PPV Review - WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 1997

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Event poster
February 16, 1997,
UTC Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

If you ever needed proof that early 1997 was a confusing time in the World Wrestling Federation, you only needed look at tonight's main event: A four-way match for the vacant WWF Championship. 

Yes, only a month after Shawn Michaels recaptured the belt from Sid in a dire main event at Royal Rumble 1997, the belt was already vacant, the result of HBK famously 'losing his smile' and deciding to go home rather than grant Bret 'The Hitman' Hart a rematch.

Tonight, Hart would get his chance to get the belt back anyway, going up against Vader, The Undertaker, and his arch-rival Stone Cold Steve Austin in a match which had originally been set-up to determine who would face the champion at Wrestlemania 13. This was because even though the latter had won the 97 Rumble match, he had done so under controversial circumstances.

Confused yet? Don't worry about it, things will be cleared up -even if only briefly- by the end of tonight's show.

Let's get to it, shall we?

The World Wrestling Federation... for over 50 years, the revolutionary force  in sports entertainment 

Who Will Be The New WWF Champion?

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler commentated on the event
Our show tonight began with another impressive hype video reminding us that even though Shawn Michaels lost his smile, everybody else was still showing up for work and wanted the WWF title. Tonight, we would get it in a big four-way match.

That took us to Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler (no idea where Vince McMahon was tonight), who introduced us to the show as The Wildman Marc Mero made his way to ringside for our opening match.

The Wildman Marc Mero (w/ Sable) vs. Leif Cassidy

I'm not sure if there was a back story to this one, and to be honest, I'm not interested enough to go and look for one.

Instead, let's just focus on the action, which was passable at best.

Despite having a brilliant opener at In Your House: It's Time back in December,

Leif Cassidy failed to have the same calibre of outing against Marc Mero.

This was somewhat surprising, not to mention disappointing, since Mero too had delivered several enjoyable performances throughout the course of 1996.

Tonight, both men seemed to work hard, but just couldn't pull it together, instead giving us a mediocre opener which Mero won via the Wild Thing Shooting Star Press.
Your Winner: Marc Mero

Next, The Honky Tonk Man, who had recently returned to the company, began making his way to the ring. Jim Ross decided that this wasn't as interesting as Shawn Michaels losing his smile on Thursday Raw Thursday, so he showed us that instead.

Sid Wants His Belt Back

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Sid wanted the WWF title back
Backstage, Kevin Kelly spoke with Sid, reminding us that the Master and Ruler of The World would face the winner of tonight's four-way match for the WWF title tomorrow night on Raw.

Big Sid was angry that he never got his rematch against Shawn Michaels following their last match at the 1997 Royal Rumble, but said that instead he would just have to beat up the new champion tomorrow night on Raw and get his belt back that way.

Six Man Tag
Flash Funk, Bart Gunn, and Goldust (w/  Marlena and The Funkettes) vs. The Nation of Domination (Crush, Savio Vega, and Farooq, w/ PG13, Clarence Mason, D'Lo Brown and Random Nation Members )

All three babyfaces had endured their own separate issues with The Nation of Domination lately, so tonight they were teaming up to get revenge.

Not that they would get any.

After a sloppy and instantly forgettable contest, Bart Gunn looked to have things won thanks to a top rope Bulldog to Farooq.

Instead, Crush leg dropped the former Smoking Gunn, Farooq got the pin, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winners: The Nation of Domination

Cutting to the back, Stone Cold Steve Austin told Doc Hendrix that because he had eliminated The Undertaker, Vader, and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart all from the Royal Rumble, he could eliminate them tonight and become the new WWF Champion, and there was nothing Doc, Vince McMahon, Gorilla Monsoon, or anybody else, could do to stop him.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Rocky Maivia faced HHH for the Intercontinental Championship
As The Rock and Triple H, these two would have many a fine outing together.

As Rocky Maivia and Hunter Hearst Helmsley however, what they had here was average at best.

Rocky had only recently beaten Hunter for the Intercontinental Championship on Thursday Raw Thursday, and now was putting the title on the line again in the obligatory rematch.

