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WWF In Your House #6: Rage In The Cage

by Scrooge McSuck

- Welcome to the second phase of the In Your House PPV's: Up with the price tag ($19.95, instead of $14.95), a trimming on matches featured on the card (from 6 to 5) thanks to a weak roster, and 1996 also introduced the Free For All, a "free preview" on the Preview Network that also featured a FREE (crappy undercard) match. The funny thing was, for the shows we didn't order, I didn't bother to watch the Free For All. I can only think of one PPV I bought with less than 30-minutes to spare (King of the Ring '98, for those who care).

- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View on February 18th, 1996, from the Louisville Gardens in Louisville, KY. Vince McMahon and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling all the action, unless otherwise noted. There's a dark match featured between Goldust and the Undertaker for the Intercontinental Title, but no thanks, there's plenty of matches between the two on the In Your House PPV's in 1996.

Free For All: Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Tatanka (w/ Ted Dibiase):

What sick bastard came up with this combination? Roberts made his official return at the previous month's Royal Rumble, but this is his first true match since WrestleMania VIII. Ditto Tatanka on returning to the ring since the Rumble, I believe, who had also been missing in action since around SummerSlam. Was he injured or just taken off of television for lack of interest? I wonder... why not turn him back to babyface if you're taking him off T.V. for so long? It's obvious his heel turn tanked pretty damn hard. Jake looks even MORE out of shape than he did at the Runmble, thanks to his green mumu. Lockup to start, and Tatanka gets the early advantage thanks to a distraction from Dibiase. Roberts quickly hits a short-arm clothesline, but Tatanka rolls away from a DDT attempt. Same formula match as ever, I see. McMahon with a vague hint towards Roberts and Dibiase past is the highlight of the match, so far. Slow-motion criss-cross leads to Roberts setting his sites on Dibiase, but that goes nowhere. Tatanka takes control with chops and boots. Tatanka with a slam and elbow drop. Send in your cable bill and get 10 free hours of America Online, courtesy of AOL and the World Wrestling Federation. Whip to the corner, and Roberts sells it like he's wasted. Tatanka misses a pair of elbow drops, allowing Roberts a flurry of rights and lefts. Whip to the corner, and Roberts meets the knee on a charge attempt. Tatanka goes for the End of the Trail, but Roberts slips out and lays him out with a DDT for the three count at 5:37. The crowd pops for the DDT, but the rest of the match was junk. Bad, even for a Superstars feature match. I know it's the Free For All, but give the fans something to watch. Post-match, Roberts unleashes Revelations on Tatanka.

Crybaby Match: Razor Ramon vs. The 1-2-3 Kid (w/ Ted Dibiase):

What is this, mid 80's Memphis? Who books a humilation match like this, in 1996, in the WWF? These two have had issues for a few months, and from my own perspective as it happened, I couldn't wait for it to end because I HATED the 1-2-3 Kid, and wanted him off television. Loser gets diapered, by the way. I don't understand why the Kid is using his old theme music and not altering his appearance in the slightest, considering he's a member of the Million Dollar Corporation. Sissy slap fight to start, with Ramon winning that one. Ramon quickly clears the Kid from the ring with a clothesline. The Kid hangs Razor up across the top rope, then slingshots in with a clothesline for a two count. Kid with kicks in the corner, followed by a spinning heel kick. Ramon blocks a whip to the corner and throws the Kid across the ring with a body toss. Whip to the corner, and he follows in with a clothesline. Kid tries a body press, but Ramon counters with a fallaway slam. Razor's Edge attempt is evaded, and Dibiase with a handful of baby powder to turn the tide, in clear view of the referee. The Kid with a missile dropkick for a two count. Kid with a pair of leg drops, followed by a dropkick. He heads to the top and hits a splash for two. Kid with a sleeper hold, but Ramon fights free in a sloppy exchange. Kid slaps it on again, but he's too skinny to keep it on. Then again, because it appears that three times is a charm. Ramon fights free again, crotching the Kid across the top rope. Ramon with clubbin' rights, but fails at the top rope back suplex. Kid with a body press, but Ramon rolls through for two. Whip to the ropes, and the Kid with a spinning heel kick for two. Whip to the ropes, and this time Ramon sets the Kid up on the ropes for a super fallaway slam. He signals for the end, but Dibiase creates a distraction. Ramon kicks baby powder back into the face of the Kid, and the Razor's Edge only gets two, thanks to Ramon wanting to punish the bastard. The Razor's Edge hits for a second time, and that's more than enough for three at 12:01. Afterwards, Ramon powders and diapers the kid, and gives him an oversized bottle, resulting in the Kid "crying". Ugh... Match was slow and the finish never seemed in question. Who did the Kid piss off to warrant being DIAPERED?

