September 3, 2007
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

In Your House #5
December 17, 1995
Hershey Park Arena
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler
Attendance: 7,289
Buy Rate: .3

Dark Matches

Savio Vega (Juan Rivera) beat Bob Backlund
Goldust (Dustin Runnells) beat Duke Droese (Mike Droese)
Smokin’ Gunns, Hakushi and Barry Horowitz defeated the Body Donnas, Yokozuna and Isaac Yankem

Actual Show

1) Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) & Marty Jannetty (Marty Oaks) defeat 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman) & Sid (Sid Eudy) after Ramon pinned Sid with a second-rope bulldog at 12:20

Fun Fact: As rumor has it, Sid and the Kid were set to win the Tag Titles from the Smokin’ Gunns at the Royal Rumble but Sid up and left without notice a couple of weeks after this show. The match was announced in WWF Magazine. Sid would be back, but disappears early in the New Year.

Scott: This was the next step in the Ramon/Kid feud, with two different wrestlers with two different problems. Jannetty continues to be a useless mid-card flunky, floating around from match to match. He teams with the still popular Razor to beat Kid and another flunky, Sid. Yes, Sid is officially a flunky. I like Sid, I always liked Sid, and he’s probably one of my favorite guys of all time. But 1995 is not a year he should be proud of. He constantly looked bored, probably knowing he was just a foil for Diesel. He was going through the motions, obviously missing softball. Here he loses again, then vanishes for about 7 months before having a better 1996 and early-1997. The key point here is the presence of Goldust at ringside, holding an invitation for The Bad Guy. It would be a feud that would hit a big moment next month. This match was solid, not out of the ordinary for two guys who could bring it (Kid, Razor), one guy who still sort of could bring it (Jannetty) and one who never remembers to bring it (Sid). Grade: 3

Justin: A fun little match in the continuing Ramon/Kid feud. Jannetty was thrown on Ramon’s team because they were supposedly “good friends,” I guess they did team at Survivor Series 1993…but that is stretching it. Kid and Jannetty are former Tag Team Champions, of course, so there is some nice continuity there. Sid is really lazy and useless at this point as he just wants to get the fuck out of town. Honestly, I can’t believe he stuck around this long. I guess being stuck in a tag team was the last straw for him. As Scott said, the big point here is Goldust sitting ringside admiring Ramon. This is when Goldust was outwardly making passes at the Bad Guy and Ramon freaked out. That is a very fine line, and they walked it very well until GLAAD got involved and the character would be altered. Good stuff while it lasted though. Sid eats the pin in his last PPV match for the next 7 months. Grade: 2.5

2) Ahmed Johnson (Tony Norris) defeats Buddy Landel (William Ansor) with the Pearl River Plunge at :41

Fun Fact: Ok, here is the real story for this match. Jarrett returned before the match and discusses his “With My Baby Tonight” Gold Record with Jerry Lawler and stays ringside during it. He was never scheduled to wrestle. The match was supposed to be Dean Douglas vs. Ahmed Johnson and before the match; Bob Backlund came out and introduced Douglas in his own unique verbose way. However, Douglas was injured in real life, so he claims that he had his “prized student” Buddy Landel ready to take his place. The whole Landel thing was a little inside joke about Douglas’ real life hatred for Ric Flair, as Landel was known on the Indy Circuit as the “Nature Boy.” Also, Landel comes out with a Flair-esque robe and even has Flair’s old WWF Entrance theme playing him to the ring. After the match, Jarrett attacks Ahmed for no reason but it sets up their Royal Rumble match. Douglas would be gone from the Federation after this match and back in ECW by early 1996. His WWF PPV record was 1-2.

Fun Fact II: A little more background on the “faux Nature Boy.” Buddy Landel has been floating around from promotion to promotion since debuting against “Cowboy” Bob Orton in 1979. Among the federations he’s been in are WWC, NWA Mid-American (TN), Mid-South, NWA Georgia, Continental, USWA, Smoky Mountain, IWA, and IPWA and those were only the promotions he won titles in! He also dabbled in AWA and WCW. Thanks to obsessedwithwrestling.com for that info. He would wrestle a couple of RAW matches then leave. He’d return to the WWF in 1999 and lose to the Godfather in a dark match. After losing to HHH on TV, he’d leave the WWF again. He retired from active competition in 2001. His final WWF PPV record is 0-1.

Fun Fact III: Before the segment got going with Jerry Lawler, the ring announcer just announced Buddy Landel’s name out of nowhere as Buddy Rydell. The crowd was silent not knowing who the hell it was. Lawler came into the ring to start the segment and end the awkward live moment.

