Note from Rajah: Special thanks to reader Mike Beard for sending me a copy of this tape so I could review it! Also, I'm not nearly as good as Pete doing these flashbacks, so please be kind.
In Your House
February 18, 1996
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jerry "The King" Lawler
We start with the always enjoyable Sunny who is having some fun on the beach. She informs us that the program we're about to watch is just too "hot to handle" and that viewer discretion is advised. Nice.
Crybaby Match: Razor Ramon vs. 1-2-3 Kid
I presume this was the final, blowoff match in the long standing feud between Ramon and 1-2-3 Kid and sure enough it is, as Vince McMahon introduces us to a nice video montage showing the past history between these two. Most recently, Kid cost Ramon the IC title at Royal Rumble. The stipulations in this match are that the loser gets treated to a nice baby bottle and diaper, compliments of the winner. By this time, the Kid was aligned with Ted DiBiase, while Razor was heading into the homestretch of what was a modestly successful WWF career. Ramon starts off with the majority of the offense and even teased his patented Razor's Edge very early on in the match, but Kid bailed. What follows is an awfully slow series of events which ultimately leads to Ted DiBiase throwing some of the baby powder into Razor's eyes. The funny part is that it was in plain view of the referee, as was the big cloud of powder that remained visible for several seconds afterwards. With the Kid now in total control, the crowd cools down a little but a vigorous "Razor Razor" chants erupts when Kid almost puts Razor away with a sleeper. Anyway, Ramon ends up fighting back hitting a fallaway slam after which he signals for his finisher. Have no fear Kid, DiBiase is on his horse to distract the referee and slip some powder into the ring, to Kid's benefit of course. It backfires though and Ramon hits the "Razor's Edge" but only wants a two count. He decides to hit a second Razor's Edge and then picks up the pinfall. This would be a pretty good opener, if not for the slow middle sections and somewhat anti-climactic finish. **3/4 Lots of goodies after the match with 1-2-3 Kid succumbing to the crybaby stipulations. Kid comes to but doesn't realize he lost the match or has a diaper on, even though Razor's music is blaring through the arena. When DiBiase informs him, Kid breaks out into a cry, a la a baby.
Sunny and Ray Rougeau are backstage and tell us what questions they will ask the competitors in the match we just saw. We're also shown a pre-recorded clip of Jake "The Snake" Roberts inadvertently scaring Sunny with his snake. This occured following the free-for-all where Jake competed. Aww, I miss her.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Duke "The Dumpster" Droese
Hunter is smack dab in the middle of his run as the Greenwich snob and is escorted to the ring by an average looking woman, who Vince continually hypes as unbelievably beautiful. Okay. Anyway, the feud between these two was fairly successful by today's standards since the characters involved were completely opposite and Hunter was a competent enough heel for the fans to be completely behind Duke. The match itself was relatively long and nothing special with both wrestlers showing brief flashes of brilliance, but not enough to keep the crowd in it. Hunter, as good as he will become later on in his career, wasn't able to carry the match and overall didn't seem to impress. Droese for his part, showed some promise as a singles competitor and being big and strong certainly gave him a leg up in Vince's book, but his gimmick kinda prevented him from attaining any significant success - maybe in today's generation yeah but back then he didn't really stand a chance. We finally get to the finish, with Duke hitting his "Trash Compactor" (which was pretty much an overhyped powerslam) but he elects to be dumb and go for the trash can sitting outside. Umm..you're about four years ahead of your time there Duke. You can guess the rest, as Mike Chioda orders the garbage man to leave his can outside. Hunter uses the opportunity to clock Duke with the garbage can lid which is lying nearby and scores the pin. The ref sees it, acts confused and then ignores it. * at best.
Todd Pettengill's voice comes on and he shills some adult AND youth sized WWF t-shirts featuring such stars as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Big Daddy Cool Diesel.
We're taken back to RAW a couple weeks ago to set up the upcoming match the British Bulldog and Owen Hart. Yokozuna basically loses a match, Jim Cornette isn't happy and Yoko turns face by beating him up. Now, Cornette has put Bulldog infront of him as Yokozuna's opponent.
Backstage, Dok Hendrix interviews Yokozuna. This is Yoko's first real interview on WWF TV in about three years and he cuts a mean promo against his former buddies, Cornette, Bulldog and of course Owen Hart. Yokozuna, although still obviously going with the Japanese sumo wrestler gimmick, suddenly speaks perfect English.
