Mega Powers Running Wild!

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

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

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

The Birth of the nWo

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

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

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

Wrestlemania 12 Review

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

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

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

Sunday, 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 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

PPV REVIEW: In Your House 3 - Triple Header

September 24, 1995,
Saginaw Civic Center, Saginaw, Michigan

If ever proof were needed of the influence wielded by backstage power-players The Clique, you only had to look at the late summer of 1995. Despite a couple of abysmal main events against the like of Sid and King Mabel, Big Daddy Cool Diesel was still riding high as our WWF Champion, whilst his buddy Shawn Michaels had just picked up another Intercontinental Championship reign.

Not content with that, tonight, they'd face the WWF Tag Team Champions in a first-of-its-kind match in which every WWF title was on the line as the company pressed on with its still relatively new In Your House concept.

Here's what else went down:

Sunday Night Slam
For reasons best left unsaid, our journey into the epicentre of the New Generation begins with a pre-PPV episode of the short lived Sunday Night Slam, hosted by your friend and mine, Todd Pettengill. 

Live (or not) from the same Stamford studio this writer remembers fondly from the days of WWF Mania, the Toddster gave us a run down of tonight's main draws.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header - Sunday Night Slam logo
After a brief look at the aforementioned Triple Header match, an interesting concept in which fans were guaranteed to see a title change, Pettengill focussed his presentation on the rivalry between Dean Douglas, Razor Ramon and the 123 Kid.

Our story -which would give Douglas enough shoot interview fodder for years to come- began in back at Summerslam 1995, when the Dean's critique of the Intercontinental Championship ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon was met with a harsh slap from The Bad Guy.

Over the coming weeks, Ramon and Douglas would continue to butt heads, the latter bringing the former's good friend, 123 Kid into the mix, and playing both against each other in an attempt to infuriate his In Your House opponent.

Elsewhere, we got a look at the seemingly never-ending rivalry between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Jean-Piere Lafitte. 

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header - Todd Pettengill hosted the In Your House preshow
Having lost to the Hitman at In Your House 2, the former Quebeccer had spent the intervening time stealing Bret's jacket, and plucking his glasses from the heads of young ringside fans. That was enough to give us not only a match, but an unbelievably childish promo from The Hitman in which he referred to Lafitte as a 'big smelly pirate.'

Somewhere in Massachusetts, John Cena was taking note.

From there, we got a replay of the verbal sparring between Owen Hart, Jim Cornette (along with the mostly silent Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji) and the Two Dudes with Attitudes combo of HBK and Big Daddy Cool.

With all that out of the way, it was on with the show.

Welcome to In Your House
I'm not entirely certain of this, but I'm fairly sure that our opening introduction today was a soul rendition of the same country-infused song that kicked off In Your House 2. What is for certain, is that we were greeted by Vince McMahon's second best catchphrase after 'You're fired!' in the form an impassionately growled Welcome evvvvvveryone!!!

Tonight, McMahon was joined at the commentary table by future Hall of Famers Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King Lawler, making for the first pay per view appearance of the three-man announce team that would become a familiar staple of WWE programming throughout the mid-90s.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header - Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross commentary team
In our opening gambit, both Lawler and Ross predicted that Shawn Michaels would lose his Intercontinental Championship in tonight's main event. They differed however, on who would become our new IC champion; The King was behind Owen, whilst Ross had his money on big Yoko.

Savio Vega vs. Waylon Mercy
Making his way to the ring for his first -and ultimately only- WWF pay per view match, Waylon Mercy recieved a pretty lukewarm reception from the Michigan faithful, and this despite a seemingly decent push on then-recent episodes of Superstars.

Savio Vega on the other hand, was treated to a pretty big pop from a crowd who remained well behind their man in what was a fairly uneventful opening match.

In fact, it was so uneventful, that McMahon and Lawler spent as much time debating what Vega had shaved into the back of his head (it was his hand-gesture thing) than they did calling the action. Jim Ross, for his part, remained mostly silent.

Providing the only highlight, Doc Hendrix popped up at one point with the breaking news that Owen Hart, co-holder of the WWF Tag Team Championship, and one quarter of tonight's main event, was not in the building. Oh dear.

Back to the action, or lack thereof, the popular Savio Vega ended Mercy's undefeated streak in a seven-plus minute snorefest.
Your Winner: Savio Vega

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Doc Hendrix interupted the Savio Vega/Waylon Mercy matchBackstage, Hendrix barged into the tag champs locker room, where Jim Cornette was found arguing with WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon.

'You're not some Johnny-come-lately, you know what time your boys are supposed to be here,' Monsoon told Cornette, going on to insist that come hell or high-water, we'd have our Triple Header main event tonight.

Sycho Sid (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. Henry O. Godwin
You've probably blocked this from your mind, so here's a quick reminder, courtesy of a pre-match recap:

In brief, then-heel Henry O. Godwin had been  contracted by Ted Dibiase to do a couple of things, all of which had somehow gone wrong. That led to a face-turn for the hog farmer, a couple of incidents of Ted Dibiase and Sid getting 'slopped' and a match here tonight.

The match itself was...Well, it was a match between Henry Godwin and Sid, so you can probably tell that this wasn't exactly a classic.

Nor was it necessarily terrible, either.

Both big men did the best they could in a passable, if somewhat slow-paced, brawl, all leading to big Sid's first pay per view win of 1995 courtesy of a big legdrop and a power bomb.
Your Winner: Sycho Sid

Not that the fun and games ended with a three-count. In the post-match, Sid and his manager, Dibiase, began arguing over who would dump the slop bucket over a prone Henry O. Before they could reach an agreement, Bam Bam Bigelow rushed to the ring to beat up on his former Million Dollar Corporation buddies. The attack was shortlived, Kama made the save for Sid and Dibiase, before Henry revived himself long enough to dump the bucket right on Dibiase's head.

