Mike Reviews – WWF In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks

Happy Saturday Everyone!

I decided to watch this one today as it not only happened 27 years ago to the day, but I was also interested to watch the Jeff Jarrett Vs Shawn Michaels match again as it’s famously very highly rated. The Main Event here is Diesel Vs Sid in a Lumberjack match, but hopefully the rest of the card is good enough to make up for that.

The event is emanating from Nashville, Tennessee (Once the home of NWA:TNA) on the 23rd of July 1995

Calling the action are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler

We get a country music styled intro for the show, with I think Michael Hayes possibly doing the singing but don’t hold me to that.

Vince and Lawler do the commentary intro, with Vince clearly jazzed to be in Nashville for whatever reason considering his usual way of turning his nose up to the south.

Opening Match
The Roadie Vs The 1-2-3 Kid

Kid had suffered a neck injury and had to drop out of the King of the Ring tournament as a result even though he had been scheduled to make the Final before injury struck. This is his first pay per view match since returning from injury. Roadie is not only a wrestler but Jeff Jarrett’s lackey, so he’s been busy setting up Jarrett’s musical performance later.

These two are friends in real life and have good chemistry together as a result, leading to a fun opening match with The Kid actually starting things off quickly by jumping Roadie in the aisle during his entrance. Kid gets the babyface shine but Roadie eventually cuts him off with a powerslam, as we see that Jarrett isn’t even bothering to watch his supposed pal Roadie’s match as he’s more interested in preparing for his musical gig. This was all to set up tension between the two and an eventual Roadie babyface turn.

Roadie shows some good charisma during the heat, whilst Kid does an excellent job selling, because Sean Waltman was a fantastic underdog babyface. Of course most tend to remember the “X-Pac Heat” period of his career from 99-2001, but for a while there Kid was one of the most highly regarded in-ring talents of his Era, with the fact he was pushed as much as he was in the WWF during this Era being a testament to that as normally a guy with his size and wrestling style couldn’t have dreamed to be anything above enhancement talent on the weekend shows.

Kid eventually makes the comeback, heading up with a big Frog Splash for two at one stage. This has been a bit sloppy in places but it’s generally been a fun outing and they’ve kept the crowd interested. Roadie ends up cutting Kid off when he tries another move off the top and brings him down off the second rope with a pretty scary looking Piledriver for three. Ouch, I wouldn’t want to be taking that if I was coming back off a neck injury.

WINNER: THE ROADIE
RATING: ***

This was a good opener and it was important to give Roadie the clean pin as they had plans to eventually turn him on Jarrett and give him a push

Roadie heads over to the stage area to do a mic check as Lawler gushes over how professional Roadie is to prioritise Jarrett over himself.

The Million $ Corporation of Ted Dibiase, Sid, Kama, King Kong Bundy, IRS and Tatanka have backstage promo with Todd Pettengill. Each member of the Corporation puts Sid over and he does some talking as well to hype up the Main Event. This was a decent segment.

Barry Babinski hocks the pay per view shirt in the babyface locker room. WWF Champ Diesel and Shawn Michaels come over to show off the shirt as well.

Match Two
Men on a Mission (King Mabel and Sir Moe) Vs Razor Ramon and Savio Vega

The story here was that Mabel had defeated Vega to win the King of the Ring in June, leading to a Heel beat down on Razor and Savio. Razor was another guy who was originally supposed to be in the KOTR tournament but he was also too injured, which led to Savio eventually getting the gig. Savio had previously been in the WWF as the masked ninja KWANG, but now he’s plain old Puerto Rican good guy Savio.

Razor’s mid-section is all taped up here, which will give the Heels a target to go after, but he rips the bandage off before the match starts to suggest that he perhaps isn’t hurt as badly as it seems. The plan here was that they wanted Mabel to challenge for the WWF Title at SummerSlam, so they’ve got him in this fill-in feud with Razor until Diesel is finished dealing with Sid. Razor is over here, but Savio really isn’t even despite his push in the KOTR tournament.

