The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF In Your House: International Incident.
– In retrospect, perhaps this wasn’t the best PPV title to pick out of the trunk. Well, what’s done is done. (I presume this was written around September 2001, then?)
– Let’s go back to July 1996, as WCW was busy changing the world and Vince was farting around with Shawn Michaels, still trying to figure out how to get him over. (In the long run, Vince won that one.)
– Live from Vancouver, BC, home of all the WWF’s crappier vintage of PPV. (Was there another Vancouver show around that time I would have been slagging on? I know New Blood Rising would have been fresh in my mind at that point, but that was WCW.)
– Your hosts are Vince, Jerry & Good Ol’ JR.
– Free 4 All match: Savio Vega v. Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw.
This was shortly after Bradshaw’s debut, when the WWF thought the cure to their financial troubles was to find someone who could imitate Stan Hansen. (Well, aside from Steve Austin, I guess, but that was more influence than outright imitation.) They slug it out, won by Savio. He kicks away, but eats turnbuckle. Bradshaw pounds away, but misses a blind charge, and again, and a third time. He finally bails and they brawl outside, where Bradshaw then punches the post by mistake. Not exactly his day. Back in, Savio works on the hand as Vince declares this a “real romp’em stomp’em affair”. Ah, truly he had his finger on the pulse of young America. (Just think, this was before he was REALLY senile and out of touch!) Big boot from Bradshaw, but Savio comes back with chops. A pair of leg lariats get two, but Bradshaw catches him for the blockbuster, and Zebekiah pushes them over and holds Bradshaw on top of Vega for the pin at 4:44. Heel beatdown follows, and JR declares that Savio will never forget this day. Well, that makes one of us. ¾*
– I would be remiss in not mocking Michael Hayes during his Dok Hendrix period, shilling for the PPV and advertising the big special for that month…a half-price membership in the WWF Fan Club! Considering how low most IYH buyrates were, I’m pretty sure they were the only ones buying the damn things to begin with. (I feel like the Network needs a Handsome Dok Hendrix or even Don West to just come out and do the hard sell on it.)
– Opening match: The Smoking Gunns v. The Bodydonnas.
Gunns were the champions, but this is non-title, just to make sure to kill any last vestiges of people thinking of buying the show. I mean, what the hell is the selling point of a NON-title match supposed to be? Especially when the Bodydonnas were already the biggest joke in wrestling at that point thanks to Cloudy, perhaps the dumbest idea Vince McMahon came up with that year. Next, of course, to dying Tom Pritchard’s hair blond and naming him “Zip”. (Could have been “Flip” if not for a previous copyright claim, so look at the bright side, I guess.) The Donnas double-team Billy, and Vince calls shenanigans. Gunns bail and stall. Zip & Bart slug it out back in the ring, and Zip goes armdraggin’. They work the arm for a while. A long while. Bart clotheslines out to break and Billy stomps away on Skip. Fameasser ends a rally, but Skip goes back to the arm shortly after. A rather surreal conversation breaks out at ringside, as JR suddenly goes off about the speed of the Bodydonnas (while Skip is standing around holding an armbar, mind you), and Vince counters by pointing out the speed of the GODWINNS, of all teams. JR seems legitimately incredulous that Vince would say something like that, and asks him if he meant the Gunns, trying to cover for Vince, but indeed Vince meant the Godwinns. I really wonder sometimes what it was with Vince and the hillbillies. Billy bails, setting up Skip for an ambush, which prompts a funny line from Jerry about how Skip would never stand a chance to get someone like Sunny. Anyway, Skip is YOUR crack addict-in-peril. (To be fair, I don’t know if he was ADDICTED as such.) Bart tosses him around while Tammy mugs for the camera. The thrill is gone with her, thanks to drugs and naked pictures. (And to think that she would find a lower level of rock bottom 14 years after I wrote that. However, going back and watching her on these shows today, the thrill is definitely there.) Skip goes up, but gets powerslammed. Billy screws up the double-team leapfrog, failing to clear Bart and landing lamely back on the mat as the crowd gives him a sarcastic ovation. The beating continues ENDLESSLY, as the crowd is just gone. Bart & Skip get crossed signals and screw up a reversal sequence, then repeat it. Billy goes up, but lands in an atomic drop, hot tag Zip. I’d be quaking in MY boots if a guy named Zip with blond hair was after ME. Billy quickly trips Zip, and the Gunns go for the Sidewinder, but Skip pops in with a missile dropkick on Bart and Zip gets the pin at 13:06. Boring and heatless. ½* The Donnas disappeared for good soon after. (Yeah, we’ve been discussing the Bodydonna babyface run on the RAW rants, but man what a disaster they were in that role. As others have pointed out, the New Rockers should have been in this spot because the matches would be better if nothing else.)
