Sunday, 7 December 2014

PPV REVIEW: In Your House 1

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Event poster / cover
May 14, 1995,
Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse, New York

Though Monday Nitro was still a few months away, with Eric Bischoff squarely at the helm of World Championship Wrestling, the period that would come to be known as The Monday Night Wars was ready to begin. 

Taking the first shot, one of Bischoff's opening acts as WCW overload was to increase the number of PPV offerings put out by the company. Not to be outdone, WWF boss Vince McMahon responded in kind with the In Your House concept, offering cheaper, two hour PPVs in between what was then the company's annual Big Five - Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, King of the Ring, Summerslam and Survivor Series.

Despite a depleted talent roster (evidenced in two Bret Hart matches) and a main event pitting Sid against World Champion Diesel, the inaugural In Your House event nonetheless showed plenty of promise for McMahon's latest creation, at least, it did to begin with.

Here's what went down.

Welcome to In Your House
And so the new era in the World Wrestling Federation got underway with Todd Pettingill giving us a run down of tonight's card, which as well as the aforementioned World Title clash, also featured a Wrestlemania 11 rematch pitting The Smoking Gunns against tag team champions Yokozuna and Owen Hart, and a match fans had been dying to see for years, Adam Bomb against Mabel. 


WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Commentators for the evening were Vince McMahon and Doc Hendrix
Pettengill also reminded us that tonight, live, one lucky WWF fan would win a holiday home in Florida.

We are live
Cutting to the arena, McMahon growled like a beast in welcoming us to the show, before introducing his broadcast colleague Doc Hendrix and the Spanish Announce Team.

With that out of the way, it was on to our first match.

Hakushi w/ Shinja vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
In the better of his two enjoyable performances tonight, The Hitman took to the ring to face off against Japanese star Hakushi.

Before his entrance, Bret put Hakushi over as a great, undefeated competitor, yet vowed that his opponent had 'never seen anything like The Excellence of Execution.'

Taking a moment to dedicate the match to Helen Hart (it was Mother's Day after all), Hart then stormed to the ring to a huge ovation and got the In Your House series off to a fantastic start in a wonderful match.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Hakushi took on Bret Hart in the opening contest
It's a shame Hakushi didn't stick around much longer. If this highly enjoyable affair was anything to go by, he could deliver between the ropes and add some much needed depth to the roster.

Yet despite a valiant effort, the man in white was dealt his first WWF loss at the hands of The Pink and Black Attack in what would prove to be the best match broadcast on tonight's show*
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

After celebrating with the New York faithful, a victorious Hitman appeared to tweak his knee in leaving the ring, surely a good omen for his next opponent, Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

Win a house with Stephanie Wiand
You remember Stephanie Wiand, right? Introduced as a, erm, Christmas present for Todd Pettengil on an episode of Saturday morning favourite, Mania, Steph showed up here to remind us that later on, they'd be giving away that big vacation home in Florida.

She even took the time to show us footage of an armoured car escorting all the entries to the arena, you know, because this was such a big deal.

Handicap match:
WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie vs. Razor Ramon
WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Razor Ramon took on Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie in a 2-1 handicap match
Having dropped the Intercontinental Championship to the would-be country star back at Wrestlemania, Razor Ramon's troubles with Jarrett and his Roadie were far from over by the time In Your House rolled around.

Originally scheduled as a tag team contest pitting Jarrett and Roadie against Razor and his buddy the 123 Kid, an injury to the latter sadly forced him out of action.

Undettered, The Bad Guy took the fight to his rivals in what proved to be a very entertaining handicap match.

OK, so this one didn't quite match the techincal brilliance of our opening contest, though for pure drama and excitement, Ramon's struggle to overcome the odds certainly had the Syracuse crowd pumped.

On video too, this was a good, fun encounter that finally ended with good triumphing over evil. Razor planted the Intercontinental Champion with the Razor's Edge and scored the three count.
Your winner: Razor Ramon

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Savoi Vega made his WWF debut, coming to the aid of Razor Ramon The fight continued after the opening bell, with Ramon setting up Roadie for the Razor's edge, only to be attacked from behind by Jarrett and locked into the figure-four leglock.

Aldo Montoya of all people then rushed to the rescue, only to be quickly disposed of by Jarrett and Roadie. With our hero still writhing in pain, a mysterious man in a short-sleeved shirt appeared from nowhere and finally saved the .day.

