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WWF In Your House #11: Buried Alive

by Scrooge McSuck

- I distinctly remember a lack of caring for the WWF product at this point. Buried Alive is an interesting card, featuring a Non-Title Main Event, keeping the WWF Champion (Shawn Michaels) off the card entirely, and a gaggle of substitutions on the rest of the card while featuring not one but TWO heel vs. heel matches. Yes, only three babyfaces wrestled on the card. Thin rosters suck. I don't recall watching this show in full since the original broadcast, so this'll be a bit of a journey.

- Originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View on October 20th, 1996, from the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, IN. Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, and Jim Ross, unless otherwise noted. Again, I mention that incase we have any special surprises that I forgot about. No Free For All matches either, so we'll jump straight into the Pay-Per-View stuff...

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley:

Okay, so Savio Vega is "injured", and being replaced by HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY?! Sorry, but there had to be another babyface on retainer for such an incident. Helmsley is still technically on job duty, too. How weird is this match being featured on a WWF card in 1996? I think I sided with Austin by default, which might've been the point for future booking. Austin has new theme music here, and yes, it's his classic tune, complete with glass shatter. Jim Ross' microphone seems to have issues. Lockup, and Helmsley with an arm drag. Austin takes time to mouth off to front row fans, then Helmsley does the same... PLANTS! Back inside, and Austin with an arm drag and middle finger salute to a mild pop. Austin with a side headlock takeover, then switches to a hammerlock. Helmsley escapes with an elbow, while J.R. takes credit for bringing Bret Hart back. Helmsley with the headlock and hammerlock, and Austin lays him out with a roundhouse right. We're informed Helmsley will face MR. PERFECT on Raw tomorrow night... I'll get into that later. Slaps exchanged, and Helmsley takes a walk. Back inside, Helmsley grabs another headlock. Whip to the ropes, and he comes back with a shoulder block. Criss-cross, Austin with an elbow, followed by a snapmare and elbow drop for two. Austin with a snapmare, and he slaps on an armbar. Austin changes to a wristlock while the "technical difficulties" continue, and Jim Ross schools McMahon on the names of holds. Whip to the corner, and Austin boots a charging Hunter, then lays him out with a clothesline for two. Austin with an arm drag takeover, then back to the armbar. "A lot of rich, arrogant people are from Greenwich... where are you from, McMahon?"

Helmsley takes over with a knee to the midsection, and pounds away in the corner. Austin turns things around, but gets sent to the opposite corner and taken over with a suplex. Helmsley with a knee to the forhead for a two count. Back suplex for another two count. Hunter slaps on a chinlock while the banter at the broadcast position continues. They trade off sleepers until Austin escapes with a jaw buster. Helmsley sells it with the Flair face-first flop. Austin hangs him up across the top rope (Stun Gun) and hits a second rope elbow drop for two. He hooks the leg for another two count. Whip to the ropes, and Helmsley with the running high knee. He heads to the second rope and connects on a fist drop for two. Lawler: Does it get on your nerves when McMahon goes "1,2, he got him, no he didn't!" Oh my GOD, how did Lawler get away with making fun of him for that? A double clothesline puts both men down, as Mr. Perfect makes his way to ringside to a pretty good pop. He's going to wrestle tomorrow on Raw, against Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Austin mouths off Perfect for the hell of it, and gets yanked off the apron for a mouthful in return. Austin retaliates with a cup of water. Back in the ring, Helmsley capitalizes on the distraction and stomps away. Helmsley sets up for the Pedigree, but he's too distracted by Perfect stealing his woman. You moron! Austin follows, and a suplex on the concrete has both men down and out. Hunter goes for the Pedigree in the aisle, but Austin counters and slingshots him into the ring post. back in the ring, and Austin finishes things with the Stone Cold Stunner at 15:28. That was a hell of a lot better than I would've expected. Instead of both men heeling it up, they chose to just wrestle, without over the top cheating or crowd playing. I could've done without the Mr. Perfect "interference", but it was mostly harmless.

On the subject of Mr. Perfect... as you might have expected, they pulled yet another of their famous bait-and-switches the next night, with Helmsley "injuring" him backstage before the match was to take place. Marc Mero stepped in to take his place, and after some taunting, the Intercontinental Title was on the line... and Perfect turned on Mero, giving Helmsley the title. The whole point of Perfect taking away his women was because they were a distraction for him... whatever. I was foaming at the mouth at finally seeing Perfect in the ring again, and they stepped all over my fandom once again with an awful bait-and-switch tactic. Throw in the stupid, stupid, STUPID "Razor and Diesel" crap, and my interest in WWF was officially on life support.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Owen Hart & British Bulldog (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. The Smoking Gunns:

