Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Random Network Reviews: In Your House Rage in the Cage

In Your House: Rage in the Cage
February 18th, 1996 | Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky | Attendance: 5,500

Here we have the sixth In Your House show in history and the first of 1996. The main event of this show was probably the biggest in the history of In Your House to this point. It is the fourth match in the Bret Hart/Diesel series and they’ve had great matches at King of the Ring, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series in recent years. Before the actual show began there were four matches. The only one that looked even slightly interesting was Undertaker defeating Goldust.

We start with a clip of Sunny in a bikini telling us that viewer discretion is advised. Yup, that’s how you should start things. The video package hypes the big main event Steel Cage match before we go to Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler on commentary.

Crybaby Match
1-2-3 Kid w/ Ted Dibiase vs. Razor Ramon

What’s a crybaby match you ask? The loser has to be fitted with a diaper. The build even included Kid attacking Razor with a stroller. Kid slaps Razor, so he just wails on him because he’s much bigger. Kid wisely goes to those “educated feet” to turn the tide a bit. He even busts out a crotch chop before it was cool. When Razor tosses Kid outside, Ted Dibiase, being the old school heel that he is, throws baby powder in Razor’s eyes. The referee sees it clearly but does nothing. I don’t believe this is no DQ. Kid moves to a sleeper hold after a missile dropkick. Razor gets out and they have an awkward exchange so Kid goes back to the sleeper. It makes sense to wear down the larger individual. Razor fights out and catches Kid for the fallaway slam. Instead though, he takes him to the second rope and hits a super version of it. Dibiase distracts so Kid tries powder again but Razor kicks it into his face. He follows with two Razor’s Edges and that’s a wrap.

Winner: Razor Ramon in 12:01
Solid match between two guys with good chemistry. The heel gets his comeuppance which is especially good given the odd stipulation. The right guy won a relatively good bout. **¾

Of course after the match, Razor Ramon powders Kid’s bottom and puts him in a diaper. After Razor leaves, Kid gets up and realizes that he’s in a diaper so he starts crying and throwing a tantrum.

Duke “The Dumpster” Droese vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
On the Free-for-All before the Royal Rumble a month earlier, Droese beat Helmsley to earn the 30th spot in the Rumble. Droese starts hot, tossing Helmsley around by his hair. Hunter’s random valet doesn’t really know how to react to a match as she’s smiling while Hunter gets pummeled. Jerry Lawler actually tries to interview her. Hunter takes over, and at this point, he worked very simple matches. He hit basic spots and used generic heel tactics. Droese was unused for a while before getting the mini-push that led here. It seemed like Vince wanted snobby Hunter to face smelly gimmicks as he had just finished working Henry Godwin. Droese hits a nice powerslam and gets a pop by screaming it was time to take out the trash. He hits the Trash Compactor and could win but goes for his trash can. Mike Chioda gets rid of the trash can, but Hunter takes the lid and lays out Duke for the 1-2-3.

Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 9:37
I kind of expected that to totally suck but it was not bad. Despite Hunter’s tendency to work dull at the time, this was never really boring and Droese showed surprising fire. The ending was a bit botched since the official could kind of see the trash can lid though. **¼

After some merchandise is plugged, we see Jim Cornette kick Yokozuna out of Camp Cornette but Yokozuna freaks out on them. It’s so odd that Yokozuna got bigger but worked better as a face. Dok Hendrix interviews Yokozuna, who magically has learned to speak English. He sounds oddly like a Samoan.

British Bulldog w/ Jim Cornette vs. Yokozuna
This should be interesting because British Bulldog is someone who is at his best against good workers but that’s not really Yokozuna. Bulldog wears down Yoko, allowing Cornette to get in some cheap shots. Yoko squashes him in the corner and sets up for the Banzai Drop. Cornette, being the great manager that he is, pulls Bulldog out of the ring. They spill outside where Yoko runs into the ring post. Yoko rallies despite this and when he sets up for the Banzai Drop again, Cornette whacks him with the racket, resulting in the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Yokozuna in 5:02
Fine for what it was. It was kept short because of Yokozuna’s size and while the work wasn’t great, it got the point across. 

