We’re back with another Stinker Review, where I watch a show that has a reputation for being awful and try to decide whether it deserves it’s stinky rep or not. This month we’re looking at a show from the WWF in 1995 that was so bad it pretty much brought Diesel’s faltering World Title reign to a shuddering halt due to just how bad the buy rate was.
Next month’s Stinker Review will be a reader request, so if you want to put a suggestion in the hat then feel free to either list it below in the comments section or email it over to me at [email protected]
Any unsuccessful requests will remain in the hat for future draws, so it’s still worth suggesting something even if it doesn’t get picked on this occasion.
But anyway, that’s enough chatter for now, let’s wade into stinky waters with WWF In Your House IV!
The event is emanating from Winnipeg, Manitoba (You Idiot!)
Calling the action are Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross
Joanie Wilson sings “Oh Canada” to open us up. Speaking as a neutral Englishman of Irish descent, I personally think it kicks the US anthem’s backside, which is a statement I’m sure won’t be controversial in any single way. This particular version ain’t as good as the one the dude from the Canucks games though.
Gorilla Monsoon tells us that Intercontinental Champ Shawn Michaels will not be allowed to compete tonight due to having a concussion, but he will forfeit the belt in the ring and we will then have an IC Title following it, which strikes me of being a bit like that scene in The Simpson’s where Homer quits the bowling alley and everyone decides to just cheer themselves up with some bowling.
Makin’ A Difference Fatu Vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Fatu would go on to become Rikishi, but at this stage he was doing one of those “stay in school, kids” gimmicks where he encouraged people to fight the ills of society with positivity. This of course puts him in opposition to snobby rich bloke Hunter, who probably doesn’t want people to make a difference because then he’ll only be able to have a lot of money instead of ALL the money and that just wouldn’t do.
Hunter bumps around for Fatu in the early going, with it coming so thick and fast that he can’t even get his riding jacket off. HHH wasn’t as good a worker as he would end up being in his 2000 prime yet, but his bumping and selling is absolutely first class and he makes Fatu look positively devastating in the opening babyface shine. Eventually though he’s able to tie Fatu’s beck up in the ropes for the cut off, leading into the Heel Heat segment.
HHH was mechanically sound at this point in time but his offence was pretty generic, so the heat is decent but not especially exciting. Fatu sells it well for the most part, and the crowd kind of cares, although not a tonne. Still, they react where you’d want them to react mostly in the way you’d want them to react, so the match is mostly a success.
Fatu eventually no sells a DDT and makes a comeback, which the crowd digs, and we get a near fall off a second rope head butt. Diamond Cutter follows and Fatu heads up top with a splash, but HHH moves and plants him with a Pedigree for three. Why a DDT doesn’t hurt and a Pedigree does when they both target the head area is beyond me, but that’s wrestling logic for you I guess.
WINNER: HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY
Solid opener for the most part, although of course the snobby rich bloke beats the Streetwise Samoan whose just doing it for the kids, because the WWF
Lawler does a post-match interview with Hunter, who was doing a faux posh voice at the time in the vein of William Regal. However, as the promo goes on, Hog Farmer Henry Godwinn shows up and chases Hunter away.
Michael Hayes is backstage with British Bulldog and Jim Cornette, where they recap Bulldogs Heel turn earlier in the year. Cornette does the usual motor-mouth promo and Bulldog grimaces for the camera. Not a terrible promo segment, but I’ve seen better.
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Smoking Gunn’s Vs Razor and The Kid
Razor and Kid were having some problems at the time but Kid hadn’t quite turned on him yet, although he was displaying Heel tendencies. They are colour coordinated here to show that they are now on the same page, which I’m sure means everything will be just fine…
I’ve always though The Gunn’s were a solid mid-card babyface act during this era, and they matched up well against the better tag teams in other companies at the time. I’m sure they could have gotten in there with the likes of The Steiner’s and Harlem Heat and held their own just fine. It’s mostly Face/Face in the early going, but Kid low bridges Bart to send him tumbling out to the floor at one stage in a very un-babyface manner, leading to Bart getting worked over for a bit. The crowd is more interested in cheering for Razor though.