ReMatch from Mind Games. Sunny dumped the Gunns after losing the titles, so Billy is more obsessed with getting her back than just focusing on the titles. On the other side, Clarence Mason has hornswoggled the contracts of Owen and Davey Boy from Jim Cornette, for whatever reasons. Heel vs. Heel again, and I'm just not looking forward to this one, again. Billy and Owen start. Billy with a headlock and a hip toss. Billy with a side headlock, and some hair pulling. He lays Owen out with a clothesline, and comes off the top, only to be met by a fist to the midsection. The Champs with a double clothesline, followed by a drop toe hold and leg drop combo. Bart nails Bulldog from the apron with a clothesline, and hey look, it's Sunny, watching from backstage. Bart tags in, and he takes Bulldog over with a powerslam. He heads to the top, and he misses a cross body. Bulldog comes off the ropes with a body press for two. Owen tags in, and comes off the top with a missile dropkick for two. Whip to the ropes, and a double clothesline. Bulldog sends Bart from corner to corner. Can someone please play the babyface? Owen slaps on a chinlock, but I'm still more interested in the banter on commentary. Gunn miscommunication happens, but Bart manages to kick out at two. Billy hangs Owen up across the top rope, and a double russian leg sweep gets two. Billy with a slam and elbow drop, followed by a neck breaker. Bart with a swinging neck breaker for two. This crowd is pretty dead. Lawler praising Billy and making fun of Bart seems to point to the obvious. The Gunns with an early version of Poetry in Motion. They set for the Sidewinder, but Bulldog yanks Bart away as Billy comes off the top rope, and Owen lays Billy out with the spinning heel kick for the three count at 9:22. If I could use a phrase to describe this one, it would be "going through the motions." Heatless, unenjoyable, and just "stuff" happening to fill out ten minutes. This marked the end of the Smoking Gunns, and gave us that epic "brother vs. brother" feud we've always wanted.

- Following the match, Jim Ross abandons the head-set, and enters the ring on the house microphone. I'm sorry, but has Heel Jim Ross ever gotten actual reactions other than babyface pops? It didn't work here, it didn't work in 1999, and I'm sure they tried again. He promises Bret Hart will be on Monday Night Raw in Ft. Wayne, IN. Jim Ross finishes by tossing the microphone at Vince... to another babyface pop.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
"Wildman" Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena):

I guess I spoiled the finish to this... Since our last adventures, Ahmed Johnson was stripped of the title due to injuries suffered at the hands of newcomer Faarooq (Ron Simmons in a stupid foam Gladiator helmet). Mero ended up winning the Title, defeating Faarooq in the Finals. This was supposed to be a rematch, but Ahmed Johnson "injured" Faarooq during the Free For All, so yep, ANOTHER Bait and Switch. Again, no wonder WCW was using the WWF as toilet paper. Mr. Perfect has joined the broadcast position in the place previous occupied by Jim Ross. Goldust "hammers away" and bitch slaps his cheek into the 12th row. Mero takes Goldust over with a pair of arm drags and a dragon screw. Mero with a drop toe hold, and he slaps on an armbar. He takes Goldust over with another arm drag, then goes back to the arm. Goldust rakes the eyes to escape and punishes Mero in the corner. Mero with a double leg sweep, followed by a twirling head scissors. Whip to the ropes, back body drop, and a clothesline. Goldust rolls out of the ring, and Mero follows with a somersault plancha. Back inside, and Mero with a leg drop for two. Mero climbs to the top, but Goldust brings him down with a chokeslam. Goldust with a clothesline for two, and it's chinlock time! Mero battles back to his feet, and a double body press goes Mero's way, but it only gets two. Goldust gets up fast, and puts Mero back down with a clothesline. Goldust grabs the microphone and threatens to stick his tongue in everyone's mouth in the audience. Mero takes him down with a back suplex, and comes off the top with a moonsault for two. Goldust sets up for the Final Curtain, but Mero counters with a roll up for two. Mero charges and gets back dropped to the floor. Perfect abandons the headset to help out Mero. Suiddenly, we spy Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the aisle. Perfect lays out Goldust for trying to sneak up on him, and finally, the action returns to the ring. Mero with a Samoan drop, and the "Wild Thing" (a shooting star press) finishes it at 11:39. Eh, I've seen worse (like their match at SummerSlam), but it was watchable. Remember, Mr. Perfect takes on Hunter on tomorrow night's Raw. Swear!

#1 Contender's Match: Sycho Sid vs. Vader (w/ Jim Cornette):

Winner gets the title shot at Survivor Series against Shawn Michaels. I can't imagine this one being very good. Shawn joins us for commentary, just to remind us he's still around. Reminds me of Hulk Hogan's time in WCW leading up to the nWo... Sid hammers away and lays Vader out with a clothesline. He drops a leg for two. Vader blocks a slam attempt, and pounds Sid down to the canvas. Vader with a short-arm clothesline, followed by an avalanche. Cornette gets a cheap shot in while the referee gives Vader the business. Sid wakes up for a slugfest, and manages a sunset flip back into the ring, but Vader counters with a butt drop. Who knew Sid had that in him? Vader with a trio of short-arm clotheslines. He slaps on a headlock, and Sid escapes with a back suplex. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Sid charges in with a big boot. We have a spot calling moment, as Sid catches Vader coming in with another boot. Sid heads to the top, and Vader catches him in mid-air! Vader plants him with a slam and adds a splash for a two count. Vader heads to the second rope, and hits another splash, but he pulls Sid up at two. Might as well stamp your job card right now. Vader climbs the ropes for the Vaderbomb, and to the surprise of no one, it meets the knees. Sid plows through Vader with a clothesline, sends him to the canvas with a slam, and sets for the Powerbomb, but Cornette gets involved and pays for it. Sid with a boot to the midsection, and Vader with a low blow. There's an equalizer for you. Vader sets up for the powerbomb, but Sid blocks. Whip to the ropes, and Sid casually chokeslams Vader for the three count at 8:00. Well, that finish came out of nowhere. Some impressive action at times, but all over the place. Felt much longer than 8-minutes, too. This means Shawn vs. Sid at Survivor Series. Yay?

