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

Showing posts with label 1995. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1995. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Band: Hulk Rules (1995) - Track by Track Album Review

There once was a time when Hulk Hogan was one of the biggest stars in popular culture, when his was a name which transcended pro wrestling and made its mark right across the entertainment world.

There once was a time when cashing in on that popularity with a music album would have been the smart thing to do.

1995 was not that time.

There was also once a time when cheesy, novelty rap records and songs that sounded like they came from a Super Nintendo game went down pretty well.

1995 was not that time either.

Unfortunately, nobody told Hogan any of this.

That must be why, smack in the middle of the 90s, he released Hulk Rules, an album which would have still sounded terrible had it been released ten -or even five- years earlier, but would have at least been fitting for its time.

Make no mistake about it, with grunge music, the eventual rise of ECW and alternative culture surrounding it, Hulk Rules would have already sounded incredibly dated when it was first released.

Over two decades later, it's practically unfathomable that anybody would listen to this album and think "Yeah! You know what? We should release this to the public!"

Still, release it they did, and today, we get the ahem pleasure of going track-by-track through the one and only release from Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Band.


Let's do this.

1: Hulkster's in the House 

"The Hulkster's in the room. // You know he's on the move. // I can feel it in my feet. // We're moving to the beat."

True story, the official video for this song featured Macho Man Randy Savage on the keyboard.

We'd have to wait a good few years before we got a Randy Savage music album but until then he was apparently quite happy to hang out on what would prove to be one of the best tracks on the entire Hulk Rules album.

The huge, driving guitar riff and first-day-in-drummer-school beat may have been better suited to a Deff Leppard or Motley Crue demo from the turn of the decade, but you have to admit that when combined with that melody, it makes for a pretty catchy rock song.

If you just listen to that and tune out lyrics which range from either cheesy ("when the going gets tough, the tough get rough!") to just terrible (everything else), you could almost argue that Hulkster's in the House is a good song.

I mean, not a good song that anybody would actually buy and listen to if they weren't writing a review for a pro wrestling blog, but good for saying its on a novelty pop record by a professional wrester.

2: American Made

"He's got the red, white, and blue running through his veins // He was born and raised in the U.S. of A // He's government inspected, he's U.S. grade // If you mess with the flag it's like a slap in his face."

Up next, a song that probably needs no introduction.

American Made was the theme song that Hogan used in World Championship Wrestling whenever he was the red & yellow babyface Hulkster.

The song was clearly meant to be an updated take on his famous WWF theme, Real American. Though nowhere near as iconic as that Rick Derringer-penned track, but I'd argue that it's the better of the two in terms of pure rock-out fun.

Another big scorching riff, another catchy hook, American Made is far superior to the opening track. In fact, it's far superior to anything else on this album which of course means only one thing:

It's all down hill from here.

3: Hulkster's Back

"Fortune and fame was his middle name. // He got as high as the sky, he remained the same. // With the training and the prays and the vitamins too. // Don't mess with us or we'll beat you too."

What happens if you play the basic, pre-programmed drum track on your kid's toy keyboard, add some sprightly keys that sound as though they come from the theme song of a Saturday morning TV show about streetwise high school kids, and get Terry Bollea to spit lyrics over the top of it all?

You get Hulkster's Back of course.

Remember earlier, when I told you this whole album sounded dated? This is one of the main reasons why. Even in 1992, people would have been rolling their eyes at what is basically the first of several Hulk Hogan rap jams, but in 1995, I can't imagine that anyone not involved in The Wrestling Boot Band would have thought this was a good idea.

It's cheesy and it's terrible, but if it does have one redeeming quality, it's that it is at least hilarious.

When Hogan's not rapping, he's busy shouting out random soundbites like "check out the pump, brother!" and "Test the power! all while some California valley girl randomly quips 'oh my god!"

It's kinda silly, but then it gets really funny when Hogan randomly yells "Oh! Look at that new vein in my tricep!"

That line alone is worth sitting through this entire album for.

4: Wrestling Boot Travelling Band

"I met a girl on the beach yesterday // And she looked a lot like you. // She heard the band play late last night // and she thought the bass player was cute. // She was down here on her vacation // 'Cos she needed her time and space // so we laid on the beach and got us a tan." 

The hilarity continues next with this little gem on which Jimmy Hart takes lead vocals.

I mean, one listen to this and you can't help but feel sorry for The Mouth of the South.

He meets a girl on the beach and invites her to a show but instead of falling for him, she gets a crush on Hogan instead. Cuckolded by his own bass player, Hart lies on the beach with this wandering-eyed Jezebelle anyway.

Poor Jimmy.

Also, poor us, because we're the ones who have to hear him tell this story over what sounds like the backing music to the worst country and western karaoke song you've ever heard.

Awful, but really, really funny.

5: Bad to the Bone 

"Come on baby, we're going for a ride // Just put your arms around and hold on tight // Turn up the music 'cause we want to play it loud // The girls all know it's a boys night out // 'Cause we're bad, bad, bad to the bone. (To the bone)"

No, this isn't a cover of the George Thoroughgood classic. Rather, it's a cover of Brian Pillman's old theme, Blondes Have More Fun, albeit with different lyrics.

You know what? It's not half bad.

Give this one to Motley Crue and let them add a bit of sleaze and sex appeal to it, and you've actually got a pretty damn good hair metal track.

6: I Wanna Be a Hulkamaniac 

"I Want to be a Hulkamaniac // Have fun with my family and friends"

I find it impossible to believe that the people who let rip with an electric guitar on Bad to the Bone and American Made are the same people who are responsible for this...this..whatever this thing happens to be.

I won't even call it a song.

This is literally the Owen Hart WWF theme that Hart and McGuire also wrote, only like a million times worse because it has Hulk Hogan rapping over it and some people chanting "Have fun with my family and friends" like something straight out of Barney the Dinosaur.

I mean this beyond bad. This is an absolute mess, but I suppose if you have a sense of humour about these kinds of things, I Wanna Be a Hulkamaniac could well be one of the funniest things you ever hear.

