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

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That still gives me chills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Face of Fear

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

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

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

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Razor and Diesel' Attack Savio Vega 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankfully, this was mercifully short. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Hollywood Blondes Reunion featuring The Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart 

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

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

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

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

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

The response from Stone Cold?

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

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

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

Mark Henry Explores Philly 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of those two, they were up next.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Challenger Speaks...

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

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

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

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Mark Henry 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hype for Undertaker vs. Goldust 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shawn Michaels Is Nervous 

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

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

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

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

That match, ladies and gentlemen, was next. 

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

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

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

In a word, yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coliseum Home Video Exclusive: Mankind Swears Revenge on The Undertaker 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Event Poster
August 18, 1996
Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio.

If you were to believe the advertising, World Wrestling Federation's Summerslam 1996 was to be a show with only two matches on it. 

Those two matches -a WWF title match between Shawn Michaels and Vader- and a Boiler Room Brawl pitting The Undertaker against Mankind had set up at the previous month's In Your House: International Incident, and for all intents and purposes were the two main events upon which the whole show was to be based around.

But what about the undercard?

On a show which promised to save the best til last, would Summerslam 1996 deliver a host of long-since-forgotten hidden gems?

Would the Boiler Room Brawl and the World Championship match merely serve to cap off an all-round great card?

Or would this really be literally a two match show?

Let's head to Cleveland, Ohio to find out, shall we?

The Battle of the Monsters vs. The Monster Slayers 

Just in case you were in any doubt as to which bouts the WWF were focusing on tonight, the 1996 Summerslam began with a dramatic opening video in which future tag team partners Mankind and Vader were depicted as monsters, and their respective opponents Undertaker and Shawn Michaels were made out to be heroic "monster slayers."

It was videos like this that really hooked me as a kid. Some 21 years later, I still think they did a great job in making tonight's two biggest bouts seem like truly epic battles which transcended mere wrestling and took a certain an otherworldly quality.

Welcome to Summerslam 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Jim Ross, Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect are our commentary team
After another brief video introduced us to Cleveland landmarks like the Rock 'n' Roll hall of fame, we were welcomed to tonight's show by our commentary team of Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and Mr. Perfect.

As per the standard, the trio quickly ran down tonight's card before taking us to our opening match.

Savio Vega vs. Owen Hart

I'd love to tell you that there was some storyline behind this one, or at least a basic reason for Savio Vega and Owen Hart wanting to fight each other.

As far as I can tell however, the two were randomly paired together in an effort to create an enjoyable opening contest on one of the biggest pay per view events of the year.

Did they succeed?

Yes and no.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Savio Vega faced Owen Hart in the opening match
In other words, the early parts of this match were entertaining: Savio worked over the supposedly "injured" arm of Owen, before Hart himself took control and returned the favour.

Eventually however, this plot point took a backseat, and what we were left with was a somewhat sloppy bout that failed to hit the mark.

Not bad, but not great either.

Of note however, is the fact that Jim Cornette did not join Owen Hart at ringside, opting instead to spend time backstage getting Vader ready for his upcoming title match.

Instead, Cornette's new legal representative (and manager of the recently returning Crush), Clarence Mason made his way to ringside to cheer on the Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart.

The ending came when Owen used his cast to knock out Vega, then applied the Sharpshooter for the win.
Your Winner: Owen Hart 

Post match, Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw and Uncle Zebekiah came out, yelled at Vince McMahon, then went after Savio, continuing on a rivalry which seemed to have no end in sight, even though I suspect most fans really wished it did.

Todd Pettengill Interviews Mankind

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Todd Pettengill interviewed Mankind in the boiler room
Taking us to the depths of the arena, Todd Pettingill gave us a guided tour of sorts around the boiler room that would serve as the battleground for tonight's Mankind vs. Undertaker bout.

After telling us that the room was "dark and ominious" about a hundred times, Pettengill stumbled -almost literally- upon Mankind himself.

In true "derranged" form, the man formerly known as Cactus Jack licked one of the pipes before warning The Undertaker not to enter the boiler room.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship Four Team Elimination Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn w/ Sunny) vs. The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip) vs. The Godwins (Henry O. & Phineas I. Godwin w/ Hillbilly Jim) vs. The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy)

Call me crazy, but going into this match, I actually had, if not exactly high hopes, at least an expectation that this match would be better than most fans would be willing to admit to. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sunny led the Smoking Gunns into battle in a 4-way tag team match
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think both the Body Donnas and The Godwins were better wrestlers than their goofy gimmicks would have you believe. Give Marty Jannetty a few spots to showcase why he was still a solid in-ring performer, and let champions The Smoking Gunns prove why they were always more entertaining as heels, and you had the makings of a decent match. 

