PodMania Retro Reviews: WWF In Your House I: Premiere Review
Updated: 4 days ago
After a less than stellar WrestleMania and in response to WCW putting out more PPVs, WWF decided that the best thing to do moving forward was to finally move away from the 5 PPVs a year and move to a monthly schedule.
But what would be the gimmick of these PPVs? We all know how Vince McMahon loves a gimmick or a hook to his shows, so what would it be?
How about shows that go less than two hours so rather than charging the typical $19.95, we only charge $14.95?
Actually, that sounds like a really good idea, it means that fans won’t get burnt ou...
AND WE SELL A GOODAMN HOUSE!
Yep, the hook of this show was that you could win a holiday home in Orlando. And though this would be a one off and a house wouldn’t be sold on every show, it is still a laughable concept; one that fell just shy of McMahon literally giving $1 Million of his own money away on live TV in later years in the head-scratching stakes.
Unfortunately, on the face of it, a show that had no Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Davey Boy Smith or 1-2-3 Kid didn’t exactly look world-beating, but on the bright side it couldn‘t be more disappointing than WrestleMania could it?
Well, let’s look back and find out!
Match #1 - Bret Hart def. Hakushi
Hakushi is out first alongside manager Shinja - ex-member of the Orient Express - while we cut backstage to Todd Pettengill and Bret Hart. Hart manages to get in all the buzzwords of Mother’s Day, best there was etc before threatening Jerry Lawler ahead of their match - Hart’s second - later in the night, in the feud that just wouldn’t die.
Vince McMahon and Dok Hendrix are on commentary and do a great job of explaining that Hakushi is currently unbeaten. Hart and the Modern Day Kamikaze at first show respect for each other, Hart even applauding a cartwheel, but that soon changes, with Hakushi dominating 90% of this exchange. A Headlock resthold follows a period of reversals, prompting chants of “USA!” - Hakushi is from Japan and Hart from Canada.
It really is a shame about Hakushi, his talent was undeniable, but he was simply ahead of his time. Hart sells and makes him look like a million dollars however, as the Japanese sensation hits a Diving Headbutt, a Springboard Diving Headbutt, a Handspring Elbow in the corner and a beautiful Moonsault from the second rope to the outside. Aside from a few Armdrags, Hart looks to be up against it.
A Suplex from the inside to the outside has the commentary team waxing lyrical about just how good this match is and honesty, they aren’t wrong! Eventually, the 5 Moves of Doom do make an appearance, but interference from Shinja stops the Sharpshooter, and then interferes again to stop Hart coming off the ropes. This annoys the Hitman, and he launches himself through the ropes onto the manager.
The action returns to the inside, where Hart manages to put away Hakushi with a Victory Roll, at least keeping him looking strong in defeat. Hart wins the 1st of his two matches tonight in what really was, aside from one or two minor botches at the start, an enjoyable and technically excellent match-up! Now, if only the rest of the card could follow suit...
PodMania Star Rating: 8 stars
As we cut backstage, we see Hart getting out of the ring, only to seemingly twist his knee on the landing. Jerry Lawler is backstage and demands Todd Pettengill call for his and Bret’s match right now. Todd informs him that Hart will be down to the area presently and The Kings pretends his beeper has gone off and runs away.
Interesting note, while all this is taking place we have Stan Lake and Alundra Blayze on the WWE phones with the phone number emblazoned across the foot of the screen. On the Network version this is marred by a big warning - THIS PHONE NUMBER NO LONGER WORKS...who is seriously trying to call this number 25 years on?
Stephanie Wiand gives us an update on the house, while showing us footage of the 340,000+ responses arriving in an armoured truck and escorted by 2 police cars...why? Who cares if someone steals the responses? Why would anyone steal the responses anyway? Before these important questions can be properly answered however, Jeff Jarrett’s music hits and he and The Roadie make their way to the ring for the next match.
Match #2 - Razor Ramon def. Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie
[2-on-1 Handicap Match]
We start proceedings with a phone-call to the 1-2-3 Kid who’s at home nursing a neck injury, putting him out of this match, hence the 2-in-1 Handicap gimmick. However, his connection is that bad that you cannot hear a single word he says, making it only slightly worse than his backstage promo at WrestleMania 11. Vince and Dok then throw to Razor who is waiting backstage. He tells Kid not to worry and to make sure his neck is sorted and finishes by saying that even though he has never been in a televised Handicap Match, in relation to Jarrett and the Roadie it’s been 2-on-1 from the start.
The match itself is good. Razor starts like a house on fire, but is quickly subdued by the numbers game. Hendrix and McMahon spend a lot of time speculating on The Roadie’s Wrestling ability as this is his in-ring debut, and are then blown away by his ability to drop the elbow.
Though this match is not dull by any stretch, it does lack a little bit of psychology which annoys me. From the Rumble, through WrestleMania XI to now, the big talking point of the feud is Razor Ramon’s knee, but the heels don’t target it at all until the last stretch of the match! With the commentary team, especially Hendrix, plugging the knee injury, surely the heels would zone in on that?