Duke "The Dumpster" Droese vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley:

I know it held no meaning at the time, but damn were Hunter's PPV opponents a laundry list of bad ideas... Bob "Spark Plugg" Holly, Makin' a Difference Fatu, Henry O. Godwinn, Duke Droese, then 1996 Ultimate Warrior. There's no skipping over any, either. That's the reference sheet from SummerSlam '95 through WrestleMania XII. This was started over Helmsley giving Droese a haircut. I'm not making that up. Droese bum rushes the ring and wins a slugfest pretty easily. Droese tosses him across the ring with a handful of hair and takes him over with a press slam. Whip to the ropes, and Droese with a big boot. Lawler is at ringside the random bimbo who escorted Helmsley to the ring, and that's about as entertaining as it sounds. Helmsley goes for the Pedigree, but Droese counters with an atomic drop and comes off the ropes with a clothesline. Droese goes for an unwise charge, and gets leveraged over the top rope for his efforts. Helmsley follows him to the floor, and sends him into the ring steps. Someone at ringside has a "Hello USWA Fans" sign... just mentioning it, that's all. Whip to the ropes, and Helmsley busts out the running high knee, but it only gets two. Helmsley with a suplex for another two count. Whip to the corner, and Droese with a boot to counter Helmsley's own cahrge attempt. Droese comes out with a clothesline, and both men are down for the count. Droese with a half-decent spinebuster, but he's still selling the whole two-minutes of punishment he took like a Ric Flair opponent in a 60-minute marathon. Whip to the ropes, and Droese with a back drop. Droese with a powerslam, but he chooses not to cover. Droese with the tilt-o-whirl powerslam, and he goes for the garbage can. E-C-Dub! D-C-Dub! The referee interjects, allowing Helmsley to KO Droese with the can lid (which happens to land on the referee's feet) for the three count at 9:41. It was OK, but another "Monday Night Raw" level and quality match. It's hard to make every match PPV quality, but we're two matches into a five match card, and the next one is instantly falling under the same category.

- Dok Hendrix is backstage with Yokozuna, who gives his first promo in roughly three years, and sounding like Fatu (d'oh!). It was only a couple of weeks ago where he turned on "Camp Cornette", after a falling out following several matches with the Dudes With Atittudes, and problems with Cornette's new hire, the Man They Call Vader.

Yokozuna vs. The British Bulldog (w/ Jim Cornette):

