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WWF In Your House #8: Beware of Dog

by Scrooge McSuck

- This marks only the second of the In Your House PPV's I did not see as it happened live, and considering what went down, that's pretty good we didn't waste our money. I can't stress enough how underwhelming the card looked on paper, even as a young mark. Seriously, the roster was getting so thin they could barely produce five singles matches for a Pay-Per-View, and used no more than ten wrestlers on the actual PPV portion of the card.

- Originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View on May 26th, 1996, from Florence Civic Center, in Florence, SC, with Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler calling all the action, unless otherwise noted.

Free For All: WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The Godwinns (w/ Sunny & Hillbilly Jim) vs. The Smoking Gunns:

(Henry O. & Phineas I. Godwinn vs. Billy & Bart Gunn)
You know how sad the Tag Team division was? This is the second time the Championship has been defended/decided on the fucking Free For All. The Godwinns won the belts from the Bodydonnas in a pointless switch at some random house show, and picked up gold-digger Sunny along the way. How sincere of a babyface turn this ended up being. Phineas and Bart with a handshake to start. Bart with a headlock, followed by a shoulder block for two. Criss-cross goes nowhere, and the Gunns take turns working the arm. Phineas with a scoop slam on Billy and tags out to Henry, who quickly gets rolled up for two and locked in an armbar. Henry goes for the Slop Drop, but ends up having to settle for a clothesline (complete with oversell). Phineas tags in, and the work on Bart Gunn's arm continues. The Gunns take turns working Phineas' arm as I ponder who the heels are supposed to be. Phineas misses a charge to the corner, and guess what: more arm work. Sunny hops on the apron, gets tongue tied by Billy, shocking Phineas into being slammed and pinned by Bart, giving us new tag team Champions at 4:59. On the Free for All. Nothing but armbars, and the finish lead to Sunny dumping the Godwinns the following week, and surprise surprise, taking on the Gunns, turning them heel in the process. I was never a big fan of them, but their heel turn definitely hurt the quality of their matches. Just saying.

"Wildman" Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley:

Opening match proper. Mero, formerly Johnny B. Badd in WCW, made his debut at WrestleMania XII and was instantly thrown into a program with Helmsley over... nothing really. I guess Mero was defending the honor of Helmsley's escort of the night (Sable) or something. I should note this is a week following the MSG Incident, so guess who has joined the ranks of the Job Squad for the next few months. Mero attacks before the bell, but falls for the cat-and-mouse game. Slugfest in the corner, and Helmsley gets knocked over the top rope, to the floor. Mero follows with a suicide dive, then brings it back in the ring for a slingshot leg drop for a two count. Helmsley thumbs the eyes to prevent a wind up left, but gets turned inside out on a whip to the corner, and laid out afterall for a two count. Mero charges, and takes a bump into the post at 100 mph. Helmsley takes Mero, and rams his shoulder into the post a second time, just because it's the smart thing to do. Helmsley with a boot to the chest and a single-arm DDT. Choking in the corner, followed by a flurry of rights and lefts. Whip to the ropes, and Helmsley with a running high knee for a two count. Helmsley slaps on an armbar to the previously punished shoulder, and starts digging his knee into the elbow for extra preasure. Whip to the ropes, and Mero with a surprise roll up for two. He goes for the back slide, but the arm's hurting, allowing Helmsley to pound him to the canvas, and wrap the arm around the ring post, once again.

