It’s Slammy season once again, and with it, it’s time to look back on a different era of the prestigious awards, when the trophies were handed out not during a weekly wrestling show, but in a gala event in a ballroom on the eve of Wrestlemania. Modern-day Slammy Awards shows simply can’t top the excess and extravagance of the specials from the 80s and 90s, unless you consider a three-hour Raw every week to be excessive and extravagant (which you should if you’ve been watching it the past few years).
The 1997 Slammy Awards was the third and last Slammy ceremony of the nineties, after the 1996 USA special and the obscure set of awards handed out in absentia on a year-end episode of WWF Mania in 1994.
In keeping with very brief tradition, the Todd Pettengill medley of WWF-themed song parodies was back for another year in 1997 but was way less memorable the second time around. Sure, he sang about Sunny’s breasts for the second year in a row, and he wanted to know when Shawn Michaels (whom he had previously dubbed, “The sexiest thing that ever stepped in the ring”) would be back to show the fans his ass…
…but the obligatory Ted Turner-bashing fell flat, and the line “Nothing rhymes with ‘sultan’” was simply untrue. There’s molten, joltin’, Michael Bolton; take your pick, Todd, and stop being so intelligence-insultin.’
Plus, half the time he sounded so lost and off-key, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out what songs he was actually parodying. If there was any silver lining for the fans, it was that they could now add, “Excellence of Execution” to their repertoire of Christmas carols, right along with last year’s take on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” I know I will.
The drop-off in quality didn’t end with the Toddster’s opening number. In fact, just about everything about the 1996 Slammys was made somehow worse for the 1997 edition.
The previous year, before every award’s nominees were read, viewers were treated to incredible one-liners delivered by the Superstars, such as The Undertaker saying, “Nice ass!” in his Dead Man voice. Normally, you’d have to be Michelle McCool to hear that.
But this year, the viewers were subjected to goofy black-and-white footage from the silent era that seemed more befitting of a Ted Striker war flashback from Airplane! than a WWF program or an awards show.
Contributing further to that feeling of, “What the hell am I watching?” were the non-wrestling personalities up for awards. Sure, this was the night before Wrestlemania, an event that had always seen celebrity involvement, but the key word there was “involvement.” Imagine how low-rent Wrestlemania IV would have looked if, say, Andre the Giant choked out a cardboard cutout of Bob Eucker. On this night, not only were the celebrities not in attendance, but they weren’t even aware that they were nominated for anything.
For instance, I highly doubt that the President and the First Lady were watching the Slammy Awards on USA that night with their fingers crossed.
Plus, if the “Best Couple” award wasn’t confined strictly to the WWF, but was open to any couple, were we supposed to believe that of the five best couples in the entire world, three of them worked for the World Wrestling Federation and one of them was Siegfried and Roy?
There has never been a shortage of “crazy” characters in wrestling, so imagine the viewers’ surprise when in the “Loose Screw” category, alongside Mankind, Sycho Sid, and Bob Backlund, Seinfeld’s Kramer popped up on screen. No, not Michael Richards the actor, but Kramer the character.
The Undertaker may have conquered a slew of formidable foes during his 21-match Wrestlemania winning streak, but has he ever beaten Drew Barrymore? Yes, in fact he has, having bested both the Scream actress and rocker Tommy Lee in the category of Best Tattoo.
Actually, the official name of the award was “Tattoo You,” sort of like the Rolling Stones album, except the Stones didn’t misspell “tattoo” on the cover.
Just how depleted did the WWF’s roster have to be to pad its award nominations with irrelevant candidates in no way involved with with the Federation? It reminds me of my brother’s and my “wrestling league” growing up, which consisted of the two of us and no one else. To avoid every match having the exact same competitors, we would sometimes bring in inanimate objects as “opponents,” so long as whatever it was had shoulders. Once, my older brother wrestled a sweatshirt and an old Steve Urkel doll in a triple threat match (which, thanks to some crooked officiating by yours truly, ended when the sweatshirt pinned Urkel).
Speaking of Urkel, the main character of Family Matters was poised for an upset victory over Bob Backlund and Clarence Mason for the coveted “Best Bow Tie” award, but Owen Hart claimed the award for himself instead of reading the nominees. He then gloated to his tag team partner Davey Boy (looking about 60 years old with that haircut and those glasses) that the British Bulldog may have had two titles at the time, but Owen had two Slammys. Actually, Owen had two Slammys and one title, pretty well eclipsing Bulldog in the achievements department.
