Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Sunday, 9 August 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996 (and Free for All)

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Event poster
January 21, 1996,
Selland Arena in Fresno, California

It was the start of a brand new year, and the WWF's New Generation experiment was reaching its apex. Over the coming twelve months, we'd see the most subtle of seeds being planted, ready to blossom into the company's most successful boom period to date: The Attitude Era.

Yet as the superstars of the World Wrestling Federation rolled into Fresno, California that Sunday night back in January 1996, few could truly have predicted how completly different the WWF landscape would look only 18 months from now.

Not that they had any reason to. Tonight, there was only one thing on everybody's minds; who would be heading into Wrestlemania 12 to compete for the World Wrestling Federation title. 

Would reigning champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart hold onto the belt in tonight's main event against The Undertaker? 

Who would be the man to emerge victorious from this evening's 30-man battle royal, earning the right to face the champion on The BIggest Stage of Them All?

Let's cut the dramatic intro here and dive right in to find out, shall we?

Another dramatic intro

OK, so maybe the drama stuff isn't over just yet. Tonight's show begins with a movie-trailer-type promo hyping the aforementioned championship match. I could tell you more, but here's the video so that you can watch this for yourself until such times as WWE catch on and take it down.

Intense, right?

WWF Royal Rumble 1996 Free For All

For the first time ever (apparently, though I seem to recall otherwise), the WWF kicked off tonight's show with their Free For All, a 30-minute broadcast,' ostensibly designed as the company's way at giving us fans a free bonus, but really a not-so-subtle attempt to shill for last minute buys. 

The broadcast kicked off with Todd Pettengill and Doc Hendrix standing by the entrance in all their tuxedo-clad glory, one of the nice little touches the company used to do to remind us all that this was no average show. Taking a few moments to tell us about all the goodies we'd see in this half-hour commercial, Todd and Doc then passed over to our Free for All commentary team, Vince McMahon and Mr Perfect. 

It's Vader Time

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Jim Cornette revealed that he was Vader's new manager

Looking equally as sharp as their broadcast colleagues, Vince and Perfect gave us yet more hype for tonight's show before once again passing back to the former Michael P.S Hayes. Backstage, Doc was standing by with none other than former WCW Champion Vader who, after much fuss and hullaboo, was finally making his debut at tonight's show. 

The big man from the Rocky Mountains wasn't alone, however. None other than Jim Cornette was there too. As excitable and obnoxious as ever, Jimmy raved to Hendrix about how thrilled he was to be managing Vader and just how much joy he was going to take in seeing the Mastadon win first the Royal Rumble and then the WWF Championship.

For his part, the debuting Superstar screamed about the power of the Rocky Mountains and told us that it was indeed Vader Time.

Oh Vader, what might have been...

Jake The Snake returns 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts competed in the Royal Rumble match

With that, it was back to Todd Pettingill, who had an interview with a returning Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. Unlike most wrestlers at this time of year, Roberts didn't exactly boast that he'd win the Royal Rumble but simply said that the demons in the ring that night would not be quite as big as the demons in Mr The Snake himself. 


There's a title match tonight, y'know 

In case you hadn't quite figured it out yet, another one of those WWF video packages was up next to remind us that Bret Hart would defend his title against The Undertaker on tonight's show. In his familiar role as voice-over man, Pettingill took us back to the December 1995 In Your House show, where Undertaker was named the number one contender, much to the chagrin of another former champion, Big Daddy Cool Diesel. 

The story also contained a clip from a Monday Night Raw promo by The Hitman, where he told his opponent to bring 'The Paul Bearer,' making this writer wonder if that's not where The Brian Kendrick drew the inspiration for the latter part of his own WWE run. 

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Triple H faced Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese in the Free for All

As Hunter Hearst Helmsley began making his way to the ring, he was interrupted by the apparently omnipresent Todd Pettengill, who took the trouble to remind him -and us- of the reason for tonight's match:

Earlier on in the evening, both men had drawn 'blanks' in the Royal Rumble draw (uh huh), and conveniently, numbers 2-29 had been taken up by the other superstars. So, tonight, The Greenwich Snob and The Dumpster would -ahem- duke it out to see which one would enter the Royal Rumble at number one and which would get the coveted number 30 spot. 