Unfortunately, this was one bout which not only failed to live up to its potential, but served to give everybody who wrote this one off before it even got started the chance to utter a very smug "I told you so."

For the most part, this was simply a match between The Smoking Gunns and The Godwins, with Skip, Zip, Leif Cassidy (Al Snow) and Jannetty all putting brief cameo appearances before being eliminated. 

Whilst this did give us a few all-too-fleeting moments of entertainment, it mostly made for a dull, sloppy, and horrible match in which the only thing worth watching was Sunny.

Finally putting us all out of our misery, Phineas looked to have the win over Billy Gunn, only for Sunny to make the necessary distraction before Bart could attack, drape his fallen partner's arm over a groggy pig farmer, and steal a win for his team.
Your Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Smoking Gunns 

After loitering on the outside for what felt like forever (presumably waiting for The Godwins to leave), Sunny led her boys back into the ring and invited all the girls in the audience to "take a look at what real men are supposed to look like."

Somewhere in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, Rick Rude was no doubt gearing up to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sunny revealed a picture of herself after her team beat the Godwins, The Body Donnas, and The New Rockers
Not that anybody would have been paying attention. All eyes were squarely fixed on the former Body Donna as she lambasted the women in the audience for being out of shape before revealing a giant picture of herself as her "gift" to the Cleveland faithful.

This, apparently, was just one step in Sunny's huge push as one of the company's top stars that year. Looking back, I'm still all in favour of it, though that may have more to do with the fact that, as a perpetually horny 12 year old kid (as I was when Summerslam 1996 was originally broadcast), I was absolutely besotted with Sunny.

Truth be told, I still have a thing for her to this day.

Looking Back at Summerslam Week 

Thankfully, your writer was given a much-needed chance to go take a cold shower and calm down from the Sunny thing, as Vince McMahon introduced us to a video package showing us some of the activities that went down in Cleveland as part of a Summerslam promo / community outreach programme.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Savio Vega worked on community outreach during SS96
This included a bizarre "race" between The Godwins and The Smoking Gunns, the latter riding a horse and carriage to the arena and the former taking the train.

This was supposed to determine which was faster - a train, or a horse and carriage. If you seriously need me to tell you who won that one, you're as stupid as this whole idea was.

Elsewhere, we also saw Jerry 'The King' Lawler failing to get members of the Cleveland Indians to show him how to throw a spitball, The Undertaker and Paul Bearer apparently giving a way a whole funeral package in some sort of morbid prize draw, The Godwins signing autographs, and a whole bunch of superstars painting over some graffiti with a bunch of little kids.

Doc Hendrix Interviews Sid 

After The British Bulldog's entrance (sans Jim Cornette) for the next match, we were taken backstage, where Doc Hendrix asked Sid about the huge support he'd received from the fans since returning to the WWF. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sid addressed his popularity before beating the British Bulldog
In a true manic fashion, Sid delivered an entertaining response in which he claimed that the fans had always wanted 'The Man' to be back in the ring. 

Tonight, The Master and The Ruler of the World promised to destroy Davey Boy Smith, laughing like a crazed psychopath the whole time. 

Honestly, it saddens me that Sid only had limited runs at the top. Despite not being the most athletic of in-ring performers, he had an undeniable presence, and a charisma that was just off the charts. 

The British Bulldog  vs. Sycho Sid 

Once again, Sid was over as hell with the live audience, working the Cleveland crowd into a frenzy before stepping into the ring to face Davey Boy Smith. 

Unfortunately for the big man, his popularity was of little used to him as the Bulldog took control in the early going and dominated the bulk of this fairly average match. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sid got his ass kicked by the British Bulldog but won the match
As the man from Wigan, Greater Manchester took systematically worked over his rival, Clarence Mason returned to ringside, just as he had done in the earlier Owen / Savio match. 

Sadly, this was to be Dave Boy's undoing. Just as he hit his patented power slam, Jim Cornette rushed to ringside, apparently to ask Mason just what the hell he thought he was doing. This was enough to distract the Bulldog, preventing him from making the pinfall that would have no doubt guaranteed him a victory. 

The distraction gave Sid time enough to recover, and when Davey Boy did return, setting up for a second powerslam, Sid slipped out of harm's way, drilled his opponent with a chokeslam and powerbomb, and picked up the victory, putting this so-so match to bed once and for all.
Your Winner: Sycho Sid 

Prior to our next match, we were shown a short commercial in which two aliens visited a teenager who was watching WWF. The clip seemed to suggest that watching pro wrestling made you irresistible to smoking hot girls.

Having been a fan for 25 years, I can categorically state this absolutely not true. 

