The SmarK Retro Repost – In Your House: Ground Zero

– This show was notable for a couple of reasons: It was the first 3-hour In Your House show, and more importantly, it marked the final appearance of that STUPID fake house backdrop they used. Oh, and there’s a pretty famous match as the main event. I’ve had a LOT of whiny requests for this one recently, but one in particular put me over the top. They know who they are.

– By the way, if any WWF people are reading this, PLEASE quit jerking Wrestleline around and SEND ME THE DAMN TICKETS already. The house show is two days away and poor David is getting the runaround from you guys on the subject. I’ll buy a HHH shirt, honest I’ve been meaning to anyway.

– Live from Louisville, KY

– Your hosts are Mr. McMahon, Good Ol’ JR, and the King.

– Opening match: Goldust v. Brian Pillman. Geez, first match in and already we’ve got a dead competitor. That’s so depressing when you’re trying to stay in a 7good mood. This was the big match in the “Dakota is my love child” feud (booked by you-know-who) that involved Pillman revealing that he was actually the father of Dustin & Terri’s baby girl. This was also Pillman’s last match on PPV, and might have been his last match, period, because I don’t recall him doing anything outside of the “XXX Files” video skits after this. I’m probably wrong on that one, however. Winner gets the services of Marlena for 30 days, which would be about how long Pillman had to live. Pillman chops away to start, but Goldust gets an atomic drop and a clothesline. Goldust turns the 10 PUNCHES OF DOOM into 20, thus forcing everyone in the arena to take off their shoes and socks. Pillman comes back with more chops and a weak elbow. THIS is the guy who used to do ****3/4 matches with Jushin Liger? Man, accumlated injuries are SO sad to watch. Pillman chases Marlena around and gets dumped on the stairs by Goldust. Back in, Pillman tries a bulldog and gets crotched. Pillman looks completely lost here. Brawl on the ramp leads to a Goldust suplex there. Back in, Goldust posts Pillman, and works on the knee. Bulldog is blocked by Pillman, and he backdrops Goldust. Pillman goes into the cheap heel tactics to control. Goldust escapes with an electric chair, but a blind charge misses and Pillman goes up, but gets crotched and he goes flying into the railing below. Back in, Pillman blocks a superplex, but misses whatever off the top. Curtain Call bumps the ref by mistake, and Marlena “accidentally” loses her loaded purse to Pillman, who nails Goldust for the pin at 11:04. Decent match, no thanks to the rapidly deteriorating Pillman. ** The original plan called for Marlena to turn on Goldust and join Pillman at Badd Blood (a plot which Russo would go on to repeat about 18 times) but you know.

– Brian Christopher v. Scott Putski. This was during the half-hearted glory days of the Light heavyweight division, even though Scott Putski is about as much of a light heavyweight as Disco Inferno was. On the off-chance that you’re a new fan, Brian Christopher is currently enjoying the most fame he’s ever had as Grandmaster Sexay. At this point, the running joke (doubling as an angle) is that everyone knows Christopher is Jerry Lawler’s son, but neither wants to admit it. Putski starts with some power stuff, bumping Christopher over the top. Back in, Brian gets a lariat and takes over. Putski gets a rana for two, but Brian hits the Storke. Putski gets a couple of feeble clotheslines, and Christopher comes back with a german suplex. He tosses Putski to the floor and follows with a pescado, but Putski catches him wrong and rips his knee all to hell, and the ref stops the match at 4:34. Match was vaguely bordering on something that might have become not entirely unlike a thing that you might possibly categorize as a decent outing before the knee injury ended it prematurely. ½*

– Crush v. Savio Vega v. Faarooq. Taryn, I hope you appreciate what I have to go through. This is match #192984B in the WORST FEUD EVER, as Vince Russo presents The Gang Warz. Exactly ONE good thing came out the whole mess, and that’s the resurgeant Rocky Maivia. Pretty huge mess to start, with everyone getting some shots in. Crush hits the floor and Faarooq gets a spinebuster on Savio, for two. Wow, this is bad. Crush powerslams Faarooq for two. He butts their heads together for two. Oh man, I need a top ten list to dull the pain. How about Top Ten Things Overheard at Tammy Sytch’s WCW Contract Signing

10. “Is is all right if I’ve put on a few pounds recently?”

9. “Is there a Burger King expense account as part of this?”

8. “Who’s the caterer? What’s their feelings on lard?”

7. “Does my butt look big?”

6. “Do you have any Pop Tarts in that drawer?”

5. “Man, it’s been nearly an HOUR since lunch when’s dinner?”

4. “If you’re secretary’s making a food run, have her get a couple of hamburgers, shakes, and extra-large fries Chris, did you want anything?”

