Tuesday, 24 November 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF IN YOUR HOUSE 6: RAGE IN THE CAGE

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage Event poster
February 18, 1996,
Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky

In the modern era, a WWE Pay Per View between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania is as commonplace as a 20 minute 'Authority promo kicking off Raw, or another round of rumours spelling the demise of TNA wrestling. Yet back in 1996, this was an entirely new concept. 

For the first time ever, the Wrestlemania title shot would be on the line on PPV as Shawn Michaels continued the journey towards realizing his boyhood dream by defending his Royal Rumble 1996 win against the man who had put him out of action in the latter-half of 1995, Owen Hart.

Elsewhere, Owen's brother Bret defended the WWF Championship against Michaels' long-time BFF Big Daddy Cool Diesel inside the very cage which gave this sixth installment of In Your House its subtitle.

What else was in store on that history-making night back in Louisville? Let's go find out together, shall we?

In Your House Free for All

And so we start tonight's show with another Free for All, the mid-1990s' version of today's kick-off pre-show, albeit with a much-less subtle approach at trying to draw in a few more last-minute buys. 

Tonight's show kicked off, as these things often did, with our old mate, Todd Pettengill, who made his way from the In Your House set and told us it was 'party time.' Ahem, right. 

After hyping the crowd and putting over tonight's big cage match, Pettingzoo sent us over to our broadcast team for the evening, the incomparable Vince McMahon and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Doc Hendrix interviews world champion Bret Hart
This at a time when Lawler still bothered to make an effort, the cowardly king was ill at ease with even the slightest mention of Jake 'The Snake' Roberts and his slippery friend, but seemed a lot happier to hear that Vader had been reinstated and would be here tonight. 

More hype for the main event followed, with a video package which reminded us how Diesel lost the WWF championship to The Hitman back at Survivor Series 1995, then got pissed off that Undertaker had earned a shot at the 1996 Royal Rumble and cost The Dear Man his match with The Undertaker. 

Of course, this would all lead us to Diesel/Taker at Wrestlemania, but for now, it was time for Big Daddy Cool to get his rematch, not that the champion seemed to concerned. In an exclusive backstage interview with Doc Hendrix, The Hitman claimed that he'd lost all respect for Diesel, and that since he'd never lost a cage match before, he didn't plan on doing so tonight. 

Tatanka (w/ The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase) vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Todd Pettengill interviews Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
Surprising most people with the fact that he was still employed by the World Wrestling Federation back in early 1996, Tatanka made his way to the ring with Ted Dibiase to kick off tonight's in-ring action against a visibly out of shape Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. 

Whether it was the fault of Jake (then doing his recovered-alcoholic-born-again-Christian), Tatanka, or simply the fact that this match seemed to have absolutely no heat to it, the whole thing was painful to watch. 

After five-plus minutes of brain-cell-killing non-action, Jake leveled the Native American with the DDT, struggled to turn him over, and scored the win. 
Your Winner: Jake Roberts

The good news at least, was that Jake was insanely over, and did elicit a good response from the Kentucky faithful following his win.

Realizing the Boy Hood Dream 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Doc Hendrix interviews Shawn Michaels
After shilling for last minute PPV buys, our buddy Todd took us to a video package recounting Shawn Michael's recent run and his battle with Owen Hart later tonight. The video reminded us of how he fortified the Intercontinental Championship at In Your House: Great White North, later collapsed after being kicked in the head by Owen Hart, and eventually announced his return at the Royal Rumble.

Doc Interviews HBK
That took us to a backstage interview in which Shawn himself spoke to Doc Hendrix about his upcoming match, insisting that he had been listening when Owen Hart took credit for putting HBK out of action, but that he would put an end to all that later tonight. 

Vader returns 

From there, we were reminded of the reason for Vader's suspension - namely that he beat up on the ever-lovable Gorilla Monsoon, a move Jerry Lawler claimed was in self-defense after Monsoon delivered a couple of chops to The Mastodon's broad, hairy chest- and also that the big guy would be returning to action on tonight's show. 

This led us to an in-ring interview where the former WCW champion and his manager, Jim Cornette, were interviewed by the Toddster.


'Jim Cornette, your dream has come true,' began Pettengill. 'You and your attourney, Clarence Mason, have managed to successfully get Vader reinstated.' 

'Let's get one thing straight. We're in Louisville, Kentucky, and I OWN this town,' Cornette replied, before going on to say that Vader was now 'on a march to the WWF title.' 

In a baffling turn-of-phrase, Cornette next told us that Vader was going to 'be here tonight,' a somewhat obvious statement given that Vader was actually stood right next to him at the time. 

As the Free-For-All ended, Cornette promised that we'd get Vader in a match, even if everyone in the World Wrestling Federation was too scared to face him. 

Welcome to In Your House 

Our show began proper with the WWF block signature, proceeded by a clip of Sunny in a bikini advising us that 'viewer discretion is advised.' 

