KB, some of your one-liners in these reviews are brilliant. I mean, better than Jerry Lawler in his puppy-loving prime.
I did enjoy the IYH series, but between the match with Owen and this match with Diesel, Shawn Michaels basically took full ownership of the IYH's, and made the 12-PPVs / year idea credible. Honestly, had Shawn not stepped up to save this series, who knows if we ever would have made the move to 12 PPV's? Vince may have abandonned the experiment at this point, though he'd have only the creative team to blame.
People loved The Godwinns for much the same reason they loved Doink when he went face - loveable losers with the over the top gimmick. The Godwins were effective, deplorable heels, but they also made very fun, lovable, charismatic faces. And yes, Hillbilly Jim wasn't much of an in-ring talent, but the man was damn charismatic, and fans loved to clap with him. He had a huge smile that made people appreciative of the art form - HOG and PIG got that and succeeded with it.
Yeah that's true about Shawn. More or less it was the Shawn Michaels show which was fine as he was the best in the company at the time. With Shawn out there you had at least a guaranteed solid match. Vince didn't really have a choice in this though as Eric started the idea.
I liked the Jim character as a kid, primarily because he was from Kentucky. Anyone that hung out with Hogan was going to be over and Jim ran with it. You give a guy with that kind of natural charisma a Hulk Hogan rub and you know it's going to be a success. He found one thing that worked and he ran with it.
In Your House 8: Beware of Dog
Date: May 26/28, 1996
Location: Florence Civic Center, Florence, South Carolina/North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston, South Carolina
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler/Jim Ross, Mr. Perfect
We’re four weeks removed from our last show, and not a lot has really changed. Bulldog vs. Shawn is your main event for the title, and that’s all well and good. However, some of you might be wondering why there are two locations, dates and attendances listed for this show. Well, the answer is simple: it happened on two different nights and there were two different PPVs.
This wasn’t intentional though, as during the Sunday night broadcast, a severe thunderstorm knocked out the power in the arena. While the people inside could still see the show to an extent, the feed was knocked out and the PPV went off the air.
The opening match, Marc Mero vs. HHH and the main event, British Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels, were seen as the power went off after the first match and was restored before the main event. For the second PPV, the two matches that were aired on Sunday night were simple re-aired However, the other three matches weren’t seen until later on, when the home video was released.
The matches were recorded but I’m really not sure what version is on the video that I have. I’d assume it’s the originals, but I could be wrong. The second night’s matches were longer as there were two matches that weren’t redone, and on the first night there was a 30 second squash that wasn’t redone either, so we’ll be able to tell soon enough.
Also, this is the first PPV to be held after Razor and Diesel left. At the super house show at MSG on May 19, we had the Curtain Call Incident. For those of you that don’t know, it was the show where Razor Ramon, HHH, Diesel and Shawn broke kayfabe and hugged as it was Ramon and Diesel’s last night with the company.
Since Hall and Nash were leaving and Shawn was world champion, the blame and punishment was all on HHH. He was supposed to be given the King of the Ring that year, but because of this it was given to a bald headed man named Austin. After winning that tournament, he uttered the words “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.”
Wrestling was changed forever, and without the Curtain Call, it may never have happened. On May 27, Hall showed up on Nitro and wrestling would never be the same, so this is really a landmark time in the history of the sport. I’ll go more into the historical aspects of things later as also tonight something huge happened but no one really knew what it would be.
Starting with this video, I’ll be including the Free For All match that airs. This was shown on the pre show as a free match in I suppose an attempt to get the fans that were on the fence to buy the show. Not sure how this particular pairing is going to do that but let’s try it out.
Tag Titles: Smoking Guns vs. The Godwins
The Godwins took the titles from the Bodydonnas at a house show a week prior to this, the same one that the Curtain Call happened at. Before the match, Mr. Perfect talks to the Godwins, but Sunny interrupts. Apparently Phineas signed a contract making her co-manager of the team. This is certainly from the first show as there was no dark match at the second.
This is a very fast match as it goes less than five minutes. There’s about three minutes of a match and then Billy kisses Sunny, messing up Phineas long enough for him to get suplexed and pinned. Post match, the Guns talk to Doc Hendrix and use the words “more aggressive”, signaling their heel turn. They say they’re the champions and proud of it, which is fine as they won the belts more or less cleanly. No one cares really.
Rating: C. There’s really nothing to say about this as it was so short it’s hard to grade. Granted it was on the free show, so what are you really expecting? Nothing great, but Sunny was as sexy as ever.
Now onto the main show as the rest of the pre show is nothing but promos and recaps.
Standard recap video to begin here. Shawn is great, we all love him, he might have tried to rape a woman, blah, blah, blah.
HHH vs. Marc Mero
This is the continuation of another feud that no one really cared about. It started at Mania 12 as Helmsley had Sable with him, but later said that Sable was a dime a dozen. Later on, he and Mero who was debuting that night. He and Helmsely got into a fight backstage and they had been feuding ever since with Mero being joined by Sable.
Fairly slow pace to start as Mero keeps getting his shoulder worked over. It looks like HHH’s only desire here is to hit the pedigree, as for the most part that was the extent of his offense. Vince mentions the storms and says that if they leave they will indeed be back. If nothing else at least they mentioned that it was a possibility. Mero is getting his ass kicked so far as Vince is complaining about the officiating in the WWF as of late.
He goes on to say that working on the shoulder is “smart on the part of Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s part.” Say that out loud and see how it sounds. Lawler continues chatting with HHH’s valet, who never talks or does anything at all for that matter. It’s been all arm work by HHH so far which is a different side to him that I really like. He even goes to the top and gets a decent looking chop.
That was smart as HHH isn’t a high flier but he went for something basic that looked good. Well done. He tries it again a bit later and gets crotched, which is a nice little thing saying don’t try something you’re not experienced at more than you have to. Mero hurts his knee as this is getting solid time. We’ve cracked 15 minutes and this isn’t boring yet. It’s holding up quite nicely which is always a good sign.
I really don’t like the ending here though. HHH has the pedigree hooked but drops it so Sable is sure to be watching. When he turns around he gets catapulted into the post and pinned. Way too abrupt.
We cut to the back to see Cornette talking about how he has a big bombshell for the main event, but he’s got a good one before it: Owen is the manager of Bulldog for tonight only. He gets a great line in about how Shawn made his bed and he tried to get Diana in it but now he’s sleeping alone. This is definitely from the second show as we cut from this interview where Cornette talks about a match that hasn’t happened yet to the start of the main event, but I’ll save that for the end.
I was planning on doing the original matches as well as the second editions of them, but as Beware of Dog 2 as they refer to it begins, they show why this would be difficult: not only did the feed get cut, but so did the lights at the arena.
That’s right, the matches happened, but they happened in the dark. Due to that, we move on with the rematches. Also starting with this show, Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect are your commentators. JR saying that Austin is really tough is something that never gets old. There are no rules in this so they can beat on each other all day and all night if they want to. All that matters is touching all four corners. It’s kind of trivial but at the same time it makes the match have a nice flow to it.
Strap Match: Savio Vega vs. Steve Austin
Now this was still the Ringmaster version of Austin and not yet Stone Cold. The stars continue to align for the WWF as on Sunday night, you had a standard strap match. On Monday night, DiBiase, Austin’s manager, said that if Austin loses, DiBiase would leave the company. Obviously this was the case as DiBiase joined the NWO. This is the famous part that I’m sure you’ve all heard of about the development of the Stone Cold character.
Once his manager left, the company had no idea how to use Austin. They knew in real life he was a redneck that could out curse a sailor. Since no one else had an idea, they said just do that on camera. The Texas Rattlesnake was born. Once again, something that seems so insignificant for the WWF, the power going out and DiBiase leaving, ultimately saves them.
This is one of the matches where you have to touch all four turnbuckles, so this is one of my all time favorite gimmick matches. We start with your standard back and forth beatings with the strap which is always fun. The commentators call Savio a Caribbean legend. Far from it, but it’s an interesting idea. They go onto say that he’s never lost this kind of a match. Now I have no idea if that’s true or not, but even if it’s not, that’s brilliant.
