In Your House #14: Revenge of the Taker
Date: April 20, 1997
Location: War Memorial Auditorium, Rochester, New York
Commentators: Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler
While the main event picture has picked up a lot, there’s still a lot of trouble for the company as a whole. WCW is absolutely destroying them in business and the WWF is just trying to hang on at this point. Undertaker as champion is a new idea, but the real strength of the company will come through the Border War storyline of Canada vs. the USA. Let’s get to it.
The opening video focuses on exactly what you would expect it to: the Undertaker coming for revenge on Mankind.
Tag Titles: Owen Hart/British Bulldog vs. Legion of Doom
The Legion of Doom were the most dominant tag team in wrestling in the 80s but have been in WCW for years. They’re now back to try for one more run at glory. The champions come out to the Hart Foundation song which is Bret’s old theme music. Also Bulldog is the first ever European Champion, having won the title in Germany by beating Owen in a tournament final. Animal (partner of Hawk) starts by pounding Owen into the corner and runs over him with a flying tackle. Owen tries to run Animal over but literally bounces off of him.
Instead it’s off to the Bulldog but the LOD are even stronger than he is, with Hawk getting two off a clothesline. Bulldog gets pounded in the corner but comes back with a great looking delayed vertical suplex on the huge Hawk. Off to Owen with a top rope forearm to Hawk’s head but Hawk easily breaks up a Sharpshooter attempt and clotheslines Hart down. Back to Animal for a powerslam and we hit the chinlock. We go to a split screen to see Steve Austin arriving late.
Animal gorilla presses Owen down and it’s back to Hawk for a mostly missed top rope splash which gets two. Owen whips Hawk chest first into the buckle and they ram heads to put both guys down. Hart scores with the enziguri and it’s back to Bulldog for some stomping. Hawk fights out of a chinlock but gets taken down by a knee to the ribs. Owen comes back in with a sleeper as JR and Lawler get into a big argument over whether Oklahoma (JR’s home state) is part of the civilized world or not. Hawk rams the champions into each other and lifts Davey up to Animal for a second rope powerslam for the pin and the titles out of nowhere.
Rating: D+. Not much to see here but the fans popped big for their childhood heroes getting another run at glory. Bulldog and Owen were an awesome team and did a great job of holding the titles until another team could eventually take them away. I’m surprised it didn’t end with the LOD’s signature Doomsday Device though. Anyway, nice surprise finish.
Actually never mind as another referee comes out and says Animal pinned the illegal man, so the fall doesn’t count and the match continues. Owen and Bulldog try to walk out on the match but are told if they leave they also lose the titles. That’s enough to get them back in and Owen takes Animal down with a quick spinwheel kick.
Owen gets two off a neckbreaker and legdrop before it’s back to Bulldog for some stomping. That only lasts a few seconds as it’s already back to Hart who misses a top rope splash. Hawk gets the tag and cleans house as everything breaks down. Animal puts Owen on his shoulders for Hawk’s clothesline (the Doomsday Device) but Bret runs in for the quick DQ.
Rating: D. That’s for the whole thing. The second part didn’t add anything to the match other than screwing the fans over yet again. You know, in case getting on their nerves wasn’t enough the first time. The match was nothing special overall as we got the idea the first time around.
Owen and Bulldog say that was all skill with no luck. They’re upset that Austin is here.
Intercontinental Title: Savio Vega vs. Rocky Maivia
Savio is now in all black instead of his old red attire and has almost the entire Nation with him here. Rocky is still champion and defended the title at Wrestlemania but lost to Savio via some cheating on Raw. Savio tries to jump the champion as he gets in the ring and the fight is on quickly. Maivia grabs an armbar as Faarooq comes out with his arm in a sling to do commentary. Vega fights out of the armbar and snaps Rocky’s throat over the top rope to take over.
We hit a quick nerve hold as Faarooq issues a challenge for Ahmed Johnson to run the Nation gauntlet. If Johnson can beat all three of them, the Nation will be abolished. A small package gets Rocky nowhere so it’s back to the nerve hold. We’re almost five minutes into this match and almost nothing has happened. Rocky gets a quick fisherman’s suplex but Crush distracts the referee to prevent a count. They finally get back up so Maivia can hit his floatover DDT for a delayed near fall.
A rollup out of the corner gets the same for Vega but the kickout sends him shoulder first into the post. Rocky gets two off a belly to back suplex and the move that would become known as the Rock Bottom gets the same. Vega sends Rocky through the ropes and out to the floor where Crush lays him out with a heart punch, drawing a countout.
