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  • Connor Ewens

Every WWE New Generation Era PPV Reviewed & Ranked: Part 2/4

Welcome to part 2 my fellow marks. In my WCW R'n'R I dropped a Hulk Hogan ChatGPT thing which I thought was funny, so this introduction is going to be done by ChatGPT's version of the Undertaker:

In the ominous shadows of the blogosphere, where words resonate like the tolling of a funeral bell, you find yourself standing at the gateway to a realm veiled in mystery and intrigue. Brace yourself, for this is no ordinary journey into the digital abyss—it is a descent into the cryptic depths of my mind.

As you navigate the dimly lit corridors of my thoughts, prepare to encounter tales shrouded in enigma, where each sentence is a tombstone etched with the echoes of the unknown. The ink on these virtual pages is imbued with the essence of The Undertaker, weaving narratives that rise from the ashes of curiosity and curiosity alone. In this hallowed space, words become the undertakers of conventional wisdom, burying the mundane and resurrecting the extraordinary. Let the procession begin, as we embark on a solemn pilgrimage through the graveyard of ideas, where the echoes of insight linger like the lingering chime of a death knell.

Welcome, dear reader, to the Undertaker's Blog—an exploration into the shadows where the pen is mightier than the scythe, and every sentence carries the weight of a tombstone.

It upsets me that a program writes better than I do. On with the rankings.

28) In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell, May 11th 1997. 39%

Steve Austin won a match to become the number 1 contender to Undertaker's WWF title, but we'll cover that later. Whilst a date with the Deadman is set up, Spooky Sam is far from Austin's only worry. His rivalry with Bret Hart was at an all time high after a street fight on Raw left Bret in a wheelchair (which he needed for real because of recent knee surgery). Hart brought in two new members to his Hart Foundation, Brian Pillman and the returning Jim Neidhart. Austin may have his eyes on the gold, but the Hart Foundation have bought front row tickets to the show. Tomfoolery almost guaranteed.

Before that though we have our dreaded undercard with little substance. Flash Funk vs HHH was a solid 10 minute opener, but it had no build and it was announced the day before on Shotgun Saturday Night. Flash Funk (aka 2 Cold Scorpio) was ahead of his time and should have been a star in WWE or WCW. A planned Sid vs Mankind match is out due to a Sid injury so Rocky Maivia is here to replace. Babyface Rocky Maivia, ew. The action was okay but basic. The crowd did not care for Rocky here and even cheered the heel Mankind. These two would have much better matches later on. I'm usually a sucker for a good Gauntlet match, but anyone with a brain and good taste can agree that the Nation of Domination vs Ahmed Johnson was awful. It's booked pretty well, Johnson defeats Crush, Vega then gets DQ'd to soften Johnson up for a loss in match 3 to Faarooq. Smart way to keep your face strong and your heel faction on top. The issue is all of the wrestling was terrible. Ahmed vs Crush was awful, Ahmed vs Savio was just as bad. Ahmed vs Faarooq was slightly better but still largely terrible. I'll give this some pity points for the Dominator by Faarooq because that looked legit impressive.

Our final 2 matches are good at least. Ken Shamrock's debut match against Vader was not the cleanest match ever, but boy was it entertaining. They both went out there and leathered each other for our entertainment. Ken would shoot on Vader because he thought he was trying to sabotage the match, but the poor guy just needed to roll out for a rest. The debut intended to get Ken over as a killing machine and it worked. The main event between Austin and Undertaker was good too, but not great. These two have had classics with many top names, but they never had great chemistry together. They wrestled a bunch of times on PPV and never had a great match. This is well worked, the storytelling is solid and I enjoyed the Harts antics but it fell a little flat I think. The post-match stuff was far more exciting. The Foundation jump the Undertaker after costing Austin the match. Austin sees Bret alone in his wheelchair so he tips him out and attacks him, which was hilarious. Austin & Taker clear out the Harts, Austin stunners him and runs after the Harts. An exciting end to a mediocre evening.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Flash Funk. **

Mankind defeats Rocky Maivia. *1/2

Nation of Domination (Crush, Savio Vega & Faarooq) defeat Ahmed Johnson, Gauntlet match. 1/4*

Ken Shamrock defeats Vader, No Holds Barred. *** (MOTN)

Undertaker (c) defeats Steve Austin, WWF Championship. ***

27) In Your House: Premiere, May 14th 1995. 39.2%

After the culmination of the lacklustre Wrestlemania 11, the In Your House shows began to fill in the gaps in between their major 5 PPV's. A big promotional tactic used for this event was a sweepstake with a chance of winning a new house in Orlando, Florida. Small problem with that, how many viewers are willing or financially capable of moving their entire life to Florida if they didn't live there? Very few. The sweepstake was won by an 11 year old boy, the family sold the house 6 months later so at least they made some good money from the whole thing.

The first ever IYH gets off to a cracking start with a great match between Hakushi and Bret Hart. It began a bit wonky due to Hakushi's inexperience, but once it got going it was fantastic. Hakushi's high-flying offence was very fresh and wowed the audience, whilst Bret lived up to his moniker of best there is, was and will be. This wouldn't be the last we see of Bret tonight. The good times continued with an enjoyable handicap match, Razor Ramon overcoming Jeff Jarrett and his Roadie. From here though, things took a turn for the worst. A horrible 2 minute match between Mabel and Adam Bomb to qualify for the King of the Ring, the wrong man won because Bomb's offence actually looked decent but Mabel did not. Owen Hart & Yoko retained their tag titles against the Smoking Gunns in a fun little match. Bret Hart has his second match of the night against Jerry Lawler, a feud that began 2 years ago and boy has it run its course. Lawler wants to challenge Bret's mother Helen to a match after he wins here. This was another short match, Bret on offence until a Hakushi run in aids a cheap win for the King.

The show concludes with a big man match for the world title, Diesel vs Sid. A Diesel vs HBK rematch was scrapped due to Michael's injury, I definitely would have preferred that. It's worth mentioning that on the pre-show Sid is interviewed live and he asks to redo his promo when he stumbles over his words. You know, like he always does. "We're live pal" says Mean Gene, as Sid is murdered with embarrassment. The match sucks by the way, a stale 11 minutes of punching and stalling until a crappy DQ finish when Tatanka gets involved. Fuck you Tatanka, and fuck this match. Fuck this show too I guess.