It makes Savio look like a bad ass in this match. You can see the future crazy man in Austin during this match as he beats the hell out of Savio with that strap. Apparently if Savio loses he becomes the Million Dollar Man’s chauffeur. The strap goes for 10 feet and we get a spot that I like as Austin backdrops him over the top but gets pulled out with him. That’s a good illustration of how these matches work.
I’ve always loved this match as it offers a lot of fun spots and can go for a long while before you get a winner. This was Savio’s first feud worth anything and it’s really a good one. Granted, I think most of that was because of the guy he was feuding, but it was at least entertaining. At the time it was awful in my eyes, but now it’s quite good. This match is going on for a very long time but it’s still holding its own weight.
Austin actually jumps from the top rope and hits the barrier on the floor. That’s amazing to see considering what happens to his knees in the future. This is a great fight as they’re beating the living crap out of each other. Things like that are always fun, but when they can keep you entertained for this long, you know you have something good going for you which is the case here.
After over twenty minutes of nearly killing each other, we get to the ending which is Austin dragging Savio behind him and touching the buckles, but Savio gets them as well just behind him. Finally, it comes down to one buckle with the winner being the person that gets to it. They fight over the strap, but Austin accidentally slingshots Savio into it and sends DiBiase out of the company. Post match, Savio gets the crowd to sing that damn song when people are leaving.
Rating: A. This was a great match. They beat the hell out of each other and it never got dull. They had a ton of time to work with and you could tell these guys wanted to beat on each other. It was the blowoff match for their feud and it went better than it should have. Excellent match, the best Savio ever had, and a great way to put Austin over without him getting pinned.
Yokozuna vs. Vader
This is the match that we were promised last month at Good Friends Better Enemies. It comes about 7 weeks after Vader hit three Vader Bombs onto the leg of Yoko on Raw, breaking it and sending him out on a forklift. We get the JR code talk, saying yes we know this match is going to suck but we have to put it on anyway because Vader needs someone to squash. However, this wasn’t the case on the last show from two days prior as Yoko pinned him after a Samoan Drop. Now however we move onto this which could be ok but it’ll likely suck.
They start off by hammering each other with big shots. That’s fine as these kinds of matches follow a very specific formula. Usually they’ll beat on each other for the big showdown then one will take over with some bad offense until we get to our finish. We set for the big clash, but Vader pulls up twice. I get that the spot works once but after that it kind of loses its specialness. When they finally explode, Vader goes flying.
That’s just not something that you say every day. Vader gets back in and just goes off on Yoko. Think of a Mike Tyson fight from the 80s or early 90s. That’s what you get here. However, he never goes off his feet. He actually hooks a takedown on Vader and takes control. This is mostly punching and ramming into each other. For the two guys that you have in there that’s as good as you’re going to get. That being said, this has been pretty good.
Finally Yoko beats Vader down long enough to set up for the Banzai. However, Cornette interferes to try to hit Yoko with the racket. He gets beaten down too as Yoko sets for the Banzai on him. Vader saves him and Vader Bombs Yoko for the pin.
Rating: C. This was a fun little match. It’s kind of like a cheap action movie. You don’t expect anything masterful, but you like what you get. Vader gets to beat the living hell out of Yoko and finally end this feud. This set up Vader as the challenger to Shawn’s title at Summerslam in a match that to this day I have never seen all the way through. Very fun little match.
IC Title: Casket Match-Undertaker vs. Goldust
Yes you read that right. This is probably the most forgotten feud in the history of the 90s. These two went at it for about three months but somehow Taker never won the title. Goldust kept escaping somehow, but no one remembers this at all. This match was designed to end the feud though with the ending to this match. We see a recap last night of Ahmed Johnson and Goldust beginning their feud.
Taker appears behind Goldust to start the match. As can be expected, this is mostly Taker beating the living fuck out of Goldust for about ten minutes before a short comeback and then about five more minutes of beating down Goldust. The announcers are stunned when Goldust goes on offense and he’s the champion in this match. That’s saying a lot actually. At one point Goldust almost gets Taker in with the lid closed but Taker fights out.
We end with Taker tombstoning Goldust, but of course when he pops open the lid Mankind is inside. Mandible Claw knocks the Deadman out to end this. Post match, Mankind screws the casket shut but once the lid starts smoking and is removed, there’s no Taker inside as the show ends.
Rating: C+. Certainly not a match that was designed to mean much of anything. The whole point of this was to begin perhaps Taker’s best feud ever as he and Mankind finally get going. The match was almost a squash with Goldust absolutely getting his ass handed to him by Taker for about 15 minutes, then Goldust goes on some token offense for three before Mankind comes in to take care of the big guy. If you don’t take it seriously, you’ll like it.
WWF Title: Shawn Michaels vs. British Bulldog
After Smith makes his entrance, we cut to the back to Shawn, who says anything can happen and instead of Beware of Dog, it should be beware of Kliq. He makes his intro to a big pop as could be expected.
As this is happening, Vince mentions that anyone that bought this PPV will be given a special encore of the show Tuesday night, which was actually a completely new show, save for the opener and this main event, which is kind of cool because the matches were extended on the Tuesday version. Cornette’s lawyer, Clarence Mason declares that Shawn will be sued for trying to break up the marriage of the Smiths.
Nothing ever came of this at all. Shawn dominates the early part of the match with all kinds of jumps and flips and other TNA specialties. He then puts on a headlock for far too long and while it doesn’t bring the match to a screeching halt, it does slow things down. Shawn pre-injury is damn impressive. He’s all over the place but he never once looks like he’s just doing random moves.
There’s a sequence to his stuff that most people just don’t have. Following a long short (yes that’s an oxymoron) arm scissors, Bulldog does the same, yet always impressive, lift up spot as these two did four years ago on SNME. More or less, Bulldog dead lifts Shawn with one arm. That’s just flat out amazing no matter who you’re for in this match.
When Shawn is down, Bulldog does this weird little hop when he kicks Shawn. He kicks his left foot out before stomping with the right one. It’s a weird looking thing as Smith almost looks like he’s dancing. Bulldog beats on Shawn for about five minutes but Shawn makes his comeback, but instead of just pinning him, we get a longer sequence which is a very nice break.
They trade the advantage for awhile but eventually we get a ref bump. Owen tries to interfere but gets a little chin music. Bulldog sets for the powerslam but Shawn gets out of it and lands a German suplex, but both men get pinned. Diana grabs the belt and tries to leave with it. To further prove why she shouldn’t be allowed on television, she holds it over her head upside down which makes her look even dumber than she already does.
Monsoon comes out and literally grabs it out of her hands. He talks to the referees and the Fink. We get the official decision: a draw, meaning Shawn keeps the title but there will be a rematch. Until then, Shawn is the champion. His music and dancing play us out.
Rating: B. This was a pretty good match. While it wasn’t a classic or anything, it did two things that great matches need to do: it surprised me with the ending and it kept me entertained. These two indeed had some chemistry together as the power game that Smith had was something that could have beaten Shawn and he was a somewhat believable challenger. They had a far better match a month later at King of the Ring where Shawn kicked his head off to pin him clean. This was good though.
Overall Rating: B+. This one is really hard to grade considering all of the confusion that happens because of the storm. However, you get five matches here, and the worst is certainly watchable. There’s nothing bad on here and with the NOW being a strong force to come against, it’s a good sign to see all that the company had coming up. You have HHH, Austin, Taker/Mankind and Michaels coming on strong and you can tell they’re all going to do something.
However, no one really remembers any of this because of how mind blowing WCW was at this time. If you watch this show out of the order that it was presented in on Tuesday night, it’s a fine way to spend two hours. Excellent show, by far the best In Your House so far and definitely a good way to spend two hours. Very high recommendation.
IYH 7: This show, and match, was a brilliant way for Diesel to sign off from WWE. He couldn't have had a better last match on PPV. If only they'd put him with wrestlers like HBK throughout his title run. Not that there was really anybody that could go like HBK at the time.