7: Beach Patrol 

"Whoomp, there it is, check it up, check it in // You'll be six feet deep if you touch my girlfriend // You know this home boy could lose control, You just don't mess with the beach patrol."

Whoomp! There it is! 

Who do The Wrestling Boot Band think they are? Men on a Mission?

Honestly, though this isn't quite as bad as the previous track, it's still pretty terrible.

Hart and McGuire use a MIDI keyboard to create a track that sounds like it should be Jobber McJobberton's theme music on a NES pro wrestling game while Hogan busts a rhyme about a lifeguard hitting on his girlfriend at the beach.

Every now and again, Hogan will go slightly insane and yell out "Hey girlfriend"  or "hey dudes!"

In that respect, it's kind of brilliant. In all other respects, it's fifty different kinds of terrible, girlfriend.

8: Hulk's The One

"They say your heart is made out of stone // You got me hanging by a string // My friends all tell me you're bad to the bone // Please be bad to me"

I could be wrong, but I think this is Linda Hogan singing an 80s-throwback power-pop ballad about how Hulk forced her to give him oral sex and then left.

First, she begs The Hulkster to be bad to her and it seems he's more than happy to oblige.

"You got me down on my knees // When you turned on the charm, I heard the alarm // I should have called the police"

So he makes her get down on her knees and this makes her think about calling the cops?


I don't like where this is going.

"You held on so strong and then you are gone // You turned the lights out on me"

Nor does Hogan, apparently. After using Linda for his tawdry act, he promptly leaves.

Forget hanging and banging, brother, this is hump her and dump her time.

9: Hulkster in Heaven 

"I used to tear my shirt // But now you tore my heart // I knew you were a Hulkamaniac // Right from the very start."

Oh dear.

This is one of the more famous songs from this album because of the story surrounding it.

According to Hogan himself, this song is about a young fan with a terminal illness who Hogan invited to sit in the front row and watch him wrestle at Wembley Stadium on the Summerslam 1992 show.

Yet just hours before Hogan was due to head to the ring, the little Hulkamaniac tragically passed away.

So far, so tear-jerkingly sad.

Except for the fact that Hogan was nowhere near Wembley Stadium in 1992 and certainly didn't compete at Summerslam.

While I'm willing to give Hogan the benefit of the doubt in that he did have a young fan pass away (albeit not in London), I do wonder why he would choose to pay tribute to said fan with such a poorly produced mess of a track.

10: Hulk Rules

"If you ever get in trouble and you need a helping hand // Just call on the Hulkster and he will be your friend // He'll stand up for your freedom, he'll stand up for your rights // United you both will stand, together you will fight."

Man, Jimmy Hart and JJ McGuire really loved that Owen Hart theme.

For the second time on the same album, they recycle The Slammy Award Winner's entrance music, this time adding electric guitar, an ear-piercing organ, and to complete the cacophony of noise, a random saxophone solo.

The result is, erm, interesting to say the least.

It's not the worst thing on the album, that's for sure, but like the other nine tracks, it's not something I'll ever be in a hurry to listen to ever again.

I started this review ready to write
Hulk Rules off as simply a really terrible novelty music record. Yet now I realise that it's so, so much more than that. 

It's not just terrible, it's also brilliant, cringe-inducing, hilarious, awful, embarrassing, wet-your-pants-funny, and at times just plain weird.

Part rock, part rap, part recycled Owen Hart themes, I absolutely guarantee you that, for better or worse, listening to Hulk Rules will be like no experience you've ever had before, brother.

Having said all that, there's one thing left for me to say.

Whoomp, there it is.

Thanks for reading. If you're looking for more pro wrestling album reviews, you might enjoy: 
Don't miss our other Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following @Retropwrestling on Twitter or liking the Facebook page

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Top Ten Matches from the First Ten WWE Survivor Series matches

It can't have escaped your attention that WWE Survivor Series 2017 is this weekend. 

With bouts like The Shield vs. The New Day and a hotly anticipated champion vs. champion encounter between AJ Styles and Brock Lesnar, this year's event is likely to prove that Survivor Series can indeed hold it's own with the other three members of the 'Big Four' when it comes to delivering great matches.

Yes, it's sad that Survivor Series should have to prove anything at all, but for this writer, it often feels as though it does.

As the last major -and I mean MAJOR- events of WWE's calendar, the show is usually overlooked in comparison to 'Mania, the 'Rumble, and Summerslam with many of its best moments destined to languish forever as 'forgotten classics.'

But hey, that's part of the reason Retro Pro Wrestling exists in the first place - to make sure that we don't forget those hidden gems that may otherwise go on unloved.

If you've been following along, you'll know that I've so far covered every WWE/WWF PPV from Wrestlemania 1 up to In Your House 13: Final Four which, nicely, means I've covered the first 10 instalments of the Survivor Series franchise.

To celebrate this weekend's event, I decided to revisit those first ten events and give you my pick of the top ten matches from the first ten Survivor Series shows.

This includes all matches, singles, tags, and traditional Survivor Series elimination bouts, and is based on nothing more than my own personal preference.

I'm not scoring on work rate, crowd reaction, or anything like that - if I loved the match for whatever reason, it goes in.

Don't agree with me? That's all good. Let me know in the comments what your favourite Survivor Series matches are from the first event in 1987 to the 10th event in 1996.

Ready? Let's do it.

10: Team Flair vs. Team Piper (Survivor Series 1991) 

Ric Flair, The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, Warlord and The Mountie VS. Rowdy Roddy Piper, The British Bulldog, Virgil and Intercontinental Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

Survivor Series 1991 was a mostly terrible show that served as one long, dull commercial for another PPV - This Tuesday in Texas - set to take place just six days later.

The show gave us random crud like a match pitting Sgt. SlaughterJim DugganTito Santana and Kerry Von Erich on the same team against BerzerkerSkinnerHercules and Iron Sheik (as Col. Mustafa) and a weird six-man main event in which I.R.S teamed with The Natural Disasters to take on Big Boss Man and The Legion of Doom, but it did give us a few memorable moments.

It gave us the pre-Barber Shop break up of The RockersThe Undertaker's first WWF Championship win, and this match - the best thing on the card by a mile.

