Craig Wilson, James Giles & Jamie Lithgow
Debuting in May 1995, the ‘In Your House’ PPV was held by the WWF on the months that previously had no events. As such, they were initially seen as b-shows and with a cheaper price and only 2 hours instead of 3 it’s difficult to think otherwise.
However, ‘In Your House’ has given the WWF fans many classic matches and memorable moments. Who can forget the first ever ‘Buried Alive’ match between Mankind and The Undertaker at the unsurprisingly titled ‘Buried Alive’ event or the deafening crowd reaction as the Hart Foundation faced Austin, Goldust, Shamrock and The Legion of Doom? Or a blood soaked Vince McMahon being sent through the announce table at ‘St Valentine’s Day Massacre’, the first Hell in a Cell match or the match that pitted Shawn Michaels & Diesel against The British Bulldog and Yokozuna with every WWF title on the line.
With the WWE releasing ‘The Best of In Your House’ on DVD – hosted by Todd Pettengill, this Sunday Sermon will look at the many great moments that emanated from the ‘In Your House’ events between May 1995 and April 1999, when the ‘In Your House’ part of the title was dropped.
Craig: I have to say I’m really looking forward to this DVD release and I’m delighted that Pettengill is hosting, I can’t think of a better host considering his prominence on the early shows. Sticking with the early shows, some of those were pretty poor but then again, so was much of the WWF product in the 1995/96 time period. The first IYH had the great match between Bret Hart and Hakushi but it took till IYH 5: Seasons Beatings for the first solid good show.
Without doubt my favourite In Your House is number 16 ‘Canadian Stampede’. The crowd reaction is off the scale throughout the whole event leading to the 10-man tag main event. Even the reaction to the entrance of The Hart Foundation is incredible growing as Pillman then Neidhart then the Bulldog then Owen came onto the stage before hitting a crescendo as Bret Hart stepped through the curtain. Perhaps it was one of the hottest crowds at an event in WWF history.
As you would expect, the quality of the shows improved a great deal in 1997 with the IYHs from that year giving us some great moments. ‘Badd Blood: In Your House’ is best remembered for the first ever Hell in the Cell match but, of course, was also the show where Kane made his long anticipated debut and would wage war on The Undertaker.
James: I think this is a great subject and I’m pleased WWE is releasing a DVD celebrating IYH. The series of shows went from 1995 to 1999, so featured some of the best workers in WWE history and produced some wonderful bouts. Coming straight to mind was Shawn Michaels v Mankind from ‘In Your House 10: Mind Games’, which is one of finest matches either of them has had. Michaels and Foley, along with Bret Hart, Steve Austin and The Undertaker, are really the superstars of ‘IYH house and feature in large portion of the best bouts. Foley, as Dude Love, had an excellent brawl with Austin at Over The Edge ’98, as Mankind brutally clashed with The Rock at St Valentine’s Day Massacre ’99 and also the aforementioned Buried Alive match with Undertaker at IYH 11. Bret had loads of great moments too, including a squeezing quality bouts out of Jean Pierre Lafitte (IYH 3) and The Patriot (IYH 17), and being part of the IYH 13 Fatal Four Way main event.
IYH also featured some great matches from WWE’s brief attempt at a cruiserweight/light heavyweight division, including The Great Sasuke v Taka Michinoku from IYH 16 and Michinoku v Pantera from No Way Out ’98.
Craig: The Fatal Four main event is a classic bout, I rewatched that recently and it’s a great performance from Vader in that one. Arguably his finest match for the WWF.
I have to admit I’d completely forgotten about those lightweight matches, it was during the phase that Vince toyed with doing something good with that division. A plan he eventually lost patience with. A shame as the two Michinoku matches you mentioned there are great bouts. A wrestling card needs a spot fest to get the fans off their seats and Taka was able to deliver those. A guy they could have used a lot better than they did, that’s for sure.
Here’s a question, if Shawn Michaels is Mr Wrestlemania, who is Mr In Your House? Is it Michaels as well? You mention his bout with Mankind but there’s also the classic brawl with Diesel at IYH7 and, of course, Hell in a Cell v The Undertaker. Who else springs to mind?
James: It is probably a toss-up between Michaels and Austin. Stone Cold has some real underrated ones, such as his match with Bret from Revenge of the ‘Taker, and then is match with ‘Taker from Cold Day In Hell. For me, that is one of their best match ups, Austin moves so much better pre neck injury. Then there are his classics, such as v Dude Love from Over the Edge, v The Rock at Backlash ’99 and against Vince at St Valentine’s Day Massacre. He was also part of the titanic 10 man from Canadian Stampede, and the crazy 8 man brawl from No Way Out ’98.
To Michaels’ credit, he also had a wild match with Taker at Ground Zero and a great match with Davey Boy from IYH 8, as well as the ones we have already mentioned. Personally, i feel Austin just tips it, as great as they both were as wrestlers, the reactions to Austin were always better and that always added an extra layer of intensity.
Craig: Working my way through 1997 era WWF and the feud between Hart and Austin is the best part of it. The last Raw Rewind I did had a great street fight between the two as well.
That unsanctioned 8 man tag is brilliant, a great standard Attitude Era type match up. Fantastic though.
One of my favourite IYH moments has to be Owen Hart’s return at IYH Degeneration X, the one after the Montreal Screwjob, where he jumps Michaels, to a great cheer, and lands a very stiff looking punch…
Additionally, there’s no better host than Todd Pettengill, right?
Jamie: Dok Hendrix? He’s a wrestling icon, don’t cha know
Craig: You just want to link to your Icons of Wrestling piece, don’t you?
James: I seriously have no idea who Todd Pettengill is. Just Googled him and still none the wiser…
Craig: What?! He used to be a host on WWF. That said, he did only do first few and has aged a bit. Maybe I’m just showing my age here…
James: I’ve only ever watched the odd match on YouTube from the 1995-96 years, don’t think I’ve seen any of the early shows from start to finish. Wasn’t until mid-97 i got into WWF again after a few years not watching, so not my era so much.
I may have to seek some of the early ones out though.
Craig: Ah, so you missed the old style set that looked like the front yard of a home and the whole giving away a shout thing they did at the start? Crazy thinking about things like that when you consider a few years down the line people were getting sent through tables and being buried alive.
In Your House was a great way to view the change in the WWF/E product. The early ones showcased guys with pirate gimmicks (Jean-Pierre Lafitte) and a farmer (Henry Godwinn) but fast forward to 1999 and Backlash, we are fully into the T&A era as Road Dogg desperately tries to get Debra to show her puppies and we have a hardcore match that see’s Al Snow jump from the steps of a production truck onto Hardcore Holly, who is lying on the roof of a car.
In terms of a good starting point from the early ones, ‘In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings’ is one of the better early ones and has a very good main event pitting WWF Champion Bret Hart against his brother-in-law the British Bulldog. Not on par with their 1992 Summerslam exploits but not all that far away.
With every WWF event of the time, things really kicked off towards the end of 1996/start of 1997. ‘In Your House 13: Final Four’ is a fantastic event with a great main event, from then on in the shows were largely, at the very least, solid events.