Best: WWF Production Team
Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s easy for me to look back at WWF and WCW pay-per-views and say that I knew all along that the WWF would win the war. Because back in the 90s, I had no clue who would come out on top. But just watching the two companies put on events side-by-side and it’s just clear that Vince was going to win.
And it all starts with the production. Even when I was watching the 1993 pay-per-views on the Network, seeing Giant Gonzalez chloroform Undertaker in WWF and Sting vs. Vader tear it up in WCW, I still found myself more excited about WWF events because they just seemed bigger. What Vince knows beyond anyone else is spectacle. And nobody does it better.
Take for instance the opening video to KOTR. Even 20 years ago, it was boss. Compare it to the recap video for Bash which looked like an MS DOS screensaver. It’s no surprise this was the team that made Limp Bizkit songs seem like the most perfectly epic track for the best WrestleMania main event ever and made the Miz seem like he belonged anywhere near a WrestleMania main event.
Just watch the video and tell me WWF can’t sell you whatever the hell they want forever.
Worst: Marc Mero Is A Baaaaaad Wrestler
When people think about the worst wrestlers of all time, it’s easy to point the finger at guys like Bastion Booger or Giant Gonzalez (two mentions: DRINK!) or Cory f*cking Graves. But those guys were never really asked to or expected to put on good matches. When I think of the worst wrestlers of all time, I think about guys who get put in matches for good wrestlers like TV title matches that go the time limit or 20-minute tag matches and still can’t put together anything good to save their lives.
I watched every WCW pay-per-view from 1993 to 1996 and I can say definitively that Marc Mero never had a good match. Regal carried him a few times to something decent, but Mero was horrible. In my brain, he seemed okay because he looks like a guy who should have a good match. But he didn’t. He’s basically The Miz in blackface. Dammit, I just gave the Miz an idea on how to freshen up his career, didn’t I? Also, f*ck Mero’s shucking and jiving fake Little Richard gimmick he started with.
That brings us here, to WWF in 1996 for the semifinal round of the King Of The Ring against the newly-minted Stone Cold Steve Austin. Pre-Neck surgery Austin was legit one of the best workers in the world and he bumped and sold for Mero until they put together a 20-minute match that was light years better than it had any right to be. Of course, he caught a hard way cut from it.
More on Austin later, but the point here is that Mero was awful. Easily the second-worst wrestler I’ve seen since watching the network. The worst? Marcus Alexander Bagwell.
Worst: Jake Roberts :(
Remember pre-Benoit when dead and might die soon wrestlers were funny? Like, how it was really funny that Jake Roberts was going to die from alcohol abuse one day? WWF, you so crazy.
Beyond that, Jake Roberts dressed as one of Shawn Michaels’ Survivor Series 1993 masked teammates was just depressing to watch. His matches were bad and he was just poorly out of shape. Clearly he didn’t get the memo that all the other guys like that were in WCW. Thankfully, they kept his matches short here, but not so much in other pay-per-views that I watched to entertain you!
Best: Fat Vader Is Still Awesome
Jake’s first match of the night was a semifinal bout against Fat Vader. This makes me sad.
Vader is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. His feud with Sting in 1993-94 is my absolute favorite feud of the 90s (Rock/Austin runs into the 2000s so they sort of don’t count) and he was just the most awesome force. Vader would go out and murder guys and beat top babyfaces clean, which was pretty rare in the 90s.
Then Hogan showed up in WCW, buried Vader and he went to WWF where he gained a bunch of weight and got bullied by Shawn Michales (Vader was a shoot teddy bear apparently, to the detriment of his career) until he was relegated to the mid card.
The good thing here is that Vader didn’t have to move much. He just had to beat the banana sh*t out of Jake and it’s never bad when Vader is allowed to just punch people’s ears off. I have a soft spot in my heart for Vader murder matches…even if he’s waddling around the ring.
Best: Coliseum Home Video!!!!
WWE Network is apparently showing Coliseum Home Video versions of events instead of live PPV feeds, which takes me back to my childhood, renting at Blockbuster and feeling like I saw something special because I saw Mankind in jeans and a snapback.
Worst: I Have A Slight Suspicion Some Of This Music Is Dubbed
The worst part about all of these shows on the Network is the company having to dub over music instead of buying or finding the rights. *pours out liquor for Adam Rose’s theme*
Sometimes the editing is depressing, like this Godwins theme which is at least eight octaves higher than anything else going on. These dubs are worse than watching Juice on network TV.