What the World Was Watching: In Your House 5

(My reviews are a little out of order as I accidentally posted the Monday Night RAW that happened the night after this show on Friday instead of posting this In Your House review.  So if you missed that review, you can read this one and then go back and check that one out.  I will finish this series of 1995 WWF columns on Friday).

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Opening Contest:  Razor Ramon & Marty Jannetty (1-0) beat Sid & the 1-2-3 Kid (w/Ted DiBiase) (1-0) when Ramon pins Sid after a second rope bulldog at 12:22:

Goldust is shown admiring Ramon when the Bad Guy walks to the ring, having brought out a director’s chair to place by the entrance before the pay-per-view went on the air.  Todd Pettengill later interviews him and Goldust admires Ramon’s physical attributes.  Fans are polarized in their support of the babyfaces as a decent chunk of ticketholders facing the hard camera cheer when the heels use a blind tag to put Ramon in peril.  The choice of this match as an opener is questionable as the crowd gets bored when Sid is on offense and the match slows.  Due to the fact that Sid and the Kid were being positioned to potentially take the tag team titles from the Smoking Gunns, as well as how the company wants to keep building heat for the Ramon-Kid feud, the outcome was puzzling at the time as the babyfaces prevail in an underwhelming finish when Ramon beats Sid with one of his transition moves.  Rating:  *½

After the match, Ramon tries to give the Kid a Razor’s Edge but Sid pulls his friend off of Ramon’s shoulders.  The heels walk to the Superstar Line phone bank where the presence of Sunny cannot cheer them up.

The ring announcer is unclear what segment goes next, going as far as to spoil what is supposed to happen in the next match by saying that Buddy Landel will compete, but things get sorted out and Lawler walks into the ring to herald the return of Jeff Jarrett to the WWF.  Lawler presents Jarrett with a gold CD for selling more than 500,000 copies of “With My Baby Tonight.”  Jarrett blabbers on about going on a new tour to promote his new album “Greater than Great” and tosses his name into the Royal Rumble.  He then goes to do guest commentary for the next match with Lawler.

The next match is supposed to be Ahmed Johnson against Dean Douglas, but Douglas says that his doctors will not let him wrestle due to back problems.  As a result, Douglas introduces a new “graduate student”, former Smoky Mountain Heavyweight Champion Buddy Landel, who comes out to Ric Flair’s old WWF theme.  This was a rib on Douglas because his pupil was a Ric Flair clone, who Douglas hated.

Ahmed Johnson (6-0) pins Buddy Landel with a Pearl River Plunge in 42 seconds:

Johnson quickly checkmates Landel, which does not let the former SMW talent show what he can do, and then proceeds to take Douglas’ paddle and give him a stiff smack with it on the rear end.  Douglas was never seen on WWF programming again.

After the bell, Lawler is goaded by McMahon to interview Ahmed.  Lawler, along with Jarrett, have a Memphis-style reunion in making fun of Ahmed before Ahmed tells Jarrett that he is an “Achy, breaky heart, fake cowboy” and then gets in Lawler’s face.  That allows Jarrett to smash his gold CD display over Ahmed’s head and hit him several times with a chair.  Ahmed only briefly sells the attack and by the end of the segment he is chasing Jarrett backstage.  Due to what we know now about Ahmed’s stiff style, being programmed in a feud with him seemed to be McMahon’s favorite form of punishment around this time period.

Pettengill interviews Razor Ramon, who offers some brief words for his match against Yokozuna tomorrow night on RAW.  Ramon is given a gold envelope and he reads the contents, which he is not pleased with.

Hog Pen Match with Hillbilly Jim as Special Guest Referee:  Hunter-Hearst Helmsley (24-0-1) beats Henry Godwinn (26-6-3) at 9:03:

Hillbilly Jim’s use in the match as not hyped prior to the pay-per-view, but he reappears for the first time since Prime Time Wrestling went off the air in 1993.  The rules for the match are simple as a hog pen is set up near the entrance and to win the match someone must toss their opponent into the enclosure.  Poor Tony Chimel gets inadvertently slopped at the beginning of the bout but Godwinn does succeed in getting some of the slop on Helmsley’s face when the Greenwich blueblood gets tied in the ropes.  Although the match stipulations limit some of what each man can do, the match is a good brawl, with Helmsley’s back getting cut up after being whipped into the metal door of the pen and eating a Slop Drop on the arena floor.  However, Godwinn makes an errant blind charge and loses because WWF superstars rarely win their specialty matches.  Rating:  ***

After the match, Helmsley gets into a shoving match with Hillbilly Jim and that leads to Godwinn slamming Helmsley into the pen and then slamming him a second time to get some cheers from the crowd.  Helmsley also takes a milkshake to the head from a random fan in the crowd.

A video package hypes the Diesel-Owen Hart match.

Open Contract Match:  Owen Hart (w/Jim Cornette) (10-4-1) beats Diesel (10-3-1) via disqualification at 4:35:

One fan’s sign that says hello to Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) fans is confiscated by a technician’s assistant on the hard camera during the early stages of the match.  Owen put Shawn Michaels on the shelf and his reward is getting a jobber entrance on pay-per-view.  He fares better than Rad Radford but this is an abbreviated form of their match on The Action Zone in February, as Diesel overcomes some token leg work and brutalizes the King of Hearts until he refuses to listen to the referee’s instructions to stop Jackknifing Owen and gets himself disqualified.  The fans very much like this “new” Diesel, with one fan urging him to “call 911” and matchup with ECW’s giant.  Obviously, the finish here was bad, and it was Diesel’s three consecutive pay-per-view loss, but it served two ends of putting over Diesel’s new character while giving Owen a win to brag about in future promos.  Rating:  *

Henry Godwinn and Hunter-Hearst Helmsley are shown talking to fans on the Superstar Line.

