WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Event Poster
September 22, 1996
CoreStates Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For most fans and wrestling experts, the WWF Attitude Era didn't truly begin until sometime between late 1997 and early 1998. 

Yet if you look far back enough, what becomes apparent is that this change in the company's direction was not a dramatic, overnight overhaul.

Rather, the Attitude Era began subtly -very, very subtly- with the first, tinest shifts towards an edgier product beginning all the way back in April 1996 at In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies.

Back then, Shawn Michaels had made his first valiant title defense in a brutal no-holds barred match against his on-again/off-again buddy, Big Daddy Cool Diesel.

Tonight, The Heartbreak Kid would continue to lead the World Wrestling Federation towards a more violent, risque approach to sports entertainment by battling the deranged Mankind in what was sure to be the kind of brutal, all-out war usually reserved for renegade promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling.

So, where better to do just that than in the home of ECW itself, Philadelphia, PA.

Here, it wasn't just the champion and his psychopathic challenger who were channeling the spirit of Paul Heyman's hardcore outfit. No, tonight, the entire company seemed to be not only pushing the boundaries, but also pushing themselves one step further away from the cartoon campness of the New Generation and one step closer to the sexed-up, blood-filled orgy of OTT entertainment that was the Attitude Era.

Would that actually make for a good show? Let's head down to the Corestates Centre to find out.

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

That still gives me chills.

When I heard that as a kid, it meant one thing: Wrestling time. It was time to get excited. Time to come alive.

Whether or not tonight's show is worth getting excited over remains to be seen, let's get straight on with the Free For All and find out, shall we?

Marty Jannetty (w/ Leif Cassidy) vs. Savio Vega 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Marty Jannetty faced Savio Vega in the Free for All
Our Free For All tonight skips all the formalities and gets us right down to ringside for our opening contest as Savio Vega looked to get the better of Marty Jannetty, all whilst avoiding the distraction of Jannetty's New Rockers partner, Leif Cassidy.

Whilst the action itself was fairly enjoyable, it only really served as a background to the commentators' last minute shill for the show itself.

After hyping up tonight's epic Mankind/Michaels main event, Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect, and Jim Ross next took us to a split-screen interview with one Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw.

As Uncle Zebekiah stood by, Bradshaw ranted and raved about being left off every single Pay Per View since his WWF debut nine months ago. That wasn't all, Bradshaw also complained about how his long-time rival Savio Vega continued to get PPV opportunities, even though it was quite clear that Vega was only on the mid-90s equivilent of today's Kick Off shows.

If Bradshaw was pissed about mising out on a Free for All match, he only had to jog his memory back a few months ago to WWF In Your House: International Incident, when he and Vega did inded lock up in the opening contest.

Cutting back tot he ring, the fans were just as uninterested in watching Vega/Janetty, opting instead to start an ECW chant as Tommy Dreamer, Paul Heyman, and The Sandman made their way to the front row and took seats.

Surprisingly (for the time at least), McMahon actually aknowledged the chants, saying:

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw (JBL) was unhappy about not being on the PPV
"By the way, if you do hear some unusual chants here from this extraordinary crowd gathered for In Your House: Mind Games, bare in mind that there is a local wrestling franchise -so to speak- here in town, [and their fans are] very vocal."

"Oh yeah, they have a small, vocal contingent, and this is their home base, and we're just glad they bought tickets!" added Jim Ross.

Back to the in-ring action, this was a relatively decent match that Savio won with a roll-up.

The crowd were only mildly pleased.
Your Winner: Savio Vega 

In a repeat of last month's Summerslam 1996 (and what felt like just about every PPV of that year), Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw ran down after the match and beat up on his adversary, whipping him with his patented bull rope before skulking to the back.

The Face of Fear

Would Shawn Michaels continue to live the boyhood dream or would he find himself trapped in Mankind's diabolical nightmare?

Would The Undertaker finally be able to settle the score with rival Goldust, even after Paul Bearer so deviously turned his back on The Dead Man at last month's Summerslam 1996?

These were the main questions presented in our opening video package this evening, a dark, dramatic affair voiced by Todd Pettingill which set the stage well for the show's two biggest matches.

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mr. Perfect, Vince McMahon, and Jim Ross did commentary
With that video over, Vince McMahon welcomed us to Philadelphia, PA and to the CoreStates Center, which at the time was still basically a brand new venue.

Joining McMahon on commentary for In Your House 10: Mind Games was none other than Mr. Perfect, and the one and only Jim Ross.

The trio briefly hyped tonight's big two matches before getting down to ring side for our opening contest.

