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WWF In Your House #10: Mind Games

by Scrooge McSuck

- Another in the In Your House series where I've never seen the show. Honestly, without looking up the card, I couldn't tell you anything that happend on here except the unusual main event between Shawn Michaels and Mankind. I say unusual because they spent so much time on building Shawn and Vader, then suddenly changed gears for this show, before throwing Mankind back into his unfinished program with the Undertaker, and Shawn's Crybaby Tour as Champion continued.

- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View on September 22nd, 1996, from the CoreStates Center in Philadelphia, PA. Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect, and Jim Ross are calling all the action, unless otherwise noted.

Free For All: Savio Vega vs. Marty Jannetty (w/ Leif Cassidy):

Ugh... I hated the New Rockers so much. The only good thing about them was minimal appearances on Pay-Per-Views. As much as I liked Marty Jannetty throughout most of his career (ducks the flaming bags of dog poo flung at me), I can't stand watching his heel run. It's just bad. Jannetty with a headlock, and a criss-cross leads to a Vega monkey flip. They fight over a wristlock as we get words from Justin Bradshaw. Savio with a roll up for two. Whip to the ropes, and Jannetty with a diving elbow for two. Jannetty slaps on a chinlock as we get all technical about what qualifies as a PPV (I guess Bradshaw forgot he was on the last In Your House, Free For All at least). Whip to the corner, and Savio takes a boot to the face for a two count. Whip to the ropes, and Jannetty with a fist to the midsection, followed by a knee lift for two. Jannetty slaps on a chinlock as Vince McMahon refers to a "local promotion" being a little vocal at this show. Jannetty with a slam and jumping fist drop for a two count. Savio takes a ride to the floor, and he's greeted by Leif Cassidy (Al Snow). Back inside, Jannetty with a snapmare, and back to the chinlock. Jannetty with a slam, and a dive from the second rope meets a boot. Savio with rights and chops. Whip to the corner, and Savio follows in with a clothesline. Jannetty with a cross body from the opposite corner, and Savio rolls through for three at 5:18. Afterwards, Justin Bradshaw attacks Savio with a bullrope, and chokes him out. You know what this means... it's on like Donkey Kong! The match was OK, more watchable than their King of the Ring match from Superstars I've covered.

Caribbean Strap Match: Savio Vega vs. Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw (w/ Uncle Zebekiah):

You know the WWF booking team is desperate for bodies to fill out a show when Savio Vega is doing double duty (see also: King of the Ring 1995) on the pre-show and the actual Pay-Per-View. This wasn't announced until right before the PPV started, thanks to what happend following Savio's match against Jannetty. Bradshaw whoops Savio with the strap before the bell. Hey look, Harvey Wippleman is the referee. After a minute or so into the match, the strap is finally attached to Savio. Bradshaw hits the corners quickly, but Savio breaks the momentum. Loud "ECW" chant pops up out of nowhere. Savio uses the strap to pull Bradshaw into the post. Suddenly, The Sandman shows up in the front row to spit beer on Savio, and hey, there's Tommy Dreamer, too! Back to the action, and Bradshaw goes for the corners again, but Savio breaks it with a back suplex. Savio uses the strap, whipping Bradshaw from head to toe. Jim Ross drops the "whipping him like a Government Mule" phrase, as Savio goes for the corners. Cool spot with Savio using his foot to touch one that was out of reach. Savio comes off the ropes with a pair of clotheslines, followed by a spinning heel kick. Savio goes for the corners, but Bradshaw yanks him back on his way to the fourth. Bradshaw with a big boot, followed by the clothesline from heck (PG WWF). They do the "Bradshaw touches corners, and Savio does it behind him" spot, which is only cool after a grueling match, and when it WASN'T DONE THE LAST TIME. They struggle to the fourth, and it's the exact same finish at 7:10. Feh. Decent at times, but too rushed, and a lack of interest for Bradshaw weakens the crowds response to the match. Almost the opposite of the awesome the match between Savio and Austin was at Beware of Dog.

