July PPV Countdown: WWF In Your House II

(Dammit, almost forgot about the WWF’s July IYH offerings, as I was concentrating on the Bash/Bash combos from WCW.  Oh well, we’ll do a bit of catchup for a few days.) The SK Retro Rant for WWF In Your House II – Since I had to redo the Michaels-Jarrett match recap for my Best WWF Matches of the 90s rant, I figured that since the show was only 1:40 anyway, I might as well redo the whole shebang. For those who haven’t read the embarrassingly markish original review from 1995 in my wet-behind-the-ears days on RSPW before I discovered the miracle of ripping off John Petrie’s recap style, count yourself lucky. (I accidentally highlighted the whole thing and hit delete before I could post it here.  Sorry, my bad.)  For those who HAVE, here’s a better version… – Live from Nashville, TN. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler. – Just to clarify, this was from the era before the In Your House shows had cutesy nicknames and buyrates that broke 1.0. (Back then maybe, but the horribly disappointing IYH buyrates would have Vince dancing in the aisles today if his shows were doing 200-300K domestically on a regular basis.  Of course, these shows were only $15 and today’s are $50 a shot, so obviously there’s a huge disparity in the money being made today anyway.)  As an interesting sidenote, although most people credit WCW Nitro with being the catalyst for the big war between the companies, but in fact when WCW switched to a monthly PPV schedule in order to milk that cash cow for every cent it was worth, the WWF was forced to follow suit or else look minor league. In retrospect, I think everyone would have been happier if both companies had just limited themselves to six shows a year, but that’s one genie that’s not going back in the bottle. – Opening match: 1-2-3 Kid v. The Roadie. Future Clique-buddies COLLIDE. Roadie is of course the prototype version of the character who became Road Dogg, at this point acting as Jeff Jarrett’s lackey. Kid ambushes him to start, and they do a leapfrog sequence that looks nice but goes nowhere. Bad-looking headscissors puts Roadie on the floor and he stalls. Kid follows with a pescado that misses, but he improvises and turns it into a flying kick instead. Ah, for the days when X-Pac wasn’t concussed or stoned all the time and could still do that stuff without too much effort.  (12 years after this was written, he’s finally trying to tell people in his position at the time that maybe it’s not such a good idea to do the stuff he did.) Into the corner for the kick combo, but Kid gets caught with a powerslam. Kid gets dumped and Roadie follows with a clothesline off the apron. Since the Kid is a babyface here, he works in the requisite spot where he gets crotched hard to the post and falls back-first to the mat. Never mind the concussions, I’d be worried about taking too many of THAT sort of bump in one lifetime. Back in, Roadie gets a pair of legdrops and struts. And stalls. Well, he’s obviously a student of Jeff Jarrett. He finally covers for two, and then we hit the chinlock. Slugfest, and Kid hits a spinkick for two. Corner dropkick, and Kid goes upstairs with a frog splash for two. Cool. Roadie catches him trying a rana and powerbombs him for two. Roadie misses the blind charge and Kid goes up for the kill, but Roadie crotches him and hits a PILEDRIVER off the top rope. Yup, he’s dead. Pin is academic at 7:27. Hot opener. ***  (Roadie was getting something of a push here, but Jarrett’s departure kind of f----- up his life for a good while before the Outlaws revived it.)  – King Mabel & Sir Mo v. Razor Ramon & Savio Vega. To this day you have to wonder if the WWF braintrust looks back at 1995 tapes and go “Hmm, two fat black guys in purple who were playing royalty…and it didn’t get over?”  (Are You Serious?) Kinda shoots down that whole theory about Vince being a marketing genius who can get anything over, doesn’t it? (I think that theory is LONG shot down and the wreckage pillaged for survivors.)  Ramon was, generally speaking, in the doghouse over his inability to kick his drug habit(s) and got relegated to top-drawer angles like this one. Ramon in fact was gonna be the guy to job to Mabel in the finals of the King of the Ring but got in trouble and was replaced by Savio, giving the world one of the worst finals ever for the worst tournament ever on that fateful show. (Oh hey now, I’m pretty sure the 64 man tournament for the WCW World title in 1999 was WAY worse than that one in the grand scheme of things.)  