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WWF In Your House #1: The Premiere
by Scrooge McSuck
- I would like to note, in advance, that the In Your House series didn't have taglines until the 7th, Good Friends Better Enemies, but were given token taglines for the video releases in the months following, mostly having to do with either the main event or the time and location of when the show took place.
The In Your House series was quite the unique intention at the time it became a regular on Pay-Per-View. The WWF was running their "Big Five" PPV's, while WCW was growing their PPV list with the likes of SuperBrawl, Uncensored, Slamboree, Great American Bash, Bash at the Beach, Fall Brawl, Halloween Havoc, and Starrcade, all for a price tag of $27.95 or $29.95, depending on if Hulk Hogan was on the show, and yes, that WAS a stipulation in PPV prices at the time. To combat this, the WWF decided to air a series of smaller shows, running two hours, and tagging them for $14.95, then $19.95, which is still reasonable PPV value, since all WWF shows were $29.95. At the time, as a 10 year old, I called them "PPV versions of Saturday Night's Main Event or Clash of the Champions", due to the WWF's nature of producing shows primarily consisting of squashes, and getting two hours of uninterrupted superstar vs. superstar matches was yet to be common on their programming. To be fair, the WWF's roster was so incredibly thin in 1995 and 1996, airing monthly 3-hour shows would be impossible. Just look at WrestleMania 12 for proof. No one wanted to see Bushwhackers vs. Well Dunn for free, so it's damn sure not going on a PPV.
- Originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View (duh) on Mother's Day, May 14th, 1995, from the Onondaga War Memorial in Syracuse, NY, with Vince McMahon and the recently debuted Dok Hendrix calling the action. Yes, that would be Michael Hayes, stripped off his dignity and with much more tame hair than we're all used to. SELL OUT! I do not anticipate enjoying the broadcast job for this... I would like to note the set up of the superstars coming out of a mock-house at the top of the entrance is a pretty cool idea, a set that used for a lot of the In Your House cards through 1997.
Another Note: To go along with the matches broadcasted on Pay-Per-View, the WWF also filmed, following the conclussion of the PPV portion, three more matches. The Undertaker vs. Kama (the Supreme Fighting Machine) and Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Tatanka were featured on the Coliseum Video release of the show, while a King of the Ring Qualifying Match between Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart was taped for an episode of Monday Night Raw. Sorry for not making this a Special Edition/Extended Cut review, but it's WWF from 1995... even I can only take so much.
Opening Match: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Hakushi (w/ Shinja):
Remember when I said that the WWF had such a thin roster to barely fill three hours? Bret Hart is wrestling TWICE on this show, a show that ran 1 hour and 51 minutes (I remember timing it, sue me). This one was tastefully done with Jerry Lawler accusing Bret of being racist against the Japanese and ducking Hakushi for his ethnicity. Didn't AWA do that with Col. Debeers, except it made sense? Bret Hart is out for revenge, and will face Lawler later in the show, win lose or draw. Shinja is formerly known as Sato of the original Orient Express. Bret gives his glasses to a kid wearing an old Legion of Doom t-shirt. Awesome. Lockup, and Hakushi grabs a headlock, then showcaes his athletic ability as I scope a "Bob Holly couldn't drive a go cart" sign. They fight over a wristlock, with Hakushi using a pull of the hair to gain control. Whip to the ropes, and Hakushi with a diving shoulder tackle for two. Nice of the crowd to chant U-S-A to support Canadian Bret Hart. Hakushi continues to work the arm in the mean time. Bret escapes, and surprises Hakushi with a roll up for two. Bret with an arm drag, and now it's his turn to work the arm. Whip to the ropes, and Bret with a shoulder tackle. They muff something up, so Bret elbows him across the back of the head, and takes him down with a trio of arm drags. Hakushi comes back with open-hand blows to the throat. Whip to the corner, and Bret with his signature chest first bump. Hakushi with a slam, followed by a splash from the second turnbuckle for two. We have a camera backstage, watching Lawler enjoying the action.
