Thursday, 24 August 2017

PPV Review - WWF - In Your House 12: It's Time 1996


WWF / WWE  In Your House 12 - It's Time: Event poster
December 15, 1996
West Palm Beach Auditorium, West Palm Beach, Florida.

1996 had started on such a high note for The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, returning from seemingly insurmountable injuries to win the Royal Rumble before going on to realise The Boyhood Dream at Wrestlemania 12.

Yet now that dream was over, Michaels' title run being cut short by Sycho Sid back at Survivor Series '96, leaving The Heartbreak Kid with little more to do than show up to join the commentary team, watching as Sid defended that title against the man HBK originally beat for it, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

But hey, at least Michaels got a place on the show.

Due to injuries, The Man They Call Vader was nowhere to be seen, this despite the entire event being named after his most famous catchphrase.

Instead, those who were able to wrestle on this dark, chilly night in December 1996 were left to work in their own versions of the show's title, promising that it was time for their opponents to get their heads kicked in, for example.

Speaking of time, it's time I stopped this rambling intro and got on with today's review.

Let's do it.

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Bret Wants His Belt Back 

Our show tonight began with an intense and dramatic video promoting tonight's upcoming WWF Championship match between reigning champion Sycho Sid and the recently returning Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

This was a great video that dwarfed anything WCW was doing in that department at the time.

When the video ended, Vince McMahon growled his typical welcome, introducing us to his co-commentators Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jim Ross.

The trio put over tonight's show before taking us to our opening contest.

Leif Cassidy vs. Flash Funk 

WWF / WWE  In Your House 12 - It's Time: Leif Cassidy faced Flash Funk in the opening match You know, when I was a kid, I was far more smitten with Sunny -and later Sable- to ever give Flash Funk's dancing entourage, The Funkettes, the time of day. Looking back now though, I realise that those two women were actually smoking hot, but hey, let me keep it in my pants here and focus on the match.

Yes, let's definitely focus on the match, because it was actually pretty awesome.

With Leif Cassidy now in his post-Rockers solo stint, the man who would go on to become Al Snow had a real serious look on his face as he went toe-to-toe with the perma-grinned babyface.

The result was a very enjoyable bout with lots of high flying and submissions held together by the kind of solid psychology that this kind of wrestling sometimes lacked.

As good an opening match as you could hope to find, ending with a win for newcomer Flash Funk via his patented 450 Splash.
Your Winner: Flash Funk 

After JR told us to buy the Coliseum Home Video release of the 1997 Royal Rumble when it came out in March, he reverted back to heel mode for the arrival of his boys, Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon.

Owen and Bulldog Don't Care About Stone Cold 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 12 - It's Time: British Bulldog & Owen Hart cut a pre-match promo
Backstage, Kevin Kelly suggested to the Tag Team Champions Owen Hart and British Bulldog that their recent lack of focus had been caused by problems they'd been having with Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Davey Boy denied this, telling Austin that he was coming to get him. This caused Owen to tell Kelly off, insisting that he and Bulldog were focussed on one thing and one thing only: successfully defending their WWF Tag Team titles against Diesel and Razor.

That match was next.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. Fake Diesel & Fake Razor Ramon 

Not two minutes into this one, AAA's Pierroth & Cybernetico put in a cameo appearance, hanging out at the foot of the ring and pointing. Ostensibly, this was meant to serve as a distraction for the champs, but really they were there to promote their appearance in the upcoming Royal Rumble.

After they left, Stone Cold Steve Austin came down and blatantly brawled with The Bulldog at ringside in front of the officials. Why this didn't lead to a disqualification is anyone's guess.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 12 - It's Time: British Bulldog & Owen Hart defended the tag titles against Fake Diesel & Razor Ramon
Ending it there with a DQ might have been a welcome relief for the West Florida crowd, who seemed completely nonplussed by this whole Heel vs. Heel tag match.

Really, you couldn't blame them.

Though it wasn't bad per se, it was a fairly routine bout that did little to elicit much excitement, with even Vince McMahon admitting on commentary that the fans probably didn't care who won.

In the end, Razor looked to set Davey Boy up for the Razor's Edge, only for Owen to run in and hit him with an enzeguri. Bulldog got the three count, and that was that.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog 

Afterwards, Austin returned and attacked Bulldog until a gaggle of referees held him off.

Farooq, You're Going Down!

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - It's time: vince McMahon interviewed Ahmed Johnson
After JR told us to buy a Shawn Michaels video called The Heartbreak Express that was due out on March 11th, Vince McMahon took to the ring to welcome the returning Ahmed Johnson.

Looking a little more portly than the last time we saw him, Johnson claimed that the recent injury he had suffered at the hands of Farooq had cost him his house, car and girlfriend.

This seemed a little far fetched, but hey, it's pro wrestling so we'll let it go.

Johnson also claimed that his life was over a long time ago and now he only lived for the fans, who would be rallying round him when he finally faced his arch nemesis in San Antonio at The Royal Rumble.

This brought out Farooq and his Nation of Domination.

Your writer's speakers must be bad because it sounded like Farooq mumbled through his entire promo, but I think basically he said he was going to kick Ahmed's ass at the Rumble.

This was rubbish.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Marc Mero (w/ Sable) 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - It's time: Hunter Hearst Helmsley defended the Intercontinental title against Marc Mero
Prior to this one getting started, a video package reminded us of the near year-long feud between Marc Mero and Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

If you recall, it started with Sable accompanying Hunter for his match at Wrestlemania 12 before feeling his wrath backstage and being rescued by a debuting Mero.