Shame it's the only quality match on the card. The Warrior/Goldust match is terrible, but I still prefer it over the nothing matches on the rest of the card.
IYH 8: More of an intresting show than a good one. There's nothing wrong with any of the matches, Casket matches aren't good, Yokozuna wasn't likely to have a good match in his condition, and Bulldog was always hit and miss. Good job Steve Austin was on the show. Easily the first match in WWE where you thought he might become something.
Agree on 7. Diesel always should have been the 7ft bad ass that beat up on smaller guys and was practically unstoppable. Someone Shawn's size was perfect to make taht look legit. There was a great scene on Raw where Shawn jumped him and hit about 4 or 5 solid punches but Diesel shoved him away with one shot. That's your perfect illustration: everything Shawn has is matched by one shot from Diesel. How strong does that make him look?
Pretty much agree on 8 as well. Yes casket matches are hard to make good because you don't really have to knock the other guy out to win it. Taker is the only person that's ever really been able to make them work but he was against a guy that just didn't work well with him. It was just there to further the Mankind feud anyway. Yoko was ok but this was his last decent outing. Very true on Smith.
In Your House 9: International Incident
Date-July 21, 1996
Location-General Motors Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Commentators-Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross
We’re a month removed from KOTR 96 here where three things happened. #1, Shawn pinned Bulldog clean to retain the title, so that’s out of the way. Second, Mankind beat Taker clean by knockout. The Mandible Claw is now one of the most feared moves in the company as it actually beat Taker. That was huge at the time. The most important and by far most famous thing though was Austin won the King of the Ring tournament.
While that is pretty much forgotten, his victory speech featured the debut of one of the most famous catchphrases of all time. He had beaten Jake Roberts in the final. Roberts had been using a preacher gimmick at the time, so Austin had this to say. For those of you that haven’t seen this before, watch it now. This is required viewing for wrestling fans
And there you have it. The catchphrase that sold a million t-shirts is born. Austin rode that one line to the second biggest career in company history. He carried the WWF on his shoulders through their darkest days, and I don’t care who says otherwise, they’re wrong and I’ll argue that all day and never lose. Austin carried the WWF, and his persona was born on that night. His time would come, but at the moment it wasn’t quite there yet.
However, and damn I’m getting goose bumps thinking about this, that line where he said he didn’t care who you were or what you did, he was coming for you, would result in the return of Bret Hart, and the absolute best feud I’d seen in years would start at Survivor Series.
Oh and Ahmed won the IC Title that night too.
This show might as well be called Summerslam Pre-Show. That’s all it is: a PPV build up to Summerslam. Your main event is a 6-man tag, with Camp Cornette vs. Shawn and his two face partners. The original team was Shawn, Ahmed and Warrior Warrior Warrior. However, Triple W decided to bail, for various reasons depending on what story you want to believe.
Either way, he’s gone and was replaced by Sid. Other than that, this show is designed to build for the second Mankind vs. Undertaker showdown at Summerslam. The card here is one of the weakest of the entire series and perhaps the worst period. This should have been a Raw based on the look of it, but let’s give it a chance.
Your opening video is………bad. All it consists of is a recap of the free for all which was Shawn’s manager Jose Lathario beating up Cornette but then Vader running in to beat him up. Shawn got there before it happened though. There’s no talking on this and if you didn’t know who these people were you would have no clue what was going on. Apparently if Cornette’s team loses he’s promised all of the crowd a refund so we have the ending of the main event sealed.
Free For All: Justin Hawk Bradshaw vs. Savio Vega
Yes that Bradshaw. This was back when the pre show meant something. You’d get an exclusive match with the regular commentators doing the talking. It really did a good job of getting you in the mood for the main show which is something that is severely lacking in today’s stuff as all you get is a recap. Back in my day your preshow often had something that would play a role later on in the PPV itself, so you had to make sure you saw this show.
We actually get a recap of this mini-feud as they’ve met twice before. It is so weird to see JBL with blonde hair past his shoulders. He’s actually fatter than he was in his last run. Vega with a boot that almost hit Bradshaw and we wouldn’t want that to happen. There’s not much here as it’s really similar to a pre Raw dark match.
That’s fine really though as it’s only meant to warm up the crowd. Neither guy was anything more than a jobber at this point so no one is really interested. Bradshaw wins after his manager Uncle Zebekiah holds Savio’s leg down. Post match they beat Savio down.
Rating: C. Yes it’s boring and nothing special, but it wasn’t on PPV so what do you really want here? It’s a free match to get the crowd in the mood a bit. Based on that, it was fine for what it was. Nothing bad, just nothing good.
Bodydonnas vs. Smoking Gunns
This is non title for some reason. Sunny has jumped to the Gunns now as they’re the tag champions. To say that she looks hot as a cowgirl is like saying Norcal has a bit of muscle. She’s a goddess out there and she knows it. The cutoff shorts are amazing on her.
The crowd is so dead for this match and all they care about is Sunny. Apparently Jake Roberts can’t wrestle tonight, which I think is storyline. Lawler takes another jab at Roberts’ alcohol problems, which was a storyline that I’ve never been quite comfortable with. Ross mentions the “attitude changes” of the Gunns, which is code for heel turn. Roberts was supposed to face Mankind so he’s been replaced by Henry Godwinn. Well that’s a great thing indeed.
Ross says it’ll be a rugged match, which translates into: “We know it’s going to suck, but the show is 20 dollars so get over it.” Vince says that while the Bodydonnas are the quickest team in the company, which is probably true, the Godwinns are equally quick. Even JR asks if Vince meant the Godwinns and in a fairly stern voice, Vince says he did indeed mean the Godwinns.
That makes no sense and you can hear JR is confused, as I am, by that statement. Anyway, something is wrong with Sunny as she collapses. It’s a fake obviously as the Gunns use it to cheat. The Gunns have taken over but I’m more interested in an Urkel rerun on Nick at Nite. The Gunns try the World’s Greatest Tag Team move with Billy trying to jump over Bart who is holding his opponent’s legs while his throat is on the rope.
They botch it though as Billy can’t jump high enough. That’ makes me laugh. This match is running long here as it’s losing any steam that it had in the first place. I think the Bodydonnas are faces here but I’m really not sure. Apparently they had a manager that they fired to signify this, but it’s not sticking that well. Something is going on in the crowd as the fans are far more interested in that than they are in this match. The Gunns lose off of a missile dropkick from the top.
In the back we have Camp Cornette who is mad about Lathario’s actions earlier, claiming it was like a gang assault. Owen has a cast on his hand for some reason and Diana isn’t going to be in the corner tonight because it’s no place for a lady. Thanks for wasting 80 seconds of our time.
Mankind vs. Henry Godwinn
Yeah it’s a squash. Godwinn was a modern day Hillbilly Jim (hell that was his manager) but a bit more serious. However, no one believed he had a chance here. Foley was at his all time strangest here as there was never anyone like Mankind in wrestling prior to this.
The guy was just OUT there. He’d hit himself, pull chunks of his hair out and randomly scream. He was one of the few wrestlers that legitimately scared me as a kid. He beat the Undertaker who was one of my favorites and the mark in me was terrified of him being world champion. Anyway, there’s very little here. Godwinn pounds on him and nothing happens. Eventually Mankind gets the claw and Godwinn is out cold. This was nothing.
Rating: C. Boring, but it got the job done. Mankind looks like even more of an unstoppable monster and that’s exactly what he was supposed to do. When he was in a team, Godwinn was ok. On his own, he was pretty boring.
Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero
The announcers put Austin over as being a huge star and they couldn’t be more right. Them calling him technically sound amuses me as I know what’s coming. For those of you that don’t know, before Austin hurt his neck he was a totally different style of wrestler. He even came off the top rope a few times. They try to push Mero as the same thing and I just shake my head. Not everyone can be a star Vince.