Not happy about a supposed 'fan' being in the ring, officials rushed to break up the fracas before the man was escorted backstage by New York's finest.

Lawler demands the match happen right now
Backstage, The King was found yelling at WWF President Jack Tunney, demanding that his scheduled match against Bret Hart be bumped up the card so that he could take advantage of The Hitman's earlier knee injury.

Whilst we're on that subject, wouldn't have made much more sense for Bret to injure his knee during the match with Hakushi, rather than whilst simply leaving the ring. For one thing, it helps establish Hakushi as a dangerous threat, though perhaps more importantly, it makes the company's number two babyface look like less of a clumsy idiot.

Anyway, the long and short of it here was that Tunney refused to rearrange the card, leading us instead into our next thrilling encounter.

King of the Ring Qualifying match
Mabel (w/ Oscar) vs. Adam Bomb 
WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Mabel defeated Adam Bomb in their King of the Ring qualifying match
Having recently turned their backs on happy-go-lucky manager Oscar, the more serious, the new look Men on a Mission walked menancingly to the ring for Big Mabel's qualifying match against Adam Bomb.

Before the opening bell, Hendrix gave the nod to the man from Three Mile Island, pointing out Mabel's lack of experience in single's competition.

Alas, experience or not, Mabel picked up the win in a match that was actually much better than you might expect.

Let's not get carried away here, I'm not saying this was actually good or anything, but at just under two minutes long (most of which Bomb spent jumping around and delivering flying clotheslines), it never really had the chance to suck.

Unfortunately for Bomb, all that flying was to be his downfall. After dominating the bulk of the match, he bounced off the ropes with a flying cross-body, only to be caught and squashed by the former tag team champion.
Your Winner: Mabel

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Razor Ramon introduced Savio Vega as an old friend from the Caribbean
Backstage, Todd Pettengil and his Mullet of Doom caught up with Razor Ramon in the Superstar Hotline room. With him, the mysterious man who saved his bacon earlier, and who was finally revealed to be 'Caribbean Sensation' Savio Vega.

Ramon told us was an awesome guy Vega was, only to be cut off by Pettengill, who was eager to get to the ring for our upcoming tag team team title match.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions Yokozuna & Owen Hart (w/ Mr. Fuji & James E. Cornette) vs. The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart 

As the contenders made their entrance, an irate Jerry Lawler stormed to the ring, again trying to get his match against the injured Hitman moved up the card.

Again, Lawler was denied, and it was on to our tag team title rematch.

If you remember, Owen Hart goaded then-champs The Smoking Gunns into a match for the gold at Wrestlemania 11, promising to reveal a mystery partner on the night.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Owen Hart teamed with Yokozuna to successfully defend the WWF Tag Team titles against the Smoking Gunns
That partner turned out to be former champion Yokozuna, who hadn't been seen since his losing effort, in a casket match, against The Undertaker at Survivor Series 1994.

Taken completely by surprise, the cowboys proved no match for a super-sized Yokozuna, and lost the titles. Yet tonight was to be their revenge. With no surprises, Billy and Bart were well prepared and ready to take back the titles.

Unfortunately for them, the King of Harts and the sumo star had other ideas.

Moving at a much slower pace than our previous matches, this was nonetheless a decent effort for what it was, namely a five-minute filler that saw the champs retain when Owen pinned Bart following a Yokozuna legdrop.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: Yokozuna and Owen Hart

Backstage, Todd Pettengill caught up with a pensive Big Daddy Cool Diesel. Covering a lot of ground in a rather somber interview, the WWF Champion first talked about his mother passing away at Christmas, a recent attack at the hands of Henry Godwin, and of course, his renewed friendship with Shawn Michaels.

If you recall, HBK hired Sid to be his bodyguard for his Wrestlemania title match against Diesel, only for Sid to inadvertantly cost the challenger the match. The following night on Raw, Big Sid didn't take too kindly to being given 'the night off' and handed in his notice by powerbombing Michaels to oblivion.

That brought Diesel out to the rescue, turning Michaels babyface in the process and setting up tonight's main event.

After vowing to put an end to Sid on behalf of his buddy, Diesel then cheered himself up by referencing 'Beatles hit I Am The Walrus, and was all smiles as he promised to win later on.