Then again, maybe that's just me. 

A Word With the Wildman 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Wildman Marc Mero and Sable talk about Mero's match with Goldust
Over the past several weeks, both Goldust and Mankind and had grown increasingly obsessed with Sable, the latter stalking her around the ring and calling her 'mommy,' and the former apparently just wanting to bang her, or something. 

Naturally, that had outraged Sable's husband, Wildman Marc Mero, and gave us a match tonight. 

Before we got there however, Mero gave a rather drab interview to Todd Pettingill in which he claimed that, whilst he didn't understand mind games, he did understand how to beat Goldust up, and would do so in their upcoming contest.

Goldust (W/ Marlena) vs. Marc Mero (w/ Sable)

Despite having a solid story behind it, despite Marc Mero's recent excellent form in pay per view matches against Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and despite Goldust being no slouch in the ring either, the two just couldn't put together an entertaining match here. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Goldust faced Marc Mero in a boring match
Rather the two engaged in a long, dull bout that not only sent the live audience to sleep but almost made your writer give up on the whole idea of following Summerslam 1996 to the end. 

Seriously, it was painfully boring, so much so that even the commentary team gave up on it at one point and began telling us about Ahmed Johnson's injury instead. 

It was also stupid too. 

At one point, Goldust was dominating Mero with -of all things- a Chinlock of Doom. It was at that point that Mankind raced to the ring to terrify Sable. The referees came out and sent Mankind packing, all of which went unnoticed by Mero. 

Honestly, would it not have made more sense to Mankind come down when Mero was winning, therefore distracting him so that Goldust could get the upperhand again? Isn't that what heels do?

Apparently not in this scenario it isn't. 

To make matters worse, Mero debuted his new shooting star press finisher (dubbed 'The Wild Thing') only for Goldust to make a complete mockery of it by kicking out, hitting the Curtain Call, and winning this dreadful, dreadful match.
Your Winner: Goldust 

Afterwards, Goldust attempted to smooch with Sable, only for Marc Mero to recover and send his nemesis packing.

About five people gave a damn.

Intercontinental Championship Tournament Announced

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Ahmed Johnson had to forfeit the Intercontinental Championship
Up next, we reminded that Ahmed Johnson had been put on the shelf with severe kidney bleeding (or something to that effect) after being attacked by Faarooq Asaad (Ron Simmons in a ridiculous Roman gladiator gimmick).

This meant that not only would Ahmed have to forefeit the Intercontinental Championship, but that he would also have to give up his WWF title shot against Shawn Michaels that he won in a recent Raw Invitational Battle Royal.

What would happen next -according to WWF President Gorilla Monsoon - is that we would have a tournament for the IC title, whilst the last four men who were in the ring before Ahmed won the battle royal would go at it again in a "Sudden Death" battle royal.

The winner of that (it was Goldust btw) would go on to face Michaels on a special Raw episode called Raw Championship Friday.

The announcement ended with a shot of Ahmed Johnson holding the Intercontinental Championship belt upside down, before cutting back to an interview in which he promised to ignore doctors orders and do whatever he wanted to ignore the fans.

Sunny and Farooq Want the Intercontinental Championship 

Ron Simmons earliest World Wrestling Federation gimmick really was a mess, wasn't it?

I just can't imagine the creative meeting where they looked at a star who just a few years prior had received a huge push as the first African American champion, then gave him an Arabic name, a weird Roman gladiator costume, and a theme that sounded like something off a Super Nintendo game.

Just to complete this hodge-podge of ideas, they gave the African Arabic Roman American Gladiator a manager in the form of Sunny, who at the time was doing her sexy cowgirl thing with the Smoking Gunns. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Sunny and her new man Farooq gave an in-ring promo
All that aside, the two did put together quite the impressive heel act as they joined Todd Pettingill in the centre of the ring for a live interview. 

I say 'interview,' Farooq essentially told Todd to can it before insisting that he should be the Intercontinental Champ by virtue of beating up Ahmed Johnson.

Sunny then claimed that it didn't matter, Farooq would win the upcoming tournament and become the next champion because what Sunny wants, Sunny gets.

Jerry 'The King' Lawler vs. Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

There were times when the cartoonish, cowardly-heel act Jerry Lawler played in mid-90s WWF worked like a charm. 

Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those times. 

Immediately turning this from a match into a bad stand-up comedy routine, Lawler spent the first few minutes making jokes about Jake 'The Snake' Roberts' real life alcoholism before Roberts himself finally made it to ringside. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Mark Henry made his WWF PPV debut on commentary for Jerry Lawler vs. Jake Roberts
What followed was a few minutes of sloppy, uninspired brawling, followed by Lawler jabbing Jake in the throat with a bottle of Jim Beam, pulling his tights, and getting the win. 

