WWE: The Best of In Your House (BLURAY EDITION~!)

best_of_iyh

WWE – The Best of In Your House
BLU-RAY REVIEW EDITION
Released: April 30, 2013

Your host is the legendary Todd Pettengill. He wonders if the net worth of the house they gave away is still in the positives after the housing market crash. Sheesh. Forget that this guy still has an ’80s-sitcomy vibe about him, he’s making 2008 jokes.

DISC ONE

  • Bret Hart vs. Hakushi (w/Shinja) – (In Your House #1, 5/14/95)

I admit it: Shinja used to freak me out when I was a kid. Weirdo white kabuki people. This all started when Bret Hart was being honored by the Japanese media and Hakushi didn’t like it one bit. He attacks Bret and gives him a moonsault press off an interview stage. Pretty neat stuff. To add to the intrigue, Hakushi is undefeated after five months in the WWF. Not to mention Bret has TWO matches signed for tonight. Bret shoves off a headlock, but Hakushi handsprings away from any kind of contact. To demonstrate his heelness, Hakushi pulls Bret down by his hair a bunch to hold on to a wristlock. Bret escapes and armdrags Hakushi around the ring. Hakushi takes over after he reverses a cross-corner whip on Bret, sending him in for the chest-first corner bump. Vader bomb by Hakushi gets two. Hakushi chokes Bret down in the corner and busts out a bronco buster. Shinja gets in the typical heel managerial offense like stomping Bret when he’s down and choking him in the ropes. Hakushi hits Bret with the Handspring Elbow Smash and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two. That sets Bret up for a BEAUTIFUL Flying Headbutt. That’s the real poetry in motion, my friends. Cover, 1-2-NO! A springboard splash misses, signaling Bret’s comeback. Russian legsweep, Bulldog, Backbreaker and the Flying Vertical Elbow Drop all lead to the SHARPSHOOTER. Bret sees Shinja and grabs after him. Hakushi tries to attack, but Bret picks him up for an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline. Shinja keeps on bugging Bret by tripping him up as he comes off the ropes. Bret’s had enough of this creep and lays him out with a suicide dive! Back in, Hakushi’s waiting and levels Bret with a dropkick for two. Next up, they do the crazy spot where they suplex each other to the floor. As both men try to beat the count, Shinja ducks down and takes hold of Bret’s foot while Hakushi crawls back into the ring. Bret gets down to knock Shinja out when Hakushi debuts the Asai Moonsault on US PPV! INSANITY! If you listen closely, you can hear the crowd chanting for Hakushi. Bret flips out of a suplex back in and then blocks a German suplex into a neat rollup for 1-2-3. (14:42) The final five minutes of this match is just fantastic. A little messy at the beginning, but they shrug that feeling off pretty quickly. Hakushi held his own with one of WWF’s biggest stars, which should have started the second coming of Muta especially with his great moveset. Instead, Hakushi stuck around in the mid-card for another year before returning to Japan. Much to Jerry Lawler’s delight, Bret limps back to the locker room. Bret and those pesky knees! ***¾

  • WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/The Roadie) vs. Shawn Michaels – (In Your House #2, 7/23/95)

I definitely remember watching/listening to this match on scramblevision live and was one excited nine year-old. Roadie comes out before Jarrett’s introduction to give him back any heel heat he might have lost from his performance. During HBK’s prematch “stripping of the chaps”, Lawler reminds us that Nashville used to hate guys with long hair. Really? I would have thought mullets was Tennessee’s *thing*. To start, Michaels punches Jarrett from one side of the ring to the other. Shawn taunts Jarrett and then they lock up again where Jarrett fires off an armdrag. We see the Jarrett strut. Shawn whips Jarrett across the ring only for Jarrett to flip over him out of the corner and punch him out the floor. More strutting and taunting from Jarrett. Back in, Jarrett flips over HBK out of a hiptoss and takes a poke to the eyes. Shawn does the same thing, but sees a strike coming and fires back on Jarrett. Now HBK flips out of the corner and Cactus Clotheslines Jarrett to the floor. HBK skins-the-cat back in and mocks the Jarrett strut while Roadie checks on his champ. Jarrett begins to stall Memphis style and breaks several ten-counts at nine. HBK finally comes out and nails him from behind. Back in, Jarrett nails Shawn coming down on him from the top and hits the Bossman straddle. Jarrett whiffs on a dropkick and some apron interference from Roadie gets stopped with an eye poke. Jarrett charges at Shawn and gets thrown out on top of Roadie! HBK leaps down on them both and heads back into the ring for a baseball slide into Jarrett. He’s back in and begs off into the corner. Jarrett thinks he’s avoided a crossbody out of the corner, but Shawn’s still in the corner and nails Jarrett once he turns around with a sunset flip. Jarrett blocks the rollup and then backdrops Michaels over the top rope to the floor below. Holy crap. Jarrett follows him out and sends Shawn into the steel steps. Back in, Jarrett delivers a gourdbuster and applies an ab stretch. Roadie gives him a little leverage help until he gets caught and Shawn fights back with a hiptoss. HBK telegraphs a backdrop and receives a leaping DDT for his mistake. Cover, 1-2-NO!

Roadie chokes Shawn in the ropes. He gets a little too involved though as Shawn pulls Roadie forward and moves out of the way to cause Jarrett to wipe out Roadie with a Bossman straddle. O’Connor roll from Shawn gets 1-2-NO! From there, Jarrett reverses a corner whip on Shawn to send him in for his crazy bump that lands him on the floor. I’m surprised he didn’t take some time off with a back injury after this match. Jarrett teases a dive off the top onto Shawn, but Hebner takes him back into the ring so Roadie can hit Shawn with a clothesline off the ropes. Back in the ring, Jarrett and Roadie celebrate a countout victory over Shawn Michaels. Before it even happens, of course. Shawn just makes it back in before the ten-count. Shawn rolls through a flying bodypress from Jarrett gets 1-2-NO! Jarrett somewhat botches a crucifix into a sunset flip, but recovers nicely. Shawn breaks that up with a right hand to set up a nearfall sequence. Jarrett connects with the dropkick after all for another two-count. Shawn runs the ropes, but right into a sleeper. He goes down to the mat, but fights up to his feet and counters with a back suplex. Both men are down! Michaels is the first one to start moving and crawls over to Jarrett for 1-2-NO! More rope running as HBK catches Jarrett with a Tito Santana forearm. KIP UP! Shawn connects with another flying forearm and hits a flying double sledge for 1-2-NO! Flying Elbow Drop is delivered. Cover 1-2-NO! Shawn slides underneath a boot in the corner and crotches Jarrett on the ringpost. Back in, HBK heads up top again, but Roadie shakes the ropes to crotch Shawn. Jarrett follows him up for a superplex! It’s time for the FIGURE-FOUR! Nope, Shawn counters with an inside cradle for 1-2-NO! Jarrett catches Shawn with a shinbreaker to set up another FIGURE-FOUR attempt, but Shawn kicks him off into the ref. Now everybody’s down! Jarrett comes off the top rope for another Flying Bodypress as Roadie wakes up Hebner for 1-2-NO! Now Jarrett gives Roadie the signal to trip up Shawn off the Irish whip. Roadie turns his back on the action and doesn’t see HBK reverse the whip on Jarrett. Roadie grabs Jarrett’s foot by accident! Jarrett yells something at Roadie and then turns around into SWEET CHIN MUSIC! Shawn wins the IC title for the third time. (20:02) Fantastic match, but of course Shawn made sure to make Shawn look better than his opponent. On the other hand, Jarrett did do a good job keeping up with Shawn Michaels’ pinball style wrestling though. ****¼

  • WWF Intercontinental Champion Dean Douglas vs. Razor Ramon – (In Your House #4, 10/22/95)