Savio Vega comes down the aisle with Santa Claus and passes out some surplus WWF gear, although it is unclear if thousands of pogs were distributed with every gift.  Ted DiBiase gets on the house mic; rips fans for maxing out their credit cards; and, after an eternity, gets Santa to turn on Savio.  The only redeeming part of this segment is McMahon screaming “SAY IT ISN’T SO!”, that Christmas has been desecrated, and that it is not the real Santa because Savio rips off the Santa’s beard, exposing him as the future Balls Mahoney.  It would later be revealed that the Santa here was XANTA Claus from the South Pole and yes, he was even given a squash match!

A video package puts over the Undertaker-King Mabel feud.

Dok Hendrix urges fans to buy WrestleMania:  The Arcade Game for SNES, Genesis, and Playstation.  The SNES version is $15 more than the Playstation version, costing $69.99 versus $54.99.  If you call for the game you can get a VHS tape with all the codes!  And this deal seems like a big ripoff in retrospect because the SNES game did not have Bam Bam Bigelow or Yokozuna.

Casket Match:  The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) (13-1) beats King Mabel (w/Sir Mo) (13-2-1) at 6:11:

For the third time in a feud with a fat man, the Undertaker settles things with a casket match.  Mabel wastes no time hitting the belly-to-belly suplex and using his girth with a splash and leg drop.  However, he takes too long to close the casket and the Undertaker rallies to do all but put the final nail in Mabel’s six month singles push.  He even tosses Mo in the casket for good measure to get the urn back, thereby killing two birds with one stone.  This would be a turning point in the Undertaker’s career as his three-year tenure of fighting giants and gravitationally challenged individuals would end and he would begin facing more reputable superstars from this point forward, beginning a long road back to the WWF title.  Rating:  ½*

Jim Ross interviews the British Bulldog, Jim Cornette, and Diana Smith.  Cornette implies that the Bulldog stole the respect of Stu Hart when he beat Bret Hart at SummerSlam ’92 and the Bulldog vows that history is going to repeat itself tonight.

Pettengill interviews WWF Champion Bret Hart, who vows revenge for 1992.

WWF Championship Match:  Bret Hart (Champion) (18-2-2) pins The British Bulldog (w/Jim Cornette & Diana Smith) (17-5-1) with a La Magistral Cradle at 21:10:

In a nice touch, Cornette’s tennis racquet has a Santa covering and he uses it to effect midway through the match by jamming it in Bret’s throat.  The opening moments of the match move slowly, with some fans working up a very loud “ECW” chant when the Bulldog keeps spamming chinlocks and headlocks, and McMahon takes advantage of the pace to announce that the winner will face the Undertaker at the Royal Rumble.  Bret manages to get things back on track when he goes on offense eight minutes in and builds drama by doing a magnificent bladejob after going head-first into the steps, opening such a gusher that it goes all over the ringside mats and cakes the Bulldog’s tights.  The Bulldog gets a visual victory by powerslamming Bret on the arena floor but Bret outwits him in the ring, rolling up the Bulldog with a La Magistral cradle to win his first title defense.  The finish was very flat, as the Bulldog did not endure enough punishment to make the pin a realistic ending, but a bleeding Bret seemingly fighting on instinct made for a memorable encounter and was Bret’s best match as champion during this time frame.  Rating:  ****

Pettengill interviews the Undertaker and Paul Bearer, who are excited about being named the number one contender to the WWF title.  However, Diesel is not happy, cutting into the segment and saying that he deserves to be the number one contender.  Bearer hilariously rips Diesel for not being cool, triggering a staredown with the Undertaker to end the broadcast.

The Last Word:  Despite using SummerSlam ’92 as a major selling point for the WWF title match, Bret nor the Bulldog used any major spots or spinning sequences from that match to put over that either one of them had studied film to prepare for their bout.  The weak build for the show, flooded with a card of unattractive matchups, likely contributed to few fans buying the pay-per-view, as the card pulled an embarrassingly low buyrate and set a pattern of December shows being some of the least purchased in the monthly pay-per-view era.  Nevertheless, the WWF title match did deliver, the hog pen match was better than fans expected, and the booking did build an intriguing main event scene for January, so this show was worth the price of admission, although if you take the time to view it yourself you will want to fast forward through the lengthy Jarrett and Xanta Claus segments.

Attendance:  7,289

Buyrate:  0.3 (est. 76,000 buys)

Up Next:  WWF Superstars for December 23, 1995! (The last review of this series!)

If you are interested in getting all of these 1995 reviews, in addition to a timeline for the WWF in 1995, a detailed breakdown of wrestler win/loss records, a listing and ranking of major matches, and an explanation of the year’s angles, you can purchase the e-book on Amazon for $4.99 or buy a paperback version for $26.  The paperback is 812 pages.  If you buy the paperback, you will get the e-book for free.