Back in the ring, and Helmsley continues to punish the left arm. Helmsley sends Mero shoulder first into the corner, and slaps on a cross-armbar. There's a move you didn't see him apply very often, ever. I'm not sure of the proper name, but Craig Pittman used it as his finisher at the time in WCW. Helmsley slams Mero face first into the canvas, and drops a knee across the arm, Nature Boy style (or Harley Race, choose your reference). Mero tries a comeback, but Hunter thumbs the eye and goes back to working the arm with a step-over wrist lock. Hunter goes for a back suplex, but Mero counters with a funky roll up for a two count. Helmsley quickly regains control with a clothesline, and gets a two count of his own. Mero throws his shoulder into Helmsley, who takes advantage of the situation and drops the weight of his body across the injured arm. Helmsley makes a rare trip to the top rope, and sledges Mero across the back. He goes back to the armbar, and yes, he actually uses the ropes for leverage. Helmsley with knees into the shoulder, followed by a hammerlock slam. Helmsley to the top for a second time, but this time Mero hits the ropes to crotch him across the ropes. Mero climbs up, and connects with a hurricanrana. Whip to the ropes, and Mero counters a side suplex with a twisting head scissors Mero with a boot to the midsection, followed by a running knee lift. Whip to the ropes, and Mero with a back drop. Mero to the top rope, and a super-sunset flip gets two. Mero with a dropkick, sending Helmsley to the floor. He goes for the somersault plancha, but Helmsley steps away, and now Mero's selling a knee injury, too. Back inside, and Helmsley is more concerned with harrassing Sable. He sets up for the Pedigree, but lets go and goes after Sable, who can't stand to watch anymore. Helmsley goes for the Pedigree again, but this time takes the Curt Hennig bump into the post, and Mero covers for three at 16:24. I've made it very clear about how little I enjoy Helmsley's earlier stuff, but damn was this a pretty good match. I was definitely feeling an old school NWA vibe from it. It would be a while though, before Helmsley's ring performance would be consistantly good, but this is what can happen when midcarders get 15-20 minutes compared to 5-7.

- ... And then the Pay-Per-View feed went out, missing the three matches scheduled to follow, and coming back just in time for the main event. When you look at two of the three matches we missed, it was God's way of saying "don't watch", but I would still be pissed if I had ordered the PPV and missed half of a $20, two-hour show.

WWF Championship Match:
Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. The British Bulldog (w/ Diana & Owen Hart):

Here's the lame backstory, for those who care: Shawn Michaels allegedly made a pass at Diana (or was supposed to be the other way 'round, but whatever), and now Diana is sending her husband Davey Boy after him for revenge, and hey, he also wants the WWF Championship too. You know, it would've been more believable to make this Non-Title, if it was really about Davey Boy defending his wife's honor, and MAYBE Shawn would've done the job, setting up a rematch for King of the Ring. Shawn has a brush with Mr. Perfect backstage in a "what was the point of that" moment, and then we waste more valuable time as Clarence Mason serves papers to Shawn for sexual whatever conduct. Michaels, class act among men, tears it up, because that's what babyfaces do.

Bulldog attacks from behind to start, and pounds away. Whip to the corner, and Shawn comes back with arm drags. Bulldog rolls away from Sweet Chin Music, and Shawn follows him out with a plancha. Back inside, and Michaels grabs a headlock. He uses the turnbuckle for leverage on a takeover, and gets a two count from it. Bulldog escapes and slaps on a bearhug, but Shawn quickly escapes and rolls him up for two. Michaels with an enziguri (with over-sell) for another two count, then goes to work on the arm. Michaels with a sloppy arm drag and arm scissors. Bulldog muscles his way back to his feet, and slams Michaels down to break the hold. Whip to the ropes and Bulldog with a back drop. Bulldog with a yank of the hair to slam Michaels down, again. Bulldog pounds away and slaps on a chinlock. Michaels with elbows to escape, but Bulldog quickly hoists him up into a body vice, as McMahon claims Shawn has never lost by submission (Survivor Series '92 calls... just saying). Michaels escapes and goes for a crucifix, but Bulldog counters with a slam, then drops a leg for two. Bulldog keeps Michaels grounded with another chinlock, as we hear Owen mouthing off to whoever. In an AWESOME moment, Bulldog yells at some screaming fan to shut up, and I swear Michaels chimes in "shut that bitch up", with the camera right in his face. In an awkward moment, Hebner just gets up from the action and paces around the ring a while. Shawn quite clearly pitched a fit over certain instructions during this spot, ignoring the hold and throwing his arms in the air like a child, which might explain the odd behavior. Michaels fights free again, but then they blow something, and Shawn takes a dive to the floor. Looked like Bulldog went for a clothesline, but Shawn sold it a stumbling drunk (insert Scott Hall joke here). Michaels hangs Davey Boy up across the top rope, then slingshots back in with a clothesline. They do a head collision, putting the both of them down, again. Michaels comes off the ropes with a diving forearm, and it's kip up time. Michaels with a slam, followed by a double axehandle for two. Criss-cross, and Hebner takes a man-sized bump to the floor. Referee Jimmy Korderas comes out to replace him, as Bulldog goes for a powerslam. Shawn counters with a bridging suplex, and it's a three count at 17:01 for... Davey Boy Smith? But wait! Earl Hebner counted too, and said Shawn had Bulldog pinned, while Korderas claims the opposite. The final result: Draw. Lame. Seems like they were building towards a 25-30 minute match, before kicking it into high gear for the last few minutes. Can't say I really enjoyed it, but it wasn't bad, either. Just awkwardly paced.