Before the match, Shawn Michaels came down and reluctantly forfeited the IC belt to Dean Douglas. In case you’re wondering why, Shawn was attacked at a night club by some Marines and beaten so badly that he suffered a severe concussion. Most people that were there seem to agree that it started because he was hitting on one of the Marines’ women. Some indulge on the fact that he was being a complete douche about it too though and deserved what he got. Anyways, so Dean Douglas is announced as the NEW Intercontinental Champion. Of course now he has to face one of Shawn’s good buddies so this night will not end well for Douglas. Razor works the arm for the first several minutes. Finally, Douglas cheapshots Razor in the corner to change the match up a little bit. Douglas runs into a Fallaway Slam and then takes a clothesline to the floor. He continues to keep Douglas on the floor while he flashes four fingers to signify a record fourth WWF Intercontinental title win. Razor works the back by bringing Douglas into the ring with a suplex. They fight outside where Ramon grabs JR’s water bottle and pours water all over Dean. Back in, Douglas backdrops a RAZOR’S EDGE that puts Razor out to the floor. Back inside, Douglas lunges into a chokeslam. Douglas elbows off a Back Superplex and flies down on Razor with a crossbody. Ramon rolls through (geez! Douglas is getting nothing!) for 1-2-NO! Razor delivers a back suplex near the ropes and drapes his arm across Douglas for 1-2-3. (11:02) So Ramon regains the belt to keep the belt in the “family”. Douglas got his foot under the bottom rope, but those things aren’t really important. Douglas totally got screwed, as nobody seemed to like that guy over in the WWF. *

  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Henry O. Godwinn – Arkansas Hog Pen Match – Special Referee: Hillbilly Jim (In Your House #5, 12/17/95)

This just HAD to be on another set, didn’t it? Godwinn chases H to the floor with his slop bucket. Hunter sidesteps the toss – causing people in the front row to get slopped. In the ring, Godwinn takes over with a backdrop and ties Helmsley in the ropes to make him eat some slop. Hmm, looks like guacamole. H breaks loose and levels Godwinn with a clothesline. H follows up with a swinging neckbreaker and a knee drop. Harley Race high knee connects as they go to the floor. Godwinn elbows Hunter back and drives his head into the steps. They head over to the hog pen where Hunter takes a backdrop on the top of the fence. He jumps off for an elbow drop on Godwinn. Back to the ring, Godwinn runs into a boot in the corner and they both collapse. Godwinn counters a monkey flip into a wheelbarrow face slam. Hunter takes the Ray Stevens corner bump and then the Harley Race corner bump puts him on the floor. They brawl back over to the hog pen where Godwinn hits the SLOP DROP. With H up against the hog pen, Godwinn charges and gets flipped into the hog pen to give Hunter the win. (9:37) Well, the wrestling wasn’t so bad and the gimmick never got in the way of the match, so it’s much better than you might expect. It’s also hilarious to think what Triple H in such a match. I bet he wouldn’t even want to comment on this match now. Afterwards, Godwinn brings Hunter into the hog pen anyway with a press slam where the Blue Blood gets good and dirty. **½

  • WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith (w/Jim Cornette & Diana Hart-Smith) – (In Your House #5, 12/17/95)

Davey Boy Smith makes this match a little more interesting by bringing up his victory over Bret at SummerSlam 1992 to screw with Bret’s head. And with Jim Cornette there to help Davey Boy along with the screwing (pun not intended), this looks to be ALL bad for Bret. What’s even more awesome about this match is that Davey Boy is supposedly wearing the exact same tights he wore at Wembley Stadium in ’92. Diana Smith doesn’t stand with Cornette – she sits at ringside to give concerned looks every now and then much like at SummerSlam. Early on, Bret controls Davey Boy with an armbar. DBS tries to flip out every once and a while, but he goes right back into the hold. Cornette has a Santa Claus tennis racket cover! Davey Boy catches Bret with a kitchen sink and hangs him up in the tree of woe for a mudhole stomping. Hebner gets knocked back by DBS, but he helps Hebner to his feet to avoid any DQ. DBS works a chinlock for a bit. Bret fights out, but then he’s whipped in the corner for his chest-first bump. Back to the chinlock. Bret comes out of that again and launches Davey Boy with a monkey flip. Inverted atomic drop follows a running bulldog by Bret for two. Piledriver scores another nearfall for the Hitman. Russian legsweep sets up the vertical flying elbow drop. Davey Boy stops a superplex and drops Bret on the top rope to send him to the floor. Bret eats the stairs and as a result, the blood begins to flow from his forehead. Davey Boy rams Bret’s back into the ringpost and takes him back inside for more punishment. Piledriver gets two. Hourglass suplex by Bulldog gets another two. Press slam doesn’t even put Bret away. DBS connects with a flying headbutt to Bret’s lower back. Apparently he pulled something in his leg when he came off the ropes because he has to limp over to cover Bret for 1-2-NO! Bret escapes a bow-and-arrow and attempts the SHARPSHOOTER, but DBS turns out of it. Davey Boy knocks Bret out to the floor and then beats him on the apron. Bret counters a suplex back in and hits a bridging German suplex for 1-2-NO! Bret backdrops Davey Boy out to the floor. If his leg wasn’t hurting before, it is now. Bret follows him out with a pescado and unloads. He springs back off the ropes onto Davey Boy, who catches him in mid-air and gives Bret a RUNNING POWERSLAM ON THE FLOOR! Davey Boy pulls back the ringside mats and looks for a suplex, but Bret counters and drops Davey Boy crotch-first on the guardrail. Nice little bit of retribution for what Davey Boy did to Bret’s crotch earlier. Back in the ring, Bret hits a backbreaker for two. Superplex connects, but only earns Bret another nearfall. Bret rolls through Davey’s O’Connor roll attempt for 1-2-NO! Davey Boy runs into a boot in the corner, setting him up for la magistral cradle that gets 1-2-3! Bret retains. (21:12) Another great story from these two that was much more of a ‘blood and guts’ style match than their first classic. ****¼

  • WWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Diesel – No Holds Barred (IYH: Good Friends, Better Enemies, 4/28/96)

This is the swan song for Diesel as he’s leaving for WCW along with Ramon, so he’s looking to leave on an absolute high note while also putting over his buddy Shawn. Diesel tosses Vince his leather vest as a goodbye present, I’m assuming. Mad Dog Vachon is in the front row. That becomes important later. Shawn has to clear the ring of Diesel in order to take off his chaps. HBK levels Diesel with a baseball slide and follows him out with a moonsault press off the top to the floor! Ha, Shawn takes a boot off one of the SAT guys and comes down on Diesel with it from the top rope for two. Diesel reverses a whip for the Flair Corner Flip and knocks Shawn off the apron onto the guardrail. Back inside, Diesel punishes Shawn with the usual stuff. He hits the Side Slam and unties his wrist tape to CHOKE OUT THE REF! WHAT. With ref Earl Hebner choked down, Diesel loosens Hebner’s belt to whip Shawn. Now that is cool. Diesel goes as far as to wrap the belt around Shawn’s throat and pulls back while he’s got his foot in Shawn’s back. Like you would in a strap match, Diesel flips him over the top rope and ties him to the middle rope to go get a chair. While the ref tries to get Shawn loose, Diesel kills him with a chair shot. In the ring, we see another chair shot to Shawn. He begs off into the ropes and ducks another chair shot as the chair bounces off the top rope back into Diesel’s face! Now Shawn has the chair, but Diesel low-blows him real good. Big backdrop from Diesel gets two. Shawn fights out of a neck wrench, but Diesel knocks him out to the floor. With Shawn out on the floor, Diesel slowly comes down and POWERBOMBS SHAWN THROUGH THE ANNOUNCE TABLE. Not the SAT either – Vince and King’s table. Such an insane bump at the time because a spot like that had never been done before in the WWF quite like that. Diesel has the belt in the ring and puts it around his waist while Shawn regroups. As he crawls over to the ring, Shawn pulls out a fire extinguisher from under the ring and shoots it off in Diesel’s face to push him back! With Diesel blinded, Shawn hits the Flying Forearm. Now Shawn brings the chair back into the ring and KO’s Diesel. Oh, but just when Shawn looks like he’s in control, he ducks low off a whip and takes a Big Boot to the face. Here comes the JACKKNIFE! No! Shawn punches out and hits the Flying Elbow Drop! Diesel catches Shawn’s foot during SWEET CHIN MUSIC and spins Shawn around for a clothesline. Back on the floor, Diesel hotshots Shawn on the guardrail. After he tosses Shawn back in the ring, Diesel goes over and pulls Mad Dog Vachon from the front row and pulls off his prosthetic leg! Back inside, Diesel looks to bash the artificial leg on Shawn’s head, but Shawn answers back with a low-blow. Shawn winds up with Vachon’s leg and blasts Diesel. He tosses the leg back to Mad Dog and finishes off Diesel for good with SWEET CHIN MUSIC. (17:54) You have to love Shawn’s big time emotional celebration afterwards. Not only had he never beaten Diesel, but the win gives him the confidence to know that his title reign is FOR REALZ now in his first big title defense. Well, at least in terms of the ‘boyhood dream’ storyline. Innovative stuff here for the WWF and one of my all-time favorite matches as both guys just absolutely tore the house down. ****¾

  • WWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) – (IYH: Mind Games, 9/22/96)

There’s no way this FREAK Mankind can possibly win the WWF champion! The druids bring out a casket before the match and out comes Mankind just to play “mind games” with the Undertaker. Mankind goes to town on Shawn to start and takes him to the floor with a Cactus Clothesline. Mankind starts to peel back the ringside mats when Shawn dropkicks him over and starts stomping him while he’s stuck under the mat! HBK heads up top and comes down on Mankind right onto the concrete. From there, Shawn leaps off the steps and slams Mankind’s head to the concrete for another nasty bump. Back in, Shawn hits the Flying Double Sledge and follows up with the Flying Elbow Drop. SWEET CHIN MUSIC? No! Mankind sees what’s coming and leaps out of the ring. He starts rocking back and forth as Paul Bearer hands him the urn, which has become sort of a pacifier for him. Back inside the ring, they brawl it out, which leads to Mankind attempting the MANDIBLE CLAW when Shawn goes for a snapmare. Shawn elbows out, but gets thrown out to the floor where the SAT gets turned around. Shawn has had enough and LEAPS over the table and onto Mankind for more punches. They fight over to the steps where HBK gives Mankind a snap suplex into the steps! OUCH, there goes your knee. As Mankind tries to get back inside, Shawn chopblocks the knee and then slams it down across the casket! That’ll teach him to bring out a casket to a match when he’s not even an Undertaker! Mankind sells the knee real well as HBK Japanese leg whips him into a Figure-Four! He reverses out, but Shawn dropkicks the knee and grabs a half crab. Mankind finds the ropes and hotshots HBK to take control. To get the feeling back in his leg, Mankind rolls to the apron and starts STABBING HIMSELF IN THE KNEE! WHAT THE F. Mankind starts to pound on Shawn and then drives his knee into his face while he’s down in the corner. He begins to drive Shawn’s face into the mat because of his jealousy for pretty boys. Shawn tries to come back, but Mankind reverses a corner whip as HBK tries the Ray Stevens bump and gets caught in the tree of woe. While he’s stuck, here comes Mankind with the running elbow drop!

Down to the floor, Shawn avoids a running knee up against the steps, causing Mankind to crash knees-first into the steel. Mankind takes another bump into the steps as Shawn sends him face-first with a drop toehold. They fight over a suplex on the apron. Mankind charges him down the apron, but Shawn slips back inside as Mankind runs into the ringpost! Back in, HBK hits the Jumping Back Elbow and a powerslam for two. Shawn whips Mankind into the ropes when he gets his head caught in between the top and middle strands! SNAP! Once Mankind breaks free, he jabs Shawn with the MANDIBLE CLAW! Oh, but Shawn tosses Mankind off into the guardrail, as Hugo Savinovich falls out of his chair for no reason. Mankind tries to stab Shawn again with the MANDIBLE CLAW, but he blocks it with a chair. While the ref is with Paul Bearer, Shawn slams the chair down on Mankind’s knee and his Mandible Claw hand! Back in, Mankind tries the MANDIBLE CLAW anyways, but Shawn blocks and tries to break his hand. Off comes the finger glove! Shawn charges and takes a nasty backdrop to the floor, as Mankind follows him out with the Flying Elbow Drop off the apron. He continues to punish Shawn with the swinging neckbreaker on the concrete! Back in, the DOUBLE-ARM DDT gets 1-2-NO! Pull Up Piledriver gets another 1-2-NO! He tries with several pinfall attempts, but Shawn keeps kicking out. Mankind rolls Shawn into the casket, but he gets out of that REAL quick and starts his comeback. Flying Forearm is followed by the Flying Bodypress for 1-2-NO! Shawn gets crotched up top and they both go tumbling backwards down through the SAT! Well that was insane. Back inside, a chair is set up and Shawn jumps off the chair to deliver SWEET CHIN MUSIC to Mankind’s face while he’s up top with a chair in his hands! Steel chair + SWEET CHIN MUSIC = KO! Slow cover gets 1-2-WHAT. Shawn comes off the pin attempt and starts brawling with Vader! That’s a DQ, gentlemen. (26:23) Easily one of the best matches to ever end on a DQ finish. Also, this match should prove to anybody that these two men were the best bumpers in the business at the time. And it wasn’t just bumps here, there was a STORY to go along with the bumps and great selling from both men. In a perfect world where the original ECW was filled with other guys as talented as Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels wrestled there, this is the kind of matches he would be having on a semi-regular basis. They seemed to be building towards a Vader title change in the immediate future before Shawn would win it back to meet Bret at WrestleMania 13 for a rematch, but we all know that wasn’t meant to be. Shawn knocks Vader out of the ring with the Flying Forearm, but then Paul Bearer smashes the urn over his head. Doesn’t matter because the match is over. Sid runs in and beats Vader back to the dressing room to set up their match for the next PPV. Mankind applies the MANDIBLE CLAW on Shawn while he’s down and considers putting him in the casket. As Paul Bearer opens the lid, out comes the Undertaker! He sends Mankind flying out of the ring and walks them back to the dressing room. ****½

Pettengill mentions that Austin and Helmsley were “just getting their feet wet” as main eventers, which I think we all know is BS since only was this the PPV opener on an ‘In Your House’, but HHH wouldn’t have even been in this match had it not been for Savio Vega’s injury.

