The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF In Your House #1
(So now that we’re at this point in the RAW rants, here’s the rant for IYH #1. This was done fairly recently so there’s not much to add.)
- Lots of people asked in the past why I've never done this show, and the answer was probably disappointingly simple: I just never had a good copy before. Well, now I do, so let's get at 'er.
- Live from Syracuse, NY. Someone better tell Shawn to avoid any Marines.
- Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Dok Hendrix (Michael Hayes)
- Opening match: Bret Hart v. Hakushi.
Quite the opener, no? Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki in Japan these days) was actually quite the breath of fresh air in 1995, getting over without speaking English or wrestling WWF Main Event Style. This of course was far too threatening to those on top and he was crushed by the Clique as a result. He was managed by "Shinja", who was former Orient Express member Akio Sato in white-face makeup. Hakushi grabs a headlock to start and they do a stalemate sequence. Hakushi uses the hair to take Bret down and they exchange wristlocks before Hakushi gets a shoulderblock for two. To the armbar and they work off that for a bit before messing something up on a criss-cross, so Bret improvises with a hiptoss and armdrags to send Hakushi to the outside. He sneaks back in and attacks Bret from behind, but Bret pounds him in the corner. Bret gets reversed with his turnbuckle bump and Hakushi gets a pump splash for two. He stomps a mudhole and actually gets an early form of the Broncobuster, without the obvious gay undertones like with Sean Waltman. Bret tries a rollup, but gets reversed to the floor and attacked by Shinja. Back in, Hakushi pounds away with nothing of consequence and chokes him out in the corner. He starts chopping and gets a handspring elbow and more choking. There's just too much dead space in between moves. They slug it out and Hakushi uses the good ol' thumb to the eye and gets a backbreaker for two. To the top and a beautiful diving headbutt gets two. He heads to the apron and springboards in with a splash, but misses, and Bret makes the comeback. Wait for it...wait for it...FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! Russian legsweep, bulldog, backbreaker, second-rope elbow and Sharpshooter in this case. He gets distracted by Shinja, but manages an atomic drop and clothesline (with a great 0.8 Jannetty sell by Hakushi) to keep Hakushi down. Bret hammers away on the ropes, but gets tripped up by Shinja and stops to hit him with a tope suicida. Back in, Hakushi dropkicks him coming in for two. "Not this way!" cries Vince. Not with a dropkick? Is there something inherently bad about dropkicks? Bret reverses a suplex and they do an INSANE double bump over the top and to the floor. I mean, they barely even touched the apron on the way down. Bret goes after Shinja again, and Hakushi hits him with an Asai moonsault that gets nearly 3 seconds of hangtime. The crowd actually starts chanting for HAKUSHI. Bret fights his way back to the apron and reverses a suplex in, and they reverse off that into a reverse rollup by Bret for the pin at 14:41. Hakushi's offense was a bit plodding in the middle, but there was some CRAZY stuff in here that you didn't see at the time and Bret gave his usual 110% PPV effort. ***3/4 Bret, however, with another match later against Jerry Lawler, twists his ankle leaving the ring and may be hurt.
- Stephanie Wiand (who definitely falls into the "What the hell were they thinking?" file) hypes the upcoming draw for the house. When Todd Pedophile threw it over to "Stephanie", I had sudden horrible thoughts of a 16-year old Stephanie McMahon doing interviews with an even SCREECHIER voice.
- Razor Ramon v. Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie.
