Arnold Furious: This is the third Slammy Awards (despite what the WWF tried to tell you in the 80s) and the first since 1987. The Slammys have long since made way for the more interesting and useful Hall of Fame ceremonies on WrestleMania weekend, mainly because of the WWF’s horrible bias and a lack of interesting categories. After wrestler, rookie and match of the year, what’s worth talking about? Some of the awards this evening are a little dubious. So, let’s get cracking with the action. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler; set up exactly the same as at wrestling events. Sadly the podium host is Todd Pettengill.
Award: “Best Buns”
Presenters: The Godwinn Family. They let Hillbilly Jim do the talking.
Nominees: Goldust, Sunny, Yokozuna, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon.
Obviously. She was the only girl nominated, which speaks volumes about the homoerotic nature of wrestling. Sunny denies us a live viewing of her buttock area, because she’s a heel. Just an excuse for Sunny to parade her body around, which isn’t a bad idea at all. The bad idea was naming all the other nominees and having Vince talk about them. “You might say the Bad Guy has bad buns”. I won’t be able to shake that commentary in a hurry. Even worse is Undertaker’s bizarre interjection during the vox pops where he says “nice ass, uuuuuuhhhhhh”. I can only assume he was ejaculating. Unfortunately the next image onscreen was Goldust fondling himself. When someone tells us wrestling fans that wrestling is “gay”, this is what they’re talking about.
Award: Slammin’ Jammin’ Entrance
Presenters: Ted DiBiase and “Stonecold” Steve Austin. He’s already dumped the “Ringmaster” name. Good for him. He looks bored, so Ted makes a few jokes to compensate. I’m guessing Steve is just being in character but hey, his character is bored.
Nominees: Diesel, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Goldust.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Goldust was already on route to the stage so he’s all kinds of pissed off. Shawn blows him a compensatory kiss. He thanks the Kliq. He promises an extra big entrance at WrestleMania. Diesel? His entrance is walking slowly to the ring and putting his arm in the air. Shawn’s ligament destroying dive off the IYH house at the last PPV gives his entrance a push ahead of the awards. The main highlight for me was just how little of a shit Austin gave about this whole shindig. He should have just destroyed the stage, stunnered Pettengill and flipped everybody off. Get that push started early.
Award: “Put a Fork in Him, He’s Done” Best Finisher.
Presenters: Scott Reskus (toy company honcho/corporate sponsor) and Bob Backlund. The latter claims the Crossface Chicken-wing is the most devastating finisher in wrestling.
Nominees: Sharpshooter, Tombstone, Jacknife, Pearl River Plunge, Banzai Drop,
Winner: Bret Hart
He treats this like a legitimate deal, calling this last year a tough one. He pays tribute to Stu Hart and puts over Shawn Michaels for bringing it at ‘Mania tomorrow, but he intends to prove he’s the best there is, best there was, best there ever will be. I like that Bret gave it the legit push. He’s a old school guy so he knows the best way to get anything over is for the champ to take it seriously. Shame the award he won had such a stupid name. You don’t put a fork in someone, you stick a fork in them. And what was wrong with “best finisher” as an award name? I get they’re looking to push the whole Bret-Shawn thing but a) the superkick isn’t even nominated and b) the Tombstone is the most effective finisher of those that were. At this juncture it was ICY DEATH. Nobody even considered kicking out of it.
“Tell Me A Lie” featuring Shawn Michaels. This was when he was on the verge of retirement from a head-kicking. It’s a wonderful video and one of those early promo successes from the WWF’s awesome production department. To this day I still think of “Tell Me A Lie” when someone does a fake injury angle. It’s powerful stuff. The WWF has improved their choice of music somewhat over the years (the Eddy tribute packed a huge emotional punch thanks to Johnny Cash) but this is great for 1996.
Award: Crime of the Century
Presenters: Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason.
Nominees: 1-2-3 Kid’s fast count on Razor Ramon, Sid attacks Shawn Michaels, Vader Bomb on Gorilla Monsoon, Diesel Jacknifes Bret Hart repeatedly, Owen Hart taking credit for Shawn’s head injuries.
