WWF In Your House 7: Good Friends … Better Enemies

WWF In Your House 7: Good Friends … Better Enemies!
April 28, 1996
Omaha Civic Auditorium – Omaha, NE

A Diesel/Shawn Michaels package airs at the start. Can “Big Daddy Cool” ruin Shawn’s life. Does he even care about regaining the WWF Championship? For Shawn, is tonight the first time he defeats his former best friend? And what will it take for him to do so? These are the questions at hand.

On the Free-for-All prior to the PPV, “Wildman” Marc Mero bested The 1-2-3 Kid by disqualification as Hunter Hearst Helmsley interfered. There had been enough go down to just have Mero versus Helmsley be on the card. Why it wasn’t befuddles me. I’m sure Sunny equaled some made-up buyrate number so her and The Bodydonnas make it on instead. Pfft.

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

Impromptu Tag-Team Match:
The British Bulldog & Owen Hart vs. Ahmed Johnson & Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Result/Analysis: Bulldog and Hart via submission (13:47) when Roberts submits to Bulldog in a kneebar after taking care tennis raquet shots to his knee. Lame. And man alive, does the match drag. Bulldog and Ahmed carried the beef coming in off an arm wrestling challenge from RAW that Ahmed won only for Bulldog to go beserk after for having lost. Ahmed broke his thumb in that melee so not being sure he could make IYH, the WWF booked Bulldog versus Snake after a random altercation on the post-WrestleMania German tour. So whatever. Owen does the heavy lifting here. Bulldog ducks Ahmed, leaving Owen in the ring a lot early and then back in several more times after short spurts by Davey Boy. Diana Hart-Smith, Bulldog’s wife, looks on unimpresssed with her husband’s lack of balls. Well, it was either that she is miffed over or she’s awaiting Sunny later on to gauge her competition. But, I digress. Snake plays face-in-peril for an extended stretch but he’s blown up after five minutes making the match sobering to watch. Ahmed wouldn’t sell a Bulldog powerslam so he’s useless. Following Jake’s introduction, attorney Clarence Mason and Jim Cornette presented a signed order to the referee that said Jake’s pet snake was barred from ringside. Cornette got slithered on by the snake as a result so he and Mason were gone by the time the bell rang with Roberts bringing out Johnson as his tag-team partner. Vince would say Ahmed and Jake never tagged with each other before only they had with Yokozuna at WrestleMania in the six-man versus Bulldog, Owen and Vader. Doesn’t he know his scant audience? The heels won that match, and this one, too. Good. I’d have thought Ahmed and Jake would.
Rating: *1/2

Mero and The 1-2-3 Kid are shown arguing with each other on the SuperStar line. Sable, meanwhile, looks bored stiff. Lawler argues with Vin-Man she’s not that good looking. Ha!

WWF Intercontinental Championship:
Goldust (c) (w/ Marlena and “Bodyguard”) vs. The Ultimate Warrior

Result/Analysis: The Ultimate Warrior via count-out (7:47). An actual match this wasn’t. Goldust had blew out his left knee on the recent live tour of Germany. His knee is heavily bandaged as a result. The entrances for both equal the stalling and time duration prior to the countout. I’m sure that a countout or disqualification would have been the planned booking had there been a match or Goldust could have done the job in 30 seconds. The Warrior wasn’t getting the belt. What this was is Goldust, Marlena and his “bodyguard,” who used to wrestle as Mantaur, walking around the ring as Warrior sits in Marlena’s director’s chair smoking her cigar. Goldust eventually braves up and enters the ring. Marlena is handed back her cigar with Warrior having smoked most of it. Goldust is robed by Warrior and sits in the chair. He makes overtures to Warrior as if an unspoken bond exists. But, no. Warrior pounds his chest and clothlines a sitting Goldust out of the ring. Goldust flees with Marlena and is counted out. The fans get ripped off. If a match couldn’t happen, this should have been bumped. Mero/Helmsley was ready-made. Warrior beats up the bodyguard to get a pop. More importantly for him, he cashed a very large appearance check assuredly.
Rating: -*****

Backstage, The British Bulldog wants to be let into Michaels’ dressing room. Dok Hendrix suspects it has something to do with Diana. No, not quite. Maybe another blonde, though … Bulldog was actually next for HBK with Diesel going bye-bye and the next In Your House in May was dubbed “Beware of Dog.” Oops, that’s a spoiler alert. Has anyone seen Sunny?

Vader (w/ James E. Cornette) vs. “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon

Result/Analysis: Vader via pinfall (14:50) following a seated senton. My memory of this match, having seen it just once, was that of a glorified squash and Ramon being pushed aside like yesterday’s garbage. But, that’s not the match here at all. Sure, Vader wins. Everyone figured that much. Ramon had been on suspension and he hadn’t appeared once on television leading into this event. Scott Hall had signed with WCW and his departure was a done deal. So bury “The Bad Guy” and your former four-time Intercontinental Champion on his way out, right? Wrong. Yes, Ramon jobbed. Vader’s push was only increasing by the week. Yet, Ramon kicks out of the Vaderbomb, he slugs it out with Vader, exexcutes some moves where you’re impressed he’s getting so much play as a soon-to-be ex-employee, and he doesn’t exhibit much ring rust, save for being gassed from a 15-minute match with a man of Vader’s size. Vince McMahon had every right to embarrass Ramon, and not make him just “job,” yet he didn’t. The Kliq having so much say backstage and Ramon (as with Diesel later on) having been WWF fixtures in the “New Generation” made it so the send-off was actually classy. Ramon bows out fighting. Hell, he even almost has Vader in the Razor’s edge for a second. Vader wins. Good. He defeats a top-notch star. Even better. The problem is the calendar. He needs to be main eventing/headlining shows versus Shawn Michaels but it was late April/May and SummerSlam is four months away. Thus, his feud with Yokozuna is to be rekindled as Dok Hendrix breaks the news to that effect following the match with Cornette ranting and raving over WWF President Gorilla Monsoon’s decision. The match at the next In Your House in May.
Rating: ***

Meanshile, Paul Bearer and The Undertaker are shown with the AOL geeks chatting up with the 12-year-old wrestling marks. Taker looks to have recovered from Mankind choking him out with the mandible claw the night after WrestleMania. They wrestled a “Dark Match” on this night.

