In Your House: Final Four
February 16, 1997
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry "The King" Lawler
Following "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's controversial Royal Rumble victory, WWF president Gorilla Monsoon determined that his win indeed should not count, and he had been eliminated from the match fair and square. However, there was nothing he could do to reverse the decision of the referees. As a result, he declared that it was only fair that the three men (Bret Hart, The Undertaker, and Vader) who were in fact "screwed" by Austin's cheating, should get another opportunity to go to Wrestlemania to challenge for Shawn Michaels' WWF Title. So a #1 contenders match between the final four from the Rumble was booked for the main event of this show. Simple enough, right?
But behind the scenes, things started to go awry, as Shawn Michaels became upset at the booking plan that would see him jobbing the Title back to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania. Shawn decided that if he couldn't go over Bret again, he'd rather sit out the biggest show of the year altogether. So rather than return Bret's job from the year before and be in the Wrestlemania main event, he decided to fake a knee injury. What a guy. This brought upon Shawn's famous "losing my smile" speech on Raw, where Shawn tried to hook the fans into sympathizing with him over the non-existent injury, and forfeited the WWF Championship. Because of Michaels' departure, it was decided that the vacant Title would now be on the line in the Final Four match.
Marc Mero vs. Leif Cassidy
Mero was going to wrestle for the Intercontinental Title at Wrestlemania XIII, but injured his knee shortly after this match. When he returned, he was never quite the same wrestler. This match is completely average, as the main focus of the match doesn[t even seem to be the contest itself, but the announcers pushing the fact that Sable has started to become more aggressive in recent weeks. Cassidy works the knee for awhile, but that goes nowhere, as Mero is able to make the comeback and hit the Wild Thing anyway for the win at 9:29. *3/4
We see clips of Shawn's aforementioned "losing my smile" speech, as he forfeits the WWF Championship.
Kevin Kelly interviews Sid, who will challenge the winner of tonight's main event for the WWF Title the next night on Raw.
Goldust, Flash Funk & Bart Gunn vs. Faarooq, Savio Vega & Crush
Feel the excitement. Interesting choice of a match for a PPV. This would seem a lot more fitting on Raw, but oh well. All the babyfaces have lost to members of the Nation Of Domination in singles competition leading up to this. Flash Funk starts off with some of his trademark high flying, but soon gets triple teamed and worked over. A hot tag sees Bart hit a top rope bulldog on Faarooq, but a Crush leg drop puts Faarooq on top of Bart, and that's enough for the pin at 6:43. The Nation goes over. Surprisingly decent match, but only because it was short. *1/2
Dok Hendrix talks to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who more or less whines about how he won the Royal Rumble, so there's no reason for this match tonight to even be taking place.
We're shown clips from Thursday RAW Thursday, where rookie Rocky Maivia upset Hunter Hearst Helmsley with an inside cradle to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Intercontinental Title: Rocky Maivia (Champion) vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Earl Hebner is the referee. Two years later and beyond and this match has main event written all over it, but this of course is long before their storied rival would find itself in main events. This is kind of surreal to watch, especially since they exchange some good matwork to start. Hunter finally slams him on the floor and goes to work. A suplex and kneedrop get two. Hunter goes to a rope-assisted chinlock, but Rocky fights out and scores a small package out of nowhere for two. Helmsley responds with some nasty kicks. A backbreaker gets two for Hunter, but Maivia hits a crossbody for two. He misses a dropkick, but Hunter misses a kneedrop, and Rocky nails him. Hunter hits a big clothesline, but Rocky comes back and wins a slugfest. He hits a powerslam and actually does a crossbody off the top rope. Hunter kicks out at two, then scoops his legs out from under him in the corner and uses the Flair pin, but only gets two with it. Rocky hits the floatover DDT and gets two. Weak kickout by Hunter. Helmsley hits a desperate facebuster, then uses a neckbreaker. Goldust makes an appearance to taunt Hunter, and Rocky uses the distraction to sneak up behind him and hit a german suplex for three to retain at 12:50. **1/2 Goldust and Hunter have a staredown, and a musclebound woman in the front row jumps Marlena and chokes her out, manhandling her like a rag doll. This would be the debut of one Chyna.
Kevin Kelly talks to Vader, who feels that he has the advantage in the main event tonight because he has defeated all three of his opponents in singles competition.
Tag Team Titles: Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon vs. Owen Hart & The British
Owen starts out doing a nice wrestling sequence with both challengers. LaFon soon gets worked over, but the heels start to have some miscommunication problems. Owen accidentally heel kicks Bulldog, so Davey clotheslines him, but then decides to save his partner from a LaFon pinning attempt. The challengers go through an insanely rapid flurry of offense on Owen, but Hart keeps kicking out until he hits an enziguri out of desperation. He tags Bulldog in. Davey Boy hits the running powerslam, but Owen ends up nailing LaFon in the head with his Slammy award to cause a DQ at 10:30. ***3/4 Hell of a match. The Bulldog and Owen retain the Titles, but Davey is mad because he wanted the pinfall. They tease a split as Bulldog throws down the Tag Title and Owen's slammy award, causing Owen to go ballistic and scream, "You don't touch my Slammy!". They eventually decide to make up and finally leave together, still the Tag Team Champions.
Dok talks to the Undertaker.
Highlights of the end of the Royal Rumble are shown to set up the Final Four.
WWF Title: Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. The Undertaker vs. "Stone Cold" Steve
Austin vs. Vader
The rules are as follows: No Countouts, No DQ's. Eliminations occur via pinfall or submission, or when a wrestler is thrown over the top rope to the floor, a la a Royal Rumble. The last man remaining is the winner and new WWF Champion. Bret and Austin go at it from the start, as do Taker and Vader. Vader gets hit with a chair and starts bleeding. All four brawl on the floor for awhile. Austin sneaks in and Stuns the Undertaker, but it's broken up at two. They end up brawling on the floor, and Austin clocks Vader with the steps. Bret starts taking it to him, while the Undertaker pummels Austin inside. Bret hits a piledriver on Austin in the ring for two. Vader nails the Undertaker and tries a moonsault, but misses. Austin tries to dump the Undertaker out over the top, but Bret creeps up on Austin and tosses him out, to eliminate him at 18:09. Vader destroys Bret, but Bret is able to superplex him when he goes to the top. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but the Undertaker breaks that up. Austin returns to ringside to jump Bret and do a number on him. In the ring, Vader tries the Vaderbomb, but the Undertaker no-sells it and eliminates him over the top rope at 22:37. Austin returns again and beats on Bret. The Undertaker chokeslams Bret. JR is in all his glory here, screaming about the magnitude of this match. The Undertaker goes for the Tombstone on Bret, but Austin gets in the way of that. Bret rolls up Taker for two, then goes after Austin. Taker goes after him, but Bret ends up clotheslining him out over the top rope to win the match and the WWF Title at 24:03. This was a crazy brawl. **** As Bret celebrates with the Title, Sid makes his presence known in the aisle and they have a staredown. He would end up defeating Bret for the Title the next night on Raw.
All in all, this is a pretty forgettable show, but the main event is a great match, and the Tag Title match is superb. It's always cool to see The Rock and Triple H lock it up "before they were stars", but really this is just another average show from one of the WWF's darker periods. Wrestlemania XIII would be just around the corner.
Send all email to [email protected]