Friday, December 23, 2016
As noted in previous reviews, the In Your House collection is usually an easy watch. I rarely see one that is offensively bad, some are really good and even when they are mediocre, they’re quickly over given their (for the most part) two hour run time. Here, we have the first ever PPV meeting between Steve Austin and the Undertaker, as well as the in-ring debut of Ken Shamrock. This would be the 15th In Your House in history.
The opening video package for this show is basic, but to the point and pretty cool. Commentary then runs down the three big matches for tonight. Commentary is Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.
I don’t know if there was an actual reason or not, but commentary saying the Funkettes weren’t at ringside because of Chyna is one of those little thing that helps someone like Chyna get over. Flash starts quick as Jim Ross tells us that the Hart Foundation scalped some tickets so they can sit front row. Flash knocks HHH outside and seems to go for a big move, but instead just hits a weak diving clothesline. Chyna clotheslines the hell out of him behind the official’s back. Maybe she too was disappointed in his offense. HHH takes control and wears down Flash. He makes a mistake by trying a high risk move and eats a boot. Funk starts a rally with that until HHH catches him up top. He hits a second rope back suplex that Flash flips over for, making it look much better. The Pedigree follows to end things.
Technically, the match was fine but the lack of heat from the crowd really hurt things. Flash bumped pretty well for HHH, but most of Hunters offense at the time was dull. The focus seemed more on getting Chyna over than the competitors.
Rocky Maivia is interviewed backstage about losing the Intercontinental Championship and how his career has hit a rough patch. None of the charisma that he would become known for was evident here.
Who would think that in a year and a half, these two would be feuding for the WWF Championship? There is a surprising intensity at some points in the match, with Mankind beating the hell out of Rocky. Jim Ross brings up Mankind saying that he is a loving father. This was around the time that they were starting to add some sympathy to the Mankind character, turning him into a major babyface. The fight moves to the ramp where Rocky hits a damn Rock Bottom. JR does his whole “HOW DO WRESTLERS LEARN HOW TO FALL?” stuff that he ran into the ground. Inside, Rocky is coming close to a win. He comes off the top with a cross body but Mankind rolls through right into the Mandible Claw.
That wasn’t great, but it was surprisingly fun. They did some cool spots like the stage Rock Bottom, giving us a preview of the brutal matches they would go on to have for the WWF Title. The finish was creative too, so points for that.
Gorilla Monsoon shows up to send any members of the Nation not wrestling to the top of the stage. Ahmed starts with Crush, instantly telling me that this will be pretty bad. Right off the bat, Ahmed hits a hideous looking scissors kick. They plod through some boring stuff with Crush holding serve. He goes for the Heart punch, only for Ahmed to counter with an ugly spinning heel kick. He gets the three count at 5:38. Savio Vega is next and takes advantage of a tired Ahmed. I mean, five minutes is like an Ironman match for Ahmed. It’s weird to see him trying to sell so much. Savio is in control, but then just starts beating up Ahmed with a chair, getting disqualified on purpose at 11:13. The final gauntlet opponent, Faarooq comes down to pick up the pieces. Faarooq beats on him until Ahmed hits a spinebuster and Pearl River Plunge but only for two. Faarooq then gets up and wins with the Dominator.
Much like the rest of the feud between Ahmed and Nation of Domination, this sucked. Ahmed was always a poor worker and things got worse after he started getting hurt. The Nation at this time was pretty bad too, not helping the cause. Just a dreadful thirteen minutes.
Here we have the pro wrestling debut of Ken Shamrock. The match can end via submission of knockout, which plays into both guy’s strengths. They go for that early with Vader looking for strikes and Shamrock trying to grab any limb. The crowd is pretty dead until Shamrock starts slamming and suplexing the big man. Pretty much everything these guys do is stiff, adding something to this war. Vader suplexes Shamrock outside and continues the beating. At one point, he sends Shamrock into the corner hard and applies a submission of his own. He misses the moonsault and Shamrock starts to come back. He fires off shots in the corner until Vader just annihilates him with a big one. He goes to continue but Shamrock pulls him into the ankle lock and makes Vader tap.
I feel like this match isn’t for everyone. I don’t think I really liked it much the first time I saw it. However, I’ve recently become more of a fan of this style and I find myself liking it much more here. They just beat the hell out of each other and it worked as a semi-legit fight. Vader was a great choice for a first opponent for Shamrock.
Right as the two men face off in the middle of the ring, the Hart Foundation shows up to take seats at ringside. Austin doesn’t care and just goes on the offensive while the belt and robe are still on Taker. He then grabs Owen Hart and pulls him over the guardrail to beat him up. Once the action returns to the ring, the pace slows down. Austin wisely keeps the Undertaker grounded. Neidhart is heard yelling at a fan and it seems like one may have tried to get physical with them. The heat they drew was pretty legit. Taker turns it around and lays into Austin with SOUPBONES! Austin applies a weak looking STF, though it’s still miles ahead of John Cena’s. Lawler is confused at the hold and JR calls him out, telling him that if he ever left Memphis, he’d know a hold or two. Surprisingly, Undertaker works the leg as well, making for an interesting dynamic. In classic Austin fashion, he’s talking trash to the Hart Foundation while in the submission. It seems like both guys have each out well scouted, avoiding the big moves of the other. Even though Austin is a face, he hits a low blow. Earl Hebner gives him a tern talking to, so Austin flips him the double bird behind his back to a massive pop. Undertaker responds with one of his own. Taker then hits a Chokeslam and Austin retaliates with a Stunner. Before he can pin, Brian Pillman rings the bell, causing a distraction. This allows Undertaker to get up. He goes for the Tombstone, Austin nearly counters into one of his own, but Taker counters back and ends it with a Tombstone.
Honestly, that was probably the best match these two would have on Pay-Per-View. Their chemistry always seemed off, but they showed here that they were certainly capable. Both guys going for the leg was interesting. I loved Austin being a total badass and both guys scouting each other and being desperate enough to resort to low blows. The unclean finish actually worked great here.
Once the match ends, the Hart Foundation run in to attack the Undertaker. This leaves Austin to see Bret Hart in the front row in his wheelchair. Austin turns the chair over and steals a crutch, bringing it in the ring to clean house. After the Foundation leaves, Austin lays out Undertaker in a very Stone Cold move.
Overall: Here’s one of those classic In Your House events. It is a super easy watch thanks to the short runtime, and the show itself is a mixed bag. While you get the opener and the gauntlet match, which were both pretty bad, you are also treated to two very good matches in Shamrock/Vader and the WWF Title match. Add in a decent little Rock/Mankind match which works as a preview to their future wars and you get a thumbs up. According to my randomizer, next on is