A look at Diesel's rivalries with Bret Hart and The Undertaker led us to the usual pyro and ballyhoo, and my favourite part of any WWF PPV, Vince McMahon growling like a possessed-man. 

'Welcome EVERY-WAN, TO IN YOUR HOUSE' 

Jerry Lawler gave us a little hype for our upcoming show, and with that, it was on to our opening match. 

Cry baby match:
Razor Ramon vs. 123 Kid (w/ Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase)

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - 123 Kid lost a crybaby match to Razor Ramon
Vince and his chums have come up with some dumb stuff in its time, and I'm pretty sure this idea should be up there with the dumbest of the dumb. 

After costing Razor the Intercontinental Championship back the 1996 Royal Rumble, The Kid had spent much of the intervening weeks labeling Razor a 'Cry baby,' leading us to a match tonight in which the loser would have to wear a giant diaper and suck from a giant baby's bottle. 

Silly stipulations aside, the match actually started off in fine form, with The Bad Guy pummeling his former protege from pillar to post in a reasonably exciting burst of action. Yet when the 123 Kid rolled to the outside, manager Ted Dibiase was there to come to his rescue, temporarily blinding Razor with a handful of baby powder and allowing The Kid to jump from the top and drill his one-time mentor with a swift-looking dropkick. 

Apparently worn out from that brief flury of excitement, the two Kliq buddies then decided to take it easy, killing off the middle of the match with an extended sleeper hold from Kid to Razor, followed by a momentary comeback for Ramon which led us to both men taking a nap in the middle of the ring. 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - 123 Kid upset after losing to Razor Ramon
Things did pick up towards the finish, with Razor finally mounting a solid comeback and leveling his opponent with two Razor Edges to wrap things up, yet as fun as that might have been, the mid-bout nothingness certainly put a dampener on things. 
Your Winner: Razor Ramon

'Wait a minute, what's this?' asked Vince McMahon as referee Tim White handed the aforementioned diaper and bottle to Ramon. You know, sometimes Vince's corny commentary makes me smile, but sometimes he says stupid things like this, and it just ruins it. What do you mean 'What's this?' it's the stipulation for the match we've just watched, the same stipulation that you and your fellow announcers spent weeks hyping on TV. 

Anyway, that little rant over, Razor forced a prone Kid to gag on the bottle, put the diaper on him, then walked away, continuously shrugging as if it to say 'What? Don't look at me, I didn't book this.'

For his part though, 123 Kid did sell the whole perfectly, first not realising where he was, then thinking he'd won the match, and then, when what had happened finally dawned on him, it's fair to say the look on his face was absolutely priceless. 

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Elizabeth Hilden) vs. Duke 'The Dumpster' Drossee 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Triple H led to the ring by adult porn star Elizabeth Hilden
As the 'Kid made his way backstage, McMahon announced that we'd be going backstage to Ray Rougeau and Sunny, that didn't happen.

Instead, we got Hunter Hearst Helmsley being escorted to the ring by adult model Elizabeth Hilden* (*link NSFW) in order to battle Duke Drossee, with the latter seeking revenge for the unwelcome hair cut he recently received at the hands of the future World Champion.

After a wild brawl in the early moments, the match slowed to a crawl as Hunter methodically took his opponent apart. Naturally, the Garbage man did mount a comeback, even going so far as to plant his arch rival with the Trash Compacter.

Yet rather than scooping victory, an over-confident Drossee left the ring for his trusty garbage can. The referee grabbed the main part of the can, distracting Duke long enough for Triple H to grab the lid, drill his opponent from behind, and steal a victory.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Following Hunter's long, hobbled walk to the back (complete with a smooch from Ms. Hilden), we were next reminded of Yokozuna's recent babyface-turn on an episode of Raw.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Yokozuna cuts his first ever English speaking promo
The basic story was that Yoko had slowly fallen out of favour with Camp Cornette following the arrival of Vader. After weeks of tension, it all came to a head on an episode of Raw when Davey Boy Smith accidentally legdropped the former WWF Champion in a tag team match against Two Dudes With Attitudes. 

Post match, Cornette had berated his charge, only for the big man to attack him, Smith and Owen Hart. 

With that recap out of the way, we were taken to Doc Hendrix, who gave us Yoko's first ever English speaking promo. Apparently forgetting that we'd been told for years that Yoko was Japanese, the big man yelled in an American accent, all to deliver one clear message:

Jim, Owen, Davey, you're gonna get your ass kicked!

The British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Yokozuna 
Following a short, reasonably entertaining match in which both men worked well together, the Man From Erm..Not Japan looked to have this one all sewn up.

Not that Jim Cornette was likely to stand by and watch his erstwhile charge take home the winner's purse. In front of his home stage audience, Jim leapt up into the ring and attacked Yoko with his trusty tennis racket. Naturally, the giant wrestler felt nothing, and was all set to attack his former manager when Vader himself hit the scene, and worked with Bulldog to handcuff their rival to the ropes.
Your Winner (via disqualification)

One handed, the sumo star battled back, prompting a gaggle of referees and road agents to finally hit the ring in an attempt to break things up. Yet despite the efforts of former wrestlers and officials, it took the arrival of scrawny attorney-at-law Clarence Mason to put an end to the Camp Cornette Massacre.

