Thursday, 29 March 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede Event Poster
July 6, 1997
Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta

In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede has long been one of my favourite pro wrestling events of all time, so I've been both excited and nervous about reviewing the show for Retro Pro Wrestling for some time now. 

Excited, because I'd get to relive an event that was such an enjoyable moment in my childhood and nervous because, well, what if it didn't live up to my memories?

What if a show that I've always considered perfect turned out to be anything but?

Honestly, one way or another, I can't wait to find out for sure, so let's get this intro over with and head down to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for In Your House 16.

Shades of Grey 


WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede
Our opening video package tonight highlighted the rivalry between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin, telling us that the line between heroes and villains had become blurred and that the World Wrestling Federation was now coated in shades of grey.

This led us to the arena, where Vince McMahon growled his way through his usual welcome before introducing us to his colleagues Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

In the spirit of the occasion, all three wore cowboy gear and Stetson hats. One of the three would become synonymous with his hat and would barely be seen without it thereafter.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) vs. Mankind 

After defeating him in the final of last month's WWF King of the Ring 1997, Hunter Hearst Helmsley had been engaged in a heated rivalry with Mankind that would last throughout the summer months.

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Chyna helped HHH against Mankind
Tonight, they squared off in a wild and violent opening contest that served as the perfect introduction to tonight's show.

Rather than settling their differences, this match only intensified the rivalry between Mankind and Hunter, with the two beating the hell out of each other both in the ring and out.

It was on the outside where this on came to an end, with Helmsley and Mankind ignoring the referee's ten count and continuing to brawl on the outside. The referee reached ten and we had ourselves a draw.
Double Countout

Not that the match being over meant anything. The two continued to brawl through the crowd and up towards the entrance until all the officials ran out to the rescue.

This one was far from over.

The Hart Foundation Received a Heroes Welcome 

Up next, Doc Hendrix voiced a video package which showed us The Hart Foundation living it up in their home town and embracing the crowds at the annual Calgary Stampede event.

   

This then took us to Doc attempting to interview The Hart Foundation live in the backstage area, only for Stone Cold Steve Austin to interrupt things.

Austin was dragged off by Pat Patterson and a handful of others whilst Bret told Doc that he didn't want to gang up 5-on-1 against Austin but instead wanted to wait until it was 5-on-5 to prove that The Hart Foundation really were the best ever.


Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke 

In response to the runaway success of WCW's Cruiserweight division, the WWF had first experimented with bringing in luchadors at the 1997 Royal Rumble before deciding to launch their own Light Heavyweight division here with newcomers Taka Michinoku and The Great Sasuke.

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Taka Michinoku faced The Great Sasuke
As the latter made his way to the ring, Vince McMahon told us that we had some pre-recorded comments from The Great Sasuke, but sadly we would never hear them.

There was a weird pause, then -in a theme that would run throughout the rest of tonight's show- Hunter and Mankind came out for another brawl among the crowds before finally disappearing backstage again.

When the bell finally rang, Michinoku and Sasuke took a while to gel, but when they did, their match was a thing of beauty.

Stiff strikes combined with some stunning aerial moves and breathtaking suplexes made this a joy to watch.

In the end, Sasuke hit the Thunderfire Powerbomb to win the match.
Your Winner: The Great Sasuke 

Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, a battered and bloodied Hunter Hearst Helmsley continued to wage war with Mankind in what would prove to be a highlight amongst many on tonight's show.

Doc Hendrix Interviews Paul Bearer and Vader

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Doc Hendrix interviews Vader & The Undertaker
Backstage, Doc Hendrix asked Paul Bearer how he could live with himself after claiming that The Undertaker had murdered his entire family.

Bearer insisted that it was true, and that The Undertaker would regret it tonight when Vader defeated him for the WWF Championship just like he'd beaten him at the 1997 Royal Rumble.

With that, it was on to our only title match of the evening.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Vader (w/ Paul Bearer) 

Going at it for the second time on pay per view, reigning WWF champion The Undertaker put up
WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Vader
his title against Vader in a solid effort.

This may not have been the best match on the card, but it was still a fairly good big man brawl, with Paul Bearer camping it up on the outside only adding to the entertainment factor.

After a good, long battle, the champion hit the Tombstone Piledriver to keep the title around his waist.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: The Undertaker  

In order to put plenty of distance between that match and our main event, we then got another look at the same Bret Hart autograph signing we were shown earlier in the broadcast.

This led to another video, this one looking at the recent gang wars between The Nation, The Disciples of the Apocalypse and Los Boricuas, and somehow making it relevant to our big five-on-five main event.

The Americans Are Ready 

WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede - Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust and The Legion of Doom
Backstage, Doc Hendrix stood by with Goldust, The Legion of Doom, Ken Shamrock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Goldust, The LOD, and Shamrock all had not very interesting things to say, whilst Austin simply walked off, ready for battle.

Time for the Formalities 

Prior to the bell, Howard Finkle asked the Calgary faithful to stand whilst country group Farmer's Daughter sang the Canadian National Anthem.

Finkle, wearing a Stetson of his own, then introduced us to the Premier of Alberta and Stu and Helen Hart.

This whole thing was a nice touch which really leant an air of importance to tonight's show.

Finally, it was down to the main event.

Five on Five Tag Team Match
Goldust, Ken Shamrock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. The Hart Foundation (Brian Pillman, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, WWF European Champion The British Bulldog, WWF Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart) 

Yes, this was as good as you've been told.

From the opening ten man stare down like something out of a western to the final moment when Owen Hart rolled up Steve Austin for the three count, everything about this match was phenomenal.

The crowd had been electric all night, but here they really blew the proverbial roof off, creating the kind of atmosphere that you barely saw in the mid-90s.


The action itself was off the charts, with all ten men working to their strengths to create one of the best main events of the decade.
Your Winners: The Hart Foundation 

Afterwards, it took an army of referees, road agents, and rent-a-cops to get the American team out of the ring.

Austin came back with a chair and waffled Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, but the rest of The Hart Foundation plus more security guards all pounced on him, put him in handcuffs and carted him off.

That just left the Canadian heroes to celebrate in the ring with their entire family, including all the Hart brothers, Stu & Helen, and all their grandkids, among them Harry Smith and current Smackdown superstar Natalya.

Thus, one of the greatest shows of the 1990s, and one of this writer's personal all time favourites came to an end.



   



So, did Canadian Stampede live up to the fond memories I have of it?

Absolutely. 

This show well deserves to be regarded as one of the most entertaining shows of all time and was absolutely solid from start to finish. 

In an age where WWE are tiring fans out with six hour shows, perhaps they could look back to their past to rediscover just how awesome they could make things by trimming the fat and keeping things short.

After all, this was only a four match card and yet it still stands the test of time, even 20 years later.


1997 events reviewed so far:
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
  12. WCW - Great American Bash 1997 
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Retro Pro Wrestling

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