June 19, 2010
In Your House Final Four, February 16, 1997, UTC Arena, Chattanooga, TN
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
With Fatal Four Way coming up next on the PPV calendar, Iím going back to the first time that a four way match headlined a WWF PPV. Back at Royal Rumble, Steve Austin was eliminated without the referees seeing it. He got back in and threw out Vader, Undertaker, and Bret Hart and was then declared the winner. President Gorilla Monsoon declared that while he could not change the decision, he could strip Austin of the Wrestlemania Title shot. That shot was to go on the line here tonight between Austin and the three guys he illegally eliminated. Of course things ended up changing pretty drastically in the week leading up to this show, but weíll cover those changes in a bit. For now itís on with the show.
Opening Match: Leif Cassidy vs. Wildman Marc Mero (w/Sable)
They start by trading slaps and then Mero gets him with an armdrag. Mero keeps taking him down while JR talks about Mero getting more aggressive lately. Cassidy bails and drags Mero down with him. He goes to post the leg, but Sable stops that with a kick. The distraction allows Mero to get him with a double ax from the apron. He rolls Cassidy in and hits a slingshot legdrop for 2. Meroís corner whip is reversed and Cassidy follows up with a dropkick to the knee. And thatís what he targets now for quite awhile. He works a legbar and thereís not much exciting happening. Mero isnít even teasing a comeback or anything, heís just taking the punishment. He finally starts firing back and hits an ensiguiri to setup a rollup for 2, but Cassidy gets right back on him, this time hooking a figure four. Mero makes the ropes with the help of Sable pushing them towards him. Cassidy goes out to confront her so she slaps him. He grabs her by the arm, but that sets up a suicide dive from Mero. Back in, Mero face plants him a couple of times, then hits a Samoan drop and finishes him with the Wild Thing at 9:30. This started and ended fine, but the middle part with Cassidy working over the knee for an extended period was pretty boring and drags it down. The rumour at the time was that Mero was moving towards a heel turn and a feud with Rocky Maivia over the IC Title, but an injury suffered very shortly after this derailed those plans and he was never the same again. *1/2
Next we go in to a recap of the WWF Title situation from Thursday Raw Thursday. Champion Shawn Michaels, probably my most hated wrestler at this point by the way, decided out of the blue that he was suffering from a possibly career ending knee injury as well as a painkiller addiction. So only one month after regaining the Title in his hometown, he was leaving it behind to go and find his smile. The rumours say that he was supposed to drop the Title to Sid and then return the job from the year before to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 and was not looking to be back in the Title hunt anytime soon, so he took a walk. I donít know whatís true and whatís not, but two facts are that the WWF certainly didnít fall off a cliff without him, and he was back in the ring as good he was before only three months later. Anyways, Gorilla Monsoon announced that instead of being for a shot at the WWF Title, the Final Four match would now be for the vacant Title. Sycho Sid was supposed to challenge (and defeat according to the rumours) Shawn on the Thursday Raw show, so he will now get his shot tomorrow night on Raw. He cuts a promo here basically saying that whoever ends up as the winner tonight will end up as a loser tomorrow.
