If 1995 was a naff year that exposed the fragility of the WWF formula, then 1996 was a stunning turnaround, return to form and sign that things would get better. '96 saw debuts for future legends like The Rock and Mick Foley, provided a landmark moment in Steve Austin's career and introduced overweight plumber TL Hopper.
For every gaze at brilliance to come one was allowed into the WWF's crystal ball, there was a character like The Sultan or the regrettable "Razor Ramon" and "Diesel" comebacks in September that somehow roped poor Jim Ross into their embarrassment. Across 51 episodes of flagship telly though, Raw was a huge improvement over '95.
It had to be. The WWF couldn't afford to produce another 12 months of that crap - not with WCW breathing down their necks and Nitro beginning to spank Raw in the weekly ratings by summer. Under pressure and knowing he needed to adapt if he was going to survive, Vince McMahon was nonetheless hesitant to move on from old, established ideas until later in the year.
Then, he went wild...