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In Your House: Beware Of Dog
May 26, 1996
Florence, South Carolina
Florence Civic Center

Announcers: Vince McMahon & Jerry "The King" Lawler

The WWF had pretty much been hyping this card for a month, having announced all the matches at or before last month's In Your House. Set for tonight are Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog for the WWF Championship, The Undertaker vs. Goldust in a Casket Match for the Intercontinental Title, Yokozuna vs. Vader, Savio Vega vs. Steve Austin in a Carribean Strap Match, and Marc Mero vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley. It was the Wrestlemania of In Your House cards. That's not saying much with the 1996 WWF roster, but it still looked to be a surprisingly decent card. It inspired me to order the show at the time, and with the closest thing to Bret Hart (besides the more deserving Owen) in the main event with a shot to win the WWF Title, I wasn't prepared to be disappointed.

Marc Mero vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
This stemmed from their backstage brawl at Wrestlemania, the same angle that resulted in Sable becoming Mero's valet. Mero hits a plancha right off the bat and a slingshot leg drop for two. Hunter does a Flair Flip off a corner whip, but on the next one he moves, and Mero drives his shoulder into the steel post. Helmsley works on his arm for awhile, but Mero manages to work in a roll up for a two count. It made sense because he made sure to use his right arm instead of the injured left one. Marc tries a backslide, but his arm hurts too much so Hunter gets the better of that attempt. Helmsley pounces on him and bangs his arm into the post again. He goes up top and gets crotched, enabling Mero to hit a hurricanrana. Mero goes for a sunset flip off the top, but Hunter bails so Mero follows with a somersault plancha. Helmsley moves out of the way and Mero lands right on his left knee, which buckles under him. Back in the ring, Hunter has the chance to put him away but instead goes to the floor and forces Sable to watch what he's about to do. He goes for the Pedigree on Mero, but Marc sweeps his legs out from under him and slingshots him to the post for the Curt Hennig-style knockout bump. Hunter sells it as if he's out cold, and Mero covers him for the victory at 16:23 to blowoff the feud and end Helmsley's undefeated streak. ***1/4 It was pretty solid, but dragged for awhile at the beginning, so I can't really go much higher. If anything, this showed that Hunter had the ability to work a basic and psychologically complete wrestling match, though Mero's highspots and selling certainly helped make the match as well.

Mr. Perfect interviews Camp Cornette: Corny, Clarence Mason, The British Bulldog, Diana Hart-Smith, and Owen Hart. They announce that Owen has acquired a one night manager's license and will be in Davey Boy's corner tonight.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin begins to make his way down the aisle for his match with Savio Vega, and then it happens: the lights go out. The Pay Per View loses transmission and a few minutes later we get a shot of Vince and Jerry Lawler sitting at the commentater's table with a dim light overhead. They announce that a severe thunderstorm in the South Carolina area caused a power outage in the arena, but they now have their cable feed back and once they get everything under control, they'll still be able to bring us the main event tonight. So, after what seems like an eternity, we get the second and final match of the PPV…

WWF Title: Shawn Michaels (Champion) vs. The British Bulldog
The Bulldog's wife, Diana, claimed that Shawn tried to make advances towards her and the Bulldog launched a pretty heated feud with Shawn as a result. Shawn of course denied all accusations, even throwing a great line Diana's way: "With all due respect, DO NOT flatter yourself." Before the match, Clarence Mason pulls out a shocker and presents Shawn with a subpeona, which Shawn proceeds to tear up. They do a hot sequence, led by Shawn, and the Bulldog bails off a superkick attempt, so Shawn pescados him. Shawn controls the tempo in the ring with a side headlock, and grabs a few two counts, one after an enziguri. Shawn works the arm, but the Bulldog turns him over to score a two count . The Bulldog goes to a chinlock, then a backbreaker submission, but Shawn fights out and tries a crucifix, which is countered by Bulldog into a samoan drop. A leg drop gets two for Davey Boy, who continues his onslaught on the floor. Back in the ring, Shawn connects with a slingshot clothesline and kips up. The ref ends up getting bumped during Shawn's comeback, but Michaels doesn't lose a step and hits his flying elbow off the top before getting ready for the superkick. Owen Hart creeps in from behind to try to stop him, but Shawn turns around and nails him with the superkick instead. The distraction, however, does allow the Bulldog to attack. Another ref comes down as Davey Boy hits the running powerslam. He covers, but gets only two. They get up and Shawn hits a german suplex into a bridge. The original ref, Earl Hebner, recovers in time to count, but Mike Chioda, the fresh ref, counts as well. They both make a three count at 17:19 and the British Bulldog's music plays. ***1/4 Diana takes the belt and starts to celebrate with her husband, but the ref's argue about the decision. One counted Shawn's shoulders down and the other counted Davey Boy's shoulders down. That means that both their shoulders must have been down, meaning that a double pin occurred and the official decision must be a draw. Therefore, Shawn Michaels retains the WWF Title. A bizarre ending to a bizarre show, one that was obviously designed to build to a rematch. It's probably a good thing the blackout and strange circumstances that followed overshadowed this match, because otherwise the decision probably would have been booed out of the building. As it was, everyone was just thankful they were able to see the match at all.