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/a blonde chick) – (IYH: Buried Alive, 10/20/96)

Supposed to be Austin/Vega, but now he’s injured and can’t compete. Since we know the future, this is much more interesting. Austin’s classic *GLASS SHATTERS* theme debuts on PPV here. JR’s mic goes in and out and causes him to get all frustrated. He blames a conspiracy on Vince’s part. Hunter’s valet looks so…normal. Shouldn’t she be hot or at least ‘wrestling hot’? Maybe I’m being too shallow. Just saying – she must have a GREAT sense of humor. While JR gets mad about his headset, Vince and King discuss whether or not a human being in the front row is a man or a woman. Personally, I’m not really sure. Okay, let’s get to the match. Slow start as they trade on a headlock. While both are heels, the crowd will support Austin over Helmsley. Hunter fights out of an armbar and hits a suplex to set up the Jumping Knee Drop for two. Back suplex gets two. They swap sleepers, but Austin escapes with a jawbreaker. Stungun and the Flying Elbow from Austin connects for two. H hits the High Knee and follows up with the flying fist drop for two. Of course, Lawler marks out for it. Double-KO ensues and here comes Mr. Perfect to steal away Hunter’s valet. Really, Curt? Hunter heads out to stop it, but Austin would rather fight. After rolling Hunter back inside, he looks over at Perfect and tells him to GTFO. Perfect takes offense and reprimands Austin, but when he turns back around, Austin throws a drink at him. OHHHHH. Off comes the jacket – Perfect is PISSED. He scares Austin into the ring where Helmsley is waiting for him. As Hunter goes for the PEDIGREE, he sees Perfect and his woman walking up the aisle, so he throws Austin away and goes after Perfect. Big mistake. Austin nails Hunter from behind, but Helmsley reverses a suplex to the concrete. He wants to PEDIGREE Austin, but that gets countered into a catapult into the ringpost! Back in, Austin nails the *double bird* STONE COLD STUNNER for the 1-2-3. (15:32) Austin 1, HHH 0. Pretty good match, but it’s hard to believe this is *the* main event to see three years from now. ***

  • The Undertaker vs. Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) – “Buried Alive” Match – (IYH: Buried Alive, 10/20/96)

This six month long feud has led these two to a match where one must bury their opponent to win the match. I remember thinking it was cool at the time. Of course, I was only ten. They brawl out to the floor where Taker comes off the top rope onto Mankind. Pretty crazy. They brawl over to the grave site where Mankind jabs UT in the throat with the shovel to get away from him. Mankind wants to suplex Taker into the open grave, but UT counters with an inside cradle and they roll back down the hill. HA. Back to ringside, they brawl into the crowd where Taker whips Mankind back over the railing. He then CLEARS the railing and nails Mankind with a Jumping Lariat. Back in, Taker goes for Old Skool, but Paul Bearer shakes the ropes and trips him up. Mankind takes over and beats Taker all around the ring. Out comes an Abdullah-esque spike that Mankind uses on Taker. Mankind runs into an elbow in the corner which triggers a comeback from Taker. He goes after Paul Bearer and backs him around the ring. Mankind follows after him and grabs a chair, but Taker sees him coming and kicks Mankind away. Bearer smashes the urn over Taker’s back, but UT NO-SELLS and steps away for a moment to get rid of Bearer. He turns back around to Mankind and gets nailed right in the FACE with a chairshot. Good gosh that was nasty. Good thing he has a 55-pound head. In a weird moment, Mankind licks the dent in the chair like a cat lapping up milk from a saucer. Pretty gross. He follows up the chairshot with a running knee to the head while Taker’s up against the steps. Over to the grave site, Mankind desperately tries to make Taker stay down in the dirt. Taker refuses a hiptoss into the open grave and sends Mankind flying back down the hill with a hiptoss of his own. Back to the ring, Mankind delivers a Pull Up Piledriver and goes for the cover, but you can’t win that way! Taker fires back, but takes a Double-Arm DDT on the chair! With UT down, Mankind pacifies himself for a moment with the urn. Meanwhile, Taker SITS UP and beats Mankind down to the mat with the chair. From here, he places the chair on Mankind’s face and gives him a legdrop! Mankind hotshots Taker to calm him down. He pulls up the ringside mats to give UT a piledriver, but Taker lifts Mankind up out of that and falls backwards into the steps! WHAT. Now THAT was nasty. Taker tosses the top end of the steel steps into the ring and throws them in Mankind’s face. He even drops them down on top of Mankind and then gives him a TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER. Taker points to the grave and carries Mankind over to the hill, but then Mankind stuns Taker with the MANDIBLE CLAW. He goes to smash the urn over Taker’s head, but Taker GOOZLES him and delivers a Chokeslam to Mankind right down into the grave! That’s it. Taker covers Mankind with dirt to end the match. (18:26) But Undertaker isn’t done! He literally wants to completely bury him alive. Wait, here comes a crazed mask man in an Executioner’s outfit (Terry Gordy) to blast Taker in the back with an ax handle. After that’s done, he rescues Mankind from the grave and puts Taker down in the dirt to completely bury *him* alive. Other heels like Goldust, Bradshaw, Crush, even Hunter Hearst Helmsley come over to help shovel dirt on top of the Phenom. Once the hole is filled to the top, a lightning bolt strikes the grave and Taker’s hand come up through the ground! HE’S STILL ALIVE, but also dead at the same time. Such a great string of brawls these two had that just gets better and more violent than the match before. ***¾

  • Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Vader (w/Paul Bearer) – Final Four Match for the vacant WWF title – (IYH: Final Four, 2/16/97)

This is Royal Rumble rules except pinfalls and submissions are allowed. You can probably guess who pairs off to start. Undertaker hits Vader with a Jumping Lariat while Austin and Bret brawl in the corner. UT breaks that up and hits Old School all over Austin. Bret elbows Undertaker into a belly to belly suplex by Vader. They go to the floor while Bret and Austin go back to what they were doing. Meanwhile, UT kicks a chair back in Vader’s face to bust him open pretty good. Taker keeps up the violence by sending Vader into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Austin is trying to get the pinfall over on Bret. Nothing doing. Chokeslam by Taker to Vader! Before UT can continue, Austin walks over and gives him a STONE COLD STUNNER! Cover, 1-2-NO! Vader takes Bret to the floor to beat on him with a steel chair. Over in the aisle, Austin wants a piledriver, but UT backdrops out. With Austin down on the floor, Taker heads over to get him some of Bret. Meanwhile, Vader lifts half of the steps to whack Austin, but he gets kicked away. Instead, Austin drops the top half of the steps on Vader. They brawl over to the timekeepers table where Austin beats the crap out of Vader with the WWF title. Next, Vader pulls Bret out of the ring to brawl with him in the aisle. Taker stops Austin up top and nearly eliminates him, but Austin fights back and catches UT with a flying clothesline. This is just a dogfight, people. Austin hits a Lou Thesz Press on Vader, but gets a receipt with a Body Attack. Bret delivers a Piledriver on Austin while Vader misses a VADERSAULT on Taker! Nevertheless, they head to the floor where Vader chokes Taker out with a cable and then tries to pin him inside the ring for two. Everybody switches as Taker and Austin take turns trying to eliminate each other over the top rope while Bret is kicking Vader in the balls so he can give him the Russian Legsweep. Then out of nowhere while Vader is hammering on Taker, Bret lifts up Austin and dumps him over the top rope to the floor at 18:09.

Bret and Vader stomp Taker out of the ring so they can go at it. That allows Paul Bearer to get involved and bash the urn over UT’s head. By the way, Psycho Sid is watching on from a monitor in the back. I mean, why WOULDN’T he be? Vader takes off his mask and heads up top, but gets caught for a superplex. Bret grabs the SHARPSHOOTER, but here comes Undertaker to break it up and knocks Bret all the way to the floor. Why? Stone Cold returns to ringside to beat up Bret some more. Vader wants to Pump Splash the Undertaker, but that’s a HUGE mistake as Taker sits up and low blows Vader over the top rope to the floor at 22:34.

