April 24, 2010
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

In Your House: Revenge of the Taker
April 20, 1997
Memorial Auditorium
Rochester, New York
Attendance: 6,477
Buy Rate: .5
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

FREE FOR ALL:
The Sultan (Solofa Fatu) defeated Flash Funk (Charles Skaggs) with a Powerbomb at 2:55

Actual Show

1) The Legion of Doom defeat British Bulldog (David Smith) & Owen Hart by disqualification at 12:15; Bulldog and Owen retain WWF Tag Team Titles

Fun Fact: A few weeks before Wrestlemania, Bulldog and Owen had met in the finals of the tournament to decide the first ever European Champion. Bulldog won that match and laid some seeds of jealousy in Owen, upset that he couldn’t beat his partner. On Raw the night after Wrestlemania, Bulldog and Owen defended their tag team titles against the Headbangers, who had earned the shot the night before. During the match, Bulldog and Owen started fighting and it decided that they would finally have a big one on one match the next week, and it seemed like the most dominant tag team of the past 7 months was about to split up. Just as their match was about to stop, Bret ran out and started yelling at them for fighting and claiming that the WWF officials had always tried to drive a wedge in between their family. Bret brought Owen to tears and by the end of the excellent promo the three men hugged, officially reuniting the Hart Foundation and igniting the resurgence of the WWF.

Fun Fact II: This is the Legion of Doom’s first WWF Tag Title shot on PPV since beating the Nasty Boys at Summerslam 1991.

Scott: With the re-uniting of the Hart Foundation, Bulldog & Owen come out to Bret’s music, which was kind of cool. It was nice to see the Road Warriors back in the WWF, challenging for the titles. However, it is clear this isn’t the same team that dominated the tag ranks in the 1980s and early 1990s. They have definitely reached the twilight of their career, looking for that last brass ring. The match is going fairly well for about 7 minutes as Owen and Bulldog made the LOD look like powerhouses, then Animal hits Bulldog with a Powerslam, and the Road Warriors are tag team champions, right? Oh no, the dreaded Dusty Finish! It’s not even the end of the match yet. Another referee says Animal pinned the wrong Foundation member. The match continues and LOD is about to win again until big brother, Bret Hart, comes in to force the DQ. The first real heel act by Bret since 1988, and boy did it generate real heel heat. The match itself was solid and well-paced, but its evident Calgary’s first family is calling the shots on the booking sheet, but that works for me. Grade: 2.5

Justin: A decent little tag match that was meant to show that the Harts were going to play dirty and do what it took to remain on top of the WWF mountain. Bulldog & Owen had the tag belts; Bulldog had the European belt and soon Owen adds more gold. LOD was placed in a solid position here, as part of the lead group of foils for the Hart Foundation, and they carried their end of the bargain well. It is a weird match, because it lasts 12 minutes, but seems like it never really got going. I am sure we could have lived without the lame Dusty finish, but I think Vince was laying the seeds for the LOD to continually get screwed out of the tag belts for most of the year, leading to their big win on Raw. So, not much here besides a good look at the revamped Bulldog/Owen combo and a nice glimpse of the brand spanking new heel Bret Hart. Grade: 2

*** Sunny and Brian Pillman are pimping the superstar line, looking like they were just getting it on right there on the folding table. ***

2) Savio Vega (Juan Rivera) defeats Rocky Maivia (Dwayne Johnson) by countout at 8:32; Maivia retains WWF Intercontinental Title

Fun Fact: This is Savio Vega’s first ever PPV title shot.

Scott: This “experiment” of making Maivia champ has pretty much run its course. These title matches are a dreadful bore, and listening to Faarooq do unintelligible commentary made it that much worse. There isn’t much more to say here, except Maivia’s unusual I-C title run ends soon when Rocky drops the strap to Owen Hart. Within a few months he rebounds from an injury and changes his attitude, and kick his character into high gear. Vega, well, he’s Savio Vega. After Crush’s heart punch gets Rocky counted out, Savio is pissed because he didn’t win the title. Then Faarooq comes in to restore order to the Nation, and order a beatdown. Ahmed Johnson makes the save for Rocky in the post-match beatdown, but soon he gets a character change like Savio did earlier in the year. Grade: 1.5

Justin: Thankfully the Rock’s run with the I-C strap is about to reach a merciful end, as he would drop the belt to Owen Hart two weeks later on Raw. Rocky just never got his feet under him, and before he knew it he had the I-C belt and a whole lot of the crowd’s resentment. His brief hiatus and attitude change would save his career later this year. It is nice to see Savio get rewarded with an I-C title shot here, but he falls flat, as this match was pretty damn boring and had a very shitty count-out ending. On commentary, Faarooq challenges Ahmed Johnson to a match at the next show, big points for planning ahead, minus big points for setting up another Faarooq/Ahmed match, which would end up taking place at our next event. Not much to see here besides Rocky’s last gasp as an upper-mid-card face. Grade: 1.5