It speaks wonders for Vader that I even mark out for him winning an award for beating up an authority figure. Camp Cornette threaten Yokozuna but the Samoan is too fat to get up and do something about it.
Award: New Sensation of the Squared Circle
Presenters: Three of the Pacific Blue cast; Jim Davidson, Darlene Vogel and Paula Trickey. Hey Paula, I loved you in Maniac Cop 3! They talk about USA network a bit, which aired the Slammys.
Nominees: Isaac Yankem DDS, Ahmed Johnson, The Bodydonnas, Savio Vega, Goldust.
Winner: Ahmed Johnson
Pimpin’ Tony Norris, looking Superfly this evening. He puts over the fans and the New Generation. He lays the badmouth on WCW as where all the washed up guys go, which is funny because when he turned up there in 2000 he was washed up.
Award: I’m Talking and I Can’t Shut Up.
Presenter: Billionaire Ted. He makes fun of WCW while Vince makes fun of WCW on commentary. The only time he thinks about mocking the WWF is when he can’t remember Todd Pettengill’s name. And that was a shoot. Ted tries to buy the company on the spot.
Nominees: Dok Hendrix, Brother Love, Jerry Lawler, Jim Cornette, Jim Ross.
Winner: Jerry Lawler
Boo! Nobody can out-talk Jim Cornette. The bit in the videos where Hendrix shoves Vince McMahon out of the way, shouting “back of the bus, McMahon” and sits directly in front of him makes my night. Lawler claims he just “tells it like he is” and proceeds to make a series of gags about WWF stars in an endless piece of stand-up. He’s hooked. This was the most fun award so far.
Award: Best Threads
Presenters: Mr. TV Trivia and “Fatalle”. The girl is a statuesque brunette with gothic makeup and big tits. She has a great look but I have no idea what she’s famous for. She gets popped so I’m surprised Vince didn’t hire her.
Nominees: Ted DiBiase, Goldust, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
I guess dressing like a stripper will get you everywhere. Triple H looks unimpressed. Vince points out he’s been “fox hunting”. Not sure if he meant that as a double entendre. Shawn says that his outfit matches his attitude before giving the award over to WWF costume designer Julie Youngblood.
Award: Blue Light Special
Presenters: Mr. TV Trivia and Fatalle.
Nominees: Jim Cornette, Harvey Wippleman, Henry Godwinn, Brother Love, Dok Hendrix.
Winner: Jim Cornette
There’s a brilliant shot of Dok hiding behind someone until the award is announced, then cheering loudly. Cornette heads straight into one of his signature rants. “Thank you very little, you’re welcome even less”. I could listen to Cornette talk all day, and have done several times. He did an eight hour shoot interview once. I watched it in one sitting, it was mesmerising. The interviewer only asked three questions! During the video Taker makes his second unsettling comedy remark of the evening with “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that, uuuuuuhhhhh”. It’s like he’s on the f*ck*ng Munsters or something.
Award: Greatest Hit
Presenters: Goldust and Marlena. Only Goldust could get away with quoting Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).
Nominees: Jeff Jarrett hitting Ahmed with his guitar (when that was new), Diesel throwing Bret into the Spanish announce table (when that was new), Yoko’s double Banzai Drop, HHH throwing a jobber into Duke Droese’s trashcan, Undertaker dragging Diesel under the ring.
Winner: The Undertaker
Todd has to announce the winner himself as Goldust walks off in disgust, not before getting the envelope stuck in his wig. Taker isn’t sitting in the audience wearing a tuxedo. He enters stage right in full costume. Diesel is so laid back, he uses this potentially scary moment to write “Hi Tamara” on his menu and hold in front of camera on his close up. Taker’s cryptic speech includes “JLC; you are always on my mind”. A reference to his wife at the time; Jodi Lynn Callaway. Vince mangles the English language to describe the situation. “The Undertaker, a Slammy award winner; who would have thunk it, so to speak”. Pure verbal diarrhoea.
“You Start The Fire” featuring Bret Hart. I LOVE this video. They played it all the time right before he came back in late 1996. The video always made Bret look a lot cooler than he actually was. Even when he’s putting a hold on an inflatable dinosaur. It probably helps that the music doesn’t suck like Shawn’s did.
