Wednesday, 11 February 2015

PPV REVIEW: In Your House 3 - Triple Header

September 24, 1995,
Saginaw Civic Center, Saginaw, Michigan

If ever proof were needed of the influence wielded by backstage power-players The Clique, you only had to look at the late summer of 1995. Despite a couple of abysmal main events against the like of Sid and King Mabel, Big Daddy Cool Diesel was still riding high as our WWF Champion, whilst his buddy Shawn Michaels had just picked up another Intercontinental Championship reign.

Not content with that, tonight, they'd face the WWF Tag Team Champions in a first-of-its-kind match in which every WWF title was on the line as the company pressed on with its still relatively new In Your House concept.

Here's what else went down:

Sunday Night Slam
For reasons best left unsaid, our journey into the epicentre of the New Generation begins with a pre-PPV episode of the short lived Sunday Night Slam, hosted by your friend and mine, Todd Pettengill. 

Live (or not) from the same Stamford studio this writer remembers fondly from the days of WWF Mania, the Toddster gave us a run down of tonight's main draws.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header - Sunday Night Slam logo
After a brief look at the aforementioned Triple Header match, an interesting concept in which fans were guaranteed to see a title change, Pettengill focussed his presentation on the rivalry between Dean Douglas, Razor Ramon and the 123 Kid.

Our story -which would give Douglas enough shoot interview fodder for years to come- began in back at Summerslam 1995, when the Dean's critique of the Intercontinental Championship ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon was met with a harsh slap from The Bad Guy.

Over the coming weeks, Ramon and Douglas would continue to butt heads, the latter bringing the former's good friend, 123 Kid into the mix, and playing both against each other in an attempt to infuriate his In Your House opponent.

Elsewhere, we got a look at the seemingly never-ending rivalry between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Jean-Piere Lafitte. 


WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header - Todd Pettengill hosted the In Your House preshow
Having lost to the Hitman at In Your House 2, the former Quebeccer had spent the intervening time stealing Bret's jacket, and plucking his glasses from the heads of young ringside fans. That was enough to give us not only a match, but an unbelievably childish promo from The Hitman in which he referred to Lafitte as a 'big smelly pirate.'

Somewhere in Massachusetts, John Cena was taking note.

From there, we got a replay of the verbal sparring between Owen Hart, Jim Cornette (along with the mostly silent Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji) and the Two Dudes with Attitudes combo of HBK and Big Daddy Cool.

With all that out of the way, it was on with the show.

Welcome to In Your House
I'm not entirely certain of this, but I'm fairly sure that our opening introduction today was a soul rendition of the same country-infused song that kicked off In Your House 2. What is for certain, is that we were greeted by Vince McMahon's second best catchphrase after 'You're fired!' in the form an impassionately growled Welcome evvvvvveryone!!!

Tonight, McMahon was joined at the commentary table by future Hall of Famers Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King Lawler, making for the first pay per view appearance of the three-man announce team that would become a familiar staple of WWE programming throughout the mid-90s.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header - Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross commentary team
In our opening gambit, both Lawler and Ross predicted that Shawn Michaels would lose his Intercontinental Championship in tonight's main event. They differed however, on who would become our new IC champion; The King was behind Owen, whilst Ross had his money on big Yoko.

Savio Vega vs. Waylon Mercy
Making his way to the ring for his first -and ultimately only- WWF pay per view match, Waylon Mercy recieved a pretty lukewarm reception from the Michigan faithful, and this despite a seemingly decent push on then-recent episodes of Superstars.

Savio Vega on the other hand, was treated to a pretty big pop from a crowd who remained well behind their man in what was a fairly uneventful opening match.

In fact, it was so uneventful, that McMahon and Lawler spent as much time debating what Vega had shaved into the back of his head (it was his hand-gesture thing) than they did calling the action. Jim Ross, for his part, remained mostly silent.

Providing the only highlight, Doc Hendrix popped up at one point with the breaking news that Owen Hart, co-holder of the WWF Tag Team Championship, and one quarter of tonight's main event, was not in the building. Oh dear.

Back to the action, or lack thereof, the popular Savio Vega ended Mercy's undefeated streak in a seven-plus minute snorefest.
Your Winner: Savio Vega

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Doc Hendrix interupted the Savio Vega/Waylon Mercy matchBackstage, Hendrix barged into the tag champs locker room, where Jim Cornette was found arguing with WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon.

