#24 – “Wildman” Marc Mero (captain), “The Stalker” Barry Windham, Jake “The Snake” Roberts & Rocky Maivia (Survivor Series ’96)
Once again, on paper, this looks like a Hall of Fame worthy team taken out of contest. But at the time, in the fall of 1996, Marc Mero was the true star of the team. He just coming of his one and only Intercontinental Championship and looked to be one of the WWF’s young threats to combat WCW in the Monday Night War. Barry Windham was back in the WWF for his third run, but this time under the ridiculous Stalker gimmick, complete with face paint and camo. Jake Roberts, another aging veteran like Windham, was used primarily in that role. Here he acted as a replacement for another true rookie in Mark Henry, who got his first of many career injuries leading up the match.
But the whole team hinged on the certifiable rookie named Rocky Maivia. Maivia was the company’s first third-generation star, the son of “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson and grandson of “High Chief” Peter Maivia. For weeks leading up the event, vignettes and videos of Maivia aired, hyping his debut. This would be his first match on WWF television and the pressure was on him.
During the match (against the team of Hunter Hearst-Helmsley, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Goldust & Crush), Maivia was positioned as the star, even though Mero and Helmsley was the main rivalry heading into the match, and Lawler and Roberts and Windham and Goldust both had feuds running as well. Not surprisingly Maivia was the sole survivor of the match, eliminating both Crush and Goldust in under a minute with his less-than auspicious finishing moves at the time, a cross bodyblock and a shoulder breaker.
Of course things turned out well for Maivia, as he would go on to be one of the biggest entertainers on the planets, more commonly known as The Rock. In fact this year’s event is build on the back of his return, fifteen years from when and where he debuted on television.
On a side note, Maivia wasn’t the only star to debut that night on pay per view. Flash Funk (more famously known as 2 Cold Scorpio) debuted in another eight-man elimination bout, but was overshadowed by Hall of Famer Superfly Jimmy Snuka of all people. Also the tandem of Doug Furnas & Philip Lafon debuted in another eight-man bout, and actually won the match. But the duo’s no frills, no flash, all wrestling attitude, look and gimmick didn’t mesh with the WWF’s style and they unfortunately did not make the impact they should have.