More from Monsoon and Cornette
Back in the locker room, Doc Hendrix stood by with a microphone and a perplexed look on his face as he gave Jim Cornette a couple of options:

If Owen Hart no-showed, Cornette could either have Yoko defend the tag team titles solo in a 2-on-1 handicap match against Diesel and Michaels, or he could find a replacement for Owen. That replacement, as per the rules of the match, would be a one-night-only tag team champion, and would have the same opportunity to become the new IC or WWF champion that Owen had.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  British Bulldog wrestled in two matchesBritish Bulldog vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Time for a true story. Back when I was still an eleven year-old mark, my weekend ritual consisted of spilling my wrestling figures all over the living room floor and sitting down to watch shows like Mania, Superstars  and WWF Challenge. 

One particular weekend, in the summer of 1995, I sat and watched on in horror as a man from my hometown, Davey Boy Smith, turned his back on my then-hero, Big Daddy Cool Diesel. I was irate, so furious, so heartbroken at Smith's betrayal of my favourite WWF wrestler that I promptly attacked my British Bulldog action figure and somehow managed to snap his head clean off.

I can laugh about it now, and mostly think of it as a positive. If the goal of pro wrestling is to illicit those kind of reactions from its target demographic, then to that end, we can probably call the Bulldog's 1995 heel turn a resounding success.

Building momentum here towards an eventual pay off match with the champion, Davey Boy clashed with Bam Bam in a surprisingly good match. Showing Henry O. and Sid just how a big-man-match could be done right, the two put on a strong showing before the Bulldog powerslammed his way to victory around the 12 minute mark.
Your Winner: The British Bulldog

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Razor Ramon vs. Dean Douglas
We cut next to former two-time champion and presidential candidate, Bob Backlund making his way to the ring. A dictionary-wielding Backlund chastised the fans for being stupid (or something), drawing heat by bombarding them with big words in an otherwise nonsensical promo before introducing Dean Douglas.

Dean Douglas vs. Razor Ramon
For his part, Douglas sucked up to Backlund and gave Ramon his own introduction. Forgoing his usual slow, confident stroll to the ring, Ramon charged headlong into a mediocre effort against the Dean.

In the non-too-spectacular opening moments, we got another split screen, this time showing the action on one side and, on the other, Jim Cornette trying to convince Yokozuna and King Mabel to coexist as a team in tonight's main event.

Back in the ring, Ramon dominated the early going, sending the crowd to sleep by slapping his opponent in an armbar. After taking a beating, Douglas turned the match in his favor, though matched Ramon pound-for-pound in terms of sucking the life out of the Saginaw Civic Center.

Towards the finish, Ramon drilled his opponent with a Razor's Edge, but with the referee having taken a tumble, it wsa up to the 123 Kid to make the three count. Displeased with his friend's interference, The Bad Guy hurled the Kid out of the ring, distracting his attentions long enough for Douglas to regain his composure and sneak in a roll up for the one, the two, and the three.
Your Winner: Dean Douglas

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Two Dudes With Attitudes - Shawn Michaels and Diesel
Post-match, Ramon and 123 Kid came to blows, and would have likely kicked the hell out of one another had a gaggle of referees and road agents not intervened. That was all she wrote for the Kid/Ramon alliance. Not long after, Kid would officially turn heel and form an oft-forgotten, but randomly entertaining tag team with Sycho Sid. More of that some other time.

Promo time
Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed the Two Dudes With Attitudes about our upcoming main event. Laughing, joking, and no-selling the threat that they might be facing a mystery opponent later, Michaels and Diesel feigned confusion over whether the match would actually take place, before using most of the same lines that they'd employed in every promo leading up to this match.

Speaking of repeating promos, Bret Hart gave us essentially the same spiel he'd delivered on Sunday Night Slam, this time likening his upcoming match with Lafitte as akin to Captain Hook vs. Captain Crunch. Hart, so he claimed, would be playing the role of Captain Crunch.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Jean-Pierre Lafitte
Seeking to regain his jacket (stolen by Lafitte) and his pride, the Hitman wasted no time in attacking the 'fat, smelly pirate,' taking control in the opening moments and beating Lafitte around the ring.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Jean Pierre Lafitte
From there, the two engaged in a match that was about a million times better than their first outing at In Your House 2. Continually trading the advantage over the course of sixteen-plus minutes, the two delivered arguably the best match on the card, taking the crowd on a wild ride in the process.

Yet whilst this may have been Jean-Pierre's best match inside a World Wrestling Federation ring, it certainly wasn't The Hitman's. Sure, this was the best match on the card to this point, but there were still times when it began to drag, and when Bret finally locked on the Sharpshooter, I doubt anybody was really clamouring for more.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Afterwards, The Hitman reclaimed his custom ring jacket and wore it around the ring in celebration.

Elswhere, Bret's brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith was announced as Owen's replacement, and lo, we had the main event match we'd been promised all along. The Bulldog even changed his tights to celebrate his first pay per view main event since Summerslam 1992.

Triple Header Title Match (all titles on the line)
Two Dudes With Attitudes (WWF Champion Diesel & WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels) vs. WWF Tag Team Champions British Bulldog & Yokozuna (w/ Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji)
WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  British Bulldog was announced as Owen Hart's replacement
To go over the rules once more (as we did countless times on this show), all the belts were on the line here. If Diesel or Shawn pinned either of their opponents, they became the new tag team champions. If one of them were pinned, then the man who pinned them took their title.

Along with guaranteeing that we'd see at least one new champion tonight, it also created an abundance of possibilities, all of which were ignored. Would either Diesel or Michaels refuse to risk tagging in lest they lost their title? Would Bulldog and Yoko prevent one another from winning a title, hoping to claim it for themselves?

