SHAWN MICHAELS PAY-PER-VIEW TITLE MATCHES IN 1996
Greatest year for any America wrestler? Let's see:
- 1.vs. Diesel, In Your House (April)Incredible brawl. Classic example - maybe the best example - of Shawn selling for a Monster. The belt spots and, of course, the prosthetic leg spot were te highlights. Loses points because we knew it would be Diesel's last match before jumping to WCW.
- 2.vs. Mankind, In Your House (September)Another incredible brawl. First WWF pay-per-view in the Philadelphia Flyers' new arena and the crowd was hot. ECW was still semi-underground, so we wondered if they'd crash the show (little did we know...). Table duplex spot was a jawdropper and Mankind gave himself a beating. Loses points because we knew that Mick Foley would never be World Champion. (Didn't say we were correct; just that we thought that at the time.)
- 3.vs. Bulldog, King of the Ring (June)Maybe a little higher than on the average person's list, but this was the first wrestling card I ever attended. So sue me, I'm biased. The show is. Enter remembered for the Austin 3:16 promo, but Bulldog had his working boots on for the main event. Not to sound too morose, but among the three primary parties in the main event (Shawn, Bulldog and Owen providing ringside commentary), in 1996 nobody would've had Shawn outlasting the other two in a deadpool.
- 4.vs. Bret, WrestleMania XII (March)The first WrestleMania after my personal return to wrestling fandom in January, 1996. The Iron Man Match has taken a peculiar place in history. Most of the crowd was non-plussed and the reviews afterwards were that the match was below expectations. Over time, a lot of historians have begun to view the match more favorably. Maybe if I re-watched today, I'd agree. Final verdict from me is that it was behind the times. Wrestling was getting faster paced and this was a year or so too late.
- 5.vs. Sid, Survivor Series (November)For drama and crowd heat, this may be number one. The problem is that Sid was such a limited wrestler. Madison Square Garden crowd loved Sid the way modern hardcore fans hate Cena. None of Sid's heel behavior could turn the crowd on him and it made the match a fun spectacle. Not much to speak of, wrestling wise.
- 6.vs. Vader, SummerSlam (August)A great example of Petulant Shawn. At this point in history, WCW had run past WWF as the top promotion, almost everyone questioned Shawn's drawing power and lots of people wondered if Vince could even compete with Bischoff (and Turner's money, to be fair). There was a lot of pressure on Shawn, as Hogan was World Champion in WCW. Vader didn't click with Shawn like Diesel did and Taker would in '97. Shawn threw a tantrum after a missed spot & match never reached expected level.