The match was notable for being the first time The Million Dollar Man had wrestled on a Survivor Series team that he wasn't the captain of, and also for stand out performances by The British Bulldog and Nature Boy himself.

Sure, things were spoiled by a convoluted ending in which everybody except for Ric Flair was disqualified - but up until that point, this had the makings of a fun match.

9: Macho Man Randy Savage & Mr Perfect vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair & Razor Ramon (Survivor Series 1992)

As everybody knows, the story goes that this was supposed to be Macho Man Randy Savage partnering with The Ultimate Warrior in their short-lived Ultimate Maniacs team before Warrior left the company with just a few weeks to go.

The WWF brain trust scrambled around to come up with a replacement and found the perfect one in Mr Perfect.

Not only did this work out great for the in-ring action, but it also made perfect kayfabe sense.

Announcers Vince McMahon and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan reminded us that Perfect had once been Ric Flair's Executive Consultant and even vaguely referenced the fact that Hennig and Razor Ramon had once tagged together in the AWA, meaning he was the one guy who knew both opponents better than anyone on the roster.

Storyline aside, the quality of the match was impressive.

Other reviewers have likened it to a good, modern-day Raw main event, but I honestly think that does it an injustice.

Sure, this wasn't necessarily a classic, but it was a quality match in its own right, and one of only two on the entire Survivor Series 1992 card that is actually worth watching.

What was the other one?

Keep reading to find out.

8: 'Wild Card' Survivor Series Elimination Match (Survivor Series 1995)

Team Michaels (Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, The British Bulldog, and Sycho Sid w/ Ted DiBiase)
 Team Yokozuna (Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas (w/ Mr. Fuji)

Honestly, the only reason that this one isn't higher is that Survivor Series 1995 pretty much dominates this list, and I wanted to give some of the other shows their due.

Here we have we have what was basically heels and faces on the same team. In kayfabe, this was a concept designed by WWF President Gorilla Monsoon to frustrate and punish heel manager Jim Cornette by putting members of his Camp Cornette stable on opposing teams, though in actuality, it was just a clever storytelling device that produced some terrific action.

Personally, I didn't enjoy this match quite as much as two others on this card, but that's like saying I didn't enjoy the sex I had one day as much as I did on two other days - even if it wasn't as good, it was still fantastic in its own right.

Weird, sexual analogies aside, this really was a fantastic match, going on for 30 minutes with plenty of action from all sides.

I'll say it multiple times in this review, but Survivor Series 1995 really was one of the best editions of this event to take place in the 1990s, and this incredibly exciting match is a big reason why.

7: Teamsters vs. Bad guys (Survivor Series 1994) 

The Teamsters (WWF Tag Team Champions Diesel and Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart and Jeff Jarrett) 
The Bad Guys (WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon, The 123 Kid, The British Bulldog and The Headshrinkers, Sione and Fatu, w/ Afa and Captain Lou Albano)

The 1994 Survivor Series was memorable for a number of reasons.

It was at this show that Bob Backlund wrestled in only his second WWF PPV singles match, beating Bret 'The Hitman' Hart for the championship in a lengthy and enjoyable submission match.

It was here that The Undertaker stuffed Yokozuna into a casket and effectively buried Yoko's main event run for good.

And it was also here the that the friendship between Shawn Michaels and Diesel would finally come to an end.

After first hiring the former Master Blaster as his body, the Heartbreak Kid had developed a friendship with the big guy that had seen the two capture the tag team titles.

Yet after one misplaced super kick too many, 7ft Diesel was beginning to get sick and tired of his smaller ally.

Tonight, things would finally come to a head when Diesel ate Shawn's boot for the third time and turned on both HBK and his teammates.

It was obvious that the whole match had been designed to solidify Diesel's face turn in preparation for a WWF Championship reign that would begin later that week (and end with another quality Survivor Series match that we'll get to later), but that's not to say that the other participants simply sat around and watched the Diesel and Shawn show.

Everybody got involved. Everybody excelled. Everybody worked hard to make this a show-stealing performance.

From the 123 Kid's early exchanges with Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart, to Hart's duel with brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith, to the dramatic, Diesel-turning finale, everything about this was pure gold.

6: WWF Champion Diesel vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart (Survivor Series 1995) 

Like the Jindar Mahal of the 1990s, Kevin Nash's run with the WWF title throughout 1995 had been lacklustre at best. 

After a string of terrible main event title defences against the likes of Sycho Sid (In Your House 1), King Mabel (Summerslam 1995) and The British Bulldog (In Your House IV - a match I weirdly enjoyed), Vince McMahon had decided to pull the plug on his experiment and hand the title over to a more capable worker in AJ Styles Bret 'The Hitman' Hart. 

Bret and Diesel always worked well together, and tonight was no exception. 

The two went at it in a hugely entertaining match which -along with the Wild Card match and the opening undercarders bout- helped make Survivor Series 1995 one of the best Survivor Series cards of the 1990s, if not of all time. 

5: Ten Team Survivor Series Match I (Survivor Series 1987) 

The Hart Foundation (team captains), Demolition, The Islanders, The Dream Team and The Bolsheviks vs. Strike Force, The Killer Bees, The British Bulldogs, The Rougeaus and The Young Stallions.

The first Survivor Series in 1987 already presented what was then a radical new concept in Pay Per view wrestling.

Rather than ending feuds with a card packed full of singles and tag matches, teams of five would strive to survive on a show whose original purpose had been to rival the NWA's Starrcade.

Yet as different as it was, the true stand out, the one that looked unlike anything else we'd seen on TV up to that point was a huge, 20-man elimination match in which two sides comprised of five tag teams each would go at it in a fast-paced, action-packed bout that remains highly enjoyable to this date.

The 1980s really was the golden age of tag team wrestling in the World Wrestling Federation, and here we get some of the very best in the form of The Hart FoundationThe British BulldogsThe Fabulous Rougeaus and Demolition, all colliding in one huge match.

Sure, the sequel to this match that took place the following year at Survivor Series 1988 was technically better, but that's to take nothing away from this one - it was as unique as it was fun, and like everything else on this list, well worth checking out on the WWE Network.