Nope, they'd all simply go at it in a fun tag team contest.

The Bulldog provided an early highlight of this one, proving that as much as he could match power with the likes of Bam Bam Bigelow, he could still trade technical with the likes of Shawn Michaels, working through a quick-paced spot with the IC champion that was a joy to watch.

For his part, Michaels kept up the entertainment value by challenging Yokozuna to a sumo wrestling match. Having squared off, the two charged at one another, with HBK using his speed to duck under a swipe from Yoko, only to eat canvas courtesy of the mammoth tag team champion.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 3 - Triple Header -  British Bulldog was announced as Owen Hart's replacement
Much like the preceeding contest, this one lagged in parts, but was otherwise an enjoyable affair which came to an end when Owen Hart finally put in an appearance, leaping off the top rope to attack, only to be caught, Jackknifed, and pinned.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions...and STILL WWF and Intercontinental Champions: Two Dudes with Attitudes

With all the gold in The Clique fold, Diesel and Michaels celebrated to the end the show, though of course, such celebrations would only be short-lived. The following evening on Monday Night Raw, Gorilla Monsoon would declare that, since Owen had not officially been in the match, the Two Dudes' victory was null and void.

OK, so that sounds pretty stupid, but hey, it gave us a good main event and a nice way to pop the crowd after what had ultimately been a lackluster pay per view.

Yet whilst The Clique reigned supreme, for this writer, the show really belonged to the British Bulldog. Delivering two entertaining performances in two completely different matches on the same show, the former Intercontinental Champion looked set for a good run at the top of the card. Sadly, as a victim of time, circumstance, and a hard-to-understand Wigan accent, said run would be short lived.

Still, we've got more from Davey Boy Smith: Main Eventer in the coming weeks. Til then, thanks for reading, and if you feel so inclined, come say 'Hi' on Twitter at @Retropwrestling

Saturday, 24 January 2015

WWE Royal Rumble 2015 - Preview and Predictions

WWE - ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 - Event poster featuring Triple Threat match between John Cena, Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar
This Sunday, WWE presents their annual over-the-top-rope extravaganza, with the winner heading to Wrestlemania for WWF Championship match, likely against whoever emerges victorious from the night's other key attraction, a three-way battle between John Cena, Seth Rollins, and defending champion, Brock Lesnar. 

Though the current product isn't something you'll find covered often at a blog called Retro Pro Wrestling, it's a little late in the day to make this part of my twice-monthly contributions to Camel Clutch, and besides, it sure beats spending more time covering the WWF, circa 1995.

Notable as one of the few major WWE events with no advertised singles matches, the 2015 Royal Rumble features no less than four tag bouts, along with the aforementioned triple threat, and the Rumble itself.

Here's my picks for the winners and losers, all in the order I suspect the card will run.

Quick predictions (in reverse card order):

  • Seth Rollins becomes your new WWE Champion
  • Roman Reigns gets his inevitable Rumble win
  • The Usos retain the tag titles
  • Paige & Natalya beat The Bella Twins
  • The Ascension beat the New Age Outlaws
  • The New Day beat Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose

Pre-show kick-off match:
The New Day vs. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, & Adam Rose
Prediction: The New Day win

WWE - ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 - Royal Rumble kick off match - The New Day vs. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose
There may not be a great deal at stake here, but, given enough time, this could well be one of the best things we'll see in the ring at the Wells Fargo Centre. Despite rumours that they've been busting hump in an attempt to become a top WWE tag team, those in charge don't yet seem to be fully behind Kidd and Cesaro. 

A shame really, since a program with The Usos could well produce some in-ring magic. 

Meanwhile, The New Day (a gimmick this writer just doesn't get), continue to shine, and thus are my pick for a win. 

The New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension
Prediction: The Ascension win 

WWE - ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 - New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension
For no other reason than sheer boredom, I recently found myself watching Kayfabe Commentaries' 1989 timeline with Brutus Beefcake. Among much madness, the Barber criticised modern wrestling as lacking opportunities for newly-emerging talent to mix it up with veteran performers. If ever there was a match to counter such a criticism, it's this one. 

Though not many are happy to see this one, I'm perfectly OK with this being on the card if it means the Acension can benefit from mixing it up with veterans Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg on a stage as big as the Royal Rumble. 

Whilst a win for the former NXT stars is pretty much a foregone conclusion -Please, God, let it be a foregone conclusion-, there's more to this one than who wins. As long as they prove they can hold their own on a major show here, this writer predicts we'll be seeing a lot more from The Ascension. 

Divas tag team match:
Paige & Natalya vs. The Bella Twins 

WWE - ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 - Paige & Natalya vs. The Bella Twins
There were a few months back in mid-late 2014 when other commitments meant I kind of lost track of the latest developments in the WWE. The last thing I remembered, Nikki and Brie hated each other. A few months later, I flick on WWE programming, and there they are as bosom buddies again. 

To this day, I still don't know what happened there, nor do I particularly care. Either way, I'm going to go with the general consensus among fans that the good girls take the win, yet still fail to overthrow Divas Champion Nikki at subsequent events. 

WWE Tag Team Championship match:
The Usos vs. The Miz & Mizdow
Prediction: The Usos 

WWE - ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 - The Usos vs. Miz & Mizdow
Logic and precedent all but ensure a really enjoyable tag team title match with a win for Jimmy & Jey.

That said win should come from miscommunication between Miz and his 'stunt double,' Mizdow, is also pretty much a given. This writer predicts the demise of the heel act later in the night, when Miz hurls Mizdow out of the Rumble match. The ensuing argument should distract Miz long enough for somebody to eliminate him , too. 

Cue much ringside brawling and a possible clash at the next big event. 

Royal Rumble match:
Predictions: Roman Reigns wins, Sting is the surprise #30 entrant
Predicted final five: Reigns, Orton, Kane, Bryan and Sting.

