WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Event Poster
October 20, 1996
Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, Indiana

As far as I can recall, In Your House 11: Buried Alive, was the first World Wrestling Federation Pay Per View not to feature the reigning champion in an actual match. 

Yes, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels would make an appearance on the show, and yes, he would later wrestle in a dark match main event against Goldust, but as far as actually locking up in the ring, this was perhaps the first time in history that the champion was not the main draw of the pay per view.

Whether that was a comment on Michaels' lacklustre drawing power or not is something that I won't go into today, but it is worth mentioning because tonight, our main attraction actually featured the man who had been the number one contender to that title just a month earlier, Mankind.

In another first, the former Cactus Jack would be going up against arch-rival Mankind to close the first chapter in his epic, multi-year long rivalry with The Undertaker.

Before that however, there was all of this:

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

The Destruction of Mankind 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Undertaker faced Mankind in the main event
Our show tonight began with a dark, dramatic video hyping tonight's Buried Alive main event between Mankind and The Undertaker.

With soundbites from each man's recent promos cleverly edited to sound as though they were engaging in a most menacing conversation, and with the visuals taking on a chilling quality all of their own, this came across less like a pro wrestling vignette and more like a trailer for some sinister horror movie.

Not that this in itself is a bad thing. The video did what all good videos should do - it made tonight's main event seem like the most important event that ever occurred, or in this case, like the most must-watch horror film of the year.

Jim Ross is Pissed Off

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Jim Ross was angry about his microphone not workingFrom there, we cut straight to the arena, where Vince McMahon greeted us with his trademark "Welcome everyone!' growl.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler joined McMahon in hyping tonight's card, whilst fellow commentator Jim Ross griped at ringside about not being given his own microphone.

This, you see, was during the time when Ross was doing his ill-advised heel run in which he outed Vince as the owner of the WWF and was pissed off at both the boss and the company as a whole.

Whilst the idea of JR sticking it to Vince McMahon may sound appealing, it got very old, very quickly.

Kevin Kelly Interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin 

Ross barely had time to greet the fans before we cut to Hunter Hearst Helmsley, making his way to the ring for a rare heel vs. heel match against rising star Stone Cold Steve Austin.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Steve Austin faced Triple H in the opening match
Austin however, wasn't going to just come to the ring. First, he had a few choice words for Hunter, and for the man he had been calling out for months, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

Interviewed by Kevin Kelly, Austin addressed the fact that his upcoming match was originally scheduled to be against old nemesis, Savio Vega.

Vega however, had suffered an injury, leading to the future Triple H to stand in as a last minute substitute.

In a promo that only hinted at the kind of compelling performance that would later become such an integral part of the Stone Cold character, Austin gave fellow baddie Hunter a modicum of praise for stepping up the plate, before shooting him down again by vowing to kick his ass.

Turning his attentions to Bret Hart, the King of the Ring winner claimed to be looking forward to The Hitman's return the following evening on Raw, before finishing up by refusing to apologise for his supposed "foul language" - which was basically saying the word "ass" and occasionally flipping the bird.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Triple H lost to Stone Cold Steve Austin in the opening match
Though it may have paled in comparison to some of the top-level matches these two would have later in their careers, Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin at In Your House: Buried Alive, was undoubtedly one of the best pay per view opening matches of 1996. 

Not that anyone could blame you if you failed to notice it. 

Sadky, the match itself played second fiddle to the ongoing saga known as The Conspiracy Against Jim Ross. 

Throughout the match, Ross' microphone would frequently cut out, leading to the legendary commentator growing increasingly more frustrated and yelling at Vince McMahon. 

Believe me when I tell you, this was distracting to the point of making the entire bout almost unwatchable. 

This was disappointing, because when you take away the commentary, what you were left with here was a good, long opening bout that saw both men working hard to entertain the live crowd. 

Such was their performance this evening, that when Ross did manage to get his mic working, he telling put them over as two future world champions. 

Oh what an understatement that would be. 

The end of this one came when HHH's long-time rival Mr. Perfect came down to do the usual routine in which he escorted Hunter's woman to the back. 

This time however, both Austin and Hunter got up in Perfect's face. The outside fracas distracted Hunter so much that he eventually fell victim to the Stone Cold Stunner and was put out of his misery.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - The Smoking Gunns failed to reclaim the WWF tag team titles from British Bulldog and Owen Hart
Prior to our next contest, Doc Hendrix interviewed The Smoking Gunns in what would be their final pay per view together as a tag team. 

If you recall, the Gunns lost their WWF Tag Team Championship to Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart at the previous month's In Your House 10: Mind Games.

