More often than not rehashed gimmicks fail to get the same level of success as the original and this Well That Didn’t Work is a prime example. In 1996 the WWE tried, and failed, to replicate the success of The Rockers with a new take on the team: the New Rockers. That new version is the focus of this latest piece.
One of the most popular tandem in the WWF in the late 80s and early 90s was the team of Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty, the Rockers.
With their high impact style, fun loving pretty boy gimmicks and colourful outfits, the two were firm favourites in the various promotions they wrestled before joining the WWF and that continued when they reached Connecticut.
By 1992 the two had a famous on-screen falling out in the Barber Shop with Michaels throwing Jannetty through a glass window. It led to an on-off feud between the two with the high point for Jannetty undoubtedly being defeating Michaels to win the Intercontinental title on Raw.
However, while Michaels’ stock continued to rise the same cannot be said for Jannetty. Whilst he did win the WWF tag titles with the 1-2-3 Kid in 1994, he would disappear from our screens before resurfacing in the fledgling Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1995.
At the same time Michaels was headlining WrestleMania in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to win the WWF title from Diesel at the eleventh installment of the WWF’s annual extravaganza.
By late 1995, Jannetty returned to the WWF and teamed with Razor Ramon. In early 1996 Michaels won his second consecutive Royal Rumble and keen to cash in on his success the WWF decided to put the Rockers back together pairing Jannetty this time around with Leif Cassidy, better known to wrestling fans as Al Snow.
However, The New Rockers tanked very quickly. The suave, fan friendly and cool Shawn Michaels had been replaced with the goofy character of Cassidy and with even the announce team rubbishing the gimmick, it was doomed to failure.
The new version of the Rockers were unsuccessful in their attempts to capture the tag team titles and in July Jannetty faced Michaels in a non-title match but was unsuccessful.
Jannetty left the WWF following that year’s Survivor Series after asking for his release due to his unhappiness with the new version of The Rockers and the company’s refusal to split them up.
After the break-up Cassidy would go on to become a popular figure during the Attitude Era with his madcap Al Snow gimmick whilst Jannetty would even occupy the ‘Marty Jannetty role’ of The New Rockers, like the original version, and achieve very limited success appearing mainly on the independent scene with sporadic appearances on WWE TV.
So exactly why didn’t it work? It has been suggested already, replacing Michaels with the goofy Leif Cassidy already made things difficult for the new pairing and with a lack of focus on the tag team division – with a series of thrown together teams getting the titles – it wasn’t a great tag team division to be involved in in the first place. Also, some things just aren’t as good the second time around. Particularly when you remove one of the most popular parts of the original.
You can read all previous ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ pieces here.