Buried Alive Match: The Undertaker vs. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer):

It's time for our Main Event. We know the long story here, but let's get to the short-short version: Mankind attacks Undertaker, hurts him, beats him, plays mind games with him, Undertaker returns the favor, beats on him, Paul Bearer turns on Undertaker, and they continue to play mind games with each other. Winner here is the first person to throw their opponent into a grave and throw significant amounts of dirt on them. Slugfest to start. Mankind brings it to the corner and unloads with the usual, but Undertaker returns the favor with a flurry of blows, sending Mankind to the floor. Mankind tries to pull 'Taker out of the ring, but gets kicked into the rail for his efforts. 'Taker to the top rope, and he comes down to the floor with a plancha! Lucha-Taker! They fight up the aisle, to the grave site. Mankind bops him in the throat with a shovel and goes for a suplex, but Undertaker counters with a small package, and the two go tumbling down the dirt pile, to the concrete floor. They return to the ring, with the Undertaker in control. The action spills to the floor again, with Undertaker choking out Mankind with a random cable. Lawler with a reference to the 1996 NLCS, as the brawl goes into the crowd. Undertaker with a suicide dive over the rail to lay Mankind out with a clothesline. Back in the ring, Undertaker attempts to go to school, but Paul Bearer shakes the ropes, crotching the man from the dark side. Mankind stomps and chokes as I wonder why a referee is needed in the ring. Undertaker mounts a comeback until Mankind bonks 'Taker with an illegal object... how is it illegal in a No DQ Match? Whip to the corner, and Undertaker explodes back out with an elbow. Undertaker grabs the weapon, and starts smashing it into the top of the head of Mankind. What's good for the Goose, and all that crap. Whip to the ropes, and Undertaker comes off with a diving clothesline. He drops a leg, then falls out of the ring to stalk Bearer. Mankind follows out, grabs a chair, and gets kicked in the nuts. Bearer with a weak urn shot, distracting 'Taker enough to allow Mankind a chair shot to the cranium. Undertaker conveniently lays against the steps, allowing Mankind a chance to work in his running knee to the face spot.

The action goes back to the make-shift grave. Mankind knocks 'Taker into the grave, but Undertaker drags him in as well, and unloads with a series of roundhouse rights. Mankind tries to slam 'Taker in, but he counters with a belly-to-belly suplex, with Mankind landing on the concrete. Back to the ring, and Mankind with the tight-pull piledriver. He goes for a cover, but that's not going to work here. Undertaker with rights and lefts to put Mankind on his back, but he misses an elbow. Mankind has the chair again, and plants 'Taker with the Double-Arm DDT. Undertaker still manages to sit up, and blasts a home run off Mankind's back. He lays the chair across his face, and drops the leg again. Mankind crawls to the apron, and hangs 'Taker up across the top rope. He exposes the concrete floor for a piledriver, but Undertaker counters with a back drop slam into the steps! 'Taker tosses the steps into the ring, and are quickly reunited with Mankind's face. Undertaker scoops him up, and connects with the Tombstone. Now for the task of carrying his ass up the aisle, to the grave. Mankind grabs the Mandible Claw at the top of the hill. He goes for the urn, but Undertaker chokeslams him into the grave! Dirt is piled on, and the Undertaker gets the victory at 18:23. He keeps throwing dirt on, until a masked man (Terry Gordy, as The Executioner) makes the save, breaking a shovel over the head of the Undertaker, retrieving Mankind from the grave, and throwing the Undertaker in instead. Then they're joined by Crush, Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw, Goldust, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley to fill the grave, and that takes forever. Then Mankind jams a shovel into the grave, and suddenly a bolt of lightning strikes it, and the Undertaker's arm reaches out as we fade to black. Goofy, over the top post-match stuff aside, a pretty good brawl. I think Mick Foley has to be given some credit for making Undertaker a better worker. It wasn't until their series of matches did he actually put workrate in favor of goofy gimmick, and it shows he could actually work a REAL match without "choke, choke, no-sell, choke, no-sell, eye roll, finish" every match.

Final Thoughts: Surprisingly good card, more for the fact I wasn't expecting much out of it. The main event is outstanding (well, for 1996 brawling) and the opener was pretty good as well. I didn't quite enjoy the middle portion of the show, but everything was at least watchable, if not unremarkable. I wouldn't go out of my way to view this one, but if you come across it, it's hardly a waste of time. At the least, give the Buried Alive Match a look, if you've never seen it before.

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