WWF: IYH XIV – Revenge of the Taker (04.97)

WWF: In Your House: Revenge of the Taker
April 20, 1997
Rochester, NY
Memorial Auditorium

The current WWF champs were as follows:
World Champion: The Undertaker (3/23/1997)
Intercontinental Champion: Rocky Maivia (2/13/1997)
European Champion: Davey Boy Smith (3/3/1997)
World Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith (9/22/1996)

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

  • WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith vs. The Legion of Doom

To set this up, the Legion of Doom returned to the WWF in February looking for championship gold. Instead of being sportsmanlike, Owen and Davey Boy have tried to embarrass LOD over the past two weeks by causing them to be slopped AND then lose to the Godwinns! Owen and Animal start the match. The tag champs try and match strength to begin things and that does not work. Bulldog fares better as you would expect as he drops Hawk with the Hourglass Suplex. He actually sells! Back to Owen, he gets tossed around. We see that Stone Cold Steve Austin has finally arrived to the building. And people say that Bret Hart is always late. Hawk and Owen double-KO each other leading to a tag to DBS. The tag champs try a double-team on Hawk, but that fails and Davey Boy takes a running clothesline from both sides. SUPER POWERSLAM by Animal gets the 1-2-3 at 6:55! WE’VE GOT NEW TAG CHAMPS! Oh wait. No we don’t. Another ref Mike Chioda comes out to ruin the party and informs the original ref Jack Doan that Owen was the legal man and therefore the pinfall didn’t count. The match must continue or Owen and DBS forfeit the belts. Once the match starts back up, Animal becomes *your* face in peril. Owen misses a flying headbutt and Animal makes the HOT TAG TO HAWK! He’s all clotheslines. The action breaks loose as Owen takes the DOOMSDAY DEVICE! However, Animal celebrates inside the ring so the ref can’t count the pinfall. That gives Bret just enough to make it down to ringside and break up the actual count for the real finish, which is a DQ. (12:17) Dusty finish to start the show? No thank you. Action was okay in spots, but the booking was pretty bad here. Just give us the DQ finish if that’s what you were going for all along. The Dusty finish is just a tired idea by this point. **

  • WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia vs. Savio Vega (w/the NOD)

With help of the tights, Savio Vega already beat Rocky Maivia in a non-title match last week on Raw. Now he gets the REAL title match. Rocky is a HOUSE OF FIRE to start. Faarooq comes out and joins us on commentary to talk mostly about his challenge to Ahmed Johnson. If he can whoop the whole Nation of Domination, they will leave the WWF and go somewhere else. Savio cools Rocky off and the crowd with nerve holds. After a few minutes of that, Rocky mounts his comeback. Before it was his finisher, ROCK BOTTOM! To avoid a charge, Savio sidesteps and tosses Rock out onto Crush. He takes offense to that and gives Rocky a HEART PUNCH. That will cause Maivia to be counted out. (8:33) Savio and Crush have a heated exchange when he realizes Crush cost him the IC title. This had an nWo feel to it where you think the Nation of Domination is going to split and nothing comes of it. The NOD patch things up by stomping the crap out of Rocky until Ahmed Johnson runs down and scares them out of the ring with his trusty 2×4. He also says what I believe is that he accepts Faarooq’s mega challenge. Thus ends the Rocky Maivia experiment. Vince takes the IC belt off him in eight days and gives it back to a workhorse champion who could get a good match out of anybody. *

In the back with Dok Hendrix, Marc Mero and Sable give us an update on when they’ll be returning to WWF action. Mero hopes to be back this summer. While they’re doing the interview, Steve Austin walks up behind them and goes into the men’s room when a fight ensues inside. We can’t see anything, but it sounds pretty crazy. Next thing we know, Owen and Davey Boy walk out of the men’s room with mangled up pieces of metal in their hands. Dave Hebner says Steve Austin is hurt and he needs help – STAT!