Helmsley would then hatch an evil scheme, using Mr Perfect to swindle Mero out of the Intercontinental title, leading us to tonight's match, which just so happened to be the first WWF PPV at which Hunter would use Ode to Joy as his theme music.

As for the match itself, it was a perfectly acceptable mid-card title match. Not a five-star classic by any stretch, but enjoyable for what it was.

After a good effort from both men, Earl Hebner took a tumble and the action spilled to the outside. There, Goldust put in an appearance, waffling both champ and challenger with the title belt.

Hebner regained consciousness and began a ten count which Mero beat to win the match but not the belt.
Your Winner Via Count-Out: Marc Mero 

In the post-match, Mero dragged Hunter into the ring and hit him with the shooting star press, then accidentally went to pin him before realising the match was over.

Not content with ruining the match, Goldust returned and beat up Hunter as he made his way to the back. Apparently, Goldie was jealous that Helmsley had been showing an interest in Marlena.

   

The Champ Speaks 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - Doc Hendrix interviews Sid
Backstage, Doc Hendrix showed us footage from that morning's WWF Superstars in which Shawn Michaels attacked WWF Champion Sid, then Bret Hart came out and made it a three-way brawl.

Standing next to Doc, Sid merely laughed at the footage and said that because Shawn Michaels had beaten Bret, and Sid had beaten Shawn, it was going to be easy to beat Bret in tonight's main event.

With that, it was back to ringside for our next match.

Armageddon Rules Match
The Executioner (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker 

Before this one got underway, we were reminded of just how we got here in another one of the WWF's awesome video packages.

To refresh your memory, Paul  Bearer had turned his back on The Undertaker at Summerslam 1996 and aligned with Mankind.

That October, Undertaker beat Mankind in a Buried Alive Match at In Your House: Buried Alive, only for Terry Gordy to run out in a mask and help Mankind and all the mid-card heels bury The Dead Man.

In November, The Undertaker had risen to fight Mankind again at Survivor Series 1996.

At the end of that match, Gordy, known as The Executioner, came out again and beat up on 'Taker, leading to tonight's Armageddon Rules match.

For those wondering, Armageddon Rules were essentially the same as a Texas Death Match; no DQ, no count out, a wrestler has to the count of ten after a pin fall or submission to get up again. If he does, the match continues. If he doesn't, it's over.

And so here we were.


I was 12 years old when this all went down and, even at that age, I  knew that The Executioner was kind of a terrible gimmick. 20 years on, I hardly feel much different.

The gimmick wasn't the only thing that was bad, this whole match was stupid.

After a couple of minutes of nothingness, Mankind ran in to make it a 2-on-1 affair, but tripped up and fell flat on his face, ruining the moment dead.

A quick brawl up to the In Your House set led us said set being destroyed, prompting JR to beat us over the head with the joke 'they're tearing the house down!'

Oh, hardy har!

As Undertaker and Executioner wandered off for a brawl backstage that wasn't filmed (we were left staring at a shot of some stairs for ages), Mankind was locked in a straight jacket by some security dudes.

Eventually, this farce returned to the ring, where 'Taker tombstoned his opponent and got the pin. A ten count later saw this one come to a welcome, albeit wholly anti-climatic end.
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - Bret Hart cut a pre-match promo
Backstage, Doc Hendrix started to interview Bret Hart about his upcoming title shot. The Hitman swore that he'd spent the past eight months thinking about getting his title back, and tonight was his night.

At that point, Shawn Michaels' music struck as the former champ headed out to do commentary.

Naturally, this angered The Hitman so much that he began ranting about how he was much better than HBK, showing shades of the angry heel that he would begin playing just a few months down the line.

After we were shown Shawn Michaels' entrance, it was time for our main event.

World Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Championship
WWF World Heavyweight Champion Sid vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

WWF / WWE - In Your House -12 - Bret Hart challenged Sid for the WWF title
As main events go, this one was terribly average, and a big disappointment given that Bret was capable of so much more.

Here, he spent the bulk of the match systematically working over the Champion, all the while subtly playing the heel in both moves and mannerisms.

Hart's momentum was thwarted by the arrival of Steve Austin, who attacked the challenger on the outside before Owen Hart and an angry British Bulldog arrived to chase him off.

With that brief distraction over, more mediocre action followed, eventually spilling to the outside.

There, Sid pie-faced Shawn Michaels, causing HBK to get up on the apron, where Bret accidentally bumped him off, stumbling into a power bomb and losing the match.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Sid 

Afterwards,  Bret took out his frustrations on Shawn and attacked him. Cameras then cut to Sid heading backstage with his title, and that was all she wrote for In Your House: It's Time.

Over all, In Your House: It's Time turned out to be one of those weird shows that just got worse as it went on. If you have the WWE Network, it's worth taking ten minutes of your time to watch the Flash Funk vs. Leif Cassidy match, just because it's pretty good and very overlooked, likely because of the roster position that both men held at that time. 

After that, turn it off and watch something else. This was a terribly average show which was only saved from being terrible period by a few small -if forgettable highlights. 

And that's it, every WWF pay per view for the year 1996 in the bag.

Missed any of my other reviews? Here's the full list:
Next time, we'll finish our look at 1996 with the final PPV of the year, WCW Starrcade, before starting a brand new year with WWF Royal Rumble 1997. Be the first to check out those reviews by following Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter, or the brand new Facebook page

Until then, thanks for reading.


   

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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.