REVIEW: In Your House III
Here we are, perhaps the nadir of the WWF as both a business and a creative enterprise, in the fall of 1995. Naturally, Vince McMahon’s main competition, WCW led by Eric Bischoff, had just started Monday Nitro, going head to head with Monday Night RAW and beginning the Monday Night Wars and the last great era of professional wrestling in the United States.
This show is quintessential 1995 WWF—lazy, plodding, full of lame characters, small crowds washed in dim lighting, and overrun by the most overrated group of bullshit artists in the recent history of the business (and that is saying something about this carnie industry), The Kliq. For the heat that WCW was bringing with direct competition and the pushing of stars like Hogan, Savage, Duggan, and Luger, Vince and the WWF barely seemed to feel much pressure if this is a show that they felt was Pay Per View quality.
IN YOUR HOUSE III: Triple Header
We’re live from Saginaw, Michigan with Vince, the King, and Jim Ross, and Vince’s insecurity shows itself immediately as he declares that they are in Saginaw which is a mere 2 hours from Detroit! Also, Lawler’s mullet is glorious, and this version of JR is really good, as he is between super happy JR of 1993 and the cowboy character with the quick tongue that would come about in 1998. He’s a straight analyst with an acerbic wit here, and he is quite good, as is the entire three-man booth from here to the Montreal Screwjob in 1997.
SAVIO VEGA v. WAYLON MERCY
Waylon Mercy is Danny Spivey, who had been in the WWF a decade earlier as Barry Windham’s replacement in the US Express, and he was the tag team partner in the Skyscrapers who wasn’t Sid or the Undertaker, so by this time he is broken down physically, but his psychology is really sound. Savio, still early in his run, is a fun babyface that the crowd responds to and he brings some energy to this encounter.
A few minutes in, Dok Hendrix shows up in a split screen to tell us that Owen Hart is not in the building, putting the main event in jeopardy.
The action in this match is damn solid, in all honestly, and Mercy breaks out some very good power moves including a sick brain buster. Oddly, because Mercy was receiving somewhat of a push, Savio hits a spinning heel kick and takes the victory clean as a sheet. As openers in 1995 go, this was a lot of fun and had solid work, especially taking into account Spivey’s limitations.
RATING: 3 stars
Dok is backstage again as Yokozuna, Jim Cornette, Mr. Fuji, and WWF President Gorilla Monsooon, who had just taken over for longtime president Jack Tunney, discuss Owen Hart’s absence. Gorilla declares that the tag team main event will happen.
SYCHO SID w/ TED DiBIASE v. HENRY GODWINN.
Godwinn had hit DiBiase a few times with the contents of his slop bucket, thus leading to this match. Very early on, since this is a hoss match, JR drops “slobberknocker” which gets a WTF response from Vince and King and an explanation from JR, leading me to believe that this is the debut of that catchphrase.
This match is what you would expect from an unmotivated Sid and Henry Godwinn, slow and plodding, but interesting enough.
At one point Godwinn hits the Slop Drop, but DiBiase breaks up the pin. Godwinn goes off the rope, and DiBiase trips him, allowing Sid to hit a leg drop, and making Hulk Hogan sweat that someone might kick out of his finisher and steal his heat, but Sid picks him up and hits the Power Bomb for the win.
After the match, DiBiase wants to slop Godwinn but Bam Bam Bigelow runs out, followed by Kama, and a fight erupts that ends up with Godwinn getting the bucket and slopping Ted. The crowd loved this.
RATING 1.25 stars
Dok is back with Jim Cornette and Gorilla, and Gorilla tells Corny that he may find a replacement for Owen Hart in the main event tonight.
BRITISH BULLDOG v. BAM BAM BIGELOW
Solid action going on here early, but it eventually slows down, and the reason is pretty plain to see; Bulldog had never before been a heel, and being one for only about a month meant that he was still trying to figure out pacing and psychology from a heel perspective. Thus, this match has several sequences with dead spots like a knee bar, a sleeper, and a half crab.
In the middle of the match we get a shot backstage of Cornette trying to recruit Sid to be Yokozuna’s partner tonight.
Bam Bam is amazing as a big man, as he hits several impressive moves like an enziguri, a flying headbutt, and a suplex reversal that drops Bulldog across the top rope on his crotch. However, another agile spot, a moonsault, in missed, and Davey hits a bodyslam/powerslam hybrid in the middle of the ring for the win. It should also be noted that Bam Bam’s selling of his leg was fantastic here.
