The SmarK Rant for In Your House: Final Four!
I had originally done this one in 1999, so I’d say 18 years is enough of a gap to justify a redo.
So the idea here is that Bret Hart was SCREWED at Royal Rumble and he’s unhappy about it, so Gorilla Monsoon has decided that Bret, Steve Austin, Undertaker and Vader will battle in a mini-Rumble for the vacant WWF title. Since Shawn is crippled now and unable to compete and all.
Live from Chattanooga, TN, drawing 6399.
Your hosts are JR & King
Marc Mero v. Leif Cassidy
Poor Leif doesn’t even get an entrance. I know it’s only a 1:40 show, but that’s just cold. Oddly, Mero is just listed as “The Wildman” in the graphic. Mero is teasing a heel turn at this point (complete with evil Spock goatee) and goes after Cassidy aggressively to start and works the arm. Jerry Lawler goes on a rant about how guys like Shawn Michaels doing moonsaults and planchas will get you in the hospital, while his own “ground-based” style gives you longevity. And indeed, most of the guys from this generation ended up destroyed, while Lawler kept going strong for another 20 years. Mero tosses Cassidy and beats on him outside, then back in with a slingshot legdrop for two. The crowd is super-dead for this, and Cassidy hits Mero with a pair of dropkicks to the knee to take over. He takes Mero down with a kneebar and works on the knee a bunch, which actually starts to draw sympathy heat for Mero. He goes to the figure-four but now Sable actually interferes to cause the break, and slaps Leif. Mero gets pissed and hits Cassidy with a dive, then beats on him in the ring (while trying to maintain a sneer the whole time) and finishes with the shooting star press at 9:30. Mero looked weird and uncomfortable doing this role, and the crowd had no idea who to get behind. Mero got much better as a character with the boxer gimmick. *1/2
Meanwhile, Shawn vacates the World title due to his lost smile, and Sid cuts a promo backstage letting us know that he basically doesn’t care who wins tonight because they’re on borrowed time. This was a weird segment in that they cut to the arena, where Honky Tonk Man’s music was playing, and then played the Shawn and Sid segments, and never mentioned Honky again!
Flash Funk, Bart Gunn & Goldust v. Faarooq, Crush & Savio Vega
Well this is some random bullshit. The new version of the Nation had already beaten all of these scrubs on RAW leading up to this, so now we get the six-man squash. It’s the big brawl to start and the babyfaces clear the ring, allowing Flash to hit the Nation with a dive. And then the Nation just beats him up on the floor anyway because it’s 3-on-1. That’s pretty funny. Into the ring, Faarooq hits Funk with a spinebuster, but he comes back with a top rope rana on Savio for two. The Nation bails again, so Bart tosses Funk onto them with another dive, and the Nation beats on Flash AGAIN. He really needs to rethink his tactics. Back in the ring for more abuse as Faarooq works the back and calls Flash a “southern black redneck.” That’s some weak smack talk. He’s from DENVER! Crush and Savio hit Flash with a spike piledriver behind the ref’s back for two. Finally he gets a hot tag to Gunn, and if I’m getting beat up by three guys, Bart Gunn is probably not the hot hand I’m looking for. It’s BONZO GONZO and Bart gets a top rope bulldog on Faarooq, but Crush legdrops him and puts Faarooq on top for the pin at 6:43. Flash was trying, I guess. *
Meanwhile, Steve Austin thinks this whole Final Four nonsense is a huge conspiracy against him and it’s all a bunch of bullshit politics.
Intercontinental title: Rocky Maivia v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
This had originally been booked as Hunter defending against Goldust again, before Vince freaked out and Thursday RAW changed everything. Rocky’s reaction is pretty anemic, although at least his hair is looking less stupid at this point. This is the first meeting of Rock v. HHH on PPV, with many more to come. Hunter takes him down and slaps him around to start, but Rocky comes back with his armdrags and flailing arms. Hunter slugs away on him, but Rock goes back to the armdrag until Hunter tosses him and follows with a baseball slide. Back in, as Jim Ross calls these two an indication of the direction that the company is going. Yeah right, like the “Greenwich blueblood” and goofball rookie will ever end up on top! Hunter goes to the chinlock and uses the ropes for a bit of heat, then goes back to the good old high knee for two. Rocky comes back with his new finisher, the small package, for two. Hunter stomps him down again and goes back to the chinlock, but Rocky gets a crossbody for two. Rock makes another comeback, but Hunter cuts him off with a clothesline and the people CHEER. Hunter goes up and gets caught coming down, and now the crowd actively turns on Rocky’s comeback. More flailing arms as he looks like he should be a prop for Bayley’s entrance, and Rock goes up with a high cross for two. Rock pounds away in the corner, but Hunter hotshots him and puts his feet on the ropes for two. Rock with the shitty hurricane DDT as he’s clearly having trouble going this long at this point in his career. Hunter with a facecrusher and neckbreaker, but now Goldust joins us for the distraction and Rocky suplexes Hunter for the pin at 12:30. Just a normal TV match. **
And then the moment that changes EVERYTHING, as Goldust and Hunter beak at each other, and suddenly a “fan” grabs Marlena from outside the ring and chokes her out, before getting hauled off by security. And that, finally, was what got Hunter Hearst Helmsley over as a heel, thanks to the addition of his new bodyguard, Chyna.