Jose Lothario vs. Jim Cornette:

Are you serious?! I know Lothario's background, but he's still pushing 60 years old, and Jim Cornette is NOT an athlete, by any stretch of the imagination. The hype for this match appears to have been Cornette making "you're so old" jokes for a few weeks. Cornette coming out to Vader's music is hilarious, and his padded body suit equally so. We cut backstage to "Diesel and Razor Ramon" stomping a mudhole in Savio Vega. Jesus Christ, who did Savio piss off? Lothario comes out to Shawn's music, and even has a Shawn Michaels inspired jacket on. Cornette tries a sneak attack, but Lothario catches him coming and pounds away. Lothario lays Cornette out with a roundhouse right, and a left uppercut finishes it off at the 57-second mark. Yes, this was actually featured on a PPV.

- Doc Hendrix is backstage with Savio Vega, talking about "Razor Ramon" and "Diesel." Savio actually pretends that Razor Ramon IS Razor Ramon, refering to "their" friendship. Holy crap, this was such a stupid fucking idea. Is it any surprise WCW was wiping their ass with the product WWF was putting out?

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
The Smoking Gunns (w/ Sunny) vs. Owen Hart & British Bulldog:

I don't recall there being much of an angle going on between these two, but then again, the whole division was in the toilet, so I doubt anyone cared anyway. Sunny unveils her giant egostroking picture, only to find out it's been victimized by hooligans and grafiti. Mr. Perfect throws Owen under the bus for it. I never understood heel vs. heel matches, especially when no one is willing to play the babyface. Billy and Owen go through the typical sequence of arm drags, frustrating Billy. Vince and Jim Ross argue for the sake of arguing, then J.R. drops the word "indicted." OH SNAP! Bart comes in, and gets worked over, as well. Bulldog tags in to a pop, and fights over a headlock. Criss-cross, and Bulldog rolls up Bart for a two count. Bulldog with a dropkick and arm drag. Owen tags in, and clips the knee like a pro. Owen and Bulldog continue to work over the left leg. Owen with a single leg trip and turns Bart over into a Boston Crab. Bulldog with his delayed suplex, followed by a leg drop for two. Owen comes back in without making the tag and slaps on a spinning toe hold. Bart escapes and eats an enziguri for his troubles. Whip to the ropes, and Billy with a cheap shot, allowing Bart to knock Bulldog to the floor. Again, SOMEONE needs to play the babyface, but both teams are working heel, so the crowd is barely into it. Bart hobbles back in, scoops Bulldog up, and the Sidewinder connects. Owen comes in from the top rope with a forearm to Billy, and now both men are down. Bulldog crawls over to cover, and gets a two count. Billy gets up first, stomps away, and over-acts like a true champion. Bart comes in and drops a pair of knees.. .smart move, Einstein. Nevermind, he doesn't bother to sell the damage anymore. Bart goes for a powerslam, but Bulldog shoves him off into Billy, who in turn shoves him back into the Bulldog. He scoops him up, and the Running Powerslam gives us New Tag Team Champions at 11:00. Afterwards, Sunny chews the Gunns out and dumps them. What a surprise. Boring and mostly heatless, and Sunny being featured on every damn show is starting to get annoying.

Mark Henry vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler:

Ugh... This is Mark Henry's in-ring debut, having signed with the WWF sometime over the summer. Henry was slated to compete in the 1996 Summer Olympics, but injuries kept him from Qualifying. This has ugly written all over it. He's dubbed "The World's Strongest Man", which is always a kiss of death. Lawler with some trash talking about Henry's lack of wrestling knowledge/experience. Lockup, and Lawler grabs a headlock. Henry escapes and throws Lawler face-first to the canvas. Lockup, and Henry with a headlock. Lawler celebrates countering, but Henry reverses, and shoves Lawler into the corner. Lawler goes for a slam, but Henry is too big for that. He throws Lawler to the canvas with a sloppy press slam, and guess what... more stalling. Lawler with shoulder tackles, and you can guess how well that works for him. Henry side-steps a third attempt, and Lawler takes a man-sized bump into the security rail. Lucha-Lawler~! Lawler pulls out a foreign object, and finally has control of the match... for about 30-seconds. Henry with a series of knees to the midsection, a pair of chops to the top of the head, and a Body Vice gets the submission at 5:12. After the match, The (New) Rockers and Hunter Hearst Helmsley try to do a beat-down, but all get their asses handed to them for their efforts. If Hunter's "dog house" days weren't obvious, this has to be the lowest of his low point. Another stinker in a series of them.

