In Your House: Buried Alive
October 20,1996
Indianapolis, Indiana
Market Square Arena

Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry "The King" Lawler

We kick off the show with an excellent Undertaker/Mankind video package chronicling their lengthy feud.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
Holy crap! Who remembered this one? Three, four, five years later and this is a high quality main event. Here it's a completely forgettable opening match on a completely forgettable PPV. Hunter is apparently replacing Savio Vega, who I suppose was going to be fed to Austin yet again, so that's why we have two heels in there with each other. Speaking of heelishness, at this point Helmsley is acting less like a blue blood and more like a usual bad guy as he tries to slowly transition himself away from the boundaries of a gimmick. Austin gets a few arm drags to start and keeps flashing middle fingers at Hunter. That was in the old days before all the bird flashing was commonplace. Back then it was still edgy and rebellious and controversial and offensive. All that good stuff. Jim Ross's headset keeps cutting out during the match, and he gets pissed at Vince as a result. This was in the midst of JR's brief run as a bitter-at-Vince heel, which ultimately went nowhere but is quite entertaining here. Austin and Helmsley feel each other out some more, and JR calls both of them future Champions. That's why he's the talent evaluator, folks. The announcers mention how Bret Hart is returning from his six month sabattical the next night on Raw to respond to all of Steve Austin's recent threats and challenges. Vince and JR verbally duel some more as the crowd gets behind the very heelish Austin. They exchange sleepers while Mr. Perfect wanders out and escorts Hunter's valet for the evening away from ringside. Perfect and Hunter weren't exactly getting along at the time. Helmsley gets all pissed off and brawls with him on the floor. Austin gets into the mix and takes a suplex in the aisle for his trouble. Officials finally calm things down and get Perfect out of there, and Hunter goes for a Pedigree on the floor. Austin sweeps his legs out from under him before he can do so, however, and slingshots him into the steel post. He rolls him in, hits the Stunner, and gets the pin at 15:31 to a decent face pop. **3/4 Pretty good match, but also a pretty strange one to watch since this was before they were main eventers and well before they had any past history with one another.

Dok Hendrix interviews the Smoking Gunns. Billy wants the Titles back in hopes that that way they'll be able to get Sunny back as their manager, but Bart wants the Titles back because he's only concerned with packing the gold!

Tag Team Titles: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (Champions) vs. The Smoking Gunns
Owen debuts his shorter hairstyle here. He starts off with Billy, but soon tags in the Bulldog so team Hart can hit their awesome drop toehold/legdrop combo. Great move, but it was way more effective when Yokozuna was the one doing the legdrop. Billy and Bart have miscommunication problems stemming from their earlier disagreement, and the Bulldog pulls Bart out of the ring on a Sidewinder attempt. Owen heel kicks Billy and gets the three to retain at 9:14. Not as good as last month's effort, but still decent. **1/2 This led to the epic split of the Smoking Gunns and the first of many failed attempts of launching Billy Gunn's glorious singles career.

Jim Ross gets in the ring to cut a promo against Vince. He promises that he'll have Bret Hart on Raw tomorrow, as he would, and lets all the fans in the arena know that Vince has had his production crew screwing with his headset. JR says he doesn't have to take it anymore, and walks to the back, leaving Vince and Lawler to call the rest of the show by themselves.

Highlights of Ahmed Johnson returning to put Faarooq out of action are shown. Faarooq was scheduled to get a shot at Marc Mero's Intercontinental Championship here, but since he's now injured, former Intercontinental Champion, Goldust, is his replacement.

Mr. Perfect comes down to announce the Intercontinental Title match, since he has a vested interest in this match. Perfect has been helping Marc Mero follow in his own footsteps as a great Intercontinental Champion. Just to go off on a brief tangent, this time period can be traced to when the WWF started experimenting with new, less traditional ideas. It could be said that the shades of gray started here. Just take the entire beginning of this show as an example. Vince McMahon is the ultimate babyface, but when Jim Ross acts bitter and heelish towards him, the crowd pops for JR. But at times Ross also gets snippy with Lawler, who is supposed to be the ultimate heel. Mr. Perfect, really a heel, but settling into a tweener role since he hates Helmsley so much, interferered in a heel vs. heel match earlier in the night. That's three people and no clear cut babyface to root for. It would seem as if the WWF was challenging the fans to make their own choice who to cheer for. In the next match, two heel tag teams wrestled each other, with one of the teams fighting amongst themselves over their heel ex-manager, Sunny. But the match and the storyline worked even though it contained five heels because those people were depicted as characters, not merely as gimmicks as they would have been in years past. The fans found it easier to get interested in a story between characters. Gimmicks basically dictated who to cheer for and who to boo, but this was different. The next night on Raw, Bret Hart, a pure face if there had ever been one, returned with some unkind words for both, Vince, another babyface, and Steve Austin, a "cool" heel that was beginning to gain some face appeal. With Shawn Michaels carrying things as WWF Champion, the successful Undertaker/Mankind feud, and newer talent like Austin and Helmsley in the undercard (with Rocky a mere month away from debuting), the WWF was doing what it could to test what worked and what didn't, and prepare themselves for success in the future. It worked.

