We are now just one day away from the latest NXT TakeOver, and aside from the card being mega stacked, it promises to be somewhat of a trip down memory lane as WWE are resurrecting one of their staples of the 1990's... In Your House!
Some of those In Your House specials were amazing for WWE. They introduced us to new characters like Chyna, attributed to the rise of mega stars like The Rock and had some truly classic bouts featuring the top talent of the time. There were also a lot of bad In Your House events, blighted by bad booking, poorly executed matches and bad timing.
Back in 1995, monthly pay-per-view events were not a regular thing in wrestling. WCW had already begun their dominant push and WWF decided to respond by creating “In Your House.” These shows would take place in between the “big” PPV's (Wrestlemania, Summerslam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble), only two hours long and cheaper than the other shows. The concept would grow over the years with some of the show eventually becoming regular PPV's (Backlash, Judgement Day). As 1995 was not a good year for the WWF, it’s little shock the early IYH shows were rough too.
Some shows could be salvaged by a good main event while other IYH shows were just flat out bad. Some of them would actually prove to be terrific shows with several good matches and even a few classics now and then. Sadly, far too many of them are remembered for atrocious shows that cost too much at a cheap price. With a total of 28 IYH specials, it’s hard to narrow them all down but here are the 5 best and 5 worst IYH shows as a reminder of how it changed the company.
5th Worst: No Way Out Of Texas
This show had the unenviable problem of being in a period where WWE was wary of messing with Wrestlemania. Shawn Michaels couldn't show up as advertised due to a back injury which threw the card into disarray. There were several bad tag matches including the infamous “Gang Wars” feud. Ken Shamrock and Jeff Jarrett had a very poor battle for the NWA title while Kane vs Vader was a letdown also.
The main event was an utter mess with Austin, Owen Hart, Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie facing HHH, Savio Vega and the New Age Outlaws. It’s amazing how WWE would turn the corner after this ugly show.
4th Worst: In Your House I
The first IYH wasn’t meant to be a major show but that’s little excuse for how poor it was. The only true battle was Bret Hart vs Hakushi and that was marred by Bret then losing to Jerry Lawler. Mabel began his ill-fated push crushing Adam Bomb in a minute, Razor Ramon faced Jeff Jarrett and Roadie in a handicap match and the tag team title match was only five minutes long.
The main event had Diesel facing Sid in an ugly 12 minute battle that felt much longer. That's not mentioning the attempt to give away a real house to some viewer. It was hardly an auspicious debut for the PPV.
3rd Worst: Rock Bottom
With a title like that, it was inevitable this would be a mess of a show. There were a few terrible tag team matches as well as Steve Blackman and Owen Hart having a poor battle. The Goldust & Jeff Jarrett “strip tease” match was as bad as it sounds while the Mankind vs Rock WWF title match wasn't bad but was overshadowed by a “dusty finish”. The main event was Austin vs Undertaker in a “Buried Alive” match which wasn’t too bad on the surface but nowhere near what either man was capable of. Even the finish was marred by Austin messing up the burial which was a fitting conclusion to an already bad event.
2nd Worst: D-Generation X
WWF was still reeling from the Montreal Screwjob and it showed with this rough card. Butterbean and Marc Mero had a horrible “toughman” match while the New Age Outlaws defeated the Legion of Doom by DQ. HHH had to drag Sgt. Slaughter to a 17 minute “Boot Camp” match that ran about 15 minutes too long.
Austin and The Rock had only five minutes for a match and Jeff Jarret vs-Undertaker was just poor. The main event had Shawn Michaels retaining over Ken Shamrock to top off a poor card during a rough period for WWF.
THE Worst: IV “Great White North”
According to legend, when this show ended, Vince McMahon threw down his headphones and went to town on how bad it was. It's hard to blame him. The tag title match was just an excuse for 1-2-3 Kid to turn heel on Razor Ramon. Shawn Michaels had to vacate his IC title to Dean Douglas who would then lose the belt in 15 minutes to Ramon.
Mabel vs Yokozuna was one of the worst matches of the year and Bulldog beating Diesel by DQ was a wretched main event. Worse yet was that a show taking place in Canada had Bret Hart in a dark match as opposed to a prime spot on the card. 1995 was... just not a good year for WWE by any means.
5th Best: Final Four
This card was shifted up when Shawn Michaels vacated the WWE title just days earlier. The undercard had Rocky Maivia retaining his IC title against HHH which would lead to the monumental debut of Chyna. The tag team title match was also very good. The main event was the undoubted highlight as Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Vader and Undertaker fought in a terrific 25-minute elimination match for the vacant title.
It culminated in Bret winning the belt but would set up his famous WrestleMania match with Austin. A true case of a show much better than most thought it would be and exceeding expectations.
4th Best: Good Friends, Better Enemies
This show was notable as being one of the final events before Scott Hall and Kevin Nash jumped to WCW. That move being in the works sparked this show where Hall put over Vader in a hard-fought battle. The Ultimate Warrior had a surprisingly good match with Goldust while Owen Hart and the British Bulldog fought Jake Roberts and Ahmed Johnson. The main event was a fantastic war between Shawn Michaels and Diesel for the WWE title, notable for Diesel yanking off Mad Dog Vachon’s artificial leg to attack Michaels. A terrific blow-off for Nash’s WWE career.
3rd Best: Badd Blood
This show had an unfortunate shadow cast over it, coming just hours after the death of Brian Pillman. Yet it still was a notable event with Owen Hart regaining the IC title over Farooq and Steve Austin attacking him afterwards. The Bret Hart/Bulldog vs Vader/Patriot match was much better than had been expected.
It was the main event that makes this one a classic as the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels battled in the very first Hell in the Cell match. It was a bloody and brutal war culminating in the debut of Kane who helped Michaels win. Introducing those two alone makes this show an instant classic.
2nd Best: Mind Games
The Philadelphia setting aided this card a lot. A major moment was when the Sandman and Tommy Dreamer spat on Savio Vega and Justin Bradshaw which helped elevate ECW into the mainstream. Owen Hart and British Bulldog winning the tag titles was also a highlight. But the true standout was once again the main event as Shawn Michaels and Mankind had a knock-down-drag-out brilliantly booked match for the WWE title. It instantly made Mankind a main eventer and arguably the best bout of Shawn’s initial WWE title reign to cap off a very good show.
THE Best: Canadian Stampede
This was the highlight and culmination of a fantastic summer program in WWF. HHH and Mankind had a terrific brawl that helped to elevate both men even more with the fans. Undertaker and Vader had a stiff but fun battle for the WWF title. This was another show where the main event stood out as the Hart Foundation faced Steve Austin, Goldust, Ken Shamrock and the Legion of Doom in an epic tag team match.
The Foundation were clearly the hometown favourites with the crowd cheering them on the whole time and the Americans booed like crazy. It was a fantastic match, with a red hot atmosphere. The Harts winning and standing tall was the cherry on top of the cake, in a moment that would feel very bittersweet considering what would happen in the near future.