In the spring of 1995, Vince McMahon launched the In Your House PPV concept to compete with WCW and their expanding PPV schedule. To undercut WCW and entice fans into ordering, these shows would cost fifteen dollars, half the price of the average Big Five PPVs. The extra revenue from these shows would greatly benefit the financially strapped company but it came at a catch for the home buyer.
The shows would further the storylines and you’d only get one or two big stars instead of the all-star lineup you’d see at one of the Big Five PPVs. It was a guarantee that the World Champion would appear but it was a crapshoot if one of your favorites would be appearing. To get the fans to see the show live, any major stars not booked on the show would appear in dark matches after the show. The first three In Your House shows accomplished Vince’s goal and drew over 200,000 buys. The fourth edition saw the concept crashed and burn with a show that was dreadfully boring and exposed many of the problems within the company.
A roster lacking depth in the mid card with matches thrown together with little to no build and the Diesel era flaming out before Vince McMahon’s eyes. On paper, the show had three solid matches with Razor Ramon and 1-2-3 Kid taking on The Smoking Gunns for the tag titles, Shawn Michaels defending his Intercontinental Championship against Dean Douglas and Diesel defending the World Title against Davey Boy Smith. One match would be dreadfully boring, the other wouldn’t happen and the tag match was the best match of the show.
- Spraying Cologne and A Golden Debut
The opening match between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Fatu isn’t a bad match but it suffers from an awful build-up. Helmsley was spraying his cologne in the back and Fatu took offense to it and now they have a match. This went down on the Superstars that aired the day before the event. That’s it. Here’s my solution to this problem. Fatu’s gimmick was a man trying to help the disadvantaged youth of America by being a positive influence in the community. Have a backstage interview with Fatu a week out before the show in which he talks about getting the stars of the WWF to make motivational speeches for the youth in various towns they run shows in. The only star who declined was Hunter Hearst Helmsley who refused to sully his Greenwich hands by mingling with the youth. This makes Fatu angry and we have ourselves a match. It’s not great but it’s better than somebody spraying cologne.
This show marks the debut of the Goldust character going against the returning Marty Jannetty and after watching this, I wanted to pull a Jannetty dive through the barber shop window to escape this match. The match is a drag at eleven minutes long with Rhodes having trouble with his gear and this is not the same guy who was having great matches in WCW from 1991-1994. It didn’t help that he only had a handful of matches before making his PPV debut and looked to be out of shape. With the months of hype, it was not a great start for Rhode’s second stint with the company. Jannetty bumps like his job is on the line knowing full well that he’s on thin ice at this point. This match needed to be four or five minutes’ tops with Goldust making quick work of the guy to establish himself as a force. Jannetty wasn’t the right guy for this match, somebody like Barry Horowitz would have been better.
- Battle of The Big Men
I love a good hoss fight, especially between two superheavyweights who just throw each other around the ring and throw bombs for a few minutes. A great example would The Boss vs Vader at Spring Stampede 1994.The match between Yokozuna and King Mabel is not one of those matches as the two behemoths went to a war in a dull five-minute affair. Yoko’s weight was becoming a serious hindrance towards his in-ring work and Mabel was awful in the ring. This was supposed to be The Undertaker vs King Mabel but Mabel pulled a Mabel and botched a clothesline at a house, crushing Taker’s cheekbone and damaging his eye socket. Injuring Diesel at one of the biggest PPV’s of the year and injuring another top star a month later is not a good career move.
Luckily, the company had taped an awesome angle for an October 9th episode of Raw in the aftermath of a six-man tag between Camp Cornette (Owen/Yoko/Bulldog), and The Undertaker, Diesel and Shawn Michael. After the match, Camp Cornette, Mabel and Dean Douglas beat the tar out of Diesel, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker after match. They were teasing that Mabel and Mo would join Camp Cornette after Bulldog turned heel by teaming up with Mabel to beat up Diesel. Taker suffered repeated splashes, elbows and legs drops from Mabel and Yokozuna during the beatdown. You didn’t see angles like this on WWF TV with the babyfaces getting a beatdown and left for dead by the heels. I remember being shocked watching this as a kid and I recommend that you catch this on the network if you have an hour to kill. The angle fell off the rails quickly when Gorilla Monsoon decided to replace Taker with Yokozuna as punishment for what they did on top of fining Mabel. Wouldn’t a better punishment be a suspension and taking both men off the show? With how bad the payoffs were in 1995, these guys need to work every town on the circuit just to make ends meet.
- A Syracuse Bar and Angry Marines
The Intercontinental Championship match between Shawn Michaels and Dean Douglas looked great on paper. Michaels was on fire in 1995 and Douglas had yet to suffer a nasty elbow injury that derailed his career. Until Shawn Michaels, 1-2-3 Kid and Davey Boy Smith made an ill-fated trip to a Syracuse bar and made enemies with some marines. A marine called Michaels a word that I’m not allowed to type and HBK got the snot beaten out of him in the parking lot. Michaels was passed out in a car when the marines dragged him out of the car, slammed the car door on his face and had his face rammed into the bumper. Michaels was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and was obviously in no shape to perform so the decision was made to have Shawn surrender the title to Douglas. To only have him lose the title to Razor Ramon a few minutes later. This was obviously a Kliq influenced booking decision but I have some bigger fish to fry than talking about the Kliq.