WWF Tag-Team Championship:
The Godwinns [Henry & Phineas (w/ Hillbilly Jim) vs. The Bodydonnas [Skip & Zip] (c) (w/ Sunny)

Result/Analysis: The Bodydonnas via pinfall (7:18) as Zip pins Henry with a small package after a switcheroo with Skip. Lame. Henry had hit the slop drop on Skip but Sunny had the referee distracted while flaunting an autographed framed picture of herself to Phineas, who was “in love” with her. This match belonged on RAW, at best. The tag-team titles were garbage at this point. The Smoking Gunns had vacated the belts due to a neck injury for Billy Gunn and The Bodydonnas had defeated The Godwinns in the finals of the tag-team tournament on the Free-For-All prior to WrestleMania. No one gave a shit. Sunny would manage the champions, not just The Bodydonnas, throughout the year, whomever they were, and used her sexual proclivity, or crack addition, to wedge her way into a team. She was the only one that was “over,” or at least bent over, to make the tag-team titles a thing. This was an era when the WWF still only had the three primary titles so it wasn’t like they could hide the tag-team belts. When The New Rockers legitimately were the best tag-team minus The Smoking Gunns you’re tag-team division is crap. Bulldog and Owen were a tag-team but they weren’t used for chasing the belts. They were merely an extension of Camp Cornette but still singles wrestlers.
Rating: *1/2 (a house show quality match and a totally nothing/meaningless feud)

The WWF has asked you spend a part of your 1996 Memorial Day Weekend with them as the next In Your House Pay-Per-View comes on May 26th. Yokozuna returns to face Vader. Mero and Helmsley will lock up. Savio Vega will look to avenge his WrestleMania loss when he again squares off with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. And, the WWF Championship will be defended as the graphic shows both Shawn Michaels and Diesel. Nice try.

Meanwhile, Mero tells Dok Hendrix that Helmsley has released the beast within by messing with Sable and himself. At the next IYH Mero says Helmsley will have to answer the call of the wild. Ha! It’s funny to look back and see Mero was being pushed out of the two yet his career flamed out completely in two years, and his marriage to Sable, while HHH was on the verge of superstardom.

The same pre-match video package that aired on RAW for Diesel/Shawn Michaels is aired next. The WWF excelled at these and this one was easy to craft given their intertwining careers in the two years prior. Diesel was exiting the federation but DAMN if you didn’t want to see the match.

Michaels had a pre-recorded interview that aired on the Free-For-All that is replayed in which he discusses his dissolved friendship with Diesel and their No Holds Barred Match.

Diesel, on the other hand, teases that he has something for Vince tonight after he’s finished with Michaels and all the little cliquesters. Kevin Nash had wanted to stay with the WWF but McMahon wouldn’t/said he couldn’t match WCW’s contract offer because of the company’s bad financial situation and he knew he’d have to offer matching contracts to other wrestlers. There was definitely some bitterness on Nash’s end. He didn’t hide it, on camera, on this, his final televised appearance.

No Holds Barred Match for the WWF Championship:
“Big Daddy Cool” Diesel vs. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (c) (w/ José Lothario)

Result/Analysis: Michaels via pinfall (17:54) following sweet chin music. If you’re looking for a pre-Attitude Era WWF match before it was The Attitude Era, this is the one to look for. You had nWo Kevin Nash at the height of his heel run in his twilighting WWF career pounding, beating on and punishing Michaels to the point you’d think some of it was off the cuff. Diesel whips Michaels with a steel chair, chokes and hangs him with referee Earl Hebner’s belt, visciously drops Shawn onto the top turnbuckle in a snake eyes … the outside railing, too … and the best spot of the night before the ULTIMATE heel move, was his jackknife powerbomb of Michaels through the announce table, which created a new signature spot in later Attitude Era matches for years, that leaves Shawn for dead as Vin Man opines over Shawn just refusing re-entry to the match to save his career. Michaels, of course, doesn’t succumb to any of it, and fights his way back using a fire extinguisher, pummels Diesel down and drops a flying elbow for good measure. Diesel comes back with a clothesline, to which Michaels sells as if his head was turned around. After the outside railing spot, Diesel walks over to the opposite railing and takes a seated Mad Dog Vachon, throws him down, and rips off his prosthetic leg. OMG. Such immense heat for that. Vachon is left to rot without his foot as Diesel heads back inside. Shawn steals the leg after a low blow and wallops Diesel with it to set up sweet chin music. The superkick ends the match as Michaels retains the belt, truly surviving to be perfectly honest, in his first title defense. The Shawn Michaels’ era actuallu started here, in Omaha, with the outgoing Nash putting him over as the babyface that could take a thrashing but still triumph.
Rating: ****1/4

The Verdict: IYH 7 is a glorified “House Show” you’d find in ANY arena throughout The States in 1996 EXCEPT for Diesel v Michaels. The Attitude Era WWF that eventually displaced WCW years later in “The Monday Night Wars” was in born in embryotic form from their match. Diesel had hit his stride as the top heel in wrestling and his departure, more than Ramon’s, left a huge void. Even with Ramon leaving, too, the WWF was losing two established stars at the same time. The company soldiered on with Michaels next feuding with Davey Boy Smith. That was a major downgrade.

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