Monday, 4 July 2016

PPV REVIEW - WWF - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS, BETTER ENEMENIES

April 28, 1996
Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska

The World Wrestling Federation of early 1996 was certainly an interesting place, one that saw the company slowly -oh so very slowly- moving away from the outlandish cartoon characters which had tarnished the early days of the New Generation, without quite going far enough into the edgy territory which would make the start of the Attitude Era.

Instead, In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies found the company somewhere in between, with Shawn Michaels leading the charge and best friends Kevin Nash and Scott Hall putting in their last appearances on WWF television for six years. Shortly after this event, the two would jump ship to World Championship Wrestling, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

For now however, let's focus on this often forgotten, but actually quite enjoyable In Your House offering, featuring Nash and Michaels in a brutal main event, Ultimate Warrior and Goldust in a match that was brutal for all the wrong reasons, and this pre-show Free for All: 




"The World Wrestling Federation, for over fifty years, the revolutionary force...in sports...entertainment."

Ah, the sound of my childhood.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon were our commentators for tonight's show
Following the opening signature, tonight's show began with a video look back at the friendship-turned-rivalry-turned-friendship-turned-rivalry between our new WWF Champion, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, and the former champ, Big Daddy Cool Diesel. 

Tonight, the two would square off in a no-holds barred match which to this day remains one of this writer's personal favourites from the 1990s. Before that however, we had our usual welcome from commentators Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Vince McMahon, both of whom were interrupted by the music of Davey Boy Smith in readiness for our opening contest.

The Bulldog is afraid of snakes
As the two made their way to the ring, we got a look back to a house show in Germany, in which Jake 'The Snake' Roberts freaked out Davey Boy with a snake. This lead to tonight's match, to Camp Cornette attorney Clarence Mason issuing a writ banning Roberts' snake from ringside, and Roberts cutting a brief pre-match promo in which he vowed to ignore said writ and bring the snake out anyway.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Jake Roberts promises to bring his snake out for a match against British Bulldog
Which, as you probably guessed, he did, unleashing the python in the middle of the ring and causing most of Camp Cornette to hightail it out of the ring. I say most, because Cornette himself never actually made it, instead passing out in the corner of the ring until Mason came to revive him.

Eventually playing by the rules (he was a pre-Attitude Era babyface after all) Roberts eventually took the snake backstage, only to return with Ahmed Johnson, changing what seemed like it was going to be a Bulldog/Roberts singles clash, into a tag bout.

British Bulldog & Owen Hart  (w/ Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason) vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts & Ahmed Johnson 
From the proceeding angle to the early moments of the match, this whole thing was played up for laughs and laughs alone.

In the first few minutes, both Davey and Owen tried to get the other one to do step up for a showdown with the Pearl River Powerhouse, Ahmed Johnson. It was, if not necessarily hilarious, at least very well played by both men, and proof -if ever proof were needed- that the two were among the best all-rounders the World Wrestling Federation had at the time.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Jake Roberts works over Owen Hart
Inevitably, the heels managed to gain the upperhand, taking control in what was a very fun opening match.

Towards the finish, Ahmed Johnson turned the tables for his team, going on a rampage which -whilst it certainly revealed some of the flaws in his skill set- also revealed a raw charisma and highlighted his popularity with the crowd, both of which made him seem like a sure-fire main eventer in the making back in 1996.

Alas, tonight wasn't to be Johsnon & Robert's day. With the referee distracted by Owen and Ahmed, Bulldog took out Jake's knee with Jim Cornette's tennis racket, then wrenched the battered joint for a quick submission victory.
Your Winners: British Bulldog & Owen Hart 

Still with the Intercontinental Championship around his waist after defeating Razor Ramon several months ago (a fact I totally forgot about during my Wrestlemania 12 review because the announcers never once mentioned it), Goldust was up next to defend the title in one of the most farcical non-matches to ever take place.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Goldust (w/ Marlena and Unnamed Bodyguard)
WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Ultimate Warrior smokes Marlena's cigar in his 'match' against Goldust
For the record, the 'Unnamed Bodyguard' was -as most long-time fans know by now- Mike Halac, better known for his ill-fated 1995 run as half-man/half-beast Mantaur. 

Also for the record, this was terrible.

Having made his big return to the company at Wrestlemania 12 in a squash-match outing against Hunter Hearst Helmsley, former Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior was looking to take back the title he last won way back at Summerslam 1988, not that he seemed to be taking things all that seriously.

Taking just as long with his entrance as your typical Undertaker arrival at Wrestlemania, Warrior's pre-match rope shaking made this writer realise that the late legend's 1996 run was less about having him compete in matches, and more about the true spectacle of the Ultimate Warrior. Which was perhaps just as well, because this really was no match at all.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Ultimate Warrior generally being awesome in a match against Goldust
The majority of this extended angle saw Goldust too afraid to step inside the ring against the Warrior who, for his part, spent most of the time smoking Marlena's cigar and inviting Goldie to step 'tween the ropes and take a seat on his director's chair, which had been set up in the ring.

The champ finally acquiesced, only to have his hand burned with the cigar and to be clotheslined directly out of his chair by the Warrior.

Once again, Goldust escaped, only this time he was finally counted out, giving the match -but not the title- to the Ultimate one.
Your Winner via countout: Ultimate Warrior (Goldust retains the Intercontinental Championship) 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - British Bulldog wanted to break into Shawn Michaels locker room after the champ upset his wife
Backstage, Doc Hendrix brought us word that a seriously irate British Bulldog was trying to get into Shawn Michaels' dressing room. Apparently, Michaels had said something untoward about Bulldog's wife Diana, and Davey Boy was not happy. Though nothing would come of this tonight, it would lead us to next month's main event, as the two squared off for the title at In Your House: Beware of Dog.