Caribbean Strap Match
Savio Vega vs. Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw (w/ Uncle Zebekiah) 

Following Bradshaw's attack during the Free For All, Savio had apparently challenged him to a Carribean Strap Match, something I suspect the future JBL accepted as much to finally get his in-ring PPV debut as it was to settle his long-running rivalry with Vega.

In some respects, you'd have to imagine Bradshaw would have preferred to wait a little long for his big match if he knew it was going to be as terrible as this one.

Duller than the proverbial dishwater, literally the only exciting moment occurred when the two brawled to the outside.

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - ECW's Sandman and Tommy Dreamer got involved in the opening Savio/JBL match
There, The Sandman, Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer could be seen on camera watching the show.

A second later, Sandman spat beer at Savio Vega, causing a commotion which Vega and Bradshaw cleverly sold as a legit shoot.

We would see more from the company that Vince McMahon would only refer to as "a local promotion here in Philadelphia" in the coming weeks, but for now, it was back to one of the most mind-numbingly tedious bouts your writer has ever had this displeasure to watch.

Making things worse here was the fact that they copied the exact finish from Savio's earlier strap match against Steve Austin from In Your House 8: Beware of Dog.

I don't mean it was similar, I mean it was exactly the same, right down to Bradshaw playing the Austin role and dragging Vega into the final corner to give him the win.

If this was a redo of a match from many years ago, nobody would have cared. The fact that they repeated a finish from just five months prior made this whole thing look dumb.
Your Winner: Savio Vega. 

As Savio celebrated his big win and hopefully put this never-ending feud to bed once and for all, we were taken to a video package highlighting the -ahem- epic rivalry between James E. Cornette and Jose Lothario.

That match, if you could call it such a thing, was next.

'Razor and Diesel' Attack Savio Vega 

As Jim Cornette made his way to the ring for what was sure to be a thrilling contest, we were taken to backstage in one of those "OMG, something is happening in the back! We'll get you exclusive news on what's happening RIGHT NOW!' segments that were such big part of mid-late '90s American pro wrestling. 

As it happened, the 'something' that was happening was the first glimpse of Fake Diesel and Razor Ramon in a blurry, from-a-distance shot as they beat up Savio Vega.

Battle of the Managers
James E. Cornette vs. 'Super Sock' Jose Lothario

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Jose Lothario faced Jim Cornette
As as 12 year-old mark such as I was at the time that this show went out live, I swallowed just about anything and everything the World Wrestling Federation wanted to shove down my throat. 

I ate it all up happily, and enjoyed almost every match I saw with none of the cynicism or pessimism that inevitably crept in once I grew up into an adult and continued to watch pro wrestling. 

I saw almost, because I remember quite clearly that, even as a wide-eyed, 12 year-old kid who lapped up everything the WWF put out, I just couldn't see the appeal in watching a flabby non-wrestler like Jim Cornette lock up against a retired old man who looked older than my granddad. 

To this day, I can't quite get my head around the idea that Vince and his booking crew thought anybody wanted to see this match. 

But hey, clearly that's what they thought, and here we were. 

Thankfully, this was mercifully short. 

Cornette did the usual heel shtick of berating his opponent and the live audience on the microphone, then Lothario came down, whipped him from corner to corner and pinned him in about a minute flat. 

I'd call this one a dud, but it was barely a match at all, just a short angle that neither served to further a long-term story nor as a short-term spot of entertainment.
Your Winner: Jose Lothario 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Savio Vega was interviewed after being beaten up by Fake Razor and Diesel
Afterwards, we were taken to the back for a Coliseum Home Video Exclusive, in which Doc Hendrix caught up with Savio Vega following the latter's beat down at the hands of the men who may or may not have been Razor Ramon and Diesel.

Selling the attack for all it was worth (or else just doing a really bad promo), Vega admitted that despite once being the absolute best of friends with Razor Ramon and rescuing him from an attack at the first ever In Your House ppv, he could not actually tell if The Bad Guy and his buddy Big Daddy Cool were indeed the men who had beaten him up earlier.

This, he attributed to the fact that both men attacked from behind after he'd already had his ass kicked by Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw.

The segment -which like many of this time period was simple yet effective- ended with Vega swearing revenge on whoever it was that had attacked him the very first chance he got.

A Hollywood Blondes Reunion featuring The Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Bret Hart refuted Brian Pillman's claims that he was going to be there
Back in the arena, Brian Pillman came down to continue the slow, slow build up to the return of Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

In recent weekends, The Loose Cannon had been claiming that he had personally been in touch with The Hitman, and that he would deliver him to the Philly audience here at In Your House: Mind Games. 

