receiving end of a clothesline for 2. Hawk starts chopping away in the corner, and hits a shoulderblock. Bulldog comes back with a forearm smash, and standing vertical! Back to Owen, who comes in with a top rope axehandle. Owen goes for the Sharpshooter, but Hawk powers out and runs him over with a clothesline. Animal comes in with a powerslam for 2.
We cut away because STEVE AUSTIN arrives…
Animal is still tossing Owen around with ease, and tags over to Hawk. A splash off the top gets 2. Owen escapes with the enzuigiri, and turns things back over to Bulldog. He locks Hawk in a headlock, but he’s quick to escape. Bulldog hits a shoulderblock, and stomps Hawk down. Owen comes in and tries a sleeper, but he uses a snapmare to escape. Bulldog comes in without a tag and goes for the Running Powerslam, but Hawk slips off the back – and with Animal combine to hit a double clothesline. Hawk puts Bulldog on Animal’s shoulders, who in turn nails a super powerslam and scores the pinfall to win the belts at 6:55! But hang on, not only was Bulldog not legal, but neither was Animal, and another referee comes in to inform them of just that. THE FINK announces that the match must continue. Owen doesn’t want it to continue, he just wants his belt back. So the next announcement is that Owen and Bulldog have 10 seconds to get their asses back to the ring or they’ll lose the belts. They both get back in at the last second, with Bulldog and Animal starting. Owen tags in and hits a spinning heel kick, and stomps away. A neckbreaker and legdrop get 2. Bulldog tags in, but is quickly hit with a sunset flip. The referee is busy arguing about the length of rabbit gestation periods with Owen though, and misses the whole thing. Owen nails a snap suplex and heads up for a big splash…but doesn’t hit it! Hawk makes the hot tag and runs over everyone with clotheslines. Owen stops the momentum temporarily, but both champs wind up on the receiving end of a clothesline. Hawk brawls with Bulldog on the outside, and takes him out! Back in, they nail the Doomsday Device, and this draws out BRET HART to cause a DQ at 12:17. **3/4 LOD isn’t impressed, and make the “we want the belts” signal. Bret drags his family to the back as quickly as humanly possible.
DOK HENDRIX catches up with the champs in the back, and asks them if they feel lucky about keeping the belts? Owen says there was no luck, and they beat LOD just like they’ve beaten everyone else. Hendrix mentions Austin’s in the building and figures that Bret’s gonna get killed later. Owen and Bulldog are none to pleased that he’s apparently shown up…
SAVIO VEGA (with PG-13, Crush, Clarence Mason, Faarooq, and D’Lo Brown) vs. ROCKY MAIVIA (for the WWF intercontinental title)
KEVIN KELLY sneaks in a word with Rocky before the match. He’s just so happy with all he’s accomplished in his first 6 months that he won’t cry if he drops the title tonight, but Savio had better be ready for a fight. Loser Rocky is hilarious. Rock takes out the entire NOD before the match, and hiptosses Savio around. With Faarooq skulking around ringside, and joining the commentary team, Vince fears for the safety of Rock. Savio is dumped to the outside, but he’s quickly back in and pounding away at Rocky. Faarooq hypes a challenge with Ahmed Johnson, promising to abolish the Nation if Ahmed can defeat them all in one night. Savio works a chinlock. Rocky gets in a small package for 2. Savio reacts poorly to that burst of adrenaline, and chokes Rocky out. Savio’s nerve pinch surprisingly doesn’t finish Rocky off – and he comes back with a fisherman’s suplex! The referee is busy with D’Lo Brown however, so we get no count. Savio chops away, and nails a hiptoss for 2. Rocky comes back with a float-over DDT for 2! Savio tries to roll Rocky up, but he’s shoved off at 2, and hits his shoulder on the ringpost! Rock nails a backdrop suplex, nips up, and hits a belly to belly for 2! Rock Bottom surprisingly only gets 2! A backslide gets 2! Savio’s tired of Almost Losing, and dumps Rock to the outside. Crush decks him with a heart punch, and Rock is counted out at 8:33. *1/4 Savio’s pissed that he isn’t gonna win the belt, and gets into it with Crush. The result is Faarooq ordering that they take out their frustration on The Rock, and he’s whipped in the middle of the ring by the gang. AHMED JOHNSON with a two by four makes the save, and gets his usual Goldberg pop. He grabs the mic and accepts the challenge to go through Faarooq, Crush, and Savio all in the same night at the next pay-per-view. I know I say it every time I see Ahmed, but HOW did this guy f*ck it all up?