So there was a power outage and fans around the world that bought the show on PPV were only shown two of the five matches they paid for; what do you do? Well, the WWF used their PPV slot two days later on Tuesday night, a chunk usually reserved for the encore presentation, and showed the three "missing matches" that never aired on Sunday night. It should be noted that on Sunday night after the power outage, the WWF did manage to hold these matches for the live audience in the dark while the PPV feed and the house lights were still out. WWF Magazine even published photos of these (quite literally) dark matches a few months later, so they were held as planned, but for the Tuesday night PPV version, the WWF either went live again (doubt it) or taped them at Monday's Raw taping (much more likely). In any event, they can be found on a video called Wrestlefest '96, not to be confused with the Wrestlefest videos the WWF used to produce in the late 80's and early 90's. Now then…

In Your House: Beware Of Dog II
May 28, 1996
North Charleston, South Carolina
North Charleston Coliseum

Announcers: Jim Ross & Mr. Perfect

Carribean Strap Match: Savio Vega vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
I should mention that on Raw the night before this, Ted DiBiase upped the ante for this one, and added a stipulation that he would leave the WWF forever if Vega was victorious. On another note, let it be known that I do a sizable portion of my tape viewing right before I go to sleep, so it's nothing unusual for me to get things done in the wee hours of the morning. This show is no different, as it was done at 5 AM, except on the other side of the spectrum; just after I woke up. And what a pleasant surprise this match turned out to be. For those that don't know the rules of a strap match, they're easy. The wrestlers are tied together with a leather strap and the first guy to touch all four corners in succession is the winner. Strap matches usually suck but every rule has its exception. In this case, both Austin and Vega incorporate psychology early on, using the strap as a weapon. They use some pretty cool spots to hammer home the point that the fact that they're both attached to the strap won't let them get very far away from each other. Vega touches two turnbuckles, but Austin stops him by sending him to the floor. Austin jumps back in and touches the first two, but Savio stops him and gets two again before Austin puts him on the floor again. Steve chokes him out but Savio mounts an offensive with a superplex. He manages to touch three corners this time, but Austin pulls him into a spinebuster before he can get to the fourth. Awesome. Austin gets two, but Savio stops him and they end up fighting on the top rope where Vega propels him off the top all the way to the railing on the floor. Ouch.

Savio again tries to capatalize, this time carrying Steve around with him, but Austin piledrives him after touching just two turnbuckles. Ted DiBiase yells at Austin to give him one more, which Savio backdrops out of, thus angering Stone Cold, and probably causing him to never listen to any authority again, which explains the next five years of his career. Okay, maybe that's a little extreme. Anyway, Savio drags him around to three of the corners, but Austin recovers, nails him, and hooks the Million Dollar Dream, which puts Vega out. Now Steve touches the first one, but as he makes his way to the next one, Savio touches it as well. Unaware of this, Austin goes to the next two corners and does the same, with Vega touching them as well. On the third one, both Austin and DiBiase realize it, and there's a struggle for the fourth buckle. Hey, if DiBiase were a better manager, he would've noticed it and told Austin long before he ever allowed Vega to get three of them. Austin ends up accidentally whipping Vega into the fourth corner and Savio wins the match at 21:23. ***3/4 Surprisingly awesome match that was way better than I was expecting. Strap matches generally suck and they all end the same way, but here they worked in some awesome offense and the finish worked well with the storyline. DiBiase is forced to leave the WWF and if the look on Austin's face is any indciation, he doesn't seem to care very much. Savio takes the mic and leads the fans in a good ol', "Na na na na, na na na na, hey goodbye" in honor of Mr. DiBiase. And thus ends a classic eight and a half year stint in the WWF for Teddy. This feud was a perfect little microcosm of the basics of pro wrestling. Austin, the new heel in town, comes in and defends his evil manager by getting a few wins over Vega, the babyface, but when the time comes for the blowoff, the good guy wins in his specialty match, forcing the manager that started the whole thing out of a job, and the heel and the manager have only themselves- or one another- to blame. Maybe it was the sunrise getting to me, but I really loved that match. And this was one instance where a loser leave town stipulation stuck for good, as DiBiase never returned to the WWF and has since denounced wrestling as a whole. Sure, Ric Flair made good on his Career Match loss to Mr. Perfect back in 1993, but he still might return to the WWF someday, and even if it's ten years later, a deal's a deal, says I. Ah, who am I kidding? I'd love to see Flair back. Even if it's not in a wrestling capacity. Which I suppose would mean he's still technically honoring the stipulation that said he'd never again be allowed to wrestle in the WWF. Hey, look at that, I just outsmarted myself.