Award: Minds Behind the Mayhem
Presenter: Rob Perth, the President of USA network. Vince loves this guy. Rob calls the WWF “THE wrestling federation”.
Nominees: Paul Bearer, Jim Cornette, Ted DiBiase, Sunny, Mr. Fuji.
Or “Miss Bossypants” as JR calls her. Cornette throws stuff at her. Not just verbal diatribes either. She butters up Rob Perth wanting her own show, about her, all the time. The highlight of this was Vince doing a Mr. Fuji impression. It was REALLY racist. That’s all you need to know.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Vince McMahon honours Fred Blassie. He’s already in the Hall of Fame. We see footage of him with a host of celebrities and his most recent WWF appearance at the Raw Bowl. McMahon somewhat breaks his usual “I’m just a commentator” kayfabe by mentioning that the McMahon Family has promoted Classy Freddie Blassie matches for three generations. Blassie gets a standing ovation. His acceptance speech is tinged with emotion as he talks about his wife, his career and his charity work. It’s only slightly hurt by Jerry Lawler on commentary occasionally mentioning the names of people seen in close ups. The best part of the whole thing is Blassie saying he couldn’t do any of this without “the kid” and gestures towards Vince standing off to the side of the stage. The camera pans over and Vince has the biggest, most genuine smile I’ve ever seen on his face. I don’t think he’s ever let his guard down that much on camera before or since. Beautiful stuff. He returns to the showmanship immediately afterwards. The Hall of Fame gets moments like this on a yearly basis, but this was a rarity at the time. Certainly a highlight of this show.
Award: Most Embarrassing Moment.
Presenters: The Bushwhackers. Do they still work here? Holy shit. Luke gets cake rubbed in his face and there’s licking and such.
Nominees: Henry Godwinn slopping Ted DiBiase, 1-2-3 Kid in a diaper, Lawler kissing his own foot, Skip jobbing to Barry Horowitz (harsh on Barry!), HHH getting dumped in a hog pen.
Winner: Jerry Lawler
He’s a two-time Slammy Award winner. He does a great comedy pratfall up the steps as the WRESTLERS chant “Burger King” at him. King decides to shoot on everybody, but they cut the mic, during which Todd Pettengill slaps a Burger King sign on his back. Chortle, chortle, guffaw, guffaw, oh my aching sides.
Tangent: During the show there have been Billionaire Ted segments. Most of them are repeats. They’ve not really been worth mentioning. However when the WWF decides to re-air (from 1990) a fake commercial for ‘Playboy’ Buddy Rose’s patented “Blow Away” diet powder I’m SOLD. The whole thing is a work of surprising genius, with Rose mocking his enormous weight issues by eating constantly, covering himself in powder and then sitting in front of a fan, which blows the powder off. Somehow that’s supposed to work. It shows that the WWF somewhat understands (or once understood) satire, but they were a little heavy handed with it. Call 1-800-LARDASS for information. They accept Vastercard. Heh, see what they did there?
Award: Squared Circle Shocker
Presenter: Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He’s 24 hours away from being squashed by Warrior. Oh the horror. Ahead of the video they show a bunch of superstars looking shocked, including Yoko doing his best Macauley Culkin impression. The last guy is Goldust who, with a creepy and yet straight face, says “nothing shocks Goldust”. It made me laugh.
Nominees: Bob Backlund declares candidacy for US President, Barry Horowitz wins!, Goldust’s first appearance, Kid sells out, Shawn collapses with head injury.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
“Collapsing on Rahw” says plumy voiced Hunter. HHH decides to give the award to Owen Hart instead because he caused it, thus creating the Slammy Award Winning King of Harts. Owen sticks it to everybody by saying it was all him, screw everybody, especially “my lousy brother Bret”. Of all the actual awards segments, this is tops.
Award: Master of Mat Mechanics.
Presenter: Mr. Perfect. As he comes out, Lawler discovers the Burger King sign on his back from earlier. I’m glad there was a pay-off for that gag. Perfect threatens to “kick somebody’s ass” stunning Vince into an “uh” on commentary. Well said McMahon!