WWE - ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 - Rumble match participants Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose
There's a big difference here between what I'd like to happen, and what I think will happen. 

What I'd like to happen, would be for Daniel Bryan to claim the big Rumble victory many felt he deserved last year, and go on to make up for lost time with a proper WWE title run. Call me cynical however, but I don't that belt will be around Bryan's waist for at least the majority of 2015.

What I think will happen is something like this:

With only one more entrant to come, Reigns, Orton, Kane and Bryan duke it out in the ring, with Randy beating down on Roman and Kane eliminating Bryan to take the-feud-that-never-ends to the next level. 

The Authority henchmen then do a number on Roman Reigns, and for all intents and purposes, it looks like he's gone. Cue the buzzer, and the arrival of The Icon. Continuing to be a pain in The Authority's ass, Sting heads to the ring and assists the former Shield man in a valiant comeback. Sting eliminates Orton, Triple H gets involved to eliminate Sting, and Roman dumps out Kane to win. 

Hey, it could happen. 

WWE Championship:
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
Prediction: Lesnar wins, Rollins cashes in, becomes your new champion

WWE - ROYAL RUMBLE 2015 - WWE Championship - Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
As above, we're more into fantasy booking territory than pure predictions here, but this one doesn't seem too far out of the realms of possibility. 

I predict a long match in which all three men battle to the point of exhaustion. With Rollins on the outside, Lesnar makes the WWE faithful happy by drilling Cena with an F5 and retaining his title. Coming to his senses, Rollins returns to the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase and, continuing the tension between the two men that has been building for weeks on end, clocks Lesnar around the back of the head with it. 

One cash in later, ladies and gentlemen, your new WWE Champion - Seth Rollins. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF Summerslam 1995

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1995 - Event poster
August 27, 1995
Pittsburgh Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In any conversation about the darkest moments of WWE's otherwise illustrious history, it rarely takes long for talk to turn to the summer of 1995. Having captured the King of the Ring crown just a few months earlier in Philadelphia, the newly re-dubbed King Mabel headed back to Pennsylvania for his inevitable title clash against long-reigning champion, Big Daddy Cool Diesel.

That such a match was the headline attraction of perhaps the second or third biggest show of the year perhaps says volumes about the kind of all-time low the Titan Sports brand had sunk to.

But was it really all that bad? Let's find out, shall we?

The World Wrestling Federation, for over 50 years...
The revolutionary force, in Sports Entertainment.

With that old, familiar signature out of the way, Todd Pettengill gave us a run down of the biggest matches on tonight's card, namely the aforementioned WWF Championship match, the Razor/HBK ladder match, and the Undertaker/Kamala casket match. 

From there, Vince McMahon made this writer's heart smile a little with his usual Welcome everyone! greeting, inviting fans to what was then the largest crowd ever assembled inside the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Either Diesel/Mabel was a bigger draw than most of us give it credit for, or there wasn't much going on in Pittsburgh in 1995. 

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Hakushi battled 123 Kid in an awesome opening match
Either way, Jerry 'The King' Lawler, McMahon's broadcast partner for the evening, was certainly excited about it, and seemed fairly confident that big King Mabel would leave Pennsylvania victorious, just like he had done back in June at the 95 King of the Ring.

123 Kid vs. Hakushi
Making his last pay per view appearance as a fully-fledged babyface, 123 Kid went toe-to-toe with the also-soon-to-turn Hakushi in a very good opening match. 

Before this one got underway, we were reminded about Hakushi's loss at the hands of perennial jobber Barry Horowitz on a recent episode of Superstars, more of which later. 

Hoping to redeem himself, the man in white took it to the kid in a fast paced contest where pseudo martial arts and high-flying wrestling combined to create a great little match that really got the Pittsburgh crowd fired up.

Now flying solo following the retirement of former manager, Shinja, Hakushi countered the Kid's spinning heel kick attempt with a one-handed powerbomb to pick up the victory and bring the second best match on the whole card to an abrubt finish.
Your Winner: Hakushi

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Hakushi vs. 123 Kid
Backstage, Doc Hendrix caught up with a rather smug-looking King Mabel. In an over-excited performance to rival his backstage antics at the last In Your House, Hendrix was desperate to uncover the King's game plan for his title match against big Diesel, not that Mabel was giving anything away. Instead, he simply hinted that the recent Davey Boy Smith heel turn wasn't the only surprise he had in store for the champion, then forced out an evil laugh to end this rather dire little segment.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Bob 'Spark Plugg' Holly
Though Summerslam 95 may never be remembered fondly as an outstanding show, it was at least notable for other reasons.

Not only was this the first Summerslam event to take place on the traditional pay per view day of Sunday, but it also marked the debut PPV match of umpteen-time World Champion and current WWE COO, Triple H.

Sure, the Greenwhich Blueblood -as he was then known- had technically made his WWF PPV debut the previous month, hanging out ringside in the lumberjack main event of In Your House 2, but this was the first time we'd see the future DX leader in action on pay per view.

For his part, Bob Holly continued his run of enjoyable PPV matches by holding his own with Hunter in what was a decent, if not entirely spectacular match.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Triple H made his WWF PPV debut beating Bob HollyNot too surprisingly, HHH Pedigreed his way to victory following several minutes of fairly entertaining action.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

In a break from the action, Todd Pettingill brought us highlights from the previous day's tug-of-war match between the World Wrestling Federation Superstars and a group of Pittsburgh firefighters.

In a serious case of damn, we just broke kayfabe, rivals Bam Bam Bigelow and Kama were seen hanging out together with King Mabel and his opponent from the last two PPVs, Savio Vega.

For those who care, the firefighters lost the tug-of-war and were forced to jump into the water. Interesting.