New to the Slammy Awards this year was the “Miss Slammy” competition, which featured both a talent category and a swimsuit contest. Triple H took offense to the latter, informing the audience that Chyna would not be participating in this tawdry spectacle, while also claiming that Sunny’s only “talent” wasn’t suitable for TV and that his “best friend” said she wasn’t even good at that. Any idea whom he could be referring to?
Regardless, this sleazy display was no place for the future star of such films as “Backdoor to Chyna.”
(Jerry Lawler speculated that the real reason Chyna withdrew was because, in fact, she had a penis).
“I feel like an Oreo cookie!” said Todd, standing between the Funkettes. Ironically, Chyna would be the one getting Double Stuft in her 2012 film, Queen of the Ring.
Marlena showed off her bikini with this pose, which I believe was the origin of those “A**hole” chants you’d always hear during the Attitude Era.
Now, I’ve never believed that Sunny ever had an affair with Bret Hart, but she did use the Hitman’s pose during the swimsuit contest, so I’ve got to wonder…
As for Sunny’s talent, it was supposedly (contrary to Triple H’s accusations) singing, as she was shown in a studio during her “I Know You Want Me” music video. Fortunately, unlike the case of Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie, the actual voice behind the track never debuted as “The Real Sunny” after Tammy Sytch left the Federation.
In the end, Sable won the Miss Slammy competition thanks to her talent of breaking blocks of wood (her swimsuit that appeared to be tailored from a single hair net may have also influenced the voters at home). The victory capped off an incredible first year for Sable, who took home the Karate Fighters championship and the Miss Slammy title in her first twelve months.
Sunny, on the other hand, left empty-handed after having won two Slammys in 1996. This year, she had no such luck, as the Federation had stopped giving out awards for trivial things like “buns” or “managers.” At least she’d win the Karate Fighters crown in ’97.
Also having a bad night was a young Dwayne Johnson. If you thought Roman Reigns got a chilly reception as “Superstar of the Year” at this year’s Slammys, you should hear the blue-chipper Rocky Maivia getting booed after beating out Steve Austin for the New Sensation award, as if the voting were *gasp* rigged. And it’s not like this black-tie banquet was packed with smarks, either. How well-respected was Rocky Maivia back then? Even the Headbangers were openly mocking him.
Jerry Lawler had to apologize for Rocky’s long, boring acceptance speech, which came right after he specifically promised there would be no long, boring acceptance speeches. Needless to say, Rocky’s mic skills would improve with time and a character overhaul.
Brian Pillman (in the same speech wherein he called Ahmed Johnson an, “Uncle Tom”) even suggested that Rocky Maivia’s date, Cindy Margolis, was a hooker. What an outrageous insult! Although Rock had just acknowledged on TV that he had recently gotten married, so having brought another woman to the show in the first place did clash just a tad with his squeaky-clean image.
While we’re on the subject of being not-so-squeaky-clean, at one point, “super fans” George and Adam got to present an award to the Undertaker, who delivered a heavy soliloquy as George stood by with a large urine stain on his pants. Rest in Pee-Pee.
I really don’t understand why George and Adam were so nervous around the WWF Superstars. Why, years earlier, Adam watched the first In Your House pay-per-view with Razor Ramon.
Speaking of the Clique, Shawn Michaels, fresh off a “career-threatening” knee injury (and smile loss) that allowed him to sit Wrestlemania out and avoid dropping his title to Bret Hart, nonetheless attended the awards banquet, acting like a jackass all night and constantly bragging about having beaten Bret the year before.
You would think that a clown could help Shawn get back his smile, but not when the clown in question was Doink, showing up after a year-and-a-half absence more unpopular and Steve Lombardi-ish than ever. Chants of “Kill the clown!” were a constant on this program, culminating in Steve Austin and the New Blackjacks beating up the Prince of Pranks and driving him out of the Federation.
Other lowlights included “The Real Double J” Jesse Jammes (and yes, it was spelled that way) performing his one song besides, “With My Baby Tonight.”
With all the nonsense packed into the two-hour show, the fact that the Slammys wouldn’t be seen again for more than a decade is no wonder.
Overall, this Slammy Awards earned a disappointing 7 Vince McMahon chuckles out of a possible 25.