Among other things, Helmsley guaranteed a victory before telling Todd to inform 'The Fat Lady' that she was 'on in five.' 

A second later, Duke Droese made his entrance and Vince McMahon positively lost his mind, selling the wrestling garbage man's arrival like he was Hogan's second coming. 

Pettingill took the time to interview Duke, too, though all we really got out of this was the predictable 'I'm going tow in, then win the Rumble' promo. 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Todd Pettengill interviews Hunter Hearst Helmsley

As for the match itself, it was, well, it was Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Duke Drosse on a pre-show. If you were expecting a five-star classic here, it's probably time you started retaking your medication. 

In front of a rather non-plus crowd (many of whom were still filing in as the match went on), Hunter and Duke did nothing particularly interesting in a short match where the only notable moment was Mr Perfect referring to Hunter as Triple H for the first time (at least on PPV). 

The end came when Helmsley pulled a foreign object out of his tights, levelled the garbage man with it, and picked up the win. 

Moments later, new WWF President Gorilla Monsoon made his way to the ring, showed referee Tim White what had gone down via the video screen, and had Mr White reverse the decision.

And I'm sure this is the same Monsoon who, at some point during his presidential tenure, decreed that all referee's decisions would be final.
Your Winner via disqualification: Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese. 

So there you go folks, Duke Drosse was the number 30 entrant in the 1996 Royal Rumble. Not only that, but by winning, he was also the first man in the WWE to gain a victory over Triple H. 

Anyway, moving on, we got more promo stuff next, this time focusing on the rivalry between Goldust and Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon. If you recall, this all revolved around Goldie becoming so infatuated with The Bad Guy that Razor turned up 'unannounced' at Raw and beat the holy living hell out of the man better known as Dustin Rhodes. 

Shawn Michaels returns to the WWF 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Shawn Michaels having fun with Todd Pettengill

Having been AWOl since Owen Hart took him out of action with that famous enzeguri in one of the most dramatic worked injury angles ever, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels finally returned tonight in an interview segment with quel surprise, Todd Pettengill.

Refusing to tell Todd what number he'd drawn for tonight's Rumble, HBK insisted that he would come out 'when [he] wanted' and would only leave after he'd eliminated everybody. Taking the time to reference the WWF fans as his 'clique' (in a not-so-subtle nod to his backstage buddies no doubt), Shawn then declared that he didn't care who his friends were. He'd throw them all over the top rope to get his hands on the WWF title. 

Hunter is mad 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Shawn Michaels was happy to be back in action

From there, we went backstage, where Triple H ranted and raved to Doc Hendrix about how unfair it was that Gorilla Monsoon had reversed the decision in the former's earlier match with Duke Droese. Returning to the replay once more, Hunter claimed that the foreign object was something the fans had thrown into the ring and he was trying to get rid of. 

Welcome to the Royal Rumble!

My own copy of this show goes funky for a minute, as I get a clip of some posh people beating each other up without any audio, proceeded by a bizarre clip of Sunny in a bathtub, informing us that today's show would feature 'scenes of a graphic nature.' 

Another promo video (this time not voiced by Pettengill), then hyped the big matches on tonight's show before the usual pyro, crowd shot, and Vince McGrowl welcomed us to the show properly. 

With that out of the way, it was on to our first proper match of the show. 

Double J Jeff Jarrett vs. Ahmed Johnson 

If you recall, this rivalry began at last month's In Your House: Seasons Beatings, when Jeff Jarrett returned to the World Wrestling Federation and took it upon himself to beat up the burly Ahmed Johnson with his guitar. 

Hungry for revenge, Johnson rushed to the ring and went straight after his opponent,  pummeling him around the ring, much to the delight of the Fresno faithful. 