Yokozuna is unfazed by Jim Cornette’s attack and goes after him. This brings out Vader, who was red hot at the time after debuting in the Royal Rumble and taking out President Gorilla Monsoon. They handcuff Yokozuna to the ropes and beat him down. Officials come out to stop this but Vader is all like “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK”. Things are finally broken up. Backstage, Goldust creeps out the dude running the AOL chat room.

Owen Hart w/ Jim Cornette vs. Shawn Michaels
You see, Shawn Michaels had just won the Royal Rumble after making a valiant comeback. He was coming back from a masterfully done “concussion” angle that occurred after taking an enziguri from Owen Hart. Wanting revenge, Shawn go his match but his WrestleMania title shot is on the line. Shawn is arrogant as ever to start, escaping a hold and high fiving fans outside. I’m not a fan of this because of how personal this match is. He dives out onto Owen, nearly causing Vince McMahon to orgasm on commentary. Owen barely gets in anything early, as Shawn is running through his stuff. Owen shuts me up with a beautiful snap belly-to-belly suplex. That allows Owen to hold serve, wearing down and working over Shawn. Shawn suplexes Owen to the outside but it doesn’t stop the King of Hart’s offense. We get the trademark HBK corner bump for good measure. Sharpshooter is applied right after, to target the back which is wise. Shawn gets the ropes and gets a near fall on a rollup. When Owen kicks out, he follows with the CONCUSSION ENZIGURI and Shawn brilliantly sells it like he’s dead, falling out of the ring. Instead of taking the countout, Owen brings him in to cover him but Shawn gets the shoulder up. Momentum shifts in Michaels’ favor so he does the kip up and fires away on Owen. Harts take corner bumps better than anyone, I swear. He hits the elbow and knocks Cornette off the apron. Owen ducks Sweet Chin Music and tries the enziguri again, but Shawn ducks that and connects on the kick to keep his title show.

Winner: Shawn Michaels in 15:55
A really good match featuring solid wrestling, crisp work and the added drama of the enziguri angle. It was one of the best angles the WWE did in the mid 90’s. Owen and Shawn always had great chemistry and this was up there as one of their best matches ever. ****

Since it’s 1996 and the WWF still uses the old school blue Steel Cage, they have to set it up so we get Roddy Piper promo time. He guarantees there will be a winner in the WWF Title match at WrestleMania.

WWF Championship Steel Cage Match
Bret Hart (c) vs. Diesel

This is the fourth and final PPV meeting between these two and the first three were all great. Vince McMahon mentions that Bret Hart has never lost a cage match. Diesel can grab the top of the cage while standing flat footed. Diesel whips Bret into the corner, giving us the “Harts take the best corner bumps” spot. It seems more vicious with the cage rattling. Bret continues to bump for Diesel though he gets a few near exits. It’s funny to see Diesel try and crawl out when he’s so huge. Bret nearly goes over but Diesel stops him with a big slam from the top. He comes back with a Rick Steiner bulldog. A staple of their matches has been Bret targeting the knee, which he now does. It seems like Diesel is kind of going through the motions here. Sternum buckle bump from Bret. Those amaze me. Diesel gets more cocky and aggressive as the match advances, sending Bret in for another sternum bump and not taking the opportunity to win. His arrogance costs him as Bret goes to the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Diesel survives and gets extremely close to winning but the Undertaker cuts his way through the mat and pulls Diesel under with him! Bret wisely climbs over and retains.

Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret Hart in 19:11
Not a patch on their best work. The psychology was fine as Diesel wore down Bret before trying to escape, Bret worked the leg and Diesel let his heel character shine through, it was just kind of dull at times. **¾ 

Overall: 6.5/10; Above Average. The only match that you should really go out of your way to see is the Owen Hart/Shawn Michaels bout. Despite this, the two hour runtime and the fact that nothing is really bad on the card makes this a relatively easy watch. The main event drags at times, but besides that, everything else flows smoothly. Nothing out of this world, but a solid show that set up the build for the upcoming WrestleMania XII show well. Next time on “Random Network Reviews”, I take a long look at Night of Champions 2014!