Thursday, 2 August 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Event poster
February 15th, 1998,
Compaq Center, Houston, Texas

Back in the day, the 20th instalment of the In Your House franchise was always called No Way Out until somebody pointed out that those initials spelt NWO, and that the NWO was, of course, the reason why WCW were kicking the World Wrestling Federation's ass every which way but west. 

After that, the event became No Way Out of Texas, and was the last major stop on the road to Wrestlemania 14.

Here's what went down as the company began shaping the storylines that would deliver our marquee matches for the biggest event of the year.

The Renegades Are in Charge 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Our show tonight began with the usual video package, this one telling us that whilst the road to glory often meant  making sacrifices and generally being a good guy fighting for what's right, renegades like Stone Cold Steve Austin, the New Age Outlaws, Cactus Jack, and Chainsaw Charlie had managed to make it to the top by being defiant, crazy, and a bunch of badasses.

Tonight, we'd see all those men, and more, at No Way Out of Texas.

That took us to the opening pyro, shots of a truly rabid crowd, and a welcome from Jim Ross.

Ross informed us that Shawn Michaels wouldn't be competing in tonight's big eight Man main event (he was recuperating from the injury he suffered when he landed awkwardly on the casket in a match with The Undertaker at Royal Rumble 98) and that because that match was likely to be so intense, it had also been turned into an anything-goes, no holds barred affair.

JR's broadcast colleague, Jerry 'The King' Lawler added that D-Generation-X would have a hard time finding any replacement on the same level of HBK (and man, would they ever!), and with that, it was onto our opening match.

Marvellous Marc Mero & The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust (w/ Luna Vachon) vs. The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Goldust and Luna Vachon
The ever-stunning Sable had accompanied Marc Mero to the ring but, playing up the heel gimmick in which he was supposedly jealous of his wife's popularity, Mero had sent her to the back, claiming that there was only room for one beautiful woman at ringside, and Luna Vachon was it.

Meanwhile, Luna's man The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust was supposed to be imitating Marilyn Manson, but actually bore an uncanny resemblance to Manson's on-again-off-again bassist, Twiggy Ramirez.

Together, Mero and MansonDust teamed up to take on Mosh and Thrasher in a match which, fun though it was, existed solely to serve as a backdrop to the rivalry between Sable and Luna.

After an enjoyable opener which saw Thrasher get busted open (Attitude Era = Blood), Sable returned to the ring to resume the argument she'd been having with Luna before the match (and on that week's episode of Raw).

This distracted Mero and MansonDust, who had actually been getting on quite well in some kind of Odd Couple double act.

The distraction allowed the Headbangers to do the old-switcharoo and win the match, not that anybody cared, or even noticed.
Your Winners: The Headbangers 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Sable challenges Luna to a fight
They didn't notice because all eyes were firmly on Sable, and just Sable, not even Luna who she was mad at, just Sable.

We got ample shots of the irate beauty yelling at someone off camera, as if having the two in the same shot would somehow diminish Sable's sex appeal (which is dumb anyway, Luna was weirdly hot in her time).

Eventually, she got her hands on Vachon, only for a gaggle of officials to break it up.

Finally, Mero got in Sable's face, but she shoved him flat on his ass and sent him packing to end a fun first 20 minutes of the show.

Owen Hart Answers A Different Question 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Owen Hart threatened to bust HHH's leg
Backstage, Michael Cole asked European Champion Owen Hart how he was going to co-exist with Stone Cold Steve Austin after the two had endured a bitter rivalry the previous year, complete with Owen breaking Austin's neck at Summerslam 1997 and then losing the Intercontinental Championship to him at Survivor Series 1997.

Owen responded by answering a different question entirely and telling Cole that he didn't give a damn who D-Generation-X picked as their partner tonight.

Finally getting to the question at hand, Hart tole Austin that as long as they stayed out of each other's way, they'd be fine.

To finish, he then turned his attention back to Hunter Hearst Helmsley, telling the DX member that when the two met in the ring, he was going to 'bust [his] legs,' which I suppose is a step up from kicking his leg out of his leg.

Sunny is Here 

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Sunny was the guest ring announcer
Looking pretty in pink, the ever-delightful Sunny came down to the ring to provide guest commentary for our next match.

I care not what you say, nobody was hotter than Sunny back in the day.

World Wrestling Federation Light Heavyweight Championship
WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku vs. Pantera 


With nary a Cowboy From Hell in sight, Pantera wore his best dollar store leggings and cheap zebra print leotard to challenge Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight Championship.

Despite almost nobody in the entire audience caring, both champ and challenger did their best to entertain, though sadly all their efforts were overshadowed by guest commentator Brian Christopher. 