The work in this match is solid for the most part and it has decent crowd reactions too, with a good story being told of Kid becoming increasingly more underhanded in his quest to become the Champs and Razor mostly going along with it. Well, he is “The Bad Guy” after all. It’s kind of like when people were surprised when EVIL started being villainous in New Japan. The dude’s name is literally E-V-I-L, what did you expect him to do, offer his opponents lemonade?
We see that Dean Douglas is watching the match, as he’ll be facing Razor later on in the show, and in comparison to today he’s actually watching the TV like a normal human would. Eventually Bart manages to tag out to Billy, who does a nice hot tag segment that Kid bumps all over for to make look good. The Gunn’s are happy to throw-down themselves now due to Razor and Kid winding them up, and Bart shows that by trying to break Kid in half with a series of back breakers.
Kid now sells for a bit whilst The Gunn’s work him over, and he does a good job selling that, and it seems like the crowd have essentially decided that they’re going to cheer for the challengers here, popping big when Razor comes in to put Kid on top of Billy when both are down in the ring but booing when Bart does it. This has been a really fun match actually, and if they’d turned Razor too they probably could have done a prolonged feud with Razor and Kid holding the belts.
Eventually Razor manages to get Billy with The Razor’s Edge, but Kid demands the pin and Razor tags him in so he can get it, only for Billy to counter it into a cradle for the three count, making Kid look like an absolute chump in the process, but he was going Heel soon anyway so it’s okay.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPS: THE SMOKING GUNN’S
Good action there, with an interesting story being told as well
Kid attacks The Champs following the match and tries to steal the belts, but Razor puts a stop to that and hands the belts back to their rightful owners. They could have totally had Razor turn around and blast The Gunn’s there and it probably would have got a giant pop and heated both him and Kid up considerably.
Michael Hayes hypes life-size cardboard cut outs of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart for purchase through the WWF catalogue. Apparently he was about to try and sell a Karrion Kross one as well, until someone told him that it really was just Karrion hanging out backstage.
Marty Jannetty Vs Goldust
Goldust looked more like a Mondasian Cyberman at this stage with his make-up and stiff movement. The problem with Goldust up until about 1997 was that he wrestled this ultra-slow boring style based around him trying to get his weird character over rather than actually having an entertaining match. Now, I’m hardly a work rate junky who demands hot matches all the time and I’m perfectly fine with someone slowing it down in favour of some character work, but Goldust during this period just took it WAY too far for my liking and his matches were often a chore to watch as a result. When I’m no longer angry at you for being a Heel and instead bored out of my mind by your overly long wrestling match then you’re veering into bad heat instead of good heat.
Marty bumps Goldust around to start, with Goldust taking big bumps to make him look good, which is more offence than I was expecting Marty to get here actually. Weirdly Marty then lets Goldust climb back in to face off with him, rather than keeping the pressure up, which kind of negates the whole point of having a quick start. The Heel slowing it down to get himself back in the match is one thing, but Marty kind of just ceded control of the match there. Goldust eventually turns him inside out with a clothesline, and that leads to our heat segment.
We get some rest holds following that, and Marty gets some sporadic attempts at a comeback. I’m kind of shocked they’ve let Marty have as much offence as he’s had here to be honest, especially as they weren’t doing much with him at the time either. Goldust should have really polished him off in 5-6 minutes max, with Marty maybe getting the briefest of comebacks before getting snuffed out, but instead they’ve given Marty quite a lot here and Goldust has been on the defensive, which kind of just makes him look like any other guy when all the build-up suggested he was going to be a top star.
I mean, the match isn’t awful outside of a couple of notable botches, but it’s hardly good either. It’s just kind of a match and does more to make Marty look like a star than the supposed new Heel star that Goldust is supposed to be. The finish sees Goldust get his boot up on a Marty first drop attempt before following with a gourdbuster for the three count. The Curtain Call was certainly a better finisher for him.
This was not much of a debut for Goldust, but he’d do okay in the end
Goldust gets his contractually mandated golden spotlight as he leaves the ring following his victory in a nice character touch.