Razor and Savio get the babyface shine on Moe to start, but once Mabel comes in it’s time for the cut off, as he gives Savio a sidewalk slam. Whether you agree with the mega push of Mabel or not, they certainly were doing everything they could to make him look like a devastating monster by having Moe take all the bumps for him so that all he had to do was come in and start wrecking the babyfaces.

Savio does a decent job selling in the heat and the crowd ends up getting invested in the story being told. Moe actually heads up for a Moonsault of all things, but Savio is able to dodge it and its hot tag Razor, who runs wild on Moe, with again Moe being there to take bumps so that Mabel doesn’t have to. Moe has done a good job as a bumping bad guy here, with his lackey work being to a solid standard.

Mabel does eventually get tagged and heads up top, but Razor cuts him off and brings him down Flair style for a two count. The fans totally bought that as a finish and the spot worked as Mabel only took a bump after doing something out of his wheelhouse that he shouldn’t have tried. Savio takes Moe out with a Cactus Clothesline following that, which leaves Mabel to put Razor away with a suplex to keep his push going.

WINNERS: MEN ON A MISSION
RATING: **1/2

This was a well worked match that did a solid job of making Mabel look good. Sadly fans were never going to buy into Mabel as a top guy, but they were booking him as good as possible here

Todd Pettengill goofs around with Jarrett’s band on the stage area as Vince laughs along. Vince genuinely seemed to love Todd’s antics, which is probably why he kept him around for so long.

Michael Hayes is backstage with Bam Bam Bigelow, Adam Bomb, Man Mountain Rock and The Smoking Gunns. All of the babyfaces say that they haven’t sold out to Dibiase whilst Hayes tries to stir trouble.

Jeff Jarrett “performs” With My Baby Tonight. I put it in quotations as it’s actually Roadie doing the singing behind the stage and eventually they were planning to reveal that fact so that the two could feud with one another. Jarrett actually comes across as a star in this segment and it ends up working well.

SummerSlam 95 hype video where Diesel picks up a random chick on the side of the road.

Todd goes out to the crowd, with some of them grudgingly saying that Jarrett did well.

Match Three
Henry O. Godwinn Vs Bam Bam Bigelow

Henry had been hired by Ted Dibiase to cause Bigelow problems due to Bigelow leaving the Corporation following Mania XI. They give Bammer some flame styled pyro here in an effort to make him look like a star, but by the autumn he was doing jobs for Goldust and was soon out the door. They probably could have rehabbed Bigelow if they’d wanted to, but by this stage he’d run afoul of the Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon and Diesel “kliq”, leading to his days being numbered.

Bigelow gets the big man shine on Henry to start, with it all feeling a bit sluggish in all honesty, leading to Henry eventually giving him a low bridge for the cut off. Henry’s work looks okay in the heat and Bigelow does a decent job selling, but the crowd doesn’t really seem that invested in the action. Bigelow makes a bit of a comeback but misses a head butt off the top. Henry misses a follow up attack though and Bammer gets the pin.

WINNER: BAM BAM BIGELOW
RATING: *1/2

It was fine I guess, but pretty heatless and the ending didn’t really make Bigelow look that good. I’m not sure why they felt it so necessary to protect Henry that they couldn’t let Bammer hit a move of some kind to win

Bob Backlund is annoying fans under the pretence of running for president.

Todd is backstage with Shawn Michaels, who will face Jeff Jarrett next. Shawn says he can’t knock Jarrett’s musical performance, but he’s taking the IC Title tonight. This was short and to the point, with Todd playing off Shawn well.

Match Four
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Double J Jeff Jarrett w/ The Roadie Vs Shawn Michaels

Despite Jarrett being the hometown guy, Shawn is still massively over with the crowd as a babyface. This is an exceedingly entertaining bout, as Shawn gets the elongated babyface shine tonight by bumping Jarrett around whilst the crowd cheers along. Jarrett does a good job as a scheming Heel who is continuously being foiled by the babyface, with even Roadie getting involved at points as well as Shawn shows up both of the Heels, eventually diving out onto them from the top rope. Lawler of course demands that Shawn by disqualified for that like a good Heel commentator.

