WWE Impact Superstars of the year: 1996
by, 01-16-2013 at 09:52 AM (5224 Views)
Hello fellow internet dwellers, my name is Earthquake (or David lol) and I am going to (try) get a little blog published on Breakthrough Superstars of the year from 1990 until present day. So that is 23 years of personal opinion that I don't think most people will be able to argue with but of course if you read this put forward your opinions cause this is a blog and it really feeds on your opinions, otherwise it's just me spouting (obvious) nonsense. I am going to write all of these one after the other so the initial aim is to get 1 published per day but I've gut nothing else to do so hopefully I will get a few out at a time.
Every year I will pick ONE superstar that I feel made the big breakthrough of the year. In the interest of fairness once somebody has won the breakthrough "award" he can never win one of them ever again.
I will pick a runner up, because again in the interest of fairness some people need to get their due. People who are runners up can at one point before, or in the future, receive the breakthrough award themselves, as this represents a significant step in the right direction or a brilliant re-emergence that made the world take notice of them again and solidified their status that may at once have been in doubt.
I will also pick 3 "also-rans", again in the interest of fairness. These 3 can win the award again before or after and again just signified a step in the right direction from the superstar.
Many things can achieve the award. A simple gimmick change that works brilliantly, a solid run in the main event, or the first steps that lead to a run of momentum to the main event scene. Most likely winning a championship for the first time will achieve this but not necessarily that.
There will be some controversial picks, and I'll admit there will probably be some guys I didn't like, people who didn't deserve a push, but in the interest of fairness I can't let personal bias cloud how prevalent they were in the year selected.
I hope you enjoy my blogs. I will enjoy writing them thats for sure.
So without further adieu.
Impacting Superstar of The Year: Mankind
First of all, I know HBK was mr 1996 but by the rules I've made this "distinction" can only be won by somebody the once and Bret Hart and Diesel (previous winners) were the only real shining lights apart from HBK in 95. In 1996 though, Mick Foley became a very big character as Mankind. The whole mystique of The Undertaker was in grave danger. 1995 was a poor year for all, Taker being no exception. His big feuds were with King Kong Bundy and "The Supreme Fighting Machine" Kama Mustafa, both alright talents, but just the latest in a long line of lads that didn't help Taker as a character. And Mabel (King Mabel) crushed his face. Finally though, finally, Taker met his match in Mankind. Mankind debuted in 1995 and was the deranged character on the show but once he went after Taker he really came into his own. He was the first character that had Taker's number. Goldust was not the resident freak for long, Mankind was here, and he had the upper hand regularly on Undertaker. When Taker finally looked to get the initiative in the famous Boiler Room Brawl match at SummerSlam 96, Paul Bearer did the unthinkable and turned on Taker and got firmly behind Mankind. The alliance with Paul Bearer and the dominance over Undertaker brought Mankind up to a whole new level. Intersected the Taker feud with a class title match against HBK at the In Your House: Mind Games PPV.
RUNNER UP: Ahmed Johnson
As I've said before, the point of this blog isn't about talent, it's about honesty. Ahmed initally came in with a lot of talent, but suffered constant injuries that destroyed his ability, but he was given a monster push and became a huge favourite with the crowd, basically, because he was a big beast. Sure, in the 1996 slammy awards, he won the "New Sensation" award, so there is no doubt in my mind he deserves more than a mention here. Ahmed was being groomed for success, and was loved by his fans, but all the injuries completely killed his momentum and thus movement. Became a liked Intercontinental champion and on the precipice of the main event scene.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
How can we not put Stone Cold here. He debuted in late 95 as the silent character The Ringmaster, who let Ted Di Biase do all his talking for him. The character wasn't getting over despite his talent. I actually remember seeing his debut, and thinking it was the lamest thing ever. C'mon, Ringmaster. Give me a break. In 96 though Austin started talking more, ditched Di Biase, started calling himself Stone Cold and he started showing all the attitude that would eventually envelop the WWE. He won the 1996 King of The Ring and muttered his famous "Austin 3:16 just whooped your ass" and "thats the bottom line cause Stone Cold said so" catchphrases in the inauguration interview and never looked back. Once he set his sights on the returning Bret Hart, Austin was only going one way: Up. The crowning moment was a 5 star match at Survivor Series with The Hitman.
Faarooq had debuted as Farooq Asad in a terrible light blue gladiator costume that was just another terrible gimmick at a time when ridiculous gimmicks were certainly not working anymore. Luckily, Vince had started the movement this year to make things "edgier" and changed Farrooq's gimmick to that of a black panther, he created an organisation called the Nation of Domination. I loved The Nation, it was awesome, and it was awesome for Faarooq because he finally had a respectful gimmick. Big feud with Ahmed Johnson.
The man they call Vader (or Big Van Vader) was already a huge name upon his WWE debut, he had been a multiple time world champ in wCw, so it was unheard of for Vince to bring in a character that was already made in another promotion. Desperate times called for desperate measures though, and Vader was a big name addition that WWF sorely needed. He spent the entire year of 1996 as a dominant monster, famously annihilating then president Gorilla Monsoon in the kind of attack we take for granted these days but something that just didn't happen back then. Main evented SummerSlam against Shawn Michaels as the vicious heel favourite.
As you can see, 1996 was a year with bigger names than the previous few years, and things would just get better from now on.