DOK HENDRIX chats with SABLE and MARC MERO. Sable’s thrilled to be Miss Slammy, and promises that 1997 is going to be her year. Mero says his knee is recovering nicely, and this summer is gonna rock when he returns. While Mero continues his “I’m so happy to be on the recovery trail” speech, STEVE AUSTIN wanders into the can behind them. Suddenly, all we hear is banging, thrashing, and Austin’s screams. THE BRITISH BULLDOG and OWEN HART emerge from the bathroom with a bent crowbar…see the camera, do an absolutely HYSTERICAL double take at being caught by the camera, and beat it out of Dodge.
Vince calls this a wild and crazy night.
HONKY TONK MAN comes out, to introduce his new protÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©gÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©. Basically, in the weeks leading up to the show, Honky had been on a search to find the next big thing, and had attempted to recruit The Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. Both guys reacted pretty much the same way, by smashing the guitar. However, apparently Billy Gunn’s had a change of heart, because we get…
JESSE JAMES vs. ROCKABILLY
I think the SCARIEST thing from this whole segment is that there are actually fans in attendance who SIGN ALONG with “My Baby Tonight”. And then there’s the case of Billy Gunn as Rockabilly, and there are no words that can properly sum up THAT brilliant idea. Billy emerges to absolutely NO heat what-so-ever, and looks like a putz trying to sell this stupid gimmick. Lawler: “I guess the Honky Tonk Man admired Billy Gunn’s spunk.” I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT! Road Dogg nails a series of hiptosses, and dumps Billy to the outside. I can actually see the thumbs up the asses of the collective group of the 600 fans in attendance. James hits a clothesline off the apron, and rolls Billy back in. Billy hits the Fameasser, dances, and gets 2. This match starts dragging, and after an eternity of NOTHING, Billy hits a neckbreaker for 2. Road Dogg starts his “comeback” after 5 minutes of selling Billy’s apparent offense, but gets his eyes raked and takes a back elbow. More dancing, and the ensuing avalanche misses! James hits his boxing jabs, and follows with the 10-punch count-a-long. A running forearm levels Billy, but a second one misses and James is dumped. He gets rolled back in, and Billy dances around. James sneaks in a small package and gets the pin at 6:46. -** This was horrible on all ends, and mercifully the gimmick was immediately killed.
KEVIN KELLY, GORILLA MONSOON, and STEVE AUSTIN are alone in a locker room. No, this isn’t the setup to a joke. Austin is SERIOUSLY pissed off about the attack, and says he doesn’t care what the Hart Foundation does to him, because he’s gonna be whooping ass later. Gorilla agrees to buy Austin some time to get himself together, and moves the World Title match down a spot in the card, and puts the Austin/Bret match into the main event slot.
LANCE WRIGHT sneaks into the HART FOUNDATION‘s locker room. He wants to know what Owen and Bulldog were thinking in the bathroom. Bulldog says Austin started it, because he attacked Owen out of nowhere. Bret: “Do you know what the bottom line is? Who’s crying now?”
DOK HENDRIX wants a word with MANKIND and PAUL BEARER before the world title match. Bearer wails about the burned flesh of The Undertaker, while Mankind prepares for the greatest night of his life.