'You're not some Johnny-come-lately, you know what time your boys are supposed to be here,' Monsoon told Cornette, going on to insist that come hell or high-water, we'd have our Triple Header main event tonight.

Sycho Sid (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. Henry O. Godwin
You've probably blocked this from your mind, so here's a quick reminder, courtesy of a pre-match recap:

In brief, then-heel Henry O. Godwin had been  contracted by Ted Dibiase to do a couple of things, all of which had somehow gone wrong. That led to a face-turn for the hog farmer, a couple of incidents of Ted Dibiase and Sid getting 'slopped' and a match here tonight.

The match itself was...Well, it was a match between Henry Godwin and Sid, so you can probably tell that this wasn't exactly a classic.

Nor was it necessarily terrible, either.

Both big men did the best they could in a passable, if somewhat slow-paced, brawl, all leading to big Sid's first pay per view win of 1995 courtesy of a big legdrop and a power bomb.
Your Winner: Sycho Sid

Not that the fun and games ended with a three-count. In the post-match, Sid and his manager, Dibiase, began arguing over who would dump the slop bucket over a prone Henry O. Before they could reach an agreement, Bam Bam Bigelow rushed to the ring to beat up on his former Million Dollar Corporation buddies. The attack was shortlived, Kama made the save for Sid and Dibiase, before Henry revived himself long enough to dump the bucket right on Dibiase's head.

More from Monsoon and Cornette
Back in the locker room, Doc Hendrix stood by with a microphone and a perplexed look on his face as he gave Jim Cornette a couple of options:

If Owen Hart no-showed, Cornette could either have Yoko defend the tag team titles solo in a 2-on-1 handicap match against Diesel and Michaels, or he could find a replacement for Owen. That replacement, as per the rules of the match, would be a one-night-only tag team champion, and would have the same opportunity to become the new IC or WWF champion that Owen had.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  British Bulldog wrestled in two matchesBritish Bulldog vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Time for a true story. Back when I was still an eleven year-old mark, my weekend ritual consisted of spilling my wrestling figures all over the living room floor and sitting down to watch shows like Mania, Superstars  and WWF Challenge. 

One particular weekend, in the summer of 1995, I sat and watched on in horror as a man from my hometown, Davey Boy Smith, turned his back on my then-hero, Big Daddy Cool Diesel. I was irate, so furious, so heartbroken at Smith's betrayal of my favourite WWF wrestler that I promptly attacked my British Bulldog action figure and somehow managed to snap his head clean off.

I can laugh about it now, and mostly think of it as a positive. If the goal of pro wrestling is to illicit those kind of reactions from its target demographic, then to that end, we can probably call the Bulldog's 1995 heel turn a resounding success.

Building momentum here towards an eventual pay off match with the champion, Davey Boy clashed with Bam Bam in a surprisingly good match. Showing Henry O. and Sid just how a big-man-match could be done right, the two put on a strong showing before the Bulldog powerslammed his way to victory around the 12 minute mark.
Your Winner: The British Bulldog


WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Razor Ramon vs. Dean Douglas
We cut next to former two-time champion and presidential candidate, Bob Backlund making his way to the ring. A dictionary-wielding Backlund chastised the fans for being stupid (or something), drawing heat by bombarding them with big words in an otherwise nonsensical promo before introducing Dean Douglas.

Dean Douglas vs. Razor Ramon
For his part, Douglas sucked up to Backlund and gave Ramon his own introduction. Forgoing his usual slow, confident stroll to the ring, Ramon charged headlong into a mediocre effort against the Dean.

In the non-too-spectacular opening moments, we got another split screen, this time showing the action on one side and, on the other, Jim Cornette trying to convince Yokozuna and King Mabel to coexist as a team in tonight's main event.

Back in the ring, Ramon dominated the early going, sending the crowd to sleep by slapping his opponent in an armbar. After taking a beating, Douglas turned the match in his favor, though matched Ramon pound-for-pound in terms of sucking the life out of the Saginaw Civic Center.

Towards the finish, Ramon drilled his opponent with a Razor's Edge, but with the referee having taken a tumble, it wsa up to the 123 Kid to make the three count. Displeased with his friend's interference, The Bad Guy hurled the Kid out of the ring, distracting his attentions long enough for Douglas to regain his composure and sneak in a roll up for the one, the two, and the three.
Your Winner: Dean Douglas


WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Two Dudes With Attitudes - Shawn Michaels and Diesel
Post-match, Ramon and 123 Kid came to blows, and would have likely kicked the hell out of one another had a gaggle of referees and road agents not intervened. That was all she wrote for the Kid/Ramon alliance. Not long after, Kid would officially turn heel and form an oft-forgotten, but randomly entertaining tag team with Sycho Sid. More of that some other time.