Jerry Lawler introduces his mother
With his match against The Hitman about to happen, Lawler was in a much better mood as he made his way to the ring next. Though before he went into action, The King took time to introduce us to his 'mother,' who in actual fact was some young model/bad actress.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Bret Hart lost to long-time rival Jerry Lawler after interference from HakushiI'm not sure whether the implication here was that Lawler was so young his mother looked like a super model, or that the King had some sleazy incestual relationship going on, either way, it was prety weird, and all led to 'mother' urging her 'son' to defeat The Hitman.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
The King was looking forward to doing exactly that, planning, no doubt, to take out Hart's injured knee. Yet Bret had other ideas. In a brief backstage promo, The Excellence of Execution to be a rouse. His leg was fine, and he was looking forward to destroying Lawler.

And destroy him he did, at least for the first couple of minutes. With The King playing the cowardly heel to a tee, Hart battered his long-time rival (don't forget, this whole thing began at King of the Ring 1993) from pillar to post.

Just when it looked over for The King, shennanigans came into play. Hakushi's manager Shinja put in an appearance, which somehow led to the referee falling through the ropes, getting his foot caught, and dangling upside down outside the ring.

With the official, erm, tied up, Hakushi rushed to the ring and helped Lawler by attacking The Hitman. By the time referee Earl Hebner returned to the ring, The Hitman was so stunned he couldn't kick out of Lawler's pin attempt, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Jerry 'The King' Lawler

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Todd Pettengill and Stephanie Wiand revealed the winner of the Florida vacation home
Backstage, an intense Sid told us, in typically creepy, whispered tones, that he was indeed The d that, much like grains of sand in an hourglass, Diesel's time as WWF Champion was coming to an end.

Todd Pettentigill dials a wrong number, some guy wins a house
It was the moment we'd all been waiting for, no, not the main event, the moment one lucky fan won that big vacation home in Florida.

Before the winner was revealed, the ever excitable duo of Pettengill and Wiand raked through the entries. Todd then threw Steph into the big glass box which held all those entries and had her run back and forth across them for a while. I'm not sure why either, that's just what happened.

Once Wiand was done with whatever she was doing, she joined Pettengil in first dialing a wrong number, before finally reaching the winner, who, despite watching the show live on PPV, was convinced it was a joke.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Diesel defended the WWF Title against Sid in the main event
As the largely apathetic crowd went mild at the reaction, we cut back to Vince and Doc, who finally took us into our main event of the evening.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Big Daddy Cool Diesel vs. Sycho Sid (w/ Ted Dibiase)
When reviewing pro wrestling matches, it's sometimes important to keep a little perspective. OK, so by no means was Sid vs. Diesel for the WWF title a classic match, though let's remember that this took place back in 1995, an all-time low for in-ring quality in the World Wrestling Federation.

It's also worth pointing out that there's been far worst matches than this, and no doubt will continue to be so for a long time to come.

Sure, as the second longest match on the card, this certainly seemed to drag in points, but to give both men their credit, at least they seemed to try.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 1 - Diesel and Sid square off in their WWF title matchStarting off slowly and rarely picking up the pace, both men traded the advantage several times before Diesel gained the upperhand and planted his nemesis with the Jacknife powerbomb.

Yet before he could score the victory, Sid's Million Dollar Corporation teammate, Tatanka ran in and attacked, ultimately leading to the same result we would've had without the interference: A win for Big Daddy Cool.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Diesel

Afterwards, Tatanka and Sid continued their beat down of the champion, only for Diesel's new ally, Bam Bam Bigelow to race down for the save. This led us nicely into Tatanka vs. Bigelow, the first of three post-show dark matches to take place at the first In Your House.

For the record, The Undertaker beat Kamala and Davey Boy Smith went to a time-limit draw with brother-in-law Owen Hart in a King of the Ring qualifying match taped for an upcoming episode of Raw.

And so, after getting off to a thrilling start with Bret vs. Hakushi, the first In Your House event limped to a lackluster finally, decreasing in quality every step of the way. With the exception of that opening content, and quite possibly the Razor vs. Jarrett/Roadie handicap match, you're not missing a great deal if you never see this show, yet whilst the actual card was nothing to write home about, in terms of historical significance, it has to be argued that In Your House 1 deserves a least a footnote in the story of the WWE. From here on in, there was no going back, it was regular pay per views all the way. Indeed, if you've ever felt the need to bemoan the E's Pay Per View overkill and needed something to blame, you can probably start here. 

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.