Yokozuna vs. British Bulldog
Yokozuna could never really brag about his stamina and so this match was kept short and sweet, well at least short in terms of 1996. The two trade offense and Yoko signals for the second rope butt splash but Cornette intervenes and saves Bulldog. Bulldog then controls the majority of the match, but when he runs into trouble again, Cornette employs his trusty tennis racket and sacrifices the rest of the match for a DQ loss. 3/4* Yokozuna stalks Cornette but from behind sneaks Vader and both he and British Bulldog double team, handcuff and then kick the crap out of Yokozuna. Yoko tries to fight back, but to no avail and the beatdown lasts several minutes. Cornette helps out by assaulting some officials who come down to break up the scuffle. Yoko was nearing the end of his tenure with the WWF and so the majority of the altercations between Vader and him went in the former's favor.
Backstage we see Goldust is patting and groping a male AOL employee. Funny how five years later, Vince would do business with AOL by buying his competition out. Goldust is headed for a match against Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania so he starts the hype. On a sidenote, this match never happened and from my understanding it was because Ramon was suspended for drug abuse. Razor left the WWF soon thereafter and the WWF used Roddy Piper as Goldust's opponent instead.
A recap is shown indicating the history between Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels. Owen's ennziguri was worked as knocking out Shawn Michaels, but HBK bounced back and not only recovered to wrestle again, but succeeded in winning the Royal Rumble to secure his shot against the WWF champion at Wrestlemania. Now he's putting that honor on the line against Owen.
Owen Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Shawn's entrance is pretty unique as he starts at the top of the house on the stage, swings down and then runs into the ring. He throws Owen over, Cornette bails and Shawn finishes the rest of his routine for the audience. It takes so long that his theme music starts for a second time, but hey the fans are entertained so who cares. Not much happens at first, with Shawn concentrating on working the crowd with some great comedy segments, including one where he pulls Owen's hair behind the ref's back, just a few seconds after Cornette falsely complained about that exact same thing. Michaels sells an awful lot for Owen and throughout the entire match, some decent pyschology comes into play mainly where the dreaded enziguiri is concerned. Owen resorts to the Sharpshooter but Michaels breaks the hold by heading for the ropes. Match continues to swing in Owen's favor and finally...he hits the enziguiri and Michaels stumbles about and falls outside the ring. With Vince harping in the background about the severity of this move, Owen pulls him back in but only gets a two count. With the crowd now in it, the two engage in a semi memorable finish when Michaels misses his Sweet Chin Music, then dodges another enziguiri from Owen, before connecting with the aforementioned superkick for the win. **** Great match and an incredible background story. Shawn Michaels celebrates with a young female fan to wrap it up.
We cut to Todd Pettengill who introduces the acting President of the WWF, Roddy Piper. Piper is in this position after Gorilla Monsoon was blindsided and put out of action by Vader. Piper rambles about useless stuff we already know about and after a few minutes Jim Cornette and his lawyer Clarence Mason emerge to serve as Piper's foil. In the background we can see the ring crew setting up the steel cage for the next match. Thus, I assume this segment really served no purpose except to waste time.
Cage Match for the WWF Title: Diesel vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart
Diesel is pretty much done in the WWF and is basically just wrestling out the remainder of his contract before leaving for WCW. I believe this is the finale in this feud and I guess they put it in a cage so it wasn't as imperative for Bret to carry Diesel's ass to a good match. Pretty standard stuff with Diesel's skills (or lack thereof) neutralizing Bret's technical abilities. The audience really isn't into it as much of the action is in the center of the ring, in a slow and rather plodding manner. At one point, Bret shows some semblance of psychology by actually hitting the Sharpshooter as to weaken Diesel's legs so he could get extra time in getting over but it doesn't work. Match drags on, until Diesel again makes a final limp (wow, he's selling!) for the open door only to be greeted by the Undertaker who pops through the ring mat. As he pulls Diesel into the ring (and by that I mean physically into the mat), Bret finds the time to climb over the top and win the match. * But only because of the creative finish since the match didn't do it for me. Diesel ends up getting out, but he's stunned at what just happens and walks away in shock as the Undertaker is left alone, with the lights off and his music on.
Backstage Dok Hendrix is with Roddy Piper again and he announces a new match, Undertaker vs. Diesel to take place at Wrestlemania. Vince knows Diesel's on his way out, so he'll take the opportunity to job him out to the now undisputed big man in the WWF, the Undertaker.
In Your House Key Stats
Total Wrestling: Sorry didn't time the matches. I'll do it and add it later.
Average Match: Ditto.
Average Match Rating: **
Top Moments: Owen and Shawn engaging in a tremendous match, Wrestlemania hype starts, Undertaker making a hole in the ring.
If you have any questions or comments on this review, direct all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.