We get a recap of the reason why the next match is happening. Yokozuna and King Mabel teamed up to break Undertaker’s face, so Gorilla Monsoon booked them against one another as punishment.
King Mabel w/ Sir Mo Vs Yokozuna w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji
I always feel for those poor saps who had to carry Mabel on that ludicrous throne. Talk about back breaking labour! Jim Cornette is not happy about this match happening, as he thinks Monsoon is just trying to break up the burgeoning friendship between Mabel and Yoko. Yoko doesn’t even bother wearing his jacket down to the ring, which is a good barometer on how seriously he is actually taking this match.
They kind of present Yoko as the default Face here, as Mabel slaps him at the bell and Yoko fires up to send him tumbling out of the ring with some punches. Mabel fires back with a flying clothesline, as they’ve already done more than a Big Daddy Vs Giant Haystacks match thus far, which is the sort of territory I thought this would be in. Yeah, it hasn’t been particularly good, but both men have taken a spill to the floor and it hasn’t just been a slugfest with neither guy bumping.
The crowd kind of enjoys it too, especially when both men are taking these comparatively big bumps that they wouldn’t usually take for normal sized guys. Mabel does make a right hash of a bulldog at one stage, but for the most part the work isn’t terrible or anything. Sadly we get a super lame double count out finish, which just sucks all the wind out of the crowd. Would it have killed them to actually book a finish of some kind?
DOUBLE COUNT OUT
This was better than I thought it was going to be, but the rubbish finish killed a lot of goodwill I had towards it
Mabel and Yoko face off following that, but eventually hug it out to boo’s from the crowd.
Undertaker is coming back at Survivor Series to seek revenge, whilst Bret Hart will get a shot at the WWF Title against the winner of the Main Event.
The commentary team hypes up the “Wildcard” elimination match at Survivor Series, which would see Heels and Faces on the same team.
We get the Title forfeiture ceremony, as Shawn Michaels can’t defend the IC Title due to getting beaten up in a bar brawl, with Dean Douglas being awarded the belt. Douglas is of course delighted to get the belt without having to actually wrestle for it, whilst Shawn does the big sad sell of handing it over, essentially becoming a bigger star in the process in a weird kind of way. I know people don’t like that Shawn got away with losing the belt without actually having to lose it, but he was going to be winning the WWF Title at Mania XII and Douglas was ice cold here, so finding a way to get the belt off him without having to lose to that jobberiffic gimmick may not have been the worst thing.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Dean Douglas Vs Razor Ramon
So Douglas now has to defend the Title right after “winning” it, which probably isn’t going to go very well for him. I’ve said before that “Evil Teacher” wasn’t an especially bad gimmick when you have a product mostly geared towards kids, because who didn’t have a teacher they really hated in their youth? Getting to live vicariously through someone like Razor when they slapped the taste out of Douglas’ mouth and imprinting a teacher you didn’t like onto him is a fine idea in theory. Unfortunately Douglas just didn’t ever show up in this role and his run was akin to a wet fart. Ironically, he then went back to ECW and had probably one of his best year’s in 1996, heaving great matches and turning up the sleazy “Franchise” character to 11 in feuds with The Pitbull’s and Too Cold Scorpio.
Razor mostly controls things here in a pretty flat match, where Douglas just doesn’t look on the same level. It’s just odd seeing Douglas be so awful here, as he had good matches prior in WCW and ECW and had good matches after in ECW until his body broke down, but here he just doesn’t look even remotely good as a worker. The only thing I will say for Douglas is that he takes some very good bumps at points, including one off the apron. Razor actually looks really good here, with his offence being on point and his ring presence being miles above Douglas’.
Razor makes the cardinal mistake of going for The Edge too close to the ropes though, which allows Douglas to back body drop him to the floor and get a little bit of offence in, only for Razor to immediately reply with a choke slam to put a stop to that. This match has been outrageously one-sided for the most part, although Douglas does get a very nice dropkick at one stage for a two count. The finish is really lame too, as Razor gets a back suplex and drapes an arm, which is enough for three although it looks like Douglas got a foot under the ropes to set up “thrilling” rematches.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RAZOR RAMON
With a better finish I might have bumped it up to **, but this was really only one level above a squash, as Razor dominated the majority of it and Douglas didn’t really show much. Razor almost seemed bored to be winning the Title again
The crowd pops for Razor’s win, especially as they delayed the announcement a bit to maximise the reaction. The replay does show that Douglas’ leg was under the ropes, which Vince denies at first but then cops to when he sees it from another angle.