This match is a rematch from the KOTR semis where Mero got beat by Austin, but during a rollup legitimately kicked Austin in the mouth and busted him open. Seeing Austin with writing on his tights is just odd to see. Sable’s hotness really should be illegal. She’s just gorgeous. This match is moving pretty slowly and I think that’s for the best. Austin’s style at the time was a more methodical one and that’s what you’re getting here.
You’re really starting to see some of the flashes of Austin’s signature style coming on here. He’s stomping a lot, turning really fast with his arms at his side, etc. Austin actually goes for a springboard move. He had a bulldog but runs at the corner to walk up them. He got reversed, but it was still amazing to see him attempt it and make it look good.
During the match, Marlena and the Usher come to ringside and hand King a letter or something. They leave with nothing really happening so that was kind of odd. Mero is just bland. His gimmick was that he was supposed to be wild, but that pretty much consisted of a lot of flips over the ropes and punches.
He was ok, but he was just out of his league here. Austin back then was one of those guys that you could just see something special in. You knew he was going to break through the glass ceiling soon and the only question was when would it happen? Anyway, Austin wins with the stunner, minus the kick.
Rating: B-. This match was designed to do one thing and one thing only: build up Austin. That’s exactly what it did too. Austin was the star in this match and did most of the work in it. He never was in any real trouble other than for a few seconds and he looked dominant over a guy that was a solid midcarder at the time. Good little match and it pushed Austin even harder by giving him another win to add to the pile.
Undertaker vs. Goldust
This feud just will never die will it? I can’t believe this thing has been going over four months and I literally don’t remember a single match they had. We get a recap of what this feud has been, which is more or less Taker beating the living fuck out of Goldust but never getting the IC Title, until Mankind debuts and beats on Taker some too. That leads us here, somehow.
Of course, we get the endless stall from Goldust before the match starts and the insanely long entrance from Taker to fill in more PPV time. After about 5 minutes of stalling, Taker beats the living hell out of him. It’s a pure beatdown with very little from Goldust at all other than running from Taker. I really don’t get the point to these matches. We all know Taker is dominant and is going to crush Goldust, so why have them?
Apparently he’s more aggressive this time though so he won’t get beaten up as badly. Why do I have a feeling that won’t do anything at all to help him? The movie references are already rolling but they’re not as funny this time from Lawler.
Holy crap Taker used a small package, and a decent one at that. After about 10 minutes of Taker beating on Goldust, he hits the tombstone. However, as the referee is stalling to get to the finish, Mankind pops out of the ring (literally) and gets the claw on him.
The lights flicker but there’s no Taker as Mankind looks into the hole. Taker pops out of another hole and fights Mankind back to the locker room. As the announcers talk while the ring is repaired, we cut to the back where Mankind and Taker are fighting in the boiler room. That’s your foreshadowing to Summerslam I guess.
Rating: C-. This was what we had seen for four months now and still it’s not entertaining. Why Goldust is what I don’t get. He had no connection to Taker. No one remembers this feud for some reason. The whole point of this match was to have Taker and Mankind continue their feud so that’s fine, but it just was a stale feud by this point.
In the back, Goldust is quoting movie lines while stroking Mankind’s hair while he calls Goldust’s wig mommy. It’s stranger than it sounds. They talk about the Undertaker, I think.
Camp Cornette vs. People’s Posse
Yes that’s what they were going by. Pre match we hear from the faces who say your basic face things. Shawn comes out first for some reason. As he’s coming to the ring, one of the barricades breaks and the fans fall into the aisle. Shawn keeps smiling though as clearly no one was hurt. One of the kids runs up and hugs him. Shawn is professional and hugs him back so that’s good to see.
Sid has been turned face for some reason now. This can best be described as three matches in one: Shawn vs. Vader, Ahmed vs. Bulldog and Ahmed vs. Owen. Sid is just kind of along for the ride, which isn’t his fault. He was thrown into this thing a week ago with no real storyline at all.
This match gets some decent time at over twenty minutes which should be a requirement for more than four people in a match. You have ample time to get all the feuds in and everyone has enough time to face everyone at least once. It’s kind of like an orgy: if you don’t get a sample of everyone, then it’s kind of a waste of time. You may be more partial to one person, but you need to sample them all.
This is a very solid match. While I never have been a fan of tags like this to close a PPV, this is one of the best I can remember seeing. Shawn, the best in the match, is in the ring more than anyone. He flows very well with all three men which is saying a lot as they’re all very different styles. Ahmed is barely ever in, which means that they at least know he’s terrible in the ring.
You get a lot of back and forth action with the heels dominating most of the match but the faces making the last minute save before things get too terrible. They hammer each other the entire match and it’s quite physical. You get combinations of all 6 guys which is always fun.
Cornette panicking at every near fall is just great as he fakes heart attacks like no one else ever could. This show really was better at building up Summerslam as Smith and Sid have a lot of time together here and they would meet next month.
Shawn and Vader of course would go on to headline Summerslam in a month in a showdown for the title. That of course is your ending here, as Shawn is setting for the kick but Cornette grabs his foot. Splash in the corner, Vader Bomb and the pinfall. The crowd and the announcers are stunned to say the least.
Post match, the faces clear the ring and Shawn jumps Vader before they all pose. Poor sportsmanship there. He got beat clean.
Rating: B. Very fun match that did its job. It built up for next month and it made people believe Shawn was vulnerable. It got the time that it needed and nothing felt rushed. Very well done match, but at the same time, this was the main event of the PPV. It’s by far the best match, but that’s not saying much.
Overall Rating: D+. This show is bad, like really bad. It’s five matches: a non title match, three glorified squashes and a good main event. There’s little of interest throughout the whole show and there was no reason at all for this to be a PPV. I could easily see this being a Raw.
Now I’m known to be a fan of this concept, but this was completely unnecessary. No need for a PPV here at all, and it showed. There is no thought, there is no effort, there is nothing at all to this show. Complete recommendation to avoid.
Worthless show. The main event was ok, but it was Raw quality. It was there to set up HBK vs. Vader at SummerSlam. Didn't work though. Vader looked awful and he only won the match because of Jim Cornette. Hardly how you'd want to get your monster heel over before what is supposed to be the second biggest match of the year.
I think it's safe to say that Shawn Michaels was a failure as a champion and he's seriously overrated. Thank fuck that he faces Mick Foley on the next IYH show.
These shows are also missing Bret Hart. That becomes even more obvious once you get to 1998.
I wouldn't say he was worthless. I'd say he was just up against far too powerful of competition. He certainly wasn't great and I'm not arguing that he was, but I wouldn't say worthless. When you're up against the NWO at nearly its peak and everything else that they had, how was he supposed to win over teh fans? Also, had he not gotten hurt he would have been right in the middle of Austin, Rock and HHH, meaning he likely would have gotten a few title reigns in there. The ratings still would have been high then. I think Shawn was just in a bad spot based on his competition. Not great but not awful.
In Your House 10: Mind Games
Date: September 22, 1996
Location: Core States Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, Mr. Perfect
Well, Summerslam has come and gone. Paul Bearer famously turned on Taker to join Mankind after the Boiler Room Brawl. Shawn survived against Vader, and Ahmed had to vacate the IC belt due to injury. Marc Mero would win it the night after this show though. Other than that, not a lot of note has happened. I remember being afraid as a kid that Mankind would take the title here.
As silly as that was, it was a legitimate possibility. However, other than that this card looks pretty weak. Just six matches, but aside from one the shortest is a respectable 5 minutes and 13 seconds. This show gets a lot of praise though, so let’s see if it lives up to the hype.
Free For All-Savio Vega vs. Marty Jannetty
DAMN Jannetty just won’t go away will he? The most interesting part of this match is Jannetty’s partner in the New Rockers, Leif Cassidy, more commonly known as Al Snow at ringside. The crowd is chanting the name of some independent northeastern wrestling organization. There’s some dude in the front row that’s really short and looks tough. His tattoo says Toz or something like that.
There’s some dude chugging beer next to him. The third guy there looks….well he looks……he looks hardcore. He’s hardcore? He’s hardcore? He’s HARDCORE! Bradshaw is in the back and apparently is angry that he’s never been on Pay Per View. Oh how that will change. Also, JR mentions he saw the Undertaker come in and go to his dressing room. How weird does that sounds?