More apparent hillarity followed, with Lawler pouring a bottle of Jim Beam down Roberts' throat, cracking wise about Jake wanting a beer chaser and then attempting to drown him with the second bottle, only for newcomer Mark Henry to make the save. 

Speaking of The World's Strongest Man, he was literally the only funny thing about this match, and that wasn't intentional. 

During Lawler's stand-up routine, The King pulled out two bottles of booze which he introduced as Jake Roberts' tag team partners.

Henry laughed out loud at this -and several other jokes- before suddenly remembering that he was supposed to be the babyface and remarking: "Actually, that's not funny."                                                                                                
That however, wasn't the funniest part. 

Half way through the math, Lawler took a soda from a fan at ringside and threw in his opponent's face. Seeming genuinely concerned for the fan's risk of dehydration, Henry asked: 

"But what's that fan gonna do for a drink, now?"

Honestly, I can't explain it, but there was something about the earnestness in Mark's voice that was at once both endearing and hilarious.

Anyway, this sucked. Let's move on.
Your Winner: Jerry Lawler

"That wasn't an athletic contest we just witnessed," said Jim Ross as Henry helped Roberts to the back.

No shit, JR. No shit.

Meanwhile..somewhere in the crowd, Bob Backlund continued to campaign for his presidential run.

Time for the Boiler Room Bra 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - The Undertaker enters the boiler room for his match with Mankind
No, that's not a typo. Remember at Wrestlemania 12's Hollywood Backlot Brawl when Vince McMahon continually referred to it as a Hollywood Backlot Bra? 

He did the same thing here, introducing a Pettingill-narrated video package for our next match as being about "The Boiler Room Bra". 

As Paul Bearer made his way to the ring with The Urn in tow, McMahon even referenced the Hollywood Backlot Bra. 

Honeslety, I'm crying with laughter here. 

Boiler Room Bra(wl)
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Mankind 

Clocking in around the 30 minute mark, this was by far the longest bout on the card so far. 

As a 12 year-old kid watching this at the time, I thought length alone made this one of the most tedious matches I'd ever seen. So you can probably imagine how much I was dreading it, especially after what had so far turned out to be just a horribly dull show. 

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Undertaker and Mankind Brawl Backstage in the Boiler Room Brawl
Imagine also then, how pleasantly surprised I was to find that -on a second viewing some 21 years later- the Undertaker vs. Mankind Boiler Room Brawl was far better than I ever remembered it. 

Sure, this wasn't an instant wrestling classic, but then it was never intended to be. 

What it was, was a captivating piece of storytelling which achieved the one thing I believe all pro wrestling should be constantly trying to achieve: 

Suspension of disbelief. 

OK, so the action was mostly Undertaker and Mankind throwing each other into things and whacking each other with pipes and bits of wood, but there were times when your writer couldn't help but flinch, wince, and double over as though feeling how much this "fake" stuff must have really hurt. 

And when Mankind was thrown from the top of a ladder by Undertaker and splatted -kidneys first- onto the cold, unforgiving concrete? That was a true holy shit moment in every sense of the word. 

Having seen the direction that pro wrestling / sports entertainment would take in the years that followed this match, the move may not appear to be all that special to some, but it's worth noting that nothing like this had ever really been seen on WWF telivision before. 

What we were watching here was a first. It was different, it was groundbreaking, and it was truly engaging. 

Helping matters was the fact that commentators barely spoke a word, as if even they were stunned into silence by what they were witnessing. Only the occasional "ohh" from Vince McMahon or a sombre "amazing," from JR reminded us that they were even there. 

A personal highlight for this fan came when the two made it out of the boiler room and brawled through the backstage area, with the likes of The Godwins and the Body Donnas shown rooting for the Dead Man whilst Steve Austin and Bradshaw came out of the same locker room to cheer for Mankind.

Eventually, the two brawled to the ring, where Foley took a sick bump from the apron to the exposed concrete, allowing Undertaker to climb into the ring, kneel before his long time manager Paul Bearer, and reach out to collect the urn.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Paul Bearer turned heel on Undertaker and joined forces with MankindGaining possession of the urn, you see, was the only way to win this match. Yet just when it looked like the whole thing was over, Bearer refused to hand it over.

Instead, he walked into the corner and cackled fiendishly whilst Mankind returned and slapped on the mandible claw.

Again, Undertaker went for the urn, again, Bearer refused, this time cracking his now former charge over the skull with it to cement his heel turn.

