WWF/WCW: The Top 5 Best PPVs of 1996by SlyGuy21 | created - 04 Feb 2018 | updated - 04 Feb 2018 | Public
While certainly a turning point for the wrestling world, it sure took it's sweet time getting there. With both WWF and WCW creatively brain dead until almost halfway through the year, you almost wonder if it was creative genius or just necessity that drove them to the decisions they made. I feel like WWF had a better year overall though. While WCW formed the nWo and killed the ratings the second half of the year, they had to crawl through barbed-wire to get there. WCW released some of the worst PPVs I've seen before Hogan turned heel, whereas WWF had a mediocre middle of the year due to Austin's slow push and Bret being MIA. And ECW the whole time was just waiting in the wings for their first official PPV in 1997. Regardless of the low points suffered by both companies, they did both produce some stellar shows this year. WCW finally had a PPV get an 8 Star rating from me for the first time in like 2 years. So to celebrate the highs of both companies, here's my list of the Top 5 Best PPVs of 1996. As usual, the best matches will be here in the description in order to connect the two lists.
*I only have one rule for these matches: In order for a match to be a "Match of the Year" contender, the match cannot end as a result of interference. If outside interference plays a role in a wrestler winning the match, the match is not eligible. I don't care how good the match is overall, that's the only rule I have. There may be times where I make exceptions to that rule, but those will be few and far between.*
WWF/WCW: The Top 5 Best Matches of 1996
Number 5. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret Hart, Survivor Series. After so much build-up, the payoff for this was well worth the wait. While not as good as their match from WrestleMania 13, this is still a great brawl. Austin actually breaks out some wrestling holds, and even Bret's win isn't super decisive, so their feud is still wide open for an absolute classic. Rating: 4.5/5
Number 4. Dean Malenko vs Rey Mysterio, WCW Cruiserweight Championship, The Great American Bash. Mysterio was inserted into this at just the right moment to give this division some life. His lucha style combined perfectly with Malenko's technical skill. They would have more matches later in the year, but none of them had the intensity this match had. Rating: 4.5/5
Number 3. Chis Benoit vs Chris Jericho, Fall Brawl. Jericho's first PPV match, and you put him against an absolute master. This is a great example of just how skilled both men were, even Jericho who was so young at the time. A fantastic mix of technical skill and brawling, and these guys would go on to have way better matches than this great one. Rating: 4.5/5
Number 2. Rey Mysterio vs Psychosis, Bash at the Beach. The best opener WCW has had so far for a PPV. A perfect example of lucha style wrestling for an American audience. Insanely fast-paced, great offense from both guys, and the final move in this is a once in a lifetime move. WCW's best match of 1996, enough said. Rating: 5/5
Number 1. Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart, Iron Man match for the WWF Championship, WrestleMania XII. This is in my Top 10 Favorite Matches List if I were to ever make one. A 60 minute match that is paced so well it feels like a 30 minute match. They somehow managed to have an hour long match, with no pinfalls, be one of the most engaging and exciting matches around. I understand it's not for everyone, but there are very few matches I can think of that defy time like this. The best match of 1996, hands down, bar none. Rating: 5/5
1. King of the Ring (1996 TV Special)
It's a King of the Ring tournament to end all others! Watch as a new King of the Ring is crowned and Austin 3:16 is born!
Pros: -Mero's match with Austin is great. -Undertaker and Mankind have a good brawl. -Austin's match with Roberts tells a great story. -The "Austin 3:16" promo. -The main event is good, if overbooked. -It's the start of the Attitude Era.
Cons: -There are a few matches on here that just exist, but are entertaining enough. -The main event is overbooked like crazy.
Thoughts: While mostly remembered for Austin's vicious promo, the rest of the show holds up well enough.
2. WCW Bash at the Beach (1996 TV Special)
180 min | Sport
The Outsiders, Kevin Nash & Scott Hall, have invaded WCW! They have promised a third member to their team to challenge the best WCW has to offer!
Pros: -This was WCW's best show in over 2 years for me. -Every match on this show is at least watchable. -Mysterio/Psychosis is a phenomenal opener. -Disco Inferno and Malenko have a surprisingly good match. -The main event is booked very well. -Hogan's heel turn. -The formation of the nWo. -"Hulk Hogan you can go to Hell!"
Cons: -Konnan and Flair's match has constant interference. -The ending to Benoit's match is overbooked. -Duggan's match is insanely forgettable, if watchable because of it's short time.
Thoughts: Again mostly remembered for the first and last matches, but considering how bad WCW's shows were before this, this is a great improvement.
3. WCW Fall Brawl (1996 TV Special)
180 min | Action, Sport
Pros: -DDP vs Chavo Guerrero is a great starter. -Benoit vs Jericho is awesome. -Konnan vs Juventud Guerrera. -Rey Mysterio vs Super Caló is great. -The best WarGames match I've seen so far. -Sting leaves WCW to lose, eventually becoming Crow Sting over the next year. -The highest rated WCW show from me since Spring Stampede '94.
Cons: -Savage's match is mostly just build-up for a future match. -Harlem Heat cheats to win for like the third time in a row. -Ice Train vs Scott Norton is the weakest match, but still decent.
Thoughts: It took them over 2 years, but WCW finally got back in my good graces with this show.
4. Survivor Series (1996 TV Special)
180 min | Action, Sport
WWF Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Sycho Sid, The Undertaker vs. Mankind, Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, Flash Funk, Yokozuna, Jimmy Snuka & Savio Vega vs. Razor Ramon II, Diesel II & Farooq, Mark ... See full summary »
Pros: -Quality over quantity. -Every match on here is entertaining. -Sid's win over Shawn is refreshing. -Austin and Bret's match is great.
Cons: -None really.
Thoughts: A prime example of 6 matches done very well over a 3 hour show. Each match has something great about it, and this is one of the better Survivor Series I've seen since the one from 2002, which I consider the gold standard.
5. WrestleMania XII (1996 TV Special)
TV-14 | 168 min | Action
WWF Title (Iron Man Match): Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker vs. Diesel, Backlot Brawl: Roddy Piper vs. Goldust, The Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Jake Roberts, Yokozuna &... See full summary »
Pros: -Quality over quantity. -The opener's good. -Piper's fight with Goldust is really funny. -HHH vs The Ultimate Warrior is a funny squash. -Diesel vs Undertaker is good. -The Iron Man match defies time with how good it is.
Cons: -Austin's match is the weakest one on the card.
Thoughts: WWF bet it all on a 6 match WrestleMania, and it paid off big time. Every match on this show is watchable, and the main event is so good it makes up for any other faults that the show has. One of the best WrestleManias I can think of.
Well folks, with 1997 on the way, and the Attitude Era about to get kick-started, I'm really optimistic for another year of wrestling goodness. Until the next list I post, or review I write, I hope you have a good day.