MANKIND (with Paul Bearer) vs. THE UNDERTAKER (for the WWF world heavyweight title)
Mankind brings out a fire extinguisher, which is quite witty. Undertaker is attacked as he makes his way into the ring. He’s wearing a big bandage on his forehead from the fireball he’d taken on RAW, but that’s just served to royally piss him off, as he grabs Mankind and beats him down. Mankind comes back with some right hands, but Undertaker does the zombie situp. Cactus clothesline takes both guys to the outside, where Taker lands on his feet and throws Mankind to the guardrail. Mick, never one to bump lightly, goes headfirst into it as hard as he can. Taker dumps Mankind into the front row, and whips him around in front of the fans. Mankind’s face is slammed into the guardrail over and over. Back in, Taker throws shoulderblocks, and goes Old School. He changes the move at the last second though, releasing the hand, and hitting a springboard clothesline! Taker wants the Tombstone, but Paul Bearer gets involved. During the distraction, Mankind grabs the urn and slams it over Taker’s head for 2! A running knee in the corner hits the mark, but Undertaker comes back with some rights. Mankind snaps off a swinging neckbreaker for 2! Mankind works a nerve hold, and starts fishhooking the champion. Taker starts peppering Mankind with body shots, and dumps him back outside. Taker follows, and slams Mankind face first to the ring steps! Mankind grabs a water pitcher from the announce table, and shatters it over Undertaker’s face!!! With Taker down, Mankind hopes it’ll stay that way, and smacks him in the face with a chair! Mankind climbs back into the ring, heads up, and drops an elbow off the top to the outside!!! Back towards the ring, Mankind starts biting Taker in the face, and kicks him off the apron. The bandage is ripped off of Taker’s face, and the burned face is kinda gross looking. Back in, Mankind hits a sitdown piledriver for 2! Mankind hits a second one, but Undertaker starts coming back. A flying clothesline takes down Mankind, and Taker chokes him out. He goes for an avalanche, but the referee gets in the way – and down he goes! Mankind puts on the Mandible Claw, which puts Undertaker to sleep. Another referee comes in, but Mankind quickly locks the Claw on him! Mankind grabs the ringsteps and throws them in, but Taker does the zombie situp and dropkicks it back in Mankind’s face!!! Undertaker grabs a chair and clocks Mankind in the face! Taker goes to dump Mankind, but he gets caught in the ropes noose style! The mask comes off, and Taker steals it. Mankind goes to get back in…but Undertaker hits him with the ringsteps, and Mankind goes through the announce table HEAD FIRST! Taker’s not even sure how to pull him out of that wreckage, but eventually finds a way. Back in, Taker hits a chokeslam for 2! The fans can’t believe that’s not it. Thumb to the throat, tombstone, and THAT’S enough at 17:20! ***1/4 These two mesh together so well, thanks to Mick willing to bump like a pinball for Taker’s offense. Mankind tries to throw another fireball at Undertaker after the match, but can’t get the flash paper to light. Taker steals the lighter and paper, and burns Bearer’s face!
THE HART FOUNDATION meets with DOK HENDRIX, pimping the main event. Bret sees the main event as a war, and doesn’t know who’s more unforgiving – himself, or the American wrestling fans. Since he’s defeated Austin twice already, he figures a third time won’t impress anyone, so this time he wants to end Austin’s career.
