Previously on On the Card: An androgynous man in latex is beaten by a feral child as who huge men attempt to lift one another.
Cut to a promo for the Mankind vs. Undertaker feud involving Mankind attacking Taker repeatedly, beating a casket, appearing in places he should not be, stealing an urn, forcing Paul Bearer to betray his beloved Undertaker, cutting the ring and emerging from it, the Boiler Room Brawl, and now… this, the first ever Buried Alive match where The Undertaker is going outside his usual duties of embalming bodies and arranging tasteful floral decorations for the dearly departed and is actually becoming a gravedigger, which is a different job entirely. But, when you put your body into the care of the Phenom, you get the full package.
In the arena, Vince reminds us that this match is unsanctioned and the Fed takes no responsibility for what happens in this match. Mankind appears with Paul and they nervously make their way to the ring. Vince describes Paul as “bulbous” and Jerry calls him a Jack o’ Lantern.
The gong hits and The Undertaker’s music blares. The Undertaker makes his way to the ring slowly, taking his time to walk past the grave. Jerry says that it is raining. When the lights come back on, little time passes before Taker runs at Mankind and the bell rings to start the match.
Buried Alive match: The Undertaker def. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) via vivisepulture in 18:25.
“A slugfest ensuing, right off the bat,” according to Vince. The fog clears quite quickly as Taker takes over, kicking Mankind right into the barrier, cracking his head on the metal. Undertaker takes no time in jumping from the turnbuckle to the outside, diving on Mankind. They are close to the grave right now, close already to the hole that they need to push themselves into. Mankind attacks Taker with the butt of the shovel and attempts a suplex into the hole, but Taker reverses it into a roll-up and the pair fall down the hill and back into the ring.
Close up to a child in the audience who Jerry describes as “a creature, all right!” Taker gets the microphone cord to choke Mankind and Jerry makes a sports reference. Mankind is in the crowd now and they fight through it, with Mankind eventually being thrown back over the barrier and Taker dives over it to attack him. Crazy son of a bitch. Vince describes the match as, “Mankind and the Undertaker, having a row.” It’s a bit stronger than a row, Vince.
In the middle of the ring, Undertaker goes for Old School and Paul Bearer pulls the rope, sending Taker to fall, testicle-first onto the ropes. Mankind takes over, screeching like a stuck pig and choking Taker. The announcer’s talk about Mankind’s mangled ear. Paul passes Mankind some kind of shiv and he uses it on Taker. Vince, who, I might remind you, owns the company and allows this unsanctioned match to happen (thereby unofficially sanctioning it) claims that even if it is a no-holds-barred match, a shiv should be illegal. Well, yes. That makes sense. Anything that can legit kill a man should be illegal, even if the match is no-holds-barred.
Undertaker gets the shiv, fights back and hits the leg drop on Mankind before going after our boy Paul. Mankind has a chair, though, and is chasing Taker with it. Taker replies with a boot to the balls to disable Mankind but Paul blindsides him with the urn and Mankind cracks Taker with the chair before… licking it. The crowd chant, “Rest in peace!” at them both.
Mankind walks Taker up to the grave and kids reach out to touch them. They’re at the edge of the grave and Undertaker rolls in! He’s done for! Go, Mick, cover Mark in some dirt! Undertaker fights back, though, pulling Mankind in. Mankind replies with dirt to his face and attempts a hip toss into the grave but it is reversed and Mankind rolls down the hill before they go back into the ring. Mankind hits a brutal piledriver and Jerry marks out at his own move. Mankind then attempts a pin, obviously fails because you can’t pin your opponent in a Buried Alive match and pulls his own hair out in punishment. Taker fights back with some great punches.
Mankind DDTs Taker onto a metal chair. Absolute bastard. Undertaker sits up paranormally and hits Mankind in the back with the chair followed by a leg drop with the chair on his face. Paul shakes his head in disgust but then looks up, sexily, his finger on his lips as if to say, “I won’t tell.” Jesus Paul, come on. This is 1996. Wrestling is still PG, you tease. I just realised that the referee is Earl Hebner. This is how much fun I’m having with this match. Mankind takes off the mat and attempts a piledriver onto the concrete but Undertaker reverses it into a Vertebreaker/sit-down combo. The Steel steps are thrown into the ring and Mankind takes a shot to the face for his effort followed by a shot to the back. Undertaker hits Mick with the Tombstone Piledriver, points to the grave plot and drags Mick to the edge, lifting him in a fireman’s carry and bringing him there.