– Mankind v. Henry Godwinn.
Godwinn is subbing for an “injured” (no-showing) Jake Roberts, allowing Jerry Lawler to unleash a bevy of drunk jokes about Jake. The best of them is Jerry declaring that Jake has succumbed to the “Wrath of Grapes”. (That’s not saying much. What a mean-spirited feud that one was, for no real reason. Jake was trying to deal with his problems and be honest about it, and Vince let Jerry mock him endlessly on national TV for months.) Mankind attacks to start, and bites away. He goes low, but HOG slugs away. Mankind bails. Back in, Mankind hammers away and Henry responds in kind. Mankind comes back with an elbow, bulldog and elbowdrop. Running knee in the corner and guillotine on the apron follow, and mats are pulled up as they head out. Mankind gets a neckbreaker on the concrete, and they head back in. Blind charge misses, and Henry lariats him, but gets tossed. Mankind follows, but gets slammed on the concrete. Slop drop is blocked, mandible claw finishes at 6:52. Okayish last-minute squash. ¾* I think that instead of Henry O. Godwinn, he should have been O. Henry Godwinn, so that they could have all his matches feature some sort of twist finish to them.
– Steve Austin v. Marc Mero.
What? This is a rematch from King of the Ring, what? (Aha, definitely 2001, then.) Austin was the RVD-ish bad boy heel at this point, who the more rebellious element of the fanbase cheered for before the rest “got it”. Austin pounds away to start, but gets bodypressed for two. Mero works the arm, and Austin grabs a headlock, which leads into an early pinfall reversal sequence. Mero slugs away, and Austin takes a powder. Mero attacks and rolls him up for two. Austin fakes another mouth injury (ala KOTR), then suckers Mero in and dumps him, drawing BIG cheers from the Austin Cheering Section. (That cheering section was sort of like the Cesaro one, but Vince actually started listening to this one.) They head out, and Austin posts Mero. Mero climbs onto the apron, and gets shoved into the railing as a result. Back in, the FU Elbow gets two. Austin hits the chinlock, but misses a Bossman straddle. Mero crotches him on the top and comes back, but Austin goes for a powerbomb. Mero tries to block with a rana, and they end up tumbling out. Mero hits a somersault off the apron, and a wicked standing moonsault off the apron. NOW the whole crowd is into it. Back in, springboard splash gets two, but Austin crotches him. Stunner is blocked and Mero gets a springboard legdrop for two. Austin clips him, KICK WHAM STUNNER, goodbye at 10:47. Big face pop for Austin. Match wasn’t as fluid as the King of the Ring one, but it had it’s charm. **3/4
– Undertaker v. Goldust.
Goldust stalls FOREVER. I’m eternally shocked that a pairing that produced that such shitty results as this one did got so much PPV time in 1996, with four appearances (counting Beware of Dog #1). UT nails him and he stalls again. Finally, they slug it out on the floor, and Taker drops him on the stairs. Back in, Taker chokes him down, and clotheslines him. Legdrop gets two, and he continues manhandling Goldust. OLD-SCHOOL ROPEWALK OF DOOM, but an elbow misses, and they head out. UT retains control, but Goldust pulls a turnbuckle off and whips Taker into it, backfirst. Stairs to the back, and Taker is in trouble. Hey, what’s that thing he’s doing, where he pretends to be affected and/or in pain from the actions of the heel? Um…selling, I think it’s called. But, but, but…I thought he didn’t DO that back in the Dead Man days? At least that’s what all the whiny rationalizing Undertaker fanboys who write me always seem to be trying to convince me of. (Obviously I was going through a phase here.) Goldust hits the chinlock, but Taker comes back with a small package for two. Flying lariat and tombstone, but Mankind pops out of a hole in the ring for the lame DQ at 12:06, thus negating the whole point of making me sit through 12 minutes of this tripe. ½* Taker then disappears into the hole while steam rises out of it and Mankind sits there like an idiot waiting for Taker to re-emerge and UT’s music starts and stops intermittently. Finally, Taker pops out of the OTHER side of the ring, through another hole, and gets his revenge. Thrilling.
– Unintentionally funny bit during the “Vince & JR banter” bit to fill time before the main event, as fans behind the table get all excited and stuff, and a security guard is all like “Hey, no excitement on a 1996 WWF PPV, sit down you hooligans!” and he proceeds to stand there on-camera, monitoring the poor guys in the front row and making sure no enthusiasm is shown for the duration of the segment. But then my general experience with the security guys at wrestling shows is that they’re all a bunch of grumpy rent-a-cops whose crushed dreams mean that no one else gets to have any fun, either, so maybe I’m biased on that score. (I’d say that’s not unique to wrestling. I had front row tickets to Def Leppard a few years ago and the security force was just the WORST, staring down anyone who dared to leave their seats until finally Joe Eliot basically told them to fuck off and let people have some fun. Not a great show as a result, unfortunately.)
