In Your House XIV: I Knew They Could Do It
Date: May 11, 1997
Location: Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross
Things are still bad for the WWF but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, assuming you have a telescope with you. At the moment nothing is working from a business standpoint due to WCW and the NWO angle destroying everything that dares cross their path. Things will eventually improve and a lot of it is because of what’s going on right now. Let’s get to it.
The opening video is nearly religious in nature with shots of a cross and narrated by Undertaker, talking about how Armageddon is near. Austin counters by saying there’s nothing that can save Undertaker. Well done stuff here.
The announcers run down the card to start the show. Kind of an odd choice given that the people seeing it would have already paid for the show at this point.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Flash Funk
The Funkettes are now gone but the house set’s window has been replaced by a standard small video screen. HHH now has Chyna as his full time bodyguard. Flash pushes HHH into the corner before shaking his hips a bit. A hiptoss and a dropkick put Helmsley down and we hit the armbar. There are five empty front row seats for the now complete Hart Foundation if they show up later. Back up and another dropkick puts HHH on the floor and a middle rope clothesline drops HHH again. The referee goes out to break things up but the distraction allows Chyna to blast Flash in the back of the head.
Back in and a facebuster puts Funk down again and a Chyna forearm gives HHH two. A knee drop gets the same and we hit the chinlock. That goes nowhere so it’s a jumping knee to the face to put Funk on the apron again. HHH pounds away at the chest and another knee sends Funk to the floor, ramming him head first into the stage.
They head back inside with HHH going up but jumping into Flash’s boot to put both guys down. A hard clothesline puts HHH down and a spinning legdrop is good for two. There’s a top rope crossbody for the same but Flash pulls up at two for some reason. Flash goes up for the moonsault but gets crotched down. A release belly to back superplex from HHH sets up the Pedigree for the pin.
Rating: C-. Not bad here and a decent little squash here for HHH. It also helped to establish Chyna as a bonus threat in HHH’s corner which would become a much bigger deal for him in the future. Funk was going to change his gimmick soon and be just Scorpio, as he probably should have been the entire time.
Post match Chyna easily lifts Funk onto her shoulders, walks him across the ring and crotches him down on the top rope.
We get some UFC footage of Ken Shamrock before the letters UFC meant anything to most fans.
Ken Shamrock says he’ll be in his zone for the match with Vader.
Rocky Maivia vs. Mankind
Maivia has lost the Intercontinental Title to Owen Hart so this is a non-title match. Before the match Rocky says he thinks success might have come to him too soon. Rocky scores with a few dropkicks to start and clotheslines Mankind out to the floor. Back in and a powerslam puts Mankind down again and it’s off to a hammerlock. Mankind finally ducks a shot from Rocky to send him to the floor. A cannonball attack off the apron puts Maivia down again and Mankind is in control.
Back in and Mankind pounds Rocky down into the corner before driving a running knee into his head. Rocky fights back but a double clothesline puts both guys down. Something resembling a snapmare over the top puts Mankind on the floor again as the match turns into a brawl. The move that would become known as the Rock Bottom slams Mankind into the steel ramp and back inside they go. Rocky gets two off his floatover DDT but Mankind comes right back with a discus lariat. A dropkick stuns Mankind so Rocky can go up top for his cross body, but Mankind rolls through and puts on the Mandible Claw for the win.
Rating: C. I liked this better than the opener with Rocky continuing to lose after having such a hot streak to open his career. The counter to end the match worked quite well and that’s what you need for a match like this. We’ll definitely be coming back to this pairing near the end of the series.
Ad for the Austin 3:16 shirt. To call this a success is the understatement of the year.
We recap Crush trying to beat three guys in a row on Raw to show up Ahmed, but in true wrestling fashion, Ahmed was the third man and destroyed Crush.
Nation of Domination vs. Ahmed Johnson
This is a gauntlet match and if Ahmed can win, the Nation has to disband. Gorilla Monsoon ejects all the other members so that it’s one on one the entire time. It’ll be Crush starting for the Nation but Ahmed pounds away on him to start. An ax kick to the back of Crush’s head puts him down but Ahmed misses an elbow drop. Crush kicks Johnson in the chest and gets two off a middle rope clothesline. A suplex gets the same but Johnson comes back with an ugly looking sitout gordbuster for two.
We hit the sleeper from Crush and Ahmed is in trouble for a few moments. Crush waves the Nation down to ringside but they all stand pat. A piledriver puts Johnson down again but Crush looks at the Nation again instead of covering. Crush’s heart punch is countered into a spinning heel kick to the face for a fast pin.
A limping Savio Vega is in next but walks into a quick backdrop for two. Some clotheslines put him down again but he comes back with a spinwheel kick in the corner to stagger Johnson. Savio’s ankle seems perfectly fine and Ross thinks something is up. Vega goes after Johnson’s back as the match slows down.
Ahmed quickly breaks up a chinlock and hiptosses Savio down, only to miss a middle rope splash. Savio misses the running version though and a belly to back suplex gets two for Johnson. Ahmed calls for the Pearl River Plunge so Vega bails to the outside. Savio grabs a chair and blasts Johnson for the DQ, but the damage is already done.
That leaves Johnson vs. Faarooq with the latter’s arm in a sling. The sling lasts about five seconds and Faarooq pounds away even more. JR talks about Faarooq starting out as Ron Simmons and playing college football (JR’s obsession) but Johnson comes back with a spinebuster. Ahmed hits the Pearl River Plunge but the delayed cover only gets two, freaking the crowd out. A quick chop block from Faarooq sets up his Dominator finisher for the pin.
