The SmarK Rant for WWF In Your House: A Cold Day In Hell!
The original version was written a couple of weeks before Summerslam ’98, so we’re JUST a wee bit overdue for a redone version anyway.
Live from Richmond, VA, drawing an impressive 9300, but a crappy 0.57 buyrate.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Flash Funk v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
JR notes that Flash has six kids at home, which I guess isn’t surprising based on what he’s purportedly packing. Flash works the arm and we learn that the Hart Foundation has purchased (through a scalper, because that’s the EVIL way to do it) five ringside seats for later tonight. Flash dropkicks him out of the ring and tries a baseball slide, but Chyna punks him out while the ref is busy arguing with HHH. Back in, Hunter USES THE KNEE and stomps away in the corner, then uses the knee again with a kneedrop for two. And we hit the chinlock to really step it up. Hunter goes to the middle rope and lands on Flash’s foot, although it was a unique take on the spot because Flash was standing up at the time and did a standing big boot instead of just lifting his leg in the air like usual. He comes back with a cross body for two and slugs away in the corner, then puts Hunter down with a spinkick. He goes up to finish, but Hunter crotches him and brings him down with awkwardly timed superplex where Flash decided to flip over in mid-air and take a facefirst bump, and then the Pedigree finishes clean at 10:14. A completely acceptable opener. ***
Meanwhile, Rocky Maivia questions whether maybe success came too soon for him.
Mankind v. Rocky Maivia
Rocky is starting to show a bit of edge here, a little more hesitant to slap hands on the way to the ring. Mankind rocks in the corner, so Rocky attacks him and they fight to the floor. So weird in retrospect that this show not only had the first Austin v. Undertaker match on PPV, but also the first Mankind v. Rock match. Rocky works the arm, but Mankind tosses him to break and follows with the senton off the apron. Back in, Mankind pounds away, but they head to the floor again and this time Rocky hits him with Rock Bottom on the ramp as the crowd is completely dead. Along with Mankind. Back in, Rock makes the comeback and gets a belly to belly for two, but Mankind cuts him off with a lariat. Rocky with a small package for two and a clothesline to the back of the head and now he’s really getting the edge. Shoulderbreaker and he goes up with the crossbody, but Mankind rolls through on him and finishes with the Mandible Claw at 8:05. Match had no heat but they were working REALLY hard and you could see Rock on the verge of breaking through here. Like, compare his Survivor Series debut to this match and it’s terrifying how fast he improved. I liked this one a lot. ***
Ahmed Johnson v. The Nation of Domination
Despite the repeated claims from Vince on RAW that this would take place over the course of the evening, in fact it’s going one after another in gauntlet mode. First up is Crush, and Ahmed quickly puts him down with a sidekick, but misses an elbow. Crush goes up with a clothesline off the middle rope for two, and follows with a suplex for two. Ahmed comes back with a butt-ugly attempt at a falcon arrow, basically just dropping Crush on his face, and that gets two. Crush comes back with a sleeper and signals for the Nation to come in, but they ignore him. Crush with a piledriver to setup the Heart Punch, but Ahmed somehow escapes the devastating finisher and finishes with a spinkick at 5:40 and still manages to fuck that up. Savio Vega is next and Ahmed backdrops him for two, but Savio hits him with a spinkick and pounds away on him. And this drags on FOREVER as Ahmed is clearly blown up, so Savio bumps all over the ring for Ahmed’s punches to compensate. Ahmed with a backdrop suplex for two and a powerslam for two. Savio bails to escape the finisher, and catches him with a superkick on the floor before using a chair for the DQ at 12:13. Savio gets some more shots in to soften him up, which leads me to wonder why he didn’t just do that in the first place instead of pretending to work the match? And Faarooq is the last guy in, but Ahmed catches him with a small package for two right away. Faarooq walks into a spinebuster while JR relates the history of this “Ron Simmons” fellow, and the Pearl River Plunge gets two. Ahmed argues while sucking wind, and Faarooq clips him and finishes with the Dominator at 15:29. Someone get this man an oxygen mask and a “Cardio for Dummies” book. This was pretty hideous. * So weird, too, because this version of the Nation self-destructed right away, so why not have them lose the match and actually provide a storyline reason?
