The SmarK Rant for WWF In Your House VII – Good Friends, Better Enemies (04.28.96)
Obviously we’re due for a redo on this one since we’re at that point in the Observer Flashbacks and people have been asking for more In Your House rants. Plus it’s literally featured on the front page of the Network right now as a part of the Shawn & Diesel Untold thing they’re pushing right now.
Live from Omaha, NE, the HEARTLAND OF AMERICA, drawing 9563 and a 0.65 buyrate.
Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler
The British Bulldog v. Jake Roberts
Clarence Mason begins accompanying Bulldog and Owen to ringside here as they transition from Cornette to Mason as manager. It should be noted that Bulldog is now “deathly afraid of snakes” as a part of whatever storyline there was here. And indeed, Mason has an injunction banning the snake from ringside, so Jake blatantly flaunts the word of law, tearing up the injunction like it’s a court-ordered child support document, and chases off all the heels with the snake while Cornette pretends to drop dead from a heart attack. And then goes back to the dressing room and returns with Ahmed Johnson, so it’s an Impromptu Tag Team match instead.
Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. Jake Roberts & Ahmed Johnson
Jake takes Owen down with a wristlock, so he tags out to Bulldog, who then promptly tags out again when he sees Ahmed. Ahmed throws Owen back into the corner and Bulldog casually walks away from the tag attempt in a funny spot and then pretends to cheer on his brother-in-law. These two were really great as weaselly heels in 1996 and it’s terrifying to think how bad the tag team scene would have been without them. Owen tries a headlock and Ahmed hurls him off, while we see Diana watching from the crowd with her usual level of emotion. Jake comes in and tries for the DDT early, but Owen escapes from it twice. Bulldog comes in with a slam, but misses an elbow and then runs away from Ahmed Johnson again while pretending to have pulled his bicep on the missed elbow. So Owen comes back in to try a test of strength while Bulldog gives him advice from the apron, and of course loses it badly. Ahmed hits him with a clothesline and gives him a flailing beatdown in the corner, but Bulldog gets a cheapshot from behind and now it’s time for him to come in. For someone who had only turned heel for the first time in his career a few months before, Bulldog was astonishingly great at it. Bulldog pounds away on Ahmed, but then Owen comes in and gets slammed like a geek again. Jake comes in, but misses a blind charge and Owen takes over with a missile dropkick as Jake is face-in-peril. The heels take turns beating on Jake as we get a COME ON REF from Vince at the audacity of their double-teams, and Owen drops the leg for two. To the chinlock, but Jake fights out of that, so Bulldog cuts off the tag and goes to his own chinlock. Jake fights up again, so Owen hits him with the knee from the apron in a classic Bret move and chokes him out behind the ref’s back. Jake is still fighting, so Owen tries a sleeper, and Jake escapes with a jawbreaker and makes the hot tag to Ahmed, who hits Bulldog with a spinebuster, seemingly having trouble retaining control of his own limbs. Jake quickly comes back in and tries the DDT, desperately trying to hold things together while Ahmed wanders around like a baby deer in the headlights, but Bulldog gets the tennis racket and hits Jake in the knee before applying a kneebar for the submission at 13:46. This was a weird finish at the time but obviously Bulldog was getting the next title shot at Shawn so it made sense in retrospect. This was good, like house show opener good, while they were working the formula with Jake in there, but Ahmed was on another planet, likely whatever planet cocaine comes from, for the whole match. **1/2
Intercontinental title: Goldust v. Ultimate Warrior
Oh lord, time for this disaster. So Goldust introduces the former Mantaur as his mafioso bodyguard here in a short-lived and pointless change where the poor guy didn’t even get a name. Goldust had a badly blown knee here, but Dr. James Andrews basically told him to tape it up and work through it, so that’s what he did. And this is what resulted. This was clearly going to be a fuck finish no matter what because they didn’t want to take the title off Goldust and didn’t want to beat Warrior, so there was no chance of anything good resulting. So we start out with stalling right away, as Warrior chases off Goldust and steals Marlena’s cigar, stopping for a smoke while sitting in the director’s chair. If you want to hate your life a little more, stop to calculate what Warrior would have been making to sit in the ring and smoke a cigar for this “match” and despair. So Warrior continues sitting there while Goldust and his entourage tour the ringside area, and then Goldust does his “I’m going to come out there and kiss each and every one of you if you don’t shut up” routine to waste more time. Meanwhile Lawler is making non sequitur movie references on commentary as this circles the drain. Finally, 5:10 into the match, Goldust actually steps into the ring for the first time as Warrior offers to give him his robe back. And now Goldust has a seat in the chair, but Warrior clotheslines him out of the chair to finally make contact at 7:30, and Goldust walks out of the match at 7:50 for the countout. So then the unnamed bodyguard tries to attack Warrior, who then does his Warrior stuff to give the fans a “match”, as the bodyguard wasn’t seen again. -**** But then after Warrior chases off the bodyguard, he steals the hat and wears it around the ring! Oh man, everyone knows that’s the worst transgression in wrestling. Jerry Lawler must have been SEETHING watching that kind of disrespect to the business, and rightly so!