Since it’s no DQ, Austin can still beat up Bret inside the ring. UT gets rid of him for the time being and gives Bret a Chokeslam. He wants the TOMBSTONE, but Austin grabs hold of Bret’s legs and yanks him down to crotch Bret on the top rope. Taker tries to get Austin off the apron, which allows Bret to roll him up for 1-2-NO! Bret can’t knock Austin off the apron, but Taker can. As Bret backs away and the Undertaker turns back around, Bret clotheslines UT over the top rope to win the match and his FOURTH WWF title. (24:06) Austin is pissed. Undertaker is pissed. Vader has probably lost too much blood to care. And now Psycho Sid comes down to get in Bret’s face as we close out the show. Definitely a great brawl, but I think this match is a tad overrated as it was pretty slow in some spots where I just wished someone would get eliminated. Word on the street is that Austin was supposed to take the strap here and drop it to Sid the next night on Raw instead of Bret to continue his conspiratorial stance against the WWF, but he blew his knee out in mid-match and the finish was changed. Whether that’s true or not, only the people involved know for sure. ****

DISC TWO

  • The Hart Foundation vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldust, Ken Shamrock and the Legion of Doom – (IYH: Canadian Stampede, 7/6/97)

We are at the height of the US and Canada border wars. Austin – being the bad bad man that he is – had no problem going into this match alone against the Hart Foundation, but he was forced into having these other four partners. This is all a big deal for the people of Calgary. The Premier of Alberta is here in the front row beside Stu and Helen Hart. Various members of the Hart family are right there with them – the most prominent being Bruce who is hamming it up standing beside his dad. While the Americans do their standard entrances and either gets booed (Austin, Shamrock) or not much of a reaction at all (Goldust, LOD), the Hart Foundation have separate entrances yet they each wait at the top of the ramp until all five men are out to head towards the ring to show their solidarity as a unit. Big showdown in the ring with Austin and Bret being that lasts the longest and comes to blows. Bret stomps Austin down into the corner as the hard camera already begins to shake. Austin low blows Bret and returns what he got by stomping a mudhole in him. The Survivor Series 1996 finish almost gets Austin pinned again. Austin misses the Bossman straddle, allowing Bret to tag out to Neidhart. Lou Thesz press puts down Anvil. Tag to Shamrock, he kicks Neidhart down and tries for the ANKLELOCK. However, Pillman runs in and trolls Shamrock out of it. Anvil turns the match over to Pillman, who whips Shamrock in the corner and drops him with a backbreaker. As he goes to cover, he makes Shamrock “tap out” for a joke. Shamrock comes back with a belly to belly suplex. Time for Owen and Goldust now. Just huge “Owen” chants. Meanwhile, Austin is giving the crowd a fit as they change over to “Austin sucks” chants. You know he’s loving that. Tag to Hawk, he hits a flying splash on Owen for two. He whiffs on a dropkick though, which gives Owen the opportunity for the SHARPSHOOTER. Animal quickly cuts him off. Bulldog tags in and delivers the Hourglass Suplex for two. RUNNING POWERSLAM gets 1-2-NO! Now Bret and Goldust square off. Goldust gets put in a tree of woe over in the Harts corner. BAD IDEA JEANS. That causes a short pier-six brawl. Once that’s finished, Owen misses a corner charge and eats the post. In comes Animal, Owen nails him with a spinning heel kick and the missile dropkick and kip-up.

This crowd is just unreal. Owen fails on a headscissors and takes a powerbomb from Animal. From there, LOD delivers the DOOMSDAY DEVICE for 1-2-NO! Another brawl erupts. This time, Austin hits Owen’s knee with a chair up against the ringpost. Bruce reaches over the rail to get at Austin until Bret comes by to take chair away from him and check on his brother. He ends up limping backstage with Bret and Davey Boy. Once they return, Austin gets cornered again for some CLUBBERING. Austin fights his way out and drops Pillman with a STONE COLD STUNNER. From the floor, Bret grabs hold of Austin’s leg and drags him over to a corner to wear his knee out on the ringpost. He even uses a fire extinguisher to do more damage before applying the Ringpost Figure-Four! That puts Austin out of action to even the sides again. Brief test of strength between Animal and Neidhart. Anvil kicks Animal back to his corner to tag Bret for Demolition’s finisher. In a funny bit, Shamrock tags in and looks for something to do to Bret’s knee when Pillman just runs in and clotheslines him down. Shamrock wants Bret to knuckle up, but instead Bret throws him on the floor for Pillman to throw him onto an announce table of the Spanish variety – ensuing another brawl this time on the floor. Back in, Shamrock gets dominated until he low blows Bulldog. Tag to Goldust, he sets Davey Boy up for the CURTAIN CALL, but again Pillman runs by and puts a stop to that. Superplex by DBS gets two. That cues Austin to limp back to the ring. He gets a tag, but so does Bret. Austin does alright for a while until Bret fires back with a DDT to start up the backbreaker and flying elbow drop. Sleeper by Bret is broken up with a jawbreaker. Bret trips up Austin for the SHARPSHOOTER, but Animal saves the day. Of all things, Austin himself now locks in the Sharpshooter on Bret. That brings Owen Hart back down to make the save for his brother. Tag to Owen, Austin clotheslines him to the floor. Austin kicks him a bit and tosses him back inside, but now Bruce is throwing a soda or something at Austin, which ticks him off. He thinks its Stu who threw the drink and grabs Stu! That brings the Hart family sitting in the front row to their dad’s defense. Bret sends Austin back inside. When he stands up and reaches through the ropes to get at Bret, Owen comes by and schoolboys Austin for the win. (24:32) The ending is just perfect as the Hart family and security guards clear the ring of the American side. Austin comes back out wielding a chair. He takes out Anvil, but that’s all he can do before the Harts jump him. Our Canadian security guards first check to make sure he didn’t mind and if it wouldn’t be too much trouble if they could haul him off in handcuffs. Apparently it was because Austin is now leaving for the night with those kind gentlemen, leaving the Harts to celebrate with their fans, friends, and family in the final happy moment for the Hart family. If the goal was to have a wild west bar brawl being in Calgary and all, then this is exactly what we got in spades. Unfortunately, I feel like Austin’s team was less engaged in the match. Take the Four Horsemen against Dusty and friends back in 1987 as an example. They line up perfectly against each other. What deep-rooted problems does Goldust or Shamrock really have with the Hart Foundation? The LOD feuded with Owen and Bulldog earlier in the year, but that was less personal and more about winning the tag titles. This was all Austin against the Hart Foundation. It’s a great match with a rare atmosphere that could have been greater with more stories intertwined from the other competitors that wasn’t there. Now feuds come out of this match as we head into SummerSlam and beyond, but they aren’t here yet. ****½

  • Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker – (IYH: Ground Zero, 9/7/97)

So Shawn cost the Undertaker the WWF title at SummerSlam due to his poor officiating skills. Undertaker is so pissed at Shawn that he doesn’t even bother regaining the title at this point. I mean, yeah, Taker gets a rematch with Bret in England, but the anger he feels towards Shawn is so monumental, that they have to create a new type of cage match (at least in the WWF) just to contain the two. Before the match can even begin, Taker decks the referee who was standing between he and Shawn. As Shawn decides maybe it is best to save himself the butt-kicking and just leave, Commissioner Slaughter forces Shawn to head back to ringside. That’s when Taker picks up the lifeless ref and chucks him on top of Shawn. There’s so many great things going on here as Shawn sells his extreme fear of this man. At one point, Shawn crawls up the aisle and tries to leave through the front door of the In Your House set. He even starts knocking at the door! Taker is just beating up Shawn six ways from Sunday in and out of the ring and up the aisle for a solid 8-10 minutes. Slaughter eventually brings out Earl Hebner to replace Mike Chioda. While Taker scares off Hebner, Shawn shoots in the ring and strikes with a chopblock to the knee. He unloads on Taker who keeps shoving him back. Shawn gets goozled, but goes to the eyes. He comes off the top with a double sledge, but Taker nails him on the way down and then clotheslines him to the floor. Back inside, Shawn is just bumping like crazy for Taker. He winds up the arm and wants Old School, but Shawn kicks the top rope to trip up Taker.