Rating: D. Johnson is not the kind of guy that you want to wrestle three straight matches like this. The guy had an awesome look and incredible power, but there’s only so much you can do with his limited skill set. The crowd died when Johnson got pinned as well, which isn’t a good idea given that heels are undefeated on this show.
We recap Vader vs. Ken Shamrock, which is really nothing of note. The match was announced and they stared at each other a lot.
Vader vs. Ken Shamrock
This is submission or knockout only. Feeling out process to start until Shamrock starts firing off some kicks to the legs. A kimura (standing armbar) sends Vader running to the ropes. More kicks to the legs have Vader in trouble and an attempted suplex sends him out to the floor. Back in and Vader stops trying to be smart and just pounds away at the ribs, only to have Shamrock easily German suplex him down. Some headbutts get Vader nowhere as Shamrock tries an ankle lock, his signature move in the UFC.
More kicks tot he legs and a spinning kick to the face have Vader staggered as this is getting repetitive. Vader throws Shamrock around and hits a HARD clothesline to take over. The big man lays on Shamrock’s arm but it doesn’t work that well since he’s probably never used a submission hold other than a bearhug. Shamrock counters into a kind of triangle choke but Vader lifts him up and drops him down to escape. Vader lifts him up and just casually drops him over the top, sending Shamrock down in a great looking crash.
Ken is sent face first into the steps and Vader’s nose is bleeding. Back in and Vader pounds away in the corner as this needs to wrap up soon. Vader lays on Shamrock’s legs and pulls on the ankle a bit until the fans finally start caring about the match. Shamrock is sent into the corner for a big beatdown and gets the same treatment in another corner. Vader’s moonsault mostly hits even though it wasn’t supposed to due to Shamrock not rolling away fast enough. Now it’s Shamrock pounding away in the corner but another HARD right hand puts him down. Not that it matters though as Ken trips Vader and wins with a quick ankle lock.
Rating: D. This is a hard one to grade because the match itself was horrible but they were trying something very different out there. Shamrock would get WAY better with more ring time but his early days weren’t pretty at all. Granted having Vader in there wasn’t the best idea in the world given how much of a hothead he could be.
Vader has trouble getting up due to the kicks to his legs being a bit too real and the ankle lock having a bit too much torque.
Austin doesn’t care that the Hart Foundation might be here for his match.
WWF World Title: Steve Austin vs. Undertaker
The Hart Foundation shows up right before the bell, complete with Bret in a wheelchair (due to Austin’s attack). Austin jumps the champion to start but Undertaker fires off right hands of his own and sends Steve into the buckle. Steve bails to the floor and immediately pulls Brian Pillman over the barricade to pound on him a bit, only to have Undertaker punch Pillman back into the crowd. Back in and Undertaker gets two off a nice jumping clothesline before driving his shoulder into Austin’s over and over.
Old School connects for two as the fans aren’t sure who to cheer for in this one. Austin pulls him down into a headlock on the mat but has to kick out of a few rollup attempts. Undertaker fights up but almost immediately gets taken back down in another headlock. They get up again and Austin actually backflips out of a suplex, which you aren’t likely to ever see again. A chop block puts Undertaker down but he pulls himself into the corner and fires off right hands. Austin heads to the floor and trips Undertaker down so he can wrap the leg around the post.
Steve tries to slam the knee into the post again but Undertaker pulls his legs back, sending Austin face first into the post instead. The champion can’t follow up though and Austin stomps on the knee even more. He hooks an STF of all things but Taker makes it to the rope. Austin tries to cannonball down onto the leg but Undertaker kicks him up and over the ropes to take over for the first time in awhile.
Now Undertaker goes after Austin’s heavily braced leg, which really should have happened more often than it did. Off to a half crab from the champion but Austin makes the rope. Undertaker misses a big boot and Austin takes out the leg he was working on earlier to regain control. Undertaker kicks his way out of a leg lock so Austin slams the back of the leg down onto the apron. A suplex gets two for Austin and he breaks up another Old School attempt by crotching Undertaker on top.
Taker breaks up a superplex attempt and tries a sleeper but Austin jawbreaks his way to freedom. They slug it out again with Undertaker gaining control again in the corner. Austin kicks him very low and the referee is fine with letting it continue. He yells at Austin though, allowing Undertaker to kick Austin low. A chokeslam puts Austin down but he rolls to the apron. Back in and Austin hits a quick Stunner but Brian Pillman jumps the barricade and rings the bell before the cover. Austin yells at Pillman, allowing Undertaker to tombstone Austin for the pin to retain.
Rating: B. This was one heck of a fight with the ending both advancing stories and giving Austin a way to save face. Notice that he had the title won but shenanigans saved Undertaker. Also, it was Undertaker’s own move and nothing physical from Austin that got the pin. Both guys look strong and we get a definitive pin. That’s smart, efficient booking.
The Harts immediately jump the railing after the bell and go after the Undertaker, but they leave the wheelchair bound Bret alone. Austin goes after Bret and steals his crutch to clean house in the ring. Undertaker raises the title and gets a Stunner to end the show because that’s the kind of guy Austin is.
Overall Rating: C+. The Border War has breathed new life into this company and things are definitely picking up. At this point it’s clear that Austin is the future but he’s not quite there yet. The handling of Austin and the patience the WWF had with him is very impressive as they could have hotshotted the title to him at any point in 1997 but they held off for the big stage. The rest of the show is certainly acceptable, though the Shamrock vs. Vader match is pretty rough. Things are looking up though for the first time in many, many months.
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