Bret Hart defeats Hakushi. ***3/4 (MOTN)

Razor Ramon defeats Jeff Jarrett & Roadie. **3/4

Mabel defeats Adam Bomb. 3/4*

Owen Hart & Yokozuna (c) defeat Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart), Tag Championships. **

Jerry Lawler defeats Bret Hart. *1/2

Diesel (c) defeats Sycho Sid by DQ, WWF Championship. *

26) King of the Ring, June 8th 1997. 39.3%

This show is most commonly known for HHH finally winning his King of the Ring which he was penciled in the win the year prior before the infamous 'Curtain Call' segment. However, this entire show was scheduled to have been booked very differently. According to Meltzer, the advertised semi-final matches at the arena were Ahmed Johnson vs Vader and Goldust vs Savio Vega. I have to assume Vader was the planned winner. Unfortunately Big Van Leon was legit inured after his match with Ken Shamrock, and was replaced by HHH who was already eliminated from the tournament by DQ. How did they book his re-addition? He said he didn't know DQ eliminations existed in the tournament and threatened to sue if he wasn't readded. Pretty silly. Just book a 'last chance' match with all the first round losers. I guess hindsight is a gift. This is far from the last major change on this show.

The show takes quite some time before it gets into any form of watchable rhythm. HHH vs Johnson was a bad match, Hunter is not at the level to be carrying shit workers yet. Mankind vs Lawler was the other semi-final, it was better but rather boring and no one expected Lawler to win. 'The King' travelled over 200 miles to be there after appearing for ECW the night before. The wrestlecrap continues with an awful Crush vs Goldust match, 10 minutes of rest holds, punches and Goldust being a horny creep. The show slowly gets a bit better from here. A 6-man tag sees the LOD team with Sid to take on the Hart Foundation. Some of this was okay and some of this was sloppy, my biggest gripe though is how much no selling the faces did. I swear after almost all of Bulldog's offence. the good guys just popped up like they were slapped by an infant. I don't blame the foundation for this sucking. The KOTR finals, Mankind vs HHH. This is a good match, but not as good as we would see from both men in the future years. The first 10-15 minutes was very slow and nearly killed the crowd but the final part of the match was very good. Mankind took some sick bumps and came off as the sympathetic face, Hunter gets a lot of assistance from Chyna as he wins the 11th KOTR tournament. He continues to kick Mankind around, this feud is far from over.

Next, a very exciting first time match up between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. This is HBKs first PPV match since the Royal Rumble and the whole 'lost my smile' fiasco. The plan here was for a Hart vs HBK rematch, but like most of their planned matches it was cancelled. Hart had a knee injury and needed surgery anyways, but that isn't the only reason. The controversial 'Sunny Days' promo on Raw saw Michaels subtly suggest Bret was cheating on his wife with Tammy Lee Sytch, who was far more attractive in the 90s than she is currently. Bret was understandably very hot about this so Vince called off the match to prevent an incident. Without an opponent, Austin steps in cancelling yet another match, a singles bout with his former partner Brian Pillman. HBK and Austin are the tag champions after beating Owen and Bulldog, but they are far from buddies. I know Michaels gets deserved criticism for his behaviour during this time, but there is a moment where a fan with special needs has gotten past security and tries to help Michaels up after being knocked down. Shawn handled the situation extremely well, getting the fan to security safely without upsetting him. He wasn't always a tosspot. This was a great match, the only one they had with both men relatively healthy though both men did have injuries, just not as serious as they were for their Wrestlemania match. It's a very even match right until the finish, it ends in a double DQ as both men keep attacking referees for not counting the pinfalls promptly enough. Whilst a bit disappointing, I get why it was done and at least the 20 minutes prior was awesome.

The show closes with Undertaker vs Faarooq for the world title. This was fine. Very average. No real story here and no real threat of Taker losing his title at all. A weak airy fart of a finish to the show. Another weak show overall with one standout match, which is the theme for the foreseeable future.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Ahmed Johnson, KOTR SF. *

Mankind defeats Jerry Lawler, KOTR SF. *1/2

Goldust defeats Crush. 1/2*

Hart Foundation (Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart & British Bulldog) defeat Sycho Sid & Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal). *3/4

Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Mankind, KOTR Finals. ***

Shawn Michaels vs Steve Austin ends in a double DQ. **** (MOTN)

Undertaker (c) defeats Faarooq, WWF Championship. **

25) King of the Ring, June 19th 1994. 39.5%

This was the event where the Fed really began pushing the whole 'New Generation' campaign. After former mainstay Hulk Hogan showed up with the rival WCW, Vince and his company doubled down on their image of being younger and cooler than the rest with a fresh roster of faces. Throughout the show commentary mention the New Generation Era, A LOT. The hype video even presented Hogan as an out of date entertainer. With Vince away due to neck surgery, the commentary booth featured Gorilla Monsoon, Randy Savage and former NFL player Art Donovan. Art, clearly without any interest or knowledge of wrestling, put in one of the worst commentary performances seen on PPV. He is like the 90s version of David Otunga, adding nothing and infuriating to listen to. Eventually Monsoon doesn't even acknowledge Donovan's bullshit, doing his work and pretending Art never existed. Drinking game, take a shot every time Donovan asks or talks about how much someone weighs. This was the first of two KOTR events where none of the tournament matches exceeded 10 minutes, the other being in the Attitude Era.

The quarter-finals was certainly a mixed bag. Owen Hart vs Tatanka was a fast paced match that was a lot of fun. Tatanka got a lot of near falls but the crafty heel Owen figured out a way to pull out a victory. 1-2-3 Kid defeated Jeff Jarrett in a fun sprint of a 5 minute match, whilst Bam Bam Bigelow lost to Razor Ramon in a solid, even contest. IRS vs Mabel was a very bad match, however mercifully short. Later in the semi's, Owen has another good match defeating 1-2-3 Kid in a match often praised as the best match under 5 minutes long. 217 seconds of fast, athletic competition. Ramon dominated his way past IRS in 5 minutes to set up our finals. The final was okay, it went about 6 minutes so they didn't get much time to tell much of a story except both men selling fatigue. After a Neidhart run in, Hart drops a Savage-esque elbow to win the tournament. He had a great coronation segment and this really should have been the beginning of his elevation to a consistent main eventer, but it never worked out that way. Overall a pretty weak tournament but the right winner and more fuel into the fire of the Hart rivalry.

Only 3 other matches on the show and only 1 of them is any good. IC champion Diesel challenged Hart for his world title in a very good match though it dragged at points. This was probably their best encounter together, even with the flat DQ finish to protect both men. The Headshrinkers defeated Yokozuna & Crush in a match that is about as good as you expect. Our main event for our "New Generation" show, is the first ever WWE PPV main event between two 40 year olds. How ironic. Roddy Piper wrestles his first match in over 2 years against heel commentator Lawler. This was a boring match, they got some crowd noise because they are legends. The ran through the greatest hits but it wasn't very good. Piper wouldn't wrestle for another 2 more years. WWE, if you're going to advertise yourselves as younger and cooler than your competition, you probably shouldn't have your two oldest talent main event your shows. Food for thought.

