The SmarK Rant for WWF In Your House: Buried Alive – 10.20.96

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The SmarK Rant for WWF In Your House: Buried Alive – 10.20.96

This is a special show for me for several reasons.  First, it’s the show where I first met the circle of friends who would go on to have many adventures with me and form my wedding party years later.  But more importantly, it’s the show where I discovered, as Homer would call it, a little magic box imported from a guy in Mexico that suddenly made the “pay” in “pay-per-view” a thing of the past.  Until digital cable came along and ruined it for everyone, of course.

Live from Indianapolis, IN

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Steve Austin v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley

This was advertised as Austin v. Savio Vega, but injuries to Vega changed it at the last minute.  Speaking of changes, this is the official debut of the famous entrance music that Austin has been using ever since.  Talk about Jim Johnston hitting a home run on the first try.  In his pre-match promo, Austin acknowledges complaints about his language, but notes anyone with a problem can kiss his ass.  Sadly, JR’s microphone is experiencing technical difficulties tonight, although Vince pleads innocence.  Maybe it was the same guys in charge of streaming old content on the WWE Network? Austin and Helmsley take turns insulting fans at ringside and Austin works on a headlock, then they just have a slugfest and Hunter bails off that.  Back in, Austin pounds him with an elbow and drops a knee for two while Vince and JR squabble on commentary.  Austin blocks a blind charge and clotheslines him for two, then goes to the arm while JR educates Vince.  “That was a wristlock there, Vince.”  They exchange in the corner and Hunter finally gets a backdrop and kneedrop to take over.  Crowd is pretty dead for all of this, but it’s two heels so that’s not unexpected.  Hunter with a neckbreaker for two.  Lawler notes that the microphone troubles are Murphy’s Law and what can go wrong will go wrong, but that’s not actually what Murphy’s Law was.  It’s actually a bastardized version of the original saying, which was that given the choice of two identical levers to pull, one of which is helpful and the other which does catastrophic damage, people will inevitably pull the bad lever.  It’s more of an indictment of human nature than the random chaos that that the more well-known version portrays.  Anyway, they trade some near-falls and Austin hits a stungun, then both guys are down after a clothesline as Mr. Perfect joins us to further screw with HHH.  However, he runs afoul of Steve Austin and that nearly goes very badly for him, but Hunter uses the distraction and beats on Austin while Perfect finishes stealing the bimbo of the week.  Hunter tries for the Pedigree, but then he stops to chase Perfect and Austin catches him with a suplex on the concrete.  Austin follows with a catapult into the ringpost and you’d think they’d just do a double countout or something, but no, it’s back into the ring and KICK WHAM STUNNER finishes clean at 15:00.  This remains a pleasant surprise as an opener, showing how big Austin was getting over.  ***1/2

WWF tag titles:  The British Bulldog & Owen Hart v. The Smoking Gunns

And it’s the second heel-heel match of the night.  Owen debuts his new short haircut here, as the champs double-team Billy to start, but Bulldog gets caught by a cheapshot from Bart.  Owen and Bulldog were like some kind of awesome 80s throwback team that happened to get formed in a time with no Hart Foundation or Demolition to oppose them and have great matches.  Bart with a powerslam and he misses a flying bodypress, and Bulldog gets his own for two.  Owen comes in and grabs a chinlock, but Bart accidentally knocks Billy off the apron while he’s showboating, and Owen gets two.  The storyline here is that Billy is obsessed with Sunny.  Last week it came out that someone offered her $800 to pee on Skype…wonder what Billy was doing at the time?  Luckily for us, the Gunns get it together and double-team Owen to take over, as Bart gets a neckbreaker for two.  They set up for the Sidewinder, but Bulldog pulls Bart out of the way and Owen finishes the stunned Billy with the leg lariat at 9:16 to retain.  That finish looked really clumsy, with Billy taking forever on top before he came down and missed.  Had they executed faster it would have been a really clever finish.  Match was dull and heatless.  **

Speaking of heatless, Jim Ross now jumps into the ring for his weekly rant, promising us that he has Bret Hart back in the WWF tomorrow night.  And then he literally drops the mic and retires for the evening.  We’ll talk about the Bret Hart return in the RAW rant, of course.  Interestingly, this whole thing was partly a concerted effort from Vince to make Ross into “good ol’ JR” by giving him all the wacky southern verbiage like “taking him to the woodshed” and “scolded dog” and all that stuff.  Ross actually hated the whole idea and his opposition to the changes are partly the reason for his bitterness in storyline at the time, but look who got the last laugh on that whole deal, huh?