Hakushi goes to work on the neck, working one of those nerve holds. Hakushi stomps Bret down in the corner, and comes in with a pre-perverted bronco buster. Hakushi takes time to pose, allowing Bret to recover. Whip to the ropes, and Hakushi lets Bret's own momentum take him to the floor, where Shinja greets him with some stomps. Back in the ring, and Hakushi sends Bret hard into the corner, once again. Hakushi to the second rope, and he chokes Bret out while the referee is distracted. Hakushi chokes Bret across the middle rope, and then Shinja joins in on the act, just to feel like he's not left out. Whip to the corner, and Hakushi with the handspring elbow, a la Great Muta. Hakushi charges in again, but takes a boot to the midsection. Bret with rights, and Hakushi haults the comeback with a rake of the eyes. Whip to the ropes, and Hakushi reverses a back breaker and connects with his own variation for a two count. Muta to the top rope, and he hits a diving headbutt for two. Hakushi heads to the apron, and springs in to miss a splash. Bret pops up like he means business, and unleashes a flurry of rights. Whip to the ropes, fist to the midsection, and a russian leg sweep gets two. Bret with a running bulldog from out of the corner or another two count. Back breaker and second rope elbow, and it's sharpshooter time, but Shinja creates a distraction. Bret with a reverse atomic drop and clothesline, incredibly over-sold. Bret hits the ropes, but gets tripped up, so Bret hits Shinja with a suicide dive and pounds away. Hakushi comes to, and nails Bret with a dropkick for two. They fight over a suplex, and it takes both men over the top, to the floor! Shinja continues to be a pain in the ass, and Hakushi springs off the ropes with an Asai Moonsault! Back inside, and Hakushi goes for a german suplex, but Bret counters with a victory roll, and that gets a three count at 14:40, ending Hakushi's undefeated streak. A little sloppy at times, but some nice bumps, a hot finish, and mostly solid effort to open the show with. Bret sells a knee injury exiting the ring, possibly effecting his match with Lawler later in the show. Lawler, naturally, demands the match to happen next, but it'll wait.
- I forgot to mention the gimmick behind the first In Your House... the WWF giving away a house, in Orlando, FL. I remember on an episode of Mania, either the weekend of or before the PPV, Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wyand (don't ask who) touring the house, and being a total bore. People were encouraged to send in for a chance to win, and the front of the stage has a huge tank in place, filled with "thousands" of letters. The drawing happens, later...
Razor Ramon vs. "Double J" Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie:
This was originally advertised as a tag team match, with the 1-2-3 Kid joining Ramon, but for whatever reason, injuries or drug abuse, he was pulled from the card a week or so before the PPV, and now it's handicap rules. Jarrett is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, but why put a title on the line in lieu of a worthless match? To the surprise of no one, as a 10 year old, I REALLY didn't like Jarrett. Not in a "boo, I hate him" but a "I don't want to watch him" way. This marks the Roadie's (Brian Armstrong) first match since debuting as Jarrett's lackey to start 1995. Jarrett attacks Ramon from behind, and pounds away. Whip to the ropes, and Ramon with rights of his own, sending Double J to the floor. Back inside, and Jarrett with more punching. Whip to the ropes, Jarrett misses a dropkick, and Ramon sends him to the floor with a clothesline. Ramon stalks Jarrett, allowing Roadie to nail from behind. Back inside, Jarrett whips Ramon to the buckle, and lays him out with an enziguri. Ramon catches Jarrett off the ropes with a fall-away slam for two. Roadie tags in, and comes off the ropes with a clothesline. Roadie with a series of elbow drops and a showcase of his swagger... or whatever that was. Jarrett tags back in, and rolls Ramon up for a two count. Ramon counters a suplex with a small package for two. Jarrett with a clothesline, and Roadie back in, stomping away. Ramon attempts a comeback, but Jarrett nails him from behind, a common trend going on throughout the match. Ramon with another mild comeback, but a Razor's Edge near the ropes leads to the obvious spot.
Roadie heads to the second turnbuckle, and comes down on Ramon with a clothesline. Back inside, and Jarrett with a top rope body press, but Ramon rolls through for two. Jarrett quickly hits a dropkick for a two count of his own. Whip to the ropes, and Jarrett with a swinging neck breaker. Jarrett goes for a splash in the ropes, but ends up crotching himself. The hot tag spot seems to be a poor idea, since Ramon doesn't have a partner. Criss-cross, and a head collision puts them both down, again. We spy a piece of tape with "kid" on it wrapped around the boot of Ramon. Ramon with a back suplex on Jarrett, and they're both down, AGAIN. Roadie gets the heel tag and hits a knee drop from the second rope for a two count. Roadie with a chinlock, because this match couldn't possibly drag on any more. Ramon escapes and lays Roadie out for another dead air spot. Jarrett tags back in, and Ramon unloads with rights. Ramon whips Jarrett into the Roadie, then takes Roadie down from the second turnbuckle with his signature back suplex. Ramon calls for the end, but Jarrett attacks the knee. Jarrett sweeps the leg and goes for the Figure-Four, but Ramon kicks him off, knocking Roadie off the apron in the process. Ramon with the Razor's Edge, and it's finally over at 12:38. Afterwards, Roadie and Jarrett work over Ramon until ALDO MONTOYA makes the save. For about 5 seconds. Yeah, that was a worse run-in for the save since Groundskeeper Willie. Savio Vega makes the real save, and in 1995, fans were asking "Who's Savio Vega?" He's an unmasked Kwang, but that wasn't aknowledged, and formerly known as TNT in Puerto Rico. Match was OK, but dragged too much. I'd like to point out we're only two matches in, and yet 45 minutes of PPV time has elapsed.
