The Way We Was: 1996 Week 43

Jamie Lithgow

It’s been a busy week in the music industry in 1996. 2Pac has released three albums in one week, despite the handicap of being dead. All are selling like hot cakes. The Artist Formally Known As Prince would now like to be known as ‘The Artist’ and Michael Jackson has announced that he is set to become a father. This is nothing compared to what was happening in the WWF and WCW though. Let’s see what was going down on Raw and Nitro in this week’s  ‘The Way We Was‘ …

90s Raw Logo

The Hitman will be with the WWF "forever"...

The Hitman will be with the WWF “forever”…

Hot on the heels of In Your House 11: Buried Alive, we got our monthly live episode of Raw. As such, it was rather eventful. The big news is the return of Bret Hart. Save for a couple of brief, pre-recorded interviews conducted during a tour of South Africa, this is the first time The Hitman has appeared on WWF television since Wrestlemania XII. Introduced by Jim Ross – who, in storyline, is taking credit for bringing Bret back – Hart openly admitted to receiving a “great offer from a rival wrestling promotion” and put over how professionally said mystery organisation had conducted themselves, as a nervous Vince McMahon hung on his every word at the announce desk. Putting Vince out of his misery, The Hitman acknowledged his fans and his relationship with the WWF before committing his future to the company “forever”. The addition of the word “forever” is a reference to the length of Bret’s new contract. All being well, The Hitman will be a WWF employee until October 2016. All being well of course…

Other highlights from a candid and fascinating promo included Bret conceding that Shawn Michaels won fair and square at Wrestlemania and put over his run as champion. However, he did admit that there’s something about Michaels that “bugs” him and boasted that HBK would never be as tough or as smart as him. Bret also called Steve Austin “the best wrestler in the WWF” before accepting his challenge for a match at Survivor Series. Hart ended by clarifying why he chose to return to the WWF, rather than jump ship to WCW. An emotional Hitman told the story of his nephew’s death and that he had returned to the company to be a hero for the kids and fans who look up to him.

In Other News From Raw –

Well, they swerved me and I have 20 years worth of hindsight to call upon. Well done lads

Well, they swerved me and I have 20 years worth of hindsight to call upon. Well done lads

  • We have a new Intercontinental Champion; Hunter Hearst Helmsley. As a result it is fair to say that the blue blood has served his time and is now out of the WWF dog house following the infamous Curtain Call incident. The circumstances that led to his title win will require some explanation though: Hunter had been booked to face Mr Perfect, in what would have been Perfect’s first match in over three years. However, Perfect’s long awaited return – and this long awaited match – were ruined when the dastardly Helmsley steered a cart into the former IC Champion’s knee as he was preparing for the bout. Prevented from competing on medical grounds, Perfect suggested that his new best friend, Merc Mero, take his place in the match. Knowing he had no contractual obligation to face The Wildman, Helmsley accepted on one condition; Mero’s IC Title be put on the line. Foolhardy Mero accepted and President Gorilla Monsoon called for the bell. Just over eight minutes into the match the referee took a bump, which provided the green light for Perfect – who had been provoked by Helmsley – to get involved. Wielding a steel chair, Perfect stalked Helmsley before performing a U-turn and smashing Mero with the weapon. Triple H then crawled into the cover as the referee woke up. Post-match Perfect and Helmsley embraced and congratulated each other. Yes, this whole angle was a set up all along!
  • WWF Champion Shawn Michaels made the save for Sid as he was being assaulted by Owen Hart and The British Bulldog. After the tag champs were sent packing, Michaels and the number one contender shook hands but teased tension as the build for their match at Survivor Series begins
  • It is well known that The Rock, as Rocky Maivia, made his WWF debut at the 1996 Survivor Series… or did he?
  • The Smoking Gunns continue to misfire, it may just be a matter of time before they break up
  • Pat Patterson will be inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame the night before Survivor Series
  • Some kind of tournament involving Milton Bradley Karate Fighters is set to get underway. From what I can gather, Marlena will face Sid and Sable will face Doc Hendrix in a competition with some awesome looking toys

Quote of The Night

“Madison Square Garden; it’s not a church, but it is holy ground”

Bret Hart

Full Results

  • Psycho Sid defeated Owen Hart via disqualification
  • The Godwinns defeated The Smoking Gunns
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Marc Mero (C) (w/ Sable & Mr. Perfect) to win the Intercontinental Title


Big developments on this week’s Superstars taping. Having been somewhat on the same page for the last month or two, Steve Austin and Brian Pillman are now reading different books entirely. Fed up of Pillman’s fondness for Bret Hart, Austin lost his shit with The Loose Cannon during an in-ring interview segment. Making reference to their past in WCW, Austin said that he carried Pillman to a World Tag Team Title and called him “a crippled freak”. Austin then attacked Pillman – who was in full babyface mode and carrying a walking cane – and broke his surgically repaired ankle with a steel chair. The Loose Cannon left the arena in an ambulance. In reality this angle was shot to cover for the fact that Pillman is set to undergo surgery. Apparently his ankle has not been healing as desired after he was involved in a car accident earlier this year. Surgeons will re-break the ankle, reset it and hope it begins to heal as desired. The best case scenario is another 6 month layoff for Pillman while the worst case scenario is retirement. You can see the video below. The reference to Raw in the video title is a mistake, this was most definitely on Superstars because October 27th 1996 was a Sunday.