4: WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series 1992)

Out of the three high profile Pay Per View main event matches that Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Shawn Michaels had together, this is the one that most frequently gets overlooked.

On the one hand, it's understandable.

After all, one of those three encounters was a never-done-before-on-WWF-PPV hour long iron man match, and the other was Survivor Series 1997, when, well, you know what happened there.

On the other hand, it's a shame that Hart/Michaels I gets overlooked because it's arguable -and I do mean arguably- the best bout of the three.

Lacking the overly-long time limit of their Wrestlemania 12 match and the controversial finish of Montreal, this Survivor Series 1992 main event was just a straight-up wrestling match that was vastly different from previous PPV main events.

Though neither man were quite at their peak, the champion vs. champion clash showed what both were capable of in a match which blew away everything else on the card by a mile.

3: Ten Team Survivor Series Match II (Survivor Series 1988) 

Team Demolition: WWF Tag Team Champions, Demolition, The Conquistadors, The Bolsheviks, The Brain Busters and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers VS. Team Powers of Pain: Powers of Pain, The Young Stallions, The Hart Foundation, The Rockers and The British Bulldogs

The first Survivor Series also had a huge 20-man elimination bout that I've listed elsewhere, but despite the novelty value of such a match at the time, it wasn't quite as good as this all-out classic from the 1988 Survivor Series.

Abandoning the lightning-fast pace (for the 80s) that was set in the 1987 match, all ten teams took the time to really tell a story that was as compelling as it was dramatic.

Exchanges featuring The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, and The Brain Busters were highlights of the action, though of course, the most famous moment from this one was the original double-turn:

Demolition became the good guys whilst Powers of Pain aligned themselves with Ax & Smash's now-former manager, Mr Fuji.

A fun classic which is still great fun to watch, even 20 years later.

2: Bret 'The Hitman Hart' vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (Survivor Series 1996) 

After dropping the title to Shawn Michaels in their legendary Iron Man match at Wrestlemania 12, Bret Hart had taken a six-month leave of absence from the World Wrestling Federation.

Whilst he was gone, Stone Cold Steve Austin had begun to propel himself into the upper-echelons of the company hierarchy via a memorable, career-altering win at King of the Ring 1996 and countless entertaining performances between the ropes.

Not content with being one of the fastest rising stars in the company, Austin had decided that what he really needed in order to truly establish himself, was to lure Bret back from his sabbatical and into the ring.

The future champion spent months trying to coax The Hitman back to the WWF, even joining his former Hollywood Blondes partner Brian Pillman and Bret's brother Owen Hart in a boundary-pushing segment at In Your House 10: Mind Games to try and push Hart's buttons.

It worked.

Bret made his long-awaited return to the ring on November 17th at Survivor Series 1996 from Madison Square Garden in New York.

His opponent?

Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Though the two would have better matches (including that legendary submission match at Wrestlemania 13), the first in-ring meeting between the two was more than enough to prove why both men deserved to considered among the sport's all-time greatest.

Despite walking away with the win (countering Austin's Million Dollar Dream into a fluky-looking pin), Bret made Austin look like an absolute star.

Indeed, whilst the 'Austin 3:16' King of the Ring speech may have been the one 1996 Steve Austin most fans still remember best, it was this match with The Hitman that truly made Stone Cold a main event player.

1: The Underdogs vs. The Body Donnas (Survivor Series 1995) 

The Underdogs (Team Captain Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Bob Holly and Barry Horowitz) 
The Body Donnas 
(Team Captain Skip, Rad Radford, Dr. Tom Pritchard and 123 Kid, w/ Sunny and Ted Dibiase)

Yes, I know what you're thinking.

This isn't championship material. Heck, it's barely even midcard material, but I unashamedly love this match in all its wonderful glory.

After a year of tension between 123 Kid and his best friend Razor Ramon, the man we'd later know as X-Pac had finally turned his back on the babyface locker room and aligned himself with Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Corporation.

This match was designed to help establish Kid as a star (he'd eventually win by beating former tag partner, Marty Jannetty), but it did so much more than that.

It took several midcarders with not much going on, put them together, and let them let loose.

When they did, the results were nothing short of incredible.

Technical wrestling, high-flying, the odd spot of comedy, this one had it all, and was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish.

I get the feeling that because of the star power of its participants, this one often gets overlooked, but I dare you to watch it and not find it wonderfully entertaining.

Go on, I dare you.

Beg to differ? Got your own choices for the top ten matches from the first ten Survivor Series events?
Let me know in the comments below, or let's connect on Twitter - @RetroPwrestling.
You can also catch up on all my latest reviews on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page

Thanks for reading and enjoy Survivor Series! 

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. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF / WWE Survivor Series 1995

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Event poster
November 19, 1995,
USAir Arena in Landover, Maryland

By the time November 1995 rolled around, Vince McMahon must have surely been ready to face facts: The Diesel Experiment had hardly been the kind of resounding success he must have been hoping for. 

Almost a full calendar year had gone by since Big Daddy Cool captured the title from Bob Backlund in the wake of Survivor Series 1994, and between then and now, we'd seen Shawn Micahels' former bodyguard run roughshod in a series of main events which -whilst entertaining in places- pretty much bombed.

Indeed, there was only two matches throughout Diesel's entire run that were memorable for the right reason; his Wrestlemania 11 match against the aforementioned HBK, and his Royal Rumble 95 outing with Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, a man who tonight would lock-up with the champion in an attempt to claim back the title he lost a year ago.

Who emerged victorious? What else went down at Survivor Series 1995? Let's find out together, shall we?

Razor hypes the wild-card match
Immediately following the company's ident, tonight's show began with a backstage promo from . Sat in the locker room and getting into his gear, The Bad Guy hyped tonight's 'wild card' match, a bout where the traditional 'good guys vs. bad guys' story had been flipped on its head, instead seeing both heels and faces join forces on the same team.
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Mr. Perfect, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon commentate
Razor Ramon

Mr. Perfect returns
From there, we went straight to the arena, were Howard Finkle introduced a returning Mr. Perfect. Joining Jim Ross and Vince McMahon as our commentary team for the evening, Perfect looked a picture of radiance as he settled in ready to host tonight's show.