Bret Hart joins us for commentary of the Main Event, which Jerry Lawler is not happy about due to his long feud with The Hitman, and that leads to Bret chasing him off in a funny moment. That was probably more entertaining than the eventual match is going to be.
Champ: Diesel Vs British Bulldog w/ Jim Cornette
Vince is all over Bret here, which should have been the first warning signs for Diesel. During Bulldog’s entrance, Michael Hayes says all the kids will need the 2 Dudes With Attitudes shirt in order to be cool in school. I’m guessing Hayes’ definition for “cool” is the same most would use for “bullied to f*ck and back”. You do get a free “classic” video with the shirt though, so for those who don’t yet own the “Cooking With Steve Lombardi” tape then you should probably look to cash in on that deal ASAP. Hayes also tries to interview Diesel before he makes his entrance, with Diesel saying he’s feeling “awfully funky”. I think there’s an ointment you can get for that.
I feel for Ross here, as he hypes up the fact some Indigenous People’s charted a fleet of buses to bring them to the show here in an effort to make the event seem important, and Vince just totally no sells it. Well excuse JR for trying to make it look like someone wanted to come and see your rotten pay per view there Vinnie Mac! They actually work a pretty quick clip in the early going and it’s decent, with Diesel taking a spill to the floor and then shoving Bret after Bret stops him stumbling over the commentary table, which allows Bulldog to chop block Diesel and start working over his leg.
The match kind of just dies at this point, as though Diesel is pretty good at selling, Davey Boy was never really a submission guy and was more into mixing power wrestling with high speed attacks, so getting him to work over a body part for a prolonged period of time wasn’t really in his wheelhouse. Cornette does at least have something to do here though, as he drops some elbows and stomps away on Diesel’s leg at certain points whilst the referee is distracted. For the most part though the match is pretty dull, as Bulldog just doesn’t have enough submission based stuff in his arsenal to make this sort of match entertaining.
Diesel consistently sells the leg throughout and does a good job with it though, so I must give him credit for that. And it’s not like Bulldog’s stuff is awful or anything, this just isn’t the sort of match he should be working in a near 20 minute Main Event. I mean, in kayfabe sense what is Bulldog’s actual game plan here? It’s not like he has a signature submission move he can use on Diesel to pay all of this off. Wouldn’t working over his mid-section and back to weaken him for the Running Powerslam have made more sense, seeing as that’s his finisher and it directly impacts those parts of the body?
Bulldog does eventually try The Sharpshooter, but he applies it even worse than The Rock used to and thankfully Diesel fights his way out of it reasonably quickly. Man, all of that work on the leg for THAT horribly applied hold? Doesn’t really feel worth it if I’m honest. The crowd is actually into Diesel as he makes a comeback, and pops big when Cornette and Bulldog accidentally bonk into one another at one stage. Now if they just had Diesel snatch a pin fall victory of some kind then the match would be a relatively dull but serviceable ** Main Event, but sadly they instead do an ultra-lame DQ finish with Bulldog drawing Bret into the ring for a brawl, which annihilates any generosity I might have shown.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: BRITISH BULLDOG
Boring match with a craptacular finish. I get that they wanted Bulldog to avoid losing so they could go back to him as a challenger in December, but perhaps they should have focused on having a good match first to take the edge off the lame finish?
Diesel and Bret brawl following that to set up their No DQ match the following month.
Is It Really A Stinker?
Oh goodness me YES!
It started okay with the first couple of matches but it practically went off a cliff with the Goldust match and they just never got it back. If the Main Event has a proper finish then MAYBE you can say it’s barely the next level up from a Stinker, but that horrible finish sends the show on a first class trip to Stinkerville!
Final Rating – Stinker