Meanwhile, the Bulldog is trying to get into Shawn’s dressing room and won’t take no for an answer.
Vader v. Razor Ramon
Vader bullies Razor to start and throws him around, then uses the liver punches like an older, fatter Anthony Ogogo. Surprisingly, the ref doesn’t immediately stop the match and award it to Vader. So Vader boxes his ears this time and follows with a short clothesline, but Razor slugs back and teases an Edge before getting backdropped to the floor. Back in, Razor continues slugging away on Vader in the corner and puts him down with a series of clotheslines before clotheslining him to the floor. Vader works the count for a bit as Vince accuses him of “showing signs of yellow down his back”. Why, is Paul Orndorff in the ring threatening him? Back in, Vader uses the distraction of Cornette to hit an avalanche and puts Razor down with a clothesline, and follows with a splash for two. Razor fights back with a back suplex for two, but Vader slams him and goes up for the Vader bomb, which gets two. Razor fights up again, so Vader puts him down with his own back suplex and then boxes him in the corner again. They fight for a suplex and Razor wins that, which gets two. Vader goes up and Razor catches him in a slam for two, then makes the comeback with a corner clothesline and the bulldog for two. Vader tries to go up for another Vader Bomb, but Razor almost reverses it to a Razor’s Edge before his ribs give out and they awkwardly fall down. So Vader slams him again and goes up for the Vadersault, but Razor brings him down with an electric chair drop this time. They’re sure doing a hell of a job putting this guy over before he leaves for WCW. Another try at the Edge, but Vader backdrops out, sits on Razor, and gets the pin at 14:50. I have no idea why they let Razor have so much offense here but it was a hell of a match to go out on and retire the character. ***3/4
WWF tag team titles: The Bodydonnas v. The Godwinns
So the Godwinns entire entrance and the ring introductions are omitted here, I’m assuming due to music weirdness. Henry beats on Zip and they try to dump slop on him, but the ref prevents that. The Bodydonnas cut off Henry in the corner just as Vince is putting over their “scufflin’” prowess, so that’s embarrassing I’d imagine. Henry hits Skip with a wheelbarrow suplex while Lawler botches a joke about Sunny being a slut, and then the Bodydonnas switch out illegally while Vince stresses THEY LOOK SO MUCH ALIKE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL THEM APART, in his version of subtle foreshadowing. Usually Skip was the one who was shorter and high on drugs, if it helps him. PIG gets double-teamed after some shenanigans, and they hit a double slingshot suplex for two. Skip goes to a chinlock and follows with a rana for two, but PIG fights back and gets all riled up. So Sunny runs to the back and returns with a picture of herself while HOG gets the hot tag. But PIG gets all distracted by the picture, the Bodydonnas switch off BECAUSE THEY LOOK SO MUCH ALIKE AND IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL THEM APART, and one of them, I’m not sure which one BECAUSE THEY LOOK SO MUCH ALIKE AND IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL THEM APART, gets the pin at 7:21 to retain. And then Phineas makes sure to keep the picture, putting it in the spank bank, I’d assume. You’re welcome for that image in your mind. No, don’t think of Sunny’s picture, think of Dennis Knight cranking one out. *
Meanwhile, Marc Mero talks with Dok Hendrix about finally getting his chance at Hunter next month. This is, uh, not a good promo. I can’t tell if he’s supposed to be serious or doing a growling sex voice.