Four vs. Four Traditional Survivor Series Match
The Underdogs (Team Captain Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Bob Holly and Barry Horrowitz) 
The Body Donnas 
(Team Captain Skip, Rad Radford, Dr. Tom Pritchard and 123 Kid, w/ Sunny and Ted Dibiase)

With the good guys making their way to the ring first, it was up to Sunny to introduce her three out of the four members of her team to the live audience. Once safely between the ropes, our standard ring announcer did the honours for 'surprise' team mate the 123 Kid, who, following a year of tension with one-time best friend Razor, had finally turned heel and aligned himself with Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Corporation

Still seething at the betrayal, Ramon darted through the curtain in an attempt to get at the Kid, only to have his efforts thwarted by a wall of referees, who sent him to the back so that our match could begin properly. 

And man, what a match it was. 

Your writer is quite prepared to go on record as saying that The Underdogs vs. The Body Donnas is by far one of the best traditional Survivor Series matches that ever took place. Indeed, despite their low status on the card at the time, all eight men went out to the ring that night to show that they were every bit as talented (if not a whole lot more) than their peers in the top-tier of the card. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - 123 Kid wrestled on the Body Donnas Team
From start to finish, both teams delivered bell to bell excitement that really had the crowd hooked. I mean, this thing had everything: high flying, technical wrestling, a touch of comedy (Skip raising his arm to celebrate before collapsing face-first into the canvas was hilarious) and entertainment aplenty. 

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I'm prepared to say that this isn't just one of the best Survivor Series matches I've seen, but by far one of the most enjoyable bouts I've watched since I first started Retro Pro Wrestling a few years ago. 

After the better part of 20 minutes, only 123 Kid and his former tag team partner, Marty Jannetty remained. With both men battling towards a dramatic climax, Sycho Sid made his way to the ring, intefering on behalf of his Million Dollar Corporation stablemate, and giving the win to the Kid.
Your Winners: The Body Donnas (123 Kid is your sole survivor) 

As the 123 Kid celebrated in the ring, we were shown a backstage clip of Razor Ramon destroying the dressing room, visibly pissed off at the Kid's victory. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Owen Hart, Yokozuna, Dean Douglas, Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji
Speaking of Ramon, his 'wild card' team mates Owen Hart, Yokozuna and Dean Douglas were waiting backstage, where Jim Cornette claimed that even though nobody on that team wanted Razor to join them, if he absolutely had to, The Bad Guy had better get his head together. 

Four vs. Four Women's Traditional Survivor Series Match
Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, and Lioness Asuka (with Harvey Wippleman) 
Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparita Asari
For all intents and purposes, there was only one real reason why this match even took place; to set up a WWF Women's Championship match between reigning champion Alundra Blayze and Aja Kong

Yet until we got to that point, the eight women involved delivered a great little match chock-full of high spots and the kind of innovative wrestling moves not normally seen by US audiences. 

Whilst Mr. Perfect delivered a tirade of chauvinistic sexist comments on the mic, both teams exchanged frequent tags, more suplexes than your typical Brock Lensar match and all kinds of off-the-top rope goodies to create the second enjoyable contest of the evening. 

Though not quite on a par with our opener, this was a pretty captivating affair, which came to a head with Kong and Blayze as the sole representatives of their respective teams. A short tussle later, and the woman from Japan went over, leading to the inevitable challenge for the Women's title. 
Your Winners: Bertha Faye's Team (Aja Kong is your sole survivor)

Out in the crowd, Todd Pettingill interviewed a Bill Clinton look alike in one of the worst attempts at humour you've ever seen on a wrestling show. As Bam Bam Bigelow made his way to the ring, 'The President' claimed he'd followed The Beast From the East's career ever since he was 'a little boy playing around with Pebbles.' Indeed. 

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Goldust 
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Goldust cuts a pre-match promo before facing Bam Bam Bigelow
After two exciting matches, things were set to slow down considerably with our next match; a slow, lumbering bout which, for the duration of its 8+ minutes, constantly threatened to send the crowd to sleep. 

Truth be told, I wanted to like this match, I really did. Bam Bam was an incredible performer, whilst in terms of Goldust,  it was certainly interesting to see one of the WWE's longest-running characters in the early stages of his career, but put the two together, and there wasn't much to write home about. 

Given the huge push he'd received since his debut, it wasn't too surprising to see Goldust pick up the victory thanks to a simple running bulldog. What was surprising though, is that two otherwise talented wrestlers just couldn't pull it together enough to create anything but an entirely forgettable contest with very little good to say about it. 
Your Winner: Goldust 

Heading back to the crowd, our friend Bill Clinton urged Bob Backlund to run against him in the next presidential ellections. No doubt kicking off the whole 'Backlund for President' gimmick that would run for several months in the mid-90s, this was another completly unfunny segment, complete with some topical news references which, some 23 years later, make very little sense to this writer. 

Four vs. Four Traditional Survivor Series Match
 The Royals (King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem, DDS, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Sir Mo)
The Darkside (The Undertaker, Savio Vega, Fatu and Henry O. Godwinn w/ Paul Bearer) 
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Undertaker chokeslams Triple H
If you recall, this whole thing began back at the 1995 King of the Ring, when Mabel toppled Undertaker en route to his eventually tournament win. Building things up slowly throughout the remainder of the year, things eventually exploded in the run-up to the October 95 In Your House PPV, when Mabel 'face-crushed' THe Undertaker (Vince McMahon's words, not mine), putting him out of action for over a month.

Making his return at tonight's show, The morbid and morose Undertaker sought revenge by teaming with three happy-go-lucky, perma-smiled babyfaces to take on his rival, Mabel, the man who would later become his brother, Isaac Yankem, Jerry Lawler and future WWE COO, Triple H.

