Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | RSS Feed | Email Newsletter
1) Billionaire Ted
Quite the shot fired on the opening day of 1996, right throughout the month in fact, as the WWF created this satirical universe parodying Ted Turner, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. While accusations of steroid use may of lacked shame, this was the first proper punch they landed since the Monday Night War started.
2) Savage World Title
Randy Savage regained the WCW World Title on the January 21st show by defeating Ric Flair. Savage, still clearly working injured had a match with Flair that can be considered both really good by recent standards and a significant step down in intensity and quality compared to their outing at the Great American Bash less than a year prior.
3) Vader Time
Vader ends up as quite the footnote in the WWF in 1996, but there is no doubt that when he was announced it should be seen as a star signing. After debuting at the Rumble, and needing some time off for shoulder surgery, Vader assaulted Interim President Gorilla Monsoon in a highly effective Raw angle that ran directly up against the World Title change on Nitro.
4) No Country For Old Men
While WWF's Billionaire Ted segments will be remembered for it's steroid abuse shots, they also made a very strong mention of the age and ability, or lack their of, of their journeymen main event talent. They weren't wrong either, Flair wrestled Hogan twice and Savage once on Nitro in January – the clock, it was clear, was ticking.
5) The Ringmaster
And so it begins, Steve Austin's time in the WWF started... fairly promisingly. While The Ringmaster moniker was generic as all hell, he got some mic time on Raw – albeit in the shadow of Ted DiBiase, and even got anointed the new Million Dollar Champion. Austin's John McClean style crew cut fit the image he at least wanted to portray far better than the blonde hair from years prior.
6) Loose Cannon
Brian Pillman was a star in 1995, featuring in four of our top ten WCW matches for the year, but you'd be forgiven for thinking he was missing something. An alignment with the Four Horseman seemed to be the start but a character change, finding a new more unhinged edge was part of a new start for 1996. A work so tight many within the company would believe it.
7) Razor vs Goldust
After three months of nothingness for Goldust, he was finally able to find his groove by hitting on the Bad Guy. A series of segments which kind of made Razor Ramon look like a homophobe, and provided a rather jarring impression of a gay/androgynous character to WWF's younger fans... it was still very effective. The show-closing angle on the Raw go-home show was particularly strong as Goldust sped off in a car in the cold, snowy North-Eastern night.
8) Cross My Palms With Silver
Lex Luger is managed by heel Jimmy Hart, Lex Luger teams with babyface Sting and, in the Torture Rack, has quite possibly the most over move in WCW. He and Sting, best friends, make an uneasy alliance at times, particularly when Luger leveled Booker T with a hand full of silver coins to win the tag titles. Luger was finally connecting, even if nobody was quite sure how.
Because there's nothing like reminding all of your viewers there's football on the other channel... This Football themed show involved an incredibly long and rather convoluted 4 tag team elimination match that seemed to last forever before the Smoking Gunns retained eliminating the team of "Sid and the Kid" last. Still, it was worth it for the pitch-themed canvas and NFL inspired gear. Oh, and ALL the jokes from King.
10) Hey Champ!
After wrapping it up in ECW, The Public Enemy made their Nitro debut one week later than planned after a storm. The match? A pretty horrible, back and forth tradional tag team match against the American Males. Still, the post match angle with Rocco Rock doing a somersault dive from the turnbuckle through two tables on the outside was very well executed.