The Blu Twins (Jacob & Eli Blu w/ Uncle Zebekiah) vs. The Smoking Gunns (Bart & Billy Gunn)
Returning to the ringside, Jack Swagger's manager, Uncle Zebekiah led big mountain men The Blu Twins into action against former WWF Tag Team Champions, The Smoking Gunns.

'You'd have to be a computer whiz to keep track of these Blu Twins,' exclaimed Vince as the identical twins but the boots to their opponents.
'Yeah,' said Jerry Lawler. 'I just bought five copies of Windows 95, and I don't even have a computer.'

Quite what the point of this last statement was, we'll perhaps never know, but it was certainly far more interesting than anything that took place in the ring.

Whilst this wasn't necessarily a bad match, only Billy's inevitable hot tag to Bart managed to elicit any kind of response from the crowd. From there, it didn't take long for the good guys to hit the Sidewinder and bring an end to this brief, if somewhat boring, tag match.
Your Winners: The Smoking Gunns
WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Barry Horowitz vs. Body Donna Skip w/ Sunny
Virgil's moment of glory in capturing the Million Dollar Championship from Ted Dibiase four years earlier at Summerslam 1991, to the 123 Kid's upset over Dibiase and Razor Ramon two years later, the feel-good story of the plucky underdog triumphing in the face of adversity had always yielded positive results for the WWF. Now a further two years on, Vince & Co. were at it again, this time with lifetime 'enhancement talent' Barry Horowitz scoring upsets over relatively newcomer Skip and Hakushi.

Not happy to let it lie, Skip and his Body Donnas ally Sunny made their way to Summerslam to finally seek revenge. Not that they were likely to get it.

Skip (w/ Sunny) vs. Barry Horowitz
There was a time when the only woman this once horny teenager wanted to see naked was Sunny. Though I believe doing so is now only a Skype chat away looking at her back then in that garish red-and-blue spandex get up, I'm hard pressed to remember why I wanted to.

Still, the now Hall of Famer was at least entertaining as he cheered on her man in what turned out to be a really fun match.

Though it was the familiar story of the babyface underdog going up against the cocky, over-confident heel that was the real star here, that's to take nothing away from the talents of the late Chris Candido nor his veteran opponent.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Sunny cheers on Skip in his match against Barry Horowitz
Both men played their parts perfectly in what was probably the best match either man ever had inside a WWE ring.

Just when it looked like Skip would finally get a pinfall over his rival, Hakushi returned to the ring, jumped from one side of the ring to the other, and distracted the Body Donna just long enough for Horrowitz to pick up yet another win.
Your Winner: Barry HoHorowitz

Backstage in his classroom, Shane 'Dean' Douglas told us the meaning of the word vivify and applied it to the ending of our previous match. Having graded both Horowitz and the referee, Douglas sent it back to Vince.

Instead, it was Pettengill who picked things up, taking us back to the classic ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania 10. Speaking to Pettengill, reigning champion HBK claimed that being the loser of that legendary match still ate him up inside, and that nothing in the world would stop him from making up for it in tonight's rematch.

Before that though, we had a title match of a very different kind.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship
WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze vs. Bertha Faye (w/ Harvey Wippleman)
Ignoring the ring announcer's gaffe in refering to Alundra as a 'he,' the on-again-off-again women's champion made her way to the ring for a decent clash against the behemoth, Bertha.

Sure, the gimmick of an oversized trailer park dweller in love with the scrawny Harvey Wippleman may not have been the best choice for the otherwise talented Ronda Singh, it did little to prevent her putting on a good showing against Blayze.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Jim Ross interviews Harvey Wippleman and new WWF Women's Champion Bertha Faye
In what little time they had together, both champ and challenger put on an entertaining match that would put the efforts of most modern divas to shame.

Far from a classic, this was nonetheless a solid effort from both women, and ended with bib Bertha landing a sitout powerbomb to capture the title.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Women's Champion: 

On their way back to the locker room, Bertha and her beau where interrupted  by Jim Ross, who was eager to get a word from the new champion. After assuring Wippleman that he was a happily married man who had no interest in the new WWF Women's Champion, Ross held the mic whilst Faye gave a pretty bland promo in which she boasted about her win.

Moving swiftly on, Todd Pettengill reminded us about the seemingly never-ending war between Supreme Fighting Machine Kama, and the man from the Dark Side, The Undertaker, following which the latter promised that the former would rest in peace in our upcoming casket match.

Casket match
Kama (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
Confession time, folks: As universally revered as he may be these days, your reviewer has never been much of an Undertaker fan. OK so it's hard not to respect his longevity as a top player, but having to sit through endless minutes of crap like this as a kid is enough to put anyone off the future Hall of Famer.

Especially when 'crap like this,' is simply a repeat of the exact same thing you saw just last month.

Indeed, the first casket match between these two -tacked on as a Colliseum Home Video Exclusive- at the end of In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks- was such a God Awful bore of unprecedented tedium.

Sadly, their second meeting was only marginally better.

Slow, sluggish, and with very little to excited about beyond Paul Bearer reclaiming the gold chain that used to be his urn, this was perhaps one of the worst things to happen all evening.

Finally, the whole thing ended about ten minutes later than it should have done with a predictable win for The Man from the Dark Side.
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Isaac Yankem
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Jerry Lawler. If you remember rightly, it all began back at the 1993 King of the Ring, and had gone on all the way to King of the Ring 1995, where The Hitman stuffed The King's foot in his own mouth at the culmination of their Kiss My Foot match.
With that thankfully over, Pettengill reminded us about the storied rivalry between

For some reason, eating his own foot meant Lawler had to get dental work done, resulting in the debut of demented dentist, Isaac Yankem.