At first stopping by to claim that Michinoku had cheated when he beat him for the title at In Your House 19: D-Generation-X, Christopher was obnoxious in a way that I'm sure wasn't part of his heel persona, and was so distracting that it was hard o pay attention to what was going on in the ring.

Then he started breaking out the casual racism, making random references to tacos when talking about Mexican Pantera (who was actually supposed to be his ally), and then -I kid you not- calling Taka 'slant-eyed.'



The match went on with hardly anyone paying attention until Taka hit the Michinoku Driver to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku

Post-match, Brian wanted to attack the champ, but when his daddy tried to stop him, Taka flew off the top rope to the outside and levelled them both.

The Lawler boys then tried to attack, but Michinoku ran off thro. CNN know

Cactus & Funk Are Ready For a Fight

Out in the back, Cactus Jack and Terry Funk were talking to Kevin Kelly for America Online.

In a fumbling non-promo, the two repeated each other's claims that they didn't care who the eighth man was going to be in the main event, they were going to beat up everybody anyway.

Right on.

The Quebecers (Jacques Rougeau & Pierre Laffite) vs. The Godwins (Henry & Phineas Godwin)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Godwins beat The Quebecers in a horrible match
Having recently returned to the World Wrestling Federation The Quebecers looked far worse than the last time they'd appeared together on a WWF PPV, which was several years ago at Wrestlemania 10.

They even looked worse than the last time they'd appeared on a WCW PPV, a little more recently at World War 3 1996, when they were known as The Amazing French Canadians.

Sadly, there was nothing amazing about them in this match.

Sure, they could still pull off some nice looking moves, but their contest with The Godwins, born of a recent rivalry played out on Shotgun Saturday Night, just sucked the life out of the arena.

After a whole bunch of blandness, Henry Godwin clotheslined Pierre from the outside and Phineas got the win.
Your Winners: The Godwins

Afterwards, The Godwins hit The Quebecers over their heads with buckets for good measure.

The New Age Outlaws Aren't Getting Any Respect

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The New Age Outlaws interviewed by Doc Hendrix
The running story throughout tonight's show was the mystery of who would be replacing Shawn Michaels in tonight's big eight-man main event.

Would it be somebody returning like Sycho Sid? A brand new superstar?

Nobody knew, and that was part of the excitement.

Next, Doc Hendrix tried to solve that mystery once and for all by asking The New Age Outlaws who the mystery man was.

To Doc's dismay, and the Outlaws' frustration, they didn't know either, and had actually assumed that Hendrix had called them out to tell them who the eighth man was.

Pissed off that they'd been left out of the decision-making process, the tag team Champions went off to get some respect, presumably from Triple H.

I know what you're thinking...


I'm not a real athlete, I'm just a wrestler...

Remember those PSAs? I do, my friend and I used to quote it to each other all the time.


Anyway, we got one next, so that was a fun trip down memory lane.

National Wrestling Alliance North American Championship
NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Bradshaw

Jeff Jarrett had originally come to the ring not only with Jim Cornette (making his first PPV appearance as a manager since Survivor Series 96) but also fellow NWA stablemates Barry Windham and The Rock 'n' Roll Express.

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Jeff Jarrett defended the NWA North American title against Bradshaw
The referee had ordered those three backstage, leaving us with a reasonably good one-on-one match.

Like a lot of undercard matches in the history of pro wrestling, this one wasn't going to set the world on fire, but it was decent outing that was probably the best match Bradshaw had been involved in since he joined the WWF.

In the end, Jarrett waffled the challenger with Cornette's tennis racket to lose the match but keep the title.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Bradshaw (Jeff Jarrett retains the title)

Post-match, Bradshaw took out Jarrett and The Rock and Roll Roll Express with the tennis racket, but Barry Windham tripped him up and the numbers game got too much for Bradshaw.

That's when long-time NWA mainstays The Legion of Doom ran in to make the save and bring this fun part of the show to a close.

Triple H Makes it a Handicap Match

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Michael Cole interviews Triple H (w/ Chyna)
Proving that he could indeed take the reigns as head of DX in the absence of Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley cut a compelling promo in which he claimed that, because nobody was capable of filling Shawn Michaels' shoes, he wasn't picking a partner and had decided that tonight's main event would be a handicap match.

Michael Cole then informed Hunter that WWF officials were probably going to put someone in the match anyway, which was a good way to defer the blame for the eventual pick away from HHH.

The Rock Over Shadows Farooq

Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed The Nation of Domination about their upcoming 'War of Attrition' with Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and the Disciples of Apocalypse.

Whilst Nation leader Farooq took the microphone to yell at Doc, The Rock gurned and posed for the camera and was genuinely hilarious.

If for nothing else, this show is worth tracking down for this segment - Rock was hysterical.