All it took then, was for Bearer to hand over the urn, establish an alliance with the deranged Mankind, and give us the very first plot point in the story that would eventually lead - 14 months down the line - to the debut of The Undertaker's brother, Kane.
Your Winner: Mankind

Afterwards, masked druids (which were actually members of the roster in big, black, hooded cloaks) carried The Undertaker to the back to the sound of Gorean chanting. McMahon and JR sold the whole thing like Bearer had literally just murdered the man he'd managed for six years.

Jim Cornette Promises a Victory for Vader

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Jim Cornette promised a victory for Vader in the WWF title match
Backstage, Jim Cornette ranted and raved to Doc Hendrix about the upcoming main event. 

As the Mastodon huffed, and puffed and grunted, Cornette said that - just as at last month's In Your House- he promised us a victory for his man when Vader went one on one with the WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels. 

That match was next. 

World Wrestling Federation ChampionshipWWF Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Vader (w/ Jim Cornette)

As the two combatants made their way to the ring, our commentary team sold the defending champion Shawn Michaels as a complete underdog who seemingly had no chance of leaving Cleveland with his title.

WWF / WWE SUMMERSLAM 1996 - Vader dominated his WWF Championship match against Shawn Michaels
For the majority of this truly enthralling bout, that certainly seemed to be the case.

Vader demolished HBK from pillar to post. He battered him inside the ring, he battered him outside the ring, and whilst the champ did get a few shots in (an impressive suicide dive among them), it was the challenger who dominated more or less from start to finish.

Don't mistake this for a squash of any kind however.

What we got here was a brilliant main event which made Vader look like a true monster (or as Jim Ross called him - "A Manster - half man, half monster" ) whilst eliciting a groundswell of sympathy for the babyface champion.

The Mastodon even technically beat the Heartbreak Kid not once, but twice. The first time came as a result of a countout, whilst the second saw Michaels disqualified for whipping the piss out of both Cornette and Vader with Cornette's tennis racket.

Each time however, James E. challenged Michaels to continue the match. Michaels accepted, and looked to lose his title to a Vader Bomb, only for Cornette to once again get involved, demanding that the challenger instead use his top rope moonsault to win the match.
Michaels moved, hit a moonsault of his own, and scored what was essentially an upset victory.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels.

Having survived a brutal assault, Michaels grabbed his title and celebrated, bringing this wholly disappointing show to an end.

Disappointing is just about the best word for it too. 

At the start of this review, we discussed how WWF Summerslam 1996 had been promoted mainly as a two match show. 

Whilst those two matches definitely delivered, the rest of the card ranged from dull to outright dreadful, a shame really, since bouts like the opening tag match and the Mero/Goldust match had the potential to be quite fun. 

The Boiler Room Brawl (or Bra, if you prefer) and that awesome championship match were enjoyable, but even they were not so good as to warrant sitting through what was probably one of the worst over all pay per views of 1996.

I'll be back again soon with the In Your House Mind Games review. Until then, thanks for reading, and be sure to join me on Twitter for more Retro Pro Wrestling - @Retropwrestling

Sunday, 9 April 2017


WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Event Poster
July 21, 1996, 
General Motors Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

It's been a long time since I last reviewed a World Wrestling Federation pay per view. 

As my attempt at reviewing every event from Wrestlemania 1 - Wrestlemania 30 hit the second half of the 1990s, I admit I was lured away -like many fans at the time were- by the excitement of the New World Order and the awesome in-ring action offered by World Championship Wrestling.

Yet whilst all of that was going on, whilst Hulk Hogan was being revealed as the 'Third Man' and sewing the seeds of the nWo, I had to remember that the WWF were still putting a product out too.

That product was this: In Your House 9: International Incident.

Taking place just a few short weeks after Hogan's memorable heel turn over in WCW, tonight's show was originally designed to serve as little more than a bridge between the previous month's King of the Ring, and August's Summerslam.

Ultimately however, the work of the in-ring competitors managed to elevate this show from B-level filler to a thoroughly entertaining event in its own right.

Not convinced?

Read on to find out just what went down when WWF In Your House came to Canada.

Welcome to the In Your House Free For All 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Free for All
Not only is this the first WWF review I've done in a while, it's also the first review I've produced in ages from my original copy of the event rather than the WWE Network.

As such, we get ourselves a Free for All, which our announcers Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

promise us will feature not only a match between Savio Vega and Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw, but also a much anticipated showdown between James E. Cornette and Jose Lothario.

I'm sure I can't wait. Can you?

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

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Savio Vega was 'branded' after his match with Bradshaw
According to Vince McMahon and a couple of flashbacks to previous shows, the story here was that these two hated each

other for no clearly identifiable reason, and had spent much of their previous two matches whipping the hell out of each other using a bull rope (Bradshaw) and a Caribbean strap.

