Induction: The 1996 Slammy Awards – If this was WWF’s Oscar night, where were Men on a Mission?

28 Submitted by on Thu, 12 December 2013, 21:00

WWF, 1996

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By the time you read this, this year’s Slammy Awards will have come and gone. John Cena will have won Superstar of the Year, a Triple H match will have mysteriously won Match of the Year for a third year in a row, and Michael Cole will have convinced you that he is the most annoying on-air personality in company history — that is, if your longest of long-term memory doesn’t stretch back to the olden days of 1996 (and, to be fair, Cole’s doesn’t).

For those of us watching the WWF in ’96, it probably came as a shock that the USA Network would allow the Federation, whose ratings hovered in the high 2s and low 3s, an extra two hours in addition to the one they were allotted on Monday nights. See, wrestling wasn’t hot like it is nowadays.

Anyway, the Saturday night event marked the return of the awards show for the first time since the 80s. What were we to expect from this throwback?

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In his intro, Jerry Lawler didn’t mince words: “There’s going to be so many foul-ups, so many blunders!”

Sure enough, this guy hit the stage. 96s03
96s04 The Toddster immediately broke out into a rendition of “Hooray for Hollywood,” with the lyrics slightly altered to read thusly:

Right off the bat, something wasn’t quite right, as pretty much all the wrestlers’ cars I’d seen up to that point weren’t anything extravagant. Maybe back in the 80s, when wrestling was in a boom period, you could expect some “fancy cars” to go along with the wrestlers’ “big muscles,” but not in 1996. In fact, even their muscles weren’t as big as they were in the 80s for some reason. 96s05
96s06 So, yeah, something wasn’t quite right with Todd’s opening number, and if you still don’t believe me, bear in mind that just a few bars into his show tune parody, Pettengill shifted gears and started singing an Eric Clapton tune about how sexy Shawn Michaels was, citing his “earrings and hair and his thong underwear.
All this while Shawn’s mother sat with HBK. Oh yeah, and the Clapton tune was, “Cocaine.” 96s07
96s08 And Todd kept going, pulling parody after parody out of his hat (or some other article of clothing a fellow might have to take off at a job interview with Pat Patterson). These included a “Love and Marriage” parody about Yokozuna, a Gilligan’s Island parody about Jim Cornette, and a Beauty and the Beast parody about Sunny’s breasts.
“Holy Toledo!” said McMahon. 96s09
96s10 Also of note was his re-imagined version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” about The Undertaker. Not only did Todd throw in a fat joke out of the blue about Paul Bearer, but he suggested that Taker’s opponents “bring a fresh pair of underwear.” Unfortunately, Sycho Sid was not in attendance that year to hear this advice.
Less noteworthy was his version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” aside from the bit about “Backlund crawling on his knees,” which I’m sure has baffled everyone who has watched this program since then. Have no fear, ladies and gentlemen, as my exhaustive review of 1990s Monday Night Raw has uncovered exactly what Pettengill was talking about.
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By the way, Todd, it’s not crawling. They’re called deep knee lunges.

96s12 In his Brady Bunch parody, he claimed that Bret Hart had “been in something like 5 million matches,” and if you don’t believe Todd, just read the Hitman’s book and count them for yourself if you have a month or two free. I’ll wait right here.
Todd even got to break kayfabe ever-so-slightly in his “Hey Mickey” parody about the Ultimate Warrior, asking, “How much did it cost McMahon?”, Vince still being simply the dorky broadcaster for WWF TV. And bravo for Pettengill’s skewering of Diesel’s supposedly badass anti-corporate (but still merchandise-conscious) attitude shift. 96s13
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The man made Hollywood’s finest actor corpse.