Yeah, someone thought turning Yokozuna into a babyface was going to get the crowds excited for him, or possibly motivate him, again. Whatever. This had bad idea written all over it, even by my 1996 standards. I never bought into his turn, and never cared enough to follow what he was doing in storylines. Short: Squashed by Vader, over and over again until being removed from television and (much later) released. Slugfest to start, won by Yokozuna. Whip to the ropes and a back drop, followed by a pair of clotheslines. Vince declares that Yoko is in fact "hammering" on Davey Boy. Yokozuna with a slam, but the falling elbow misses. Bulldog with three clotheslines to take Yokozuna off his feet. Cornette gets a cheap shot in to a mild reaction. Whip to the corner, and Yokozuna follows in with an avalanche. He drags Bulldog to the corner for the Banzai Drop, but Cornette pulls him from the ring. Yokozuna (slowly) follows and misses a charge to the post. Back inside, and Bulldog comes off the top with an axehandle for a two count. Bulldog to the top again, but Yoko nails him coming off this time. Yokozuna no-sells clotheslines and does the King Kong chest beating to show he means business. Whip to the ropes, and Yokozuna with a Samoan Drop. Yoko with a belly-to-belly suplex, and Cornette draws the DQ at 5:03 with racket shots across the back. Yokozuna no-sells them, but Vader returns from suspension and helps beat the shit out of Yokozuna for a few minutes. This just went on and on, despite a lack of interest from most. A nothing match that only was put on for the post-match beating.

#1 Contender's Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart (w/ Jim Cornette):

Long(ish) backstory here, summed up as fast as possible: Shawn has the Syracuse/Marines incident, comes back too soon, gets KO'ed on live television by Owen Hart, working everyone in the process into believing it was a shoot, makes the miracle comeback to win the Royal Rumble Match, then puts his title shot on the line to shut Owen the hell up for taking credit for the injury. In all honesty, there was no doubt in my mind that Shawn wouldn't lose here. As a youngster, it wasn't about the quality, but the outcome. If you KNOW the face will win, compared to hoping he will win, there's no enjoyment to come from it, and that's how this match fell for so many years, so let's see how it's aged for my own recollection. In the unwise decision of the night, Shawn makes his entrance off the roof of the stage, and comes down via Tarzan swing, dropping a good 9-10 feet above the ground. Shawn bum rushes and clears the ring to finish his ring entrance. I HATE 1996 Shawn Michaels. Shoving to start. Shawn grabs a headlock, then plays with the crowd (or "Kliq", as Vince refers). The dicking around goes on forever, because that's why Shawn's matches were so awesome. Finally, back in the ring, Owen grabs a headlock and does his version of mocking Shawn. Shawn retaliates with a twisting body press from the top rope, to the floor. Shawn to the top, and a double axehandle for a quick two count. Shawn with a double leg sweep, then back to the headlock. Shawn uses a handful of hair to keep control of the hold. Owen with a hip toss, but Shawn mule kicks him away. Criss-cross, and Michaels with a hurricanrana. Whip to the ropes, and Owen with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Owen stomps away and connects with a side back breaker. Whip to the corner, and a neck breaker gets two. Owen goes for the sharpshooter, but Michaels kicks away. Owen slaps on a camel clutch of all things, quite unusual considering he wants to target the head, not the back, and I don't recall him using it on a regular basis.

Shawn fights free, but takes a knee to the midsection coming off the ropes. Owen with a float over roll-up for two, then settles into a chinlock. Michaels fights free again, but a spinning heel kick knocks him to the floor. It's not a death blow, though, as he struggles to his feet. He blocks a suplex attempt and brings Owen over the top rope, to the floor instead, but quickly gives back the momentum, jumping into a powerslam. Owen to the top rope, and he hits a missile dropkick for a two count. Whip to the corner, and Michaels with a surprise roll up for two. Owen turns Shawn inside out on a corresponding move, and lays him out with a clothesline. Owen turns over the sharpshooter, but Michaels will not go out like that, and makes it to the ropes. Owen plants im with a slam, but takes his sweet time following up and gets rolled up for two. Then he just hits the enziguri out of nowhere, sending Shawn to the floor, KO'ing him in the process. Owen rolls him back in the ring, and covers for two. Goober! Whip to the corner, and Owen crotches himself on a charge. Shawn with a reverse atomic drop, followed by a diving forearm. Shawn does the kip up, and it might as well be Hulk Hogan kicking out of someone's finisher. Shawn with another diving forearm, boot to the face, slam, top rope elbow drop, and Sweet Chin Music finishes it at 15:58. That was a pretty formulatic finish at the time, much like Bret Hart's infamous "five moves of doom." Good match, but I honestly don't find it to be anything to write home about. I never bought the idea of Shawn's title shot ever being in Jeopardy, and the finish was incredibly predictable. It was the road to an inevtiable title victory, so betting against Shawn was like throwing money away.