Such was the animosity between these two, that Savio Vega arrived for his heated battle with his sworn enemy by dancing and strutting his way down to ring side.

As for the match itself, this one was very much like scores of bouts that I've reviewed here over the years:

It was entertaining, it served its purpose, but it was almost instantly forgettable.

Whilst you might not think it to read the names on paper, both Savio and Bradshaw did a good job of getting the crowd worked up, before the latter pinned the former thanks to the assist from manager Uncle Zebekiah and a crafty foot placed on the second rope for leverage.

Truthfully, it was good enough for what it was, though hardly the kind of match anyone would ever recommend you track down just to see it.
Your Winner: Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw 

Post match, Savio looked to extract a measure of revenge on Zebekiah, only to receive a 'Clothesline From Hell' for his troubles courtesy of the future JBL.

From there, both Bradshaw and his manager proceeded to beat down on their fallen adversary before Zeb "branded" Vega with a shitty looking ink stamp that smudged all over Savio's arm the minute it touched the skin and looked fake as hell.

Goldust Arrives

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Undertaker faced Goldust
Turning our attentions away from Vega's rubber-stamp "branding," Vince McMahon next began to talk up the hotly anticipated match between The Undertaker and Goldust.

As the latter then began to make his way towards the ring, McMahon acted completely surprised, as though it were some great coincidence that The Bizarre One should happen to arrive just as his name was being mentioned.

Before we heard from Goldust however, we first saw a music video for The Undertaker, cutting a bunch of in-ring shots of The Deadman chokeslamming all and sundry with promo shots of him standing in graveyards beneath full moons and looking creepy as hell.

Actually, you don't need me to tell you about the video, here it is:

When that finished, we heard from Goldust as he sat at the commentary table, flanked as ever by the ever-beautiful Marlena.

Goldie had some choice words for his opponent, it's just a shame that he chose to make those words mostly nonsense. The gist of the promo was the champion acting weird and claiming to have felt The Undertaker's pain.

An odd segment, but then for a match pitting two of the World Wrestling Federation's most 'out there' characters, would you really expect anything less?

Let's Take a Look at Tonight's Main Event

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Six Man Tag Team Main Event
As we've already touched on, In Your House: International Incident was set to be headlined by a six man tag team match pitting British Bulldog, Owen Hart, and Vader against WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson, and the recently returning Sycho Sid, but it hadn't always been that way.

Tonight's main event had its origins in the previous month's WWF King of The Ring 1996 where, after defeating Davey Boy Smith in a championship match, HBK was beat up by the entire Camp Cornette.

Ahmed Johnson and The Ultimate Warrior had made the save, originally setting up Warrior, Michaels, and Ahmed as the babyface team.

Not long after however, Gorilla Monsoon had 'indefinitely suspended' the Warrior for missing a bunch of house shows, leading to a replacement being sought.

On an episode of Raw, Michaels and Johnson had revealed Sycho Sid to be their replacement.

Cornette had then gone on to question Sid's sanity, though personally I would question the sanity of The Heartbreak Kid.

After all, wasn't this the very same Sid who had powerbombed him all the way to hell on the Raw after Wrestlemania XI?

It was but hey, this was mid-90s WWF, a time when all babyfaces were friends and all heels had an understanding based purely on which side of the good guy/bad guy line they stood.

Jose Lothario Faces Jim Cornette

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Jim Cornette was angry at Jose Lothario
The aforementioned video package led us nicely to an in-ring confrontation between Shawn's manager Jose Lothario and the leader of Camp Cornette, good old James E. himself.

This was a segment I doubt anybody really wanted to see, particularly since babyface manager Lothario was loudly booed when introduced by mediator, Jim Ross.

In fairness, the crowd were not too thrilled to see Cornette either, not that this seemed to bother him much.

Taking to the podium, Cornette launched a verbal tirade against Lothario, lambasting the wrestling legend for punching him in the teeth a few weeks ago.

The argument grew so heated that both men moved away from the microphone and got right up in each other's face. Cornette swung for Jose, Jose landed a punch right in Jimmy's face, and Vader ran out, seemingly to seek revenge.

Before he had the chance to do anything however, Shawn Michaels ran out for the save.

Watching this today, what's interesting is that there's no way WWE would have its two biggest stars appear before the crowd on today's Kick Off shows.

Can you imagine Brock Lesnar running to the ring to save Paul Heyman, only for John Cena to run out before the show even got started?

Kevin Kelly Interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Kevin Kelly interviews Steve Austin about his match with Marc Mero
Still a fully fledged heel, Stone Cold Steve Austin was visibly pissed at Marc Mero for kicking him in the face last month.

