April 24, 2010
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
IYH: Good Friends, Better Enemies
April 28, 1996
Omaha Civic Auditorium
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler
Buy Rate: .65
Marc Mero beat the Kid (Sean Waltman) by DQ at 7:17
1) British Bulldog (David Smith) & Owen Hart defeat Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith Jr.) & Ahmed Johnson (Tony Norris) when Bulldog makes Roberts submit with a knee wrench at 13:44
Fun Fact: This match was supposed to be between Bulldog and Roberts, but the match was changed to a tag match as the show began. It is weird that the match wasn’t Ahmed-Bulldog, as they had been feuding heading into the show which was amped up when an arm wrestling match degenerated into a Bulldog beat down.
Scott: Good opener to the first IYH with an actual title. Bulldog & Owen were preparing for a big run later in the year. Ahmed Johnson was reaching his stride as a wrestler, and would soon be rewarded for his fan support in just 2 months. When I first watched this match way back when, I was disgusted at how out of shape and unmotivated the high, drunk Jake Roberts was. Now after watching it a few times since, I have to say Jake was not as bloated as he would be a few years after this. He really added a nostalgic, yet useful leadership for the younger Johnson. He also was helping with the book backstage, and you could tell. The feuds in 1996 were deeper and had solid character development. Not like the shallow, retarded feuds of 1995. The action isn’t bad, and it ends when Bulldog cheats by hitting Jake in the leg with Cornette’s tennis racket. It was left on the outside after Corny “fainted” when seeing Jake’s snake. Johnson isn’t pinned, so he’s not hurt. Bulldog gets the win, and by the end of the show prepares for his next big feud. Grade: 2
Justin: Decent tag match that went a little too long, but with these 2-hour shows Vince had less, but longer matches, which was an interesting and un-Vince like way to go. Ahmed was really over still and Bulldog and Owen had some solid heel heat going, mainly thanks to being members of Camp Cornette. Jake, despite being way past his prime and totally out of shape, was pretty over himself and spent his 1996 run doing the right thing: putting over younger and more important talent. An interesting fact about this time was that Jake was actually helping book for the Federation. And, I would have to say, if he didn’t fall off the wagon and make a mess out of himself again, he would have made a pretty damn good booker. He has always had an awesome grasp on psychology and storytelling, and his influence can be seen in 1996, as the stories got a lot more compelling and interesting as the year went on, partly in thanks to a deeper, fresher roster. This match was a solid opener to get the crowd going with the right team going over, so you can’t complain here. Grade: 2.5
2) Ultimate Warrior (Warrior) defeats Goldust (Dustin Runnels) by countout at 7:34; Goldust retains WWF Intercontinental Title
Fun Fact: Goldust’s bodyguard here is Mike Hallick, who was also known as Mantaur.
Scott: In theory, when you actually watch it, this was never really a match to begin with. Goldust, still Intercontinental Champion, had a knee injury, but Vince wanted to keep the IC title on him and on the card, so he kept him in matches, and here played a cat-and-mouse game with the former 2-time Intercontinental Champion. From smoking Marlena’s cigar, to sitting in her seat and wearing Goldust’s robe, this was a total waste of time. Goldust couldn’t wrestle, so they shouldn’t have booked it. Grade: .5
Justin: This really was a goofy waste of time and I am not sure why they went a comedy route instead of just having Goldust bring out a sub (hell, even let Mantaur fight) so something at least resembling a match could have occurred. Goldust looks extremely disheveled at this show, mainly due to a nagging knee injury. I know the show already had two more intense matches to come, so some comedy was welcome, but not this much. Warrior should have been doing what Jake was doing: helping establish new stars and not beating up young stars and feuding with old veterans in useless feuds. Vince was probably banking on Warrior helping carry the upper card, but realistically he should have had him help build up some new stars before he inevitably walked out on him again. Goldust would have better days ahead so don’t cry for him, but this was a mistake and a clunker. Grade: .5
3) Vader (Leon White) defeats Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) with a Vader Bomb at 14:48
Fun Fact: This was actually somewhat of a surprise, as Ramon’s name hadn’t been mentioned since February. All of a sudden, in an interview with Vader on Raw, Vince blurts out “and your opponent at the next Pay per View is the Bad Guy…Razor Ramon!” Weird Raw moment that led to some excitement among non-internet fans that thought Razor was back for good. Unfortunately, Vince brought him in to job to Vader, which was a pretty smart move to put your new monster heel over an established face.