Following the loss, the two were fired by manager Sunny, but tonight, Billy Gunn was wholly convinced that not only would he (not his team) beat Owen and the Bulldog, but that Sunny would immediately return to their side. 

Partner Bart Gunn however, was more concerned with working as a team to regain the championships, and not their manager. 

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/ Clarence Mason) vs.The Smoking Gunns

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Owen Hart & British Bulldog retained the WWF tag team titles against The Smoking Gunns
You know, as I watch Owen and Bulldog make their way to the ring, it truly saddens me to know that neither of them are with us any longer, especially when they were capable of being so highly entertaining once in the ring. 

Both men worked hard to make this tag team title rematch highly enjoyable from start to finish, pitting their own solid teamwork against a Smoking Gunns team who just couldn't stay on the same page. 

Despite being the second match on the show to feature a heel vs. heel dynamic, it worked as well as anything else on the show, especially since the whole "Jim Ross is an Angry Man" thing became a lot more subtle in this one. 

After a solid outing, the champions thwarted the challengers' attempt at sidewinder, picked up their win, and gave The Smoking Gunns their final pay per view loss.
Your Winners: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog 

Afterwards, Billy and Bart began to argue, the former eventually storming off to the back leaving the latter, frustrated, to contemplate the future of his team. 

Jim Ross Promises The Return of Bret 'The Hitman' Hart 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Heel Jim Ross was very angry at this show
Despite the fact that the following night's Raw show had been hyped as the big return of Bret Hart, Angry Jim Ross felt it important to leave the commentary booth and personally promise us that The Hitman would be there.

Bret, claimed Ross, was bringing a shovel with him, because he planned to bury some people, and not in the worked-entertainment way we would see later on in tonight's main event. 

After taking more shots at McMahon, Ross decided that he had enough for the evening, hurled his microphone at the boss, and stormed off backstage. 

Ahmed Attacks Farooq

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Farooq was attacked by Ahmed Johnson
This was one of the few In Your House shows I own from this time that didn't have the Free For All included. Thankfully, I didn't have to miss out on anything important as McMahon and Ross took us back to the earlier confrontation between Ahmed Johnson and Farooq. 

It was during the Free for All that both men had given backstage promos vowing to tear each other apart, and though Ahmed wasn't yet cleared to compete, that wasn't going to stop him from then getting into a confrontation with his nemesis and beating him up with what looked to be a 2x4.

That, naturally, meant that Farooq could not challenge Marc Mero for the Intercontinental Championship tonight as he had originally been scheduled to do. 

A Word With the Wild Man

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Marc Mero defended his WWF Intercontinental Title against Goldust
Flanked by an anxious looking Sable, Mero claimed that Farooq's injury was unfortunate, but that  ultimately, it didn't really matter. The Wild Man was already prepared for his replacement challenger, Goldust, and would defeat The Bizarre One just as he would have done Farooq. 

Like most of Mero's promos from around this time, this one felt incredibly forced, and even got a little awkward when The Wild Man almost accidentally referred to himself as the World Champion.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena) 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Marc Mero vs. Goldust for the WWF Intercontinental Title
Just when you thought the absence of JR on commentary meant no more distractions from the broadcast team, along came Mr. Perfect to take his place on the headset. 

For the next ten minutes or so, Perfect spent most of his time ignoring the in-ring action, instead choosing to put himself over and hype his ongoing rivalry with Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

Again, this took away from what was otherwise a good little match. 

Sure, Mero/Goldust wasn't quite on a par with HHH/Austin, but it was enjoyable, or at least it was when the commentators actually allowed you to enjoy it. 

The only time Perfect gave us any respite from his voice was when he got involved in the finish. 

Playing up to his role as friend/mentor of the champion, the former champ prevent Goldust from delivering a vicious beatdown on the outside. 

In another distraction, Triple H then came down to confront Perfect, whilst back in the ring, Mero regained the upperhand, hit the Wild Thing 450 Splash, and retained his title. 
Your Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Marc Mero 

Post match, Perfect celebrated with Mero and Sable.

Battle of the Power Bombs

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Vader faced Sid to determine the number one contender to the WWF title
Prior to our next match, we got a hype video featuring Vader and Sid powerbombing the everloving shizzle out of half the roster, overlaid with soundbites of Jim Cornette talking smack about Sid and Sid himself doing his usual psychotic "Master and Ruler of the World" stuff.

Shawn Michaels is Your Guest Commentator 

With both men already in the ring, WWF Champion Shawn Michaels interrupted proceedings, making his way to the ring to join Vince and Jerry on commentary and see first hand which man he would end up facing come Survivor Series 1996.

