Sunday, 22 February 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF In your House 4 - Great White North

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Event poster
October 22, 1995,
Winnipeg Arena, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

As the World Wrestling Federation began to march towards the end of 1995, Diesel Power alone was proving not to be enough to sustain the company in the emerging war with World Championship Wrestling. Having ploughed over lumbering giants like Sycho Sid and King Mabel in a string of lackluster main events, reigning champion Kevin 'Diesel' Nash was reaching the end of his reign, though not before meeting The British Bulldog and enjoying his finest performance as a headliner since he and Shawn Micahels clashed back at Wrestlemania 11

Speaking of the Heartbreak Kid, the shennanigans and backstage politics we've all heard about where never more evident than they were on this cold night in Winnipeg, with the Intercontinental Champion set to forefeit his title.

But more of that later. For now, here's what went down when the WWF presented their first PPV to take place in Canada since 1990's Wrestlemania 6.

Sunday Night Slam
Much as with September's In Your House 3: Triple Header, our friends at Coliseum Home Video saw fit to treat us with a full Sunday Night Slam, in which the ever-present Todd Pettengill gave us a full run down of what was in store tonight.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Todd Pettengill and his bitches
First up, our buddy Todd went through the relatively short rivalry between Diesel and The British Bulldog. To refresh your memory, it was back in August of 1995 when Davey Boy Smith turned his back on the champion and powerslammed him into the mat on an episode of Monday night raw.

Cutting his hair short and aligning himself with Jim Cornette, Bulldog announced that he was fed up of being thought of as a 'nice guy' and being overlooked for championship matches. Having had has as much as he could stand, the Bulldog -who also declared that he would no longer be known as Davey Boy Smith- was setting his sights squarely on the champion.

For all intents and purposes, it was a smart career move for the man from Wigan. Having shone at In Your House 3, the former intercontinental champion went on a roll, even scoring a pinfall victory over Big Daddy Cool in a six man tag team match, clips of which we saw about a thousand times throughout the course of Sunday Night Slam. 

The Bulldog's rise to prominence was driving the champion to distraction, so much so that, on an episode of Superstars in which Bulldog cost Diesel a match (via countout) against Waylon Mercy, Big Daddy Cool proceeded to beat poor old Mercy to smithereens.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Jim Ross questions WWF President Gorilla Monsoon about the status of the Intercontinental Championship
Elsewhere, we went live to the arena where Jim Ross caught up with Gorilla Monsoon to discuss the status of Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. According to all reports, Michaels had been the victim of a real-life ass-kicking outside a nightclub in Syracuse, New York, and was thus in no fit state to defend his championship.

As such, Monsoon declared that the Heartbreak Kid would need to surrender his title on tonight's show. Still, as the People's President, Gorilla insisted that we would definitely see the IC title on the line tonight in a match against Dean Douglas, and another wrestler yet to be determined.

Joined at this point in the show by two random women who spent the rest of the show eating pizza, Pettengill gave us the low down on Yokozuna vs. King Mabel, the upcoming tag team championship match between The Smoking Gunns and the combination of Razor Ramon and the 123 Kid, and the impending debut of The Bizarre One himself, Goldust.

Yes indeed, back before the days of elaborate facepaint and kicking people in the balls, the man formerly known as Dustin Rhodes was a simple -if still completely weird-Hollywood movie buff with bland gold and smudges of black around the lips and eyes.

Still, there was time for all that later. For now, it was on to the show.

Welcome to the Great White North 
Our show tonight began with a stirring rendition of the Canadian National Anthem courtesy of 'upcoming singing sensation' Joanie Wilson. Fireworks exploded, we went straight to the World Wrestling Federation - The Revolutionary Force, in Sports Entertainment intro, before Gorilla Monsoon reminded us that tonight, he'd be taking the Intercontinental Championship from Shawn Michaels and handing it to Dean Douglas. 'However,' continued the Prez, Douglas would have to defend his new title against none other than Razor Ramon.

Cue our opening video package, in which the In Your House theme played over clips of fans buying tickets, merchandise and hot dogs, and from that, it was down to the arena.

Early audio difficulties put something of a dampner on Vince McMahon's 'Welcome Every-Wan!' though what he lacked in volume, the Chairman made up for in enthusiasm. McMahon introduced us to his fellow commentators, Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, and with that, it was right down to our opening match.

Fatu vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley 
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Hunter Hearst Helmsley faced Fatu in the opening match
Taking a leaf from the pages of Rick Martel's Guide to Arrogance, future COO Hunter Hearst Helmsely had recently sprayed future hall of famer Fatu (then in his much-maligned Make a Difference gimmick), cause enough for the two to meet in tonight's first contest.