Shawn punches him to the floor and tries a pescado, but Taker catches him and drives Shawn spine-first into the ringpost a few times. Back in, we get more crazy bumping from Shawn as he tries to separate himself from the Dead Man. After Shawn catches Taker with a swinging neckbreaker, his back starts to bug him. He bails to the floor and retrieves a chair to play off the story from SummerSlam. As Shawn runs at Taker, he gets a boot up to block the chairshot. Now Taker has the chair, but Hebner gets it away from him, only to get the chair kicked in his face. Whoops. Shawn lands a couple flying elbow drops. Hebner slow counts two, but then Shawn gets tossed on top of him. Here comes Rick Rude to toss Shawn some brass knuckles. WHAM! Taker gets nailed. No ref. Oh wait, here comes Jack Doan for 1-2-NO! Since he didn’t get the job done, HBK decks the poor guy. Now here comes Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Shawn kicks out Taker for HHH and Chyna to whip him knees first into the steps. Hebner is starting to wake up, so Shawn knocks him out again by slamming his head into the turnbuckle so that DX can continue to triple-team the Undertaker. Taker starts his comeback, but gets interrupted by HHH and Chyna. As Taker goozles HHH, Shawn flies down from the top with a double sledge. Back inside, they trade finisher attempts, leading nowhere. Taker pulls the brass knuckles out of Shawn’s tights and decks him one good time. Hunter gets nailed. Here comes Hebner to count the 1-2-NO! Chokeslam to Hebner! This is just getting ridiculously out of hand. As Taker nails HBK with the Jumping Lariat, ref Tim White runs down and decides to just throw out the whole match. (15:32) Afterwards, Shawn gives Taker SWEET CHIN MUSIC as he falls back into the ropes and gets tied up. Chyna gives Michaels a chair and as he goes to nail Taker for a wide open shot, he brings his boot up again to block and send the chair back in his face. The 2-on-1 attack ensues as WWF agents run down. While they get punched by Shawn, Taker TOMBSTONES Helmsley. A whole bunch of midcarders run down to separate Shawn and Taker. With Shawn and Helmsley on the floor, Taker breaks loose from the boys and NO HANDS PLANCHAS on top of them and some other midcard guys. He only pulls that one out on special occasions. It’s not perfect and didn’t need to be because it was simply setting up what was to come next month. Even so, Taker and Shawn are just incapable of having a bad match. ***½

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin, Owen Hart, Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie vs. Savio Vega, the New Age Outlaws, and Triple H (w/Chyna) – Unsanctioned Match (No Way Out of Texas, 2/15/98)

Shawn Michaels was supposed to compete, but he only had one match left in him after the Royal Rumble where his back took the last bit of punishment it could handle. Instead of Shawn, we get the exciting Savio Vega. The Houston crowd shows their disappointment with the decision and pretty awful replacement. Wonder how it could have gone with just Chyna instead of Savio? Strange seeing the New Age Outlaws teaming with DX, but not being part of DX. This is anything goes as weapons are not just legal, they are encouraged. By the way, Austin can do no wrong here. He’s a part of a great team, but the crowd only pays attention to *him*. While everybody else fights around him, Austin completely dominates Billy Gunn. He decks Gunn with a trash can lid, but that’s not enough to get the Stunner as Gunn rolls out to safety. He takes out Road Dogg with the lid and continues with Hunter. Giant cookie sheets, broom handles, trash cans, chairs, and tables. The fan favorites are in total control. Some cool moments include Cactus whipping Billy into Owen who powerslams him through a table. Moving on, Road Dogg powerbombs Funk onto two chairs as this match has reverted to a regular tag match. Billy makes matters worse for Chainsaw Charlie as he gives him a piledriver on a trash can lid. If it’s not clear by now, Charlie is *your* face in peril with his goofy selling. In one of my favorite moments of the match, Gunn charges Austin who chucks a trash can at him from ten feet away. We get a false-tag spot in an UNSANCTIONED match. Tell me how *that* one works. With Chainsaw’s head sticking through the ropes, Helmsley nails him with a chair to the head, causing him fall straight down to the floor where he nose dives onto a flattened table. Back in, there’s a HOT TAG TO CACTUS. Once Road Dogg is beaten down into the corner, Cactus puts a piece of a table on his face and throws Billy Gunn into him. DOUBLE-ARM DDT to Gunn gets 1-2-NO! Cactus applies the MANDIBLE CLAW on NAO, but here comes Hunter to break it up with a low blow. There’s a Cactus Clothesline to Billy that takes them both to the floor, but Billy drops him with a DDT. Afterwards, Cactus gets whacked in the face with the stairs. Back in, the heels take turns handling Cactus. They even wrap some barbed wire around his face! Funk and Owen try to help, but the ref keeps pushing them back. As if barbed wire isn’t enough, Savio drills him with a chairshot to the head. The NAO hold Cactus for another chairshot, but Cactus ducks and Road Dogg gets nailed by Billy. MOLTEN HOT TAG TO AUSTIN! He tears everybody a new one before catching Road Dogg with a STONE COLD STUNNER for the win. (17:42) Billy Gunn receives the same fate. Helmsley gets knocked off the apron down onto the announce table. But wait, Chyna interrupts Austin’s four corner salute and they meet nose-to-nose. She shoves him back a couple times. Austin tries to leave, but she taps him on the shoulder and shoots him the double bird. Hey, you want to look and act like a man, you’ll get treated like one. STONE COLD STUNNER. Good night, everybody. This was just so much fun. ***½

  • WWF Tag Team Champions Kane & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker & Stone Cold Steve Austin – (Fully Loaded 1998)

If you like your Attitude era matches dripping with soap opera-like intrigue, then this is the tag match for you. The Undertaker cost Austin the WWF title back at the King of the Ring, but Austin regained it from Kane the next night on Raw. Taker wound up winning a #1 contender’s match for the WWF title by dressing up as Kane and beating Mankind, which created suspicion that maybe Kane and the Undertaker were secretly allies. JR is withholding his judgment of Taker until after the match. Lawler thinks that the Undertaker is playing mind games with Austin leading into SummerSlam. Taker meets Austin nose-to-nose in the aisle only for Mankind and Kane to attack and trigger a brawl. Once Kane and Mankind are down, Austin flips Taker the bird just to let him know where he stands right now. Austin gets beat up for a bit by both men, but comes back with a Thesz Press and the elbow. He wants to give Kane the Stunner early, but Kane pushes him off and bails. Austin then beats him up the aisle and brings him back in the ring to tag Taker. He gives his brother a Russian legsweep of all things and stands back up to give Austin the bird in return. Austin just laughs it off. Taker abuses Mankind with Stinger Splashes and follows up with Old School. They continue to beat the heck out of each other. Blind tag to Kane, he surprises Taker with a Chokeslam! Mankind hits the running knee in the corner and delivers a Double-Arm DDT for 1-2-NO! Austin makes the save. Cactus Clothesline takes us to the floor. When Mankind looks for the Cactus Elbow, Austin runs him off the apron onto the announce table! Kane cuts off Taker’s comeback by sending him into the steps. Back in, Taker hits the running DDT on Mankind. HOT TAG TO AUSTIN! He stomps a mudhole and walks it dry all over Kane. Austin lands the Bossman straddle and uses a chair Mankind tossed into the ring behind the ref’s back for a NASTY chairshot to the face of Kane. Good thing he’s got that mask on! Cover, 1-2-NO! Big boot by Kane slows down Austin as the tag champs get some guardrail action on him. Back inside, Austin becomes *your* face in peril. Kane and Mankind elbow drop and chinlock the WWF champ. Taker does what he can to further the drama over where his help lies by not reaching out for a tag and walking into the ring and then not bothering to stop Austin from getting double-teamed. Chokeslam to Austin! Mankind calls for a Tombstone, but Austin slips out and drops Kane with the STONE COLD STUNNER. Mankind tries the MANDIBLE CLAW, but Austin escapes with another Stunner. Everybody’s down but Taker! As Austin starts to crawl, Taker ponders whether or not he should stick out his hand to a chorus of boos – and decides to do so! Austin tags the Undertaker. He is ROCKIN and ROLLIN over Kane and Mankind. JR – “There ain’t no conspiracy!” Taker drops them both with Chokeslams before he drills Kane with a TOMBSTONE. As Taker covers Kane, Austin leaps over him to clothesline Mankind away so Taker can get the 1-2-3. (17:29) Ladies and gents, we’ve got *new* WWF tag team champions. After the match, Taker leaves ringside with both belts. Needless to say, Austin is quite confused. Isn’t that really the underlying “attitude” of tag team wrestling in the late ’90s though? All that draws is singles wrestlers? This was as good as it could have been. It just provides the setup for the SummerSlam main event anyways with the whole “they don’t get along and they’re the tag champs” vibe they did a year ago with Austin and Michaels. **½

  • WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind – (Judgment Day 1998)

Mankind has wrapped his fingers in the BLACK TAPE~! tonight. That means things are about to get real serious. After Triple H’s recent injury, he was stripped of the IC belt and a one-night eight-man tournament was started on October 12 RAW. Shamrock defeated Steve Blackman, Val Venis, and X-Pac to win the belt. Mankind lost in the semifinals to X-Pac after Shamrock whacked him in the ankle with a chair, which gives us *this* match. Just a reminder: this was the THIRD year in a row where the IC belt was vacated due to an injury of the champion. First was Ahmed Johnson in 1996, then Steve Austin in 1997, and now Triple H in 1998. Shamrock tries to ground Mankind to work the leg, but Mankind gives him trouble over that. When he can’t get to the leg, he settles for the arm. Frankensteiner by Shamrock, but then he runs into a MANDIBLE CLAW. Shamrock drops to the mat and bails. Back inside, Mankind surprises Shamrock as he takes him to the mat with a body scissors hoping to apply the Claw. Being the superior mat wrestler, Shamrock turns the tide on Mankind and starts beating the heck out of him. To the floor, Mankind sends Shamrock into the steps. The ref stops a chairshot, but not a boot to the chair from Shamrock that ends up in Mankind’s face. Now Shamrock grabs the chair and hits Mankind over the head. The damage Mick did to himself in 1998 alone is just unreal. Back inside, Shamrock returns to the mat working the arm. Mankind bites his way out, but misses a corner charge, and takes a Belly to Belly Suplex. Double-Arm DDT stuns Shamrock. Mankind begins to pull out his hair, which I guess is the equivalent to Lawler pulling down the strap. He hammers Shamrock down into the corner for the running knee. Tree of woe elbow drop follows. From there, the violence continues with VINTAGE FOLEY~! Cactus Clothesline sets up the Cactus Elbow off the apron. Mankind charges Shamrock, but takes a powerslam onto the floor, causing his leg to get slammed on the steps. Well, that was a freebie. Back in, it’s time for the ANKLELOCK. He makes the ropes, but Shamrock pulls him back and reapplies the hold. To avoid giving Shamrock the satisfaction of making him submit, Mankind starts punching himself in the face and knocks himself out with his own MANDIBLE CLAW. (14:36) Shamrock thinks he’s achieved the impossible, but sometimes the truth hurts. Mr. Socko comes out to play with Shamrock’s tonsils. Certainly a different finish and perfect for someone eccentric like Mankind. Interesting tidbit if you’re a title nerd like me: no one would have a longer reign after Shamrock as the IC champ until Randy Orton in 2003. **½

  • WWF Champion Mankind vs. The Rock – Last Man Standing (St. Valentine’s Day Massacre 1999)

Dang, I’m just reminded how many matches these two had during this Corporate Rock period. Four straight PPV matches, Mankind’s first WWF title win on RAW, and Halftime Heat. There’s still two more to go before WrestleMania. Mankind turns his back on the Rock to start and lets him beat him up. I know they are referencing the Royal Rumble where he was handcuffed, but I don’t know how else to explain it. Rock kicks at Mankind’s legs, which we are told were worked over on Sunday Night Heat. Mankind nails Rock with the WWF title and gets an eight-count. They brawl out up the aisle, over to the entrance set, and on a technical equipment table where Mankind drops Rock through with a DDT. Back to ringside, Rock takes a ride into the steps. Way more offense here from Mankind than what we got at the Rumble. In the ring, Mankind wants to do the People’s Elbow. Rock won’t have it and moves out of the way. Back on the floor, Rock delivers THREE suplexes. While ref Hebner is counting Mankind, Rock goes over and steals Michael Cole’s headset to “entertain” the people. Mankind comes over and does a CANNONBALLLLLL onto Rock before punching the crap out of him. With Rock draped over the announce table, Mankind gives him the Cactus Elbow. Back inside, Mankind brings the top half of the stairs with him and gets them kicked back in his face. Rock finds a chair and starts whacking at the knee with the idea that if you can’t stand up, you can’t win the match. Rock tries one chairshot too many as Mankind ducks, causing the chair to bounce off the top rope and back in his face! Cactus Clothesline and we’re back on the floor. Over on the announce table, Rock backdrops away a Pull-Up Piledriver, which sends Mankind’s leg crashing onto the timekeeper’s table. To make matters even worse, Rock picks up the steps that were laying in the ring and drops them down onto Mankind’s leg. Once Mankind gets to his feet, Rock brings him back inside for the CORPORATE ELBOW. Rock gets on the mic and complains to the ref for counting too slow. He spouts off some catchphrases and does his tribute to Elvis Presley. Mankind shuts him up with the MANDIBLE CLAW. During the struggle, Hebner gets knocked out to the floor, unable to count Rock out once Mankind has him incapacitated. Even with Mankind helping Earl count, Rock is up at eight. Rock hits Mankind with a DDT, but then Mankind returns the favor with a DOUBLE-ARM DDT on a chair! He gets to his feet at the count of nine. Meanwhile, Mr. Socko makes an appearance. ROCK BOTTOM to Mankind stops the MANDIBLE CLAW. Once both men stand up, they knock each other out with chairshots! Ref Hebner counts to ten and the match is declared a draw? (21:53) What a bull crap cheap finish. Whatever happened to the days when this would happen and the first guy to his feet wins? This was actually looking to be one of my favorite of their matches until the finish. To stress the seriousness of the finish, both men do stretcher jobs to the back. Nevertheless, the ending set up the ladder match for the next night on Raw where Rock regained the WWF title to take us into WrestleMania 15. ***¼

To wrap things up, Todd Pettengill says that he’ll see us next time for the “Best of Livewire” set. Where was *this* funny guy all those years ago?

BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES

  • Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – #1 Contenders Match to the WWF title (IYH: Revenge of the Taker, 4/20/97)