Rating: D. Other than seeing the beta version of the Rock Bottom there was nothing here. The main reason this match existed was to let Faarooq issue his challenge because the wrestlers clearly weren’t putting in a ton of effort out there. The match wasn’t even nine minutes long and about half of that was spent in rest holds.
Savio is mad at Crush for costing him a chance to win the title, but Faarooq tells them to beat up Rocky instead. Ahmed Johnson runs in with a 2×4 for the save and accepts Faarooq’s challenge.
Sable is proud to have won Miss Slammy. Marc Mero says he’ll be back from his knee injury sometime this summer. As they’re talking, Austin is seen going into the men’s room when a commotion is hurt. Davey Boy and Owen leave the same room with Davey holding a board. Earl Hebner says Austin has been attacked.
Jesse James vs. Rockabilly
Oh let’s get this over with. Jesse James is the returning Roadie, who was revealed as being the voice that Jeff Jarrett was lip synching to. The debuting Rockabilly is Billy Gunn, but now as a dancer under Honky Tonk Man’s tutelage, following months of Honky looking for his new protege. It’s even more confusing since Billy punched Honky two weeks ago. Billy kicks away at Jesse’s ribs and comes back with a dropkick, sending Billy to the floor. A clothesline off the apron takes Billy down and Jesse says he’s coming for Honky next.
Back in and Billy scores with a dropkick of his own before posing a bit. The match slows down a lot as Billy is more interested in dancing than going for a win. Now it’s off to a chinlock before Billy rakes the eyes to slow James down. A corner splash misses and Billy hits the post and eventually James gets up to pounds away in the corner. Billy sends him to the floor before bringing it back inside for more dancing. As usual this goes badly as his suplex is countered into a small package by Jesse for a fast pin.
Rating: D. Egads this show has been horrible so far. This is another feud that went on for months with no one caring, though in this case there would be something good to come out of it. We’ll get to that later, but for now there was nothing to see here and no one was interested in these two at this point.
Austin says he’ll fight tonight. President Gorilla Monsoon puts Bret vs. Austin on last to give Austin time to recover.
The Hart Foundation (Just Bret, Owen and Bulldog at the moment) say Austin started it and they were just defending themselves.
We get a really creepy video for both main events rolled into one which is supposed to be like looking into the mind of a crazy person. To be fair I don’t think it’s that far off actually.
WWF World Title: Mankind vs. Undertaker
I think we’ve covered the backstory for this one enough already. For perhaps the only time in his career, Undertaker charges from the floor into the ring and the fight is on. Undertaker has a bandage on his head from where Mankind burned him recently. They slug it out to start and a running right hand to the head puts Undertaker down. The Cactus Clothesline puts both guys on the floor but Undertaker of course lands on his feet. A HARD whip sends Mankind into the barricade and a standing chokeslam does it again.
The third whip sends Mankind into the crowd and the Undertaker is in full control. Mankind is whipped into the barricade yet again as we head back to ringside. Back into the ring with Undertaker still pounding away and driving him down with shoulder blocks. Undertaker lets go of the hand on Old School so it’s a diving clothesline instead of a forearm to the back. Paul Bearer gets on the apron to prevent the tombstone and a quick shot with the urn gets two for Mankind.
The champion gets pounded down in the corner and a running knee to the head puts him down again. We hit the nerve hold on Undertaker before Mankind turns it into a reverse chinlock. The much stronger Undertaker is able to turn around though and fire off right hands to the ribs to escape. A very hard shot sends Mankind out to the floor and Undertaker sends him face first into the steps. Mankind comes back with a pitcher of water and shatters it over the champion’s face to put him back down. A chair to Undertaker’s head still doesn’t draw a DQ and JR demands to know why. Good question actually.
Mankind drops an elbow from the middle rope to the floor in one of his signature spots. The bandage is ripped off of Undertaker’s head and the injury is just ugly looking. Undertaker finally gets back inside where a pulling piledriver gets two for the challenger. The same move gets no cover but Mankind does screech a lot. Undertaker staggers around for a bit before hitting a jumping clothesline out of nowhere. The referee is knocked down and Mankind gets the Mandible Claw to knock Undertaker out cold.
Another referee comes in and gets the Claw as well for reasons of Mankind is insane. Bearer throws in a chair but Mankind wants the steps. In perhaps the only time in his career, Undertaker dropkicks the steps into Mankind’s face, and now it’s time to fight. A BIG chair shot to the head knocks Mankind silly and Undertaker throws him into the ropes to tie Mankind up by the neck.