The Undertaker vs. Goldust (w/ Marlena):

This is dubbed a "Final Curtain Match", which is fancy terms for "No Disqualifications, Pinfall Only." What about submission?! Undertaker's former manager, Paul Bearer, dumped him at SummerSlam to align with Mankind, so here's his first PPV without someone to act as his handler. This is thankfully the last match between these two I'll have to sit through. Undertaker attacks and sends Goldust from corner to corner. Undertaker with a high elevation leg drop for two. Goldust hangs Undertaker up across the top rope, and Marlena adds a slap for whatever reason. Back inside, Goldust with a swinging neck breaker, but Undertaker no-sells. Undertaker with a big boot, followed by a suplex for two. Undertaker grabs the arm and it's time to go to school. Goldust goes through Marlena's purse for a weapon, and throws a handful of gold dust in his eyes. Goldust with choking outside the ring as the referee gives a count... in a No Disqualification/Count-Out Match. Jim Ross: The worst may have yet to come. Perfect phrase to describe the WWF in 1996. Back in the ring, and Goldust with a clothesline for two. I always wondered how gradually Undertaker filled his arms with tattoos. When he debuted, he had none, and at Survivor Series '91, he had one. By this time, he's got a lot of work done, almost completely covered. Goldust with a hip toss for two. Marlena hops onto the apron for no reason, while Goldust remains in control doing very little. Undertaker throws Goldust into the corner and unloads with a flurry of rights and lefts. They collide on a criss-cross, and Goldust with a powerslam for two. Undertaker comes off the ropes with a diving clothesline. Goldust heads to the top and gets chokeslammed. Undertaker signals for the finish, and yep, the Tombstone Piledriver is enough for the three count at 10:23. Call it whatever you want to, but this falls under the terms of "same shit, different title." It goes to show you how weak the uppercard of the roster was, when Undertaker's only opponents for most of 1996 were Goldust and Mankind.

WWF Championship Match:
Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer):

Here's a Main Event that came out of nowhere. Michaels was working with Vader (including a bitch-fit thrown at SummerSlam) and Mankind was still working with Undertaker, and is facing him at IYH: Buried Alive, already announced during the previous match. This one has "needs a screwy finish" written all over it, to keep Mankind protected and to keep Shawn from losing his smile. Lockup, and Mankind quickly sends Shawn to the canvas with an elbow. Mankind with a clothesline, taking both himself and Michaels to the floor. He kicks Michaels into the security rail and peels up the padding, but Michaels comes back with a dropkick to knock it back into his face, and follows with a series of stomps. Michaels to the top with a twisting cross body, then comes off the steps to slam Mankind backwards into the concrete. Back inside, and Michaels comes off the top with a double axehandle. Mankind whiffs on a clothesline, and Michaels with jabs and a clothesline. Scoop slam, and a trip to the top rope ends with an elbow drop. He calls for sweet chin music, but it's too soon, and Mankind throws himself to the floor to get away, then starts rocking back and forth, clutching the urn. Odd... Back inside, and the two exchange rights. Whip to the corner, and a weird transition happens... did they miss a spot? Shawn gets frustrated and gets finger-slapped for it, and now they're tumbling around brawling (the worked shoot?). Michaels goes for a snapmare, but Mankind counters into a body scissors and goes for the Mandible Claw. Michaels blocks it and escapes with elbows, then mounts him with rights and lefts. Mankind lays Shawn out with a forearm and tosses him to the floor. Mankind follows, and does some furniture arrangement. Shawn uses this time to dive over the table to take Mankind down, and suplexes him into the ring steps. Back inside, and Michaels clips the knee. Mankind rolls out onto the casket at ringside, and gets his knee slammed into it. Michaels continues to work over the knee with stomps, then takes a swipe at Earl Hebner. Michaels blocks a boot, and brings Mankind down with a dragon screw, then slaps the Figure-Four on in the center of the ring. Mankind manages to escape, but Shawn puts him back to the canvas with a dropkick to the knee! Shawn traps the knee between his legs and lands down on it, then turns him over with a single-leg crab. What smart-ass is chanting "Boring" to this? I hope someone kicked him in the butthole.