With Bret Hart already being injured and needing knee surgery, you wouldn’t expect much of a match here. Owen and Davey Boy try to second Bret, but a bunch of refs send them backstage. Austin wins a slugfest to start and stomps all over him. Bret leads Austin to the floor, but ends up taking a ride into the steps – twice. After some ringside brawling, Austin hits the flying elbow. A chair comes inside the ring and the ref gets knocked down by a dropkick from Bret. Even though Gorilla Monsoon is watching from ringside, Bret uses the chair all over Austin’s braced-up knee. Once he’s done with that, Bret helps the ref back and takes Austin to school working the knee, which leads to the RINGPOST FIGURE FOUR! The ref forces the break and as he’s getting inside the ring, Bret gives Austin’s knee a couple shots with a chair. Short comeback by Austin, but Bret kicks him in the knee and goes back to work. On the split-screen, we see Paul Bearer being carted away into an ambulance. Off comes the knee brace and Austin retreats to the floor. Back in, Austin seizes the moment and goes low on Bret. That also allows him the chance to pull off some wrist tape to choke Bret. However, Austin misses a second flying elbow and Bret goes back to dissecting the knee. Just great psychology. Austin manages to snap Bret’s neck on the top rope, but takes a suplex back inside. Figure-Four! Austin reverses the hold into the ropes and exchanges some nasty words with Earl Hebner. Meanwhile, he’s backing up into a kick to the knee from Bret. They brawl into the crowd for a moment before heading back to ringside where Austin hits a clothesline off the apron. Back in the ring, Bret gives us the sternum-first corner bump. He tries a piledriver, but his knee gives way and Austin can’t deliver on the move. His knee continues to buckle as Bret whips him from corner to corner. Somehow Austin catches Bret with a Stungun for two, but then Bret’s trick knee acts up right into Stone Cold’s cold stones. Superplex by Bret! Time for the SHARPSHOOTER, but Austin’s knee brace never left the ring. As Bret begins to hook on the hold, Austin bashes his face with the knee brace. With Bret now flat on his back, Austin applies a SHARPSHOOTER of his own! It looks like Bret is done, but Austin hops off the hold to stop Owen Hart and Davey Boy from entering the ring. Back to the SHARPSHOOTER. Referees and agents alike try to keep Owen and Bulldog from interfering, but Bulldog manages to get past them and nails Austin with a chair for the DQ. (21:09) Well that leaves everything completely unsettled. Bret finds the ringbell afterwards. As he reaches back to nail Austin, he takes a chair shot to the knee to bring him down! He gives Bret’s knee one more chairshot and reapplies the SHARPSHOOTER! Four referees can’t pull him off Bret Hart. Finally he breaks the hold as Owen Hart and Davey Boy help Bret to safety backstage. Just before they reach the tunnel, Bret looks back at the ring as if to say that Austin has won this time, but he’ll be back. They showed a lot of the same grit we’ve seen in the other two five-star Bret-Austin classics with the roles reversed. Just excellent performances and a great story delivered from two of the best ever. Not that we would expect anything less. ****¼

  • TAKA Michinoku vs. Brian Christopher – WWF Light Heavyweight Title Tournament Finals (IYH: D-Generation X, 12/7/97)

For anybody that gives a hoot, here’s the brackets for the one and only Light Heavyweight title tournament. I have to say that the LH title is just the dullest belts I’ve seen in the Big Two. Before he was Too Much and later Too Cool, Brian Christopher was “Too Sexy” doing his Memphis-style gimmick to get over in the WWF. The crowd also gives Jerry Lawler crap about being Brian’s son. I never understood why he denied this fact, but whatever. Maybe it was a USWA thing I don’t know about. To start us off, the much larger and obviously jacked Brian Christopher throws TAKA around like a rag doll. Eventually, TAKA flips out of a German suplex and kicks Christopher out of the ring for a beautiful springboard plancha. Not to be upstaged, Christopher dives on TAKA only to miss and hit his chin on the guardrail. He starts to bleed from the mouth. Back inside, TAKA hits a Tornado DDT for 1-2-NO! He takes Christopher back to the floor with a headscissors and delivers an Asai Moonsault! Jerry Lawler gets up from his seat to check on Christopher. He’s not his daddy, though! He helps Christopher back in the ring where he counters a monkey flip and hits TAKA with the Skull Crushing Finale. Sitout powerbomb scores a nearfall. He makes the age-old mistake by kneeling down on TAKA’s shoulders only to get his arms hooked by TAKA’s legs back into a nearfall. He lands a missile dropkick to the back of TAKA’s head, but doesn’t capitalize. Rocker Dropper connects. He does the Big Bossman spot where he chokes TAKA on the middle rope and slides out to the floor to nail him with an uppercut. Christopher slaps TAKA around and taunts him with a crane stance – because all Asians know karate. Skip ahead to Christopher missing the TENNESSEE JAM. With Christopher stunned, TAKA catches him with the MICHINOKU DRIVER for the win and the title. (12:02) You can’t fault them for trying a division that had worked so well for WCW, but they just didn’t have the talent to carry it out with all the top guys in WCW or New Japan and the ones they did have still tried to wrestle like a heavyweight. Instead of TAKA looking strong and the leader of the weight class, they worked the match like he was an underdog with a big finisher. **½

  • WWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Chyna) vs. Ken Shamrock – (IYH: D-Generation X, 12/7/97)

I guess the WWF felt with all the hype they had put behind him that they needed to at least try Shamrock in the main event spot to see what would transpire. This was certainly the time to do it with no real challengers for Shawn until come Royal Rumble time. Most wrestling fans in December 1997 were saving their PPV dollars for Starrcade anyways to see Sting battle Hogan, and the buyrate reflects that. If it turned into a disaster, at least not as many people would see it as there normally would be. Word on the street is, Shawn was telling Vince that Shamrock wasn’t a good worker since you had to yell all the spots in his ear. While I’m not going to point it out every time Shawn obviously calls out a spot, it’s certainly evident here. I never noticed other guys having to do that with him, which makes the whole thing seem odd. Pretty standard start for an HBK match as he takes a beating and bounces all over the place. Shamrock tries the Belly to Belly Suplex, but Shawn grabs hold of Hebner to block and low blows to escape the waistlock. Shawn clotheslines Shamrock out to the DX wolves. Once he’s down, Shawn comes off the top with a dive. He also tries a baseball slide, but Shamrock moves out of the way. As he stalks Shawn, Chyna comes over and runs Shamrock into the post. Just a ton of DX interference here. Couple of hope spots by Shamrock get thwarted with a sleeper hold. He goes down on the mat, but works his way up and backs Shawn in the corner. That leads to Shamrock’s comeback. Frankensteiner by Shamrock! Shawn attempts the crucifix into a sunset flip, but Shamrock rolls through and covers Shawn for two. He also wants a headscissors, but Shamrock counters with a sitout powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Helmsley and Chyna trip up Shamrock and beat on him a bit to turn the tide. Back inside, HBK hits the Flying Elbow and tunes up the band. Shamrock ducks SWEET CHIN MUSIC and delivers the Belly to Belly Suplex! He applies the ANKLELOCK, but here comes Helmsley and Chyna to break it up for the DQ. (18:14) So now that he’s taken the WWF champ to the limit, you can stick him as a solid IC title contender in the midcard. However, this might be Shawn’s worst PPV main event of all-time. While DX does a number on Shamrock, Owen Hart makes a surprise return to knock Shawn off the apron through the announce table. Owen continues to pound on him until Helmsley and Chyna come by for the save, but then Owen hops up and jumps over the rail into the crowd. Good stuff at the end. Unfortunately, it seemed that nobody on top at this time wanted to work with Owen. They had a one-off match on the last Raw of 1997, but that’s about it. **½

  • D’Lo Brown (w/The Godfather) vs. X-Pac (w/Chyna) – (Fully Loaded 1998)

Last Monday night on Raw, D’Lo Brown upset Triple H and won the European title, which his biggest claim to fame is winning that title on four different occasions. He didn’t want to put the belt up against X-Pac so soon though. He’s deep into his chest protector days too. D’Lo lets the chants that he indeed sucks get to him, as X-Pac controls with armdrags and kicks. Brown comes back with a Spinning Heel Kick of his own for two. X-Pac misses a charge in the corner and then gets stuck in a chinlock. He fights out, but takes a nasty corner bump. Flying forearm smash by D’Lo gets two. Back to a chinlock. D’Lo then tries a moonsault, but X-Pac moves out of the way, causing Brown’s chest protector to work against him. X-Pac mounts his comeback and delivers the Bronco Buster. Godfather lands a forearm from the apron, but X-Pac returns the favor and knocks him down to the floor. As X-Pac turns around, he walks right into the SKY HIGH for the win. (8:29) They didn’t knock it out of the park, but it was okay considering this was the beginning of D’Lo’s first singles run. **

Final Thoughts: This is a fantastic set by itself. There is a ton of repeats, but definitely something to pop in and watch when you want just to chill out. I don’t see any reason to pay extra for the Blu-Ray version unless you are super serious about your Blu-Rays though, because the extras aren’t worth the cash. Thumbs up for the Best of In Your House.

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