3. “You don’t test for crack, do you? I mean, hypothetically speaking ”

2. “No, seriously, because I, uh, have this FRIEND who used to be an addict ”

And the #1 Thing Overheard at Tammy Sytch’s WCW Contract Signing

1. [Indistinct mumbling] — She had a mouthful of Doritos at the time.

Okay, so that was pretty lame. But not NEARLY as lame as this match, so now you know MY pain. Restholds abound here, and Savio hits the absolute worst neckbreaker in the history of wrestling on Faarooq. I mean, it was not only bad, it actually DEFIED PHYSICS. Savio went one way, and Faarooq spun around in the opposite way in a manner that could in no way be anything but a flubbed move. Some complex political maneuvering is next, as Crush & Faarooq form a temporary alliance, then break up and start fighting each other, while ignoring Savio. At that point you might as well have put a big neon sign up advertising the finish. I haven’t even WATCHED this show in three years and I could STILL tell who was gonna win as soon as they did that bit. Savio decides to top his own ineptitude by teaming with Crush to give Faarooq the WORST SPIKE PILEDRIVER EVER, and in fact Crush is so embarrassed to even be associated with that move (and this is the guy who used a HEART PUNCH as his finisher) that he’s left with no choice but to stand around like an idiot as Savio hits a leg lariat and gets the pin at 11:43, which was quite possibly the one finish that the ENTIRE crowd could unite in disgust over. This was about as ugly as an upskirt shot of Tammy Sytch is these days. DUD

Max Mini v. El Torito. Max is announced at 83 pounds, or to put it in perspective, the size of Tammy’s left asscheek. Max gets an early somersault plancha on Torito, electrifying the crowd. Back in, Torito misses a senton and Max works the arm. Silliness abounds, as it’s MIDGET MADNESS! MIDGET MANIA! We skip ahead past the idiocy that is always rampant in these matches because bookers are somehow unwilling to accept that anyone under 4 feet tall can work a match, to Max Mini running around the ring and meeting a stiff boot to the face upon his entrance again. Knucklelock exchange leads to a Mini-rana for two. Torito powerbombs him for two. Mini sunset flips Torito for two. Torito gets a ¾ nelson rollup for two. Torito hits a flying lariat, but Max comes back with a flying armdrag to send Torito out, and he follows with an eye-popping, jaw-dropping quebrada off the top rope, executed better than most cruiserweights do it today. Torito misses a blind charge and Max comes off the top with a flying rana. Sunset flip finishes at 9:20. There was some pretty choice wrestling wrapped around the comedy, yessir. ***1/4

And now a Historic Moment. You see, when Steve Austin had his neck broken by Owen Hart at Summerslam 97, he was not only I-C champion, but ½ of the tag champs with Dude Love as well. And since he wasn’t coming back for another month or so, the WWF decided to strip Austin and Dude of the titles at this show and award them to the winner of the next match. This was VITALLY important to the character development of Steve Austin, because it established, in clear and no uncertain terms, that Austin was getting screwed over by a giant conspiracy from the WWF head office. Commisioner Slaughter asks for (and receives) the tag title belt from Austin, so Austin offers some choice words for Slaughter, then, in the moment that would change wrestling, gives Jim Ross the Stone Cold Stunner. The crowd pops huge, and in the weeks to come, Austin would go progressively further up the management food chain, until the moment when the war that would draw money like no other was started, and Vince McMahon received his first Stunner in MSG, and was revealed as the owner of the WWF for the first time, which would in turn set up the Montreal screwjob and his transformation from Vince McMahon: Commentator, to Mr. McMahon: Evil Schemer. But none of us knew that back then. At that point, it was just a cool thing to do at the time. At any rate, we now need new tag champs, so

WWF tag title match: The Headbangers v. The Hart Foundation v. The Godwinns v. The Legion of Doom. Absolutely nothing of the least bit of interest happens until Animal goes nuts with the slop bucket and gets the LOD DQ’d at 10:00. I mean, literally, the match has zero points of interest. Headbangers quickly hit their double-team superplex on Phineas for two, and Mosh follows him out to the floor with a tope. Back in, the Godwinns work Mosh over, and he gets a fluke sunset flip at 12:44 to eliminate the pig farmers. That leaves Bangers v. Bulldog & Owen. Bulldog gets the delayed suplex for two, and Owen hits a leg lariat for two. Thrasher gets a bodypress for two. Bulldog & Thrasher screw up a double-clothesline spot and a pier-six erupts. Headbangers miss their finisher, and Owen goes for the Sharpshooter, but Steve Austin makes another appearance, Stunner, and the Headbangers are the new champs at 17:22, for the first and only time in their career. The match was boring as hell and generally worthless, and the Bangers themselves were never given a fair chance to get over. ½*