Anyway, we have a bad match to watch here. Vince and JR actually acknowledge the ECW chants, saying that this is the home base of their independent company. They thank them for joining WWF for the evening and are glad they bought tickets. My goodness…that was borderline classy.
I know it was planned but still, they weren’t jerks about it. In something that is making me laugh, JR mentions he saw Jim Cornette eating two triple cheeseburgers from a fast food place. For some reason that I simply don’t understand, Jim Cornette’s eating habits at Wendy’s are legendary in the wrestling business. A number three combo large with no lettuce or tomato, extra cheese and no ketchup or mustard with a sprite.
I didn’t look that up, I just knew it off the top of my head, and that’s exactly what he would order every time. Look it up on his website and you’ll see that I’m right. This match is just boring for the most part. It’s just your standard one on one match that ends with Marty getting reversed and pinned.
Rating: D. There was nothing here and the talk of cheeseburgers was more interesting. That’s simply not a good sign at all. Nothing match and just relatively bland. It was free though so that helps things out.
Good opening video but the editing is a bit odd. We get the package of Mankind vs. Shawn, then Goldust vs. Taker, then another on Mankind and Shawn. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Very lackluster welcome from Vince. There’s also no music playing, which just kind of kills the mood.
Strap Match-Savio Vega vs. Justin Hawk Bradshaw
This match is a result of what happened on the Free For All. See, again the match was bad, but it served a bit of a purpose for the PPV. I like how Savio is built up as a god in these matches. It’s something unique about him and it gives him a specialty, kind of like Foley and hardcore. Anyway, this match is rather infamous. Like I said this is ECW country.
During this match, Sandman, Dreamer and Taz create a small riot in the front row as Sandman spits beer at Vega. There’s a huge ordeal and all kinds of security guarding them, which completely takes away from the match but who gives a damn about that. I particularly like how the commentators keep talking about how great this match is until the beer incident. Once that happens, they more or less make it sounds like it’s time to just end this.
That’s a shame too as this wasn’t a terrible match. The stipulation was pretty random, but at least it was something that fit with Savio and continued this mini feud that had been going on for months now with no one caring about it. The finish though was exactly the same as Vega/Austin from a few months ago. Vega holds on to get the first three but then we get a tug of war and Savio is launched into the fourth corner.
Rating: C+. Not bad at all really, but it’s overshadowed by the ECW incident. I’ve long since been a fan of this kind of stipulation, but I’d like to see it as a match for a solid feud and not just something that’s there for the sake of filler. As long as they had been feuding for, this was filler and nothing more. Not bad, but for seven minutes, what are you expecting?
Jose Lothario vs. Jim Cornette
This is just a manager vs. manager match. However, Cornette is more known for his eating abilities and not his work in the ring. Lothario trained HBK and Bobby Lashley, as well as had a relatively successful career in Texas during the 70s.
This started a month ago in a face to face debate that of course turned into a fight. Since then, Super Sock, which was Lothario’s nickname, beat up Cornette on a regular basis. Of course, Cornette got in all the standard old guy jokes: when he was in school there was no history, his social security number is 1, etc.
For some reason, before this match we jump to the back to see “Razor Ramon and Diesel” beat up Savio Vega. This was just a strange angle that never made a bit of sense to me at all. For some reason the decision was made to turn JR heel.
He started going on these absurd rants about how he was the reason WWF was as successful as it was, and promised to bring back Razor and Diesel. They weren’t the real ones obviously and it was a bomb. The fake Razor never did anything of note but a year later the fake Diesel would become known as Kane.
The whole thing made no sense at all and no one bought it. About a month later the company woke up and realized that JR simply isn’t a heel character so they just dropped the angle all together.
Anyway, Jose comes out to Shawn’s music. This match is just hysterical. Cornette is about 240lbs but fat. Jose is 62 years old and in decent shape. He beats Cornette in about a minute, but the jokes that JR and Perfect get in during that time are just great. Cornette is without a doubt one of the funniest guys I have ever seen and this is no exception. He’s so on here it’s amazing.
Rating: N/A. Hardly a match but not enough to grade really.
Savio says he’s not sure who attacked him but it might have been Razor and Diesel.
We go back to the arena where Brian Pillman comes out and says that he’s upset at Bret. Apparently Bret bailed out of an interview that Brian had set up. We see a video from Bret saying that there was never an interview and Pillman is lying. Pillman says that Philadelphia is a horrible city with drugs, prostitution etc. He says that he’ll bring out someone to clean up the city and out comes Owen.
Owen says Bret needs to retire, and brings out Stone Cold. Austin says things like Bret claims to be the excellence of execution but Austin lives it instead of saying it. Austin is on top of his game here but it wouldn’t be until Bret answered his challenge that Austin was launched into the stratosphere. This was most entertaining.
Tag Titles: Smoking Gunns vs. Owen Hart/British Bulldog
Pretty much Camp Cornette was just handed the #1 contender spot simply because everyone knew they were the best team in the company. This match was pretty much just a formality to confirm it. No Cornette here though which is I guess because he got his ass whipped. Ah yes that’s where he is according to Doc.
Was there anything Sunny didn’t look good in? Bulldog and Owen have commandeered the massive Sunny poster. YOU SWINE! Billy and Owen start us off. Could the Guns have been any more bland? Mason comes down with a clipboard. I believe this was due to a document Cornette signed which was him accidently signing away the control of his stable.
Owen controls early of course since Billy has nothing at all. Ross brings up Vince’ indictment which has to be a line fed to him because if not then he would die. Perfect begins the lie about Billy being awesome. I couldn’t stand him eventually as he was constantly being pushed and he never deserved it whatsoever.
The other two are in now and we get the white tights of Bulldog which make his ass look great. Chop block to Bart and he’s in trouble. Vince reads off Clarence’s business card to kill time. This isn’t much at all here as we’re just kind of going through the motions.
All challenger dominance here. Enziguri on Bart gets two. The Gunns take over for a change of pace and still nothing is working that well at all. Sidewinder on Bulldog but Mason gets the referee. Slammy to Billy’s head doesn’t get us anywhere either. Crowd is rather dead here too.
Billy takes over and you would think that would imply some pops from the crowd wouldn’t you? Apparently we’re playing the quiet game I suppose. Billy makes a stupid tag and Bart walks into the powerslam to give the heels the titles which they would hold forever. Sunny goes off on them afterwards, splitting with them.
Rating: D+. Pretty boring here for the most part as the Gunns just sucked BADLY. This wasn’t anything special or even good as both teams knew there was no real point or heat at all here and it wasn’t any good. Boring match and the only thing it had going for it was that it wasn’t incredibly long.
The Gunns would finally split up soon after this and pretty much no one would care. After this, the tag title would pretty much do nothing for about a year as Owen and Bulldog dominated the division. You’d get a random two superstar tag team reign (Austin/Foley etc.) or the off the wall reign like the returning LOD or the Headbangers.
It wasn’t until November of the following year that the New Age Outlaws would form and breathe life into it as teams like the APA and the Hardys made the belts and the division worth a damn again.
After almost two years of bullshit reigns by teams no one wanted to see, the Dudleys finally arrived as the hottest tag team act on the planet and brought in another golden age of tag wrestling along with the other two teams that everyone associated them with. And that’s enough Attitude Era tag team history for now. More in later reviews.
Jerry Lawler vs. Mark Henry
Oh damn it I forgot Henry debuted in this time period. We see a recap of Henry making some run ins to help out Jake Roberts against Lawler. Henry is pure face at this point and acts like Kurt Angle when he debuted. It’s a sight indeed. Lawler continues to prove why he’s one of the best mic men ever. His insults are so basic but his delivery is great and it just works.
Lawler even insults Henry by saying he’s going to teach him all kinds of lessons. Lawler of course gets his ass handed to him. Henry has no offense at this point but that makes sense as he’s a rookie in his first match. He uses very basic moved like slams and chops, but for someone brand new that’s logical. However, when they’ve been with the company for twelve years it’s not acceptable.