Hey RD, do you think we can bring the Toddster onboard to do some inductions?
The awards presentations themselves kicked off with the Godwinns, who were drooling and tripping over themselves at the prospect of handing out the “Best Buns” award. And why shouldn’t they be? Maybe because four of the five nominees were men. I can understand how Yokozuna got nominated as a joke, and how Shawn and Goldust were included for their overtly sexual gimmicks… 96s15
96s16 …but you’ve got to think that as soon as Razor Ramon found out that some executive in Titan Tower fancied his buns, he was on the phone to Eric Bischoff.
The best part, though, was the video package of wrestlers like Ahmed Johnson, Savio Vega, Mr. Perfect, and The Undertaker (yes, with undead gimmick in full effect) licking their chops about rumps. Given a lecherous introduction like that, what could have possibly been funnier than if anyone but Sunny had won? Don’t think too hard about that one; the answer is “The Undertaker saying, ‘nice ass’ in his dead man voice.” 96s17
96s18 The next award was “Best Slammin’ Jammin’ Entrance,” presented by Ted DiBiase and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. When you think of that old saying, “If you’re gonna talk the trash, you gotta be able to strut the stuff,” you’ve got to think of Shawn Michaels, who not only won the award, but clearly just made that saying up. I think he meant, “If you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk.” Obviously, the Heartbreak Kid was still recovering from those blows to the head in Syracuse.
Bob Backlund promised not to exacerbate or even flummox the audience, but instead presented the award for best finisher. It came as no surprise that Sunny would feature heavily in the pre-recorded video package. If anyone knew a thing or two about finishing off a Superstar, it was Tammy Sytch. Bret Hart’s sharpshooter won the award, but Bob Backlund’s convivial presence surely booned the lives of all the plebeians in attendance. 96s19
96s20 The night’s low point came when “Billionaire Ted” gave a rambling speech that made only Vince laugh. Though Ted Turner-bashing was a running theme throughout the night, this particular segment ridiculed McMahon’s rival wanting to buy all his competition out, something Vince would never do that particular decade.
For the first time ever, viewers begged the WWF to bring Todd Pettengill back on. 96s99
96s21 It was just ghastly!
Vince McMahon presented a lifetime achievement award to Freddy Blassie, but not before we saw a shot of Vince’s wife and his daughter, Stephanie. Five years later, she told a wheelchair-bound Blassie that he was about to die in the midst of the Invasion angle, which was an absolutely atrocious offense to wrestling’s rich history (oh, and Stephanie’s comment to Blassie made it slightly worse). 96s22
96s23 The strangest moment of the night would have to be when Vince and Jerry narrated the old commercial for Buddy Rose’s Blow Away diet, despite Rose not having worked for the company in years. And here you thought the WWF only ridiculed ex-employees if they jumped to WCW.
To introduce the technical wrestling award, Jerry Lawler demonstrated his scientific prowess by choking a hapless sparring partner with the man’s own tie. Fortunately, thanks to a massive drop in popularity, WWF had already lost its toy deal with Hasbro, so Lawler kept his job for another five years. 96s24
96s25 The WWF had aired a number of music videos over the past year, including Shawn Michaels’s “Tell Me A Lie,” a title inspired by the WWF’s insistence that it took “nine thugs” to beat up HBK. The winner for best video, however, went to “You Start the Fire,” Roddy Piper’s touching tribute to Adrian Adonis.
Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon’s ladder rematch at Summerslam won the match of the year award. While not as good as their match at Wrestlemania X, keep in mind that the “year” in “match of the year” was 1995, so this was some of its competition:
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Even back then, Hunter’s matches were overrated.

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“Hee hee, you lose, Bret! Now get the f*** out of my ring.”

In the last award of the night, Shawn Michaels won once again, this time for being the “Leader of the New Generation,” beating out four other men, two of whom would leave for WCW two months later.
Shawn’s speech got cut off due to time constraints, which was no big loss, as no one took these silly awards seriously, anyway. That is, except for Owen Hart, who would brag about his Slammy awards for years. Wooo! 96s32

 

If there were ever a time capsule of the mid-90′s WWF and all its goofy unevenness, the Slammy Awards were it. However, if you don’t have two hours to spare, this shot of Bret Hart and Duke “The Dumpster” Droese in the same frame will do nicely.

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Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He currently runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws and Hasbro WWF figures.
28 Responses to "Induction: The 1996 Slammy Awards – If this was WWF’s Oscar night, where were Men on a Mission?"
  1. ScMcS says:

    Todd’s opening number was probably the best moment of his entire career… and I say that because of the insider-comment about Warrior. That was fuckin AWESOME.

  2. Trench Reynolds says:

    Goldust was corpsing? Better call for the man.

  3. Sean Bateman says:

    at least the 97 one was better. or was it?

    • ScMcS says:

      Both had pros and cons. They, for the most part, looked like a lot of fun to do, if not incredibly lame and cheesy (and sometimes crappy)… but not nearly as mind-blowing awesome 1987′s Slammys turned out to be,

  4. John says:

    I bet Vince was really HARD at work when he wrote the lyrics for the HBK number. He was probably sitting very upright and ERECT at his desk while doing that. I’m sure he wanted it to be a fitting tribute so he didn’t want to make any BONER doing this. Vince was probably SHOOTING on Shawn with this song. (Hee hee there’s a funny joke if you just read the capitalized words I typed.)