Understandably irate, Fatu wasted no time in attacking the Greenwich Blue Blood, barely giving Hunter a chance to take off his riding jacket and shirt and pounding him around the ring.

Helmsley fought back with a piledriver, and continued to dominate for much of the match. Like most of those early In Your House bouts, this was decent enough for what it was, but would hardly have any long term impact. Nor will it likely make any fans' must-see list.

Not too surprisingly, Hunter pedigreed the former Headshrinker to pick up the win.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Post match, Jerry Lawler caught up with Hunter for an interview that was rudely interrupted by the arrival of Henry O. Godwin. Terrified of the ominous slop bucket, Helmsley first hid behind Lawler before running away from the hog farmer, a move which would ultimately lead us to the infamous Hog Pen match. Say what you want about The Game, he certainly paid his dues.

A Word with the Bulldog
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Doc Hendrix interviews British Bulldog
Backstage, Doc Hendrix caught up with number one contender British Bulldog, and his manager, Jim Cornette.

'Big Daddy Cool, you think you can hide in this fifty-below hell hole? Well think again!' snarled the Bulldog. 'I beat you on Monday Night Raw, and I'm going to beat you again tonight.'

Looking for all the world like the biggest threat Big Daddy Cool had faced to date, the former Intercontinental Champion was certainly impressive, not to mention believable, in this short little promo.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match:
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) vs. Razor Ramon and 123 Kid
Before we go any further, a retraction of sorts from my last review. Having discussed the ending of the Razor/Douglas match at In Your House 3, I mentioned that the alliance between The Bad Guy and The Kid would end shortly after.

Of course, it would come to an end, but not before the two tried to put their differences aside and challenge new champions The Smoking Gunns for the belts Billy and Bart recently reclaimed from Owen and Yoko.

Before they did, the two friends -adorned in matching purple and gold outfits- cut a pre-match promo in which they praised the Gunns for putting up a fight, but promised that it wouldn't be enough to stop the tag team belts changing hands.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Razor Ramon and 123 Kid challenged The Smoking Gunns for the tag titles
Not that the dynamic between the two hadn't changed in that time. Still teasing a heel turn (remember when wrestlers still did that?), the Kid was more aggressive, more cocky, more arrogant in his attempt to wrestle the titles away from the Brothers Gunn.

Squaring off which future DX team mate Billy Gunn in the opening moments of the match, 123 Kid looked better than he had for a while, but it was The Bad Guy who fans were really behind. As over as he'd ever been, Razor had the crowd in the palm of his hands as he tug in for a battle of power against Bart Gunn.

From there, things settled into a nice groove, with the Kid continuing to heel it up despite his partner wrestling fair and square against the champions.

It was this change in attitude that was to be the challengers downfall. After Ramon landed the Razor's Edge, the Kid begged for the tag and eventually -following much crowd-baiting- got it. Making the cover, the youngster was rolled up and pinned, bringing a pretty enjoyable tag match to a close.
Your Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Smoking Gunns 

Visibly pissed, Kid attacked the victors, ppummelingboth Billy and Bart and temporarily stealing the tag team titles until Razor returned to the ring and calmed things down.

Goldust vs. Marty Jannetty
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Marty Jannetty vs. Goldust
Not seen in a WWF ring since he teamed with his father, Dusty Rhodes in a match against Ted Dibiase & Virgil at the 1991 Royal Rumble, Dustin Rhodes donned the wig and makeup to make his debut as Goldust in a match that was given a surprising amount of time.

Taking on another recent returnee in the form of Marty Jannetty, Goldust looked to make a big impact in what Ross, Lawler and McMahon referred to as his 'Premier,' and to that end, he mostly succeeded.

For over 11 minutes, Goldie and Jannetty put on a solid effort, battling in and out of the ring and keeping the Winnipeg audience on their feet with fast-paced, hard-hitting action.

With The Curtain Call finishing move not yet assigned to the new superstar, Goldust ended this entertaining match in disappointing fashion, using -of all things- a front facelock suplex to pick the victory.
Your Winner: Goldust 

Prior to the next bout, Vince McMahon reminded us why King Mabel and Yokozuna were about to meet in the ring. It all harked back to that six-man tag match on Raw, in which the two big men had worked in unison to put The Undertaker on the shelf. For some reason, that made them dislike each other, and thus we had ourselves a match.

As the King of the Ring Winner was carried to the ring by a bunch of jobbers, we went to a cut screen, with McMahon questioning Yoko's spokesman, Jim Cornette, about the upcoming contest. According to Jimmy, the only reason Monsoon had booked this match was to prevent Mabel and Yoko teaming up and bringing about the destruction of the World Wrestling Federation.