BRET HART (with The British Bulldog and Owen Hart) vs. STEVE AUSTIN
Bulldog and Owen are sent to the back by GORILLA MONSOON before they even think about starting the match. I can’t imagine why. They trade punches before the bell, to no one’s surprise. Austin stomps down Bret, and nails a back elbow. Austin throws a snap suplex, and stomps on Bret’s groin. Bret is choked out in the ropes, and rolls to the safety of the outside. However, outside isn’t all THAT safe, because Austin’s all over him there, whipping him into the steps. An update reveals Paul Bearer is being worked on by EMTs. Bret starts to head up the aisle, but Austin’s on him, and slams him to the guardrail. Austin dumps Bret into the crowd, then springboards off the guardrail with a double axehandle! Back to the ring they go, and Bret’s begging off. Austin nails the FU elbow off the second rope for 2! Bret again takes a powder, but Austin’s still on his ass. Bret grabs a chair, and rolls back in. Austin decks Hart before he can use the chair and grabs it himself. Bret dropkicks Austin into the referee, knocking him out, and Bret starts working over Austin’s knee with the chair! The referee awakes, but the chair is long gone, and Bret’s now just working over the knee with kicks and stomps. Austin fights back, but all Bret has to do is kick at the leg to take him back down – and we get Bret’s wicked figure four around the ringpost spot!!! The referee orders a break, so Bret complies, and slams a chair into Austin’s knee a few times. Back in, Bret continues to stretch the leg, and with one look into the crowd, he draws some LOUD heat. That’s my Bret! Hart quickly bars the leg, and Austin fights. But hark, we have some footage elsewhere…
PAUL BEARER is wheeled out on a gurney, screaming the whole way.
Meanwhile, Bret is removing Austin’s kneebrace, and starts banzai dropping the knee. Austin rolls out, Bret follows and he goes low before the referee can get in position to see anything. Back in, Austin returns the favor in front of the referee, but he lets it go. With this being his chance, Austin rips off his athletic tape, and chokes out Bret! Lawler: “CHEATER! CHEATER!” Austin goes back up the FU elbow, but Bret rolls out of the way, and Austin falls on his knee viciously! Bret’s back all over it, naturally. Austin rolls to the apron and hits Bret with a jawbreaker. He attempts to suplex Hart to the floor – but Bret blocks, and suplexes Austin back in! Figure four, middle of the ring, and Austin’s in some serious shit now. Austin fights with all he’s got, and succeeds in turning Bret over!!! Bret makes the ropes, and the referee forces a break. Austin isn’t impressed with the ref for that call, and gets in his face. Bret takes out Austin’s knee again, and drives it to the ringpost! Austin rolls outside, and Bret brawls with him on the floor. A backdrop sends Hart into the crowd, and Austin’s all over him. Austin hotshots Bret onto the guardrail, and follows with a clothesline off the apron! Back in, Austin whips Bret to the turnbuckle, mounts him, and pounds away. It gets 2. Austin goes for a piledriver, but his knee gives out, and Bret’s back on the offensive once again. He pounds on the knee, and starts trying to get a submission on the ropes. When the referee forces a break, Austin nails a Stun Gun on the turnbuckle, and gets 2!!! Austin goes for the Stunner, but Bret dives onto the safety of the ropes. Austin’s on him…so Bret goes low again! Austin’s put on the top rope, and Bret nails a superplex! He finally goes for the Sharpshooter, but Austin grabs his kneebrace and decks Bret in the face!!!! Austin reverses into his own Sharpshooter, which draws out OWEN HART and THE BRITISH BULLDOG. They distract Austin, but only temporarily before they’re restrained by the referees. Austin puts the Sharpshooter on again, but Bulldog breaks loose with a chair and NAILS Austin for the DQ at 21:10! ****1/4 That would be Bret’s only blemish in his wars with Austin. Bret responds to the loss by grabbing the ring bell, but Austin slams a chair over Bret’s knee, and locks him in the Sharpshooter again!!!! Bulldog and Owen can’t make it back out – and Austin’s determined to f*ck Bret up. Only the referees are able to save the day.
The next night, things would get dramatically worse when Austin put Hart into an ambulance, then highjacked it with the infamous “don’t you say one word, I told you we’re going straight to HELL!”
The two big matches came up and saved the show, which was going down faster than Tammy Sytch on a crack dealer. If you’re a Hart Foundation mark, this show’s definitely tailored to your viewing pleasure.
Next, we head towards Unforgiven 1998 – built around Steve Austin’s first major title defense after finally winning the big one, as well as the first ever inferno match. We’ll tackle that bad boy in a couple of days as we continue our look back at WWF April PPVs.
April 1996: Good Friends, Better Enemies