It’s a small gripe and one that isn’t enough to take away from an enjoyable match that ends when Jarrett attempts the Figure Four Leglock, only for it to be blocked and for him to end up launched into his partner on the apron. With the Roadie incapacitated on the outside, Razor negotiates Jarrett into the Razor’s Edge for the victory.
PodMania Star Rating: 6 stars
After the pinfall, The Roadie attempts to blindside Razor, but instead he is also hoisted up into the Razor’s Edge, before Jarrett takes out the knee once more. The pair continue to beat down Razor, before seeing off the completely ineffectual evening of the odds from Aldo Montoya and his jockstrap mask. Eventually, a man jumps the barricade and hurries to Ramon’s aid, seeing off both Jarrett and the Roadie before being escorted to the back by police and backstage personal, all while Vince and Hendrix explain that this man has never been seen before.
Not entirely true; the man had, up until a month ago, been under a mask as the completely forgettable Kwang. He was of course, Savio Vega and this was intended to be his big unveiling.
After another segment of Lawler yelling at people backstage in an attempt to get his match against Bret brought forward, a fantastic video package highlighting the threat of Sid aired. It was really well put together, and did an excellent job of putting over the psychotic one as a serious contender to Diesel’s WWF Championship.
Match #3 - Mabel def. Adam Bomb
[King of the Ring 1995 Qualifying Match]
An advertisement airs next for the following PPV in the WWF's calendar - King of the Ring 1995. Obviously, with hind sight being 20-20, we now know that King of the Ring 1995 was an absolute disgrace of a PPV. Thankfully, this match is one we would be spared when it came to June 25th - one of only a few small blessings in regard to that show.
No Oscar to rap Mabel and Mo to the ring, as these two were freshly turned heel to a...lukewarm response let's say. Adam Bomb gets a bafflingly huge reaction from the New York fans, with signs being held in the crowd proclaiming them to be members of the 'Bomb Squad.'
It is hard to not feel sorry for Bomb however. He does everything he can to extract anything he can out of Mabel in the little under 2 minutes he's given, but Mabel is not playing ball. A couple of Flying Clotheslines, one notably botched Springboard one early on, is all that Bomb is afforded before Mabel Powerslams him with complete disdain and pins him to qualify for the tournament, beginning his inexplicable march toward the top of the card.
PodMania Star Rating: 1 star
We throw to Todd Pettengill backstage with Razor Ramon, explaining that all 'heck' broke loose after the match - mind your language there Todd eh? Razor officially introduces Savio Vega, even stating that he didn't recognise him and that he'd changed a little - amazing what a simple mask removal can do really isn't it! Razor does his best to put Vega over, saying that it is nice to be with him rather than against him for a change, but Vega seems nervous and ever so slightly bland, stumbling over his words and contributing very little with them.
Match #4 - Owen Hart & Yokozuna (c) def. The Smoking Gunns
[WWF World Tag Team Championships Match]
Heading back to the ring, we find the Smoking Gunns already there, and Jerry Lawler being forcibly removed from it by backstage personnel, again petitioning for his match to be next, wanting to capitalise on the injury to Bret's knees. To emphasise this, we cut to backstage as the Tag Champs make their way to the ring, and we see Bret in the locker room icing his knee.
This is a rematch of their solid but forgettable match at WrestleMania, where Owen revealed his surprise partner to be the colossal Yokozuna. The only surprise in this match would be how a man upwards of 620 lbs and growing, is able to work a wrestling match.
The match itself is a shortened version of their WrestleMania bout, with the Smoking Gunns, especially Billy who looks very good during this match, getting heat on Owen, with Yokozuna entering the fray for brief bursts of power. After flying through the top and middle ropes when missing a Cross Body, Bart Gunn ends up on the outside and is hit with the Hulkbuster Leg Drop on the outside by Yokozuna. He rolls Bart back in for Owen to pin him in a sniff over 5 minutes to retain the tag belts.
Once again, a solid but forgettable bout, with both teams working well together, and Owen doing a great job of hiding Yokozuna's shortcomings.
PodMania Star Rating: 4 stars
Todd Pettengill is in the Locker Room interviewing a very pensive looking Diesel. He acknowledges the threat of Sid, but says that he is at a 100% after the beating he took at the hands of Henry O Godwin (paid off to attack Diesel by the Million Dollar Man.) He speaks of how hard it is today after losing his own mother at Christmas, but does wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day all the same before expressing his excitement in regard to tonight's bout.
Back in the ring and Lawler is finally about to get his match with Bret. He is accompanied by and introduces his 'mother' - who must be a good 25 years younger than him - before asking her questions about tonight's match. He wraps it up by trying to set up a fight between his 'mother' and Helen Hart, saying that if you don't know who she is, it will be the sack of wrinkled skin in the audience - Jesus Jerry!