Scott: This was a complete joke. Jeff Jarrett makes his comeback after being off since losing the IC Title to Shawn Michaels in July. He comes back, and then says he’s not ready to wrestle. So instead, out comes “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel, man of a thousand promotions. Well the new superstar from Pearl River, Mississippi makes quick work of him. Then, with the help of Jerry Lawler, Jarrett hits Ahmed over the head with a framed gold record, gets some shots in and leaves, setting up a match at Royal Rumble. Ahmed is just reaching his stride as a face, and is very over with the crowd. He would be rewarded for that in 1996. As for Landel, wrestling’s resident gypsy he would be gone as soon as he arrived. Grade: .5

Justin: A quick squash for Ahmed and is mainly used to set up his feud with Jarrett. This whole set-up was quite the mess, and I’m not sure what they would have had planned if Douglas wasn’t injured. I’m assuming it would have been more competitive but Ahmed would have prevailed, as he was set for a good push. Jarrett returns here but his second WWF run would be short lived. It was nice seeing Mr. Backlund pop in again, as he is always good for a chuckle. Douglas goes out with a whimper, as his big WWF run never really got on tract. Buddy Landel makes it to the big stage, but unfortunately he wouldn’t stick around either. Ahmed gets the decisive win and rolls on. Grade: .5

3) Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (Paul Levesque) defeats Henry Godwinn (Mark Canterbury) in a Hog Pen Match when he backdrops Godwin into the pen at 9:32

Fun Fact: Hillbilly Jim is the guest referee for this match and would end up staying around as Godwinn’s manager. He would keep that role for the next year and a half.

Scott: This was a fascinating match to watch for a couple of reasons: It’s not often the WWF uses other areas of the arena for a match, and second, we thought Triple H had a bad 1996 after the infamous “Curtain Call”, but really it was in this stretch that things weren’t great. Even though he won the match, it was Godwinn who slopped the Greenwich Blueblood in the end. Triple H’s 1996 would actually turn out to be much better than anyone thought. Sure, he’d lose a couple of matches here and there, but he’d win some gold by the fall. Not bad for being punished. We’ll get more into the “Curtain Call” in future reviews. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Pretty good gimmick match here with some stiff action. Helmsley’s back gets busted open, which is pretty nasty considering he ends up rolling in pig slop after the match. Talk about infection city. Scott is absolutely right about the Triple H punishment. Everyone always thinks he got stuck in this feud/match because of the Curtain Call, but that did not happen until 6 months later. He wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire before that anyway. I guess the point would be that he was SET for a push and that was set back, not that he was in the midst of one. Anyway, we will save that story for June, when it plays a major role in the future of the company. Grade: 2.5

4) Owen Hart defeats Diesel (Kevin Nash) by disqualification at 4:34

Fun Fact: Diesel wanted to take out Owen because Owen put Shawn Michaels on the shelf with his Enzuigiri in November. The night after losing the title at Survivor Series, Diesel dropped the Mr. Nice Guy act and began playing the tweener role. He ripped on Vince and told him he was tired of kissing babies and being the corporate champion. Basically, he became a face with attitude and began to resemble the Diesel of 1994 that became an underground favorite.

Scott: Now, why couldn’t Diesel have wrestled like this the rest of the year? Once he lost the WWF Title to Bret Hart last month at Survivor Series, he got nasty and mean. He should have stayed that way his whole time in the WWF! Instead, Vince made him into a geek, some milk-toasty sloth who, by the way, was WWF Champion main-eventing PPVs, and poorly we might add. Here, he slaps around Owen Hart for 4 minutes, then throws the ref across the ring, and get’s DQ’d. It was a nice, short match that doesn’t expose Diesel’s weaknesses as a wrestler. Unfortunately, due to his horrendous run as WWF Champion, we’ve seen all Diesel’s weaknesses. Big Daddy Cool (since he’s not champ anymore, I won’t call him cruel), is on borrowed time, but he would be more entertaining in this run than he was in the previous year. Owen is going through the motions right now, awaiting his next objective. He would have a very uninteresting 1996, and a much better 1997, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Grade: 2

Justin: A quick match that is used to establish Diesel’s new mean streak, which is something that was sorely needed earlier in the year. He was still bitter over his title loss and was pissed at Owen for taking Shawn out on Raw. Man, Vince totally missed the boast on Diesel. The reason he was so over in 1994 was because of his attitude and cockiness. When he won the title, Vince tried to make him into the next Hogan. I guess Vince just wasn’t ready to have a face champion with attitude yet. Diesel could have easily been Stone Cold 3 years before Stone Cold if he was allowed to. And he would have been much more over if he was allowed to be himself rather than the corporate schmuck they made him. Hell, when Austin refused to do things Vince’s way in 1998, he should have said “look what you did to Diesel, that ain’t happening to me.” Diesel was that bad ass champion that was molded by the office and ruined. Anyway, a quick brawl here, as Owen is still floating around the mid-card and bouncing from feud to feud. Grade: 1.5

*** Ted DiBiase’s Xanta Claus attacks Savio Vega during a segment where Santa and Savio were about to hand out gifts. Xanta would end up being John Rechner, the man who would eventually be Balls Mahoney in ECW. He would wrestle a few time on Superstars, but would be gone as quickly as he came. ***

5) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Mabel (Nelson Frazier) in a casket match when Taker puts Mabel in the casket at 6:10

