Coliseum Classic: WWE Action Zone! (1996)


Presented by everybody’s 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 swine, Pettengill!

WWF Tag Team Championship
The Godwinns (c) vs. The Smoking Gunns
This is from the pre-show of In Your House: Beware of Dog, with Sunny in the corner of the Godwinns. The Gunns had been champions prior to this on a few other occasions. Billy Gunn went onto hold the belts a number of times more, with various different partners. I really cannot express how much I detest the country bumpkin gimmick. It’s tiresome. What was Vince’s obsession with the South, really!? Why is he so insistent on portraying everyone from there in such a negative light and pigeonholing them as moronic inbreds? 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 a plethora of armbars as wrestling. Sunny proves to the world what we all already know when she kisses Billy Gunn. Her distraction flusters Phineus 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 event, 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! There is something appealing about this match. 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. This comes from May 1996, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Owen Hart joins Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler for commentary, and he is 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 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 had. 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, Brock Lesnar and Ryback would be used in the future.
Final Rating: **1/2


Marc Mero & Ahmed Johnson vs. 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 worse. No one in here sucks. This is a dark match from after a long block Superstars TV taping and the crowd is fairly muted. The match is 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 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 en route to defeat in the final last year to 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 from 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. 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.
Final Rating: **1/2


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 be a real mark for them, 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 The Bushwhackers with the belts in 1996!? I am surprised they never got a run with them in 1992, actually. It just puts into perspective how bad they were when even the 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 the Godwinns coming out with some slop. 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 hit the ringside area from the aisle and Phineus threatens to slop Sunny, but Zip kicks him and knocks the bucket out of his hand… Only he doesn’t, because Phineus misses the spot. He is so incompetent, he couldn’t even drop a bucket right. What actually happened is Zip kicked him and Phineus dropped the bucket STANDING UP, meaning it didn’t spill. Phineus “secretly” pushes it over anyway. What a grade-A plank. Travesty follows as Phineus 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 toilet.
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 eight months down the line at the Royal Rumble, which Vader surprisingly won. Here, Taker sits up after two Vader Bombs 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 Home Video!
Final Rating: *


Action Zone

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.