Nominees: Shawn Michaels, British Bulldog, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, 1-2-3 Kid.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
They could have called this “worker of the year”. Awesome wrestlers all round. Shawn brings Jose Lothario with him, as if to say he’s getting serious now. Then he opts for the gag, dedicating the award to somebody who’s “had me on the mat more times than I can remember… not you Sunny, sit down”. Perfect liked that one. Sunny’s “sssshhh” is perfect too. I feel so bad for Chris Candido who has to sit there taking all this “girlfriend is a whore” material.
Award: Best Music Video
Presenter: Dok Hendrix.
Nominees: Bret Hart’s “You Start The Fire”, Warrior’s reinstatement thing, Shawn Michaels’ “Tell Me A Lie”, Sunny looking incredible at the beach, Jeff Jarrett’s “With My Baby Tonight”.
Winner: Bret Hart
Quite right too. Although you could easily have given it to Sunny for the amazing amount cleavage in her video. We get shots of her looking disappointed, which also have a load of cleavage, so its all good. Bret says he loves the video and gets goosebumps watching it. He mentions the retirement rumours but doesn’t know what he’d do if he didn’t have the WWF. Oh, you’ll find out. Bret decides it’s time to get serious and tells Shawn that “those nine cheerleaders that beat you up in Syracuse” was Breakfast at Tiffany’s compared what’ll happen tomorrow. Lawler creases me up by telling Bret the next time he’s out shopping he should “buy his kid a personality” after seeing Blade Hart standing staring at the ground.
Award: US West Match of the Year
Presenter: Jim Ross
Nominees: Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (WM XI), HHH vs. Henry Godwinn (IYH), Bret Hart vs. Diesel (Survivor Series), Harvey Wippleman vs. Howard Finkel (Raw), Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (SummerSlam)
Winner: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
As the winner, Shawn goes up to collect. It shows how poor the year was that one of the nominees is a joke tuxedo match between two non-wrestlers. That said; no Shawn-Owen from IYH6? No Bret-Bulldog from IYH5? No Jarrett-Shawn from IYH2? Did they just forget about the IYHs or what? Shawn uses this to address Bret from earlier. He says the Kliq isn’t just his fans. He says he goes out there to work for all the fans. He accuses Bret of being bitter, but goes on to say the Ironman match will be business changing.
Award: Hall of Fame Bound
Presenter: WWF President Gorilla Monsoon.
Winner: Bret Hart
They don’t run down the nominees because it’s everyone who’s a former or current WWF champ. Bret mentions playing with his dad’s trophies as a kid and that’s how his career kicked off. He suggests Blade start playing with these tonight to start his career. No pressure, kid. Bret ends his speech by saying it’s great being champion but unfortunately for Shawn he’ll never find out what that’s like. You can sense the hostilities building.
Award: Leader of the New Generation
Presenter: The star of “Sci-Fighters” Roddy Piper. Sci-Fighters; the movie where alien zombie ex-cop Billy Drago escapes a moon prison to be Piper’s antagonist. Piper is sporting a kilt and points out he walked into Texas dressed like that 15-years ago so Goldust has nothing on him. Piper says he’s proud of the New Generation as kids need icons so they need to be inspirational like he paved the way for them.
Nominees: Diesel, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Undertaker.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
“Bret must be getting sick of seeing me up here”. Vince cuts him off immediately as they’d run out of time. Do you think Piper perhaps talked for too long?
Summary: I find a wrestling show with no wrestling intensely hard to grade in any comparative fashion. It’s long, like all awards shows, and there are a ludicrous number of pointless awards. One after another. They don’t even have a “Wrestler of the Year” entry, which is just bizarre. I appreciate the inclusion of “Master of Mat Mechanics”, which was blatantly a shout-out to fans of workrate. The show was funny at times but it was when it was serious that it really won me over, especially the speech from Fred Blassie. He’s one of those guys that can do inspirational speeches at the drop of a hat. The WWF must have enjoyed themselves as much as I did because they came back a year later for the ’97 Slammy Awards. Incidentally if there’s ever a show to demonstrate how entertaining Vince McMahon was and why he should become an on-air personality beyond commentator, it would this show.