- Because of these unfortunate weather issues, the WWF decided to not only rebroadcast the two matches that made it to the PPV feed, but also re-do the rest of the card, live, the tuesday following, and called it Beware of Dog 2. I didn't order either show, so no idea if original purchases were honored for the replay or what, but you have to assume so. Our second attempt is coming from the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, SC, with Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect calling the action. It looks like this is from a Superstars taping, considering the weird location of the entrance, and the days following a PPV used to be taping days.

Caribbean Strap Match: Savio Vega vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (w/ Ted Dibiase):

Stipulations of the night: If Austin wins, Vega has to be come the personal driver for Ted Dibiase, and if Savio wins, then Dibiase leaves the WWF. I'm pretty sure the latter stipulation was a last minute add on from Monday Night Raw, probably to push a few more sales for the rebroadcast. Austin with the first offense of the match with clubbing blows. Whip to the ropes, and Savio with a back drop. Savio attempts to use the strap, but Austin rolls out of the ring. Savio jerks Austin into the side of the ring, and lays him out with a knifeedge chop. Back inside, and Savio whips Austin all over his body. That just sounds painful. Austin takes a hike, but Savio continues to torture him with the leather strap. Savio brings Austin back into the ring with a suplex, and whips him some more. Vega with a spinning heel kick, and a failed attempt at touching the corners, interrupted by a low blow. Now it's Austin's turn to use the strap as a weapon. Vega sweeps the legs to stop it, and they tumble around, slugging it out on the canvas. Austin rams Savio into the ring apron, and another sickening shot with the strap across the back. Austin uses the strap to hang Savio up across the top rope, then brings him back into the ring with a suplex. Austin drags him around the ring by the ankle, touching the turnbuckles, but Savio breaks the momentum by using the strap to whip Austin into the corner. Whip to the ropes, and Savio uses the strap as an assistant for a clothesline. Austin dumps Savio over the top rope, but goes tumbling out as well, thanks to being attached at the wrists with the strap. Savio counters a suplex on the floor, and takes Austin over with one of his own. Austin attempts an axehandle off the steps, but jumps right into a fist.

Back into the ring, and Savio drags Austin around to touch the turnbuckles, but only gets to three before Austin sweeps the leg. Austin whips the shit out of Savio, but can't get him up for a suplex. Savio sets Austin across the top turnbuckle, but gets knocked back to the canvas. Austin to the top, and he gets crotched. Had to expect that one coming. Savio with the strap, and he brings Austin over with a super-plex. They play dead for a moment, rightfully so after such a grueling fight. Savio gets to three buckles, but Austin cuts him off with a spinebuster bum rushing for the fourth. Austin chokes Vega across the middle rope and crushes down with the weight of his body. Cute spot as he tried to hit the ropes, but just couldn't make it that far because of the strap. Austin goes for the corners, but Savio thumbs the eyes. Austin retaliates with a low blow. Austin goes for a Tombstone, but Savio counters. Austin counters back, and the momentum dumps Savio over the top rope. Austin climbs to the top, and jumps to the floor, eating the security rail. He had to jump over the ring steps too, on the way down, just to point out. Back inside, Savio hoists Austin up on his shoulders, and takes him around the ring to touch the buckles, but he only gets to three before Austin jerks him back as hard as you can imagine. Austin with a piledriver, and now Dibiase convinces Austin to go for it again. Savio ends up countering with a back drop. Austin slaps on the Million Dollar Dream, but Savio still goes for the buckles. He makes it to two, then kicks off the buckle to slam down onto Austin to break the hold. Austin hot shots Vega into the ring post and drags him by the neck to touch the corners. Vega makes it back to his feet each time to touch the corners as well (technically doesn't this stop the count each time?). They make it to three, and a final struggle into the fourth sees Austin "accidentally" use the strap to leverage throw Vega into the corner, giving Savio the victory at 21:27. The week after, it was explained that Austin threw the match to get rid of Dibiase as his manager. It's always hard to explain why a strap match of any kind is good, but this was a great brawl, a formula that Austin would shape the main event scene into in the years following. Pretty rare to see an undercard match get 20+ minutes, too.

