Every 1996 WWF PPV Ranked From Worst To Best

After a horrendous 1995 both financially and in terms of quality, the WWF needed a strong comeback in 1996. Even though the numbers continued to be bad, the product became significantly better. The year was quite important as it showed the first signs of a slow transition to a new era, which would be later known as ‘The Attitude Era’. In fact, I believe 1996 is one of the most overlooked years in the history of WWE.

WWF produced 12 PPVs in the year, seven In Your House shows alongside the usual “Big 5”. The PPVs were pretty consistent for most part as Shawn Michaels was on fire with his reign providing classics every show. However along with the good, we also had a lot of dull PPVs and matches that had you wondering why is it even on the show.

Let’s start with the worst..

12. In Your House 10: Mind Games

IMG credit: WWE & wikipedia
  • Date: September 22, 1996
  • Attendance: 15,000
  • Buyrate: 120,000
  • Main Event: Shawn Michaels(c) vs. Mankind (WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind (****3/4)

The main event of this show was amazing which saw Shawn Michaels and Mankind tear the house down and wrestle one of the best matches ever with a non finish. However, as good as the main event was, the rest of the card was horrible. When José Lothario and Jim Cornette are having a match on a PPV, that says something. Another highly promoted match saw The Undertaker and Goldust square off in a “Final Curtain” Match which was far from anything brutal as the stipulation suggested. In fact, the main event was much more physical than this match. This was a definition of a one match show.

Overall Rating: 6/10

11. In Your House 12: It’s Time

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: December 15, 1996
  • Attendance: 9,649
  • Buyrate: 90,000
  • Main Event: Sycho Sid(c) vs. Bret Hart (WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: Flash Funk vs. Leif Cassidy (***)

Shawn Michaels was the MVP of PPVs in 1996 and this PPV suffered due to him not being on the card. In fact, even Vader whose catchphrase was used for the name of the PPV, didn’t wrestle on the show. Apart from the Undertaker vs. Executioner match there’s nothing very bad on the show and even that was somewhat watchable. However there was nothing on this show that screams MUST-SEE either. Flash Funk and Leif Cassidy (better known as 2 Cold Scorpio and Al Snow respectively) stole the show and put on an awesome match. The main event between Sid and Bret was also good but disappointing as a Bret Hart match. Just an average, filler show which is understandable as it was just before the Rumble and WrestleMania season.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

10. Royal Rumble

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: January 21, 1996
  • Attendance: 9,600
  • Buyrate: 260,000
  • Main Event: Bret Hart(c) vs. The Undertaker (WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker (***)

The Rumbles in the early 90s suffered from the thin roster WWF used to have, and this was an example of that. There were some highlights like Hunter’s impressive Rumble performance, Vader’s debut and Shawn Michaels winning it for the second time in a row. But the lack of credible wrestlers made for a lot of dull moments and made the Rumble very boring for the most part. The main event between Undertaker and Bret was a solid match but they went 28 minutes just to end the match on a DQ… I mean I get that they wanted to set up the Diesel feud but a DQ in the main event is still quite disappointing.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

9. SummerSlam

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: August 18, 1996
  • Attendance: 17,000
  • Buyrate: 157,000
  • Main Event: Shawn Michaels(c) vs. Vader (WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (****)

The build to this show was quite good and the matches that didn’t have a lot of build looked solid on paper. But the event didn’t quite live up to it. A horrendous first half saw the PPV heading into one of the worst PPVs territory. Thankfully, the last two matches saved the day. The penultimate match saw The Undertaker and Mankind face each other in a Boiler Room Brawl. The match isn’t the best brawl you will see, as there are moments where it drags a little and gets boring. However, the overall action is good and it set the stage for the future Attitude Era brawls. The biggest highlight was Paul Bearer turning heel on Undertaker. The main event between Shawn and Vader is infamous for Shawn’s unprofessional behavior and it was overbooked as hell. However, despite all of that the match delivered and ended up being a classic.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

8. In Your House 9: International Incident

IMG credit: WWE & wikipedia
  • Date: July 21, 1996
  • Attendance: 14,804
  • Buyrate: 90,000
  • Main Event: Vader, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson and Sycho Sid
  • Match of the Night: Vader, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson and Sycho Sid (***3/4)

This PPV was the least hyped show of the year, which can be credited to the fact that the main event six man tag match was used to set up the main event of the following PPV, SummerSlam. The previously mentioned six man tag match saw the WWF Champion Shawn Michaels team up with the Inercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson and Sycho Sid to take on the team of Owen Hart, The British Bulldog and Vader. It was a very good match and saw Vader pin Shawn Michaels. The other good match on the show was Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero, even though it wasn’t on the level of their King of the Ring match, it was still a nice follow-up. The rest of the card was awful, though, and it’s good that the runtime was not very long.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

7. In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage

IMG credit: WWE & wikipedia
  • Date: February 18, 1996
  • Attendance: 5,500
  • Buyrate: 150,000
  • Main Event: Bret Hart(c) vs. Diesel (Steel Cage Match for the WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart (****)