WWF World title: Bret Hart v. The Patriot. Hey, it’s Kurt Angle! Oh, wait, that’s just his music, sorry. Bret and Patriot slug it out to start, and Bret gets the better of it. Backdrop suplex softens him up, and Bret hangs him in the Tree of Woe. Choking in the corner follows. Patriot comes back with a lariat and a nice dropkick, then Bret hits the floor and stalls. Back in, Patriot works the arm. That lasts for a good long while. Bret gets fed up and starts kicking the knee and working it over. Bret chooses the ultra-90s STEPOVER TOEHOLD OF DOOM as his submission move of choice, then thinks better of it and uses the ringpost figure-four instead. Bulldog heads to ringside for moral support, signalling the point where the match gets good. Bret gets a russian legsweep for two, and a suplex is reversed by Patriot for the comeback. Sunset flip gets two. DDT gets two. Lariat, but Bulldog trips him up on the second try. Bret rolls up Patriot for two. Patriot reciprocates for two. Uncle Slam, but Bulldog stops the count. Vader comes down to stop Bulldog, and a big brawl erupts on the floor. Back in, Patriot with a big boot and the Patriot Missile, but it only gets two. Atomic drop leads to a backdrop suplexfor two. Bret comes back with a hotshot and a bulldog. Ref is bumped as the Patriot his a second Uncle Slam, then a criss-cross triggers a double KO spot. Bret small package gets two, reversed for two. Bret runs into the corner as he is wont to do, and Patriot applies a Sharpshooter. Vince resists his impulse to scream “RING THE BELL, RING THE FUCKING BELL” and it’s lucky for Bret, as he manages to reverse the move into his own version, and Patriot taps like a little girl at 19:15. ALL HAIL CANADIAN VIOLENCE! First few minutes went nowhere, the rest ruled. ***1/2

Shawn Michaels v. The Undertaker. Note to self: Don’t EVER piss off the Undertaker. Shawn was riding the babyface/heel fence at the time, and this is the match that put him over the top as a heel. D-Generation X would soon follow. The pyro guys screw up Shawn’s big entrance. Undertaker, who was destroyed by the thrown-together team of Shawn & HHH on a previous RAW, is so pissed that he flattens the referee before we even start. Shawn very wisely runs away. Sgt. Slobber tries to stop him, and that allows Undertaker to toss our poor ref over the top and onto both of them. He chases Shawn up the ramp and indulges in some righteous and hellacious ass-kicking. Back to ringside, where he chokes Shawn out with a cable. A right sends Shawn sprawling onto the Spanish table, and another sends him flying from there onto the railing. Into the ring, where UT flattens him with a clothesline and drops two elbows. Shawn takes a nasty bump to the floor as ref #2 joins us. Shawn literally begs for a DQ, but the match hasn’t actually started yet, so no dice. Shawn sneaks in and clips UT as the match FINALLY starts. Shawn hammers him in the corner, but that just serves to annoy Undertaker. He goes up and gets caught coming down, and sent over the top. Onto the apron, as Shawn sunset flips in, and THAT doesn’t work either. He gets crotched in the corner, and clotheslined for two. UT works on the arm for a bit, but gets dropped on the top rope during the ropewalk. Shawn hits a baseball slide and a pescado, but UT casually catches him and rams him into the ringpost. Back in, where a massive backdrop gets two. Shawn gets a swinging neckbreaker, but UT ignores it. Shawn grabs a chair, UT ignores it, then grabs it for himself. The ref gets in the way and is wiped out. Shawn hammers UT and hits a flying elbowdrop, but there’s no ref. Another one gets two as Rick Rude joins us and gives Shawn a pair of brass knuckles. The REAL old-school kind, not the wimpy taped-up ones you usually see. Shawn bashes UT’s brains in with them for two. HHH & Chyna bring us another ref, and Shawn beats HIM up, too. Hunter & Chyna work UT over. Back in, it’s a slugfest. UT hits the floor and Shawn follows with a tope. Back in, UT blocks the superkick and pulls the brass knuckles out of Shawn’s tights. A good shot with them gets two. Undertaker chokeslams the ref, and finally another ref comes in and calls the whole thing a no-contest at 21:58. D-X tries a heel beatdown, but UT’s having none of that, thank you. Tombstone for HHH, and the lockerroom empties to pull them apart. Shawn escapes, so UT debuts the DEAD GUY OUTTA CONTROL no-hands plancha and sends the crowd into fits of cheering, taking out about 10 guys in the process. And THAT is the end of show. Pretty much the damnedest brawl you’ll ever see, and a match so intense that there was only one way to settle this feud Hell in a Cell. ****

The Bottom Line: Hey, surprise, there was actually some good stuff on a show I remembered as pretty crappy. Still, the crap is REALLY crappy, so unless you’ve never seen the wild Shawn-Undertaker mega-brawl, I wouldn’t go terribly out of your way to pick this one up.

Very mildly recommended.