Meanwhile, send in a copy of your cable bill and get a free 5 minute long distance phone card! Wow, five whole minutes, huh? Kind of hilarious how concerned that people were with this stuff in the 90s, and now I literally pay for a cell phone plan where I can call anywhere in North America for an unlimited amount of time and don’t even pay attention to using it as a phone.
WWF title, No Holds Barred: Shawn Michaels v. Diesel
Mad Dog Vachon is sitting at ringside, acting as Chekhov’s Gun for the evening, and they slug it out immediately, which goes badly for Shawn. Shawn dropkicks him to the floor to buy time for removal of the chaps and follows with a baseball slide and a moonsault press to the floor. Shawn steals a boot from Hugo Savinovich and hits Diesel with it for two, but Diesel sends him into the corner for a Flair Flip and then slams Shawn into the railing from the apron. Back in, Diesel beats him down with forearms and follows with the short clothesline, then puts the badmouth on Jose Lothario (“Hey old man, this is how we do it in the 90s!”) before doing his stupid elbow in the corner. Yeah, you show him, Big Kev! Diesel with a sideslam and he undoes the wrist tape before choking out HEBNER with it in a funny twist, and steals the ref’s belt before beating on Shawn with that. And then he hangs Shawn from the top rope with the belt and ties it to the ropes for good measure, then steals a chair from the ring announcer and clobbers Shawn with that. See, now they had gone with this kind of underdog babyface sympathy heat on Shawn for the rest of his title reign, it might have worked. Back in, Diesel beats on him with the chair some more, but misses and knocks himself down with it. Shawn fights back with the chair, so Diesel gives him an EPIC nutshot to put him down again. I think watching 90s Shawn getting hit in the junk is almost as glorious as watching Vince getting hit there became later. It adds an extra star to the match rating every time. Diesel gets a huge backdrop for two and goes to a neck vice, but Shawn won’t stay down, so Diesel beats him down and tosses him outside. So Diesel teases a powerbomb on the floor, but then suddenly switches direction in mid-move and puts him through the announce table instead, which sends Vince and Lawler running and Shawn is DEAD. Diesel grabs the title and demands to be awarded it while Vince PLEADS with Shawn to stay down and “let it be over!” But Shawn won’t stay down again and this time he grabs a fire extinguisher, spraying it in Diesel’s face long before it became a tired trope, and makes the comeback. He grabs another chair and just bashes Diesel with it, showing great frustration, but Diesel puts him down with a big boot and goes for the powerbomb. Shawn fights out of that and goes up with the flying elbow to set up the superkick, but Diesel catches THAT and puts him down with a clothesline. At this point Vince and Lawler have dropped all the stupid comedy and Lawler is just calling it like a big fight. They fight to the floor again and Diesel drops him on the railing and then gets struck by INSPIRATION and goes after Mad Dog Vachon. Perhaps he was jealous that Vachon was more mobile than even with only one leg. So Diesel steals the prosthetic leg, but Shawn returns the low blow from earlier, grabs the fake leg, and knocks Diesel out before finishing with the superkick and sending him to WCW at 17:50. Shawn getting beaten like a dog in a crazy hardcore match = ALL THE BUYS. Easily Diesel’s best WWF match ever and one of Shawn’s best as well. ****3/4
Clearly, for what was basically a 90 minute show, this is an easy recommendation with one all-timer and one merely great match. Hopefully Razor and Diesel do OK for themselves after they leave.