Shawn turns a crucifix into a roll up for two. He goes for a hurricanrana, but Mankind hangs him up across the top rope to counter. Mankind grabs something from Bearer, and smashes it into his injured leg repeatedly. Back inside, and Mankind with choking. He continues to abuse the leg to get it going (pain cures pain!) while Shawn takes a breather on the floor. Mankind traps Michaels in the corner and charges in with a knee to the face, but that hurts him as well. Mankind slams Shawn face-first into the canvas, and Shawn has enough in him to take Mankind down with a back suplex. Michaels sweeps the legs from behind, and it's a slugfest. Whip to the corner, and Michaels traps himself in the tree of woe. Mankind charges in, and drops an axehandle smash into the face. Mankind with a leg drop to the back of the head, and they keep pushing the concussion thing from earlier in the year as a driving force behind all the heavy blows. Mankind with a charging boot, knockong Michaels over the top, to the floor. He tries to hit the charging knee again, but Shawn rolls away, and the steps take the brunt of the blow. Michaels with a drop toe hold, with Mankind tasting the steel once again. They see-saw over a suplex, until both wind up on the apron, and Mankind throws himself face-first into the post. Whip to the ropes, and Shawn with a diving elbow, followed by a powerslam for two. Whip to the ropes, and Mankind gets caught in the ropes. He still has enough in him to apply the Mandible Claw, but falls the floor after being released from the ropes choke hold. Mankind applies it again, but Shawn uses the tights to throw Mankind into the security rail. Shawn grabs a chair, and uses it as a shield. He sweeps the legs of Mankind with it, and bashes him over the hand. Back inside, Shawn bites the hand, sweeps the leg, and smashes it into the canvas over and over again.

Shawn continues to punish the hands of Mankind, hopefully making the Mandible Claw a non-factor. Michaels charges and takes a big bump over the top rope, to the floor. Mankind heads out as well, and hits the running elbow from the apron. Mankind heads back inside, then decides to come back out, and lay Shawn out with a swinging neck breaker. Shawn still crawls back to the ring, and takes a leg across the back of the head. Mankind drags him back into the ring, and hits the Double-Arm DDT for a two count. Mankind with the trunk-pull piledriver for another two count. Mankind with a make-shift fisherman suplex for two. He pulls his hair out in frustration, and heads to the floor for more weapons. Hebner makes sure to clear them out, so Mankind opts to open the casket and throw Michaels inside it. Michaels fights his way out of that predicament and comes off the ropes with a diving forearm. Oh shit, the kip up. Michaels with a slam, followed by a high cross bosy for two. He heads to the top again, but gets crotched for his efforts. Mankind heads to the apron, and climbs up with him, and somehow Michaels twists into a body press, taking both men through the spanish announce table. Weird moment, as Hebner gets an earful from Vince McMahon, who's left the broadcast position. Mankind grabs a chair, and takes Sweet Chin Music from it. Michaels covers... very... slowly... as Vader FINALLY makes it to the ring, drawing the Disqualification at 26:18. Lame! Bearer lays Michaels out with the urn, and then Sid comes out to fight off Vader, throwing some of the suckiest punches ever. the over-booked nonsense continues, as the Undertaker pops out of the casket to get him some of Mankind. All the post-match garbage aside, one hell of a match that was unheard of territory at the time, and something that wasn't duplicated, either. A classic, but with a poorly blown finish.

Final Thoughts: The Championship match between Michaels and Mankind is available on both the Mick Foley DVD from years ago and one of the Shawn Michaels DVD sets, among another set or two, so that match is readily available elsewhere, making this show an easy one to pass up, thanks to an incredibly underwhelming (at best) card up through the one match that matters. Check that one out, and pretend the rest of this show never took place, much like the rest of the wrestling world has.

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