Yokozuna vs. Vader
There are no interviews to separate the matches since this is on a commercial tape, so it's just bang, bang, bang. Not surprisingly, the big guys go through a long stall session, then Yokozuna maintains the advantage, because even though he's playing the babyface it's much easier for him to control the pace so he doesn't get too winded. He sets up Vader for the Banzai Drop but Jim Cornette gets up on the apron and Yokozuna pulls him into the ring. Perfect makes a brilliant observation on commentary: "Why isn't Yokozuna being disqualified?" This of course refers to Wrestlemania X when special guest ref Mr. Perfect DQ'ed Lex Luger in a match against Yokozuna for the frivilous reason of pulling Cornette into the ring. Nice continuity there, Mr. P. Yokozuna tries to Banzai Drop poor Corny, but Vader pulls him out of the way, nails Yoko, and finishes with the Vaderbomb at 8:53. 1/2*

Intercontinental Title, Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Goldust (Champion)
The Undertaker, one definitive notch below Shawn Michaels on the babyface food chain, was in no-man's land after beating Diesel at Wrestlemania. Goldust, having already run out of legitimate feuds after his Razor Ramon storyline ended, was in much the same boat despite being Intercontinental Champion. There were no real worthy babyface contenders in the midcard, so the WWF decided to kind of elevate him into this feud with the Undertaker, a rivalry that would later coincide with Mankind's assault on Undie. This is a Casket Match, and was very unpredictable at the time. It would appear to have been a major step down for Taker to win the IC Title at this juncture in his career, but he seemed unstoppable and his outstanding record in casket matches has been well documented. Then again, don't forget to consider his record in Casket Matches with gold on the line, which is far less stellar. It's all Undertaker to start, but Goldie hits a tombstone out of nowhere. Perfect errs, stating that the Undertaker has never lost a Casket Match, leaving JR to indirectly correct him. Taker fights his way out of the casket and Goldust puts him out with a sleeper and shoves him back in but can't close the deal by shutting the lid. Back in, Taker hits the flying clothesline, then uses a cactus clothesline to put them both on the floor. Goldust avoids a chairshot and clotheslines the Dead Man. Back in the ring, Goldust powerslams him, then connects with a clothesline off the top rope. He covers, but there are no covers in this match. Goldust tries to play mind games and goes for the Undertaker's ropewalk, but Taker counters by Tombstoning him to teach him a lesson about being a smart ass. He prepares to roll Goldust into the casket to win the match, but when the refs open the lid, Mankind pops out! Surprise! Mankind gives Taker the Mandible Claw, then puts Taker in the casket and shuts the lid, nearly single-handedly retaining the Intercontinental Title for Goldust at 12:36. Smoke begins to eminate from the casket and when Paul Bearer finally gets in there and opens it, the Undertaker is gone. This furthered the Undertaker/Mankind feud, in which Mankind got the better of nearly every exchange from April through October. As for the match, it was about as good as I expected. **1/4

In Your House: Beware Of Dog Key Stats
Matches: 5
Total Wrestling: 76:40
Average Match: 15:20
Average Match Rating: **1/2
Top Moments: Mero ending Hunter's undefeated streak, the controversial Shawn/Bulldog finish, the Strap Match, DiBiase's goodbye, Mankind in the Casket

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