So I have decided that I don't watch enough old PPVs on WWE Network. To rectify this, I came up with a random number generator system to pick me any of the available WWE, WCW, and ECW shows on the Network. As I watch them, I decided to take notes and share them; and here's the first one that came up in my system:
IN YOUR HOUSE: BEST FRIENDS, BETTER ENEMIES
-April 28, 1996
-Commentary: Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon
-Oh man... mid-1990's WWE. Right off the bat, the Network is giving me what I am sure will be the epitome of Pay-Per-View quality. I immediately hope I get a classic from this era; something like Savio Vega vs The Roadie or some such. Throughout the show, I repeatedly hear about THE NEW GENERATION, so... yeah. It's THAT era.
-This is actually a noteworthy show for a minor reason: It was the last televised performances by Razor Ramon and Diesel before they left to head to the fat contracts of WCW.
-I immediately recognize the old In Your House set that everyone came through. If I recall right, they only ever actually gave away a home on the very first one of these rights? The others kept the name, but not the concept of giving away real estate property. I wonder what happened to the family who won that home on the first IYH... I bet they lost it... (I did the research here.... turns out they sold the house within the year to pay for the winner's future college education. Better story than I would have thought. Good for them!).
1. Davey Boy Smith (w/ Owen Hart, Jim Cornette, and Clarence Mason) vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
-That's right, WWE Universe! It's THE NEW GENERATION! Featuring Jake Roberts! Not like those fogeys out in WCW!
-Before the match can start, Clarence Mason presents a legal brief to the referee noting that Jake's snake has been legally barred from ringside. Jake shows everyone what he thinks of this injunction, and sics the snake on EVERYONE, including the referee. Cornette faints from the snake's fearful presence, and Lawler tells Vince to hit the ring and perform CPR. Vince, in his quieter, "realer", not-announcerer voice, says "Well he'll die if we have to rely on that".
Jake ends up taking the snake back to the dressing room, only to return with Ahmed Johnson. Is that racist? Like, "Hey, I put away my snake, but I found this black guy. Is he okay? Is that a fair swap?"
Without any warning or announcement, the match is now a tag team match, which I only notice because Jake starts wrestling Owen, and Owen eventually tags Davey Boy.
1a. Davey Boy Smith & Owen Hart vs. Jake Roberts & Ahmed Johnson
-They are running an angle where Davey is scared of Ahmed, and it's highlighted by Davey tagging in from Owen, only to see Jake immediately tag Ahmed. Davey then rushes back to his corner, tags in an unaware Owen, and tells his brother-in-law that it's all him. Owen, somewhat annoyed and resigned, re-enters the match.
The fans LOVE Jake, and chant for him and the DDT the whole match. Conversely, they especially hate Bulldog, though, who has some bizarrely impressive heat here, and is jawing with ringside fans who really are letting him have it.
Jerry Lawler makes a timeless Spuds McKenzie reference in regards to Davey.
The match is perfectly inoffensive for the most part, if unremarkable. The ending is bizarre, though. Bulldogs cracks Jake in the knee with Cornette's tennis racket, and then places Jake in... almost a leg lock? He just picks up the leg as if he wants to apply a half-crab, but he just holds the leg up like that; he never turns it into a move. Jake submits to Bulldog just... holding his leg up, and that's the match. This is the guy who, in about 2 or 3 months, would be in the King of the Ring final. Surrendering to what appears to be the thought of a move being applied.
2. Goldust (with Marlena and an unnamed bodyguard) vs. The Ultimate Warrior - Intercontinental Title Match
-That's right, WWE Universe! It's THE NEW GENERATION! Featuring The Ultimate Warrior! Not like those fogeys out in WCW!
-So this is just a REALLY LONG encounter that never really becomes a match. Goldust has a Big Fat Guy bodyguard who apparently had never been seen before, and I don't recall it being a thing, so maybe he never appeared again. After entering first, Goldust tries to run away when Warrior comes out. Warrior taunts Goldust and his entourage by grabbing the wig, robe, director's chair, and Marlena's abandoned cigar, then proceeds to just... sit in the ring and wait. The high point of all this is the Unnamed Bodyguard yelling out, very emphatically, "HE'S GOT THE CHAIR!". Because Marlena's chair is the secret to all Goldust's power, natch.
Vince insists to the audience at home that Warrior doesn't smoke, AS HE IS PUFFING AWAY ON MARLENA'S CIGAR.
Goldust comes back to ringside, tortured by Warrior's playing with his stuff, and then grabs a microphone. He threatens to kiss everyone in the crowd if they don't shut up, prompting what I BELIEVE to be a "faggot!" chant. Were there no women in the crowd? Huh. Omaha is a sausage fest.