The PPV sandwiched between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. The show had two decent matches and one awesome match. The best match was easily Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart, which had Shawn’s WrestleMania title shot on the line. It had a nice story and the match stole the show. Another promoted match saw Razor Ramon take on The 1-2-3 Kid in a “crybaby match”. I know the stipulation sounds very dumb but the match surprisingly didn’t have A LOT of shenanigans and the action was generally good. Finally, the steel cage match between Bret and Diesel was a bit underwhelming given the great matches they had together, but overall it also had decent action and was used to further the feud between Undertaker and Diesel. Overall, a decent show and a nice way to build up WrestleMania.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

6. In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: April 28, 1996
  • Attendance: 9,563
  • Buyrate: 150,000
  • Main Event: Shawn Michaels(c) vs. Diesel (No Holds Barred Match for the WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel (****3/4)

The post WrestleMania PPVs are usually filler as most of the big stories end at WrestleMania, but I think this show was quite good. This PPV is also known for being both Diesel and Razor Ramon’s last televised appearance with WWF up until their eventual return after WCW died. The show’s main event between Diesel and Shawn Michaels was an absolutely amazing brutal brawl and one of Diesel’s best matches ever. Razor Ramon’s match with Vader was also very solid and Vader’s best match in WWF up until that point. The show is hurt by a horrendous match between The Ultimate Warrior and Goldust, which is one of the absolute worst matches I’ve ever seen.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

5. King of the Ring

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: June 23, 1996
  • Attendance: 8,762
  • Buyrate: 197,000
  • Main Event: Shawn Michaels(c) vs. The British Bulldog (WWF Championship with Mr. Perfect as special outside enforcer)
  • Match of the Night: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero (****)

This was a very important show which had the first signs of a change in the WWF with the Austin promo. He was the clear highlight of the show and looked like an absolute star coming out of it. Other than that, there are some boring matches but Mero/Austin, Mankind/Undertaker and Shawn/Davey are very good and raise the score for this event. Owen Hart’s commentary was top notch and added a lot to the show. Not the best show from wrestling point of view, but in terms of storytelling it’s a top tier PPV.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

4. In Your House 8: Beware of Dog

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: May 26, 1996 and May 28, 1996
  • Attendance: 6,000
  • Buyrate: 110,000
  • Main Event: Goldust(c) vs. The Undertaker (Casket Match for the Intercontinental Championship)
  • Match of the Night: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Savio Vega (****)

This PPV is famous for having a power outage which resulted in it being telecasted over two nights. Given all the circumstances I would say it was a solid show. On the first night we had Marc Mero and Hunter square off in an awesome match along with the WWF Championship match between Shawn and British Bulldog. The match was disappointing given the talents involved, though far from being a complete dud. The second night started off with an awesome Caribbean Strap match between Steve Austin and Savio Vega. The PPV did have a disappointing end with two underwhelming matches, but I would say overall it was a good show.

Overall Rating: 8/10

3. In Your House 11: Buried Alive

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: October 20, 1996
  • Attendance: 9,649
  • Buyrate: 100,000
  • Main Event: The Undertaker vs. Mankind (Buried Alive Match)
  • Match of the Night: The Undertaker vs. Mankind (****)

A very enjoyable show with no bad matches. It opened with a great match between HHH and Austin, which featured the debut of Austin’s famous theme song. They were followed by some solid matches capped by an absolute classic main event between Mankind and Undertaker. The Buried Alive Match was another brutal brawl between the two and it ended up being their best match in that year. This PPV goes down as one of the best In Your House shows.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

2. WrestleMania XII

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: March 31, 1996
  • Attendance: 18,853
  • Buyrate: 290,000
  • Main Event: Bret Hart(c) vs. Shawn Michaels (60-minute Iron Man match for the WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (****3/4)

This event truly lived up to its hype. The main event Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels was easily the best match of the night and it was near perfect. It still to this day is one of the best WrestleMania main events ever. This show also had Undertaker’s first good WrestleMania match, that being against Diesel. We also got the WrestleMania debut of Steve Austin when he faced Savio Vega in a very solid match. The only negative of the show was Ultimate Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley, which lasted for a very short time. Great show and one of the most underrated WrestleManias of all time.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

1. Survivor Series

IMG credit: WWE &
  • Date: November 17, 1996
  • Attendance: 18,647
  • Buyrate: 199,000
  • Main Event: Shawn Michaels(c) vs. Sycho Sid (WWF Championship)
  • Match of the Night: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart (*****)

Onto the BEST PPV of 1996, Survivor Series. In fact, you could say this is one of the best WWF PPVs of the entire decade of the 1990s. Although the three Survivor Series matches weren’t very good, the three one on one matches made up for it. A five-star match between Steve Austin and Bret Hart set the tone for their future feud. The match between Undertaker and Mankind was the worst of their feud, but still a good match for the time it lasted. And the main event was an amazing David vs. Goliath encounter which is quite possibly Sycho Sid’s best match. Madison Square Garden went crazy for Sid winning in what was quite the moment. We also saw the debut of Rocky Maivia, who would become popular later as The Rock. Great show.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

And that’s all for today’s post, thank you all for reading. Stay tuned for further updates. Have a nice day!

Rishabh Singh