  5. Peter says:

    That Undertaker sound bite is the best thing ever.

  6. YVRay says:

    Sad to say, Art, that two of your three predictions at the beginning were off. At least Cole’s still annoying, we’ll always have that…

  7. The Doctor of Style says:

    They were really letting loose with the anti-kayfabe. Notice the reference to Hogan in Pettingill’s creepy “Shawn is sexy” song?

    Those ‘Taker clips were surprising, cause I don’t remember him doing that Pat-from-SNL “ughhhh” so often.

  8. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    Great work as always, Art, but where it says “…my exhaustive review of 1990s Monday Night Raw …” the link just gives us an mp3 of Toad Pettingzoo warbling off-key.

  9. Alan says:

    Awesome work as always Art! The inside jokes were hilarious, my favorite being about WWE ratings being in the high 2s/low 3s back then. Also dug the Michaels/”Cocaine” reference. Also, Vince was at his most annoying in the booth in the early days of Raw and on the PPVs from ’93-’97. His stupid “1, 2 he got him, no, no he didn’t” and “Look at that maneuver” have to be the most annoying phrases uttered in wrestling commentary history. Too bad someone wasn’t screaming at him through the headsets like he does to his commentary teams nowadays. I’ve never seen this version of The Slammys, but it sounds like it was total, pure CRAP.

  10. Raven7309 says:

    Were these Slammy awards the ones where Owen Hart won/stole a Slammy, thereby making him a “2-time” Slammy award winner, and he carried them to the ring with him?

    • King Of Kings says:

      That would’ve been the 97 Slammys where Owen was not even nominated in the catatory for best bowtie yet he went ahead and accepted the slammy anyway before the winner could be announced. Ironically enough he wasn’t wearing a tie that night.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This may have been the worst thing ever aired on WWF TV.

  12. Rose Harmon says:

    That actually sounds like a blast to watch.

  13. Down With OPC says:

    Bring back the tuxedo match!

  14. SCFNL says:

    And there was me thinking it was just this year’s awards that were terrible – I see a theme! Superb induction, had me laughing my face off here – Todd Petengill in particular and Taker’s soundbyte, so bad but yet so good!

  15. Dave says:

    Oddly enough, I was just thinking of this show recently out of nowhere–I was musing at how weird it was to hear Stone Cold use the phrase “Slammin’ Jammin’ Entrance.”

    You skipped my favorite part, and possibly my favorite thing Shawn Michaels ever did: when he accepted one of his awards (don’t remember which one) he started to thank Jose Lothario, and started by saying something like “the person who had me lying on the mat for hours–not you, Sunny.” Even Mr. Perfect broke character and laughed!

  16. Drunkenmaster says:

    “Maybe back in the 80s, when wrestling was in a boom period, you could expect some “fancy cars” to go along with the wrestlers’ “big muscles,” but not in 1996. In fact, even their muscles weren’t as big as they were in the 80s for some reason.”

  17. CaptainRon says:

    It was totally worth it to see Owen Hart “win” his Slammy. “I WON! I WON!”

  18. Thomas Moffatt says:

    Where was Jerry Lawler winning “I’m talking and I can’t dhut up”??? That should be a staple award of every Slammy’s! Obviously to be won by our dear friend Nipple H…

    Oh and BTW if Powercrappings was in place then Rock-Cena winning match of the year at the slammy’s WOULD be top of the list!!!!!!!!

  19. theOneManChainGang says:

    And the WWF wondered why they were getting beat in the Monday night wars and why their talent was jumping ship.

  20. Velvet Al says:

    No mention of McMahon admitting to being homophobic during the Best Buns video package?

  21. Doc 902714 says:

    Why is Shawn Michaels doing the “Froggy’s” Little Rascals salute?

    Fun fact: Not mentioned on this Induction but Bret said he was really peeved that he didn’t win Master of the Mat Mechanics (Best technical wrestler) award that Shawn won. He said then that he felt the whole Slammy Awards Presentation was nothing but a big joke. Agreed.

  22. Ripplin says:

    “All this while Shawn’s mother sat with HBK.”

    Meh, she’d seen and heard much worse from Shawn himself (along with the rest of us in many cases). :p

  23. James Clancy says:

    Am I the only one who thought that the Summerslam rematch between Razor and HBK was better than their match at Wrestlemania 10? Both were great though.

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