Ahmed's beat down continued until a mistimed spot saw the Pearl River Powerhouse voluntarily throw himself over the top rope and get his hand stuck in a sort of half-arsed tribute to Andre The Giant. No doubt there's an episode of Botchamania out there with this very moment on it. 

Anyway, the blown spot gave Jarrett the opportunity to take the advantage for a while before Ahmed no-sold his way to a comeback and thrilled the crowd with both an impressive-looking plancha and some kind of top-rope somersault move that he ultimately missed, giving us no real indication of what he was aiming for, other than to simply just squash his opponent. 

The missed move caused Ahmed to writhe on the mat holding his knee, which of course, was the perfect set-up for Jarrett's patent-disputed figure four leg lock, The big man reversed the hold, so Jarrett tried again, only to be booted through the ropes for his troubles. Having just about had enough, the country star grabbed his trusty six-string, leapt off the ropes, and KO'd Johnson with it, giving us our second DQ in as many matches.
Your Winner via DQ: Ahmed Johnson

Pissed off, Johnson started running backstage in pursuit of his rival, only to either run out of steam or simply forget that he was still on camera and slowed to a stroll as he went through the curtain.

Promo time 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: The Smoking Gunns talk about their title defence against The Body Donnas

First up, a moustache-free Billy Gunn and his still hirsute brother Bart cut a lifeless, awkward promo backstage where they vowed to retain the WWF Tag Team titles against The Body Donnas. 

From there, the ever-present Pettingill caught up with Big Daddy Cool, who claimed he would have the time of his life in tonight's show. Diesel then put over Shawn Michaels and Vader and even insisted that he wasn't personally annoyed with The Undertaker but rather his position as the Number One Contender. 

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) vs. The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip w/ Sunny)

Easily the best match on the card up to this point, the WWF Tag Team Championship match between the cowboys and the fitness freaks was as entertaining as you could hope for from a mid-90s WWF tag match,

Fast-paced for the most part, with a brief of amount of lag during the 'heels cut off the babyface' spot, it was fun from start to finish, and did a great job in making the Body Donnas look awesome despite their somewhat silly gimmick. 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Sunny led Skip and Zip into action against The Smoking Gunns for the WWF Tag Team Titles

Indeed, the tandem of Chris Candido and Tom Pritchard could have easily gone on to become one of the most memorable teams in the company's history had they come along at a different point in time. Alas, they were here now, and almost looked certain to score a win before a sneaky roll-up gave the three count to the champions.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The Smoking Gunns 

Afterwards, Skip, Zip and Sunny through a bit of a temper tantrum in the ring before Vince told us that we were about to see something which he claimed was 'very popular' but which history absolutely proves otherwise. 

Billionaire Ted, The Huckster and the Nacho Man

You remember these skits, right? The WWF's low-brow attempt at making fun of a WCW that would go on to kick their ass for a sizeable chunk of the mid-late 90s. Featuring 'Billionaire Ted' Turner and two supposedly geriatric wrestlers in the form of The Huckster (or Hulk Hogan) and the Nacho Man (or the late Randy Savage), the idea behind these was to say 'hey, look, that other wrestling company can only get washed up old has-beens..let's just forget that both men held our top prize only three and four years ago respectively.' 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: The Nacho Man from the WWF's 'Billionaire Ted' skits

In the particular skit, Vince's witty script took a particularly harsh dig at Savage. Ted claimed that he could only get wrestlers who were 'disloyal' before the camera panned straight on Nacho. After that, Ted claimed he wanted to buy up some of the WWF's top stars, with the joke apparently being that haha, he could never do that. 

As we all know, the joke would ultimately be on the World Wrestling Federation. Just a few short months from now, WCW would see the debuts of two of the WWF's biggest stars, one of whom features in our next match.

A word from Razor Ramon

After the same promo/hype video we got earlier on in the Free For All, we went backstage to a Colliseum Home Video exclusive interview with The Bad Guy.