At the grave plot, Mankind hits the Mandible Claw on Taker and steals the urn to crack Taker but the Deadman gets a chokeslam for his attack. Mankind moves to the end of the plot to… find his oxygen canister, I guess and he is covered in barely enough dirt to finish the match in 18:25.
Great match. Wasn’t the biggest fan of the constant roll-to-the-grave-have-a-fight-then-roll-back-in-the-ring-for-a-while-then-back-to-the-grave aspect of the match, but absolutely great storytelling, fantastic gimmick and the lads really gave it their all. No need for blood, no need for death-defying moves, just two men who hate each other and want to almost-legitimately kill each other.
Mankind was in it. Match of the Year.
Undertaker is told to stop burying Mankind but he does not. He pushes away not one but two referees and continues to throw dirt on Taker. Then… wait… what? Who the fuck is this? A masked man? A lucha? He hits Taker with the shovel and jumps into the grave to dig out Mankind. This masked man then covers the Undertaker in dirt. Mankind helps. Lightning flashes with lots of mental strobes. I’m having a seizure. A confused and swervy seizure. The crowd chant, “Rest in Peace!” and Goldust arrives with a shovel, followed by Trips and Cunt Bradshaw. Paul oversees it, could probably do with a bit of physical work as well, but he does have to hold the urn, I suppose.
The men turf the dirt on Taker, each one potentially murdering a man. People are throwing things in, sodas and the life. You gotta believe that each of these men legitimately are concerned that Mean Mark might not get out of this alive. They’re throwing about a ton of dirt onto a man, like. Jerry sounds concerned as well. I’d like to think that they actually knew everything about this gimmick and that they knew Mark would be safe… but a part of them would probably be figuring out an alibi as well.
After five minutes, the heels have almost completely filled the hole in and thunder booms. The heels… wait… is that Crush? Did Crush come out as well? When did he get here? Anyways, the heels scarper at the sound of thunder but Paul, Mankind and Executioner throw some final handfuls of dirt in the grave and retreat.
Cut to a Coliseum Home Video exclusive of Paul shouting at Mankind in the Boiler Room as Karl Orf’s O Fortuna from the Carmina Burana plays in the background. Mankind talks about maggots eating the Undertaker. Paul introduces The Executioner, a huge, silent, masked man.
Back in the arena, a very badly CG’d lightning bolt hits the graveside and an explosion of sparks erupts as The Undertaker’s hand bursts from the grave, curling into a fist for the audience.
(Note: Though Dark Matches normally take place before PPVs begin, in this instance, there were two dark matches after the Buried Alive match. The reason for this is not entirely known as both matches were PPV quality with one being a six-minute filler tag match between The Godwinns and the New Rockers with the second… being Shawn Michaels defending his WWF Championship title against Goldust! Goldie had already fought an 11-minute match with Marc Mero for the Intercontinental belt and just buried Taker alive and then had another 13-minute match with Shawn for the WWF Championship! Mental stuff. We may never know why these matches were relegated to dark matches however a few reasons might be… Wrestlers wanted a payday and there was no time for their matches on the card… Shawn might not have wanted to be on a PPV and not main event it and as this PPV was based around the Buried Alive match, Shawn would need to be on the undercard and he wasn’t happy about that… Shawn and Goldust weren’t feuding at the time and Shawn and Sid were about to start feuding for Survivor Series… Vince didn’t want the audience to leave on a bum note… The dark matches could be reshown or redone on RAW or a later PPV…)
The Go Home Stats.
Man of the Matches: No one really stands out here other than both Undertaker and Mankind but I’m choosing Undertaker for putting on one of the best matches of his career.
Woman of the Matches: Between Sunny and Marlena…? Again? Oh, wait, Sable was there too. I’m going to choose neither.
Montel Vontavious Porter Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence: The Undertaler.
Best Spot: Undertaker flying over the barrier onto Mankind.
Hatches: The Stalker (Blackjack Mulligan), The Executioner (Terry Gordy, one of the Fabulous Freebirds).
Matches: Owen Hart and British Bulldog retain the Tag Team belts. Wildman Marc Mero retains the Intercontinental belt.
Closing Statements: I liked this PPV and it was certainly one of the better In Your House shows. The main event was fantastic and I am honoured to have been alive to see it… unlike the Undertaker.
On the Card will return on November 17 with Survivor Series 1996.