Ramon runs through the usual on Sir Mo to start and Ramon & Vega work him over. Savio clotheslines him but gets caught in a bad place. A quick sideslam from Mabel turns the tide and Vega ends up on the floor. Back in, Mabel pulls out an enzuigiri for two. I’m shocked he had the thrust needed to escape the earth’s gravitational pull. Savio plays Kwang-in-peril, and that goes on for a while. Mabel uses that old standby of fat guys, the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, to no avail. Savio breaks free and tries a slam, and that goes about as well as you’d expect. Mabel gets off a northern lights suplex with the help of Savio throwing himself nearly ¾ of the way across the ring. Beating drags on as the match has no heat. So of course Vince took this as a sign that Mabel was ready for the main event of his next PPV. (Well, in fairness to Vince, at least he had a long-term plan that he was sticking with.)  Mo misses the Mo-Sault, hot tag Razor. Backdrop suplex for Mo, but Mabel comes in…via the top rope? Ramon slams Shamu off and I can damn near feel the arena shaking 6 years later. Mabel manages a DDT but misses a splash. Pier-six leaves Mabel and Ramon alone, and a bellies-to-belly suplex finishes Ramon at 10:10. Got okay near the end, but still 4 minutes too long. *3/4 – Jeff Jarrett does a “live” version of “With My Baby Tonight”, which of course would, a year later, be revealed to have been sung by Jesse Jammes and create that HUGE money-drawing “Real Double J” feud that again demonstrates without a doubt what a marketing genius Vince McMahon is.  (It was a pretty catchy song, though.  Today they would have it pimped on iTunes moments after the initial performance and it probably would have done pretty well with the shitkicker-and-belt-buckle crowd.)  – Henry O. Godwinn v. Bam Bam Bigelow. This was during HOG’s tryout period for the Corporation, which as any good wrestling fan knows, inevitably leads to the heel failing the test and turning face. (Remember those dudes who were trying out for Legacy and failed?)  Bigelow gets a couple of suplexes to start, and a shoulderblock puts HOG on the floor. They brawl, and head back in. Bigelow gets a DDT, but charges and hits the floor. HOG slams him there, and back in we go. Bigelow misses a blind charge and takes a lariat for two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK. Another lariat puts Bigelow down again and HOG chokes him down. Big elbow gets two. Bigelow comes back with headbutts and goes up. Headbutt misses, and HOG goes up, but misses HIS big move, and Bigelow simply rolls him up for the pin at 5:38. I suppose I’ve seen worse…if I think hard. Bigelow was just totally unmotivated at this point, and can you blame him? ½* – Intercontinental title match: Jeff Jarrett v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn is ungodly over here. He sends Jarrett flying into the corner with a pair of rights to start. JJ gets an armdrag and struts to celebrate. Shawn alley-oops over him in the corner, but gets nailed with a right and bails. Back in, JJ grabs a headlock and they do a complex hiptoss-reversal sequence. Shawn wins iteration #1 by poking him in the eye, then Jarrett wins the second one, only to get clotheslined to the floor. Great sequence. Shawn skins the cat back in, and Jarrett decides to walk out. He plays mindgames with Shawn, faking coming back in a couple of times before finally Shawn snaps and chases him. Back in, Shawn goes off the top but gets nailed coming down. JJ misses a dropkick and Shawn nails Roadie off the apron and dumps Jarrett, then follows with a tope that the crowd eats up. Back in, Jarrett ducks a cross-body, but gets sunset-flipped. He recovers and Shawn charges, but Jarrett backdrops him clear over the top rope and to the floor backfirst, the move that has since been dubbed by history as The Holy S--- Bump, for good reason. (Tell me why he needed spinal surgery again?) JJ tosses him back in, and hits a gourdbuster for two. He goes into the abdominal stretch, using the Roadie for leverage. Leaping DDT gets two. Jarrett chokes him out, but hits Roadie by mistake. Shawn rolls him up for two, but gets tossed to the corner and Flair Flips to the floor. Jarrett goes to the top to draw the referee over, then lets Roadie do the actual dirty work of clotheslining Shawn off the apron. Back in, Shawn rolls through a bodypress for two. Jarrett sunset flip is blocked for two, but he finishes the move for two. Jarrett hits a Holly-ish dropkick for two. Sleeper gets a two count, but Shawn escapes with a backdrop suplex and crawls over for two. Shawn makes the superman comeback, hitting a flying forearm. Double axehandle gets two. Flying elbow gets two. Shawn posts him and goes upstairs, but Roadie crotches him and Jarrett superplexes him. Figure-four, but Shawn reverses to a cradle for two. Figure-four again, but this time Shawn pushes him off and into the ref. Roadie sneaks in and clips Shawn, and Jarrett hits a flying bodypress for two. Jarrett comes off the ropes to finish, but Roadie is busy gloating about his interference and doesn’t even notice that he trips the wrong guy. Oops. Superkick, goodbye at 19:58 and Shawn Michaels wins the I-C title for the third time. ***** Just a terrific blend of the old-school southern mentality from Jarrett with the requisite sick bumps from Michaels and a super-hot crowd. On the other hand, I can certainly understand how lots of people might not love this match as much because of the stalling and generally slower pace, but I like it as a counterpoint to all of Shawn’s high-impact, fast-paced stuff. To each their own, and as Stuart Smalley might say, that’s…okay.  (It was definitely something of a throwback for the time, and I can see people HATING it today, so I totally continue to understand non-Memphis fans giving me s--- for the rating.)  – WWF tag team title match: Owen Hart & Yokozuna v. Lex Luger & British Bulldog. How art the mighty have fallen. From the biggest push in WWF history to a tag team wrestler in the space of a year. And he couldn’t even get over doing THAT. It still boggles my mind that they spent millions of dollars on this goof, during the STEROID TRIALS no less. Sure, Luger is probably 100% natural given his genetics and fanatic training routine, but would YOU want a guy looking like that on top of your promotion with the feds breathing down your neck? The general assumption was that the Allied Powers take the titles here. (That assumption of course failed to take into account THE LUGER EFFECT.  He’s seriously like the Anti-Cena, the guy who can snatch defeat from the hands of victory in any situation.)  Yoko dominates Luger to start, but misses an elbowdrop. Luger punches him into the corner, where Yoko lands on Owen’s foot. Ouch. Owen understandably gets a little miffed and the heels argue. Owen slaps Luger and hides in the ropes, but gets hiptossed. Bulldog comes in and works the arm. Owen flips out of a wristlock, Bulldog follows suit. Would it have killed them to ditch Luger and Yoko from this and just do THAT match? Bulldog drops him facefirst and catapults him into the corner, for two. We hit the chinlock. Yoko gets a cheapshot on Bulldog and he becomes wifebeater-in-peril. (I have much less sympathy for her now given how crazy she turned out to be.  Although god knows she claimed much worse things than just physical abuse in that stupid book of hers.)  Yoko utilizes that there Vulcan Nerve Pinch again to waste time, and Owen comes in with a leg lariat for two. Bulldog gets off a sunset flip for two. Owen hits the ENZUIGIRI OF DOOM and gets two. Blind charge misses, and it’s the hot tag for Luger. Vince actually says “house of fire”, showing why we all thanked the gods that he bowed out of commentary in 97. Owen gets tossed onto Yoko, and he bails. Pier-six follows, as Owen and Bulldog fight in the corner and Luger does his thing with Yoko. The Powers double-suplex Yoko and Luger has the pin, but that wacky ref is distracted by Cornette. The champs pull a Midnight Express and nail Luger, and Yoko gets the pin at 10:52 to retain. You have to know Luger was in the doghouse if he was doing the job like that. It is, however, always a pick-me-up watching Luger blow the big one. * – WWF title, Lumberjack match: Diesel v. Sid. Sid bails to start and gets thrown back in, repeat a couple of times. Then he finally gets the sense to go out to the HEEL side, where he’s able to catch a breather. This is before anything has even happened in the match, mind you. Diesel charges like an idiot into the fray and gets pummelled. Sid gets two from it. He works the ribs and allows the heels to cheapshot Diesel now and then. Diesel comes back with a clothesline and a pair of elbowdrops. He then stops to hit a hands-free plancha onto the heels, and then back in. Didn’t really accomplish much, but it looked neat. Snake Eyes from Sid, but Mabel pulls Diesel out and beats on him, and the groan from the crowd when they realize what this is going to lead to is almost audible. 5,000 people simultaneously realizing that Diesel v. Mabel is going to headline the next PPV is NOT a pretty sight. Back in, Sid gets two. Powerbomb gets two. Diesel powers out of another try, and Sid falls into the babyface section and gets killed. Back in, Diesel finishes with a big boot at 10:02. About as good as you’d expect Sid v. Kevin Nash to be. DUD  (I’m a little annoyed that Sid Jr. is already on the block on Big Brother.  I’m gonna be really disappointed if he gets kicked off before the others learn that his dad is LOADED and unemployed Frank has no need to actually win the game.  And hopefully he’ll powerbomb f------ Mike Boogie through a table, too.)  The Bottom Line: Total one-match show as the WWF was DEEP into the Bad Period and nearing bankruptcy. This was a one-match show all the way (Michaels v. Jarrett), and that match is probably not for all tastes, so I can’t really recommend the show at all unless you’re a Michaels completist like me.  (I’m reasonably sure that match is on one of the million Michaels DVDs anyway.)  Recommendation to avoid.