Dressed in street clothes and looking like he'd either just woken up or was still drunk, Razor reminded us that this was his fourth Royal Rumble appearance, despite never actually appearing in the eponymous match itself. At the 1993 Royal Rumble, he challenged Bret Hart for the WWF Title. The following year, he defended the Intercontinental Championship against I.R.S. 95 and saw the same title on the line in his match with Jeff Jarrett, and now, in what would ultimately be his last Royal Rumble appearance as Razor Ramon, Scott Hall was once again competing in singles competition against Goldust.
WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Scott Hall gave a pre-match promo before facing Goldust

All Goldie had to do, said Razor, was come down and take his 'Gold belt' if he wanted it. Not that Razor really thought he could. There was only one way to find out for sure though

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match:
WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena)

Notable not only for being Razor's last Royal Rumble match, but also for the debut of Marlena, this one probably won't be remembered for any other reason, with the possible exception of the finish.

Wrapping up his WWF career, Razor spent the first minute or two of this match simply watching Goldust touch hmself up, before finally going on the attack and attempting to wrench the challenger's arm from its socket. More stalling followed, making for a slow,boring start to a bout that rarely -if ever- picked up steam.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Goldust challenged Razor Ramon for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

Indeed most of the early part of this match was all about reminding us how 'weird' (sub-text: 'slightly homosexual') Golust was and how angry that made the Intercontinental Champion. A minute or two of this would have been fine, still boring perhaps, but acceptable given the storyline. Instead, it seemed to go on forever, with the bout only getting anywhere near exciting when the action spilt to the outside, and the challenger turned up the aggression.

Yet even then, this match didn't really deliver, and this writer was grateful when 123 Kid ran in towards the finish, thwarting a Ramon comeback attempt and enabling Goldust to get the three count, the victory, and the Intercontinental Championship.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Goldust 

Prior to the big battle royal, we got some more pre-recorded comments. First up, Shawn Michaels' doctor told us that though HBK was fit and ready to go, he was concerned about the wrestler making his comeback against 29 other dudes. Don't worry, though, folks. The good doctor promised to be at ringside lest the worst should happen.

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect were our commentators for the show

Speaking of The Heartbreak Kid, the man who initially took him out of action, Owen Hart, was up next. The King of Harts promised to end Michaels' career 'Like [Owen] should've done the first time' en route to winning that year's Rumble match.

Jake the Snake was back to talk about his demons some more, Jerry 'The King' Lawler promised to win simply because he was loyal, and Barry Horrowitz, of all people, gave his thoughts too. Not as cocksure as the others, Horrowitz claimed he was 'Confident and Happy' before reminding us of the WWF's favourite mantra 'Anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation.' 

For his part, Vader headbutted some lockers, after which Shawn Michaels once again vowed that he was going all the way.

Royal Rumble match:
30-Man Battle Royal featuring: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Vader, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, Dory Funk, Mabel, Yokozuna, Tatanka, Owen Hart, Bob Holly, The Ringmaster, The British Bulldog, Marty Jannetty, and more.

And so, following a few moments in which Vince McMahon and Mr Perfect took the trouble to remind us of the rules, it was down to the famous Royal Rumble match itself. 

Having taken the trouble to get dressed again and brush his hair following his earlier battle with Duke Droese, Hunter Hearst Helmsley entered first, his number sealed by the outcome of that aforementioned Free for All bout. 

And the number two entrant? 

Helmsley's old rival, Henry O. Godwin

Picking up where they left off, the two sworn enemies went right to work, beating the hell out of each other, the pig farmer taking the early advantage and threatening to eliminate the future WWE Champion on several occasions. 

Presidential candidate and then-current record holder for the longest time spent in a Royal Rumble match, Bob Backlund, was our third entrant, followed by entrant number four, Jerry Lawler, who provided the first moment of genuine entertainment in this match by getting himself slopped. 

After several more minutes of somewhat lifeless action -during which time we also saw Bob Holly and King Mabel enter the fray- Jake Roberts made his way out and caused the entire cast of the match to scarper through the ropes by, -ahem- getting his snake out. 

