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[1996-11-18-WWF-Raw] Steve Austin vs Mankind

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The seeds of change are slowly (very slowly) being planted. Shawn is no longer the champ. The Undertaker/Mankind feud is wrapped up. Austin and Bret have had their match but their feud is clearly not over. Rocky is in. Austin and Mankind are given plenty of time to have a strong TV match. It's the type of thing that is only noticeable in retrospect, but it's definitely noticeable. Really good, hard-hitting match.

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Maybe depushed isn't the right word. Less in focus might be more accurate. In 96 he was in the long feud with Taker, which was one of the top programs of the year, plus had the IYH main event with Michaels. In the first half of 97 he only had the Taker IYH main event, which was more about Taker and Bearer. Apart from that he was pretty invisible until the 3 faces of Foley thing and the Triple H feud. Or at least that is how I remember it.

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Other than the placeholder match against Taker in April he really didn't do much from January to summertime when they started the angle where he wanted to be Austin's partner

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Foley was pushed pretty hard in '96 with the Taker feud and the Michaels main event. His '97 was pretty uneventful and mostly tied to HHH. He was not revitalized until he turned heel and sided with McMahon against Austin in my opinion.

 

I loved the opening of this match until the first commercial break just a total out of control brawl with both guys constantly lunging at each other. After the commercial break I thought lost a lot of steam as they settled into a normal match with Mankind in control. I think Austin was the right guy to play the face in this match, I just thought the match became very normal. Austin's fiery comeback shows the fans were already ready to cheer him. Foley did seem a little quick to jump back on offense at times and didnt really sell well for any extended period of time.

 

Not the greatest RAW match of all time, but a good WWF TV match. I very much prefer the Cactus/HHH street fight from the next year as a point of reference to this.

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Wasn't '97 where he was having his contract negotiation with Vince? IIRC from Foley's book, he didn't want to sign for less than Mero was getting, while Vince didn't want to give a major push to a guy without a long-term deal.

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A TV bout that felt like a strong PPV encounter. It went 12m but felt longer in a good way. Frenetic brawling action that was a precursor to the style Austin would work in later years. A really good intensity, feeling wild and out of control. Things were moving away from face vs heel into the shades of grey time period. Lame run in finish.

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The seeds of change are slowly (very slowly) being planted.

 

Yeah, it's fun to see the main protagonists of the upcoming new golden era becoming more and more important on TV. The heel vs heel dynamic was interesting too, a sign that the WWF was ready to take some risks again. Watching Taker jump in the ring at the end foreshadows so much of the main programs of the early Attitude Era. Very good TV match too. (athough Terry Gordy was sad to watch, and the goofy Executionner outfit made it even worse)

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Awesome brawl with both guys taking some great bumps, as you'd expect from Foley but you forget what a bump machine pre-neck injury Austin could be at times. Total 180 from the Bret match the previous night, natch. None of that finesse bullshit here. Undertaker saves Austin from a 2-on-1 after the Executioner runs in...and in a quintessential Austin moment, he repays him by dropping him with a clothesline. Hot segment all around.

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Awesome brawl. Holy crap this is fun. It's two guys who lost the night before who are pissed off & ready to kick some ass. The brawling on the aisle & floor to start is great. Once they get in the ring they hardly ever slow down. Mankind takes a crazy bump over the guardrail at one point. Really heated fight. Neither guy could lose this match clean so The Executioner came down & attacked Austin for the DQ. Taker ran down to make the save, but Austin clotheslined him to the floor. Taker & Austin have a hot faceoff to close the segment. I loved this. Tremendous way to kick things off after Survivor Series.

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Fun match as Austin continues to step into his role and I think Mankind was a good partner for him. We saw chemistry here that would carry over 18 months later. The back and forth nature of the match had a chaotic feel that helped. The finish was predictable with Executioner, Bearer and Taker getting involved but Raw seems to have much more juice in its programming now than even six months ago. ***1/4

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Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Mankind - WWF RAW 11/18/96

 

The beginning of this match is fucking awesome. This is how you do an organic, out of control, chaotic brawl! Nothing feels rehearsed and everything feels earned. They are great at looking uncooperative with one another. Austin is just a total unhinged, loose canon psychopath. He is madder than a fucking hornet and is a total bull in the china shop. Him cutting out all that passé technical bullshit was the best thing that ever happened to him because he is so much more interesting here. Mankind takes a bunch of nutty bumps. I love Austin just kicking a field goal in between Mankind's legs at one point to stop his momentum. The match does peter out once it becomes a more conventional heat segment with Mankind working on top and eventually the Executioner (Terry Gordy) comes out to run interference. Definitely watch the beginning because it is incredible and demonstrated proto-Stone Cold brawling. ***1/2

 

Interesting on how these RAWs they tend to run the main events as openers kinda like the SNME's front-loading the show. I wonder when that changes.

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Man Austin's having quite a back-to-back performance here. Really fun brawl, especially in the beginning. Man, The Executioner looks lame, but Undertaker looked great here. The Austin/Undertaker tease is really appealing. Austin definitely feels several rungs up as a star after last night.

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Austin does a long entrance giving enough time for Mankind to club from behind.  And we get a brawl to open RAW!  Really good fun match that got about 12 minutes of TV time.

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