Fun Fact II: Razor Ramon’s WWF PPV record as of April 1996 was 14-12. He was 1-3 at Rumbles, 3-0 at Wrestlemania, 2-2 at King of the Ring, 2-1 at Summerslam, 2-2 in Survivor Matches and 4-4 at In Your House events. This would be Scott Hall’s final PPV match as Razor Ramon. He wouldn’t be back on WWF TV until February 2002.
Scott: Well at least he went out in a blaze of glory. Razor Ramon wrestles his final WWF match for the next 6 years here and loses to the mastodon. Razor had many ups, and not many downs. He was the first 4-time Intercontinental Champion. To this point his Wrestlemania record is 3-0. He has been on big stages, and has performed at his best on big stages. But at this point in 1996, two things led to his departure. First WCW was interested in him, and at the time they were buying big money guys by the truckload. So Vince, who at the time was not in the best of shape financially, couldn’t afford him. It didn’t matter though, because the other reason he was leaving was because of the drugs and alcohol. Hall was becoming a mess. In the ring you really couldn’t tell, but outside the ring he was becoming a problem. According to legend, the last straw was on a European tour when he took a hot, sweaty dump on a plate and handed it to Sunny. In any case, this was his sendoff. An interesting match because in a case where a departing face would be squashed by a hot new heel, this match was much more competitive than it should have been. In my opinion Razor Ramon was one of the most popular wrestlers of the early 90’s, but his demons would catch up to him. He doesn’t care, because within a few weeks he would be on Nitro to start one of the most revolutionary storylines in wrestling history. Grade: 2
Justin: A very stiff match here for Razor’s swan song which ends with an uncharacteristically, yet expected, clean PPV loss for the Bad Guy. It was a weird position for Hall, because he was self-destructing behind the scenes, but on-air and business wise, he was as hot and coveted as ever. Hall is one of the most historically important figures ever because he helped launch one of the greatest angles of all-time and assisted WCW into the top spot in the wrestling world. Hall’s jump however, could have meant jack shit if he wasn’t the consistently over star that he was. To his credit, he always brought it in the ring and was always over big time with the fans, and his departure was not a good sign for Vince. In the long run, it was good for Vince to clear out the Clique, but in June of 1996 it seemed like the worst move of all time. Vader gets a very good win and continues his climb up the heel ladder. He picks up the victory in a fun match, as the two men smack the shit out of each other. Good bye Razor, see you in 6 years. Grade: 2.5
4) The Bodydonnas defeat the Godwinns to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Zip (Tom Pritchard) pins Henry (Bill Canterbury) with a roll-up at 7:15
Fun Fact: Phineas Godwinn is Dennis Knight, formerly Tex Slazenger in WCW. He debuted on the 1/29 Raw in a tag match against the Bodydonnas.
Scott: After being mostly G-rated for the first 6 months of her time in the WWF, Sunny begins to use her feminine wiles consistently to win matches. She tried to do it at the Royal Rumble against the Smoking Gunns, and since her Bodydonnas won the Tag Titles at Wrestlemania she’s been trying to distract opponents with her “assets.” The biggest sucker was Henry Godwinn’s brother Phineas, and it costs them here. This was a decent tag team match using the simple face/heel formula. Grade: 2
Justin: This match was made during the period when Phineas was obsessed with Sunny, and she would consistently use his innocent crush against him to screw them out of the tag team titles. A decent, yet formulaic tag team match that ends in a solid defense for the Donnas, who were holding down the fort until the Gunns returned. The tag division was in sort of a mess at this point, as the Godwinns, Donnas, New Rockers and Gunns were the only legit teams around, and even at that, the Gunns were injured from January to May, so it was really a three team division for a while. Thankfully by the fall, Vince would get the division going again, but for now, it was quite a mess. The Donnas pick up the win and retain their belts, but their reign wouldn’t last much longer. Sunny is slowly becoming the object of many young men’s desires and her star was quite clearly on the rise, as she was becoming the first true WWF Diva and sex symbol. Grade: 2
5) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) defeats Diesel (Kevin Nash) in a No Disqualification match to retain WWF World Title with a Superkick at 17:51
Fun Fact: The wheels for this match were set in motion in March when Diesel laid Shawn out with a chair after a tag match at an MSG house show on March 17. Then, on the 4/8 Raw, Diesel was doing commentary for Shawn’s match against Jerry Lawler. After the match Shawn called Diesel into the ring for a fight, and eventually Diesel laid him out with the title belt. During the WWF’s tour of Germany a couple of weeks before the PPV Diesel started throwing barbs at Vince McMahon, hinting that he was starting to really rebel against the company.