Other highlights of the 1996 Royal Rumble included:

  • Jerry Lawler spending the bulk of the match in hiding, only to be dragged out by Shawn Michaels and eliminated,
  • Cameos from Dory Funk Jr, Takao Omori, Doug Gilbert (who absolutely nobody recognised) and The Headhunters (or SWAT Team, as the WWE called them)
  • Razor Ramon seeking revenge against the 123 Kid by chasing him around the ring
  • A big showdown between Cornette's two behemoths, Yokozuna and Vader, before both men were eliminated by HBK
  • Vader getting pissed off and returning to clear the ring
  • Steve, 'The Ringmaster' Austin, making his WWF PPV debut
  • A fun exchange between former Rockers partners Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty
Between such sub-par highlights, we were subjected to one of the most tedious Rumble matches this writer can recall. A slow, sluggish, nothing-happening match taking us all the way to our final four between Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Davey Boy Smith and Kama.

A short while later, Michaels threw out The Bulldog, Diesel got rid of Kama, and The Heartbreak Kid picked up his second Royal Rumble victory in a row by superkicking his best friend out of the ring. 
Your Winner: Shawn Michaels 

As Michaels celebrated, Diesel took out his frustrations by laying into the British Bulldog before telling Doc Hendrix that the only reason Shawn Michaels had won was that he -Big Daddy Cool- allowed it. The former champion then returned to the ring, where, after teasing some hostility with Michaels, he raised his hand high in the air for the duo's famous hi-five gimmick.

With that done, there was only one thing left on the show.Yes, folks, the main event. 

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

The best match your reviewer ever saw live in person was also a championship match between The Hitman and The Undertaker. It was at the September 1997 One Night Only Pay Per View in Birmingham, England, 

WWF / WWE Royal Rumble 1996: The Undertaker challenged Bret Hart for the WWF Championship

That match was awesome. This one, not so much.

For a moment there, it almost looked like it wouldn't take place at all.

Making his way to the ring, the challenger was confronted by a still upset Diesel, the two men coming to blows in a move that would build up to their eventual match at Wrestlemania 12. 

Once firmly in the ring, The Undertaker awaited the arrival of champion Bret Hart, who Vince McMahon informed us was appearing at his 43rd WWF PPV. If you're interested, you can read reviews of every single one of those 43 events here on Retro Pro Wrestling.

That aside, this turned out to be the best match of the Undertaker's WWF run up to this point. Having spent the past four-and-a-bit years usually battling big, beastly bad guys in some of the worst matches of the early-mid 1990s, this was The Phenom's chance to show that he really could wrestle if given half the chance. 

That said, this certainly wasn't Bret's finest hour. Despite being far superior to a lot of what we'd see that year, this was mostly a slow, plodding affair that threatened to send the crowd to sleep on several occasions. 

The amount of time both champ and challenger spent in some kind of leglock on the matt killed the momentum, and it took all their efforts to engage the audience leading into the home stretch. 

Speaking of which, this one ended when, just as he was about to score his second WWF Championship, The Undertaker was attacked by Diesel, giving him the win via DQ, but not the title. 
Your Winner via Disqualification: The Undertaker (Bret Hart retains the title)

And so we reach the end of the Royal Rumble for another year. As odd as this may sound, my favourite match on this show was the tag team championship bout. It was short enough not to drag on, yet long enough to make each time look good. Elsewhere, there's not an awful lot to write home about. For all intents and purposes, this whole show was designed to solidify Shawn Michaels' reputation as the new Top Dog, whilst simultaneously building tension for a Diesel/Undertaker showdown. 

Both of these things would play out much better over the next few months, making this event just a minor footnote in the history of the World Wrestling Federation. 

For more 1996 reviews, see:

Sunday, 2 August 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF / WWE In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings

WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings - Event poster
December 17, 1995
Hersheypark Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania

It was December 1995, the end of one of the worst years -both financially and creatively- of the World Wrestling Federation's rocky history. The ill-fated Diesel experiment had been laid to rest, in and its place we got another main event run from new champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, a man who had spent much of the year treading water in the mid-card before finally reclaiming his throne as the kingpin of the company. 