Here, he vowed that not only would he kick Mero's ass, but that he'd kick the ass of anyone who tried to stop him en route to the top of the WWF.

Cornette Promises a Refund 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the building, an irate Jim Cornette stood by with Vader, Owen Hart, and Davey Boy & Diana Smith.

In a move that would basically telegraph the result of tonight's main event, Cornette promised to refund every ticket holder and every PPV purchaser if Camp Cornette didn't win tonight.

With that, the Free for All was over and it was on to the main show.

Non-Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart Gunn w/ Sunny) vs. The Body Donnas (Skip & Zip) 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Sunny led the Smoking Gunns into battle against the Body Donnas
Tonight's pay per view went straight into the action with a tag team championship match in which Sunny led Billy & Bart Gunn into battle against her former team, Skip and Zip. 

Prior to this one getting under way properly, The Body Donnas gave a short, pre-match promo in which they addressed the absence of Kloudi, the tattooed transvestite they brought into replace Sunny for a brief period.

According to Skip & Zip, Kloudie had taught both men that they didn't actually need a manager after all. They simply needed the fans to cheer them on.

And cheer them on they did, in a fun opening contest that saw both teams working hard to entertain the Vancouver crowd.

The Body Donnas had what I like to think of as I.R.S Syndrome; an over-the-top gimmick which overshadowed the fact that, when they got in the ring, they were actually really very good.

Combined with a Smoking Gunns team who were finally finding their feet as nefarious heels, this one had all the makings of a decent match.

The end came when Bart set up one of the Body Donnas for the Gunns' finishing move, the Sidewinder, only to find that Billy Gunn was still on the outside cavorting with Sunny.

That gave Skip and Zip the opportunity they needed to get the better of Bart, scoring a big victory over the champions that would lead to a tag team title shot down the line.
Your Winners: The Body Donnas

Post match, Sunny threw a temper tantrum as Bart wondered allowed how his team had managed to lose.

The end of The Smoking Gunns was nigh.

Jim Cornette Loses His Mind

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Camp Cornette promised victory against HBK, Ahmed Johnson, and Sid
Backstage, Mr. Perfect stood by for an interview with Jim Cornette and his camp.

As footage played of his earlier in-ring altercation with Jose Lothario, Jim Cornette hillarious watched the same footage that we did but saw it an entirely different way, claiming that what we were actually watching was Lothario pulling a switch blade on Jim, Shawn Micahels attempting to attack him, and Vader making the save.

Trust me, it was funnier than it sounded.

To finish, James E. once again vowed to refund the money of both the live audience and those watching the PPV at home if his team lost. The British Bulldog then claimed that the match would be so gruesome that he was leaving his wife, Diana backstage, whilst Owen Hart vowed to destroy Sycho Sid.

All the while, Vader paced around the locker room, throwing trash cans around and barking like a dog.

As promos go, this was hardly the greatest of all time, but it was certainly entertaining and effective, and I suppose that's all that really counts.

Mankind vs. Henry O. Godwin (w/ Hillbilly Jim)

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Mankind Beat Henry Godwin in a boring match
This one had originally been set to see Mankind taking on Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, but for reasons that I'm not sure have ever been fully explained (probably because nobody cares), Roberts was replaced with Henry O. Godwin at the last minute.

Whilst a Mankind / Roberts encounter could have been something special had The Snake been on form, this one like exactly what it was:

A throw-away undercard bout which mattered very little.

The sole highlight saw Mankind pull up the protective padding around ringside, and then promptly no-sell a sick looking back bodydrop onto the concrete.

Taking things back into the ring, Foley countered the Slop Drop with the Mandible Claw, and this insanely boring match was over.
Your Winner: Mankind 

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Marc Mero (w/ Sable)

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Marc Mero and Sable before Mero's match with Stone Cold Steve Austin
Last month, Austin and Mero's King of the Ring quarter final match had been one of the highlights of the show.

In tonight's rematch, both men went all out to top their previous effort. Whether they succeeded or not is probably a matter of personal taste, but what is certainly undeniable, is that this was a thrilling contest that served was one of -if not the- best matches on the card.

Following a solid back-and-forth, it was Steve Austin (who was still playing the heel at this point) for the win courtesy of an early version of his Stone Cold Stunner. 
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin 

I should also mention that, during the Austin / Mero bout, Marlena came to ringside and handed a golden envelope to Jerry Lawler. 

Whilst we were shown several shots of Marlena continuing to watch Austin vs. Mero, neither Lawler nor Vince McMahon bothered to address the contents of the envelope, which makes you wonder what the hell the point was. 

Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - The Undertaker prepares for battle against Goldust
The Undertaker had so far spent much of the spring and summer of 1996 feuding with both Mankind and Goldust, alternating between the two bizare characters in a series of pay per view matches. 