- We waste time as they construct the hideous blue-bar cage. Man, that thing was a bitch, having to fill up around 10-15 minutes of valuable PPV time with fluff waiting to construct it. Most of the times it was the show ender, so no big whoop, but occasionally it was a midcard match and that meant even more time wasted for the damn thing to be taken down.

WWF Championship; Steel Cage Match:
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Diesel:

Other than being a rematch to their Survivor Series encounter, this is more of a "pushing the Diesel/Undertaker" program match, rather than anything concerning Bret Hart's reign. I know he whines way too much, but damn was he treated like such a place-holder champion for this reign. I almost just want to skip this entirely, knowing the nonsensical finish. Diesel pounds away to start, then takes it to the corner for more punishment. Whip to the corner, and the cage rattles with the impact of Bret's bump. Bret finally retaliates by ramming Diesel into the cage, then stomps at the pencil-thin legs. Bret starts to climb, but Diesel prevents the escape and rams him back first into the cage. Both men go for the door, but Bret prevails at keeping Diesel from escaping. Honestly, what's the point of making this a cage match? There really is no reason for it, and there's no drama because of that. Bret targets the legs again, but Diesel no-sells and connects with a short-arm clothesline. Diesel with a side slam, but an elbow drop misses. Bret prevents another escape and goes back to the leg. Bret climbs, Diesel stops him, and throws him off the top rope. Bret boots him on a charge attempt, then comes off the ropes with a bulldog. Bret climbs again, and gets brought down with a back suplex.

I should note we're over ten-minutes into this, and I've given detailed Play-by-Play of the action. Diesel charges into the corner and hurts his knee, allowing Bret to attack like a Shark that smells blood. Bret allows Diesel to get back to his feet, and gets sent chest-first into the corner for it. Diesel slowly pounds away on Hart, then takes it to the corner... wait, wasn't this the first action of the match?! Bret goes back to the leg and makes a quick climb, but Diesel pulls him back from the other side, and god damn, do I hate that cage match spot. I'm half-tempted to skip the rest of the match, because I'm that unmotivated to finish watching this dull turd. Whip to the corner, and Bret does the bump again... when Bret is repeating spots throughout the course of a match, you know it's fucked. They even do another instant replay for it! Diesel tries to use Bret as a battering ram, but it obviously didn't work. Bret pops up like he's never been hit and goes for the sharpshooter, but Diesel thumbs the eyes after several attempts to turn it over. Is this crowd chanting for "Diesel?" Bret works the back and takes him down with a Russian leg sweep. Bret with a top rope elbow drop, and he still can't climb out. Diesel goes WAY WAY low to knock Bret back to the canvas. Diesel goes for the door, and suddenly the Undertaker rips through the canvas and drags him down with him, complete with puff of smoke. In the mean time, Bret escapes to retain at 19:16. Yes, it was a cool spot for a 10-year old, but really, THAT was the best finish they could come up with? The match itself was pretty bad, and the outcome came out of nowhere. There was little drama to the conclussion, and it just ended, but what do you expect from a sub-standard cage match?

Final Thoughts: This one turned out to be more of a chore to get through than I thought it would be. I didn't truely enjoy any of the matches, thanks to deep-hatred for this era of a certain performer's career, and the undercard was filler that would barely be qualified as a miedocre episode of Monday Night Raw. Bulldog/Yokozuna? Droese/Helmsley? Blech... the only match on here worth a damn is Michaels vs. Owen, but I can't even recommend that because of my own personal feelings. Absolutely nothing to see here.

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