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Vintage Best And Worst: WWF King Of The Ring 1996

By 05.01.14
goldust kiss

WWE Network

Worst: Black Guy vs. The Gheys Who Ya Got?

Sigh. Dustin Runnels made magic with Goldust. I’m pretty sure that when Vince drew up the character, the dry erase board just said “DUSTIN = RELATED TO DUSTY = LET’S MAKE HIM HAVE THE GAYS LULZ” before he erased everything by whipping his junk out and peeing on it. But Dustin Runnels tried his damnedest to make a three-dimensional character who preyed on jocks’ homophobia to screw with them and get the psychological edge.

Unfortunately, this match was pretty much just look at the big ghetto homophobe and the gay guy work out their issues in the ring. Basically it’s a squared circle UPN sitcom. Still, I guess the whole thing of Goldust kissing Ahmed was sort of the WWF making its early forays into the Attitude Era so there’s that.

The ending, though is basically Ahmed turning Super Saiyan based on the strength of his homophobia and destroying Goldust. So basically, a guy rubbing his junk is the same as Frieza killing Krillin.

I wish they were feuding in 2014 so Goldust could cut a promo and end it with “‘Damn, right’ – Ahmed Johnson as Suge Knight in Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story” but alas.

ahmed dive

WWE Network

Worst or Holy Sh*t: How Is Ahmed Johnson Not Dead?

Remember when The Undertaker dove outside the ring at WrestleMania 25 and tucked his head in just the right amount of time to not die? Well, this dive is that without the last-minute flexibility. Ahmed just cleared the top rope, landed on his shoulder blades and I have no clue how he survived. I can’t stop watching just this part.

Best: Goldust Is Really In His Prime In 2014

Goldust was always at worst a really good wrestler. But he really is wrestling his best matches in 2014. He’s in his best shape and busting out moves he never tried in the 90s. DDP Yoga FTW, I guess.

Best: Locker Room Celebrations

I love, love, love locker room celebrations after title wins. It’s just a nice touch to make belts seem important. More of these. Especially if they end in Vader busting through and cutting the promo of his life like he did at Starrcade 94. But that’s neither here nor there.

Best: Brian Pillman – No Chill

Man, Brian Pillman was batsh*t insane. He really walked to the ring and made Dahmer jokes. Incredible.

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WWE Network

Best: A Steve Austin Promo You May Have Heard Before

Remember the Michael Jordan shot he hit in the 1991 NBA Finals Game 2 against the Lakers? You know, the one where he goes up with one hand, switches the ball in the air and lays it up with his other hand? It’s one of the most remarkable shots in NBA history. But by the time I was paying attention to sports, that shot had been everywhere. It was THE NBA highlight through the early 90s. I’d become so accustomed to seeing the shot that I never really paid attention to how amazing it was. Then, I watched that game in full on ESPN Classic and saw it in real time and it blew me away. The shot had been so replayed that it had become routine. That’s what happens to classics. We see them so often that we get desensitized to just how game-changing they are.

That’s how Austin’s King of the Ring promo had become. Most of us can probably quote the whole damn thing and know exactly when he’s going to say “Austin 3:16 said I just kicked your ass.” It’s easy to sleepwalk through this part of the PPV. But don’t.

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The beauty of WWE Network is that we see these moments in real time, watching the crowd reactions and the buzz. Not only that, but if you watch the events in chronological order, you’ll see history’s trajectory change in pivotal moments. For instance, from the moment Shawn Michaels baseball slides the ladder into Scott Hall at WrestleMania X you can hear the crowd react unlike they react to anything else that year. The same goes here for Austin.

WWE crowds were still following stories for the most part. If Bret Hart says Owen is a heel, then Owen is a heel. We boo him. We’re supposed to boo Stone Cold the same. And there had definitely been huge pops in events from 1996, but nothing was like the crowd after Austin’s promo. You want to hear a crowd BUZZ? That’s a crowd that’s buzzing. You can see Austin gain momentum as he’s speaking and he knows he has it. He knows he’s saying something that will be remembered. You can hear the crowd realizing Austin just did something special and they start cheering, but are still hesitant to cheer for a heel. The best thing the crowd does is clap. Like, there are fans clapping for Austin. Not cheering. Clapping. Because what he’d done was beyond heel and babyface cheering. He cut a kick ass promo and he deserved applause.

And you want to know how committed to his character Austin was? As the fans start to rally behind him, he scowls, looks away and mouths “piss off.” Goosebumps, man. You can look at 1998 Austin and how he was a WWF Main Event style caricature of himself, but hoop earring-wearing, tweener badass was the best Austin.

Honorable mention goes to tiny cowboy hat Austin.

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