Intercontinental Title: Marc Mero (Champion) vs. Goldust
Case in point, as the tweener Perfect and heel Lawler verbally squabble with one another. Mero completely dominates the start of this one with all his trademark highspots. Goldust's offense is a sharp contrast, as he slows things down with a chinlock. The crowd gets on Goldie, so he grabs the mic and does what I presume was a big time house show shtick and snaps at the crowd with: "Shut the hell up! I'll stick by tongue down each and every one of your throats!" That'll tell him. Nice way to try to get your heat back, but it didn't work in the long term. Back in the ring, Goldust backdrops Mero to the floor. Perfect leaves the broadcast table to help him to his feet since he's been acting as his mentor and everything. Hunter Hearst Helmsley runs out in retaliation to Perfect's interference in his earlier match, and a scuffle develops. Meanwhile, Mero recovers and finishes off Goldust in the ring with a samoan drop followed by the Wild Thing to retain the Title at 11:38. *** The next night, Perfect would turn on Mero by costing him the Intercontinental Title to Helmsley. Perfect then aligned himself with Hunter, but the whole feud got screwed up when Perfect bolted for WCW a few weeks later.

JR does an AOL chat with the fake Diesel and Razor.

Hype for the upcoming Sid/Vader match is shown. Who's powerbomb is better?

Sid vs. Vader
The winner gets WWF Champion Shawn Michaels in a Title Match at the Survivor Series on November 17. Shawn enters the arena to a loud ovation to announce the match with Vince and Lawler. The match gets underway and Sid Hogan hits a quick big boot and a leg drop for a two count. Vader responds with an avalanche. Sid is sent to the floor where Jim Cornette has the balls to do the dirty work himself and hit him with his loaded tennis racket. Sid makes it to the apron and sunsets in(!), but Vader sits on him. Sid comes back with another boot, then heads up top(!). He tries a crossbody(!), but Vader catches him with a slam and splashes him for two. Vader then hits a splash off the second rope, but Vader picks him up at two, which is always a mistake. He tries the Vaderbomb, but Sid gets the knees up just in time. Sid comes back with a clothesline. Vader low blows his way out of a powerbomb attempt while Corny distracts the referee. Vader tries a powerbomb of his own but can't do it, so Sid wakes up and chokeslams him to score the three count at 8:00. Surprisingly good power match. Shawn congratulates Sid. I never understood why they started playing those two up as friends again after Sid brutally turned on him the way he did the year before. I guess I figured it would put more heat on Sid, and even Michaels, when he eventually turned against him again, but the whole idea of Shawn forgiving and forgetting as easily as he did always seemed out of place to me. Anyway, Sid will now challenge Shawn for the WWF Title at Survivor Series.

Survivor Series promo. Shawn vs. Sid. Hey.

Dok Hendrix talks to Sid, but Jim Ross intervenes and asks the "tough questions" instead of watching Dok serve up softballs. Sid says that he'll do anything to win the Title at Survivor Series. You know, I think I believe him.

Buried Alive: The Undertaker vs. Mankind
This would be their third PPV match against one another since June. Vince reinforces the idea that the match is "non-sanctioned". The rules are simple. There's a makeshift grave atop a huge pile of dirt that looks grossly out of place at the side of the aisle. To win the match you must stuff your opponent into the grave and bury him alive under the dirt. Hence the name of the match. Frightening, no? They start at ringside with a slugfest on the floor. Taker goes to the top rope and dives all the way to the floor(!) on top of Mankind. Geez, those parenthetical exclamation points are earning their keep tonight. They brawl towards the dirt pile and fight on top of it, but spill back down into the aisle. Back near ringside, they brawl in the crowd. The Undertaker whips Mankind into the barrier, sending him flying back towards ringside. Nice bump. Taker now follows up with a flying clothesline as he jumps clear over the barrier. Whoa. Back in for some brawling, and Taker nails Mankind with the steps, but Mankind shrugs it off and takes over with punches and the kneeram in the corner. They stumble back towards the gravesite, and Mick shoves him in there, but Taker fights right back out. Back down the aisle we go, and back to the ring again. Mankind obliterates the Undertaker with chairshots, then goes for a piledriver on the concrete floor, but Taker counters by backdropping him into the steps. Ouch. Mankind hits a double arm DDT on a chair in the ring, but Taker fights back and Tombstones him. He carries him all the way down the aisle to the grave, but by then Mick has had time to recover and surprises him with a Mandible Claw. The Undertaker withstands the pain, however, and chokeslams him into the grave. He shovels some dirt on him, as camera angles conveniently refuse to show us just how much Mankind is being buried, and the bell rings to end the match at 18:23. The Undertaker finally beats Mankind on PPV. Unorthodox concept, but great effort between Taker's flying and Mankind's bumping, and a good match. *** The Executioner (Terry Gordy under a mask), apparently some ally of Mankind, comes out and nails the Undertaker from behind with a shovel. Mankind claws his way out of the grave and joins in on the Taker beatdown. A host of heels including Goldust, Helmsley, Bradshaw, and Crush, come out from the back to get in on the fun, and they toss Taker into the grave and bury him. Even with a half dozen guys shoveling out there, it still takes a long time to fill the grave even halfway, but we get the point. The lights flicker while the Undertaker escapes to safety through a secret passage below the dirt. er, I mean, to add suspense. The heels continue to pile a massive amount of dirt on top of the grave at Paul Bearer's encouragement for a solid five to ten minutes. They all leave, under the impression that they've accomplished something, but then the Undertaker's music plays, a "lightning bolt" strikes the grave from above, and the Undertaker's gloved hand shoots up from under the dirt. Vince: "He's alive!" Well thank goodness.

This show is completely forgettable, but there are no real bad matches, so as a whole it's actually pretty good and very watchable. This was a horrible time period for the WWF, but this is indicative of the fact that they were at least trying some new things.

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