Meanwhile, Bret's brother-in-law, The British Bulldog had earned himself a second WWF Championship match after defeating then-champion Diesel by disqualification at In Your House 4: Great White North. Tonight, the two would collide in singles competition for the first time since their legendary Summerslam 92 battle over the Intercontinental Championship.

Yet before we get down to all that, a personal note from your reviewer:

Since I first started this blog in 2012, I've normally had a set system for reviewing these shows: Watch them in their entirity just once, then go back and watch them again, this time writing the review as I go along. Today, we're going to do things differently, just to see how it works.

Today, I'm just going to watch In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings and record my thoughts as we go. No repeats, no rehashes, no spending forever thinking of an appropriate turn of phrase.

If it works, great. If not, we'll return to the old method next month.

Until then, let's get on with the show, shall we?

The Hart Family Divided (again)
We begin tonight's show with a Todd Pettengill voice over, hyping tonight's main event by once again playing on the 'uh oh, there's tensions in the Hart Family' for the thousandth time in the last few years.

Welcome to the show 
Cutting to the arena, our commentators are Vince 'Welcome EVERY-WAN' McMahon and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, who, among other things, showed us Santa Claus making his way through the crowds with as unlikely a pair of helpers as you could likely imagine - The Smoking Gunns. 

With that out of the way, it was onto our opening match of the show.

Sid & The Kid (w/ Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase) vs. Marty Jannetty and WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon
WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings - 123 Kid & Sycho Sid faced Razor and Jannetty
For reasons I can no longer fathom, back when I was an eleven year-old fan in 1995, there was something that really appealed to me about the random pairing of Sycho Sid and the 123 Kid. Today, I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking, but it's still nice to reminisce and see them opening up tonight's show against rivals Marty Jannetty and Razor Ramon.

Before we got to the action, Vince McMahon reminded us how most of this all kicked off the previous month at the 1995 Survivor Series, when Sid cost Marty the win over the Kid in the opening match, before 123 Kid ultimately ended up distracting Razor in that night's chaotic, 30 minute Wildcard match.

Heading back to the arena, Goldust was spotted in the crowd, ostensibly eying up Razor Ramon, though more than likely eyeing up the Intercontinental Championship he would eventually take from him by the turn of the year.

The match started off in fun fashion, Marty and the Kid trading some fast-paced action, with the latter constantly preventing the former from tagging in Razor. When the big guy finally did get his hands on his former protege, it was short lived; a blind-tag to big Sid but the kaibosh on Razor's offence and led to a beat down.

Jannetty and 123 Kid did return to the fray, though few people were actually paying much attention. Rather, they were distracted by Pettengill's efforts to get an in-crowd interview with Goldust. Fanning himself down with a copy of the recent WWF Magazine (featuring himself on the cover, no less), Goldie swooned and purred over what an attractive man Razor was, before handing the Toddster an envelope, with instructions to deliver it to the reigning IC champion.

Back to the action, Jannetty spent some time playing the proverbial babyface-in-peril before making an awesome hot tag to Razor. An entertaining, picture-perfect finishing sequence between Ramon and big Sid then led us to top-rope bulldog from the bad guy, and a win for the good guys.
Your Winners: Razor Ramon and Marty Jannetty

Afterwards, Razor attempted a Razor's Edge on 123 Kid, only for Sid to come to the save.

Jerry Laler has a big surprise.
WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings - Jeff Jarrett returned
Heading to the ring, Jerry Lawler first told the Hershey Crowd that Santa didn't like them very much, before finally unvieling the big surprise he'd been teasing since the start of the show.

That surprise? The return of J-E-DOUBLE-F, J-A-DOUBLE-R-E-DOUBLE-T, Jeff Jarrett.

Jarrett, who hadn't been seen on WWF TV since In Your House 2 that July (both he and Roadie left the company the following day), accepted a gold record from Lawler for sales of his Ain't I Great album, before announcing that he would be the first entrant in the 1996 Royal Rumble.