– Owen Hart, British Bulldog & Vader v. Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson & Sycho Sid.
Warrior was supposed to be part of the babyface team, but, you know, it’s Warrior, so instead we get Sid, who at least can be reasonably assured of making his dates before disappearing without giving notice. Shawn & Vader start, and Shawn moves quick, but gets slugged. Rana is blocked, but perseverance pays off as he completes the move. Vader bails and gets baseball slid, and pescado’d. Another dive misses and Shawn eats railing. Back in, Vader hammers him until Sid comes in (to a BIG pop) and he pounds the shit out of Vader, Owen, Bulldog and anyone else in there. He cleans house and the crowd goes NUTS. Okay, Canada likes Sid, I have to apologize for my country for that. (It’s true. He was crazy over at every house show I saw him at.) Owen comes back in and gets clocked, and Ahmed hits a triple german suplex! Holy crap. Elbow misses and Bulldog pounds on him, but Ahmed comes back with a spinebuster and Pearl River Plunge. Vader saves, but Ahmed wears him out in the corner. Vader comes back with an avalanche and pummels him, but walks into a powerslam for two. That’s some impressive strength. Owen comes in with a leg lariat to take over again, and the crowd keeps chanting for Sid. So Ahmed tags out and gives them what they want. (If it was TODAY, Vince would call an audible and have Sid immediately do an injury angle and get stretchered out to spite the crowd.) Big boot on Owen and Sid whips him in the corner, and Owen takes a vicious bump there. Bulldog comes in and gets an amazing delayed vertical suplex on Sid, for two. Vader pounds him, but Sid shrugs off Bulldog and Shawn comes in via the top rope. He misses a blind charge, posts himself, and he’s YOUR face-in-peril. Shawn whips Bulldog into Vader for two, but Bulldog takes over again. Owen uses the ol’ Oklahoma Roll for two. Shawn counters it for two, Victory Roll gets two, countered for two by Owen, rollup, bridge, reverse, backslide, you know the drill. Awesome stuff. Owen nails him with a cast to break it up, and gets two. Bulldog legdrop gets two. Powerslam gets two. Owen cheapshots Shawn again with the cast, and Vader comes in to kick some ass and chew bubblegum, minus the bubblegum. (LAME. Come on, 2001 Scott.) He tosses Shawn, and then back in gets a short-arm clothesline for two. Vader bearhugs the neck as some idiot runs into the ring and gets triple-teamed by Bulldog, Ahmed and security. Shawn fights out, but gets splashed. Sid nails Vader, but Shawn can’t QUITE make the tag. Bulldog puts him in a body vice, and then reverses a crucifix into a fallaway slam for two. Blind charge misses, but Owen cuts off the tag again. Double-KO with Shawn & Owen, but Bulldog powerslams Shawn for two. Sid saves. False tag to Ahmed, and Shawn gets gang-raped by the heels. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Heel miscommunication follows, and finally it’s the HOT tag to Sid. Chokeslam Vader! Chokeslam Owen! Chokeslam Bulldog! It’s BONZO GONZO in Vancouver as Shawn gets launched onto Vader. Shawn gets the tennis racket and uses it for two, but the Vaderbomb finishes at 24:30. That was a rather fortuitous finish for Jim Cornette, considering he promised a refund to everyone if the heels didn’t win. Hmmm…almost…TOO fortuitous. You don’t think maybe this wasn’t on the up-and-up or something, do you? Wrestling? FIXED? **** (Oddly enough, that stip was never mentioned on RAW. It must have been on Superstars because I just did the go-home show and Cornette didn’t say anything about it.)
The Bottom Line:
Minor bright spots aside, 1996 sucked ass for the WWF for the most part, and this was no exception, earning the lowest buyrate in the history of the promotion with a 0.37, a record which held up until December, when they shattered it with a 0.35 for It’s Time. But then the buildup, hype, undercard and main event dynamic (with Ultimate Warrior flaking out and leaving the promotion the week before the show) all rivalled post-Russo WCW for sheer stupidity, so by the time the show rolled along they’d already decided it was a write-off anyway. I just wish they’d have resurrected Saturday Night’s Main Event if they just wanted a buildup show for Summerslam, though, instead of wasting our time with this junk.
But hey, the main event is really, REALLY good, so you might wanna track that match down at least. But it’s not enough to save the show.
Strong recommendation to avoid. (On the bright side, James Dixon e-mailed me to let me know that the sequel to Titan Sinking is almost done, so this era should produce some entertaining stories at least!)
Tags: In Your House, International Incident, Shawn Michaels & Sid & Ahmed Johnson v. Vader & British Bulldog & Owen Hart, SmarK WWE Network Rant