Razor Ramon defeats Bam Bam Bigelow, KOTR QF. **

IRS defeats Mabel. 1/2*

Owen Hart defeats Tatanka. ***1/4

1-2-3 Kid defeats Jeff Jarrett. **1/4

Diesel defeats Bret Hart (c) by DQ, WWF Championship. ***1/2 (MOTN)

Razor Ramon defeats IRS, KOTR SF. *1/2

Owen Hart defeats 1-2-3 Kid, KOTR SF. ***

Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) (c) defeat Crush & Yokozuna, Tag Championships. *

Owen Hart defeats Razor Ramon, KOTR Final. **

Roddy Piper defeats Jerry Lawler. 3/4*

24) Summerslam, August 27th 1995. 40%

A weak roster meant that the WWF were cycling through the usual upper tier of talent to fill their Supercard's in the hope they can survive the mid 90s drought of wrestling interest. Because of that, a lot of the undercard were upset about lack of earnings and threatened to seek work elsewhere. Not being able to afford more roster cuts, Vince gave more PPV slots to the enhancement talent so they could get a decent payday. The biggest problem with that? Very few people want to buy your PPV because of your enhancement talent. They might as well have promoted their camera crew as being on the show. Even with discounted tickets Summerslam sales were down by a third of the previous year. That's what happens when you have a card full of jobbers, the 'Stay Puft' Marshmallow Man in your main event and your best technical wrestler in a feud with a fucking dentist. This is the first time Summerslam was aired on a Sunday, not for any particular reason, I assume it worked better with their taping schedule. On the same day as this event, the final ever WWF Wrestling Challenge aired after 9 years on screen.

The starts well with a better than expected match between the 1-2-3 Kid and Hakushi. They're both pretty green but both have a thrilling arsenal of fast-paced offence, a perfect way to excite the crowd ahead of the show, a hidden gem of an opener. The show failed to maintain the excitement with a pair of meaningless lower mid-card matches with little investment or build. Helmsley maintained his undefeated streak against "Spark Plugg" Bob Holly, the worst iteration of Big Bobbles. Kayfabe brothers the Smoking Gunns defeated real life twin brothers Jacob and Eli Blu in a boring tag match, I could never tell which Blu was who. The jobber matches continue, but this next one actually has some build. Barry Horowitz is probably the most famous jobber and most reliable for making anyone he works with look great. He received a mini push in the mid 90s after a WWF career full of losses he got into a feud with Skip. Horowitz beat Skip on Wrestling Challenge #461 and then survived a 10-minute challenge on Superstars, seemingly having his number. A third match is set up here for Barry's first PPV under his own name, his first WWF PPV was survivor Series '93 as the Red Knight. This was a solid match with a good story and a huge pop for the Horowitz win. Proof that you can correctly invest in anyone and turn them into a fan favourite. His push wouldn't last long.

5 matches left and most of them are not very good at all. Bertha Faye defeated Alundra Blayze in a bad match, saved from a dud rating since Blayze actually tried to produce something decent. Kama vs The Undertaker was a casket match so boring I would have rather been doing religious data entry. It was like watching two snails do a tango inside a bucket of salt. Then we have Bret Hart vs Jerry Lawler's evil dentist, Isaac Yankem. Poor Glenn Jacobs, he was saddled with so many bad gimmicks before landing his gig as the Devil's favourite demon. This wasn't awful, Hart is great and Yankem would be great in a few years time but he was greener than gooseberries here. Bad DQ finish though, we're all clamouring for that rematch right? Right?

Our semi main is Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels in a ladder match, a direct rematch from Wrestlemania X without any build. Why? Even Vince knew that his card was significantly lacking. He cancelled a planned Sid vs HBK match in the hopes that this match would save his show. He was right. I actually think this match is better than their first one, which is insane considering they were prohibited from directly using the ladder as a weapon. They worked an amazing 25 minute match with call backs to their first encounter, great psychology and injury selling. This wasn't a chef's kiss. This was a chef's BJ. Following one of the best Summerslam matches of all time, is one of the worst of all time. Diesel vs Mabel. Jesus H Christ. This was a painful 10 minute watch, not just painful for us either. Nash was working with a sore back and he asked Mabel to be careful with him. What does he doe? Mabel just straight up sits his fat ass on him. You can hear Diesel audibly cuss out Mabel for dropping all his weight on him. This match deserves a dud rating, but I am going to give it a slither of respect for Diesel's tope dive which was unexpected. Apparently Nash calmed Vince down afterwards because he was ready to fire Mabel for his performance and injuring the world champion. Lex Luger did a run in during this match and it would be his final televised appearance before jumping ship as the first major on screen defection in the Monday Night Wars. Without that 5 star classic, this show would have placed at 37th instead of here.

Hakushi defeats 1-2-3 Kid. ***1/2

Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Bob Holly. *3/4

Smoking Gunns defeat Blu Brothers (Jacob & Eli). *1/2

Barry Horowitz defeats Skip. **1/2

Bertha Faye defeats Alundra Blayze (c), WWF Women's Championship. 1/2*

Undertaker defeats Kama, Casket match. *

Bret Hart defeats Isaac Yankem DDS by DQ. **

Shawn Michaels (c) defeats Razor Ramon, Ladder match, IC Championship. ***** (MOTN)

Diesel (c) defeats King Mabel, WWF Championship. 1/4*

23) Summerslam, August 18th 1996. 40%

A full calendar year later the WWF was still not booming financially and were getting their asses kicked by WCW in weekly TV ratings. However, there were some positive changes. They had a small influx of great talent such as Mankind, Marc Mero and Vader. For the most part they had ditched the lame, cartoonish storylines and gimmicks and began trialling more realistic and gritty booking. It didn't help this show much though, being the lowest bought Summerslam ever pre-WWE Network. Bret Hart is taking time off after putting over Michaels so it is up to HBK and the new crop of talent to fill out the main event scene.

Let's get the worst out of the way because it is uncomfortable to talk about. Jerry Lawler vs Jake Roberts, a feud that poked fun at Jake's very real alcoholism. Lawler mocked him every week until Roberts finally got mad. Lawler carries a bag to the ring like Jake but inside it is bottles of whiskey. He offers Jake alcohol in return of keeping the snake hidden, Jake declines and whips his snake out (not sexual). They wrestle for 4 minutes and it's just sad to watch. Jake is beyond his best in the ring and is clearly in his darkest hour. I'm glad it was short, but I'm sad this existed in the first place. Really distasteful. The second worst match, only because it features wrestling and not jokes about addiction, goes to the 4-way tag team match for the titles. Hey look it's Al 'Leif Cassidy' Snow! Remember how good tag team wrestling was in the Golden Era? Well that died in this era and the corpse just lay there in the sun, getting hotter and more disgusting. Point being, tag team wrestling would suck now until the late 90's and the rise of 3 teams of "brothers". This was a pretty bad match with zero heat and nothing interesting. The Bodydonnas and the New Rockers were given little time to do anything, before we got more of the Gunns vs the Godwinns. The joys.