This sequence drags on FOREVER. Goldust gets in the ring, Warrior puts the gold robe back on him, he sits in his chair, and then Warrior puts the cigar out on his hand. At this, Goldust flees for good, ending this charade in a countout. The crowd seems really annoyed by all this sound and fury signifying nothing, but Warrior chases down the bodyguard and hits a few moves and the Big Splash on him so they'll cheer up.
Rating: No. No rating.
Cut to a segment in the back with British Bulldog standing outside Shawn Michaels' locker room and yelling something about his own wife.
3. Vader (with Jim Cornette) vs. Razor Ramon
-Lawler notes the absence of Clarence Mason, and tells McMahon that Mason could sue the pants off of him. Vince again reverts to his "real" voice and says "I'm sure he could". You stab at those evil lawyers with your zany midcard characters, Vince!
-The early going of this match is ALL punches. Punch, punch, punch by both guys, all day long.
This is a REALLY boring match, with Vader actually showing some fear of Razor, which makes no sense as Vader was the new Big Monster, gearing up to be a main event challenger, and Razor was on his way out of town. Why not just book a squash here? As it is, this goes on way too long, and makes Vader look terrible. He hides outside the ring a good 30 seconds, with only a few half roll-ins to break up the counts.
Neither guy really seems to care here, and they both appear to be going at no better than 70%. This just seems like a casual exhibition; it's nothing worth watching. Razor DOES kick out of the Vader Bomb, though, and again... WHY? Why book Razor strong here? There's no sense to it.
Vader wins an overly long, joyless match with... a sit-out? Razor kicks out of the finisher, just to later be felled by a simple sit-out? Maybe the era is just different now where even FINISHERS aren't Finishers, but this is the second match of this PPV to end on, essentially, a non-move.
Rating: * 3/4
4. The Body Donnas (with Sunny) vs The Godwinns (with Hillbilly Jim) - World Tag Team Title Match
-Godwinns get the ol' "Already In The Ring" entrance.
-This was during the angle where Phinneas was obsessed with Sunny, and would do anything for her. Wouldn't we all back in 1996, Phinneas? Wouldn't we all?
-Holy god, the Godwinns were ENORMOUS. Not that the Body Donnas were large dudes, but Henry and Phinneas tower over them! I really didn't remember thinking they were so big back in the day.
-Jerry Lawler makes a TON of hometown crowd jokes in this one, and... why? The audience in attendance can't hear him, and the TV crowd doesn't care if Lawler thinks people from Omaha are hillbillies. For whose benefit is this?
The match goes along as it is wont to do, and it ultimately ends with the Body Donnas retaining with a Twin Magic roll-up, after Henry chides Phinneas for accepting an autographed photo from Sunny. It's not a BAD match, actually, with some nice skill/speed vs power moments, and a Frankensteiner from Skip. But it's as relevant and impactful as you expect from a match involving these 4 guys.
Rating: ** 1/4
5. Shawn Michaels vs Diesel - World Title Match
-Shawn sells the "I HATE THIS GUY" emotions of the match by foregoing his usual entrance routine to rush the ring and just start assaulting Big Daddy Cool. Great intensity in the opening sequence, as Shawn just relentless attacks Diesel, ducks all his offense, gets the big guy to the outside, and hits a top-rope moonsault to the floor... all in the first 2 minutes!
Diesel has issues with Vince throughout the match, playing up the [unknown?] fact that he was leaving WWF? He throws his vest at Vince from inside the ring and wanders over to the announcer side of the ring to yell at him a few times.
A nice heel sequence sees Diesel remove his wrist-tape... so he can choke out THE REFEREE with it! He then takes off Hebner's belt, whips Shawn with it, tightens it around HBK's throat, and then throws him over the top rope and hangs him there by it. Pretty awesome, really.
On the outside, Diesel hits the Jackknife through the announce table, back when that table was just a folding table. This thankfully robs us of commentary for a few minutes (seriously, Vince and Lawler were putridly bad this whole show, and just had zero chemistry together).
Proving that even the 90's loved false finishes, Shawn punches his way out of a Jackknife, then tries Sweet Chin Music, which Diesel just catches.
This match moves along at a breakneck speed! It's just all energy and pop and excitement from the beginning. There's only one resthold the entire match, and it is short-lived (a stupid neck-twist by Diesel).
OH ****, this is the match where Diesel finds Mad Dog Vachon in the audience and takes off his prosthetic leg to use against HBK. I had forgotten about that. It's kind of tasteless, but really creative. Before Diesel can do anything, Shawn gets the leg from him and clobbers him with it. One superkick later, and Shawn retains the title.
Rating: **** 1/4 (could have been a bit longer, but it was a great match for the era)
Overall show rating: 4/10. Come for the main event that really delivers; stay for... hm. Just the main event. There's really nothing else to see here. But Shawn/Diesel is a gem. The rest of it is just typical mid-90's WWE. Nothing feels important, and the characters are just silly. When the second-best match of the night is just a typical Godwinns/Body Donnas encounter... that's not good, ya know?