This was supposed to be a tag match with Ramon & Kid v. Jarrett & Roadie, but an injury (or rehab, I forget which) prevented that. Storyline reason was injury, though. (Career-ending neck injury, which he thankfully recovered from in time for a heel turn in the fall.) Poor JJ - he spent most of 1995 being the only sober guy in the match. (Allegedly.) Ramon starts with Jarrett and slugs him down. Jarrett stalls and tries a comeback, but gets dumped and leads Ramon in a chase that results in a cheapshot from Roadie to turn the tide. Jarrett gets an enzuigiri and does some strutting, but walks into a blockbuster slam for two. Roadie comes in with a clothesline (this would be his PPV debut as a wrestler) and drops a few elbows. Jarrett back in with a sunset flip, blocked by Ramon for two, reversed by JJ for two. Ramon counters a suplex with a cradle for two. Roadie comes back in and stomps away, but Ramon comes back until a 2-on-1 situation puts him down again. It's odd (although generally the way of wrestling) that the worst of the Armstrong family became the most famous of them. Ramon does his "I'm going to give you a Razor's Edge despite facing the wrong way and being 5 inches from the ropes and oh shit you just backdropped me out to the floor" spot, and Jarrett nails him from behind to keep Ramon out until 9. Back in, Jarrett goes up with a bodypress, rolled through for two. Jeff dropkicks him for two. Neckbreaker and he chokes Ramon out, but crotches himself. That's normally where Ramon would make a hot tag, but it's a handicap match, so he makes his own comeback after a double KO. Vince helpfully points out the tape on Ramon's boots that says "Kid" in 1-2- 3 Kid's honor. I was thinking that maybe Ramon just took the wrong boots because he was so drunk at the time, but even Waltman wouldn't get stoned enough to wear banana yellow boots. (Allegedly.) Backdrop suplex and it's a lot of laying around to sell the beatings, but Jarrett tags Roadie in. He drops a knee from the second rope for two. That looked botched for some reason. Roadie hits the chinlock, but Ramon comes back with the backdrop suplex from the top. Jarrett attacks from behind and goes for the knee to set up a figure-four, but Ramon shoves him into Roadie and finishes with the Edge at 12:39. Well, that was certainly long. **1/2 Jarrett does the post-match beatdown, but clips the knee and puts the figure-four on the wrong leg. Aldo Montoya makes the save for about three seconds before getting tossed again. If I was Ramon I'd rather take the beating than get saved by him. Then, OUT OF NOWHERE, Caribbean Legend Savio Vega (back before he had a name) makes his debut and chases off the heels. Thinking him to be a crazed fan, the police drag him off. Or it might have been for that little- known New York State law banning grown men from calling themselves "Kwang" within state lines, I dunno. (Why not just make it a tag match in the first place? It’s not like Savio Vega has never been a disappointing mystery partner since then.)
- King of the Ring Qualifying match: Mabel v. Adam Bomb.
Yes, they actually put this match on a PPV and expected people to like it. Although Bryan Clarke wasn't THAT bad at this point, Mabel wasn't the guy to motivate him to anything special. Mabel pounds away to start and gets a corner splash, but Adam ducks a second try and slugs away. Shoulderblock puts Mabel on the floor, although the physics of that wouldn't seem to agree with the bump taken by Mabel. Bomb follows with a pescado and they head back in, as Bomb comes in with a slingshot clothesline for two. To the top with another clothesline for two. Bryan is working his ASS off here, no shit. Mabel reverses him into the corner and gets his ridiculous rolling kick and a big fat splash for the pin at 2:08 to completely deflate the crowd. DUD Vince might have taken a hint from that in later years, but we were still on the verge of the Mabel Mega-Push at this point. Remember - no matter how bad A-Train is, remember that some of us had to live through MABEL.
- Meanwhile, Razor Ramon introduces us to Savio Vega. His English got remarkably better in the years following.
- WWF Tag titles: Owen Hart & Yokozuna v. The Smoking Gunns.
Ah, the days when Billy was 220 and had a mullet and porn star mustache. Billy evades Yoko and gets a pair of dropkicks, and Bart comes in and walks into a shot from Yoko. Owen comes in and gets slammed by Bart, and the Gunns get a double-team for two. Owen lures Billy back into the corner and Yoko hammers away on him and goes to the VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DEATH. Yoko was just getting grosser by the day at this point. Owen gets a neckbreaker for two. Billy sunset flips him for two. Leg lariat sends Billy to the floor, but he dodges a Yoko splash attempt and heads back in. Owen misses a charge and Bart gets the hot tag (?) and a slam gets two. Backdrop suplex and they hit a primitive version of 3D for two. Bart dives at Owen and misses, landing him on the floor. Yoko adds a big fat legdrop and Owen finishes at 5:43. Very rushed - I guess they were running long. *1/2 The Gunns would eventually regain the titles in September of '95.