Preparing to do battle with the dentist, Hart next fumbled his way through a pre-match promo in which he vowed to knock all of Yankem's teeth down his throat.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Isaac Yankem D.D.S
Remember earlier when we learned that this was Triple H's debut PPV match, we forgot one other significant debut, that of long-tenured grappler, Kane.

Two-and-a-bit years before he donned the mask and became The Undertaker's brother, Glenn Jacobs made a big impression in a good effort against The Excellence of Execution.

Far from a classic, this was nonetheless an enjoyable outing in which Bret clearly worked his ass off to make Yankem look like a killer.

Yet the future WWF Champion would need more help than that to emerge victorious. Cheering on his man for the best part of a quarter of an hour, Lawler could restrain himself no longer and finally got up to lend Yankem a hand. This ultimately led to The Hitman getting his head caught in the ropes, winning the match via DQ as both Isaac and Jerry continued to beat him up.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Bret Hart

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Doc Hendrix interviews Razor Ramon before the ladder match
Backstage, Razor Ramon gave his final thoughts on his upcoming battle with Shawn Michaels. Showing shades of the subtle-heel role he'd play throughout their memorable encounter, Ramon was briefly interrupted by The Hitman being assisted to the back by the referees. With Bret gone, The Bad Guy reminded us that it was a New Era here in the World Wrestling Federation, but that the outcome would be the same as it had been the year before, with Razor retrieving the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon 
It's fair to say that the two ladder matches between Shawn and Razor, the first back at Wrestlemania 10 and the second here tonight, have gone down in history as not only some of the best ladder matches of all time, but as two of the absolute best bouts of the entire 1990s.

For this writer's money, the original Wrestlemania classic will always be the better of the two, though not by much.

With the belt initially being hung too high, causing Shawn Michaels to throw a bit of a tantrum and demand it be fixed, tonight's match got off to a dodgy start, and ended more or less the same way, with an out-of-place ladder leading to a somewhat stalled finale, though everything in between was just about as good as you'd expect it to be.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels fought Razor Ramon in a ladder match
With Razor playing the role of the aggressor and Michaels bumping as though his life depended on it, the two worked well together to create a dramatic title match that delivered everything it promised and then some.

By now, Doc Hendrix had replaced Lawler on commentary (The King presumably gloating with his buddy, the dentist, backstage), though not that could distract from what was ultimately a very exciting encounter between two future Hall of Famers.

In the end, Michaels overcame a couple of failed attempts to grab the title to finally unhook it, collapse from the ladder, and win the match.
Your Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

Teasing a heel turn, Razor returned to the ring and snatched the belt from the hands of an exhausted HBK, only to return it with a handshake and a hug.

Back in the classroom, Dean Douglas tried to tell us why Razor lived up to his name of being bad, only for The Bad Guy himself to walk in and slap the piss out of the former ECW Champion.

Moving swiftly on, King Mabel and his throne were carried to the ring by a group of guys this writer swears were the same ones who carried Macho King Randy Savage for his retirement match with Ultimate Warrior back at Wrestlemania 7. Whilst that was going on, the WWF Champion gave Todd Pettengill a brief interview, in which he promised to put an end to the reign of King Mabel.

That match was next.

World Wrestling Federation Championship 
WWF Champion Diesel vs. King Mabel (w/ Sir Mo)
Before we get down to the action (or lack thereof, as the case may be), there's something that needs pointing out. Earlier on, half way between the Holly/Helmsley match, we were shown footage of the British Bulldog arriving at the scene.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - King Mabel challenged Big Daddy Cool Diesel for the WWF Championship
In a move we'll talk about in much more detail in our next In Your House review, the Bulldog had recently turned heel by attacking Big Daddy Cool, and even though he wasn't scheduled to compete tonight, had arrived at the arena anyway. Surely that could only mean one thing, a Bulldog run-in, right?

And so, with that lingering in the back of everybody's minds, Diesel vs. King Mabel began, and wasted no time in living up to its promise as a sure-fire stinkfest.

Not that Big Daddy Cool didn't do what he could. Hell, the big seven-footer even broke out the same suicide dive that had been the highlight of his Lumberjack outing with Sid the month before, though that wasn't quite enough to save this from the annals of Wrestlecrap.

Towards the end, Davey Boy Smith's erstwhile Allied Powers team mate, Lex Luger showed up to help out the champion, not that Diesel was taking any chances. He quickly drilled Luger and hurled him out of the ring, never to be seen in the World Wrestling Federation again.

One flying clothesline later, and Big Daddy Cool put us all out of our misery.
Your Winner and STILL WWF Champion: Diesel 

All of which begs the question: Did Vince really pay Davey Boy just to film a two-second segment where he did nothing more than walk into the arena and snarl a bit? Couldn't the Bulldog just watch the PPV at home like everybody else?

It would be a couple of months yet before we got the pay off to the Bulldog/Diesel rivalry, so until then, we'll just let the big man celebrate his not-so-impressive victory, and thank the Good Lord Above that this one is finally over, though not before we got highlights of the show, soundtracked to the WWF Slamjam song that was first released in 1992.

Though it was saved from being an out-and-out bad show thanks to the ladder match, the opening Hakushi/Kid contest, and even the efforts of Skip and Barry Horowitz, Summerslam 1995 was hardly must-see stuff. Absolutely track down Michaels/Razor II if you can, watch the other two decent matches from this one if you must, but otherwise, this is one WWF PPV you can happily steer clear from.
Still, this did mark the PPV debuts of HHH, Kane and Sunny, so I suppose it does have that going for it.

Next time on Retro Pro Wrestling - In Your House 3: Triple Header.

Friday, 2 January 2015

PPV REVIEW: In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - VHS cover
July 23, 1995
Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee

With a steadying decline in attendance reflective of the rapidly decreasing product they were putting out on television, things were not exactly looking all that rosy for the World Wrestling Federation in the summer of 1995.