Scott: What’s the best way to absolutely bury a character? Feed him to the Deadman. Undertaker puts us all out of our misery, and himself for that matter, by finally ridding us of Mabel as a big PPV player. Undertaker’s 1995, even though his W/L record was exceptional, was a complete mess. His opponents were IRS, King Kong Bundy, Kama, and Mabel, among others. You were going to have him job to any of those guys? Except for maybe IRS none of those guys had any credibility. Well as we see at the end of the show, things look up. See ya, Mabel. I know you don’t really leave immediately, but now I don’t have to pay attention to you. Grade: 2

Justin: Scott said it all. Bye-bye Mabel. Undertaker slams the door on Mabel and his ill-advised Main Event push and gains revenge for Mabel breaking his face with his fat back in October. Grade: 1.5

6) Bret Hart defeats British Bulldog to retain WWF World Title with a roll-up at 21:04

Fun Fact: During the match Vince said he was handed a note stating that the Undertaker would face the winner of this match for the title at the Royal Rumble. After the match in the locker room, Gorilla Monsoon confirmed that it will indeed be Bret Hart defending the World Title against Taker. This would piss off Diesel and make him even angrier and out for more revenge.

Scott: Finally, a main event I can take pleasure in reviewing. The Hitman defends the title against his brother-in-law, who he always makes look good in the ring. Plenty of mentions of their other big singles match, Davey Boy’s Intercontinental Title win over Bret at Summerslam in 1992. Here, it is much more brutal. In fact, Bret actually defied an order from backstage not to blade in this match. Well he did, which is why restholds are sometimes an asset. To really get juicing, you get into something that makes you breathe harder and your heart pump faster. The blade job was way over the top and the blood was all over the place, but it made the match exponentially better. Bulldog, who looked sub-standard in his title match with Diesel two months earlier, put on a much better effort. It also helps that he is a much better wrestler than he was in 1992. He would look even better in title matches with Shawn Michaels the following year. Over his career Bulldog was much underrated as a wrestler due to his size, and his matches in this stretch show that. It was a great way to end the year, and another notch on the workrate belt of the Hitman. Grade: 4.5

Justin: An excellent match to end the 1995 PPV year. This match did what no Diesel Title match could do: save an entire PPV card. Things were just so much better with Bret on top, as you could always look forward to an excellent main event if nothing else. These two are always ultra stiff and they do proceed to beat the shit out of each other. Bret’s blade job is pretty nasty, and is accentuated by the light blue mats around ringside. There are some sick shots in this match, including one where Bret whips Bulldog hard into the corner and Bulldog bounces back out and on to his head. They also work in some nasty Piledrivers. I like this match better that their Summerslam one, as it has a little more intensity and the blade job is a great addition. A really good title match, something that was sorely lacking from May-October, helps save this card and gives us hope heading into 1996. This was just a great match that is worth hunting down and is highly recommended. Grade: 4.5

FINAL ANALYSIS

Scott: Well, 1995 is over, and it ends with a decent show, that is carried by a pretty good main event. The undercard was OK, mostly because it finally killed off some characters that needed to go. Vince continues to flesh out the roster for the right mix of quick and strong, face and heel. There would also be some key additions to the roster in 1996, the most important of which is next month at the Royal Rumble (but we’ll save who that is for the next review). As a whole, 1995 was a difficult year to analyze. On the one hand, the main events were mostly awful, and many deserving stars were left off shows (at least on-air, many would reach the dreaded “Coliseum Video Exclusives”), and storylines were kind of stale. On the other hand, Vince really didn’t have the plethora of talent to put on the screen, unlike in 1993 when he did have the plethora of talent, and chose to bury it in favor of an aging Hulk Hogan, and a tool like Lex Luger. 1995 is behind us, and a new year, with new talent, and a new outlook is beginning. Final Grade: C+

Justin: Finally, the year is over. Maybe Undertaker-Mabel should have been the last match, as Taker could have slammed the casket door shut on this year instead of on Mabel (or both, actually). Overall, the year wasn’t actively bad, it was just underwhelming. Vince didn’t have the big name talent, but he did have talent, and a lot of that talent was misused for most of the year. It seemed like every corner he turned, he fucked up another angle or push. Bigelow jobbed to LT and then was buried, he had a loaded KOTR field but had them all get eliminated in the 1st round, Diesel starts the year as a credible badass champion, but gets relegated to a gay-byface champion, Michaels is out for most the year selling all sorts of injuries instead of carrying the upper-mid card, Ramon was stuck in pointless feud after pointless feud after May, Bret was stuck in mid-card hell fighting dentists and pirates, Undertaker was stuck fighting off camera at every PPV and Owen and Yoko were tag champs who never showed up on PPV. Just a year filled with bizarre decisions and booking. As 1996 dawns however, Vince gets control of his company back from the grasp of the Clique and cleans house leading up to Wrestlemania. He brings in a whole new slew of talent, and that talent would help him retake control of the wrestling world. Goodbye 1995, you won’t be missed. Final Grade: C+

MVP: Bret Hart & British Bulldog
Runner Up: Diesel
Non-MVP: Mabel
Runner Up: Buddy Landel

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