Fun Fact II: Diesel’s final PPV Record is 7-11-1. He was 0-2-1 at the Rumble, 1-1 at Wrestlemania, 2-0 at King of the Ring, 1-1 at Summerslam, 0-3 at Survivor Series and 3-4 at In Your House events. This would be Kevin Nash’s final PPV match as Diesel. He, like Scott Hall will not be on WWF TV again until February 2002.
Scott: From the pre-match interview to the final bell, this was one of the most entertaining matches of the entire year. Where was this Diesel in 1995? His interview was hysterical, saying “Are we really live? I can say whatever I want?” He was also threatening Vince. It was the first, but certainly not the last anyone ever did that. The match itself was excellent, with Diesel playing the nasty heel, including the infamous pulling-off of Mad Dog Vachon’s fake leg. He also Jackknifes Michaels onto Vince and Lawler’s announce table. It was a big deal as the announcing stopped and the crowd was stunned. HBK took everything Diesel had to offer, from chair shots to being choked out with the referee’s belt. This is Diesel’s swan song, and I have mixed feelings. Diesel made his debut in 1993, and for the next 3 years would have many ups and definitely many downs in his tenure. He would win all 3 championships in the WWF, including the World Title in November 1994. That’s where it would go downhill. 1995 would be bad main event after bad main event. He would wrestle a good match with Bret Hart at the Royal Rumble, and Michaels at Wrestlemania XI. However from that point forward, he would wrestle 6 horrendous main events in a row, including 3 with Sid. Thus, my affectionate nickname of Big Daddy Cruel, because it was cruel punishment to watch him. Obviously, 2 clique members would make this a great match, but after this show the clique is gone. Hall and Nash and 1-2-3 Kid leave, leaving Shawn and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley. Obviously Hunter wasn’t event close to main event status. So yes, Shawn Michaels has to actually play with other kids on the playground. Does he? Wait until the next few shows, and you’ll get your answer. His next opponent would be revealed at the end of this show. British Bulldog runs backstage enraged, saying he is looking for Shawn Michaels. Great continuity, as they would start a trend of setting up the next PPV at the current PPV. This was a great main event and a nice farewell for Big Daddy Cool. Grade: 4.5
Justin: Man, after a shitty 1995, Diesel picked up the pace and brought it in 1996. He had a solid four month run, establishing himself as a nasty heel who would do anything he could to win back his title. I really wish he could have had this mean streak and set of opponents in 1995, because that could have been a much better year. This is an incredible match and a vicious, violent brawl with some innovative spots such as ripping off Mad Dog’s leg and Diesel Powerbombing Shawn through the table. Another great spot is Diesel’s flat out nasty clothesline on Shawn after catching his foot on the Superkick attempt. Shawn was starting to show the in-ring brilliance that his Championship run would bring with it. Shawn may be a baby outside (and sometimes inside) the ring as the year moves along, but a big part of that was his dedication inside the ring and his overall perfectionist personality, but we will look at that more as we move on in 1996. Nash gives a very memorable performance in last WWF match for 6 years and kicks off Michaels’ title reign in an awesome manner. Grade: 4.5
Scott: This was a post-Wrestlemania show with ups and downs. Once again the Clique would leave their final mark, with an undercard that had a couple of decent matches and a couple of boring dogs. If the main event wasn’t so good, along with Razor’s gutsy attempt to upset Vader, this show may get 1995 KOTR-type love. It’s the continuing process of Vinnie Mac fleshing out the midcard, and the roster in general, to get rid of anything and anybody that reminds him of 1995. He would also get some new guys, looking to change the product, and the attitude. Now, it’s his World Champion that will start giving him headaches. Final Grade: C-
Justin: An OK show that is totally carried by an awesome main event and a solid Vader-Ramon match. This is the last PPV that featured a lot of the old guard (Kid, Diesel, Razor), and the new era is officially ushered in over the next few shows. Nash and Hall go out on a good note and would make huge headlines a month later with their Curtain Call at MSG and their debuts on Nitro. This was a very exciting time to watch wrestling, as the winds of change were blowing and the stench of 1995 was finally squashed. This show wasn’t great, but it was memorable, and I think the Main Event is so good that it carries this to a decent grade. Final Grade: C-
MVP: Shawn Michaels/Diesel
Runner-Up: Razor Ramon
Runner Up: Undertaker