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Rock poses during a Nation of Domination interviewWar of Attrition
The Nation of Domination (Farooq, D'Lo Brown, Mark Henry, Kama Mustafa, and WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock) vs. Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball

When they called it a 'War of Attrition' that didn't mean there was any kind of special stipulation going on; it was just a way to sell a big ass tag match in the same way that WCW used to sell matches by calling them 'Super Special Grudge Match' or the like.

Still, as matches go, this was at least an exciting one, with exactly the right combination of star power, heated rivalries, and solid action.

After an explosive contest that proved to be a surprise highlight of the evening, Shamrock slapped Rocky in the ankle lock to win the match.
Your Winners: Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and the DOA

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - The Rock yells at Farooq after their match
Afterwards, Rock yelled at Farooq and Farooq took out his frustrations by hitting D'Lo Brown. D'Lo then wanted to get at Farooq but the whole thing was diffused by Kama and Henry - clearly interesting times were ahead for The Nation of Domination.

Austin is a Babyface 

Out in the back, Michael Cole interviewed Stone Cold Steve Austin who, like all three of his teammates, claimed he didn't care if there was an eighth man.

He then cut the closest thing he'd come to a proper babyface promo so far when he said that even though it was 'fun to whip someone's ass anywhere in the world,' it was even better in his home state of Texas.

That took us back to Ross and Lawler, who claimed to have one of Steve Austin's kindergarten report cards.

Even though it was clearly just a blank piece of card, the two claimed that it said Austin didn't play well with others, even as a child.

Next, we got a special video package looking at the rivalry between Vader and Kane.

That match was next.

Vader vs. Kane (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Kane vs. Undertaker
After making his debut by attacking brother The Undertaker at Badd Blood: In Your House 18, Kane had been on the warpath, destroying everyone in his path and even locking The Undertaker in a casket which he set on fire at the 1998 Royal Rumble,

With The Dead Man presumed gone, Kane had next turned his attention to Paul Bearer's former charge, Vader.

The match was mostly dull with flashes of excitement, especially at the finish.

Kane popped up from a Vader moonsault, got blasted with a fire extinguisher and powerbombed, but popped up again and landed a big tombstone piledriver for the win.
Your Winner: Kane

In the aftermath, Kane pulled a wrench from under the ring and smashed Vader in the face with it.

The attack was so bad that Vader had to be wheeled out on a stretcher.

After quickly telling us about Wrestlemania 14, Jim Ross told us that Vader's face had been caved in.

He and Lawler also confirmed Michael Cole's earlier suggestion that the WWF would indeed select a partner for Team DX

Non-Sanctioned, Anything Goes Eight-Man Tag Team Match
Stone Cold Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, and WWF European Champion Owen Hart vs. Triple H, Savio Vega, and WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Bad Ass Billy Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James) w/ Chyna

WWE / WWF In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas - Eight Man main event (the mystery man was Savio Vega)
And so after all the hype, all the mystery and suspense, the mystery eighth man was revealed to be Savio Vega.

I remember at the time what an enormous feeling of disappointment we all felt with what has to be the most underwhelming selection of a replacement, and you cave still tell what a let down it was watching it even years later.

You know what I don't get?

How come the World Wrestling Federation were able to decide that this was an unsanctioned match - meaning they had nothing to do with it, yet could still force an eighth man in there and have one of their referees officiate it?

Explain that to me, oh Mighty Lords of Kayfabe.

Anyway, with the bad guys all in the ring, Owen Hart car down followed by Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack, all three of whom littered the ring with weapons before Austin blew the roof off the place with his entrance.

With that, the match was on.

Things started with a wild, weapon-filled brawl that was out of control in the worst sense of the word.

Sure it had some fun spots, but trying to watch eight men have four different fights at once gets to be confusing.

Thankfully, things did 'settle down' into your standard tag match (albeit one filled with weapons and barbed wire) and turned out to be a hugely enjoyable main event.

The heels dominated proceedings, with Owen Hart constantly trying to come to his teammates rescue and Austin launching a trash can at Billy Gunn in a truly beautiful spot. Then, after getting wrapped up in barbed wire, Cactus Jack made the tag to Stone Cold, who cleaned house and stunned Road Dogg to win the match.
Your Winners: Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, and Owen Hart

Afterwards, Chyna confronted Austin and goaded him into giving her a Stone Cold Stunner to send the crowd hope even happier than they already were.



And so the Road to Wrestlemania turned it io a gear with what proved to be a hot main event which capped off a truly mixed bag of a show.

Apart from that big eight man match, there was nothing here that really stood out as being anything remarkable, but enough reasonably entertaining stuff (the opening tag match and the Nation/Team Shamrock stuff) that stopped it from being a one match show.

Next stop, Wrestlemania 14.


1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
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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.