Dean Douglas vs. Ahmed Johnson
As Jarrett joined Lawler and McMahon at the commentary table for the next match (Jeff immediatly burrying Dean Douglas by asking 'who is this guy?') the Dean made his way to the ring and claimed that 'the doctors have done what no wrestler could do; they sidelined me.' 

Despite insisting that he could still defeat Johnson despite having a bad back, Dean then claimed that he'd been forced to find a replacement, his 'graduate student,' Buddy Landell.
No match

Ahmed Johnson vs. Buddy Landell
In a nothing squash-match, Johnson bullied Landell up to the top rope, spine-bustered him off it, then hit the Pearl River Plunge and picked up the win.
Your Winner: Ahmed Johnson

WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings - Ahmed Johnson faced Buddy Landell
Afterwards, Lawler took to the microphone to interview (read: torment) Ahmed Johnson. Claiming that nobody was impressed by Johnson's quick win, The King spent the rest of the time putting over Double J, leading to the Pearl River Powerhouse grabbing the mic.

"Let me tell you something you Achy, Breaky Heart Wannabe, you're a FAKE" screamed Ahmed as he lunged into Jarrett. Never the smartest guy in the world, Johnson then turned his attentions to lawler, only to get attacked by a guitar-wielding Jarrett. Ending the scene, the country star cemented his comeback by drilling Johnson with several chair shots, only for the big man to make a Superman comeback and start a brawl on the way to the back.

Todd delivers Goldust's message
Backstage, Todd Pettengill gave Razor Ramon the envelope from Goldust. Whatever was in the letter, it apparently pissed off The Bad Guy enough that he stormed out of the Superstar line area.

Hog Pen Match: 
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Henry O. Godwin 
Special referee: Hillbilly Jim
We talk a lot about how Triple H was left to absorb the punishment in the wake of the infamous Curtain Call incident, but need I remind anybody that this match -where the only way to win was to dump your opponent into a filthy pig sty- took place months before Shawn, Hunter, Hall and Nash broke kayfabe.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings - Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) bt. Henry O. Godwin in a Hogpen match
Whatever he did to deserve this, I have absolutely no idea.This was a slow, boring, monotonous match, where the only moment of any note came in the form of a rare flying elbow from Helmsley. The Greenwhich Snob dove off the top of the pig pen onto Godwin before both men returned to occasionally hitting one another in between long bouts of lying around taking a nap.

Eventually, Hunter backdropped Godwin into the pen to pick up the win, but still ended up taking a dump in the slop after Henry picked him up for a gorilla press slam.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

As Henry and special guest referee Hillbilly Jim celebrated, Hunter, his back all cut up, took several random bumps around the pen to the delight of the crowd, and was then struck across the head by a flying milkshake. Say what you want about the current COO, he earned his spot at the top with stuff like this.

Diesel's got a bad attitude
Up next, we were given a video package showing the recent change in attitude of Big Daddy Cool. Rather than smiling and playing up the crowds, the new Diesel was a snarling bad ass, out for revenge against Owen Hart after the King of Harts took responsibility for putting Shawn Michaels out of action.

Owen Hart (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Diesel
WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings - Big Daddy Cool Diesel had a new bad attitude
This brought us nicely to our next match, a decent -if not particularly memorable- outing, which was dominated for the most part by Diesel, despite a brief few moments where Hart got in some offence on BDC's long legs.

Regaining control, Diesel drilled Owen with a powerbomb, made a cover, and then pulled Owen up for another powerbomb. Before he could hit it though, the former champion pushed over referee Tim White, giving the win to Owen via disqualification.

The best thing you can say about this match is that it happened. It was neither good, nor bad, and mostly only done to further storylines.
Your Winner: Diesel

As Savio Vega took his turn to play 'Santa's Little Helper,' Ted Dibiase made his way to the ring and began lambasting fans for liking Christmas.

Santa turns heel
Reminding us all that 'everybody has a price for the Million Dollar Man,' Ted Dibiase cut a promo on Santa.

'He's fat, and he's ancient. You're gonna tell me can circle the globe in one night? I don't think he can get from the sofa to the fridge without blowing a fuse!"'