Flash Funk (w/The Funkettes), Bart Gunn, & Goldust (w/Marlena) vs. Faarooq, Crush, & Savio Vega (w/The Nation of Domination)
Savio had just recently turned heel and joined The Nation so this version of the unit was now complete and this is pretty much just a match to establish and put them over as a group leading into their match at Wrestlemania. Faarooq wants to cut a promo but the mic isnít working so the faces attack and itís on with a six way brawl. The Nation bails only to have Funk hit a dive on them all. Faarooq gets in and still gets the advantage on Goldust, but puts his head down and gets planted. Tag to Funk who then gets caught on a leapfrog and hits with a spinebuster. Tag to Savio whose corner whip is reversed and he gets hit with a clothesline. Funk puts him on top and nails a rana for 2. Savio bails to regroup so Gunn comes in for a spot where he backdrops Funk onto them, but it backfires as heís caught on beaten down on the floor. In the ring Savio gets him with a backdrop and then tags Crush who nails a belly to belly suplex for 2. Tag to Faarooq who beats Funk down both physically and verbally, but ends up getting crotched on Funkís knees. Tag to Savio who cuts Funk off again and then draws the partners in so he and Crush can hit a spike piledriver for 2. Tag to Faarooq and he and Savio go for a double clothesline, but Funk does this cool tilt-a-whirl avoidance of it and clotheslines both of them. Tag to Gunn, whoís in with clotheslines for all. He hits a powerslam on Faarooq for 2 before it breaks down into another six way. Faarooq sets up the Dominator, but Gunn slips out and goes up, and then hits a top rope bulldog. He covers but the ref is distracted, so Crush drops a leg on him and puts Faarooq on top. The ref turns around and counts 3 to give the Nation the win at 6:42. It was short and energetic and served its purpose as an establishing win for the new group so I have no problems with it. *1/2
Intercontinental Championship Match: Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Originally this was going to be HHH defending against Ahmed Johnson, but Rocky won the Title from HHH on Thursday Raw Thursday in a bit of a surprise, so HHH gets the rematch here instead. The Title win was the beginning of the fan backlash against Rocky as people turned on the fact that they were pushing him down our throats far too quickly. This is also the first step of a rivalry between these two that would last on and off for the next four years or so, so itís got that degree of importance. They start out trading holds with no one really gaining any advantage. HHH backs off after a slugfest, but ends up catching Rocky with a knee. Corner whip is reversed and Rocky nails a backdrop, followed by an armdrag. He comes off with a shoulderblock, but then comes off again and HHH uses the momentum to toss him to the floor. Baseball slide follows as does a slam on the floor. He then sets Rocky on the apron and drops an elbow. Back in he nails a suplex and a kneedrop for 2. He hooks a rear chinlock, putting his feet on the ropes in the process until the ref catches him and breaks it. Rocky gets sent off the ropes and ducks once, but on the rebound he gets nailed with a high knee for 2. HHH is slow to follow up, so Rocky catches him with an inside cradle (the same move he won the Title with on Thursday), but this time HHH kicks out at 2. Now HHH is on him immediately with stomps and a backbreaker for 2. Rocky escapes another rear chinlock and comes off with a bodypress for 2. Dropkick misses though and HHH regains control. A corner whip is reversed and HHHís attempt at a boot is caught, but HHH just gets him with a clothesline. HHH goes up, but gets nailed coming down, and then Rocky follows with an inverted atomic drop and a powerslam. He goes up now and hits a bodypress for 2. He then mounts HHH in the corner for punches, but HHH steps out and drops him with a stungun for 2. Irish whip sees Rock come off and nail the floatover DDT for 2, but HHH goes to the eyes to put him down again. He follows with a facebuster and neckbreaker, but now Goldust, who is still in the midst of a feud with HHH wanders out. He provides the distraction and that allows Rocky to come from behind and nail a German suplex for the 3 count to retain at 12:30. This was a pretty good match although obviously not to the level they would eventually hit once they gained more experience and became main eventers. But youíve gotta start somewhere. ** The post match angle sees Goldust joined at ringside by Marlena and a confrontation is teased between Goldust and HHH, but all of a sudden a large woman reaches over the barrier and tries to choke Marlena out. Sheís eventually dragged off by security and Goldust has to carry Marlena to the back. This of course, was the debut of the woman who went on to be known as Chyna and she would soon join up with HHH as his new bodyguard.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Owen Hart & The British Bulldog (w/Clarence Mason) vs. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon
Owen and The Bulldog had been the champs for awhile now, but were showing dissention as Owen initially supported Steve Austin in his feud against Bret Hart while Bulldog took a stand against Austin. It would culminate with a one week breakup following Wrestlemania before Bret got the whole family on the same page and united against Austin leading to some of the best stuff in the history of Raw. Owen and Furnas start off trading holds with Owen then getting hiptossed and hooked in an armbar. Tag to LaFon who gets monkeyflipped for 2, but then rolls over and gets a 2 of his own. LaFon takes hi down to a leglock, but Owen makes the ropes. Tag to Bulldog, who gets rolled up for 2. Suplex is avoided and Bulldog comes off the ropes but gets spinkicked for 2. He sends LaFon off the ropes and Owen kicks him from the apron so the champs can take over. Tag to Owen who draws Furnas in so they can double team LaFon as the ref puts Furnas out. Corner whip is reversed with Owen leaping to the 2nd rope and coming off with a bodypress, but LaFon rolls through for 2. Owen rakes the eyes and hits a gutwrench suplex for 2. Backbreaker gets another 2 and then he tags Bulldog and they hit a double clothesline. LaFon comes back with a sunset flip, but Owen has the ref so thereís no count. When he finally gets there, Bulldog kicks out at 2. Bulldog clotheslines him and tags Owen, who tries the Sharpshooter, but gets kicked off. He goes to work on the leg instead. They trade LaFon off for a bit including using a combo delayed suplex/top rope bodypress for 2. Owen then puts his head down and gets cradled which leads to a spot where the partners take turns rolling their guy on top while the ref puts the other guy out and that ends with LaFon getting a 2 count. Owen and Bulldog argue about this which lets LaFon get them with a double noggin knocker. They quickly get back on the same page and Bulldog holds LaFon for a spinkick by Owen, but LaFon moves and Bulldog gets wiped out with LaFon covering for 2. This leads to more arguing and Bulldog even takes Owen out with a clothesline. LaFon nails a top rope splash, but now Bulldog has a change of heart and makes the save at 2. Tag to Furnas who nails Owen with a dropkick for 2 and a belly to belly suplex for another 2. Tag to LaFon and they hit a double backdrop for 2. LaFon follows with a Northern Lights suplex for 2 and tags back to Furnas who hits a rana for 2. All four guys end up in with Bulldog then getting dumped. LaFon nails Owen with a DDT and then Furnas drops a leg for 2. Owen escapes a suplex and hits an ensiguiri. Tags to Bulldog and LaFon with Bulldog hitting a flapjack. LaFon gets sent off and gets a crucifix into a sunset flip for 2 with Owen saving. The challengers then run the champs into each other and LaFon covers Bulldog for 2. LaFon then sends Bulldog to the corner but when he charges he gets caught and dropped on the buckle. Bulldog sets up the running powerslam, but Owen comes in with the Slammy and nails LaFon for the DQ first at 10:31. The dissention continues as Bulldog gives Owen hell for doing that when he was about to win, while Owen argues that it doesnít matter as long as theyíre still the champs. Bulldog is still pissed though and throws down the belt, and then even breaks the Slammy. Mason and Owen finally do manage to convince him that everything is fine, but heís still clearly not happy. Good stuff there, but Bulldogís teased face turn ended up being dropped when they got the family together as the Hart Foundation. As for the match, that was also really good. Furnas and LaFon did a great job getting people to care about them as the match progressed and everyone held up their ends well. ***1/2
Main Event, WWF Championship Match: Vader (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart
Weíve been over the setup, so here are the rules. Itís basically a four man battle royal as being thrown over the top to the floor causes you to be eliminated, but you can also lose by pin or submission. There are no DQís or countouts either and the last man standing walks out as the new WWF Champion. They pair off based on who hates who which means that Taker and Vader go at it as do Bret and Austin. Taker hits a flying clothesline and then goes to beat on Bret and Austin as well. He hits Austin with the ropewalk, but then takes a belly to belly from Vader and gets knocked to the floor. Vader gets a chair but misses. Taker then kicks the chair back in his face and whips him to the steps, one of which busts Vader open hardway near the left eye. That actually gets pretty gruesome as the match continues, but itís 1997, and not 2010 so he does the rest of the match covered in blood. In the ring, Bret has Austin in a sleeper, but Austin jawjacks out for 2. Taker chokeslams Vader, but then takes a neckbreaker from Austin for 2. Taker and Austin go in the ring while Bret and Vader go on the floor. Vader has the chair again, which ended badly for him last time, but he gets in a few shots on Bret. Taker and Austin have also gone to the floor with Austin setting up a piledriver but getting backdropped. Taker gets Bret with a suplex in the ring for 2 while Vader tries to nail Austin with the steps by gets them kicked away. They continue brawling on the floor which leads to Vader getting whipped to the barrier and getting beaten with the belt. Austin then tries coming off the top on Taker, but gets crotched while Vader drags Bret to the floor. Vaderís whip is reversed and he goes over the barrier for a brief crowd brawl before he and Bret make it back in. Meanwhile, Austin has hit Taker with a top rope clothesline for 2. Vader has Bret on the floor and he actually applies his own version of the Sharpshooter, but Austin ends up breaking that up. All four guys brawl in the ring to set up another partner exchange as Austin gets Vader with the Thesz press. Vader comes back with a bodyblock, but then takes a big boot from Taker. Taker sends Vader to the corner, but Vader comes out with a clothesline while Bret piledrives Austin for 2. Vader sets up the Vaderbomb, but Bearer tells him to go for the moonsault instead. That ends up missing though and he and Taker brawl to the floor. Austin works over Bret while Taker and Vader take turns choking each other with a cable. Austin tries throwing Bret over the top, so theyíve finally remembered you can win that way too, but Bret saves himself and then drops the 2nd rope elbow for 2. Austin gets a rollup for 2, but now Vader wants to go with Bret. They slug it out and Bret kicks him low to win that. Austin posts Takerís leg while Bret gets Vader with a Russian legsweep for 2. Taker and Austin trade elimination attempts with Taker then tossing him to the apron, but he appears to hurt his knee on the landing. Bret comes over and in what almost seems like an audible, even though it was getting relatively close to the end at this point anyways, Bret just kind of casually tosses him over the top to the floor at 18:09. Austin leaves without a fuss, which would be out of character for him and suggests that he was really concerned about his knee. Now weíre down to a three way with Taker splashing Vader in the corner. Taker and Bret go at it and then when Vader gets involved again, Taker gets kicked to the floor. Vader then works over Bret while Bearer nails Taker with the urn on the floor. Vader goes up after a suplex, but Bret gets up there with him and nails a superplex. He hooks the Sharpshooter, but Taker breaks it up from behind which is horrible strategy in an elimination match but at least fits with the idea that Taker wants Vader for himself. Austin limps back out at this point and attacks Bret, beating him up on the floor while the officials try and get him out of there. In the ring, Vader has set Taker up for the Vaderbomb, but Taker sits up and nails a low blow sent him over the top to the floor at 22:34. This leaves Bret and Taker one on one, but Austin is still beating on Bret. Taker nails him and then hits a chokeslam on Bret. He sets up for the Tombstone, but now Austin breaks that up. Taker nails him again, but that lets Bret roll him up for 2. Bret nails Austin now with Taker coming from behind, but Bret ducks and Taker nails Austin instead. Bret then clotheslines Taker out and wins his fourth WWF Title at 24:04. He celebrates for a bit and then Sid comes out for the staredown to setup the match the next night on Raw. Of course Sid would beat Bret to win the Title there with interference from Steve Austin. This was great stuff with action always going on, and lots of heat from the crowd. Plus with no obvious winner there was plenty of intrigue into who might walk out with it which always helps. ****1/4
Well, I think that the main event carries this show to a good level with support from the Tag Title match which was really good itself. The undercard is nothing special, but itís fine for what it is and thereís certainly nothing bad about it. So itís a pretty solid Thumbs Up for In Your House: Final Four and a good recommendation for a rewatch.