Meanwhile, in the pre-show, Faarooq is doing a promo for his IC title match tonight, but Ahmed Johnson attacks him and takes him out of the match.  Apparently, according to Ahmed in interviews later, this was some legit deal where Ahmed had previously given him a receipt for the kidney injury and they worked it into the show here.  The actual non-crazy person reason was a leg injury Faarooq suffered during the RAW tapings.

Intercontinental title:  Marc Mero v. Goldust

Mero “takes exception to the histrionics” of Goldust and slugs away on the mat, and Goldust bails right into a dive from Mero.  Back in, Mero slingshots in with a legdrop for two.  He goes up for a moonsault, but Goldust chokeslams him off the top and tosses him to take over.  Clothesline gets two and he goes to a chinlock.  Goldust with a bodyblock for two and he stops to threaten to kiss everyone in the crowd if they don’t shut up, although really by this point the gimmick was long past the expiration point and he was due for a turn anyway.  Mero uses the lull in the action to hit a backdrop suplex and Merosault for two, but Goldust tries the Curtain Call and Mero reverses into a rollup for two.  Goldust dumps him with a nice bump from Mero, and Mr. Perfect on commentary is tired of the crappy officiating and goes to help Mero back into the ring.  This brings out HHH in response, but Perfect slugs Goldust and leaves.  Back in, Mero with the samoan drop and Shooting Star Press to finish at 11:35.  This was OK enough, although mostly just Mero doing his thing with Goldust along for the ride.  **1/2  Perfect celebrates with Mero afterwards, but of course the next night on RAW would be the big angle to pay this whole thing off.

Vader v. Sid

Winner of this gets Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, so he’s on commentary.  And he’s COMPLETELY wasted.  Sid and Vader do their mean guy match stuff to start and Sid gets dumped to the floor.  Sunset flip back in, but Vader sits on him to block it.  Sid comes back with a suplex while Shawn spouts random non-sequiturs and the other two announcers basically try to ignore him.  Sid goes up with a bodypress, but Vader catches him with a weak slam and now Sid is OUT.  Like, he goes from crazy energy to starfishing on the mat and it’s kind of hilarious how bad he is.  Vader goes up with a splash off the middle, but picks Sid up at two for some reason.  Vaderbomb misses and Sid makes the heroic comeback and tries the powerbomb, but Vader goes low.  Vader’s powerbomb attempt is blocked, and Sid finishes with the chokeslam at 8:00.  This was about what you’d expect.  *1/2

Buried Alive match:  Undertaker v. Mankind

They quickly brawl up the aisle after an insane Undertaker dive from the top rope, but Mankind hits him with a shovel and neither guy can get an advantage in the dirt.  Back to the ring and Taker continues beating on Mankind, including a dive from the crowd over the railing.  Back into the ring for the ropewalk, but Mick finally crotches him to take over and pounds away in the corner.  Undertaker tries a comeback, but Mankind gets a SHANK from Paul Bearer and works Taker over with it.  Taker gets it away from him and that goes badly for Mankind for a bit, so he grabs a chair and hits Taker IN THE FACE.  Jesus.  He fucking dented that chair on Taker’s head and I’m shocked it didn’t leave a mold of his face like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon or something.  Special note of ick factor goes to the replay of Mankind licking the chair in ecstasy.  Thanks for that, Mick.  So back to the gravesite we go and Taker goes into the grave, but he’s able to rise up before any dirt is put on him.  So Mankind throws dirt in his face, and Taker blindly tosses him off the dirt mound to the floor in a patented crazy Foley bump.  Back to the ring for a piledriver from Mankind, but Taker comes back, so Mankind DDTs him on the chair.  This just angers Undertaker further, and he legdrops that poor chair onto Mankind’s face.  So now Mankind responds by pulling up the mats outside and trying a piledriver on the floor, but Taker plows him into the stairs to escape that.  And then he tosses the stairs at his face, because why not, and beats the shit out of him with them.  Tombstone time, and he just carries Mankind back to the grave, but now it’s a Mandible Claw out of nowhere.  Taker has had enough of this shit, chokeslams Mankind into the grave, and buries him alive to win at 18:00.  This started slow but turned into a pretty great brawl with all kinds of crazy shit from both guys.  ****  After the burial, the mysterious Executioner attacks Taker with a shovel and the heels toss him into the grave and double bury him, although they’re not fast enough so they send all the midcard geek heels out to help get the grave filled.  Personally I was hoping for a post-match interview with the Executioner, conducted by Dok Hendrix, but alas it was not to be.

Oh yeah, and then lightning and shit hits the grave and Undertaker is probably not actually dead and blah blah blah.

The Pulse

Pretty good show, actually, even if it’s one of the more forgettable entries thanks to a lack of Shawn Michaels in the main event.  Nothing to go out of your way to see, but worth checking out if it’s on the live stream.

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