Jarrett eventually manages to catch Shawn a desperation back body drop in order to send Shawn careening out to the floor for a flat back bump. All the wild bumps Shawn took and it was an innocuous one onto the side of a casket that put him out for four years. Wrestling is a strange beast isn’t it? Jarrett works heat following that, targeting the back area, whilst Shawn sells it all really well. Jarrett even busts out an abdominal stretch at one side, although Gorilla Monsoon isn’t on commentary right now and thus can’t complain about how it isn’t applied correctly.

Shawn does have the occasional attempt at fighting back, usually when the Heels bungle some form of illegal double team, but Jarrett is usually able to cut him off again. Roadie and Jarrett have moments where their plans work well also, such as Jarrett distracting the ref at one stage so that Roadie can come off the apron with a clothesline to Shawn. The match continues to benefit from an energised crowd, as they are really into Shawn and want him to make the comeback, reacting positively whenever it looks like it might happen.

Shawn does eventually make the full comeback off a double down, with Jarrett taking some fantastic bumps for him whilst Shawn shows good fire as a babyface. Roadie keeps getting involved though, shaking the ropes at one stage in order to stop Shawn coming off the top and setting up a Superplex for Jarrett. Jarrett goes after the legs following that in preparation for the Figure Four Leg Lock, but Shawn kicks him off when that happens and bumps the referee in the process when Jarrett collides with Earl Hebner.

Shawn preps for the Chin Music following that, but Roadie chop blocks him before the referee can wake up. Jarrett heads up with a big cross body following that for two in a good near fall. Roadie ends up accidentally tripping up Jarrett following that though, which allows Shawn to get the Sweet Chin Music and pick up the three count as a result.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: SHAWN MICHAELS
RATING: ****

This was an excellent match and it’s rightly regarded as one of the best WWF efforts from 1995. I actually think both men had better chemistry with Razor Ramon than they did with one another, but both were absolute pro’s here and they crafted a fantastic match, with the finish setting up the break up between Jarrett and Roadie

Sadly we didn’t get to see the eventual payoff to this Jarrett and Roadie storyline as both left the promotion following this show due to being unhappy with how they were being booked, meaning the planned feud never took place.

Shawn celebrates with the babyfaces backstage following that.

Michael Hayes is yelling about Roadie hitting Jeff Jarrett in their dressing room, in the loudest example of “tell don’t show” that I’ve seen in a while.

Semi-Main
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: Owen Hart and Yokozuna w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji Vs The Allied Powers (Davey Boy Smith and Lex Luger)

I always thought they probably should have switched the belts to Davey and Luger at some stage during this feud, but they were reticent to do so and actually ended up turning Davey into a Heel not too long after this, with Luger then jumping over to WCW in time for the first Nitro. Whether making Luger a Tag Champ would have enticed him to stick around is something we won’t ever have an answer to. It was probably for the best that the WWF didn’t find out to be honest.

I never really got the way they booked this Owen and Yoko team, as you’d think the best way to do it would have been for Owen to wrestle 90% of the matches and just bring Yoko in for a big spot here or there, but instead they would often have Yoko put quite a bit of time in, which seemed to defeat the purpose of tagging him up with a workhorse. Owen and Yoko were having some of their own issues in storyline here, as they end up arguing during the babyface shine when Yoko falls on Owen’s foot at one stage.

The match is a lot of fun when Owen is in there bumping around for Davey and Luger, with the Davey sections in particular being especially good due to both men having strong chemistry together. It lets Davey do some actual wrestling as well instead of just power spots. They do have an issue with a back body drop at one stage though, as Davey lifts Owen up for it but Owen isn’t able to rotate all the way so he turns it into a flapjack in mid-air in order to avoid landing on his head, which is pretty darn impressive actually.