Yokozuna vs. Vader (w/ Jim Cornette):

This is a big rematch from an episode of Monday Night Raw a month or so ago, where Vader repeatedly splashed Yokozuna's leg, forcing him to do a stretcher job. On a forklift. You don't think that was the WWF's way of saying "hey, fat ass, lose some weight!", do you? As much as Yokozuna's heel run was growing stale, turning him babyface was an even dumber idea. Only the markiest of marks would respond to him. Shitty slugfest as Jim Ross declares this won't be pretty. Stalling, and Yokozuna offers a Sumo stand-off. Vader responds by moo'ing, and more stalling. This goes on for a few minutes, so I sit back and wait for something to happen. They finally go through with the tackle, won by Yokozuna, and he clotheslines Vader to the floor. They slug it out, with Vader getting the upperhand. Yokozuna sweeps the leg and drops an elbow across the knee. Vader rolls out to the floor, killing more time. Vader tries to slug it out again, but with the same result. Please tell me Yokozuna is NOT sucking wind already. Vader goes for a slam, as Jim Ross declares the only person he can think of to have slammed Yokozuna is Ahmed Johnson (Lex Luger says hello). Yokozuna counters, of course, and connects with the move greater known as the Rock Bottom. Yokozuna with a Samoan Drop, and he calls for the end. Cornette hops on the apron and gets tossed into the ring for it. Cornette offers the racket and begs for mercy, but Yokozuna lays him out with a headbutt and attempts to Banzai Drop him. Vader makes the save, and Vader drops an elbow across the leg. Vader with a splash, and a Vader Bomb finishes it at 8:53. That dragged on for a while, but the last few minutes were at least watchable. I could've done without the four minutes dedicated to a stand-off and Sumo tackle, though.

WWF Intercontinental Championship; Casket Match:
Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer):

Much like my complaint about the pointless use of the Cage at IYH: Rage in the Cage, there's absolutely no reason this has to be a Casket Match. Their program was nothing but a second fiddle filler to Undertaker's program with Mankind, too. Undertaker and Goldust were somehow paired up for FOUR different In Your House cards (dark match taped for Coliseum Video for 6, here, 9, and 10). Undertaker surprises Goldust from behind, knocking him to the floor. Whip to the corner, and Goldust bumps out like his name was Shawn Michaels. Goldust freaks out at the site of the casket, and continues to take a beating. Undertaker with a slam, followed by a leg drop. Undertaker wrenches the arm, and goes to the top for some (Not Quite) Old School. Undertaker with choking in the corner. Goldust with an elbow to the face, followed by a sla, but Undertaker sits up. Goldust actually manages to connect with his own Tombstone, but Undertaker is up, again. Goldust with a diving clothesline, but he can't get Undertaker into the casket. There's actually a camera set inside of it. I guess it became popular at Royal Rumble '94. Goldust dumps 'Taker to the floor, and chokes him with some cables. Goldust slowly pounds away, and slaps on a sleeper hold. There's a trick for everyone to try for the Zombie Apocalypse. Slap a sleeper on one and see if it will work. Undertaker gets rolled into the casket, but he keeps the arm out to block the lid from closing. Whip to the ropes, and Undertaker with a diving clothesline. Undertaker with another clothesline, taking both men to the floor. Undertaker grabs a chair, but Goldust blocks with a boot to the face, and lays him out with a clothesline. Back in the ring, and Goldust with a powerslam. Goldust to the top, and he hits another clothesline, then covers, forgetting the stipulations of the match. Goldust decides to go old school, and gets thrown off the top for his efforts. Undertaker signals for the end and hits the Tombstone, but suddenly Mankind pops out of the casket, and puts Undertaker in with the mandible claw, giving Goldust the victory at 12:37. Nice of them to break the lid, so it can't quite close. Slow match with a few decent spots, but damn was the Undertaker not fun to watch at the time. They open up the casket, and Undertaker has vanished. Considering he was on television the next week, no one cares.

Final Thoughts: Unfortunate weather problems aside, this was a surprisingly good "show" (refering to the replay, of course). There's some suck on here with the Casket Match and Battle of the Bulk, but everything else is worth checking out, for different reasons. The opener is a throwback to the old school style that wasn't really associated with WWF, the strap match for it's awesome brawling, and the main event for Michaels pitching a fit like a little girl with the camera in his face half the time. One of the few bright spots when it came to WWF Pay-Per-Views in 1996.

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