This is a pure comedy match with Lawler never being able to get anything going. He lands an illegal object to the head of Henry which does some damage. Henry comes back with more rookie offense of course and lands an over the shoulder back breaker for the submission. Think of the starting position for the Razor’s Edge but instead of lifting them up you pull them down so they’re being pressed against your shoulder.
It really looks painful actually, despite Henry not using it right. Anyway, it was a decent debut. Post match, the New Rockers and HHH run out to try to fight Henry for absolutely no reason at all. They of course get beaten up. Pyro goes off for no logical reason and Henry celebrates.
Rating: B-. It’s a comedy match for a gimmick wrestler’s debut. Were you expecting Steamboat/Savage here? For what it was, this was fine. It made Henry look good against a veteran that didn’t need a win and for a person like Henry at the time I really liked his offensive style. However, that was 1996. It’s now 2009 and Henry still uses the same moveset. That is unacceptable plain and simple.
In the back we see the new tag champions with their new manager that lawyer guy. Apparently he tricked Cornette into signing their contract to him. No one cares.
Goldust vs. Undertaker
We see a recap, which implies Mankind is working for Goldust. Why would that make any sense at all? Why would a mid carder have power over a main eventer? Come on WWF, think please? This is a Final Curtain match, which means no DQ and you can only win by pinfall. Ok I guess. Yet again though, Taker is just beating Goldust up. At least this time it’s not as one sided.
It’s still one sided, just not as badly. Marlena does nothing really. Taker picking her up by her elbows was cool though. More random moves from Taker including a vertical suplex. Goldust throws some dust into his eyes to take over and for the first time in five months, we see Goldust work over Taker. You get your basic stuff here, and then Goldust uses one of the most effective basic moves I’ve ever seen.
Taker is in position for a reverse chinlock, but instead Goldust just covers Taker’s mouth and nose with his hands. That’s such a simple move but it’s actually brilliant. Then we get your standard Taker comeback after Goldust rubs his own chest a bit.
Basic stuff but the crowd pops for it so it’s all well and good. Anyway, we get the chokeslam from the top and a tombstone to finally polish off this feud. Post match, the commentators talk about how they’re looking forward to Buried Alive next month, which really was a cool idea I think. It was absurd, but a good kind of absurd.
Rating: B-. Far better than anything they have done before and for one reason: it wasn’t a squash. Goldust got in some good offense here and controlled a decent portion of this match. That’s really all I ask for is something somewhat competitive. Good match and while not a classic, it got Taker a decent win in his main storyline, which means it served its purpose.
We go to the back to hear Shawn talk about how he really has no idea what he’s going to do here as he’s never faced someone like Mankind. That’s true, as there really hadn’t been anyone like Foley before in the company. Thank goodness he didn’t get his original name: Mankind the Mutilator, as that would have just not worked. Earlier today on Superstars Shawn was put into the Mandible Claw and it knocked him down for a long time. He says he’ll be making it up as he goes out there.
WWF Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind
This match has always been praised as a classic by both men. I’ve heard good and bad things about it, so let’s see how it holds up. Mankind was viewed as a legitimate threat to the title based on what he had done to Taker in the past. At this point though, he was still a relative rookie in the company, but that didn’t matter. That’s what WWE needs more of today: don’t start guys as rookies.
Launch them into main storylines. Anyway, Mankind comes out in a casket and does his whole rock back and forth with the urn which was something I always liked for some odd reason. The crowd is insane for Shawn. I’ve never gotten how the reaction that the crowds give didn’t equal the ratings. Shawn was madly over, but he never drew anything as far as ratings went. Maybe it was the rest of the show or WCW, but for some reason there wasn’t a connection there.
The announcers are really putting Foley over big here which is something that does a lot to help him in this match. He opens up hard by taking control, but eventually it goes outside and Shawn starts going nuts. He hits a cross body from the top to the floor and after pulling the mats up, jumps from the apron to the floor, shoving Foley’s head into the concrete in what is another basic but good spot.
Not everything has to be flashy to look good. That move and Goldust’s smothering thing earlier are proof of that. This match has a weird flow to it. While it’s not a traditional face vs. heel formula, it has a unique formula that is working for some reason. Shawn is throwing everything he’s got at Foley but nothing is working. Most of it is Shawn on the offense using his standard stuff, but it’s just not working on Mankind.
He’s having to get more aggressive in this match and it’s a style I like. This is very reminiscent of the Diesel match that he had at In Your House 7 and that just worked on all levels. This match is really the kind of stuff that the Attitude Era was built on which is likely why it was considered to be so good. You could say that it was ahead of its time I suppose.
Anyway, Foley gets his knee slammed into the stairs a few times but that really doesn’t get Shawn anywhere. They keep going back and forth which is just great. Every time one gets anything going for them the other just takes it away from them. They’ve been going about 15 minutes and haven’t let up yet. We finally get the famous spot in the match as Mankind is thrown into the ropes and gets his head caught between them.
As Shawn attacks, he gets stuck in the claw. They brawl on the floor for awhile and the Claw is locked on again but Shawn counters. Mankind accidently punches a chair and Shawn works on the fingers to take away the Claw, which is really smart actually. Somehow Mankind gets the advantage back and starts getting near falls. This match really is getting great now as it’s long passed just being good.
Back and forth, all kinds of action, and if you were watching at this point you had the doubt in your mind as to whether or not Shawn could put him away, which is the golden key to any match: doubt. Foley can’t beat him so he pulls a Spunky and starts to beat on himself.
After that Shawn makes ANOTHER comeback and starts beating the living fuck out Mankind. He’s jumping all over the place but finally, and I do mean finally gets crotched on the top rope to stop him. Shawn then gets belly to back suplexed from the top through the Spanish Announce Table, which was a brand new concept at the time and therefore not funny or ironic yet. After that, Mankind throws a second chair into the ring but Shawn gets in first.
Mankind climbs the ropes but Shawn gets a running start and kicks the other chair into Foley’s face, which is called Sweet Chin Music. Not really but I’ll let it go. Shawn goes insanely slow so you can tell that this is your finish. And of course, here he comes: Vader runs in for the DQ and we get the bullshit finish to the great match. Post match, Sid runs out to fight Sid after Paul Bearer knocks Shawn out with the urn.
He knocks Shawn out again for the second time in about 30 seconds with the Claw before signaling for the casket to be opened. Then, in one of the funniest scenes I can ever remember as a wrestling fan, the casket is opened and of course Taker is inside. The look on Bearer’s face is mindblowingly funny.
The key here is that earlier the casket was opened and there was no Taker. He goes after Mankind of course and just looks absolutely awesome doing it. Foley looks scared to death and limps to the back with Taker following him as Shawn is declared the winner by DQ to end the show.
Rating: A. This would be an easy A+ if it had a real finish. I don’t like the DQ here, but I really don’t have another choice I guess. There wasn’t anything that could have been done otherwise to keep Mankind’s heat going and not take the belt from Shawn or make him look weak. Either way, this was a great match with all kinds of back and forth stuff. Top level here all the way and I can see why they both rate this match so highly.
Overall Rating: A. GIN! The company got it right, FINALLY. Every match on this card had a purpose, everything made sense, and above all else: THE MATCHES WERE GOOD! Let’s see what we have here: a gimmick match, a comedy match, a title change, a debut, the blow off to a feud, and a kick ass title match to close out the show and set up the main event for the next show. What more could you really ask for? This is a great PPV, regardless of what formula you’re following. Definite recommendation as this is two hours of what wrestling is all about.
In Your House 11: Buried Alive
Date: October 20, 1996
Location: Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross/Mr. Perfect
We’re a month removed from Mind Games and nothing has really happened. Obviously, your main event is the first ever Buried Alive match. For those of you that don’t know what that is, there’s a hole and dirt all around it in the arena. You knock your opponent out and throw them in it and bury them to win the match. Obviously, Taker has been involved in I think every one of them so far.
