For days I don’t have a better idea for a post, I’m going to review a random Pay Per View from the WWE Network. Using an intricate system of dice rolls, I determine the company, year, and month, and then I’ll recap the show that comes up. I won’t give a play by play or go in-depth into the individual matches; this will be more about general thoughts about the show and if there’s anything worth watching/rewatching. Might as well get my money’s worth I’m spending on the WWE Network. I originally had a goal of watching every PPV in order, but realized that was insane and at my pace I’d never get anywhere. By doing a random show, I’ll be able to look at it better as an individual production, in theory.
First up – In Your House: A Cold Day in Hell, May 11th, 1997
According to the blurb, the main event is Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker for the WWE Title. Names for the In Your House shows were always the best. Also, Rocky Maivia vs. Mankind, and Vader vs. Ken Shamrock. Austin was feuding with Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation at this time, and was getting close to being uber-mega-popular, but he wasn’t there yet.
Excellent opening video package, as usual with WWE production, showing off how badass the Undertaker and Stone Cold are. Our commentators are Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross, and damn, I miss these two working together. Nostalgia puts rose-tinted goggles on a lot of Attitude Era stuff, but this commentary team is still top notch.
Flash Funk vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley with Chyna
Flash Funk’s jumpsuit is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as HHH’s “Blueblood” entrance music. I looked it up, and it’s actually “Symphony No. 9” from Beethoven. For reals. The crowd could not care about either of these guys. Chyna is so intimidating at ringside; we forget about that 18 years and several questionable decisions later. Funk does a flying clotheline from the top rope, and Jim Ross calls it like a normal move instead of screaming about how amazing it is. So refreshing. Jim Ross manages to call the match, put over the storylines involving the wrestlers, and keep a perverted Jerry Lawler in check. Truly a broadcasting legend. HHH does his rising knee several times during the match, and it works because each time he hits the move it knocks Funk further away, eventually knocking him out of the ring. HHH hits a reverse powerslam off the top rope followed by a Pedigree for the win. After the match, Chyna beats up Funk for a bit to get the first big crowd response of the segment.
**1/2 A solid, competent match. Flash Funk is always decent, and HHH is green but obviously talented. They meshed well but the crowd didn’t really care though until Chyna would get involved.
Mankind vs. Rocky Maivia
A video recaps Mankind and Undertaker setting each other on fire. Seriously. Rocky cuts a humble promo which just sounds bizarre coming from his mouth with his voice. Mankind cannonballing himself off the ring apron into Rocky is the highlight to a very slow match so far. Rocky tries to technical wrestle, Mankind throws him out of the ring and brawls. Repeat until Rocky hits an unnamed Rock Bottom on the entrance ramp. Rocky hits a cross body block off the top rope but Mankind rolls it into a Mandible Claw and gets the win.
*1/2 This wasn’t very good. Slow paced and the two lacked the chemistry they would later have. Plus Rocky looks like a baby.
Nation of Domination (Crush, Savio Vega, Faarooq) vs. Ahmed Johnson
The Nation is escorted to the ring by a couple rappers who are very white. Crush is apparently in the Nation, which I don’t remember. Ahmed has to beat all three members of the NoD, one after another, and if he wins, the Nation has to disband. All the Nation members are claiming they have various injuries. Gorilla Monsoon throws out the Nation’s entourage. Good ol’ Gorilla. Ahmed pins Crush after a heel kick after a really boring match. Savio and Ahmed exchange strikes and rest holds. How long as this match been going on? Feels like forever. Ahmed Johnson is not a guy I would pick to wrestle this long. Savio hits Johnson with a chair for a DQ. Why couldn’t he have done this ten minutes ago? Savio beats Johnson with a chair to weaken him for his third match, this one against Faarooq. Faarooq’s arm is in a sling, which he rips off. Ahmed Johnson pops the crowd with a spinebuster, and hits the Pearl River Plunge powerbomb but takes a long time to cover and Faarooq kicks out. Faarooq hits Johnson with a Dominator for the win.
* Ahmed Johnson is not the guy to wrestle this kind of match. The parts with Farooq was fine, but the matches with Crush and Savio were awful and went on way too long.
Vader vs. Ken Shamrock
The match is No Holds Barred with no pinfalls. They can only win by submission or knockout. It is apparently Shamrock’s first PPV match, and maybe his first WWE match. Commentary is not entirely clear. I love Vader, and was a fan of Shamrock, so I have decently high hopes for this. Shamrock is kicking the crap out of Vader’s leg, which I love. Jim Ross actually plugs the next UFC pay-per-view. “Ken Shamrock should have been born in gladiator times. I agree, then he’d be dead by now.” Sometimes Jerry Lawler drops a gem. Vader gets caught in a triangle choke, and tries to lift Shamrock up for a powerbomb but can’t, kind of tossing him over his shoulder instead. It was awkward. Vader suplexes Shamrock out of the ring! Vader beats the crap out of Shamrock but misses a moonsault. Love Vader’s moonsualt. These two are stiffing the hell out of each other. Shamrock fights back with leg kicks until Vader KILLS him with a right hand. Shamrock traps Vader’s leg and makes Vader tap out to an ankle lock.
*** I liked this. The contrast of styles worked pretty well, with Vader as the bruiser and Shamrock as a scrapper. The weird no pinfall rule hurt the match more then helped it. The fact that they worked so stiff is always a plus.
They run a promo for Austin and Undertaker, and the interviewer miscalls a Chokeslam as a Tombstone Piledriver. That’s just inexcusable.
WWF TItle Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker (champion)
Undertaker gets more cheers coming to the ring then Austin. It’s very noticeable. The Hart Foundation is here to watch from some front row seats. Neither Undertaker or Austin look happy to see them. Austin goes after Undertaker before he can get his coat off. Taker is still wearing the belt as he fights back, then Austin leaves the ring and starts pummeling Owen Hart while Taker disrobes. Taker throws Austin into the stairs, then he also throws a few punches at Owen. Poor Owen. Crowd is popping for everything Undertaker does. Austin holds Undertaker in a looooong headlock. Austin attacks the leg then puts on an STF. John Cena eat your heart out. Now Undertaker is attacking the leg and applies a half crab. Austin goes for a figure four leglock. These guys realize the submission match was the last match, right? Austin gets in trouble then heels it up with a blatant low blow. Biggest pop of the night so far goes to Austin flipping the referee off behind his back. Austin hits a Stunner but Brian Pillman rings the bell, distracting the referee. Undertaker and Austin tease Tombstoning each other before Undertaker nails the Tombstone Piledriver for the win.
After the match, the Hart Foundation jumps Undertaker, then Austin and Taker fight off the Foundation. Then Austin stuns Undertaker, just because.
** While I appricated these two going out and having a technical match, each of them working the leg, I hated how it was completely inconsequential. If you spend the majority of the match applying leg submissions, that should somehow work into the rest of the match. Instead, they’re teasing Tombstone Piledrivers on each other with nary a hint of leg damage in sight. It’s like they just needed to fill ten minutes so decided to do leg work instead of anything relevant. That hurts my rating of this match a lot.
Well, when the highlight of the PPV is a *** match, it can’t be that great. There’s some history here, with Shamrock’s first match, Mankind and Rocky’s first match, and Undertaker and Austin’s first match, but the show itself is just meh. Nothing offensive, but also not a lot worth watching.