- Lawler interviews his "mother" (a twenty-something model) to hype the match with Bret Hart later tonight. Bret reveals that he was faking the leg injury all along. At least he didn't give a 20-minute interview afterwards about how he lost his smile.
- Jerry Lawler v. Bret Hart.
Bret attacks to start and Lawler runs for the hills, but gets rammed into the table and stairs. Back in, he keeps begging for mercy, but Bret keeps punching him and drops the leg. Backdrop and Bret chokes him out, but Lawler comes back with a piledriver. Bret no-sells it. If it was Memphis, fans would riot. Bret bulldogs him and gets his OWN piledriver, which Lawler does not no-sell. Lawler asks for help from his "mom", so Bret steps on his head. Lawler goes to the eyes and slams Bret, but stupidly goes up (jawing with the crowd all the way), and of course gets pounded coming down. Bret elbows him and headbutts him low, and beats on him until Shinja comes out and runs interference. Ref bumped and Bret legsweeps Lawler and gets the elbow, with no count. Hakushi then joins us and nails Bret off the top a couple of times, which sadly the ref misses completely, and Lawler gets the pin at 5:01. This wasn't exactly Bret's finest match, and they're obviously running long given how rushed this was. 1/2*
- Todd and Stephanie draw the winning entry in the house sweepstakes.
- WWF World title: Diesel v. Sid.
I'm sure if there's a hell it'll involve watching THIS match for all eternity, with New Jack v. Messiah as your curtain-jerker. (Oh man, Messiah. I must have been watching those awful XPW tapes around this time.) The fans were teased with a Shawn-Diesel rematch for this show before a worked shoulder injury put Sid in his place because presumably there was someone on the planet who wanted to see this match. Okay, it was Vince, but that one vote counts for a LOT. (90% of the voting shares in the company!) Diesel whips Sid around to start and elbows him in the corner, prompting Sid to bail. Nash update: He has currently gone 1:05 in this match without tripping and tearing his quad muscle. I think that beats his involvement in the RAW six- man last year. Back in, Diesel gets two and Sid bails again. They brawl outside and back in, but Dibiase distracts Diesel and they head out AGAIN. You sense a theme here? Sid update: He has now gone 2:45 without jumping off the second rope and shattering his ankle. Sid pounds away outside and "rams" him into the post (because I'm not sure "gently places" works quite right in a main event title match) and heads back in for some stalling. Well, good thing they rushed the other matches to accommodate this classic. Back in, Sid pounds away with minimal effort (still sucking wind), but Diesel fights back. Sid clotheslines him and stalls some more. More ogre-like clubbing and stalling as Sid shows why he's been a draw* all over the world**.
(*By "draw", I mean "not a draw")
(**By "all over the world", I mean "nowhere")
Sid goes to the REAR CHINLOCK OF DEATH and can't even be bothered to do THAT properly (I mean, it makes the Steiner Recliner look painful by comparison) and THEY JUST SIT THERE like that for like two minutes. Sid opts for a legdrop, and that gets two. Back to the clubbing, and that sets up yet another camel clutch. Vince notes that a lesser man would have surrendered to this punishment by now. Well, call me lesser, because I SURRENDER. Stop the horrible match! Please! Diesel breaks loose of the impenetrable hold, but gets chokeslammed. Powerbomb and Sid chooses to play to the crowd rather than covering. Finally, he gets two. Diesel starts no-selling offense and makes the comeback, and Snake Eyes and the big boot result. Powerbomb gets two and Tatanka runs in for the DQ at 11:41. 1/4* Bigelow saves, and they actually stretched this feud out for TWO MORE SHOWS as a result.
The Bottom Line:
This was obviously a learning experience for the WWF, as they experimented with a two-hour show and ended up having to rush through the midcard after a lengthy opener. Bret-Hakushi is good, take a pass on the rest. (It was definitely a learning experience for them and it was intended more as an experiment to keep up with the WCW Joneses rather than a blowaway show.)
Recommendation to avoid. (Honestly, it’s only 90 minutes and it’s worth a look on the Network just for that one match. I wouldn’t sit through Sid v. Diesel or anything but the rest is totally watchable.)