Promo time
Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed the Two Dudes With Attitudes about our upcoming main event. Laughing, joking, and no-selling the threat that they might be facing a mystery opponent later, Michaels and Diesel feigned confusion over whether the match would actually take place, before using most of the same lines that they'd employed in every promo leading up to this match.

Speaking of repeating promos, Bret Hart gave us essentially the same spiel he'd delivered on Sunday Night Slam, this time likening his upcoming match with Lafitte as akin to Captain Hook vs. Captain Crunch. Hart, so he claimed, would be playing the role of Captain Crunch.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Jean-Pierre Lafitte
Seeking to regain his jacket (stolen by Lafitte) and his pride, the Hitman wasted no time in attacking the 'fat, smelly pirate,' taking control in the opening moments and beating Lafitte around the ring.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Jean Pierre Lafitte
From there, the two engaged in a match that was about a million times better than their first outing at In Your House 2. Continually trading the advantage over the course of sixteen-plus minutes, the two delivered arguably the best match on the card, taking the crowd on a wild ride in the process.

Yet whilst this may have been Jean-Pierre's best match inside a World Wrestling Federation ring, it certainly wasn't The Hitman's. Sure, this was the best match on the card to this point, but there were still times when it began to drag, and when Bret finally locked on the Sharpshooter, I doubt anybody was really clamouring for more.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Afterwards, The Hitman reclaimed his custom ring jacket and wore it around the ring in celebration.

Elswhere, Bret's brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith was announced as Owen's replacement, and lo, we had the main event match we'd been promised all along. The Bulldog even changed his tights to celebrate his first pay per view main event since Summerslam 1992.

Triple Header Title Match (all titles on the line)
Two Dudes With Attitudes (WWF Champion Diesel & WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels) vs. WWF Tag Team Champions British Bulldog & Yokozuna (w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji)
WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  British Bulldog was announced as Owen Hart's replacement
To go over the rules once more (as we did countless times on this show), all the belts were on the line here. If Diesel or Shawn pinned either of their opponents, they became the new tag team champions. If one of them were pinned, then the man who pinned them took their title.

Along with guaranteeing that we'd see at least one new champion tonight, it also created an abundance of possibilities, all of which were ignored. Would either Diesel or Michaels refuse to risk tagging in lest they lost their title? Would Bulldog and Yoko prevent one another from winning a title, hoping to claim it for themselves?

Nope, they'd all simply go at it in a fun tag team contest.

The Bulldog provided an early highlight of this one, proving that as much as he could match power with the likes of Bam Bam Bigelow, he could still trade technical with the likes of Shawn Michaels, working through a quick-paced spot with the IC champion that was a joy to watch.

For his part, Michaels kept up the entertainment value by challenging Yokozuna to a sumo wrestling match. Having squared off, the two charged at one another, with HBK using his speed to duck under a swipe from Yoko, only to eat canvas courtesy of the mammoth tag team champion.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  British Bulldog was announced as Owen Hart's replacement
Much like the preceeding contest, this one lagged in parts, but was otherwise an enjoyable affair which came to an end when Owen Hart finally put in an appearance, leaping off the top rope to attack, only to be caught, Jackknifed, and pinned.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions...and STILL WWF and Intercontinental Champions: Two Dudes with Attitudes

With all the gold in The Clique fold, Diesel and Michaels celebrated to the end the show, though of course, such celebrations would only be short lived. The following evening on Monday Night Raw, Gorilla Monsoon would declare that, since Owen had not officially been in the match, the Two Dudes' victory was null and void.

OK, so that sounds pretty stupid, but hey, it gave us a good main event and a nice way to pop the crowd after what had ultimately been a lacklustre pay per view.

Yet whilst The Clique reigned supreme, for this writer, the show really belonged to the British Bulldog. Delivering two entertaining performances in two completly different matches on the same show, the former Intercontinental Champion looked set for a good run at the top of the card. Sadly, as a victim of time, circumstance, and a hard-to-understand Wigan accent, said run would be short lived.

Still, we've got more from Davey Boy Smith: Main Eventer in the coming weeks. Til then, thanks for reading, and if you feel so inclined, come say 'Hi' on Twitter at @Retropwrestling

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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.