British Bulldog vs Sycho Sid was a mid power match, kept below 10 minutes which is a blessing in disguise. Goldust vs Marc Mero was decent but weirdly booked. First, they made Goldust the one infatuated with Sable instead of Marlena because they got cold feet on a lesbian angle, which I don't mind but it didn't really fit the Goldust character. Second, Mero debuts his awesome new finisher called Wild Thing, a crisp shooting star press, but he doesn't win with it. A ref distraction gives Goldust a cheap win which makes Mero look a bit shit. So what is good on this show? Owen Hart vs Savio Vega was a solid opener even without any build, however the finish was blundered when Hart "sneakily" used his cast as a weapon, even though the referee blatantly saw him do it and decided not to DQ him. Not the wrestlers fault, the referee shouldn't have been peeping.

We get the first ever Boiler Room brawl between Undertaker and Mankind. The match begins in the boiler room, the winner is whoever escapes the room first and takes the urn from Paul Bearer. It was a unique concept that was fitting with both characters and the feud built. Bearer stands in the ring with the urn whilst the match begins. There is little commentary, just these two leathering each other in the backstage area. The first portion of this match is pre-taped but they pretend that it is happening live. This is an early prototype to what we could expect from the forthcoming Attitude Era, a lot of violence involved. They use a variety of weapons in the vicinity such as pipes, trash cans and even just bits of wood. Mankind takes an awful bump falling off of a wooden ladder which was nearly career-threatening as it damaged his sciatic nerve. They fight out of the boiler room, through the hallways and eventually into the ring area. Taker bumps Mankind to the floor and approaches Bearer prepared to win, however Bearer is hesitant to hand over the urn. Mankind attacks Taker with he mandible claw, Bearer laughs and then he gets own shots in on his long-term client. He hands the urn to Mankind as they leave, completing his turn. The storytelling was great. The match went a little long and dragged a lot, but I was invested enough to be entertained.

The show is closed by Vader vs HBK, an excellent match which should have been first of many if it wasn't for the childish actions of Mr Hickenbottom. Vader forgot a spot where he is supposed to move and Michaels throws a hissy fit, shoot kicking him in the head. That ruined any plans of a rematch and a world title run for the Mastodon which is a real shame. The match is restarted a few times after a count out and a DQ finish but eventually Michaels puts the big man away. Really good match, slightly overbooked but this was during a time where we hadn't seen this type of booking so overdone like today. I didn't mind at all.

Owen Hart defeats Savio Vega. **3/4

Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart) (c) defeat the Godwinns (Henry & Phineas), the Bodydonnas (Skip & Zip) & the New Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy), Tag Championships. 1/2*

Sycho Sid defeats British Bulldog. *1/2

Goldust defeats Marc Mero. **1/4

Jerry Lawler defeats Jake Roberts. nil

Mankind defeats Undertaker, Boiler Room Brawl. ***

Shawn Michaels (c) defeats Vader, WWF Championship. **** (MOTN)

22) Wrestlemania XII, March 31st 1996. 40%

Unlike prior Wrestlemania's full of pageantry and showmanship, Vince McMahon wanted a much more talent-focused event this time around, outright refusing to book any celebrities. I assume this was less because he wanted them and more because he couldn't afford them. Plus, he thought booking Lawrence Taylor at WMXI would boost sales and whilst it definitely helped, sales were still low and disappointing. This Wrestlemania is all about the wrestlers, which might have been a mistake because this is one of the weakest Wrestlemania cards, saved by a historic main event.

In fairness, 3 of the matches are not bad but they're not pulse raisers either. The opening 6-man tag has 5 minutes on the line with Jim Cornette for Yokozuna if his team wins. Unfortunately for him he does not, or maybe it's fortunately since that would mean he would be wrestling for over 15 minutes. Vader and Owen Hart were the standouts in this match, everyone else worked their role well enough. Steve Austin's first Wrestlemania match was against Savio Vega. This was an average 10-minute match, they wrestled a much better match 2 months later at an In Your House show. Diesel wrestled Undertaker for the first match in the streak that didn't suck ass. Hooray! It wasn't good per say, but it was a solid big man vs big man. There are two major blemishes on this card. First, Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs a returning Ultimate Warrior. Linda McMahon had to play mediator during negotiations because there was still animosity between Vince and Hellwig. Hellwig respected Linda a lot. The match lasts just over a minute. Hunter kicks him and hits his pedigree finisher. Warrior pops up immediately, channels his roid rage powers and hits 7 moves to win. A punch, 3 clotheslines, shoulder tackle, gorilla press slam, big splash. A pretty big waste and I am sure Hunter only agreed to this with the promise of his King of the Ring victory in the near future. Apparently Gerald Brisco tried to help Hunter change the plan to bury his finisher, but that doesn't work with the Warrior, brother.

The other major fault was the Goldust vs Roddy Piper match in a Backlot Brawl. Originally booked was Razor Ramon vs Goldust. However, Ramon handed his notice as he planned to join WCW. Coincidentally (or maybe not) Razor also failed a drug test and was suspended so he would miss the show. The first half of this match was filmed 3 weeks prior to the event, but like the Boiler Room brawl we pretend it's live. They fight around backstage for a little before Goldust runs Piper over with his gold-painted car, a spot Piper only agreed to as a return favour for Vince babysitting Piper's son. I can't imagine Vince babysitting, it would be like the movie the Pacifier but if Vin Diesel was an angry, muscular grandpa with a bodybuilding fetish. Goldust drives away, Piper gets in a car and chases after him, a car chase scene takes place eerily (and intentionally) similar to the OJ Simpson car chase that took place two years prior. Later in the show, the pair arrive at the arena and brawl in the ring. We get some shots to the cock, Piper strips Goldust down who is revealed to be wearing women's lingerie. Piper gave him one more crack to the balls and Goldust ran away. There was no referee so I guess Piper wins? Overall, a pretty weak match that had little cohesion but I guess that was the point. It had some entertaining moments, but I think they could have done it better.