As matches go, this was far from the worst that ever happened, but it almost looked like it could have been in the early going. Indeed, things only reached any level of excitement once The Undertaker himself tagged in. Having watched his goofy team mates go back and forth with The Royals, The Phenom finally entered the ring and systematically destroyed each of his opponents. 
Your Winners: The Dark Side (everyone survives)

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Undertaker returned wearing a protective mask
Prior to our next contest, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross reminded us that the winner of tonight's Hitman/Diesel WWF Championship match would go on to face The British Bulldog at December In Your House pay per view. Cutting to pre-recorded comments from champ and challenger, both men claimed that they'd worry about the Bulldog later. For now, they were entirely focused on tonight, each man reminding us that this would be a battle between the skill of Bret versus the size and strength of Diesel. 

Moving to live interviews, Todd Pettingill questioned Jim Cornette about who's side he was actually on tonight. 'I just interviewed you earlier with the other team!' exclaimed Todd, only for James E. to claim he hadn't seen hide nor hair of Pettingill all day. 

Following Ted Dibiase's warning that the Bulldog should in no way cross the Million Dollar Man, Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson arrived, insisting that everyone get on the same page and work together. 

Four vs. Four 'Wildcard' Match
Team Michaels (Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, The British Bulldog, and Sycho Sid w/ Ted DiBiase)
 Team Yokozuna (Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Just to refresh your memory, the Unique Selling Point of this match was that it was the first Survivor Series elimination match to feature both heels and faces on the same side, with Davey Boy Smith forced to joi up with Shawn Michaels, newcomer Ahmed Johnson and Sycho Sid in order to take on his Camp Cornette team mates Owen and Yoko, along with bitter rivals Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas.

An idea laid down by then WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, this break-from-the-norm was primarily designed (in kayfabe terms at least) to frustrate and torment Jim Cornette, who spent much of the match torn between both both teams.

More than holding its own when compared to our opening Underdogs vs. Body Donnas match, Team Michaels vs. Team Yokozuna more than delivered. Clocking in at just under half an hour, early highlights included duels between Michaels and Owen, Michaels and Razor, and Owen and brother-in-law the Bulldog. 

WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Shawn Michaels, Sid, Ahmed Johnson and British Bulldog were on the same team
The result was an intense, dramatic affair with tensions brewing on either side and enough action in the ring to ensure there was scarcely a dull moment in the longest match on the card.

Eventually boiling down to Razor and Yoko against Smith, Johnson and Michaels, the Bad Guy was distracted by Sid, who had previously been eliminated, only to return with the 123 Kid in tow. Faced against three opponents, Yoko gutted it out, missing a banzai drop on Shawn Michaels before Ahmed Johnson tagged in,

The Pearl River Powerhouse slammed the sumo star to the mat and made the cover, only for Davey Boy to turn on his team mates and break up the pin fall. Shooting Davey Boy of the ring, Johnson eventually picked up the win for his team, after which the Bulldog jumped for joy in the ring, much to the chagrin of his team mates.
Your Winners: Team Michaels (HBK, Davey Boy and Ahmed Johnson survive)

Back to the crowd for the final time, Fake Bill Clinton offered Sunny a job as his 'under secretary,' before we got a great hype package for our main event.

Making Diesel vs. Bret Hart seem like a legitimate big deal in a way that you just don't see any more, comments from both men were spliced with footage of their two previous PPV matches, both of which were some of the best either man would have in the WWE.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match
WWF Champion Big Daddy Cool Diesel vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
WWF / WWE SURVIVOR SERIES 95 - Bret Hart beat Diesel for the WWF title
Whether they were doing battle at the 1994 King of the Ring or at the aforementioned Royal Rumble 1995, Hart and Nash always seemed to produce something special, and in their penultimate PPV encounter together, they did it again.

Trying their best to intimidate each other in the early going by removing the turnbuckle pads, both champ and challenger took their time to begin with, gradually building up the pace into a wild, no-holds barred brawl, with both men throwing the rule book far out of the window and going at it with a passionate desperation that was truly captivating.

Heralding the start of BDC's gradual heel turn (something he'd keep up until the end of his WWF run), the champion left it all on the line as he displayed an aggression that was unbecoming of a top-level 1995 babyface.

Not that Bret held much back either. Making up for his size disadvantage by going for the knee, the Hitman showed signs of the kind of viciousness he'd display in his own heel run of 1997, eventually withstanding a brutal amount of punishment before wrapping up his opponent for the cover, the count, and the victory.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

The new champion didn't have much time to celebrate however. Visibly irate, Big Daddy Cool returned to the ring and leveled his victor with two wicked Jacknife Powerbombs to bring the show to a close.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all she wrote. Easily one of the better pay per views of 1995, there was a lot to enjoy here. From the wildly entertaining opening match to the brutal brawl of our main event, Survivor Series 1995 marked a real turning point in the WWF's in-ring quality, and looked to set things up nicely for an interesting 1996. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF In your House 4 - Great White North

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Event poster
October 22, 1995,
Winnipeg Arena, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

As the World Wrestling Federation began to march towards the end of 1995, Diesel Power alone was proving not to be enough to sustain the company in the emerging war with World Championship Wrestling. Having ploughed over lumbering giants like Sycho Sid and King Mabel in a string of lackluster main events, reigning champion Kevin 'Diesel' Nash was reaching the end of his reign, though not before meeting The British Bulldog and enjoying his finest performance as a headliner since he and Shawn Micahels clashed back at Wrestlemania 11

Speaking of the Heartbreak Kid, the shenanigans and backstage politics we've all heard about where never more evident than they were on this cold night in Winnipeg, with the Intercontinental Champion set to forfeit his title.

But more of that later. For now, here's what went down when the WWF presented their first PPV to take place in Canada since 1990's Wrestlemania 6.

Sunday Night Slam
Much as with September's In Your House 3: Triple Header, our friends at Coliseum Home Video saw fit to treat us with a full Sunday Night Slam, in which the ever-present Todd Pettengill gave us a full run down of what was in store tonight.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Todd Pettengill and his bitches
First up, our buddy Todd went through the relatively short rivalry between Diesel and The British Bulldog. To refresh your memory, it was back in August of 1995 when Davey Boy Smith turned his back on the champion and powerslammed him into the mat on an episode of Monday night raw.

Cutting his hair short and aligning himself with Jim Cornette, Bulldog announced that he was fed up of being thought of as a 'nice guy' and being overlooked for championship matches. Having had has as much as he could stand, the Bulldog -who also declared that he would no longer be known as Davey Boy Smith- was setting his sights squarely on the champion.