Not too surprisingly, it transpired that the devious heel Pillman had been lying this whole time, with Bret issuing a firm rebuttal in a pre-recorded segment live from South Africa. 

Pillman, it appeared, was here to address said rebuttal, and in doing so, managed to orchestrate one of the most entertainment segments of this entire pay per view.

Pushing the envelope in a way that no other promo in recent memory had, The Loose Cannon asked his former Hollywood Blondes partner Austin whether he thought Bret Hart was chicken. 

The response from Stone Cold?

Bret Hart doesn't even qualify as being a chicken, he's the slimy substance that runs out of the south end of a chicken.
Let me make myself clear, if you put the letter 'S' in front of Hitman, you get my exact opinion of Bret Hart.

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Steve Austin, Brian Pillman, and Owen Hart cut a promo on Bret Hart
Considering what was to come just a short time down the line in the Attitude Era, such remarks may seem quite tame, but when you consider that this was still New Generation time, a time when babyfaces smiled, little kids supposedly looked up to their heroes, and nobody made even the vaguest of references to chickenshit on a live pay per view.

The fact that this took place in the home of  ECW was not an accident. The fact that it may have just been the next inevitable step towards the no-holds-barred, x-rated approach of the Attitude Era, may have been.

Mark Henry Explores Philly 

As entertaining as that last segment may have been, it did feel as though the WWF were stalling here, as if for some reason they just didn't have enough in-ring content to make their show worth watching and were filling up on as much added stuff as possible. 

More filler came next with a short clip of Mark Henry walking around Philadelphia, visiting the Liberty Bell and generally having a nice time. 

Quite what the point of this was is anybody's guess, but it did at least kill at minute of time before our next match.

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Clarence Mason tricked Jim Cornette into signing over Owen Hart and British Bulldog's contractsClarence Mason Swindles Jim Cornette 

Next, we went to the back where Jim Cornette was being tended to by a doctor after his -ahem- punishing contest with Jose Lothario. Taking advantage of Cornette's dazed and confused state, Clarence Mason arrived and had him sign his signature to a document, telling the distraught manager that it was a legal document needed to sue Lothario. 

In recent weeks however, it would be revealed that Mason had actually tricked Cornette into handing over the managerial rights to Owen Hart and the British Bulldog. 

Speaking of those two, they were up next.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn)  vs. Owen Hart & British Bulldog

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the beginning of the end of The Smoking Gunns.

Making their pay per view debut at WWF King of the Ring 1993, the team's three year reign would ultimately come to an end here, all thanks to the self-obsessed seductress known as Sunny. 

This was at the point when the former Body Donna was doing her full Yoko Ono on the one team that had been a consistent part of the company's tag division for several years. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Sunny fired The Smoking Gunns after they lost the WWF tag team titles
Billy had become so enamored with the blonde bombshell that he was frequently distracted in his matches, and it would cost him dearly here in an entertaining match against Owen and Bulldog. 

To be fair to them, the now-former Camp Cornette members had the Gunns' number right from the start, revealing that they had defaced a huge drop-down poster of Sunny, similar to the one she revealed at last month's Summerslam 1996. 

From there, the two teams engaged in what was so far the best match on the card. Though I appreciate that isn't saying much, it was nonetheless a good effort which ended when Sunny's distraction allowed the British Bulldog to get the cover, the count, and the tag team titles.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Owen Hart & British Bulldog beat The Smoking Gunns for the WWF Tag Team Titles
Post match, Sunny got mad at her charges, claiming that she had given them her time, she had given them her money, and she had given them Everything, implying, you know, everything that you could probably get from Sunny today if you had enough money.

Much as she had done with The Body Donnas and The Godwins previously, Sunny promptly fired The Smoking Gunns. 

In the weeks that would follow, this would cause Billy and Bart Gunn to turn on each other, bringing the team to an end, but not before they had one last match at the following month's In Your House: Buried Alive. More of that later this month..

The Challenger Speaks...

Cutting to the back of the building, Paul Bearer and Mankind gave a so-so promo about the latter's upcoming title match against Shawn Michaels. 

Bearer claimed that just as it was The Undertaker's Creatures of The Night that had forced him to turn on The Phenom, it would HBK's Kliq (the fans, not the backstage group), that were to blame for what Mankind was about to do to the champion. 