Injuries, Hirings and Firings –

  • Savio Vega (calf), Faarooq (groin) and Vader (foot) are all on the short term injury list
  • Chris ‘Skip’ Candido has left the WWF. He was offered the chance to stay on, but in a trainer/coach capacity. With no desire to use him on television, Candido turned the company’s offer down and can now be found in ECW
  • Former WCW and ECW wrestler, 2 Cold Scorpio, has signed with the WWF
  • There was never any intention of having Mr Perfect wrestle Triple H. Perfect is still collecting on insurance following a series of knee and back injuries, and cannot compete at risk of breaching the terms of his policy. Moreover, he has stated in interviews that he does not intend to restart his wrestling career when his insurance policy expires. Hmmm, really?

Nitro Logo

Hands up if you like Sting

Hands up if you like Sting

Sting, the real one, is back! He casually walked down the aisle and battered the nWo’s Sting as he wrestled Mr JL. Dressed in a black trench coat and sporting white face paint somewhat similar to The Crow, Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan immediately questioned Sting’s allegiance based on his colour scheme. Lessons have clearly not been learned from Fall Brawl. Oddly, the nWo – all of whom except Hogan were at ringside for the match – did not help their guy. The group did enter the ring, but rather than attack The Stinger they tried to recruit him. Kevin Nash quoted Jim Morrison by suggesting that Sting “step on through to the other side”. In response, Sting said he may or may not be in their price range and that when it comes to him “nothing’s for sure”…

In Other News From Nitro –

Say what you want about Lex Luger but he is a strong boy

Say what you want about Lex Luger but he is a strong boy

  • Nitro ended with a bizarre angle shot on the set of Hogan’s new film. The Giant and Hogan – who had a full head of hair – harassed Miss Elizabeth, who has a cameo in the film, into filming more promos proclaiming her love for Macho Man. These black and white scenes were shot on set and in Hogan’s trailer, while ‘Mr Hollywood’ wore what looked like a super hero costume. To make things even weirder, this video package was watched by darkside Macho Man in the aisle when he was supposed to be wrestling Chris Benoit in the show’s main event. Savage then cut a promo about things being fragile. He mentioned friendships, relationships, business and life. At this point he walked out as Nitro went off the air and the commentators flipped out because they think Savage is either going to kill Hogan or himself
  • Syxx debuted a new prop; a camcorder. This simple addition does cover a lot of the plot holes in the nWo storyline. He also scouted Chris Jericho ahead of the pair’s match at Halloween Havoc
  • Teddy Long was once again pissed at referee Nick Patrick for screwing his guy – Craig Pitman this time – out of a match. However, this time Teddy only has himself to blame. Teddy was stood on the apron, thus attracting Patrick’s attention, as Diamond Dallas Page submitted to Pitman. By the time Patrick put Long back in his place DDP had reached the ropes
  • After the match Patrick again denied being the masked nWo referee who has been appearing on Saturday Night
  • Rick Flair and Jeff Jarrett had a strut-off. The pair also shook hands before The Nature Boy announced that he will be in Jarrett’s corner when he faces The Giant at Halloween Havoc
  • Speaking of Flair, he alluded to undergoing surgery before this Sunday’s pay per view
  • A very large man called Road Block made his debut, and somehow Lex Luger put him in the Torture Rack
  • A guy called Jimmy Graffiti also debuted. This is the artist formally known as Jimmy Del Ray of The Heavenly Bodies
  • Speaking of tag team wrestlers of yesteryear, The Fantastics got battered by The Faces of Fear
  • The finish to The American Males vs. Harlem Heat was completely botched, but was smoothly covered up by Eric Bischoff noticing that the referee was Nick Patrick. Blaming a confusing finish an a crooked referee, now that’s thinking on your feet

Full Results

  • Chris Jericho defeated Bobby Eaton
  • Dean Malenko defeated Jimmy Graffiti
  • Diamond Dallas Page defeated Sgt Craig Pittman (w/ Teddy Long)
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Ron Studd
  • Lex Luger defeated Road Block
  • Harlem Heat (w/ Col. Robert Parker & Sister Sherri) defeated The American Males
  • The Faces of Fear (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeated The Fantastics
  • Mr. JL vs. nWo Sting ended in a no contest

Injuries, Hirings and Firings –

  • Johnny Grunge of The Public Enemy is out with an injury
  • Everyone in WCW is still under the impression that Randy Savage will be leaving the company when his contract expires in November. With Savage having rejected WCW’s latest offer, the booking of him as a man on the edge is entirely with his contract situation in mind. It is assumed that he will return to the WWF when his contract does expire
  • Hollywood Hogan has signed a three year contract extension. He has claimed that the WWF tried to lure him back, which is hard to believe given the astronomical money WCW are able to offer compared to the WWF
 Signs of The Times


The heavily promoted return of Bret Hart and supposed in-ring return of Mr Perfect seem to have gotten Raw back on track, if not ahead of Nitro. In order to maintain competitiveness with WCW, the WWF have called in a favour from the USA Network. Going forward, Raw will now start at 8pm instead of 9pm. The reason for this change is that Nitro starts at 8pm and lasts two hours. Some WWF officials feel that Nitro simply has a head start on Raw. It’s a decent theory, we’ll see in the weeks to come if Nitro is more popular purely due to its timeslot…

You can read all previous ‘The Way We Was’ pieces here.

2 thoughts on “The Way We Was: 1996 Week 43

  1. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2016 week 44 | Ring the Damn Bell

  2. Pingback: Styling It Out: Forgotten Fashion From The World Of Wrestling | Ring the Damn Bell

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