Yoko eventually gets a cheap shot from the apron on Davey, which leads to the Champs cutting Davey off for the Heel heat portion of the bout. Davey sells that well, although it does subject us to Yoko’s intermeddle nerve pinch rest hold. Again, why the heck do we even need Yoko to get in there and work a rest hold? Surely he can just tag out if he’s getting tired and let the better conditioned Owen work some heat?

Eventually it’s hot tag Luger and he looks good running wild on the Champs, pressing Owen onto Yoko at one stage. The finish is done really well, as the challengers get Yoko with a double back suplex for a big reaction from the crowd, but Owen comes off the top with an elbow drop onto Luger and that allows Yoko to pick up the pin.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: OWEN & YOKO
RATING: **1/2

Solid outing there, with the challengers protected well in the finish. Possibly a bit too much Yoko, but Owen was really good and carried it for his team

Shawn Michaels is backstage on the Superstar Line.

The Lumberjacks enter for the Main Event.

Diesel cuts a promo backstage, and as usual with his babyface promos from this era it feels forced and kind of phony.

We see some Undertaker fans are at ringside in order to stalk Kama, who was feuding with Taker at the time.

Main Event
Lumberjack Match for the WWF Title
Champ: Diesel Vs Sid w/ Ted Dibiase

The storyline explanation for the stipulation makes sense here, as Sid had walked out during a tag match at King of the Ring, so we’ve got a lumberjack bout here to ensure he can’t run away. The fact a guy as big as Sid was running away scared didn’t really work, but the basic idea behind the storyline and Main Event here was classic pro wrestling booking and I can appreciate that. It also gave this show a bit of a hook in order to make it stand out, giving the show a 0.7 buy rate. We’ve got both Heel and babyface lumberjacks at ringside.

One funny thing is that Triple H is one of the Heel lumberjacks and during Diesel’s entrance he has his hands over his ears because he thinks Diesel’s music is too loud like the good villainous snob he was at the time. The best parts of this match are when he two sets of lumberjacks go at it with one another, as it distracts from the pretty lousy match going on in the ring due to Diesel being terribly miscast as a babyface at the time and Sid just being generally awful.

It is funny to look at ringside and see some of the cheesy gimmicks the WWF had at the time such as Duke The Dumpster, Makin’ A Difference Fatu, Rad Radford and Tekno Team 2000. It’s no surprise that ECW was starting to gain some popularity at the time amongst a certain segment of the wrestling audience due to how silly the WWF was in a lot of ways. Diesel actually busts out a plancha at one stage as he dives out onto some of the Heel lumberjacks. This leads to Mabel pulling him out of the ring for an attack though in order to set up SummerSlam.

Sid gets a near fall off that, as he may as well have been an automaton in this as the match has mostly been about the lumberjacks and Diesel’s new feud with Mabel than it has been about Sid going for the belt. Sid’s offence has been pretty turgid as well, as he’s kept it to mostly punches and kicks. Thankfully the crowd is into Diesel, which is helped by the babyface lumberjacks geeing them up at points. Sid manages to get a powerbomb, but he stops to celebrate with the Heels before making the pin, which allows Diesel to kick out.

I like that they actually had Sid dally before making the cover in order to protect the move there, and it fits the general morality play of what wrestling is due to the Heel costing himself the bout due to arrogance. Sid stupidly goes out after the lumberjacks at one stage, which leads to Shawn Michaels clocking him and sending back into the ring. Diesel fends off some of the Corporation and gets a big boot on Sid for the flash pin.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: DIESEL
RATING: **

All the extracurricular stuff with the lumberjacks was enough to keep that entertaining, but I shudder to think how bad it would have been without them

Diesel and Mabel jaw following that, leading to a SummerSlam Title match between the two of them.

In Conclusion

There’s enough that’s good on this show that I would give it a thumbs up. These In Your House shows are usually a breezy viewing due to the 2 hour time limit anyway.

Recommended Show!