The opening video teases that Shawn and Diesel may not be the most functional team since they broke up once before. Then we get a In Your House theme song?!?! Complete with singing. I either blocked that out of my conscious or I’ve never actually watched an early IYH show. Song isn’t very good-for the record.
Savio Vega vs. Waylon Mercy
I don’t think they built to this at all. Mercy is retroactively viewed as a great gimmick but I’m pretty sure this is going to be the last I see of him as he suffered a back injury against Diesel around this same period.
Given both men’s pushes, this sure looked to be just an extended squash for Mercy on paper though. Mercy is supposed to be channeling Robert Mitchem’s psychotic movie personas but given his dress wear now he looks like Bray Wyatt after channeling a treadmill.
Vega controls early on. They botch a stun gun. I might be seeing things that aren’t there but Mercy sure looks like he’s working hurt – he’s walking gingerly. Dok Hendrix pops in and alerts us that Owen Hart is not in the building. Mercy gets the crazy eyes sleeper (his finisher) locked on early but Savio escapes. Spin heel kick gives Savio the upset win. Match was there.
Henry O. Godwinn vs. Sid
Sid was slopped on Superstars the day before to help add to the HOG vs. Million Dollar Corporation feud. Sid powerbombed HOG on the cement as retaliation apparently. I think I have to give Sid round 1 in that case. Henry’s “Deliverance” inspired theme is terrible for a babyface. HOG sells his back on a suplex and tries a body slam right after because he’s not very bright.
I have to contend that part of the reason that the WWF roster is so poor in 95/96 is because from 84-90 Vince had been able to scoop up battle tested guys from the territories and the NWA and then give them gimmicks to fit his product. By 1990 the effects of killing off the territories started to show and WCW also developed very few guys who would appeal to Vince during this same period so Vince had to take scrap heaps like Tex Slazenger, Shanghai Pierce and Max Payne and try and make something out of them. I wonder why Ron Simmons was ignored during this period?
Focus on the match…Focus on the match…Sid’s “methodical” offense has me desiring a fast forward button, but I press on for YOUR pleasure. Camel clutch (not a good one) by Sid. HOG gets free…and back into the camel clutch. Ugh. HOG fights out, gets the Slop Drop (reverse DDT, his finish) and DiBiase saves Sid. DiBiase trips HOG and Sid power bombs him. I assume from the commentary that earns Sid a 3 count but I can’t see it since I’ve gouged my eyes out from boredom.
Sid and Ted argue over who gets to slop HOG – this leads to Kama and Bam Bam Bigelow coming down and brawling. This distracts Dibiase long enough for HOG to slop him again. The nuances of this feud are Shakespearian in nature.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. British Bulldog
I don’t believe this has any build either. Bigelow is gone from the WWF in another month so he’s just jobbing out to the new heels before he goes. What a reward for Bammer for making Wrestlemania a mild success 5 months earlier. Bigelow is basically taking up the spot intended for Lex Luger here. Bigelow’s game so we start with a energetic sequence that end with Bigelow taking a nasty spill over the top rope. Spinal cords are overrated anyway. Bulldog works the knee until Bigelow nails an enziguri and Davey Boy takes a tremendous 360 flip bump. After another back and forth sequence Bulldog wins via a powerslam. Fine little match here. Makes Bigelow’s dissipating push all the sadder.
Bob Backlund wanders out. He’s using multisyllabic words to call us stupid. This leads to him introducing Dean Douglas. “From the University of Knowledge”. The powder blue singlet is bad enough but the giant “!” on his back make him look like a cartoon.
Dean Douglas vs. Razor Ramon
They start with a fast paced series of moves and counters. Can we assume Stephanie whined about her private school tutor and thus Dean Douglas was born? Dean works over Razor’s back. Dean had already had his match with The Kid that sealed his fate in the WWF but this match isn’t exposing him as a bad worker by any means. Dean chucks Razor into the ref. Razor’s Edge and no ref. The Kid runs in and counts the 3. Razor gets up and is like WTF?!? Then he chucks Kid viciously out of the ring. What a dick! Dean gets a roll up for the win in the middle of this. Booked perfectly if the intention was to not get Douglas over in the least. That ending was right out of modern RAW booking. Dean would get politically buried for another 3 months and would be gone back to ECW by early ’97. I don’t hold a candle for Shane Douglas, but you’d think Vince would do something to avoid having his new talent destroyed at this point. Razor and The Kid get bitchy after and Tony Garea, Jerry Brisco and others break it up.
Shawn and Diesel promo – Shawn compares Camp Cornette to an annoying woman (what a charmer) and Diesel promises they will be “2 chaps with new straps” tonight.
Jean Pierre Lafitte vs Bret “Hitman” Hart
Bret says this is Captain Crook vs. Capt. Crunch *makes fist * “Time to make JPL walk the plank”. Bret’s subtle distain for wrestling a pirate gimmick continues to bring me joy. Bret kicks the match off with a tope and kicks a mudhole in JPL. JPL’s fairly talented in the ring but he would run afoul of the Kliq soon after this as well and he too was out the door by early 96. (ARE YOU SENSING A PATTERN VINCE?) Bret runs into the steel ring post to set up JPL’s heat section. Leg drop from the top fails to finish Bret. Cannonball misses. JPL misses a senton and splats on the cement floor. JPL misses a top rope splash and finally that’s enough to set JPL up for the Sharpshooter to finish. Good match.
British Bulldog is selected to replace Owen in the main event.
Bulldog & Yokozuna vs, Shawn Michaels and Diesel
“YOU WANNA TALK ROCK’EM SOCK’EM” Babyface Vince is so lame at times. Less than 20 minutes of PPV time left, so this should be brisk. Shawn and Bulldog start with a fast paced flipity flop sequence. Diesel dumps Yoko with a forearm. Yoko wants Diesel to fight but Shawn insists on staying in. They do a sumo stand off at Shawn’s prompting and Yoko levels him! That just earned the match ***** from me! Diesel tags in and Yoko drops him too! Bulldog tries to do a delayed vertical suplex on Diesel and can’t keep him up. He repeats the spot and holds him up this time. Shawn gets the extended beatdown until Yoko misses the Banzai drop. They toss Yoko and Bulldog into each other and Yoko ends up landing on top of Davey Boy. Owen Hart sneaks into the ring and is power bombed and pinned right away.
The Kliq ending the PPV holding all the titles was a fairly symbolic sign of the times. Thanks to them this PPV bombed, and the next month bombed and December’s set the record for an all time low buyrate IIRC. The poor sap in all those main events? The British Bulldog.
Of course Vince didn’t steer the course too differently, as he switched from Diesel being the savior to Shawn being the savior and Shawn failed to pop business as well, although he would go on RAW and proclaim business was rising with him on top since he wasn’t bottoming out like Diesel’s PPVs were. The next few months are going to be a chore to sit through. This show was ok, with ok matches and ok efforts, and ok booking. Completely unnecessary to ever watch or think about again though.