As we ready ourselves for the match, Bret tells Pettengill that his knee injury was all a jape to draw Lawler into a false sense of security, before addressing the King directly saying that he is history.
Match #5 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler def. Bret Hart
Bret makes his way to ring with an exaggerated limp before jogging on the spot and laughing as The King notices, realising that he has been duped.
Bret beats Lawler all around the ring to begin with, bouncing him off of the barricades and striking him in the corners. The King hits a Piledriver as he comes off of the ropes, but Bret pretty much no sells it and continues his dominance, hitting a Piledriver of his own.
Shinja inexplicably reappears to distract Bret, but draws the ire of Earl Hebner instead. As he chastises Hakushi's manager, Bret sends Lawler into the ropes, accidentally knocking Hebner into the ropes so he is hanging by his foot, tied in the ropes, dangling to the outside. Bret continues to execute the Five Moves of Doom. It is important to note here that there is no way that Bret hasn't seen the predicament that the referee is in.
Hart covers Lawler, but with Hebner otherwise engaged, he can't make the count. Hakushi appears instead and breaks up the pinfall by coming off of the top rope. Lawler moves Bret into position for 2 Diving Headbutts from The Modern Day Kamikaze, and then covers him for the victory. Bret does get his heat back by clearing the ring afterwards, but the damage is already done.
Unfortunately, this means the damn feud will continue, but on the plus side, it does set up a great rematch between Bret and Hakushi on RAW in July.
PodMania Star Rating: 3 stars
Sid cuts a promo on Diesel that is altogether too close to the camera, saying that he will become the symbol of many victories Sid will have. As we zoom in to the point where only Sid's eye is visible, he finishes by stating that Diesel is going to meet the Master and Ruler of the World.
Match #6 - Diesel (c) def. Psycho Sid via DQ
[WWF Championship Match]
I’ve said before that Diesel gets a bad wrap from fans regarding his run in 1995. Sure, he wasn’t the draw and he lacked the charisma that Savage, Hogan and Ultimate Warrior had in years gone by, but you can’t blame the man when you look at some of the people they put him in main events with really!
Sid really is not a seller, and this becomes clear after the opening seconds where Diesel lays into the Master and Ruler of the Universe with stiff strikes, only for Sid to stagger in cartoonishly poor fashion. At times during this match, it really does feel like Diesel is dancing with a fridge.
After running Diesel into the ring post back first, capitalising on the injury sustained at the hands of Henry O Godwin, Sid dominates, clubbing the back extravagantly and strapping in the Camel Clutch for an astronomically long time. At this point the crowd is completely dead, and even a brief Diesel rally brings minimal reaction.
A Legdrop gains a close two count, before Sid hits a Powerbomb but spends an explicable amount of time playing to the crowd before covering, giving Diesel enough time to kick out at 2. This is the wake up call clearly needed by the Champion who, after another brief flurry of strikes, hits the Jackknife Powerbomb and covers. However before referee can count, Tatanka is into break it up and cause the match to be thrown out as a DQ.
How terribly underwhelming.
After Dibiase, Tatanka and Sid put the boots to the champion, former Corporation member Bam Bam Bigelow is out to somewhat even the odds, causing the heel stable to retreat to the back. The last shot of the PPV is Bam Bam and Diesel celebrating their victory via DQ...
PodMania Star Rating: 2 stars
...At least I wish that had been the last shot of the PPV. As Vince McMahon quips that the In Your House show had been ‘Out of this world,’ we cut to 2 aliens in a space ship wondering whether to blow up earth due to our collective failings as a human race.
Eventually they decide against it because of the WWF and their service to mankind. The tag line then appears that the WWF is saving the world...
The early In Your House shows get some bad press for being thrown together, boring and uninspired, but in the grand scheme of things and comparing it to other shows in this chronology, it’s not too bad.
The Bret Hart vs. Hakushi match is excellent, easily match of the card but it is followed by a more than serviceable Handicap match between Razor Ramon, Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie. Throw in the fact that it is only 100 minutes long and you’re laughing.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the show is good. The entire second half of the show doesn’t live up to the the promise of the first match, the entire gimmick of selling the house was cartoony, outlandish nonsense, the main event was boring, slow and inconclusive.
It also highlighted how wafer-thin the WWF roster was in 1995.
If Bret Hart has to wrestle 2 matches on a 6 match card you know you’re in trouble. Undertaker was in a Dark Match, as was The British Bulldog, while 1-2-3 Kid and Shawn Michaels didn’t appear at all due to legitimate injuries. Missing that sort of star power really hurt the WWF on this card and lead to Mabel and Adam Bomb having a singles match on PPV - something that should never have happened, even in its 1 minute squash match form. Unfortunately, this lack of star power shone through throughout this year and hit its peak at the following months infamous King of the Ring show - but that’s for another review.
Matches You Need To Check Out: Bret Hart vs. Hakushi
Matches You Need To Avoid: Mabel vs. Adam Bomb