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1. Hulk Hogan vs Randy Savage - Halloween Havoc (October)
When Randy Savage joined WCW in 1994, he made clear that his ultimate target was Hulk Hogan. And now, after Hogan turned his back on him, humiliated him at every turn, even stole his wife, his chance had finally arrived. The first real opportunity for all of us to see Hogan get his since forming the NWO. So what do we get? Ten minutes of stalling, and Savage trying on Hogan’s sunglasses and wig. Wow, you show him Randy!! When we were eventually treated to some action, the results were painfully weak even by heel Hogan Backrake-Of-Doom standards, with Savage barely permitted to hit a single offensive move. The unpleasant undertones of Liz’ involvement coupled with a laughably feeble Giant run-in help mark this one down as the biggest wasted opportunity of the year, the largest disappointment of the year, and the worst match of the year.
2. Sandman vs Raven - November To Remember
The Feud That Just Won’t Bloody Die was never going to be a natural place for a snowflake-fest in any of its matches, but the November To Remember contest was the absolute pits. Sandman’s ex-wife and son were integral to the very existence of the angle, but here they just played Generic Heel Goons 101 and 102. The Blue Meanie and – as much as it pains me to say this – Stevie Richards completely flubbed their two big interference spots and nobody knew how to cover them. The finish with Sandman sort-of-DDT-ing Raven onto a guardrail because reasons was also extremely painful viewing.
3. Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs Jake 'The Snake' Roberts - Summerslam (August)
Call me an old sentimentalist if you will, but your third match from the top on your second biggest PPV of the year shouldn’t really be five minutes of an out-of-shape 40-something mocking another out-of-shape 40-something’s very real drink problem whilst telling terrible Dad jokes. Yet in their infinite wisdom that is what the WWF gave us. This was cheap, crass and extremely offensive. The fact that Roberts gave this awful angle and feeble match his blessing is no excuse whatsoever.
4. Goldust vs The Ultimate Warrior - In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies (April)
The Warrior’s no-sell destruction of Hunter Hearst Helmsley often makes it into a lot of these lists, but let’s face it, that was at least amusing. Whereas there was nothing to enjoy in this complete-and-utter waste of space of a PPV match. If seeing Warrior put on a hat, smoke a cigar, and then clothesline the former Mantaur is for you, then knock yourself out! I would like to think that the audience for such a feat of work-rate is quite small though.
5. Doomsday Cage Match - Uncensored (March)
I could live until I am 200 and I would still not be able to deduce even the basic point of this match, let alone how it was supposed to work. All I know for certain is that one of the 8(!) opponents was due to be called The Final Solution before common sense (?) prevailed, the structure itself looked like it was made out of Meccano, and of all people to pin to end this farce they somehow went with Flair (well, that’s when Savage eventually remembered he needed to pin someone). Other than that, I’ve got nothing.
6. The Booty Man vs Diamond Dallas Page - Uncensored (March)
There were few negative marks against most of DDP’s work in 1996, but with the help of Ed Leslie he really blotted his copybook here. For some reason even moves as simple as hip-tosses and roll-ups seemed beyond them. Furthermore, they had no idea to cover for their multiple errors, leading to a complete horror show. On the first day of Wresting School, this should be the tape played to all students as a lesson in how NOT to do it….
7. Steve McMichael v Joe Gomez - Bash At The Beach (July)
…and if you skip the first day of Wrestling School, this is how you will turn out. Whilst McMichael can’t be blamed for WCW throwing him in on a big PPV against a ‘green veteran’ like Gomez, he can and should be blamed for showing absolutely no in-ring smarts whatsoever. Neither guy had a clue what they were supposed to be doing, and I still cringe at McMichael being allowed to execute a Tombstone Piledriver. Nobody clued him on the real purpose of the hard camera either..
8. Mark Henry v Jerry 'The King Lawler' - In Your House: Mind Games (September)
Another appalling debut match on PPV here. At this point Mark Henry’s entire character was ‘smiling former Olympian’, and that was never going to be enough to carry anybody as raw in the ring as he was. Once more Lawler turned the clock back to the 1950s, and the results were ghastly. To make matters worse, Henry won with a submission backbreaker – or the Waggle Your Opponent On Your Shoulder - officially my least favourite move of all time.
9. Four-Way Elimination Match - Summerslam (August)
Virtually any match between any combination of WWF tag-teams could easily have made this list, but I have gone for the one which shamed each and every one of the main four. As they did throughout the entire year, these teams (the Smoking Gunns, The Godwinns, the Bodydonnas and the New Rockers) absolutely stunk up the joint with this disjointed amorphous mess. When the first elimination comes after somebody gets tripped up on the apron, you know you have serious problems. Unfunny comedy and a screwy-finish just add to the mix. This division was simply abominable.
10. World War 3 Match - World War 3 (November)
I like Battle Royals. They can be an excellent way of putting somebody over without hurting other guys. Note the “can”. This on the other hand was a half-hour ego stroke for the New World Order.. as if they needed another one. Why on Earth none of the 56 - 56! - WCW contigent even considered going after any of the NWO entrants defied belief. For the vast majority of the match, it was again virtually impossible to see what was going on. When the smoke eventually cleared though, there was still a chance to salvage something with the crowd baying for Lex Luger to overcome the NWO. The Giant won. Of course he did...