- A Disinterested Bad Guy is Never Good
Razor was how can I put it…past his expiration date as a good guy. The babyface depth chart in 1995 had The Bad Guy buried at the number five spot behind Hart, Taker, Michaels and Diesel. To put things in perspective when King Mabel was booked to win the 1995 King of The Ring, Razor was going to be taking the big splash to set the big man up to face Diesel. Razor was in desperate need of a heel turn after a lukewarm feud with Jeff Jarrett and it would have freshened up a rotten heel side in 1995. Since joining the company, Razor had good matches with Diesel, Bret, Shawn and a feud with Undertaker had yet to be explored. So, how is the match? Well, Razor looks beyond bored and the match is rather dull with The Bad Guy putting little to no effort into making Douglas look like a credible threat. Razor was a much better bad guy than he was a good guy and you already have a built-in reason for him to turn heel. He’s having problems with The 1-2-3 Kid, so have Kid come out to celebrate to only eat a Razor’s Edge. The Bad Guy doesn’t need any hangers-on chico, he’s coming for that belt that Diesel wears around his waist.
- Where in the World is Bret Hart? At the Announcers Desk!
In Your House IV was the first WWF PPV to take place in Canada since WrestleMania VI and Winnipeg the crowd is enthusiastic for most of the show. Winnipeg only received house shows and the occasional TV taping so this was a big event for them. Bret Hart does appear on the show but doing commentary and I’m genuinely baffled as to why they didn’t put him on the card. With Taker and Michaels on the shelf, the company needed to bring Bret off the bench and get him on the show. Why not book him against Lawler? I know the feud had been played out and they had blown off the Yankem feud, but have The King bait him into putting his title shot on the line. Bret comes out and puts Lawler through the ringer and wins with ease.
They’re wasting Sid on a frigging dark match with Henry Godwin, have him face Bret in a number one contender’s match since both guys feuded with Diesel. Nobody is going to buy a PPV to see Bret Hart do commentary but they’ll buy the show if he’s wrestling. Another Hart missing from the show is Owen Hart, stuck in a tag match with Yoko against Bigelow and Savio Vega. Why not move that match onto the card? This show is before one of the Big Five and it should entice fans into spending thirty dollars to order Survivor Series after spending fifteen dollars on this show. In a classic wrestling promoter move, the company continued to advertise the Michaels/Douglas and Taker/Mabel until the preshow knowing full well that those matches had no chance of happening.
- Who Laid Out This Main Event?
Except for his matches against Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, Diesel was saddled with some of the worst opponents of any champion in company history. Mabel, Yokozuna and King Kong Bundy are too fat for Diesel to powerbomb or do anything with and Sid was Diesel’s height so that killed off the formula of having a smaller opponent bump around the ring for him. When the company turned Davey Boy Smith heel, it looked like the company found the right opponent for the seven-footer. Smith was a good worker who could be erratic as a worker, with his match quality varying. What many people hoped for was Davey Boy using his power to throw Diesel around while Diesel uses his brawling to maul Bulldog while making use of his height advantage. What we ended up with was an ugly main event that teased these two guys using their power to only fall into a boring mess with Bulldog working over the legs of Diesel. This wouldn’t be bad but this takes up a good majority of the match leaving the crowd disinterested.
Diesel powers out of a hold but Bulldog goes right back to the legs and while that gets high marks for ring psychology, it doesn’t help the match. The Bret/Diesel match at the Rumble featured dissecting the legs of Diesel but it was done much better than this and it was a shock to see the squeaky-clean Hart showed a side of him that fans never saw. With Bulldog, it doesn’t have that same impact as when Bret did it back in January. That match felt like a down and dirty fight with two faces that are willing to play dirty to win and it featured more than Bret working the leg. It doesn’t help that Bulldog screws up the Sharpshooter twice and Bret calls him out on it and I’ll be honest, Bret on commentary and Cornette’s stooging are the only interesting parts of this match. Plus, this match should not have booked to go eighteen minutes, it should’ve been twelve minutes’ tops with more power moves by the two and less leg work by Smith. The finish of Davey Boy slapping Bret leading to Bret attacking Davey Boy is lame and the Winnipeg crowd is more than justified in hating it. The show closing brawl between Diesel and Bret should have been hot and sold people on the Survivor Series match but the crowd reacts to it with little enthusiasm. What a mess. Jim Cornette apologized to Vince after the show for the match being so awful.
When the cameras went off the air, Vince McMahon threw his headset and glasses down and yelled “HORRIBLE” as he left the ringside area. The Diesel era rolled into Winnipeg ran out of gas and stalled out at the Winnipeg Arena. It’s a boring show headlined by a complete mess of a main event and the lackluster post-match brawl is the cherry of on top. Vince McMahon had once again failed in his quest to find the next Hulk Hogan by taking a take crap from nobody brawler and turning him into a 1980’s babyface. It didn’t work. Luckily, Survivor Series 1995 ended up being the best WWF PPV since King of the Ring 1993 as the eight-man tag matches are enjoyable and the main event between Diesel and Bret is excellent.