WWF Championship Number One Contender Match
Sycho Sid vs. Vader (w/ Jim Cornette)

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Sid faced Vader to determine the number one contender to the WWF title
Once again, the commentary here detracted from the match itself, with the camera frequently cutting back The Heartbreak Kid despite the decent action going on inside the ring. 

And decent it was too. Though hardly the greatest match in the world, it was a fair and passable big man match in which neither man could land their own devastating version of the powerbomb. 

In the end, Sid had to resort to his back-up finisher, the chokeslam, to put Vader out for the count.
Your Winner and Number One Contender to the WWF Championship: Sycho Sid 

Afterwards, Michaels got in the ring for the inevitable champ-challenger showdown, before shaking Sid's hand and leaving him to bask in the glory of his victory. 

Doc Hendrix Interviews Sid 

After a quick commercial for the upcoming Survivor Series weekend in November (including the "Hall of Fame Banquet" on the Saturday), we were taken backstage where Doc Hendrix was standing by for an exclusive interview with our new number one contender. 

Unfortunately for Doc, he wasn't going to get to do his interview as Jim Ross randomly intervened, sticking the mic in Sid's face and claiming that he was going to ask the kind of questions people really wanted to know. 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Sid vowed to do whatever it would take to defeat Shawn Michaels
Isn't it true that Sid was once HBK's "best friend" (doubtful) and bodyguard?

"Yes I was!" screamed Sid. 

Did you powerbomb him five times on Raw?

"Of Course I did!"

Would you do anything -including breaking Shawn Michaels' back- to become WWF Champion?

"The question [I think he meant answer] is simple: Yes I will. I will do whatever it takes!'

Sid then got himself confused before regaining his composure and once again claiming to the master...and the ruler...of the world.

Buried Alive Match
Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 11: Buried Alive - Undertaker beat Mankind in the Buried Alive match
Finally, it all came down to this; a simple, no rules match in which the only way to win was to literally bury your opponent alive. 

A final recap video kicked things off, after which both men made their way to the ring whilst Vince McMahon reminded us that this was an "unsanctioned" match - meaning anything goes and -in kayfabe terms at least- the World Wrestling Federation could not be held responsible. 

What followed was one of the most entertaining matches this writer has ever had the pleasure of reviewing here on RPW. 

Much like the Boiler Room Brawl from Summerslam 1996, this was unlike anything we'd seen on WWF TV up to that point; a violent brawl which saw both men pusing the boundaries, and The Undertaker in particular diving all over the place in a manner in which I don't believe he ever had done before. 

In other words, this was awesome, and by far one of 1996's better pay per view matches. 

The end came when The Undertaker hit a wicked chokeslam, driving his arch-nemesis Mankind deep into the open gave, and scooping a few shovels-full of dirt on top of him.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

The Dead Man may have won the battle, but he was certainly far from winning the war.

From out of nowhere a hooded-mask  wearing Terry Gordy (later to be named The Executioner) walloped The Undertaker with a shovel, pulled Mankind out of the dirt, and then threw The Phenom into it.

As the two began scooping dirt, a gang of heels including Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw, Crush, Goldust, and Triple H all came out to help bury The Undertaker once and for all. Yes, this was basically Royal Rumble 1994 all over again.

Little fact for you: Crush -who hadn't been seen on a WWF PPV since teaming with Yokozuna at King of the Ring 1994 was the only villan to be involved in both the Royal Rumble '94 and the In Your House: Buried Alive "Heels Kill The Undertaker" segments.

Not that they managed to kill him at all. As the show came to a close, lightning struck the grave, and The Undertaker's hand shot through the dirt.

The Dead Man would rise again.

Such was the dramatic finish to that show that I'm almost tempted to write "end scene, fade to black" and leave it at that. 

I won't however, because hey, I always wrap up these reviews with a few final comments. 

Today, those comments are basically this: 

You could spend the rest of your life never actually watching this show and you wouldn't be any worse off for it, but for a good bit of entertainment, definitely get on the WWE Network and watch the Buried Alive match itself. 

The highlight of an otherwise mediocre show, this was another landmark moment in the World Wrestling Federation's gradual shift away from the family-friendly nature of the New Generation era. 

Next time, we'll head to the Survivor Series, where Sycho Sid cashes in the Number One Contenders spot that he earned tonight against on-again-off-again friend Shawn Michaels.

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  1. Sid earned the number one contendership by beating the guy he was supposed to win the WCW title from in 93 to go on to beat HBK for the WWF title 3 years later. Kinda full circle there.