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Opinion

Matt’s Retro Review: WWF Championship 1996

Matt takes a look at the exciting year of 1996 for the WWF Championship, featuring two of the all-time greatest in-ring performers!

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WWF Championship 1996 Bret Hart Shawn Michaels

Matt takes a look at the exciting year of 1996 for the WWF Championship, featuring two of the all-time greatest in-ring performers!

Welcome to the tenth edition of the Retro Championship Review on The Chairshot! This will be a biweekly article here on The Chairshot because we have a lot to discuss! In starting, my question for you is; have you ever had a discussion with a friend or in a group online about who is the greatest champion of all time? What is your defense of your claim? Wins? Quality of matches? Length of reign? In this weekly article, I will be looking back one year at a time and evaluating one specific championship in each article, with a yearly grade ranking and overall grade ranking and as we progress through the years, I will reveal who I believe is the best champion of all time.

To start us off, I am going to discuss the most recognizable championship in the history of wrestling, the WWE Heavyweight Championship. These articles will not discuss the “Big Gold” World Championship, Universal Championship, or any other recognized heavyweight championship in WWE, those will be discussed in other articles. During these reviews, I will count matches aired on weekly television, PPV, and matches also released on VHS and later on home media.

Bret Hart (November 19th, 1995 – March 31st, 1996)

  • Record: 8-2
  • Clean Losses: 1
  • Successful Defenses: 3

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Bret Hart d. Bob Backlund, December 11th, 1995, Monday Night RAW
  • Undertaker d. Bret Hart, January 21st, 1996, Royal Rumble
  • Bret Hart d. Diesel, (Steel Cage), February 18th, 1996, Rage in the Cage
  • Bret Hart d. Triple H, March 4th 1996, Monday Night RAW
  • Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart, March 31st, 1996, WrestleMania XII

Thoughts: Bret Hart set the bar so highly in his previous reign that this one felt like a missed opportunity, though it did have some great moments. With ten matches in five months, he wrestled a good amount and had a number of successful defenses, though the company was shifting into a new direction where match finishes were starting to resemble overbooked endings, such as at Rage in the Cage, where Undertaker pulled Diesel through the mat “to hell”. I added Hart vs HHH on RAW because it’s a rare matchup between the two. Of their three matches, this is the only one with a pinfall/submission, and HHH didn’t win any of them, so it’s cool to see. The end of this reign was capped off with the return of Gorilla Monsoon as President, restarting the Ironman match, as Bret Hart opposed, before being booted in the face- starting his character down a dark path. This reign wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.

Grade (A+ through F ): C

Shawn Michaels (March 31st, 1996 – November 17th, 1996)

  • Record: 24-4
  • Clean Losses: 1
  • Successful Defenses: 9

Recommended Matches to Watch

  • Shawn Michaels d. Bret Hart, March 31st, 1996, WrestleMania XII
  • Shawn Michaels d. Steve Austin May 12th, 1996, “The Attitude Era: Unreleased”
  • Shawn Michaels d. Triple H, May 13th, 1996, Monday Night RAW
  • Shawn Michaels d. British Bulldog, May 26th 1996, In Your House: Beware of Dog
  • Shawn Michaels d. British Bulldog, June 26th, 1996, King of the Ring
  • Shawn Michaels d. Marty Jannetty, July 1st, 1996, Monday Night RAW
  • Shawn Michaels d. Mankind, September 22nd, 1996, In Your House: Mindgames

Thoughts: What a workhorse reign. I commended Bret Hart and Randy Savage previously for working, but 28 televised/released matches (some were dark matches later released on DVD) during an eight month reign is just under four matches per month, or almost one per week for eight months! Not all the matches were fantastic, but when he delivered, they were great. The Boyhood Dream came true, and The Showstopper was born here. I added the match with Marty because of the nostalgia feeling it gave. Was a great little wrinkle to see them wrestle, from where they were in 1988 to where Shawn was in 1996 was amazing. The reign started really well with great matches in March and April and May but it faded quickly as HBK was matched up with much larger opponents such as Vader, Yokozuna, and Sid, and none of those matches were enjoyable to me. I know the SummerSlam match is regarded as one of Vader’s best in the WWF, but it just wasn’t for me. Sorry! I was ready to praise this reign as amazing, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. Something to note here is, Shawn Michaels doesn’t lay down for anybody! 28 matches, 4 losses, 1 clean loss.

Grade (A+ through F ): C-


Overall WWE Champion Ranking

  1. Hulk Hogan (January 23rd, 1984 – February 5th, 1988) – A
  2. Bret Hart (March 20th, 1994 – November 26th, 1994) – A
  3. Yokozuna (June 13th, 1993 – March 20th, 1994) — B+
  4. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (April 5th, 1992 – September 14th, 1992) – B
  5. Bret Hart (October 12th, 1992 – April 4th, 1993) — B-
  6. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (March 27th, 1988 – April 2nd, 1989) – C+
  7. Bret Hart (November 19th, 1995 – March 31st, 1996) — C
  8. Sgt. Slaughter (January 19th, 1991 – March 24th, 1991) – C
  9. Hulk Hogan (April 2nd, 1989 – April 1st, 1990) – C
  10. Shawn Michaels (March 31st, 1996 – November 17th, 1996) — C-
  11. Hulk Hogan (March 24th — November 27th, 1991) – D+
  12. Ric Flair (January 19th, 1992 — April 5th, 1992) — D
  13. The Ultimate Warrior (April 1st, 1990- January 19th, 1991) – D
  14. Ric Flair (September 14th, 1992 – October 12th, 1992) — D
  15. Diesel (November 26th, 1994 – November 19th, 1995) — D
  16. Bob Backlund (November 23rd, 1994 – November 26th, 1994) — D-
  17. Hulk Hogan (April 4th, 1993 – June 13th, 1993) — F
  18. Yokozuna (April 4th, 1992 – April 4th, 1992) — F
  19. Undertaker (November 27th, 1991- December 3rd, 1991) – F
  20. Hulk Hogan (December 3rd, 1991 – December 4th, 1991) – F

**Speaking of championships, I am currently designing custom made championships and shirts for your wrestling figure collections! Over the weekend my page passed 500 Likes, and I am hosting a free giveaway trivia game! One lucky winner will receive of these one of a kind custom championship belts of their choosing! Check out the page at Grand Slam Creations – Custom Wrestling Belts & Accessories on Facebook, give us a like and a follow and share with your friends! (If you find the page due to this article, please let me know and you will be given a extra entry into the giveaway!)**


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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