Vader (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Razor Ramon
In his last WWF pay per view appearance until the new millennium, Razor Ramon got his ass handed to him by Vader in a hard-hitting, though not terribly exciting match.

Razor did get his time to shine, pummeling The Mastadon into the corner, clobbering him with several clotheslines, and eventually driving him over the ropes to the outside, but this match -which was about 90% fists and clotheslines- belonged to Vader, and wasn't very good because of it.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Scott 'Razor Ramon' Hall wouldn't be seen on WWF TV again until 6 years after losing to Vader
Sure, there were a few highlights, particularly during The Bad Guy's big comeback towards the finish, but this was one of those plodding brawls that was just a chore to watch, and when Vader finally put Ramon out of his misery, yours truly was very glad that this one was over.
Your Winner: Vader

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the last time we would ever see the Razor Ramon character compete on a World Wrestling Federation pay per view.

Post-match, Doc Hendrix told Jim Cornette and Vader that because of the latter's victory tonight, he would be facing Yokozuna at next month's In Your House pay per view.

Mr. Perfect interviews Sunny
"Sunny, I just have to say that you have the greatest pair of...tag team wrestlers I have ever seen in the World Wrestling Federation," began wrestler-turned-interviewer Mr. Perfect. 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Mr. Perfect interviews Sunny and the Body Donnas
Tonight, the Perfect One was on-hand to interview Sunny about how she'd basically used her smoking hot body to distract Phineas Godwin enough to allow the Body Donnas to beat the Godwins for the WWF Tag Team Championship back in the Wrestlemania 12 Free-For-All.

The two teams would meet in a rematch next.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip, w/ Sunny) vs. The Godwins (Henry  & Phineas Godwin, w/ Hillbilly Jim)

Back in the 90s, the Body Donnas were on of my favourite tag teams for the sole reason that they had Sunny in their corner. Watching these shows back some 20 years later, it occurs to me that Skip & Zip are still one of my favourite teams from that period, albeit for a completely different reason; namely, that they could put on an awesome tag match given half the chance.

Coupled with a Godwins team who played their parts perfectly well, the champions pulled off another entertaining content and took the win when shennanigans on the outside (Sunny gave Phineas a signed picture, causing Hillbilly Jim to threaten her with the slop bucket) allowed Zip to switch places with a beaten up skip, and to ultimately roll up Henry O. for a quick pinfall.

Not the longest match by any means, but certainly a very enjoyable outing.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Body Donnas

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Wildman Marc Mero and Sable weren't happy with Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Backstage, Doc Hendrix showed us a clip from the earlier Free For All show, reminding us how Triple H and the 123 Kid had earlier beaten up Wildman Marc Mero. Hendrix was now standing by with the Wildman and Sable. The latter said nothing, the former told Hunter that he would regret the attack, and would eventually answer to the 'call of the wild.'

Indeed.

Shawn and Diesel - Good Friends, Better Enemies 
Before we got to tonight's big time main event, we were given another look at the storied history between Big Daddy Cool and the Heartbreak Kid. This was followed by brief, pre-taped promos from both men. The champ promised that one way or another, he and the Kliq (HBK's fans, not the infamous backstage group) would dance all over Diesel's face. The challenger responded by threatening to destroy Shawn and promising that he had something special for Vince McMahon.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Diesel destroyed former friend Shawn Michaels in their No Holds Barred match for the WWF title
No Holds Barred Match for the World Wrestling Federation Champion
WWF Champion The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Big Daddy Cool Diesel
Before the match got underway, that 'something special' seemed to be nothing more than Diesel's ring jacket, which he threw at McMahon just seconds before the cameras panned over to Mad Dog Vachon. For all intents and purposes, Vachon was merely a 'legend in the crowd,' but would play a much greater role later on in this very good main event.

Neither man wasted any time in laying right into each other, but it was the challenger who took the upperhand in the early going, and then continued to dominate for the bulk of the contest.

No, this wasn't the fastest paced match in history, but it was dramatic, intense, somewhat emotional and -at least by WWF's standards at the time- incredibly brutal.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 7 - GOOD FRIENDS BETTER ENEMIES - Shawn Michaels was powerbombed through the announce table by Diesel in their No Holds Barred match for the WWF title
Diesel basically destroyed his rival, along with Earl Hebner, McMahon and Lawler's announce table, and -here is folks- Mad Dog Vachon, ripping the future Hall of Famer's artificial leg off and bringing it to the ring.

Unfortunately for BDC, that was to be his downfall. After taking an absolute beating at the hands of his former bodyguard, Michaels recovered just long enough to nail Diesel with Vachon's leg. A quick Sweet Chin Music later, and this one was over.
Your Winner and STILL WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels 

Honestly, going into that match, I didn't anticipate enjoying it as much today as I did a 12 year-old kid, so I'm actually very happy that I was proven wrong. No, it might not be the greatest of all time, but for my money, Diesel vs. Shawn at Good Friends, Better Enemies is an oft-forgotten highlight of the mid-90s.

As for the rest of the card, there honestly isn't much to rave about. Sure, the opening segments with Owen, Bulldog, Ahmed Johnson, and Jake Roberts were entertaining in their own way, and the tag team title contest was fun to watch, but they were hardly extraordinary, and don't exactly make this throw-away event a must-see for anyone other than the most ardent of fans. 

0 comments:

Post a Comment

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.