For all intents and purposes, it was a smart career move for the man from Wigan. Having shone at In Your House 3, the former intercontinental champion went on a roll, even scoring a pinfall victory over Big Daddy Cool in a six man tag team match, clips of which we saw about a thousand times throughout the course of Sunday Night Slam. 

The Bulldog's rise to prominence was driving the champion to distraction, so much so that, on an episode of Superstars in which Bulldog cost Diesel a match (via countout) against Waylon Mercy, Big Daddy Cool proceeded to beat poor old Mercy to smithereens.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Jim Ross questions WWF President Gorilla Monsoon about the status of the Intercontinental Championship
Elsewhere, we went live to the arena where Jim Ross caught up with Gorilla Monsoon to discuss the status of Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. According to all reports, Michaels had been the victim of a real-life ass-kicking outside a nightclub in Syracuse, New York, and was thus in no fit state to defend his championship.

As such, Monsoon declared that the Heartbreak Kid would need to surrender his title on tonight's show. Still, as the People's President, Gorilla insisted that we would definitely see the IC title on the line tonight in a match against Dean Douglas, and another wrestler yet to be determined.

Joined at this point in the show by two random women who spent the rest of the show eating pizza, Pettengill gave us the low down on Yokozuna vs. King Mabel, the upcoming tag team championship match between The Smoking Gunns and the combination of Razor Ramon and the 123 Kid, and the impending debut of The Bizarre One himself, Goldust.

Yes indeed, back before the days of elaborate facepaint and kicking people in the balls, the man formerly known as Dustin Rhodes was a simple -if still completely weird-Hollywood movie buff with bland gold and smudges of black around the lips and eyes.

Still, there was time for all that later. For now, it was on to the show.

Welcome to the Great White North 
Our show tonight began with a stirring rendition of the Canadian National Anthem courtesy of 'upcoming singing sensation' Joanie Wilson. Fireworks exploded, we went straight to the World Wrestling Federation - The Revolutionary Force, in Sports Entertainment intro, before Gorilla Monsoon reminded us that tonight, he'd be taking the Intercontinental Championship from Shawn Michaels and handing it to Dean Douglas. 'However,' continued the Prez, Douglas would have to defend his new title against none other than Razor Ramon.

Cue our opening video package, in which the In Your House theme played over clips of fans buying tickets, merchandise and hot dogs, and from that, it was down to the arena.

Early audio difficulties put something of a dampner on Vince McMahon's 'Welcome Every-Wan!' though what he lacked in volume, the Chairman made up for in enthusiasm. McMahon introduced us to his fellow commentators, Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler, and with that, it was right down to our opening match.

Fatu vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley 
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Hunter Hearst Helmsley faced Fatu in the opening match
Taking a leaf from the pages of Rick Martel's Guide to Arrogance, future COO Hunter Hearst Helmsely had recently sprayed future hall of famer Fatu (then in his much-maligned Make a Difference gimmick), cause enough for the two to meet in tonight's first contest.

Understandably irate, Fatu wasted no time in attacking the Greenwich Blue Blood, barely giving Hunter a chance to take off his riding jacket and shirt and pounding him around the ring.

Helmsley fought back with a piledriver, and continued to dominate for much of the match. Like most of those early In Your House bouts, this was decent enough for what it was, but would hardly have any long term impact. Nor will it likely make any fans' must-see list.

Not too surprisingly, Hunter pedigreed the former Headshrinker to pick up the win.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Post match, Jerry Lawler caught up with Hunter for an interview that was rudely interrupted by the arrival of Henry O. Godwin. Terrified of the ominous slop bucket, Helmsley first hid behind Lawler before running away from the hog farmer, a move which would ultimately lead us to the infamous Hog Pen match. Say what you want about The Game, he certainly paid his dues.

A Word with the Bulldog
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Doc Hendrix interviews British Bulldog
Backstage, Doc Hendrix caught up with number one contender British Bulldog, and his manager, Jim Cornette.

'Big Daddy Cool, you think you can hide in this fifty-below hell hole? Well think again!' snarled the Bulldog. 'I beat you on Monday Night Raw, and I'm going to beat you again tonight.'

Looking for all the world like the biggest threat Big Daddy Cool had faced to date, the former Intercontinental Champion was certainly impressive, not to mention believable, in this short little promo.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship match:
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn) vs. Razor Ramon and 123 Kid
Before we go any further, a retraction of sorts from my last review. Having discussed the ending of the Razor/Douglas match at In Your House 3, I mentioned that the alliance between The Bad Guy and The Kid would end shortly after.

Of course, it would come to an end, but not before the two tried to put their differences aside and challenge new champions The Smoking Gunns for the belts Billy and Bart recently reclaimed from Owen and Yoko.

Before they did, the two friends -adorned in matching purple and gold outfits- cut a pre-match promo in which they praised the Gunns for putting up a fight, but promised that it wouldn't be enough to stop the tag team belts changing hands.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Razor Ramon and 123 Kid challenged The Smoking Gunns for the tag titles
Not that the dynamic between the two hadn't changed in that time. Still teasing a heel turn (remember when wrestlers still did that?), the Kid was more aggressive, more cocky, more arrogant in his attempt to wrestle the titles away from the Brothers Gunn.

Squaring off which future DX team mate Billy Gunn in the opening moments of the match, 123 Kid looked better than he had for a while, but it was The Bad Guy who fans were really behind. As over as he'd ever been, Razor had the crowd in the palm of his hands as he tug in for a battle of power against Bart Gunn.

From there, things settled into a nice groove, with the Kid continuing to heel it up despite his partner wrestling fair and square against the champions.

It was this change in attitude that was to be the challengers downfall. After Ramon landed the Razor's Edge, the Kid begged for the tag and eventually -following much crowd-baiting- got it. Making the cover, the youngster was rolled up and pinned, bringing a pretty enjoyable tag match to a close.
Your Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Smoking Gunns 

Visibly pissed, Kid attacked the victors, ppummelingboth Billy and Bart and temporarily stealing the tag team titles until Razor returned to the ring and calmed things down.