Still, for all their problems, the company did have their rare moments of good stuff that year. Sadly, very few of them were on display as the WWF headed down to Nashville for a country-themed PPV in which Jeff Jarrett grabbed more screen time than half the roster combined.

Here's what went down.

In Your House - Country Style
'The World Wrestling Federation, for over fifty years, the revolutionary force in sports entertainment,'  following this now-memorable intro, In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks began with a country-rock song whose highly imaginative refrain of 'In Your House, we're in your house tonight,' was spliced with footage of tonight's biggest stars.

That led us to Vince McMahon and his impassioned greeting, welcoming each of us to Nashville for what he promised to be an explosive night of action. Sure, it was the same stuff McMahon always said, but this writer can't help but feel as though WWF pay per views really lost something without McMahon growling his way through the show's opening.

McMahon's country themed attire was only marginally better than that of his broadcast partner, Jerry 'The King' Lawler, who was delighted not only by the prospect of Sid squashing Diesel in tonight's main event, but also by the idea of listening to Jeff Jarrett sing his hit single later in the show.

Speaking of Jarrett, it was his underling, The Roadie who kicked off tonight's event.

123 Kid vs. The Roadie
For the second straight pay per view in a row, the Road Dogg played a significant part in one of the best matches on the show.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - 123 Kid faced The Roadie in an awesome opening match
Both Roadie and 123 Kid went at it in an exciting, fast-paced encounter that was highly enjoyable from the pre-bell moment the Kid attacked Roadie in the ilse, all the way to the latter's match winning second-rope piledriver.

Not that McMahon and Lawler gave them thought, mind you. Instead, they spent most of the time talking about Jeff Jarrett's singing debut and cutting to the back, where the outgoing Intercontinental Champion was shown preparing for his big performance.
Your Winner: The Roadie

Post match, the victorious Roadie took the time to check Jarrett's microphone on a waiting stage as the commentators reminded us for at least the fifteenth time that Double J would be singing later on.

Welcome to Sid's Asylum
Backstage, Todd Pettingill caught up with the Million Dollar Corporation, all of whom were hopeful about their man Sid and his chances in tonight's WWF Championship Lumberjack Match. Playing up to the idea of the former Mr. Justice being a little psycho, Corporation boss Ted Dibiase claimed to have bought the best outpatients in town in the form of the heel lumberjacks, whilst Tatanka was adamant that Big Daddy Cool wouldn't stand a chance in Sid's 'asylum'.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Todd Pettengill interviews the Million Dollar Corporation
Much to the amusement of his team mates, Sid then delivered the same 'I am the Master and the Ruler of the World' promo that he did at every show, and with that, it was back to the ring.

Men on a Mission (King Mabel and Sir Mo) vs. Razor Ramon & Savio Vega 
In my WWF King of the Ring 1995 review, I did claim that the WWF never really followed up on the fledgling rivalry between Razor Ramon, Savio Vega, Mabel and Mo.

Corrected I may be here, though I offer no apology for sending anything relating to Mabel's main event push as far away from my memory as I possible.

Said push continued here as the gargantuan monarch and his sidekick flattened their adversaries in a fairly tedious tag match which went on for much longer than it had any need to.
Your Winners: Men on a Mission 

Just in case you'd forgotten that this was supposed to be the Jeff Jarrett show, cameras next showed Todd Pettingill goofing around with the live band. After tormenting the drummer, Petengill sent it to the back, where Doc Hendrix looked to put paid to the rumours that one of Diesel's lumberjacks had sold out to the Million Dollar Man.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Man Mountain Rock denied selling out to Ted Dibiase
Hendrix seemed to have a plausible reason for suspecting the Smoking Gunns (they'd arrived in new pick up trucks), Bam Bam Bigelow (a former association with Dibiase) and even Man Mountain Rock (could Dibiase be the benefactor for Mr. Rock's new tour?), though the only reason he had to suspect Adam Bomb was that the Bomb Squad leader's name came first in the alphabet.

As it turned out, each man swore to be firmly on the WWF Champion's side, and the whole thing was never spoken of again.

Jeff Jarrett - With my Baby Tonight
Finally, after much hype and hullabaloo, it was time for the moment we'd all apparently been waiting for, a moment that had been hyped up far more in the first half hour of the show than the WWF title match. Yes, it was time for the live singing debut of Intercontinental Champion, Jeff Jarrett.

Receiving a red hot introduction from The Roadie, Jarrett spent a few couple of minutes putting himself over as the world's greatest wrestler, singer, and entertainer, then vowed to make us all 'eat crow' by throwing himself headlong into what looked like an impassioned rendition of With my Baby Tonight.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Jeff Jarrett performs With My Baby Tonight
Sure, with hindsight, it's pretty obvious to tell he was lip-syncing the whole thing, though I must admit that when I first watched this as a naive 11 year-old boy, I was more than a little surprised to learn that ol' Double J could really belt out a tune.

Just as surprising was the big reveal, months down the line, that it had been The Roadie all along doing the vocal work.

Giving Jarrett a few moments to bask in his own glory, we next went back to Todd Pettengill, who was out mingling with the 'World Wrestling fans' (his words, not mine) to get their take on the performance.

Though some gave it the thumbs up, others hated it just as much as they would our next match.

Henry O. Godwin vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
The story here involved Godwin acting as some kind of hired goon for the Million Dollar Man by attempting to take out a number of Diesel's lumberjacks, one of whom being former Corporation member, Bam Bam Bigelow.

After failing to put away the Beast from the East in this mightily boring contest, Godwin was humiliated by Dibiase, turned face and introduced Phineas to the WWF.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Henry Godwin
Sadly, that's about the only interesting thing I can tell you about this match. It started slow, it ended slow, and in between, it just about sucked the life out of the previously enthusiastic Nashville crowd.