  • Jesse James vs. Rockabilly (w/the Honky Tonk Man)

Time to see Honky Tonk Man’s protégé = it’s Billy Gunn. Yes THIS is going to set the wrestling world on fire, folks. This is what has been hyped for over THREE months now. Nevermind that two weeks ago on Raw Billy Gunn had refused HTM’s offer by punching him in the face, so apparently since then Gunn changed his mind and accepts the offer? Just ridiculous. Hiptosses and clotheslines everywhere to start from JJ. Gunn comes back with what would become known as the Famouser. He does a little work on the neck, but then misses a Stinger Splash. Since that’s Rockabilly’s finisher, I must point out that its Road Dogg’s Shake Rattle and Roll that leads to a ten-count corner punch. Then JJ gets dumped to slow him down. Back inside, Jesse James counters a SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL with an inside cradle for the 1-2-3. (6:45) Completely heatless and uninteresting. Another bad out of nowhere finish too. Luckily for Billy Gunn, this gimmick did not prove to be his Red Rooster. ¾*

Elsewhere, Kevin Kelly and Gorilla Monsoon ask Stone Cold Steve Austin if he was in any shape to wrestle Bret Hart tonight. There ain’t no way he ain’t fighting Bret Hart, and that’s the bottom line. Monsoon tells Kelly that he’s switching the main events around to give Steve Austin some more time to regroup so that he gets a fair chance against Bret.

Over at the Hart Foundation camp, ECW alum Lance Wright makes his WWF PPV debut here as an interviewer. Owen and Davey Boy yell a bunch, but Bret simply says ‘who’s crying now?’ Okay, that’s awesome.

  • WWF World Champion The Undertaker vs. Mankind (w/Paul Bearer)

These two have been feuding for a year now and Mankind just now throws a fireball in the Undertaker’s face, which took this match up a notch and explains why Taker recently wants revenge. His right eye is bandaged, but his FURIOUS ANGER is not. To the floor, UT shoves Mankind head first into the guardrail not once but twice. That’s just nasty. Now he takes Mankind over the railing and then back again to ringside. Back inside, Taker hits Old Skool and looks for the TOMBSTONE when Paul Bearer slowly walks up onto the apron. That’s all the distraction Mankind needs to bash Taker with the urn in the face. Cover, 1-2-NO! Running knee in the corner connects as does a swinging neckbreaker. Mankind grabs a nerve hold, but Taker fights back and we’re back on the floor. He finds a water pitcher and hits Taker in the face with that as well. Now a chair! Where’s the ref? Cactus elbow connects and the bandage starts to come off. Back in, the Pull-Up Piledriver gets two. How about one more! He’s too crazy to cover though. UT fires back and hits the Jumping Lariat. Ref gets sandwiched in the corner and then Mankind grabs the MANDIBLE CLAW. Once Taker is out, another ref comes down and he eats the MANDIBLE CLAW himself. With no more refs apparently, Paul Bearer throws a chair in the ring. Mankind isn’t satisfied with just a chair, so he grabs the top half of the steps. As he lifts them over his head, Taker pops up and dropkicks Mankind as the steps come tumbling down. HERE COMES THE UNDERTAKER! He drills Mankind with a nasty chair shot. As if that isn’t enough, he whips Mankind in the ropes as he gets his head caught in the ropes. Once he’s free, the mask comes off to REVEAL CACTUS JACK! OH MY GOSH! MANKIND IS CACTUS JACK! Anyways, as Mankind makes it back onto the apron, Taker grabs the stairs and runs Mankind off the apron to send him taking a nose dive through a table! That’s one for the highlight reel. Back in, Taker delivers a Chokeslam for 1-2-NO! TOMBSTONE! Cover again, 1-2-3. (17:20) As Taker goes after Paul Bearer, they try to do the fireball spot over and over again and it’s supposed to backfire and burn Bearer. Mankind can’t get the flash paper to work though, so Taker ends up taking the paper and the lighter himself and throws a fireball in Paul Bearer’s face. Kind of awkward to watch. Anyways, much like most of their matches, just a wild brawl from bell to bell. This one was one of their unfairly forgotten matches too, I believe. ***½

  • Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart

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

Final Thoughts: This was shaping up to be just a really terrible PPV full of bad finishes and general laziness, but thanks to some hard work from everyone in the two main events, they actually managed to pull this one up off the ground. If you’re into the Bret-Austin feud (and how could you not be), then I’d definitely track this one down. Besides, it goes right along with the classic April 21 Raw that’s to come next. Just be ready to fast forward in places during that first hour. It’s pretty rough. After that though, it’s all smooth sailing. Mild thumbs up for IYH: Revenge of the Taker.

Posted on December 30, 2011, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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