Shawn Michaels - The 'Never Say Die' Kid

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Owen Hart and Jim Cornette gloat about Shawn Michaels' misfortunes
With the in-ring madness dying down, Vince took us to a video package in which Todd Pettengill documented Shawn Michael's epic struggle towards winning the 1996 Royal Rumble and heading to Wrestlemania, all after getting beaten up by thugs, and suffering a knock-out blow at the hands of Owen Hart on an episode of Raw.

Always one for stealing the show back in the days before 'stealing the show' seemed to be every pro wrestler sports entertainer's modus operendi, The Heartbreak Kid appeared literally dancing on the rooftop of the In Your House set before using a short zip line to make his way to the entrance way in a pre-cursor of his famous entrance at Wrestlemania 12. As different as it might have been, this writer can't help but feel a little uncomfortable knowing the ultimate fate of Michaels' opponent several years later.

Number One Contenders' Match: Owen Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Shawn Michaels dances on the ceiling of the In Your House set
And so we finally got down to the action, with The Heart Break Kid defending his Wrestlemania championship shot against the man who put him out of action, The King of Harts.

Much stalling and showboating on the part of Michaels led us slowly into what was by far one of the best bouts on the card, indeed perhaps of the entire year of 1996.

With commentators Lawler and McMahon at their ever-biased best (including The King's comical claim that Owen invented the camel clutch), the two in-ring combatants brawled, wrestled and flew around the ring in a gripping back-and-forth battle which proved undoubtedly why they were two of the best in-ring performers the 1990s had to offer.

A dramatic pause from the non-stop action came when Owen hit the very same enziguri kick that originally took HBK out of action. Michaels wobbled, staggered and fell out of the ring, though rather than taking the count out victory, the King of the Ring winner went for the pin, only for Michaels to kick out and reboot the match.

A dramatic closing sequence followed, ultimately culminating in Sweet Chin Music and a three count.
Your Winner: Shawn Michaels

With his spot at Wrestlemania secured, Shawn Michaels celebrated triumphantly, even dancing with a young fan in the ring.

A Word from the Hot Rod 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Todd Pettengill interviews WWF President Roddy Piper
As the ring crew began setting up the cage for our main event, Todd Pettengill introduced us to interim WWF President Rowdy Roddy Piper. In typical charasmatic fashion, The Hot Rod warned Shawn Michaels to bring his A-Game at Wrestlemania, before booking another match at the show, pitting Vader vs. Yokozuna. 

This, of course, raised the ire of Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason, both of whom came out for a rant against the Pres'. 

An enjoyable interaction between Jim and Roddy followd, the long and short of it being that if Vader lost, Yoko might just have an opportunity to put his hands on his former manager. 

World Wrestling Federation Championship Cage MatchWWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. 'Big Daddy Cool' Diesel 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Bret Hart defends the WWF title against Diesel in a cage match
Having been told time and time again that The Hitman had never yet lost a steel cage match, it was finally time to see if he could keep that streak alive by going one on one with arguably one of his greatest rivals, the big man Diesel. 

Indeed, your reviewer has always enjoyed seeing these two in action against each other, and whether it was at the Royal Rumble 1995, the Survivor Series later that year or their first major encounter at King of the Ring 94, Bret vs. Diesel was always a highlight of the show. 

Thankfully, neither man disappointed tonight. 

Though some may see the rather slow, sluggish nature of this one as a negative, in many cases it was actually the one thing that made it so special to this writer; the perfect, dramatic finale to the saga of Bret vs. Diesel. 

Speaking of dramatic, the finish came with Big Daddy Cool having gained the upper hand. Yet just as he was about to slide out of the ring, The Undertaker tore through the canvas from beneath the ring and dragged Diesel to hell (or at least under the ring), giving the champion the perfect opportunity to scale the cage, fall to the floor, and win the match.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret Hart 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 6 - Rage in the Cage - Diesel and Undertaker stare down to end the show
As Bret disappeared following his victory, Big D pulled himself up back into the ring, his pants torn asunder, with The Undertaker in hot pursuit. 

As the last In Your House before Wrestlemania came to a close, The Phenom scaled the cage and silently called for the demise of Big Daddy Cool. 

In Your House Extra 

Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed a wild-eyed and crazy Roddy Piper, who ranted and raved his way to booking Big Daddy Cool vs. The Undertaker for Wrestlemania 12 on March 31st, Anaheim California. 

All in all then a decent show. OK, so the concept of the Crybaby Match was beyond ridiculous, but let's face it, we've all seen worse. Elsewhere, the two main event matches more than delivered, whilst Triple H vs. Drosse was a decent enough filler match. Not the longest show in the history, but this one did exactly what it was supposed to do; namely set us up nicely for the Road to Wrestlemania.  More of that next time. 


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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.