Apparently the Network has the Coliseum Video version because we get an advertisement for Wrestlemania 13, coming May 6 to Coliseum Video!
WWF tag team titles: Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon
Furnas controls Owen’s arm to start, and then Owen and LaFon do a really slick pinfall reversal sequence. Lawler, discussing Owen’s “knee injury” as of late: “How come when Shawn Michaels claims to have a knee injury, no one says he’s faking?” EVERYONE said he was faking! LaFon does more nice chain-wrestling with Bulldog, but gets hit with a cheapshot by Owen and the champs take over. Owen with a backbreaker on Lafon for two. Lafon with a sunset flip on Bulldog, but Owen runs interference and then comes in to work the leg. The champs bust out a ROCKERPLEX on LaFon for two, but he gets a small package on Owen, which Bulldog turns over behind the ref’s back, and then Furnas turns THAT over while the ref gets rid of Bulldog. Owen accidentally hits Bulldog with the leg lariat and they get into a disagreement over that, which ends with Bulldog clotheslining Owen and then changing his mind and saving the pin instead. Furnas gets a hot tag and hits Owen with a pair of suplexes for two. LaFon with a northern lights suplex for two. Furnas with a frankensteiner for two. LaFon with a DDT for two. These are some high level double-teams going on. Owen comes back with the Owenzuigiri on Furnas and brings Bulldog back in, and he takes out his issues on the challengers instead of Owen. Bulldog hotshots LaFon in the corner and sets up for the powerslam, but Owen just hits him with the Slammy to draw the DQ at 10:30. Hey, they’re still the champs, I dunno what Bulldog’s problem is. And then he BREAKS THE SLAMMY. How DARE you, sir! Even the crowd gasps at that, which is kind of hilarious. Match was good at the end with the crazy double-teams, but the Bulldog & Owen act was clearly the highlight. ***
WWF title: Bret Hart v. Vader v. Steve Austin v. Undertaker
Elimination is either by pinfall or over-the-top, although if you let one guy get away with losing via over-the-top, then everyone pretty much has to. Everyone pairs off to start and Taker hits Vader with the flying clothesline and immediately goes old school on Austin. Vader hits Taker with a belly to belly, but he no-sells and they head to the floor for a brawl. Taker kicks a chair back at Vader’s face and runs him into the stairs as Vader is like “Fuck it” and gigs himself wide open. Back in the ring, Bret gets a sleeper on Austin, but Steve counters with a jawbreaker for two. Taker with a chokeslam on Vader, but Austin hits him with a screwed up stunner for two. I think Taker was expecting a neckbreaker there and sold it as such. Taker breaks on Austin in the corner while Vader grabs a chair and beats the hell out of Bret. Vader’s eye is HORRIFYING.
Austin and Vader brawl up the aisle now and Austin just drops the stairs on his face while Bret and UT don’t even bother doing much because they can’t follow this. Vader gets whipped into the timekeeper’s table and Austin beats on him while a poor cameraman cowers underneath them in a great visual. Vader grabs Bret and just beats on him outside now, while Taker drops Austin on the top rope and works the nuts. So now Bret and Vader go fighting into the crowd as this gets crazier and crazier. Austin hits Taker with a flying clothesline for two while Vader puts Bret in a Sharpshooter on the floor. Like Bret would ever submit to his own move. Bret and Taker team up to beat on Austin, but Austin comes back with a Thesz Press on Vader and he just hammers on the bloody eye. Everyone just throws stiff-looking shots and sells like crazy and Jim Ross is in his GLORY calling it.
Bret with a piledriver on Austin for two. Vader goes up with a moonsault on Taker and misses, and they brawl to the floor again. Bret and Austin fight on the top rope while Vader and Taker choke each other out with a TV cable. At this point, Vader is really looking like he needs to get out of there and get attention. Bret and Austin trade rollups for two, and then Bret trades fisticuffs with Vader before just kicking him right in the nuts. Legsweep gets two after that. Austin and Taker fight for the elimination on the ropes, but Steve hangs on. Everyone is slowing down a lot, which is understandable given the pace to start. Bret finally tosses Austin out at 18:16 to get his revenge. And no, Austin wasn’t supposed to win this, that was just a rumor that got out of hand.
Vader clips Taker and sends him to the floor, then goes back to beating on Bret again. Vader goes up and Bret brings him down with a superplex and gets the Sharpshooter, but Taker breaks it up. At this point, Austin returns to attack Bret again and runs him into the post while Vader goes up for the Vaderbomb. Taker sits up, punches Vader in the nuts, and he falls out of the ring at 22:40. So that leaves Taker v. Bret, and a chokeslam follows, but Austin tries to pull Bret out and messes up the tombstone. Taker goes after Austin, and Bret clotheslines him out of the ring to win the title at 24:10. Finish was a bit messed up but HOLY SHIT what a match! This was the Vader Show, but everyone was just letting it all hang out. ****1/2 Bret’s celebration was a bit subdued given what he knew was happening the next night, and Sid comes out for the staredown to end the show.
This was almost literally a one-match show, but it delivered HUGE. I can’t recommend the show, but it’s only 1:40 so it’s not like a huge investment if you watch it, but the Final Four match is required viewing.