The closes with the first ever WWE 60-minute iron-man match, Bret Hart defends against Shawn Michaels. These two only pieced together this match the morning of the show. Hart credits Shawn for the first 25 minutes and the last 5 minutes whilst he did 30 minutes in between. The rating for this varies wildly depending on who you ask. Some people call this a classic in stamina, endurance and slow-burning storytelling. Others call this an exhausting, tedious match that should have had more falls for the first ever one. Me? I grew up owning a Shawn Michaels DVD which featured this match in full and I rewatched this so many times. My opinion is definitely biased, but I can agree it is not a 5 star classic. However, I still think this is an awesome match. It's a slow feeling out process to start but then as the minutes tick by both men grow more tired yet try and throw more offence at each other. The sharpshooter is locked in on HBK in the final minutes and it is some amazing selling work by both men. It goes to a time limit draw, Bret is already walking away when it is revealed the match will continue. He looks heelish. We get an excellent couple of minutes and Michaels finally puts Bret away with his Sweet Chin Music. A great performance, but after all of that the lads botched a handshake. Yep. Apparently, Bret ignoring a handshake from Michaels was planned to keep animosity between them for a future rematch. Hart says this, whilst HBK seemed pissed off that Bret refused to shake his hand and got hot. Their relationship was already far from sunny at this point, that was more fuel on the fire. HBK tells Hebner to "get him out of my fucking ring". Hart looked less than pleased as he walked away. Still, without this match this would be an all time low for Wrestlemania I think.

British Bulldog, Owen Hart & Vader defeat Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson & Jake Roberts. **1/2

Roddy Piper defeats Goldust, Hollywood Backlot Brawl. 3/4*

Steve Austin defeats Savio Vega. **

Ultimate Warrior defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley. 1/4*

Undertaker defeats Diesel. **1/4

Shawn Michaels defeats Bret Hart (c) 1-0, 60-minute Iron Man match, WWF Championship. ****1/4 (MOTN)

21) Wrestlemania 13, March 23rd 1997. 40.7%

If Wrestlemania XII was gunning for best one match show, the following year's Mania said "hold my WWF licensed sippy cup of beer". Yes this show is remembered for one match and one match only; the epic that was Rocky Maivia vs The Sultan. What a classic. There are lots of little backstage happenings before this event; Mankind narrowly avoiding an epidural due to his injury build up, a meeting with Curt Hennig failing to prevent him from leaving to join WCW. But the most prominent of all was the angle a month prior to this event. Shawn Michaels' "losing his smile". Whilst we're led to believe Shawn needed a break due to health reasons, the more commonly believed story is that he didn't want to put over Bret at Wrestlemania so he made up this bullshit excuse to get out of wrestling at all. Next time I want a day off work, I will see if telling them I've lost my smile works. This is the lowest bought Wrestlemania of all time, 1997 saw much needed transitioning for the company but they were a little while away yet from turn heads fully.

Yeah so this show mostly sucks. The opening 4-way tag is another one of those eliminators with teams no one really cares about. Mostly pretty bad, Furnas & LaFon were good wrestlers but lacked personality. The aforementioned Rocky vs Sultan match was the worst though, just so fucking boring and mediocre. Rocky was far from over here and no one cared for the Sultan either. Both men would have much more success in the coming years, Rocky turning heel and Sultan exposing his phat cheeks. Hunter vs Goldust was fine but it was a slow match with little fan interest or intensity. A stacked tag team match between Vader, Mankind, Owen Hart and Bulldog was surprisingly disappointing, probably because all 4 men were heels so it was hard to root for any man in this. Also, a lame double count out finish at Wrestlemania? Have we not learned our lessons Vinnie Mac? Then there is the main event, Undertaker vs Sid. The Sycho one has been on two Wrestlemania cards and main evented both of them. How the fuck? Alongside Warrior, Sid might be the most overrated wrestler in the business for how much success he had. This was a dull 20 minutes, no psychology just punches and rest holds. The last few minutes were okay, but Undertaker should have had a more clean victory. The No DQ stipulation was only in place to cover a Bret Hart run in on Sid for some reason, which we'll cover. One of the weakest Wrestlemania main events of all time, but not as bad as Sid's first so well done I guess?

I say this is a one match show and that isn't really fair. When I saw the Nation of Domination (the worst iteration) vs LOD & Johnson in a Street Fight, I had little hope of watching anything entertaining. I am happy to say I was wrong, not only was it entertaining but it was actually good. I know, crazy. This was an ECW-influenced brawl that we hadn't seen very much of in the big Fed. This felt fresh and it played to all of the workers strengths. Poor Faarooq was hospitalised after this match due to injury. Funny story, apparently Johnson stole the LOD shoulder pads he was wearing, though he claims they were a gift from them post-match. I'm inclined to believe Ahmed, he seems like a decent guy plus he donated them for a display after Hawk's death, plus the LOD were a bit crazy.

Of course the best match of the show is Austin vs Bret, one of the best and most important wrestling matches of all time. Austin has been a dick to Hart for months but even as a heel he has been slowly getting cheers. Hart was the face but his interactions with Austin and non-wrestlers led to a small pocket of boos forming against him, setting the stage for the most perfect double turn in wrestling. These two wrestled a hate-filled submission match, with former UFC fighter and pioneer Ken Shamrock, who turned away an IWGP title match in favour of signing with the WWF. These two kicked serious ass for 20 minutes. No matter what Hart did to Austin, he would never quit because he is a tough SOB, that is the story and it was done perfectly. Austin ends up bleeding A LOT and Hart just continues to punish him. There is some nice moments where Bret does to Austin what he he did to Brian Pillman, aka "Pillmanising" him. The most memorable part though, is the closing Sharpshooter spot. Hart has Austin trapped in his lethal submission, Austin's face coated in crimson but refusing to give in to the pain. Eventually, Austin passes out and Bret wins by referee stoppage. Hart is pissed that he didn't make him submit, so he refuses to relinquish the hold and then keeps attacking him until Shamrock launches him for a huge pop. The crowd loved all of this. Hart went from valiant hero to whiny villain within 25 minutes. Austin went from cold-hearted asshole to resilient bad ass in 25 minutes. Shamrock was debuted as a threat to be taken seriously. This whole match and everything involved worked perfectly. So, why did Hart attack Sid later? Well because he is a whiny bitch now, I guess. It didn't really make sense to me unless I missed something, it was to reaffirm Hart is a heel now but I don't think that was necessary. This would be Hart's last Wrestlemania for quite a while, but it was his 12th in a row which is a feat only repeated and defeated by one other man. The Undertaker.

Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) defeat Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon, the Godwinns & New Blackjacks (Bradshaw & Windham), #1 contender for Tag Championships. 3/4*

Rocky Maivia (c) defeats The Sultan, IC Championship. 1/2*

Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Goldust. *3/4

Owen Hart & British Bulldog (c) vs Vader & Mankind ends in a double count out, Tag Championships. **1/4

Bret Hart defeats Steve Austin, No DQ Submission match. ***** (MOTN)

Ahmed Johnson & Legion of Doom defeat Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Crush & Savio Vega), Chicago Street Fight. ***

Undertaker defeats Sycho Sid (c), No DQ, WWF Championship. *

20) Royal Rumble, January 22nd 1994. 41%

The final Rumble event held on a Saturday for 28 years wasn't the only Royal Rumble match of the week. 5 days prior, Owen Hart won a Royal Rumble held at a Madison Square Garden house show. During that match, the 1-2-3 Kid got injured and has been pulled from the Royal Rumble here, replaced by avid NASCAR lover Sparky Plugg. The mid 90s were weird, I'm surprised we never saw a Milkman gimmick. Other replacements include Virgil filling in for Kamala, absent for unknown reasons. Also Bam Bam Bigelow features in his first Royal Rumble match replacing the injured Ludvig Borga. Another return is the Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase appears on WWF programming for the first time in 5 months. He's doing commentary after retiring earlier that month due to injuries.

We are in the midst of the amazing narrative within the Hart family. Owen Hart has been upset at living in Bret's shadow and has said some harsh words about him. Owen wants a match with Bret but he refuses. They cut a promo at the start of the year saying they have reconciled and buried any issues they had together, ready for a great year for the family. The Harts wrestled a good match against the Quebecers, fun fact Jacques becomes the first man to wrestle at 5 Rumble shows and not one of them being the rumble match itself. Good wrestling, but it was the storytelling that was the greatness here. Bret sold his knee injury amazingly, the referee ended up stopping the match because he was too injured to continue. This infuriated Owen and argued with Bret about not tagging out. Bret slowly got to his feet, then Owen kicked him back down cementing his heel turn. This was a great segment, Owen's turn felt expected yet also unpredictable. Owen's turn was justified and he has very rational reasons, but he is also being a dick about it so Bret still looks sympathetic. Owen's heel promo after was fantastic too, even if he said "I kicked your leg out of your leg". Amazing work by the brothers.

Nothing else could live up to that which is a shame. Bigelow vs Tatanka was an average match which followed the simple big heel vs resilient face booking. IRS vs Razor Ramon was fine, putting an end to their months long feud. Yokozuna's first casket match with Undertaker was the worst thing on the show, poorly worked and poorly booked. After a sluggish 10 minutes, Yokozuna gets help from the heel midcard to keep the Deadman down and into the casket. Literally 10 random people came to keep Taker in there. Oh, that isn't the bad part. This is. Yoko's victory music stops playing and we hear the gong. Smoke comes from the casket, the lights go out. A camera inside shows the Undertaker (but it's definitely not) awaken and he cuts his usual spooky promo, before he becomes a ghost I think? His ghost levitates out of the casket and ascends to the heavens whilst Paul Bearer holds up the urn. This was crap. Cheesy bollocks like this would doom the company for the next couple of years until it grew the fuck up. The recording of Taker in the coffin is rumoured to be Marty Jannetty but he denies it so who knows who the Projection-aker ever was.

The '94 rumble was the first to use 90 second intervals, I think it works better than 2 minutes or 30 seconds, a happy medium. More than half of the entrants are making their first Rumble appearance, including Lex Luger, Diesel and Jeff Jarrett. Scott Steiner and Samu are 1 and 2, far from exhilarating. That would be the tone for the whole match honestly. Far from exhilarating. We see the Steiners work together briefly before Owen Hart enters and eliminates Rick. Diesel enters at 7 and eliminates everyone then holds the ring for a while. Backstage we see foreign heels Great Kabuki & Genichiro Tenryu attack Lex Luger because fuck America, says Japan. Randy Savage appears in his last rumble and doesn't get eliminated by Diesel immediately. IC champion Michaels enters at 18 and teams with his bodyguard Diesel until Big Sexy was eliminated by 3 other big men. Luger enters at 23, not even selling the fact he was attacked earlier because America is unstoppable dammit! Or because Luger was terrible at selling. At number 25, no one comes out. Commentary theorise it is the injured Bret but he enters at 27, showing Luger how to correctly sell being hurt. Number 25 was later revealed to be Bastion Booger but he decided to skip because he was too sick. Atrocious booking, what a waste. Eventually by the time number 30 enters (Adam Bomb) there is a lot of people still in the ring, more than 10. The final four would be HBK, Luger, Hart and Fatu. Lex threw out Shawn whilst Bret threw Fatu in a very good elimination, satisfying because it happened so simultaneous. It wouldn't be the last bit of cohesive action. As Luger and Hart fought, Luger goes for a slam but they both tumble over the top and both feet touch the floor at the same time! It was done very well, which Bret credits Lex for pulling off since he was in control. After deliberation and squabbling, it was revealed they would both win, the first and only time that has ever happened. It is kinda lame, but I understand the thought process here. A rather weak rumble, they had some star power but a lot of filler entries and also poor booking decisions. It was boring mostly with little spots and little excitement except for the final few minutes.

Tatanka defeats Bam Bam Bigelow. **1/2

The Quebecers (Jacques & Pierre) (c) defeat Bret & Owen Hart, Tag Championships. *** (MOTN)

Razor Ramon (c) defeats IRS, IC Championship. **

Yokozuna (c) defeats Undertaker, Casket match, WWF Championship. *

Bret Hart & Lex Luger win last eliminating each other, Royal Rumble. *3/4

19) Summerslam, August 3rd 1997. 42.1%

The second Summerslam event in 1989 was the first ever televised WWF show to air from New Jersey. 8 years later in the same building, Summerslam '97 plays host the the second ever televised New Jersey show. Vince's big Fed teamed up with American entertainment chain Discovery Zone for a $1 million contest, but no one won. Several attempted calls went unanswered, someone eventually answered but failed to guess the correct key to the casket containing the cash. I'm getting flashbacks to Vince's Million Dollar Challenge. A change of the guard for WWF's broadcast team, the last PPV appearance for Todd Pettengill until his re-emergence in NXT during the pandemic, whilst Michael Cole makes his first PPV appearance. I wonder what ever happened to him. A weak crowd for this show, maybe because there was a raving tailgate party pre-show so the audience was too fucked up and sleepy to get into the action. New Jersey residents cannot handle their alcohol it seems.

A half and half show this, half of it is good and half is like falling crotch first onto a beehive. 2 months after their solid encounter at King of the Ring, Mankind and HHH have a far better match here inside a steel cage. A war within the steel but the cage does not prevent Chyna from getting involved. There was a spot where she slammed the cage door into Mick's head which nearly brained him, Mick recounts feeling full body pain after that. The most memorable spots was the big splash off the top by Mankind, recreating the magical moment that Jimmy Snuka once did in 1983. This was a very good match, but still far from their best. The show dips from here. Goldust vs Brian Pillman was a poor match due to Brian's limitations, the crowd remained positive throughout though which was nice to see. Pillman lost and had to wear a dress on Raw, haha! Comedy. Godwinns vs the LOD was exactly what you expect. Hot start for LOD, Godwinns control for a while then we get the comeback and win for the Road Warriors. Pretty boring and basic stuff. British Bulldog vs Ken Shamrock was pretty solid, there was a lot of rest holds by Ken who is still aclimating to the WWF style. Shamrock loses by DQ after Bulldog throws dog food on him (do you get it?) and he snaps. Shamrock's gimmick was cool, snapping and being an uncontrollable beast. The post match angle of him destroying anyone in his path including Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco was awesome. He was getting over quick.