Goldust vs. Marty Jannetty
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Marty Jannetty vs. Goldust
Not seen in a WWF ring since he teamed with his father, Dusty Rhodes in a match against Ted Dibiase & Virgil at the 1991 Royal Rumble, Dustin Rhodes donned the wig and makeup to make his debut as Goldust in a match that was given a surprising amount of time.

Taking on another recent returnee in the form of Marty Jannetty, Goldust looked to make a big impact in what Ross, Lawler and McMahon referred to as his 'Premier,' and to that end, he mostly succeeded.

For over 11 minutes, Goldie and Jannetty put on a solid effort, battling in and out of the ring and keeping the Winnipeg audience on their feet with fast-paced, hard-hitting action.

With The Curtain Call finishing move not yet assigned to the new superstar, Goldust ended this entertaining match in disappointing fashion, using -of all things- a front facelock suplex to pick the victory.
Your Winner: Goldust 

Prior to the next bout, Vince McMahon reminded us why King Mabel and Yokozuna were about to meet in the ring. It all harked back to that six-man tag match on Raw, in which the two big men had worked in unison to put The Undertaker on the shelf. For some reason, that made them dislike each other, and thus we had ourselves a match.

As the King of the Ring Winner was carried to the ring by a bunch of jobbers, we went to a cut screen, with McMahon questioning Yoko's spokesman, Jim Cornette, about the upcoming contest. According to Jimmy, the only reason Monsoon had booked this match was to prevent Mabel and Yoko teaming up and bringing about the destruction of the World Wrestling Federation.

Yokozuna (w/ Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji) vs. King Mabel (w/ Sir Mo)
WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Yokozuna prepares for his match against King Mabel
The Winnipeg crowd were a lot more into this battle of the behemoths as you might think. For whatever reason, the two over-sized giants squaring up to one another at the start of the match had the audience on the edge of their seat, where they stayed throughout the duration of this short affair.

In all honesty, the crowd reaction wasn't all that surprising given what took place. In just five minutes, the understatedly talented Yokozuna carried Mabel to the best match he'd had all year (if not ever).

Trading blows, the two eventually took one another off their feet, each missed a leg drop apiece, then brawled to the outside. A ten count later, and this one was over.
Double Countout.

Though not quite. Following the bell, both men returned to the ring for another face off. Yet just when it looked like they'd come to blows once again, Yoko opened his arms and embraced the Man on a Mission, much to the disgust of the live audience.

Shawn Michaels forefeits the Intercontinental Championship
And so it came to this. Rather than drop the title in a match against the Kliq's arch-nemesis, Dean Douglas, Michaels was forced to surrender the belt as a result of injuries he'd sustained at the hands of some Syracuse thugs.

Doc Hendrix kicked off proceedings, first introducing fans to Gorilla Monsoon before calling The Dean to the ring. From there, it was Michaels turn to head to ringside. The Heartbreak Kid remained silent, looking glum, if otherwise completely healthy as McMahon tried desperately to explain how a a man who had been beaten up so badly that he couldn't wrestle showed no physical signs of said ass-kicking.

Douglas snatched the belt from Michaels who -in an almost identical reenactment of Hulk Hogan stealing The Ultimate Warrior's thunder at Wrestlemania- hammed it up all the way to the back and ensured that Douglas' celebration went largely unnoticed.

Aww, poor Shawn. Or perhaps I should say poor Dean, who probably enjoyed the briefest IC title run in history.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Dean Douglas vs. Razor Ramon
Already suggesting that he might just possibly become a four-time champion as he made his way to the ring, Ramon went right after the defending champion, beating Douglas to the outside and continuing the assault for the remainder of what was essentially an extended squash match.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Razor Ramon defeated Dean Douglas for the Intercontinental Championship
Showing no signs of fatigue despite wrestling in one championship match earlier in the show, The Bad Guy captured his title with very little effort in a disappointing match.
Your Winner: Razor Ramon

There was controversy surrounding the finish however, as Dean Douglas had his leg under the bottom rope whilst the referee counted to three. Not that it mattered. Soon after, Douglas would be gone, off to spend the rest of his career bitching about The Clique in shoot interviews.

The Hitman runs off The King
Scheduled to face the WWF Champion at Survivor Series 1995, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart made his way to ringside to commentate on our main event. Before he could do that however, there was the small matter of playing cat-and-mouse with long-time rival, Jerry Lawler. Several times, The King attempted to attack The Hitman, only for Bret to get the upperhand and eventually chase Lawler all the way to the back.

World Wrestling Federation Championship match:
WWF Champion Diesel vs. The British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette)
Before making his way to the ring, reigning champion Diesel told Doc Hendrix that he was feeling funky, then strolled to the ring for the best match he'd had in months, courtesy of The British Bulldog.

With The Hitman putting in a decent effort at the commentary table, discussing the pros and cons of having to face either man at Survivor Series, the challenger heeded the advice of his brother-in-law and went to work on Big Daddy Cool's long legs.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 4 - Great White North - Doc Hendrix speaks to WWF Champion Diesel
For the best part of 20 minutes, Davey Boy took his opponent to the limit, and despite completly messing up a sharpshooter attempt on no less than two occasions, looked pretty good as the aggressor.
Alas, the title was not to be his on that cold night in Canada. As we staggered towards the finale, Bulldog found himself on the outside and took out his frustrations on The Hitman. That brought Bret into the ring to extract revenge, giving the Bulldog the win via disqualification.
Your Winner by DQ: The British Bulldog (Diesel retains the WWF Championship)

As Davey Boy left with his tail between his legs, Hart next turned his attentions to the champion. The two men who would square off at Survivor Series went at each other in a flury of fists, prompting the likes of the Smoking Gunns and Aldo Montoya to rush ringside, breaking up the brawl as the show went off the air.

A much better show than it may sound on paper, In Your House 4: Great White North wasn't exactly a history making event, but for a filler pay per view, it was at least reasonably entertaining. Next time, we head to the Survivor Series. Until then, feel free to come and say hi on Twitter @Retropwrestling 

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.