Wolski’s Wrestling Ramblings: The WWE in 1996-1997

   When I first bought the WWE Network, one of the things I really wanted to do was watch the “Monday Night Raws” and pay per views from around the time Austin 3:16 was born to the Montreal Screwjob, perhaps the most important event that happened in wrestling.

   This was a period of time where the seeds were being planted for all the factors that led to the creation of the Attitude Era, the most prosperous time in the company’s history.

   Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the King of the Ring over the summer and becomes a star. He gets more freedom and time in his promos, which catch fire. He then starts a long feud with Bret Hart, and creates controversy with the “Pillman’s Got A Gun” segment.

   Mick Foley debuts as Mankind in the spring of 96, and Shawn Michaels is in the middle of living “the Boyhood Dream,” holding the WWF Championship from March to November 1996, Triple H is still in punishment mode as the rich blue blood character following the infamous “Curtain Call” in MSG. And The Undertaker is still a staple of WWE and has a banner year fighting the likes of Diesel, Mankind, Goldust and Vader.  

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 3.55.43 PM   All these things are so exciting to me and I’ve wanted to start watching this era of wrestling for a while. But usually school would get in the way, or I’d watch something else.

   I decided that I had made enough excuses and I started watching “Raw” right after the “In Your House: International Incident” pay per view. They have been a lot of fun to watch and compare to the WWE I know from today. And I’ve made some observations.

   First off, these shows move fast. There is always something going on and multiple storylines progress in the same segment. This is probably due to the fact that the shows were an hour long and tightly produced, with matches being short and very few recaps being shown, unlike the shows of today.

   Not every wrestler on the roster made an appearance on the show, and there were more promos and segments of fighting than matches. Almost every match had a manager or other important figure on commentary, advancing their character or a current feud.

   Speaking of the commentary, it’s pretty good overall. The bulk of the time you have the three man team of Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler. Kevin Kelly also commentates at times and is a backstage interviewer as well.

   All three men have solid chemistry with each other and it’ll be interesting to watch Vince fade away from commentary and hear JR and King hone their dynamic which will be one of the hallmarks of the Attitude Era.

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 3.42.58 PM

   In terms of guests, there are so many guest commentators during this time. You get a real variety, going from Jim Cornette (who is great as a slimy heel coward manager) and Sunny to Mr. Perfect (who does a stellar job as well).

   I’ve also seen the debuts of a heel JR and the introduction of fake Diesel and Razor Ramon. Fun fact: Glenn Jacobs (aka Kane, or Dr. Isaac Yankem, D.D.S.) is the incomparable fake Diesel, and boy, he looks weird with that jet black goatee and long hair.

   No matter what’s happening in these shows, it’s always interesting and fun to look back on with a 2018 lens. I’d recommend you watch these shows if this sounds interesting to you. Over the summer as I watch this era of Raw, I’ll group some episodes together and review them, as well as select pay per views, as part of the brand new Wolski Wrestling Rewind.

Henry Wolski
Executive Editor


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