The worst match comes from the GANG WARFARE storyline, which doesn't shock me. Boricuas vs DOA was terrible, ending with interjection from the Nation of Domination and newly turned heel Ahmed Johnson. His run with the NoD didn't last long, he re-injured himself here and would be kicked out in favour of a future People's champion. Our final two matches are good but one of them is infamously a terrible incident. Owen Hart vs Steve Austin was a great match for the IC title, right until the botched piledriver at the end. Austin was unsure about the sit out piledriver spot but was reassured Hart would pull it off. Owen botched it and dropped Steve right now on his neck, temporarily paralysing him. It's a shame, I feel I cannot rate this match too highly for the incident, but they worked so hard before hand. What is crazier, JR says "Austin has a history of neck problems" mere moments before Austin would soon damage his neck beyond repair. Austin had to win because the stipulation was if he lost he would kiss Owen's ass, which would have destroyed his character. The show closed on a much better note, a stacked main event saw Undertaker defend the WWF title against Bret Hart with HBK as special referee. If Bret lost he could never wrestle in America again, but if Shawn screwed him over then he too could never wrestle in America either. This was a huge match with huge storyline ramifications. The match was good, the story was tremendous. Hart played the heel perfectly whilst Taker was a bad ass. Paul Bearer comes out and teases involvement but it gets resolved. The Hart Foundation come out and teases interference but Michaels deals with that too, commentary big up how well he is handling it. We see intense stares between both HBK and Taker as well as HBK and Hart. Eventually after a near fall, Bret argues with Shawn saying "fuck you" and spitting at him. Michaels retaliates, swinging the chair but Hart ducks and Taker eats an ugly chair shot to the skull. HBK reluctantly counts the 3 and we have a new champion. Hart out smarts two faces in one match, HBK sets up his feud with Undertaker and eventual heel turn. A well booked match capping off a pretty memorable show, for better or worse.

Mankind defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Steel Cage. ***3/4 (MOTN)

Goldust defeats Brian Pillman. 3/4*

Legion of Doom defeat the Godwinns. *

British Bulldog (c) defeats Ken Shamrock, European Championship. **

Los Boricuas (Savio Vega, Jose Estrada Jr, Miguel Perez Jr & Jesus Castillo) defeat Disciples of Apocalypse (Chainz, 8-Ball, Crush & Skull). 1/2*

Steve Austin defeats Owen Hart (c), IC Championship. ***1/4

Bret Hart defeats the Undertaker (c), WWF Championship. ***1/2

18) King of the Ring, June 23rd 1996. 42.5%

On May 19th 1996, we had the last contracted matches for Kevin Nash and Scott Hall for the WWF. At the end of the night, all of the Kliq members (Nash, Hall, Michaels and HHH, Waltman was in rehab) hugged each other and said goodbye. Hall and Michaels for faces, but Hunter and Nash were heels. The incident was captured on photo and at the time was the most kayfabe destroying incident in wrestling history, maybe only topped by the Montreal Double-cross. The incident did not go down well with the boss. However, with Nash and Hall already leaving and Michaels as the company's biggest draw, only Hunter was punished. He was removed from plans to win the King of the Ring in 96, but this was a good thing for 2 reasons. First, he was initially viewed backstage as a bit arrogant but won a lot of respect for accepting his punishment for the incident. Second, this night would see the birth and meteoric rise of arguably WWE's most popular talent ever.

The first 2 rounds of the KOTR tournament happened on TV. Steve Austin defeated Bob Holly and Savio Vega, whilst Marc Mero defeated Skip then Owen Hart. Austin and Mero had some great matches in WCW and this one was another one. A very competitive match which saw the birth of the Stone Cold Stunner, sold as a deadly move. It was far better than the Stun Gun and the Million Dollar Dream. This was Mero's first televised loss. Austin ended up in hospital after a botched kick, he needed to get 16 stitches in his mouth. He was rushed in and out in time for his match in the finals. On the other side of the bracket, Vader got past Ahmed Johnson and received a bye when Goldust vs Ultimate Warrior went to a double count out. Jake Roberts defeated HHH and the Bradshaw. This was a 3 minute squash with Vader dominating but then getting DQ'd which was weak but understandable. He continued to assault Roberts after the match leaving him injured going into the finals, building that story. The finals later on saw Austin breeze past a weak Roberts in about 5 minutes, not much of a match but exactly what it should have been. Austin celebrates, before dropping one of the most iconic promos in wrestling:

"The first thing I want to be done is to get that piece of crap out of my ring. Don’t just get him out of the ring, get him out of the WWF, because I proved, son, without a shadow of a doubt, that you ain’t got what it takes anymore! You sit there, and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn’t get you anywhere. Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16…AUSTIN 3:16 SAYS I JUST WHIPPED YOUR ASS! All he’s gotta do is go buy him a cheap bottle of Thunderbird and try to get back some of that courage he had in his prime. As the King of the Ring, I’m serving notice to every one of the ‘WWF superstars.’ I don’t give a damn what they are, they’re all on the list, and that’s Stone Cold’s list, and I’m fixin’ to start runnin’ through all of them. As far as this championship match is considered, son, I don’t give a damn if it’s Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels. Steve Austin’s time has come, and when I get the shot, you’re lookin’ at the next WWF Champion, and that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so!”

Amazing. Michael Hayes told Austin earlier about Roberts' faith and Stone Cold ran with the angle. Elsewhere on the card, we had an average tag match as well as a terrible 3 minute squash win for the Ultimate Warrior over Jerry Lawler full of choking, no selling and the usual 4 moves from the Ultimate Jackass. Goldust vs Ahmed Johnson was surprisingly decent, a feud built around Johnson being very uncomfortable with Goldust's homoerotic behaviour towards him. Johnson's intensity was spot on, fired up because Goldust shoot kissed him on the mouth. 2 months prior to their Boiler Room brawl, Mankind and Undertaker wrestle a hard-hitting match that ran a little too long. Mankind got a clean win, Taker passing out to the Mandible Claw which was a huge deal since Taker rarely lost, if he did there was usually interference. The show closed with an excellent match for the world title between HBK and Bulldog, with Mr Perfect as special referee outside of the ring whilst Earl Hebner is in the ring. A proposed angle between Michaels and Bulldog's real life wife Diana was shot down as the Hart's didn't like Diana being portrayed infatuated with Michaels when she is married. This is a forgotten classic, they wrestled at a good pace and there was plenty of false finishes. They closed with Owen Hart and Vader running out to attack Michaels, Johnson and Warrior ran out to make the save, setting up a big 6-man at the next In Your House. Warrior wrestled one more time at a house show 2 days post-KOTR before quitting the WWF again due to a big blow up with Vince, again. We wouldn't see him in WWE until his Hall of Fame induction.