*** In a backstage interview between Dok Hendrix and Marc Mero & Sable, Steve Austin goes into the bathroom. Chaos ensues in the can, and Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart come out of the bathroom, holding a bent piece of steel. They both look into the camera like deer in headlights and then run off. This was absolutely hysterical. ***

3) Jesse Jammes (Brian Armstrong) defeats Rockabilly (Monte Sop) with a Small Package at 6:42

Fun Fact: For months, Honky Tonk Man had been searching for someone he could lead to the I-C Title. Finally, one week he offered the position to Jesse Jammes, claiming he liked his musical talent. Jammes thought about it for a minute, and then destroyed Honky’s precious “Hair-loom” gee-tar. The following week, HTM tried to sign up Billy Gunn, but he too spurned Honky and then punched him in the face. Honky claimed he would bring out his new protégé at this show to gain revenge on Jammes. For weeks leading up to the show, the rumors were that Disco Inferno was going to be Honky’s surprise protégé. Unfortunately, Disco could not get out of his WCW contract, so that plan was scrapped. Vince then was going to bring Brian Christopher in to play the Rockabilly role, but both Christopher and Jerry Lawler, his dad, vetoed the idea, because they knew how lame the gimmick was and didn’t want Christopher’s WWF career ending before it got going. Left with no other ideas, Honky debuted Billy Gunn as Rockabilly and led him right down the shitter. The whole thing was a mess that made no sense, as Gunn had spurned Honky a few weeks prior to the show. Jim Ross kept harping on the point during the match, making it that much worse.

Scott: By the end of the year, these guys would combine to be one of the most popular tag team in WWF history. Don’t get me wrong, I love these guys. Being a loyal DX soldier as I was in the day, they were it for me. I had the Road Dogg T-shirt. That was after this. At this point, they were just two flunky mid-carders. Honky Tonk Man had been on camera for weeks trying to find the next great Intercontinental Champion. It was getting downright annoying. Finally, here HTM announces his find: Rockabilly. Ugh, what a hideous mess. Jammes was floating around in mid-card limbo, as it seemed many did during this time. The match was pretty awful, and at least the storyline ended fairly quickly too. Both would heel out and be a tag team by the fall. In 1998 they would help build the “Attitude Era”, but for now they are two nothing mid-carders. Grade: 1

Justin: The match was doomed from the start, as the whole story was useless and dumb and these two were not able to salvage the match after the initial disappointment of the “surprise.” Then to further defy logic, Rockabilly loses his “debut” match to friggen Jesse Jammes. Man, what a god damn clusterfuck this whole thing was. Grade: 1

4) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Mankind (Mick Foley) to retain WWF World Title with a Tombstone at 17:22

Fun Fact: Literally two minutes into the Raw the night after Wrestlemania, this match was announced as Mankind had become the #1 contender, for what reason we still don’t know. On the 4/7 Raw Mankind had thrown a fireball in Taker’s face to set up this match. He also attempted to light him on fire with a blowtorch the night after this match, but the attempt was not successful.

Scott: This would be the unprecedented fifth match in the continuing saga between the Deadman and his fiercest rival. This time the WWF Title would be on the line and with it many twists. This match was definitely a notch or two below their previous encounters, but still quite entertaining. There were a few good bumps in the match, including one where Taker drills Mankind with the ring steps, and he dumps him right into the Spanish announce table. This is also the first time Mankind’s mask falls off, and we see Mick Foley’s face for the first time. Not that big a deal, but it’s worth noting. In the end, Taker does the typical Chokeslam/Tombstone combo for the win. However, afterwards Mankind fights to put a fireball in Taker’s face for the second time in three weeks. Taker gets hold of the fireball, and hits Paul Bearer straight in the face. This angle of the storyline would lead to Bearer losing the white makeup and the dye job, and also mention Undertaker’s brother for the first time, but more on that throughout the year. For now Taker’s first title defense since getting jobbed by Hulk Hogan at This Tuesday in Texas in 1991 is a success. Taker also takes the lead in the all time PPV series with Mankind 3-2 after losing the first 2. Grade: 3

Justin: A very good and wild brawl that is an often forgotten part of the Undertaker-Mankind canon. These two just loved getting in there and beating the shit out of each other, and they always found ways to make it fun and entertaining. This is the most important match to date for these guys, as it has the most on the line. Mick’s bump through the announce table is just sick, and I still don’t know how he was able to go straight-head first into it. Just amazing. This match also kicked off the mysterious Undertaker’s brother storyline, which would feature many twists and turns en route to October. Finally, this is also Mankind’s last full fledged heel match for exactly one year, as by May’s show he would have the fans in his corner thanks to some very revealing and lauded sit down interviews. Good stuff here, so check it out. Grade: 3

5) Steve Austin (Williams) defeats Bret Hart by disqualification at 21:07

Fun Fact: This match was originally set to be Sid vs. Bret Hart as a chance for Sid to get his revenge for Bret costing him the World Title at Wrestlemania. Sid however, ended up taking some time off due to injury, and Bret needed a replacement opponent. Two weeks before this show on Raw, Sid was supposed to take on Mankind in the Main Event, but “no-showed” the event. Gorilla Monsoon was desperate for a replacement for the Raw Main Event and went to Austin, who had already fought Billy Gunn earlier in the night, to take Sid’s place. Austin refused and basically told him to fuck off because he had already wrestled once. As Monsoon started to walk away, Austin called him back and said he “would save your ass tonight” if he was also able to take Sid’s spot at the PPV. Gorilla obliged and both matches were set.