Vader v. Ken Shamrock
This is knockout or submission only, like MMA. They throw down to start and Shamrock goes for the wristlock, but Vader makes the ropes. Vader throws some punches in the corner and blocks a suplex attempt, so Ken just unloads with stiff kicks to the leg and then does what looks like a shoot judo throw on him. It wasn’t, but it looked like it. Vader bails and comes back in to clobber Ken, but Shamrock suplexes him again and throws elbows in the corner, so Vader retreats again. Back in, Shamrock rolls for the anklelock, but Vader bails to escape that. Back in, Shamrock throws more kicks, so Vader puts him down with a short clothesline that looked hella stiff, and he goes to work on the arm. Ken reverses to an armbar and tries for a triangle, but Vader throws him to escape. Vader suplexes him onto the floor with absolutely no protection and they fight on the floor again. Back in, Vader works for a leglock and rolls him over for a choke attempt, but Ken escapes and Vader absolutely wallops him in the corner. Vader goes up and misses the moonsault, and Shamrock makes the comeback. He powers him over with a slam and takes him down with kicks to the leg, then goes to a half-crab before Vader makes the ropes. Shamrock goes to town in the corner with knees and elbow strikes, so Vader CLOCKS him with a backhand to put him down. Shamrock picks the leg, however, and finishes with the anklelock at 13:33. They were not working light out there, you have to give them that. This was super-intense and worked like something out of UWFI. ***1/2
WWF Title: Undertaker v. Steve Austin
The card for the show on RAW had listed the Hart Foundation defending the tag titles against the LOD for the millionth time, but that seems to have disappeared without mention. The Harts indeed join us at ringside and both Austin and Undertaker stop to attack them, and Taker quickly takes over on Austin with a ropewalk for two. Austin tries a headlock while JR insists that Brian Pillman is NOT a member of the Hart Foundation. I feel like once you pray for someone on national TV, that makes you a member of their family. Austin tries another headlock, but Taker escapes and they have a slugfest in the corner to get the crowd going, before Austin goes to work on the leg and wraps it around the post. Taker counters him into the post and Bret has a gleeful cackle about it, but Austin recovers and goes to work on the knee in the ring. He tries for an STF, but Taker escapes and goes to work on Austin’s knee himself. Nice little jab from JR here, as Lawler questions what “STF” stands for and Ross quips “Maybe if you’d move out of Memphis you’d learn a new move once in a while.” Austin fights up, so Taker kicks the knee and goes to a half-crab. Austin comes back and goes back to the knee again, and gets a suplex for two. Taker tries another ropewalk, but Austin crotches him to counter and tries a superplex. Taker blocks, but misses an elbow. He gets a sleeper, but Austin counters out with a jawbreaker, for two. Taker slugs away in the corner, so Austin kicks him right in the nuts, and then flips off the ref behind his back as well. Taker hits him right back and follows with a chokeslam, so Austin wisely bumps to the apron and necksnaps Taker, setting up the Stunner. At this point, Brian Pillman runs over and rings the bell, which has everyone flummoxed, and Taker sets up the tombstone, before Austin reverses it to draw the biggest pop of the match, and then Taker reverses again and hits the tombstone to finish at 20:00. The Harts immediately run in for the beatdown on Taker, but that leaves Bret alone in his wheelchair for Austin to assault and steal his crutch. The babyfaces are triumphant, but Austin gives Taker a stunner on general principles. Started slow but got super-heated at the end and seemed to set up Austin and Undertaker teaming up against the Harts in some form at King of the Ring. Never happened, of course. ***1/4
For a nothing show that I didn’t even remember, I actually really enjoyed this one! Go out of your way to check out the trainwreck of stiffness that is Vader v. Shamrock, but the rest isn’t bad either. Thumbs up.
Tags: In Your House, SmarK Rants, Steve Austin v. Undertaker, Vader v. Ken Shamrock