RATING: 2 stars
Godwinn and DiBiase are barking on the Superstar Line.
We hear “Hail to the Chief” playing, and Bob Backlund comes to the ring and heels on the fans for not having good vocabularies, before introducing Dean Douglas. Dean then calls out his opponent.
DEAN DOUGLAS v. RAZOR RAMON
OK, I’m just going to say this, and I don’t care what fans of this era have to say. Razor Ramon’s character, now and then, was not cool, was not interesting, and he is just plain average as a worker. All love for Razor is just misplaced love for the WCW version of Scott Hall in 1996-1998. This match is just another example of Razor not even trying because it’s not one of his friends in there with him. This match is just whatever, and it’s not Douglas’s fault because he tries to bring energy and is a good wrestler, but Razor just wasn’t helping.
Near the end, Backlund distracts the ref while Razor hits the Razor’s Edge. 123 Kid runs in and counts 3, but Ramon turns and sees that its not the ref and freaks out, shoving kid out of the ring, and then Douglas rolls him up from behind for the win, further enraging Ramon.
After the match officials break up Ramon and Kid as they have a skirmish.
RATING: 1 star
Next we get a commercial for In Your House 4, and Dok shills the Shawn Michaels gigolo hat and heart shaped glasses. Fuck me, this is tough to watch because Dok is essentially a cartoon walrus on a coke binge and the Two Dudes with Attitude step in and do a promo that’s just as corny as anything Dok was doing. They think they’re cool, but they’re just awful.
JEAN-PIERRE LaFITTE v. BRET HART
If you take away the pre-match promo by Bret, which actually eclipses the previous promo in how cringey it is, this is such a palate cleanser and I wish 1995 offered more of this.
These two guys worked their asses off, put on a hard-hitting match with big spots, tremendous psychology, and Bret Hart’s hallmark pacing that eventually leads to a big climax. It even began with an insanely hot suicide dive by Bret, which was very uncharacteristic for him. I don’t want to overstate how much fun this match is, but let me just say that by the end of the match you forget that Bret Hart is wrestling a pirate in order to recapture possession of his leather jacket. A shimmering diamond in a year of shit from the WWF.
RATING: 3.75 stars
We go backstage and it is revealed that THE BRITSH BULLDOG will be Yoko’s partner. Gorilla gives the OK, and says that for tonight the British Bulldog will be recognized as one half of the tag team champions with Yoko, and he is eligible to win either the IC or WWF title as well.
Vince and JR then do some awful shilling for the official IYH III shirt, modeled by Alundra Blaze, who has nothing better to do. These product plugs throughout the show are really bush league.
TRIPLE HEADER MATCH
YOKOZUNA/BRITISH BULLDOG v. TWO DUDES WITH ATTITUDE
This match features the Tag champs facing the Intercontinental champion, Shawn Michaels, and WWF champion, Diesel. Owen Hart and Yoko were the tag champs, but because Owen is absent, Bulldog is with Yoko. Whoever gets a pin fall, gets the title of the person they pin. For example, if Bulldog pins Diesel, he is WWF champion, and if Shawn Michaels pins Yoko, he and Diesel are Tag Team champions. Got that?
This match… I saw it many, many years ago, and just watched it again… I still fucking hate it. It’s just blah and lazy, and I don’t think it’s very good. The ending is the cherry atop the shit Sunday, as we get 15 minutes of Bulldog/Yoko vs. Diesel/HBK, and Owen Hart runs out, gets power bombed by Diesel, and pinned! The ref watches the whole thing, he wasn’t even distracted! Don’t drink the WWF Kool Aid that endings like this were just a WCW thing, Vince booked a shit finish like this on PPV as well. The Two Dudes have all three titles in the WWF and celebrate, the high-water mark of the Kliq’s influence in the WWF, while also marking the low water mark of Vince McMahon’s business. This match, and especially the finish, is absolute trash.
RATING: 0 stars
THE ‘’LO DOWN
Anyone who has read my reviews knows that I am forgiving, usually finding entertainment in everything I watch, and I’m very sympathetic to the WWF. However, this show killed me, and I wanted to shut it off several times while reviewing it. There is one match on this show worth anything, and the rest of it is trash, pure and simple. Avoid this show, and from now on I don’t think I’ll be reviewing anymore shows from 1995.