- More time is wasted, with a monatge hyping up Sycho Sid.
King of the Ring Qualifying Match: Adam Bomb vs. Mabel (w/ Mo):
Odd choice for a PPV filler, but I don't think it's such a bad idea. This is the first of the Qualifying Round, so you know it's up to Mabel and Adam Bomb to set the standards of the tournament... hey, what was that flushing noise I just heard? Oh, nevermind. Mabel and Mo (Men on a Mission) turned heel right around the time of WrestleMania, dumped Oscar, and have a more "bad attitude" about them, complete with police sirens in their music. That's offensive, but not too offensive, I guess. Bomb has a problem with Mo, allowing Mabel to attack before the bell. Match finally starts, and Mabel crushes Bomb in the corner. Whip across the ring, and Mabel misses a more fully-charged avalanche. Bomb with rights and a shoulder tackle, knocking Mabel to the floor. Bomb with a plancha and mounted rights. Bomb throws it back inside, and slingshots in with a clothesline for a one count. Bomb to the top rope, and he hits another clothesline for a one count. Jesus Mabel, give him two, at least. Mabel surprises Bomb with the laziest spinning heel kick ever, then catches him off the ropes for a powerslam. Three count is made at 1:54. That was as quick as you could get with all the action. Seriously, that lazy leg kick might rival Andre the Giant's "elbow drop" finisher from 1989 for worst move performed in the WWF. This would mark Bomb's last significant appearance, and shameful, 'cause I always liked him.
- Todd Pettengill is backstage with Razor Ramon to formally introduce us to Savio Vega, who apparently doesn't speak English very well. The highlight is that Stan Lane is manning the phones in the 1-900 Hotline room... I take it back. THAT'S an even bigger insult than having Michael Hayes pretending he's somebody else.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Owen Hart & Yokozuna © (w/ Cornette & Fuji) vs. The Smoking Gunns:
Rematch from WrestleMania XI, where Owen brought Yokozuna back as his mystery partner en route to winning the belts from the Gunns. I like when a match has a simple history to it. I'm positive one of the Gunn's (I think Bart) beat Owen in a singles match on Raw leading to this, so take that for what it's worth. It seems as Yokozuna's tenure went on, he looked less Japanese (or as Japanese a Samoan can look), and more horrifyingly out of shape. Yoko and Billy start, and Yoko easily over-powering him. Billy responds with dropkicks, then the Gunns take turns working the arm. Owen tags in, and sends Bart to the corner. Whip across is reversed, and Bart with a press slam. Bart with a dropkick, and Billy dropkicks Owen into a Bart suplex for two. Billy jaws with Fuji, allowing Owen to KO him with an enziguri. Whip to the ropes, and Yokozuna with a clothesline. Yokozuna with a snapmare, and it's nerve hold time. It's the abreviated version, with Owen quickly tagging in and connecting with a swinging neck breaker for two. Billy with a surprise sunset flip for two, and Owen quickly knocks him to the floor with a spinning heel kick. Yokozuna eats post trying to crush Billy against it, and Owen misses a launch into the corner. Bart tags in and slams Owen for two. Whip to the corner, and Owen does his own version of the chest-first bump. The Gunns with a back suplex/neck breaker double team spot, but that only gets two. Bart takes a nice bump missing a cross body, and Yokozuna drops a fat leg on him for the death blow. Yoko tosses him back in, and Owen gets the three count at 5:47. That was pretty short. Watchable, but rushed.
- Todd Pettengill is with Diesel, who drops the line "I'm am the Walrus, Koo-Koo Ka-joob" straight out of a trippy Beatles song, with a straight face. I shit you not. Take THAT, Sycho Sid!