Said Dibiase, teaching this writer a lesson. Who knew that human beings had fuses (or maybe he meant the one in the fridge.)

As Vega yelled at Dibiase and claimed he believed in the magic of Christmas, fans in the Hersheypark centre were witness to a heel turn the likes of which we wouldn't see again until Hulk Hogan revealed himself to be the 'third man,'

Yes folks, Santa Claus himself revealed even he had a price, by turning and attacking Savio Vega.

'I don't believe that's the real Santa!'  yelled McMahon, taking the whole thing rather seriously as Vega chased Santa up the isle, beat up on Santa and revealed him to be Balls Mahoney.

Casket match: 
Mabel (w/ Sir Mo) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings - Undertaker beat Mabel in a casket match
In all the time I've been writing these reviews, I've never yet seen a truly enjoyable casket match, so for one of the most entertaining I've seen to pit the Undertaker against the largely awful Mabel is something pretty interesting.

Kept reasonably short, at just six minutes plus, this wasn't exactly a classic, technical wrestling match, but it was a fun, crowd-pleasing outing with enough going on to make it enjoyable.

After a short back-and-forth battle, The Dead Man slammed both Mabel and Mo into the casket, reclaimed the gold chain that had once been his urn, and slammed the lid shut.
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

Post-match, The Undertaker returned that magic metal urn-chain to its rightful owner Paul Bearer, before repeatedly pointing to his waist, indicating that he wanted to get his hands on the WWF Championship.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Paul Bearer got his urn back
Half way through our main event (more of which we'll get to in a moment), it was announced that The Undertaker would take on the winner of Hart/Bulldog at the Royal Rumble.

Promos from champ and challenger
Before we got to that match, we had a few last minute words from both the Bulldog and the Hitman.

Up first, Jim Cornette ranted and raved about how jealous Bret had always been of his brother-in-law, after which Bret's sister and Davey's wife claimed she was 100% behind her husband tonight. For his part, Davey reminded us that he'd beaten Hart three years ago, and vowed to do so again tonight.

In response, Bret kept it nice and simple: He was proud to be champion again, and would win tonight's match.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. The British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette and Dianna Smith)
WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Jim Cornette with Davey Boy Smith The British Bulldog and Dianna Smith
Undoubtedly one of both men's finest hours, this was an instant classic from the moment the bell rang.

A hard-hitting, dramatic and utterly captivating main event match, things started off slow with some back-and-forth mat action before the two combatants gradually picked up the pace, beating the living daylights out of each other inside and outside of the ring.

Around the half-way point, Bret was busted open, and despite the wide-camera angles refusing to give us a good look at a battered and bloody Hitman, the move only increased the intensity of what turned out to be one of -if not the- best WWF pay per view matches of 1995.

Following all that excitement, The Hitman rolled up The Bulldog with a cradle to retain his WWF title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

WWF / WWE - In Your House 5: Undertaker and Diesel began their rivalry at the show
To wrap things up for tonight's show, Todd Pettengill got a backstage interview with Paul Bearer and The Undertaker regarding the latter's Royal Rumble title shot against The Hitman. Before he could say much, The Phenom was interupted by an irate Big Daddy Cool, creating a showdown that would ultimately lead to Diesel's full-on heel turn, and his Wrestlemania 12 match against The Undertaker.

And so the final pay per of the year ended on a bit of a whimper. Though I've seen other reviewers give praise to the HHH/HOG Hog Pen match, I've got to say that my heart just wasn't in it, though I do have to give credit where it's due to Hunter for working his ass off. Before that, the opening match was also fairly enjoyable, and the Mabel/Taker casket match turned out to be better than it really had any right to be. Yet in all fairness, if you never saw any of those matches at all, you wouldn't be too worse off. 
For all intents and purposes, this was a one-match show. The Bulldog/Hitman WWF Championship match truly was one of the best bouts I've seen since I started this blog, and undoubtedly one of the top three WWF matches of 1995. 

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.