Bigelow won, and the crowd went mild.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

Out in the crowd, Bob Backlund was seen chastising some kid in a Kurt Cobain t-shirt. It may have even been possible to tell you what they were talking about if only somebody had bothered to hook Backlund up with a microphone.

Backstage with the Heartbreak Kid
Speaking to the Toddster, Shawn Michaels cut a rambling, though nonetheless entertaining, promo, in which he promised to beat Double J for the Intercontinental Championship as a belated birthday present to himself.


World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/ The Roadie) vs. Shawn Michaels
Not content with one special introduction from the Roadie, Jarret was once again the subject of a long-winded spiel from the future tag team champion, eventually making his way to the ring for what turned out to be the undoubted match of the night.

Clocking in at just over 20 minutes, both champ and challenger took their time in building up a fantastic bout which really brought the crowd back to life.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Shawn Michaels spoke to Todd Pettingill about his upcoming match with Jeff JarrettAn absolute joy to watch from start to finish, this one ended when Roadie accidentally tripped up his charge, leading him right into a waiting superkick from the new IC champ.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels 

Whilst Michaels celebrated for half an eternity out in the ring, things were less than harmonious backstage. There, a manic Doc Hendrix worked himself into hysterics as informed us about a fall out between Jarrett and Roadie. According to Doc, the two had come to blows, with the latter knocking the former on his ass and setting up a feud that would never come to pass.

Indeed, the very next day, both men were gone from the World Wrestling Federation, rendering the excessive Jarrett hype on this show a complete waste of time.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette) vs. The Allied Powers (Lex Luger & Davey Boy Smith) 
'It was in 1993 that Lex Luger bodyslammed Yokozuna onboard the USS Intrepid' said McMahon, reminding us just how far both men's stock had fallen in such a relatively short space of time.

Going at it for the 10,000th time in those two years, the Summerslam 1993 headliners were joined this time by brothers-in-law Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith for a decent tag team title clash in front of a deafening crowd.

Early on in the match, Yoko crashed into his home corner, squashing Owen's foot in the process and causing the two to engage in a shoving match. Cornette smoothed things over, then cheered on his champions as they eventually triumphed, despite getting their butts kicked for the majority of the contest.
Your Winners and still WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart & Yokozuna

As the lumberjacks for our main event made their way to the ring, Todd Pettingill gave us a history lesson on the rivalry between WWF Champion Diesel and the number one contender, Sid.

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Diesel prepares for his WWF Championship match with Sid
For those needing a recap. Sid played a role in Shawn Michaels' losing effort to Big Daddy Cool at Wrestlemania 11. The following night, HBK fired his bodyguard and got powerbombed straight to hell as a thank you. This brought Diesel to the rescue, turning Michaels face and setting up Diesel/Sid at In Your House 1.

Having triumphed there, Diesel teamed up with Bam Bam to face Sid and Tatanka in a terrible King of the Ring main event which saw big Sid walk out and leave Tatanka to eat the pin and ultimately gave us an excuse for a big lumberjack match.

World Wrestling Federation Championship Lumberjack Match
WWF Champion Diesel vs. Sid (w/ Ted Dibiase)
There were smiles and Wolfpac-signs all round as HBK accompanied his pal Diesel to the ring, where they met up with fellow Kliq members Razor Ramon and 123 Kid.

With other such main event caliber talent as Tekno Team 2000, Duke Drosse, Mantaur and Rad Radford surrounding the ring, the two giants went at it in a pretty ugly title match where the only real highlight was the sight of seven-foot Kevin Nash, in his most athletic move ever, nailing a suicide dive onto the heel lumberjacks.

Following several more minutes of sloppy, boring inaction, the champ once again found himself on
WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Diesel and Shawn Micahels celebrate with Tekno Team 2000
the outside, this time taking a hefty beating from King ancitipation of their much-revilved Summerslam match the following momth.

Further punishment followed for Big Daddy Cool before good finally prevailed over evil, the champion putting Sid, and the fans who had to endure this crap, out of their misery.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Diesel 

Afterwrards, Diesel gave up trying to get his hands on Mabel and instead celebrated his victory with the Kliq and friends. Though that's where the PPV technically ended, those of us reliving this one through the joys of Colliseum Home Video were treated to two additional 'bonus' matches, featuring Stan Lane and Gorilla Monsoon on commentary.

Jean-Pierre Lafitte vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
This may not have been Bret's finest hour,, but it was decent enough for what it was.

Laffitte controlled the majority of the action in this 13+ minute bout that could have been so much better had the former Quebeccer not spent much of his time on the offence wearing down the Hitman with headlocks.

Things did pick upwards the finish of course, though it was just a little too late to salvage what ultimately turned out to be a disappointing affair.
Your Winner: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

WWF / WWE - In Your House 2 - The Lumberjacks - Undertaker faced Kama in a casket match
Having scored the win via  quick roll up, Bret greeted his fans then cleared the ring, making way for our final bout of the evening.

Casket match
Kama (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
These days, The Undertaker is regarded as something of a wrestling deity who can do no wrong. Yet for the first few years of his WWF tenure, the quality of his matches left a lot to be desired.

As was the case with the penultimate chapter in his rivalry with Kama, a painfully dull casket match that really was a chore to watch.

Not surprisingly, The Dead Man stuffed Kama into the casket, winning the match and reviving all those people who probably fell asleep in what was just the most god awful bout this writer has seen in ages.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

There may well have been worse pay per views in the past thirty years, but In Your House 2: Lumberjacks must surely fit in the top ten most terrible shows ever. Apart from Michaels/Jarrett and 123 Kid/Roadie, there was nothing worth seeing on this show, and in all honesty, your exhausted reviewer is glad it's over..even if that does mean sitting through Summerslam 95 in our next review.

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.