For his part, Mankind gave an eerie and gruesome account of himself, claiming that it was his destiny to hear Michaels' liver rupture, and to become the WWF champion.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Mark Henry 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mark Henry beat Jerry 'The King' Lawler
Going into this one, I did wonder why the WWF would invest so much in hyping the debut of Olympic athlete Mark Henry only to have his first match be against Jerry 'The King' Lawler, a man who had mostly been used for comic relief over the course of 1996.

Then the story was revealed, and suddenly this became close to perfect.

You see, this was about Jerry Lawler, the wiley veteran and celebrated pro wrestling star mocking newcomer Henry for not having the skills to back up his overly-hyped debut. 

Lawler was going to "take Mark Henry to school" and show him that wrestling wasn't as easy as it looked.

What followed was a very basic, text-book pro wrestling match that somehow proved to be a whole lot of fun. 

All credit here has to go to The King, who basically wrestled himself for the duration of this short but enjoyable bout. Lawler through himself around and worked the crowd to perfection before finally succumbing to a backbreaker and giving Henry the win in his first WWF wrestling match.
Your Winner: Mark Henry 

Afterwards, a weird contingent of heels, including The New Rockers and Hunter Hearst Helmsley ran in one after the other in attempt to attack The World's Strongest Man.

Henry fought back, cleaned house, and then celebrated as fireworks exploded from the rafters. 

I'm sure the reason for the post-match beat down was explained on Raw or something, but for now, I'll have to imagine that the story line was perhaps that the baddies were jealous and upset about this huge superstar non-wrestler coming in and trying to compete on their turf.

Coliseum Home Video Exclusive Interview with the New World Tag Team Champions

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Coliseum Home Video Exclusive
Backstage, Doc Hendrix caught up with Clarence Mason, Owen Hart, and the British Bulldog.

In an entertaining promo, the new WWF tag team champions gloated about their victory, insisting that The Smoking Gunns -even with "that hosebag" Sunny in their corner- just didn't have what it took to beat the two.

Just when it looked like this interview was all wrapped up, Doc asked about the absence of James E. Cornette. Still enthralled with his big win, Owen claimed that Cornette had been "throwing some confusion into [his and Bulldog's] strategy" but that he didn't really care anyway, and was glad that Clarence Mason was in their corner as their "lucky leprechaun."

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Owen Hart & British Bulldog gloated about their big win
It was at this point that Mason revealed he had indeed tricked Jim Cornette into signing over the management contracts of the new champs.

Though of course, being the cowardly bad guy, he made it seem like it had all been a big mistake.

Not that it mattered, Owen and Bulldog seemed perfectly Ok with the situation, smiling and nodding happily as we cut back to the arena.

Hype for Undertaker vs. Goldust 

For most of 1996, The Undertaker had been at war with both Goldust and Mankind, alternating between the two on most pay per view bouts since the spring. 

This one began at the aforementioned Beware of Dog back in May. It continued just two months ago at In Your House: International Incident, but tonight -so Todd Pettengill informed us via this generic 90s video package- it would all come to an end. 

There would be a winner, and this rivalry would be settled tonight.

Final Curtain Match
Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Undertaker beat Goldust in a Final Curtain match
If the rules of a Final Curtain match were ever fully defined, they certainly were not explained to either of the two combatants, nor to referee Tim White. 

In the aforementioned video package, Pettengill had informed us that the only way to win this one was by pinfall. 

This, you would assume, would make this a no disqualification, no count out match, right?

Yeah, I thought so too, but even as Vince McMahon was telling us on commentary that there was no dq, White was there calling a ten count.

Even when 'Taker and Goldie were on the outside, nothing happened that wouldn't happen within the confines of your standard match. 

In this writer's opinion, this means that both men squandered a perfect opportunity to really do something different and make their match stand out. 

Instead, we got a decent, run-of-the-mill match which ended when The Undertaker tombstoned Goldust to win the match and end this rivalry once and for all. 
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

Afterwards, The Undertaker celebrated his big victory by posing in the ring, doing the now famous pose without the urn for the first time on WWF PPV. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Shawn Michaels admitted to being nervous in his pre-match promo

Shawn Michaels Is Nervous 

Backstage, Kevin Kelly asked the World Wrestling Federation champion about his thoughts going into tonight's main event. 

Playing down his usual charisma and jovial nature, The Heartbreak Kid admitted that for the first time since winning the gold, he was nervous about defending it. 

Sure, he could out-wrestle anybody in the WWF, but would he even get the chance to straight up wrestle with someone as deranged and -as HBK put it- "whacked out" as Mankind?

Shawn himself wasn't exactly sure, and told us that he was about to go to the ring with no idea about how to deal with the number one contender and his manager, Paul Bearer. 