Steve Austin defeats Marc Mero, KOTR SF. ***3/4

Jake Roberts defeats Vader by DQ. 1/2*

Smoking Gunns (c) defeat the Godwinns, Tag Championships. **

Ultimate Warrior defeats Jerry Lawler. nil

Mankind defeats Undertaker. ***1/4

Ahmed Johnson defeats Goldust (c), IC Championship. **1/2

Steve Austin defeats Jake Roberts, KOTR Finals. *

Shawn Michaels (c) defeats British Bulldog, WWF Championship. **** (MOTN)

17) In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage, February 18th 1996. 43%

Haven't talked about an IYH for a while. Following the Rumble we are on the road the Wrestlemania! Diesel is gunning for Bret Hart's title but his ongoing feud with the Undertaker may come back to bite him after his actions at the prior PPV. This very much feels like a follow stop as we approach WWE's flagship show. 9 matches in total but only 5 on the PPV card, with 3 dark matches and 1 part of the Free-for-All.

The show began with one of WWE's weirdest match stipulations, which is saying something, the cry baby match. This is scary glimpse into the freaky mind of Vince McMahon. The winner gets to dress to loser in a diaper and fed them a bottle. This is all because 1-2-3 Kid called Razor Ramon a cry baby for losing his IC title. They will be watching what words they use carefully now, they're lucky they didn't say "candy ass" or we would be getting a much different type of match. The stipulation was idiotic trash humour, but the action itself was pretty enjoyable and the crowd was pretty hot. Kinda crazy a cry baby match is the second best thing on the show. The best thing would be Shawn Michaels vs Owen Hart. Michaels had unfinished business, but Owen's manager Cornette refused a rematch unless the title shot at Wrestlemania was on the line. As expected from two of the best wrestlers in the company, this match is exceptional. Another Owen vs Bret match at Wrestlemania was a reasonable possibility, so the back and forth nature of this one was captivating. Of course HBK eventually wins.

Not much else worth your time on this show I'm afraid. Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese gets his first PPV match outside of Royal Rumble appearances when he faces HHH. Yes, a roster so thin even the fucking garbage man gets a PPV slot. This was below average, as was a 5 minute Bulldog vs Yokozuna match ending in a disqualification. Yoko was far too limited to be working singles matches, he should have been in the 'Andre the Giant' role of working tags. After a promo from acting president Roddy Piper, we get our Diesel vs Hart main event and it was pretty boring. It was a Steel cage match, which unless structured correctly can often fall into being formulaic, repetitive and dull. That's what this ended up being. They threw punches, they used the cage and tried to escape a few times, the usual stuff. It was the weakest of their encounters together, a rare bad Bret Hart match. The result was never in doubt and an appearance from the Deadman wasn't either. Hart escaped the cage whilst Taker emerged from the ring and dragged Diesel down with him. A cool closing spot that we would see be reused over the years, but it didn't save this match or this show.

Razor Ramon defeats 1-2-3 Kid, Cry Baby match. **1/2

Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Duke Droese. *3/4

Yokozuna defeats British Bulldog by DQ. *

Shawn Michaels defeats Owen Hart. **** (MOTN)

Bret Hart (c) defeats Diesel, Steel Cage for WWF Championship. *1/2

16) In Your House 14: Revenge of the Taker, April 20th 1997. 43%

Our final show we're talking about today takes place following Wrestlemania 13. Bret Hart transitioned into a unique character where he was a sympathetic face worldwide, but a heel in America. He reconciled with his brother for the first time in 4 years and reformed the Hart Foundation with a new focus; to destroy Steve Austin and stick it to America. Any plans for Vader to appear in the future was on hold after he was placed under house arrest in Kuwait for 2 weeks for threatening a TV host who asked if wrestling was fake. A big mistake from the Kuwaiti. This is the first WWF PPV with Vince Russo as a part of the creative team, who got his spot after the disastrous Raw taping from South Africa. WWE have had their fair share of problems visiting Africa.

3 of the 5 matches on this show do not have decisive finishes, because Russo of course. The LOD vs Owen Hart and Bulldog was an overbooked mess, there was some solid wrestling but the match was restarted when Bulldog was pinned as the illegal man, then it just ended in a DQ thanks to a Bret Hart run in. A Raw match and not a good one. Then we got a torpid match for the IC strap between Rocky Maivia and Savio Vega, the latter won by count out. Does Vega need protecting? Does this feud need to continue? Do I need to keep asking these questions? One of the few matches to end cleanly was singer Jesse James vs Rockabilly, Honky Tonk Man's newest protege. Both of these musician gimmicks were dead and buried, even commentary took the piss out of them. Billy debuted his new gimmick here and he lost. Most of the match was corny dancing and the fans did not care at all. The feud continues for the coming months, but they would find themselves new gimmicks and a partnership that would define the rest of their careers.

The Undertaker vs Mankind feud has picked back up now that Taker is the world champion. This was another good match between these two, maybe the best we have talked about so far. A violent brawl with Undertaker fighting the odds as Paul Bearer aided Mankind throughout. The highlight of the match being an announce table spot where Mankind was stuck in the table, legs kicking in the air. Undertaker overcomes Mankind and spends a few minutes trying to throw a fireball in Bearer's face but the stunt keeps failing. It was a flop spot which is a shame because it could have been cool. Bearer runs away covering his face, this would add more fuel to the Undertaker story and lead to the debut of Kane. The main event is a Wrestlemania rematch, Austin vs Hart, with a shot at the WWF title on the line. During the show, the Hart Foundation attacked Stone Cold trying to injure him but Austin refuses to stay down. This wasn't on par with their previous classic but this was another great contest with a lot of hatred and intensity. Unfortunately it ends in a DQ which really sucks but it was still a very entertaining main event.

Legion of Doom defeat Owen Hart & British Bulldog (c) by DQ, Tag Championship. *3/4

Savio Vega defeats Rocky Maivia (c) by count out, IC Championship. 3/4*

Jesse James defeats Rockabilly. *

Undertaker (c) defeats Mankind, WWF Championship. ***1/2

Steve Austin defeats Bret Hart by DQ, #1 contender match. ***3/4 (MOTN)

That'll do for today's article, thanks for reading. Check out part 3 where we will check out the cream of the crop of New Generation Era events. Catch you in the next one.


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