They’re quite rare with I think 5 of them ever, the last one being in 2003. The world title isn’t even being defended tonight. Shawn would defend it in a post show dark match, pinning Goldust. Other than the main event, there’s nothing here worth mentioning. Sid and Vader have a #1 contender’s match, but like I said, it’s not worth mentioning. I mean……..oh damn it just start the show.
I like the intro here as it shows Taker losing his cool for the first time in his career. He lost Paul Bearer which was a big deal at the time. Mankind was the first person to perhaps out-weird the Deadman and it was a very nice touch for a change of pace. The video is short and it leads us to our opening. From what I’ve found online, the Free For All featured a TWENTY MINUTE dark match between Barry Windham and Bradshaw.
That is a bad idea for more than one reason. For one, Bradshaw couldn’t have a good twenty minute match if his life depended on it. Two, their styles just wouldn’t mesh at all. Third, the point of a dark match is to wake the crowd up and get their energy going. This is best accomplished in a match that goes at longest 8 minutes. It’s not enough to get emotionally invested in but it’s not too short that no one cares. Twenty minutes is main even length. I don’t know what in the hell they were thinking.
Anyway, this is still during JR’s heel run. The point this time is that his mic doesn’t work so he thinks it’s a conspiracy against him. As part of this angle, about a month before this, he did something that’s never before been even discussed: he said that Vince has control over the company. Over the next year we would see the Mr. McMahon character grow before out eyes, but it was JR that started the whole thing.
HHH vs. Steve Austin
And so it begins. This is to the best of my knowledge the first time these two went at it in the WWF. It’s so fun to see these two future legends be on the verge of superstardom. We start off with a promo in the back from Austin where he cusses like a sailor, which was absolutely unheard of back then and mind blowing. Austin’s legendary persona has arrived now also: the vest, the pose, and above all else, the music is here.
Austin’s style is really starting to come out in him. On the other hand you have HHH’s style starting to shine as well. He’s starting to shake off the blue blood style a bit for a more physical one. Now his big break through wouldn’t come for about another year, but you can see the groundwork. As this match goes on, JR is getting more and more angry about his audio difficulties.
Every time he speaks he cuts in and out and I find it rather amusing. This was supposed to be Savio vs. Austin but I think the injury Vega had is for the best. The crowd is WAY into Austin. You could really tell he was going to be a star, but I don’t think anyone knew how big. Apparently Bret is coming back tomorrow night and JR claims responsibility for that. The mic cutting in and out is just funny.
I’m assuming it’s a planned bit but if not JR deserves an award for comedy as he’s cracking me up. However, Ross working as the heel commentator just does not work at all. As for the match, it’s quite good indeed. These guys are young and hungry and if you need a definition of what that means, watch this match and you’ll be able to see it.
These guys have such a natural chemistry that they were perfect to be the top feud for so many years. They’re flowing out there and it’s just great. In a weird thing that you don’t often see, we get a split screen of the announcers and the match. It’s rare to see the commentators during a match and it’s kind of interesting to see their reactions to things during the match for a change.
JR forgets the name of the Stunner which amuses me. Perfect, who is facing HHH tomorrow night on Raw in what was designed to be HHH’s coming out party comes down to the ring. Perfect is absolutely ROCKING that blue suit. Was there ever a night where he didn’t look like a million bucks? He steals HHH’s escort which HHH doesn’t like that much. He has Austin in the Pedigree but goes after Perfect instead.
Austin goes old school (no spamming there please) and hits a sling shot which gives us a Flair Flop from HHH. Austin gets back in the ring and flips HHH off and hooks the stunner for the pin, but still no kick first. The eyes on Austin are just amazing at this time. Vince says that Austin executed it excellently which is a great little touch.
Rating: B+. While not a classic, this is just a fun match. You knew that this was the future of the company but you had no idea how big they were going to become. This would be the biggest feud in the company and the business for a long time and you could see how well these two worked together five or six years before that was the case. Austin was ready to jump up to the big leagues and tomorrow night his road to them would officially begin.
We see a recap of the Smoking Gunns losing the Tag Titles, and somehow, I care even less about them than I did last month. I honestly didn’t think that was possible, but yes, I really don’t care even less. Seriously, what was the appeal of these guys?
The cowboy aspect was they wore jeans and had country sounding music. They were ok at best in the ring and that’s all. There is apparently an argument between them over Sunny, as Billy wants her back but Bart wants the belts back. They say something else but there’s a documentary on the history of mops that’s fascinating me.
Tag Titles: Owen/Bulldog vs. Smoking Gunns
And here we have the required rematch that no one cares at all about. No one, and I mean NO ONE thought the Cowboys would get the belts back. This whole thing was just to get the titles on PPV and to give Owen and Bulldog another successful defense. In case you can’t tell, I absolutely can’t stand the Smoking Gunns. Let’s get this over with so they can split up next week and end them forever.
Ross continues to say that he’s responsible for Bret returning the next night on Raw. Owen got a haircut apparently. That’s the highlight of this match so far. Ross is talking about horses or something like that. His mic is still fucked up as we see Sunny in the back watching the match. JR doesn’t like her as he thinks she missed too many trips to the woodshed. Ross has a wood fetish I think.
The insults that he gives to McMahon are half shoots I think. Sunny is shown on a wider angle and it is clear that she was poured into that little red dress she’s got on. My goodness she was perfect. Ross mentions that he would hate someone using codewords that mean something else. That’s a bowling shoe ugly comment if I’ve ever heard one.
Lawler has one of my all time favorite lines with “Bart has been on so many blind dates he should get a free dog.” Damn King was great in his day. The only thing at all interesting about this match is the finish and of course, Owen and Bulldog are responsible for it.
Owen is set up for the I wish I had a Smoking Gun to use on them’s finisher but Bulldog sneaks behind one of them and as Billy is about to hit the legdrop half of it, Bulldog pulls him away and Owen hits his kick to pin him. Damn that was a long sentence.
Rating: D. No one wanted to see it, it wasn’t any good, and no one believed there would be a title change. The Gunns were just so generic it was painful to watch. Owen and Bulldog weren’t exactly a brand new concept, but they were at least a great team. The highlight of the match was looking at all those curves on Sunny. I mean DAMN.
We’re supposed to get a recap of Ahmed Johnson injuring Farrooq but instead JR has gotten into the ring. He blames Vince for everything and says that tomorrow night Bret will have some very interesting things to say. Ok, now Ross is just annoying. He says to watch Raw and then leaves for the night. After this bombed completely, Vince actually tried to turn him heel again two years later and it somehow failed even worse.
So now we get the real recap, which shows Simmons (Farrooq) in his gladiator attire, which is another just failed attempt at a gimmick around this time. We then cut to Ahmed’s talk on the Free For All earlier today about how he’ll pay Simmons back for what he did. DAMN Ahmed’s nose is big.
Like it’s wider than his mouth. His promos have gotten better at least, which isn’t saying much. Back when he debuted he had to take the up escalator to get to hell in that department. Anyway, he beats Simmons up with a board and Simmons can’t fight Mero for the IC Title tonight.
So instead we get this.
IC Title: Marc Mero vs. Goldust
You know, Goldust might be the first man I can ever remember that gets an IC and WWF Title match in singles action in one night. This match is really only notable for the ending so let's get to that as fast as possible. Perfect comes out for commentary as Vince isn’t sure why he’s coming out. Shouldn’t he know everything going on here? Ross comes out with him which is odd.
Perfect is having a match with HHH tomorrow but is doing commentary here. Mero says nothing of note before the match starts. It looks weird walking past a big mound of dirt for some reason. Mero has cool pyro if nothing else. Oh and he has Sable. Perfect goes on a big rant about HHH as there is no story here at all.
Mero works on the arm to kill some time. The crowd is shall we say, bored out of their minds. Mero botches a headscissors and this is just not interesting at all. Tope con hilo by Mero and Goldust is in trouble, which means we’re going to switch that up here very soon.