Fun Fact II: The next night on Raw, one of the best episodes of all time took place as Austin and Bret would have their famed Street Fight in which they completely destroyed each other. Bret needed knee surgery, so during the fight, Austin crushed Bret’s knee repeatedly with a chair and then even locked him in the Sharpshooter for about 2 minutes. Finally, Bret was pried loose and loaded into an ambulance (“WATCH HIS KNEE!”), but take one guess who was in the driver’s seat of the ambulance? Good old Stone Cold, of course. Being the gentleman that he is, Austin dragged Bret out of the ambulance as he was still strapped to the stretcher and beat the crap out of him some more. It wasn’t over yet however, as Bulldog and Owen swore revenge after Bret was taken to the hospital. At the end of the show, Austin was being interviewed by Vince McMahon and was jumped by Bulldog and Owen. After he ran them off, a returning and rejuvenated Brian Pillman jumped out of the crowd and beat the snot out of a fatigued Austin. The show faded out on Pillman being chased off by Shawn Michaels (who saved Austin a couple of times this night) and walking from the ring laughing and he would go on to join the Hart Foundation the next week.

Scott: Just when you thought the two incomparable matches in November and March were enough, the Hitman and the Rattlesnake meet again. This time, however, the line is definitely drawn in the sand. Austin is now a full-fledged….well half-babyface, and Hart the hated Canadian heel. This match was definitely drawn up in a different manner than the other two with lots of nut shots, cheating, and viciousness. Hart attacks Austin’s knee ruthlessly, and Austin gets about 234 punches in. There is no less animosity, tension and downright hatred in this match than in the other two. This match ends in a schmozz, as Austin is about to slap the Sharpshooter on Bret, but Davey Boy and Owen run in, with Bulldog smacking Austin with a chair for the DQ. A brawl breaks out and by the next night on RAW this feud would go into high gear, and be the highlight of WWF TV throughout the summer. From a match perspective, the other two encounters were better, but the tension and psychology here was definitely off the charts. Grade: 4

Justin: This was an excellent match, especially when you take into consideration that it was thrown together at the last minute. I could do without the DQ ending, but it did help set up the following night on Raw, on which Steve was named #1 Contender as well for winning this match, and Bret’s injury angle, so it all worked out in the end. These two always had fun and exciting matches, and this one was no different. It was also neat to see them battle with their roles reversed. Similar to the Mankind/Taker match, this one is often forgotten when you think of the Hart-Austin battles, but it too is an underrated gem on a forgotten show. This feud was the one to finally reignite the WWF and get it back into the fight with WCW. Bret was always a great face, but you knew he had a big heel run in him, and he brings it now that he has the chance. Austin has finally been turned by the fans and, by the late summer, is booked as pretty much a face instead of a tweener. This was really good stuff and is worth a watch if you have 20 minutes to kill. Grade: 4

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Scott: This was not the greatest PPV on earth, but the two main events were certainly worth the IYH money. Taker/Mankind and Austin/Hart are main events anywhere, and they ate up over 40 solid minutes of the show. The undercard was not great, but again Vince is continuing to try and find the right combination of mid-carders to make the shows complete. It seemed many of the mid-card guys were just aimlessly floating around without any real purpose, which is one reason why the ratings and the revenue were dangerously low. The Mankind/Taker, Austin/Harts, and whatever Shawn Michaels is doing takes up a good portion of TV time. Where was HHH at this show? He had started garnering heat since Chyna came along, and now he’s not booked, not involved? True, WCW was pretty much all NWO, but that was still fresh and exciting. At Titan Towers the upper card was tense filled and focused. After that, it was very much disorganized. That would change over the year. This post-Wrestlemania show is average, as it starts weak and ends strong. Final Grade: C

Justin: A decent show that starts with a whimper but ends with a huge bang. The last two matches are excellent and carry this show on its back. It is funny how often this show is forgotten about, probably because it looks like it was taped in a barn, but these two matches are indeed hidden classics. This show was weird, because it featured just two pinfall finishes out of 5 matches, so it isn’t great on a whole, but good enough to check out. Vince was starting to run on all gears, and as Scott said once he got the mid-card straightened out, he would kick into high gear. For now the Harts, Austin, Taker and Shawn would shoulder the load and help put on some down right awesome shows. The WWF was starting to turn the corner and making some positive strides, but still had a long way to go. This was a very transitional show, as usual for April, but is worth the $20 and the 2 hours to watch. Final Grade: C+

MVP: Steve Austin & Bret Hart
Runner Up: Undertaker & Mankind
Non MVP: Legion of Doom
Runner Up: Rocky Maivia

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