The champion rips Mankind’s mask off and smashes the steps into Mankind, knocking him off the apron and head first through the table in a scary looking crash. Back inside and a chokeslam only gets two, shocking the crowd. Taker isn’t playing anymore though and it’s a tombstone to retain the title.
Rating: B-. This got really good once they stopped the pretense of a wrestling match and started fighting. A ticked off Undertaker is just fun to watch and this was no exception, especially when you had a human pinball like Mankind to bounce all over the place like he did. The match wasn’t particularly good, but it was fun which is what this show desperately needed.
Post match Undertaker goes after Bearer but has to fight off Mankind. Undertaker kicks something out of Mankind’s hands and kicks Mankind to the floor. Mankind dropped a lighter and flash paper, so Undertaker lights it up in Bearer’s face to burn him like Mankind burned Undertaker.
Side note: on the home video version of this show, there’s an ad here which shows the main event of next month’s show, which is Undertaker defending against the winner of Bret vs. Austin. Nice job guys.
The Hart Foundation says they’re in a nice war here and if Bret has to beat Austin a third time, so be it.
Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart
Winner gets Undertaker next month. Hart tries to have Owen and Bulldog accompany him but they’re stopped by referees because this is one on one. Naturally the fight is on as soon as the bell rings with Austin getting the better of it. They head to the outside with Bret being sent into the steps as it’s all Austin so far. Another whip into the steps has Bret writhing in pain before they head into an empty space next to the crowd. Back in and Austin shoves him to the mat for two, sending Bret running to the floor.
Austin trips chasing after Hart, allowing Bret to slide a chair into the ring. Steve knocks it out of his hands though and picks it up himself, only to have Bret dropkick Austin in the back, knocking the referee down in the process. Bret goes after Austin’s bad knee with the chair, despite the fact that WWF President Gorilla Monsoon is at ringside. Bret helps the referee up after the damage has been done before going after the leg even more.
Hart slams the leg into the apron but Austin kicks away from out of the corner, using the ropes to hold himself up. Bret lures him into the middle of the ring though and puts a Figure Four on around the post. Three straight chair shots to the knee have Austin in agony but he gets a rush of adrenaline to fire off elbows to Bret’s back. A single kick to the knee puts Austin right back down though and it’s off to a basic leg lock. Bret takes Austin’s knee brace off and cannonballs down onto the leg again.
Austin rolls out to the floor but Bret takes the opportunity to send the knee into the steps. Back in and Austin scores with a quick low blow before choking away on the mat. A middle rope elbow misses and Austin bangs the knee again to stop another comeback bid. Bret suplexes him down and puts on a Figure Four to keep the pressure on the leg. Austin eventually rolls over to break the hold but stops to yell at the referee for some reason, allowing Bret to kick the knee out again.
Bret tries the Figure Four around the post again but settles for just ramming Austin’s ribs into the barricade. Austin backdrops a charging Canadian into the crowd and slugs away before dropping Bret chest first onto the steel. Back in and Bret is sent chest first into the buckle before Austin just rains down right hands. Austin tries a piledriver but the knee buckles, preventing any pain to Hart. A whip across the ring sends Austin down again as the knee gives out one more time.
They head to the corner and Austin is able to drop Bret face first onto the buckle for two. The Stunner is blocked so Austin just pounds away on Bret’s back. Bret pays back Austin with a low blow of his own before sending both guys crashing down off a superplex. Hart loads up the Sharpshooter but Austin grabs his knee brace and blasts Bret in the head. Now it’s Austin putting the Sharpshooter on Bret but here are Owen and Bulldog to interfere. They’re ejected pretty quickly and Austin puts the Sharpshooter on again. Owen and Bulldog come in again and blast Austin with the brace, finally drawing a DQ.
Rating: B-. I liked the match but Austin’s selling wasn’t exactly great. He would just pop up after a long beating and be fine before a single shot took him down again. The ending didn’t quite work either as we get a DQ after all the chair shots and knee brace shots. Austin winning via a rollup or something like that would have been fine here as he never actually pinned Bret if I remember correctly.
Post match Bulldog and Owen are sent out again and Austin beats on Bret’s knee with a chair. The Sharpshooter goes on for the third time but Bulldog and Owen are held back. Austin is finally pulled off and Bret is helped to the back to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. As has been the case several times in this series, yeah the majority of the matches were horrible, but when two great matches take up half the show, how can the show not be called good? You can see the seeds being planted of feuds that are going to help bring the company back to life, but they would take time to grow. Good show here but it’s still not the great one the company needs.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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