Like I said, this was far from the best outing these two would ever have together,  but apart from one horribly botched DDT which saw the champion basically dump Helmsley on his head, this was a perfectly serviceable mid-card bout.

Towards the finish, Hunter's arch-rival, Goldust, came to the ring, distracting the challenger so that Maivia could land a German suplex for the three count.
Your Winner and Still WWF Intercontinental Champion: Rocky Maivia

Afterwards, Helmsley challenged Goldust to a fight, distracting him long enough for a big, musclebound woman to reach over the guardrail and choke out Marlena until security dragged her away.

Ladies and gentlemen, we had just witnessed the debut of Chyna.

It's Vader Time

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Kevin Kelly interviewed Vader & Paul Bearer
After a quick clip promoting Wrestlemania 13, we went next to Kevin Kelly, who was standing by with Vader and his new manager, Paul Bearer.

Bearer claimed that joining forces with The Mastodon was a smart business decision, whilst Vader himself trash-talked each of his opponents, not so much threatening to beat them up or anything, just generally noting that he didn't like them much.

He did of course, also tell us that it was Vader Time, which probably meant he was going to win the match.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/ Clarence Mason) vs. Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon

One of the better matches on the show by a million miles, both teams worked well together to deliver a solid performance, all whilst Owen Hart and British Bulldog continued to display some serious tension between them.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 13: Final Four - Owen Hart & British Bulldog lost to Furnas & LaFon via DQ
A see-saw battle saw some good offence from both sides, but it was the reigning champions who proved to be the most entertaining here.

Towards the finish, Bulldog had Philip LaFon set up for his patented power slam, only for Owen to come in and whack LaFon on the head with a Slammy Award.

The referee gave the match to the challengers via DQ and that, as you can imagine, only pissed off Davey Boy even further.
Your Winners via Disqualification: Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon (Owen Hart & British Bulldog retain the titles)

Post match, Davey Boy yelled at Owen and threatened to beat up manager Clarence Mason. Obviously the Bulldog face turn never transpired, but it certainly looked like an exciting possibility at this stage.

Doc Hendrix Interviews The Undertaker

WWF / WWE In Your House 13: Final Four - The Undertaker
Prior to our next main event, The Undertaker told Doc that he had rediscovered the edge he had back in the early 90s and would be going back to that version of himself, albeit against much better opponents.

Tonight, not Vader, Stone Cold, nor The Hitman would get in The Dead Man's way of becoming WWF champion again.

Bret Hart Is Ready

With his opponents already in the ring, Bret Hart told Kevin Kelly that despite all of his opponents being tough, he was ready and nothing could stop him becoming WWF Champion again.

Final Four Way Match for the Vacant World Wrestling Federation Championship
Vader (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Whilst the previous tag team match may have been good for what it was, there was no doubt about it: 

In Your House 13 - Final Four was absolutely a one-match show. 

But man, what a match it was. 

Between Vader busting his eye open in horrific fashion and wrestling the majority of the match looking gruesome as all hell, Hart and Austin going after each other with their usual violent chaos, and The Undertaker destroying everyone he came across, this was non-stop carnage from start to finish. 

One of the best WWF matches of 1997, if not the entire 1990s, this made sitting through everything else on the show absolutely worth it. 

After a lengthy battle, Bret clotheslined 'Taker over the top rope to win his fourth World Wrestling Federation Championship. 
Your Winner and New WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Post-match, new number-one contender Sid came out for the obligatory staredown with the new champion.

The two would face off for the title the following night on Raw in a match that would only throw further confusion and chaos on the WWF title scene. 

What? You thought we'd have everything cleared up with The Hitman's win?

Not a chance. 

Just 24 hours after winning the belt, Bret would lose it again in that match to Sid, who would face The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 13 for the title whilst Bret was left to go at it with his nemesis Steve Austin in a submission match which, rumour has it, wasn't too bad. 
But that's another review for another time. 

1997 events reviewed so far:
  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW Souled Out 1997
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Until next time, thanks for reading. 

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