Saturday, 30 April 2011

WWF In Your House - Retro Review

With WWE’s Extreme Rules just a day away I’m going to take a look at the first time they presented a pay-per-view straight after Wrestlemania, way back in May 1995 when Sycho Sid challenged Diesel for the WWF title at the very first In Your House.

The show began with Japanese star Hakushi (bless you), accompanied bye his manager Shinja, against Bret “Hitman” Hart, the first of two matches for the future Hall of Famer.

This was a match I wish I’d seen years ago. These two were absolutely tailor-made for each other.

As always the Hitman put in a solid performance, while Hakushi was easily able to keep up with him with an array of excellent high-flying moves.

Shinja, as expected, got involved, but his continued interference only earned him a beating.

In the end the win went to Hart. After both men countered each other’s suplex attempts the Hitman took the pin with a victory roll, ending a great contest.

Handicap action followed as Razor Ramon faced Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett and the Roadie. This was originally meant to be a tag team match, but Razor’s partner the 123 Kid had to pull out through injury.

Seeing this match reminds me just how good Scott Hall was back then, and how sad it is to see how he is now.

It was a great performance from Razor as he withstood the onslaught from a Double J in his prime and a Roadie who would go on to become one of the biggest stars of the Attitude era.

Ramon managed to overcome the odds though, eventually taking the faux-country star down with the razor’s edge for the winning pin.

But just as he was about to take the Roadie out with another razor’s edge Jarrett came back into the ring, and with both men attacking the bad guy Aldo Montoya came in to make the save. He just wasn’t that incredible though, with both heels dispatching him within seconds.

This brought the then-unknown Savio Vega into the ring, the new guy cleaning house before being restrained by several referees and escorted out of the arena by the fuzz, only to make an appearance in the hotline room later in the show.

Then it was on to a King of the Ring qualifying match as Mabel, accompanied by Mo, faced Adam Bomb.

This was a quick one. Mabel attacked Bomb before the bell, Bomb retaliated by pulling off a few high flying moves before Mabel took him down with a power slam for the pin. A bit of a dud really.

The first title match of the show saw the Smoking Gunns, Billy and Bart, challenging Owen Hart and Yokozuna, accompanied by Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji, for the Tag Team titles.

This was a very entertaining if brief encounter. Yoko was out of it for a while after accidentally hitting the ring post. Billy and Bart then pulled off some great double team moves before the big guy came back into it, leg dropping Bart outside the ring before pushing him back in so Owen could get the pin.

Bret Hart’s second match of the night followed as he went up against old enemy Jerry “The King” Lawler.

The Hitman had been complaining about a knee injury after his match with Hakushi, and as Lawler’s pre-match confidence grew it was soon gone as the ruse was revealed.

The match itself was good, although not a patch on their encounters two years before. Lawler’s buddy Hakushi came down to lend a hand while the referee was hanging upside down, his leg tied up in the ropes.

When he finally managed to get back into the ring the first thing he saw was Lawler making the cover. A three count later and that was it.

Hart had the last laugh though as he fought off Lawler and Hakushi’s attack after the match ended.

The main event saw the crown jewel of Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Corporation, Sycho Sid, challenging Diesel for the WWF title.

This battle of the powerhouses wasn’t too bad. It was certainly better than I thought it would be.

The two big men traded heavy blows early on before Sid took control and wore the champion down with a couple of camel clutches.

Sid then went for his big move and took Diesel down with a power bomb. But instead of going to a pin he posed for the crowd, giving Big Daddy Cool time to recover so he could kick out when Sid finally went for the pin.

Moments later it was over. After Diesel took Sid down with his own power bomb Tatanka ran in for the save, earning Sid the disqualification. But as Dibiase’s men doubled up on Diesel Bam Bam Bigelow came in to even the numbers, setting up their tag team match the following month at King of the Ring.

But that wasn’t the end of things, this being the old Coliseum Video release. There were two more matches, beginning with Ted Dibiase’s Kama taking on the Undertaker, accompanied by Paul Bearer.

Before the match began the future Godfather proudly waved the gold chain that he was wearing, which apparently used to be the Undertaker’s urn, the source of his power.

Despite being touted as a “supreme fighting machine” Kama’s main tactics involved kicks and punches in what was essentially one big brawl. It wasn’t too bad, but it won’t go down as one of the most memorable matches in the dead man’s career.

The Undertaker emerged victorious in this one, taking Kama down with the trusty old tombstone. He didn’t get his gold back though.

The final match saw Bam Bam Bigelow, now a beloved baby face after losing getting fired by Ted Dibiase, going up against his former tag team partner Tatanka, with yet another appearance from the Million Dollar Man.

I always thought that Bam Bam was better as a villain, and although I never really took to his baby face run back then he still impressed me with his size and aerial ability.

As for the match it was a solid and enjoyable encounter, although the ending looked a bit messy as Bigelow took the pin with a sunset flip off the top rope.

In conclusion - the WWF’s move into the monthly pay-per-view market proved to be an enjoyable if not overly spectacular affair, although it felt more like a Saturday Night’s Main Event card. The matches ranged from awful (Bomb/Mabel) to solid and okay (Diesel/Sid) to great (Hart/Hakushi). Not bad for an event that was being treated like a “B” show.

The commentary was a tad annoying though, mainly because Michael Hayes, here in Dok Hendrix mode, seemed to be trying too hard to be a heel. He seemed forced, something that you couldn’t say about Jesse Ventura or Bobby Heenan.

But overall the first In Your House gets the thumbs up. Just don’t expect any mega-money matches if you haven’t seen this before.