Review for WWE The Best Of 1996 - Prelude To Attitude
1996 was a strange year for WWE. It was a time of change, but also a time when change was so desperately needed. It wasn't until mid year that WCW started to destroy WWE with the debut of nWo, but looking at this set you could see just how bad shape WWE was in at the time.
This two disk set looks at the best matches from that year and a few extra memorable moments. It is a shame that there are no introductions or voice overs to explain what was going on. Instead it just throws you into two disks of matches which are very much a bit of hit and miss, but there are some great matches throughout.
There are some omissions. Surprisingly, nothing from that years' Wrestlemania is included and when you consider this is the year of the infamous Iron Man Match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, it is a surprise that they didn't stretch this to three disks so they could include it. Also not included is the Summerslam Boiler Room Brawl between Mankind and The Undertaker. However, if you are a fan of Shawn Michaels, with five matches, this is a great set to show just why this was his year.
Razor Ramon vs. Goldust For those who never understood why Razor Ramon was such a big loss for the WWE when he jumped to WCW, this is a match to show just how talented he was in the ring. The character of Goldust was just so bizarre and something you could never get away with now, but they both put on a great match.
In Your House
Number 1 Contender's Match
Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart was a great match. Both were great together and I really enjoyed this match between the two of them. Although I knew the outcome I couldn't remember how it happened and so the ending and the build to it was just fantastic.
Bret 'Hitman' Hart vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley was a good match and a great early match from Triple H. Not perfect by any stretch, but as with many Bret Hart matches it was technically sound.
In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies
No Holds Barred Match for WWE Championship
Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel is possibly one of the best matches on the whole set. When you consider this is Diesel's last match before jumping to WCW it shows just how much respect he had for Shawn Michaels to give him this kind of a performance. I loved every second if it and definitely a highlight to watch.
In Your House: Beware of the Dog
'Wildman' Marc Mero vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley is worth watching just for seeing an early appearance of Sable. The match itself? Nothing special. Both work well, but there is nothing to show that he would become The Game.
King of the Ring
Undertaker vs. Mankind was a great early match from the two. It would be another two years before they had their infamous Hell in a Cell match, but this was a good indication as to what was to come.
King of the Ring
Jake 'The Snake' Roberts vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin is a match remembered for one thing: Austin 3:16. The match itself is not great. They should have really just included the promo which is one of the most important moments in WWE.
In Your House: International Incident
Shawn Michaels, Sycho Sid and Ahmed Johnson vs. Vader, Owen Hart and British Bulldog
This is such a bizarre match. It definitely has its moments, but the two teams look wrong and don't really work as well as I thought they might. Look at who is involved and tell me who I am supposed to cheer for, but it's just such a strange combination that I didn't enjoy it.
Raw Invitational Battle Royal
This is a mess of a match featuring far too many people to keep up with what is going on. I can't understand why they included it, other than because of the early hardcore antics of Undertaker and Mankind. The fact they build up that this is for a WWE Title match and then don't show the match is also odd.
Shawn Michaels vs. Vader
This a fantastic match. Vader is such a big guy you cannot believe he would be hurt by Shawn Michaels, but they work so well together it is just phenomenal. Some great moments throughout and another great match on the set.
In Your House: Mind Games
Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind
Mick Foley once said this was his favourite of his matches and I have to agree. I honestly did not think these two would work together, but they do. It is a testament to both and it certainly is one of the best matches.
Intercontinental Championship Tournament Final
'Wildman' Marc Mero vs. Faarooq
DAMN! That's all I can say about Faarooq's look which is so ridiculous. A good match, nothing special, though I think that was the first time I had seen a Shooting Star Press, but almost the definition of a TV match. The only reason I can guess why this match is included is so we can look at Sable and Sunny at the same time. Not that I am complaining.
Traditional Elimination Match
Rocky Maivia, 'Wildman' Marc Mero, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and The Stalker vs. Jerry 'The King' Lawler, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Goldust and Crush
There is only one reason why this awful match is on here. It is here because of the appearance of Rocky Maivia... you may have heard of him? This is a bad match, with very few highlights.
Bret 'Hitman' Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
A fantastic match from the two of them. Both work so well together and the feud going into the match was excellent. It was just a shame we didn't see any of that as some of the promos they did were fabulous. Great match, great ending, almost perfect.
In Your House: It's Time
Sycho Sid vs. Bret 'Hitman' Hart
This was a pretty good match and it was one of the few matches on this set where I didn't know the outcome. It has some great moments and having Shawn Michaels on commentary was also great.
Also includes notable moments: Vader Destroys Gorilla Monsoon was a shocking moment, certainly, but nothing special other than who it was. Undertaker Meets Mankind was a fascinating look at how their feud began and this was one of the few times when you saw The Undertaker in such a vulnerable position. Sunny Gets 'Slopped' could have been a quick clip, instead it just seemed to go on and on to the point where the payoff wasn't as great as I remembered. Stone Cold Steve Austin Takes Out Brian Pillman is a classic showing of Austin stomping a mudhole in someone and walking it dry.
As I said, the set itself is held together by the fact they all take place in 1996 and debut a few notable stars. However, the fact that nothing like this is signposted or commented on makes it quite a soulless set. There are some great matches on here and if you are fan of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart these are some of their best. It is just a shame that more wasn't made about how important some of these matches and moments were. As it is, it is a nice step down memory lane, just don't expect to learn much about the history of the year.