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler:
Lawler's pre-match promo includes wishing his "mother" a happy mother's day. His mother appears to be 25-30 years old, but whatever... Bret reveals he's faking the injury during an interview, that casually walks to the ring, to the horror of Lawler and joy of everyone else watching. I always loved Bret's "I was just fucking with you" psychology. As much as I hate Lawler's WWF stuff, I actually find his Memphis stuff perfectly fine. Bret quickly pounds away, takes it to the floor, and resumes where he left off. Back inside, Bret with a snapmare and leg drop. Whip to the ropes, and Bret with a ba-a-ack body drop (tm Vince McMahon). Whip to the ropes, and this time Lawler counters with a piledriver. Bret pops up like his name is Road Warrior Hawk, and continues the beating. Bret with a running bulldog, followed by a piledriver of his own. Lawler comes back with a rake of the eyes, followed by a slam. Lawler slowly heads to the top rope, and jumps into a fist. Bret with a back elbow and headbutt to the midsection, then mounted punches. Note he's ignoring making pin attempts. Shinja comes to ringside, and a ref bump sees him tied in the ropes, hanging outside the ring. Bret with a Russian leg sweep and second rope elbow, but the referee is incapacitated. Hakushi runs in with an axehandle from the top rope, then comes off twice more with headbutts to the chest. Lawler rolls Bret up, and gets the three count at 5:02. Well, even with interference, that had to be a surprise to casual WWF fans. After the match, Bret avoids further damage, clearing the ring of Hakushi and Lawler, then takes it out on Shinja. Again, watchable but short. I'm not too disappointed, but I was enjoying it more than I remembered when I was younger.
- Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wyand are standing by to give away a house in Hunter's Creek in Orlando, FL, doing unfunny comedy and doing a "rake job" to mix the evenlopes. Todd dials and blows the spot, having to dial again... the winner is "Matt Pompacilli", and some woman is screaming in the background. Apparently this was all legit, but the winner couldn't keep the house because of high property taxes among other things. Did he sell it and get something out of it, or nothing?
WWF Championship Match:
Diesel © vs. Sycho Sid (w/ Ted Dibiase):
I know on paper, and as I kid, I was looking forward to this match... my God how stupid the youth popuation is, at times. This was (allegedly) going to be a Diesel/Michaels rematch, but Shawn turned face and was attacked by Sid for sympathy heat, so here we go with, quite possibly, the worst match ever for the WWF Title to headline a PPV. So far. Staredown, and Diesel mocks Sid's excessive eye blinking. Diesel shoves Sid down, and lays in with forearms. Whip to the corner, and Diesel dives in with a clothesline. Diesel with more elbows to the side of the head, forcing Sid to take a breather. Diesel with an axehandle from the apron, then takes it back inside. Diesel with short-arm clotheslines, and a diving version for a one count. They take it to the floor, and Sid clearly calls something, as Diesel pounds away on him. Sid with a running high knee as Diesel was distracted by Dibiase, then drops him face first onto the ring apron. Sid slowly works Diesel over, then rams him into the post. Then, in the laugher of the new era, Sid with the Randy Orton face punt, before it became a death move. Back inside, and we crawl along. Diesel with a mild comeback, but Sid lays him out with a clothesline. Sid continues to work the back with clubbering blows, before setting in with a seated chinlock. That just looks so lazy, it's almost laughable. Sid lets go of the hold, and drops a big leg for a two count. Sid pounds the back some more, and goes back to the chinlock. I'm sorry, it's "technically" a camel clutch, but it's just so bad looking. Diesel fights free by letting Sid get off of him, but gets thrown back down with a one-handed chokeslam. Sid gives the last rights, and it's Powerbomb time! That only gets two, but the land on the elbow lead to storyline "injury" for Diesel, for those who care. Diesel avoids a charge to the corner, and rolls snake eyes. Whip to the ropes, and Diesel with a big boot. Jacknife Powerbomb, and Tatanka runs in for the Disqualification at 11:38. Ugh, DQ to end the show? I know it's a discounted price PPV, but a PPV should end with some kind of conclusive finish. Bam Bam Bigelow makes the save, leading to an epic(ly bad) tag team match at King of the Ring the following month. Bad, boring, and Sid constantly caling spots to Diesel was becoming quite annoying.
WWF In Your House #1: The Premiere Not too bad for a first try. Started off well with a hot opener, and the handicap match, while not outstanding, did it's job to give the crowd a reason to pop. From there, it became a rapid fire series of short matches that were hard to get into because of the lack of time to allow anything to develope. Things finally came to a hault with one of the worst main events at the time the show took place, leaving the doors open for the feud to continue. For less than two hours, it's hard to say it's not fun to watch, but I definitely say don't disappoint yourself if your copy craps out before the WWF Title Match takes place.
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