Yep there it is as Goldust powerbombs him out of the corner and doesn’t cover like an idiot. Getting near falls like that make some fans believe the title is in jeopardy. You can’t win the title if you don’t touch the guy right? Technically the match is fine but it’s not very interesting.
Chinlock by Goldust and Mero is in trouble. And now Goldust has the mic. He wants the fans to shut up and if they won’t he’ll kiss them all with tongue. King makes gay jokes and they’re not really funny. Final Curtain is reversed into a rollup for two and Mero goes to the floor.
We get a double feature of a move from five minutes ago. Perfect gets up and helps Mero up, drawing out HHH. Perfect drops Goldust and stalks HHH. Mero gets a Samoan Drop and gets the first win of his WWF career (I think) with the Wild Thing (Shooting Star Press).
Rating: C+. Not bad, not great. Mero was one of those guys that no matter how hard they tried to push him he just was not going to get over as a big deal. He was ok and that’s all. The real highlight of his career is Sable who established a lot of the norms for what we now call divas, minus the ability to wrestle well that is. The SSP is always a good looking move if nothing else. HHH won the title the next night instead of fighting Perfect like he was supposed to.
Sid vs. Vader
This is billed as the battle of the powerbombs and is for the #1 contendership to the world title. After a recap, which includes the Cornette simile of Vader is going to go through Sid like ex-lax through a little woman (where IN THE HELL does he get these things?), it’s time for what was supposed to be the main event of Starrcade 93, which didn’t happen due to Sid stabbing Arn Anderson.
Sid got into some really strange fights including that and an incident at a bar where he insulted all the small wrestlers, but Brian Pillman stood up to him. Sid stormed off to look for something to fight with (his arm was hurt) and came back with, of all things, a squeegee.
Now for those of you not familiar, that’s the thing used to clean your windows at a gas station. Imagine a guy that’s 6’9 and has a reputation as a bad ass about to take on a full bar with a damn squeegee. He was laughed out of the place before a single punch was thrown.
Anyway, the winner fights Shawn at Survivor Series. This show is sponsored by Playstation. That’s just weird to see as it was brand new at the time. Sid finally has his Psycho music going which always rocked. I really think he gets a bad rap for his career. He wasn’t as bad as people claim he was. He was a basic power guy, but his personality more than made up for it, and he got pops to go along with it, both in WCW and WWE.
Shawn comes out to do commentary, minus the belt for some reason. I’ve always enjoyed him commentary as he’s got a natural humor to him. It’s also nice to hear someone that actually has been in the ring recently at a high level doing analyst work. He actually did regular commentary for a few months coming up so maybe this was a dry run for him.
I really like this match. For one thing, it’s eight minutes even which helps a lot in that it keeps the weaknesses that the two have from being exposed. If your name isn’t the Undertaker, typically you don’t do well in long matches as a big man. Eight minutes is great for guys like this.
Sid actually uses the strategy that a smaller guy would use and it works really well. It’s very back and forth with power vs. power but Sid uses some speed to his advantage. Shawn cheers for his friend Sid but says he doesn’t want to face either of these men at Survivor Series. Eventually this turns into a powerbomb contest with neither being able to get it. Instead, Sid uses a decent looking chokeslam considering who it was used on to get a quick pin. Afterwards, Shawn shakes his hand.
Rating: B. While it was really just two big guys pounding on each other, this was a good match to me. They didn’t try to go out and do their normal stuff as Sid changed his style enough to make this interesting. The not winning with the bomb was a nice little change and showed intelligence on Sid’s part. Again, the key to this match was the length. Keeping it short kept it good.
We see a promo for Survivor Series, which will be the night after the Hall of Fame inductions. Some of the greats inducted that night are: Mikell Scicluna, Lou Albano and Johnny Rodz. Damn, somehow they make Koko look successful.
In the back, Sid is interviewed by Doc but JR interrupts and asks what will Sid do to win the title and talks about the history between Shawn and Sid. This is really pointless.
We get a really good video package on Taker and Mankind’s history. This does a great job of showcasing how Taker has been thrown off his game during this and has had everything taken from him by Mankind, yet he’s never stopped fighting. It amazes me that this feud wouldn’t officially end for almost two more years at Hell In A Cell. This whole feud was brilliant and the credit should go to Taker and Foley. They were insanely great at this and the matches were excellent as well.
Buried Alive: Undertaker vs. Mankind
I don’t care what anyone says: Taker’s entrance will never get old. It’s so over the top that it’s amazing. There’s no robe or hat or coat or anything like that for Taker. It’s just the man himself. They start out fast and this is a fight, not a match. You can tell these guys wanted to fight and they got the chance. They trusted each other and because of that we got a lot of great spots from them.
After about a minute they go to the grave which is set up really well. To begin with it’s up on a raised area so you can really see things well from in the crowd. This was before the big screens were brought in so that was a key element to matches like this. They fight back to the ring and this is really a physical match which works well for guys this big. They keep talking about how this match is unsanctioned.
I’ve never gotten the point of that. If it’s unsanctioned, wouldn’t that mean that the company has no involvement with it? If that’s the case then why is there a WWF referee in a WWF ring on a WWF PPV in a match being called by WWF commentators? Can someone explain that to me?
They brawl into the crowd for a short time and Taker shows off how great of an athlete he really is as he gets an amazing vertical leap to clear the guard rail in a clothesline. I was really impressed by this jump as it was just a straight jump over the railing. Very impressive looking. I just noticed something. Earlier in the video package for Survivor Series, they had a clip from this match. That’s just weird to me.
I get that it was likely made after the show was but it’s just kind of surreal. Taker goes into the grave but fights out of it. The two guys fighting in a grave is just creepy looking all around. They fight back to the ring after Taker throws Mankind off the hill that the grave is on. They get stairs and a chair and proceed to beat the living hell out of each other with some sick sounding chair shots.
Taker just kills Mankind here as it’s a straight fight and I don’t think Taker has ever lost one of those, at least not as the Deadman. They fight back to the grave after a tombstone. Mankind gets the claw on though, which shows how genius of a move that truly is. It takes very little strength and can be applied from anywhere. His head was tied between the ropes last month and he got it on.
Anyway, of course Taker gets back in control and chokeslams Mankind into the grave which was a very cool spot since the way the lighting is set up he just disappears into the hole in the ground. Taker is declared the winner which is dumb as you can clearly see that Mankind has about half of his body not covered at all.
Post match is the important part here though, as Taker keeps burying him. A masked man (Terry Gordy for you trivia geeks out there) later named the Executioner comes out and hits Taker with a shovel in the back of the head. He helps Mankind out of the grave and then starts burying Taker. The lights flicker and then go out for a bit as I’m guessing Taker is leaving the grave under the cover of darkness around this time.
Either that or in about one minute two men using their hands can move enough dirt to fill a grave so deeply that a man as big as the Undertaker is completely invisible to the eye. Goldust, Bradshaw, Crush (WTF???), and HHH come out to help bury him. This goes on for about five minutes until thunder begins to rumble, sending the heels running away to end the show.
OR DOES IT???
We cut to the back where the masked man is revealed to be the Executioner (told you) and Mankind and Paul Bearer celebrate. We go back to the arena where Lawler keeps saying he told everyone it would happen. Suddenly a lightning bolt hits the grave and a purple gloved hand pops out of the dirt as Vince shouts about how he will never rest in peace to end the show.
Rating: B+. Like I said earlier, this wasn’t a match but rather a fight. These two continued to beat the living hell out of each other but with a bit of a twist this time. It worked well though as the brawling is what both men were the best at. The post match stuff was fine as the crowd exploded when that hand came up and was hot as hell the whole match. Another example of a crowd making an angle work better than it should have.
Overall Rating: B. Another solid show here as the formula is officially down to a science: a title match that no one really wants to see, solid midcard stuff, and a story that runs through the show (JR being a dick) and a solid main event that is the highlight of the night. Solid stuff throughout with only the tag title match being pretty boring. Other than that, good show. Main event isn’t so much good as it is fun to watch, kind of like a Jason Statham movie. Recommended if you have some time to kill.
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