That match, ladies and gentlemen, was next. 

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)

Mick Foley has often referred to this as his favourite match, though to be honest, some 21 years down the line, I still haven't seen the whole contest in its entirety. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mankind challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWF title
So, was this one really as good as Foley, and countless fans have claimed it to be?

In a word, yes.

A riotous back-and-forth battle that only got better the longer it went on, this nigh-on 30 minute classic had literally everything. 

You wanted wild, out-of-control brawling? You got it. 

You wanted actual, honest-to-goodness wrestling holds? They were here in abundance, even from Foley. 

You wanted high spots like Michaels and Mankind crashing from the top turnbuckle through the Spanish announce table? That happened and looked awesome. 

There was even some wonderful storytelling going on, with Shawn Michaels destroying the Mandible Claw and forcing Mankind to actually use wrestling holds to try and make a pinfall. 

The end, which I really want to describe as beautiful, came when the challenger -who at this point was firmly in control of the match- looked to leap off the top turnbuckle and smash the champ's head open with a steel chair. 

WWF / WWE IN YOUR HOUSE 10: Mind Games - Mankind locks the mandible claw on Shawn Michaels in the WWF title match
Michaels ran up, used a second chair (this one fully set up) as a springboard, and hit a flying Sweet Chin Music, smashing the chair into Foley's head and causing him to crash down. 

Just when it looked like Michaels would get the pin however, Vader ran down to the ring, disqualifying Mankind. 
Your Winner by disqualification and still WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

Post match, Michaels disposed of Vader, only for Paul Bearer to knock him out cold with the urn. 

Vader looked to strike again, but this time Sid came out and saw him off. 

This gave Mankind time to recover and shove his bare fingers into Michaels throat. The deranged one then called for the casket (which he had traveled to the ring in) to be opened, assumedly to dispose of HBK's body in it. 

Instead, The Undertaker popped out and saw off Mankind, leaving the ring clear for HBK to celebrate another hard fought victory, and one of the best matches of his 1996 title run. 

Coliseum Home Video Exclusive: Mankind Swears Revenge on The Undertaker 

Wrapping things up, another Coliseum Home Video Exclusive took us to the back, where Paul Bearer tried in vein to console a visibly distraught Mankind.

Raging away somewhere deep in the bowels of the building, Mankind promised to get revenge on The Dead Man when they met next month at In Your House: Buried Alive. 
But that, my friends, is another review for another time.

For now, let's get on with the usual summing up, shall we? 

From an in-ring stand point, WWF In Your House 10: Mind Games was a reasonable effort, though with only the Michaels/Mankind match really worth repeat viewing, it has to be said that this one was memorable not for the matches, but for the shift in tone that was a little less subtle than the companies previous steps towards an edgier product.
From the ECW invasion at the start of the show to to the dramatic and violent main event, via Stone Cold Steve Austin's 'off-colour' comments and the occasional use of suggestive language, this was a milestone in the World Wrestling Federation's gradual transformation into the Attitude Era. 

On a personal note, I'd like to apologise for the poor quality images on this review. Wherever possible, I try to use my original copies of shows. Whilst that does mean I review shows closer to how they were presented at the time rather than the heavily edited versions that can appear on the WWE Network, it also means that sometimes I end up with a shitty-quality video, such as this one. 

And finally, thanks once again for reading. To keep up with the latest from RPW, come join me on Twitter, or hit Like on the brand new Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page.

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  1. Good show. Great review. It is always fun to discuss and debate when the Attitude Era actually began. For some, such as The History of WWE's Graham Cawthon, it started when Bret Hart went thru a table at the 1995 Survivor Series, with Diesel then becoming the anti-hero the next night on Raw. For me, it began a week after Vince McMahon officially announced it in mid-december, 1997. When Dx came out in jock straps, I knew wrestling as I knew it was finished (not necessarily being a bad thing.

    For me, the HBK-MANKIND match is the greatest match I've seen that ended in a dq.

    Further observations: The WWF loved having September In Your House ppvs in the state of Pennsylvania.

    My favorite events of 1996-97 occurred in full arenas of the northeast. I love seeing a packed house full of rabid fans....

    Thanks again for the review.

  2. I just re-watched the show. The Austin-Pillman bit was good, but nowhere the stuff they would do two years later. And take a look at Pillman's t-shirt - holy shit. I love the worked ECW shoot. "A local wrestling promotion..."

  3. Imagine if Vince had pushed fake Razor and fake Diesel as if they were real with Razor returning to attack Vega even though they were bestie besties forever! That would have been hilarious.