Yokozuna (w/ Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji) vs. King Mabel (w/ Sir Mo)
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Yokozuna prepares for his match against King Mabel
The Winnipeg crowd were a lot more into this battle of the behemoths as you might think. For whatever reason, the two over-sized giants squaring up to one another at the start of the match had the audience on the edge of their seat, where they stayed throughout the duration of this short affair.

In all honesty, the crowd reaction wasn't all that surprising given what took place. In just five minutes, the understatedly talented Yokozuna carried Mabel to the best match he'd had all year (if not ever).

Trading blows, the two eventually took one another off their feet, each missed a leg drop apiece, then brawled to the outside. A ten count later, and this one was over.
Double Countout.

Though not quite. Following the bell, both men returned to the ring for another face off. Yet just when it looked like they'd come to blows once again, Yoko opened his arms and embraced the Man on a Mission, much to the disgust of the live audience.

Shawn Michaels forefeits the Intercontinental Championship
And so it came to this. Rather than drop the title in a match against the Kliq's arch-nemesis, Dean Douglas, Michaels was forced to surrender the belt as a result of injuries he'd sustained at the hands of some Syracuse thugs.

Doc Hendrix kicked off proceedings, first introducing fans to Gorilla Monsoon before calling The Dean to the ring. From there, it was Michaels turn to head to ringside. The Heartbreak Kid remained silent, looking glum, if otherwise completely healthy as McMahon tried desperately to explain how a a man who had been beaten up so badly that he couldn't wrestle showed no physical signs of said ass-kicking.

Douglas snatched the belt from Michaels who -in an almost identical reenactment of Hulk Hogan stealing The Ultimate Warrior's thunder at Wrestlemania- hammed it up all the way to the back and ensured that Douglas' celebration went largely unnoticed.


Aww, poor Shawn. Or perhaps I should say poor Dean, who probably enjoyed the briefest IC title run in history.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Dean Douglas vs. Razor Ramon
Already suggesting that he might just possibly become a four-time champion as he made his way to the ring, Ramon went right after the defending champion, beating Douglas to the outside and continuing the assault for the remainder of what was essentially an extended squash match.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Razor Ramon defeated Dean Douglas for the Intercontinental Championship
Showing no signs of fatigue despite wrestling in one championship match earlier in the show, The Bad Guy captured his title with very little effort in a disappointing match.
Your Winner: Razor Ramon

There was controversy surrounding the finish however, as Dean Douglas had his leg under the bottom rope whilst the referee counted to three. Not that it mattered. Soon after, Douglas would be gone, off to spend the rest of his career bitching about The Clique in shoot interviews.

The Hitman runs off The King
Scheduled to face the WWF Champion at Survivor Series 1995, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart made his way to ringside to commentate on our main event. Before he could do that however, there was the small matter of playing cat-and-mouse with long-time rival, Jerry Lawler. Several times, The King attempted to attack The Hitman, only for Bret to get the upperhand and eventually chase Lawler all the way to the back.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match:
WWF Champion Diesel vs. The British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette)
Before making his way to the ring, reigning champion Diesel told Doc Hendrix that he was feeling funky, then strolled to the ring for the best match he'd had in months, courtesy of The British Bulldog.

With The Hitman putting in a decent effort at the commentary table, discussing the pros and cons of having to face either man at Survivor Series, the challenger heeded the advice of his brother-in-law and went to work on Big Daddy Cool's long legs.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Doc Hendrix speaks to WWF Champion Diesel
For the best part of 20 minutes, Davey Boy took his opponent to the limit, and despite completly messing up a sharpshooter attempt on no less than two occasions, looked pretty good as the aggressor.

Alas, the title was not to be his on that cold night in Canada. As we staggered towards the finale, Bulldog found himself on the outside and took out his frustrations on The Hitman. That brought Bret into the ring to extract revenge, giving the Bulldog the win via disqualification.
Your Winner by DQ: The British Bulldog (Diesel retains the WWF Championship)

As Davey Boy left with his tail between his legs, Hart next turned his attentions to the champion. The two men who would square off at Survivor Series went at each other in a flury of fists, prompting the likes of the Smoking Gunns and Aldo Montoya to rush ringside, breaking up the brawl as the show went off the air.

A much better show than it may sound on paper, In Your House 4: Great White North wasn't exactly a history making event, but for a filler pay per view, it was at least reasonably entertaining. Next time, we head to the Survivor Series. Until then, feel free to come and say hi on Twitter @Retropwrestling 

1 comments:

According to Bret Hart's autobiography, "My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling", after this PPV went off the air, an irate Vince McMahon threw down his headset and berated Diesel at ringside for putting on another abysmal main event.

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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.