Tonight, it was the turn of Goldust to face off with the Phenom in a return bout from their Intercontinental Championship match back at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog

Whilst your writer may have been highly critical of that previous match (I believe the best I could do was to call it "mostly tedious"), tonight's outing faired much better. 

After a great degree of stalling in the opening moments which actually proved to be far more entertaining than it should have done, the two went at it in a highly competitive match in which The Dead Man did his damnedest to make Godie look amazing without ever once sacrificing his own unique aura. 

More or less repeating the finish from their first match, Undertaker looked to have the win, only for Mankind to tear through the canvas from under the ring, lock the mandible claw on his rival, and drag him down beneath the ring. 
Your Winner by Disqualification: The Undertaker 

Afterwards, Mankind returned to the ring as the lights flickered, smoke flooded up from beneath the ring, and ominous bells tolled.

Had we finally seen the last of the Undertaker? Did Mankind really have The Dead Man's number?

Not by a long shot.

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Mankind drags Undertaker underneath the ringUndertaker pulled himself up from the opposite side of the ring, brawling to the back with Foley in the latest chapter of one of the most engaging feuds of 1996.

The Good Guys Are Ready

Backstage, Doc Hendrix stood by to get a word with our main event babyface trio of WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, WWF Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson, and future champion, Sycho Sid.

In an entertaining promo, all three insisted that they were not worried about Vader, Bulldog, and Owen Hart.

In the words of Big Sid, it was real simple

Six men enter, only three men survive.

Six Man Team Team Main Event
WWF Champion Shawn Michaels, Intercontinental Champion Ahmed Johnson, and Sycho Sid (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Camp Cornette (Vader, The British Bulldog, and Owen Hart w/ Jim Cornette) 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Sycho Sid was the most popular wrestler in the main event
Appearing in his first WWF pay per view since December 1995's In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings, Sycho Sid was by far the most popular man in this entire six man match. 

That includes champion Shawn Michaels, who was so over with the Canadian audience that they broke part of the barriers separating them from the ilse as HBK made his entrance. 

Whenever Michaels was getting his ass handed to him in the ring, it was Sid the fans chanted for. When it was Johnson in the ring, it was Sid they wanted.

And when Sid himself stepped between the ropes?

The crowds -as the old saying goes- went wild.

But make no mistake about it; this was far from a one man show.

For the better part of thirty minutes, all six men put on their working boots and went to war in what was undeniably a solid, highly entertaining main event with nary a dull moment in sight.

Though there would be much better matches held in WWF rings in future years, this one was certainly far superior to some of the main events we'd been subject to over the course of the past year.

That includes those featuring Shawn and Sid.

After a lengthy battle, the Heartbreak Kid looked to have control of the match, and began "tuning up the band" in the corner, ready to knock Vader down and pick up the win for his team.

Yet with the referee distracted by the other four combatants all brawling around the ring, Jim Cornette was able to hold onto HBK's leg. This gave Vader just enough time to recover, squash the champion, and land the Vader Bomb for the cover, the count, and the win.
Your Winners: Camp Cornette

Whilst Cornette must have breathed a sigh of relief at avoiding the millions of dollars he'd have to refund if his team had lost, he can't have been too happy about the beat down his men received in the post match fracas.

With Sid and Ahmed cleaning house in the ring, Michaels launched himself over the ropes onto Vader, drilling him with a flurry of fists to set up a rivalry that would take us to the main event of next month's Summerslam.

Monsoon Confirms Summerslam's Main Event 

WWF / WWE - IN YOUR HOUSE 9: International Incident - Vader Demands a title shot against Shawn Michaels
Before we signed off tonight, Doc Hendrix gave us an exclusive word with WWF President Gorilla Monsoon. 

Just as Monsoon was done confirming that Undertaker would face Mankind in a boiler at Summerslam, Jim Cornette and Vader arrived on the scene, demanding a title shot against The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels.

Until then, all that's left for me to do is to give you my overall verdict on this show. 

That verdict?

It's definitely worth watching.

With the seeds planted for both Michaels/Vader and the Taker/Mankind Boiler Room Brawl, this show may have only existed to set the stage for Summerslam, but it actually succeeded in doing more than that. 

With the majority of matches ranging from decent (Gunns/Donnas, Taker/Goldust) to very good (Austin/Mero, the main event), In Your House: International Incident is proof that nothing everything about mid-90s WWF sucked as bad as you may have heard. 

I'll be back again soon with the Summerslam 1996 review. Until then, thanks for reading, and be sure to join me on Twitter for more Retro Pro Wrestling - @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.