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  • Connor Ewens

Every WWE New Generation Era PPV Reviewed & Ranked: Part 3/4

Our tumultuous trip down memory lane comes to an end here with our top 15 shows from the New Gen era. Quick spoiler, only the top 5 here are rated at 50% or higher. I think what I've learned from this is that this often crapped on era of wrestling was a necessity. It was a rough transition, but there was an increase of focus on match quality rather than just how someone looks. Not every match has to be a 5 star classic, but on the other hand not every match has to be two talentless freaks bumping stomachs expecting us to cheer them on. My point being, without the dramatic lows of this time period, we wouldn't get the dramatic highs of the next era, the hottest era in wrestling history. So, thanks New Generation, I guess. Whilst I mostly hated my time here, you had some bright spots as well as paving the way for the upcoming years full of great stories and wrestling. Here are the very best shows of this crazy time period.

15) One Night Only, September 20th 1997. 43.1%

Over 5 years since Summerslam was the first WWE PPV to air from the UK, we finally get the second. Far cry from London's Wembley Stadium though, we are in Birmingham's NEC Arena, approximately a ninth the size. What Birmingham lack in stadium capacity, they make up for with crime rates. This was a one-off event that was only aired in Europe and Canada but not America. The storyline reason was Bret's anti-America gimmick and he had a contract clause to block it being shown in America. Genius. Because he and the Hart Foundation were only anti-America, they were all pretty over for the most part with the British crowd. After the success of this show, WWE would run a few more UK shows throughout the Attitude Era but they were far from the quality of this or Summerslam '92.

The show got off to a good start with another match between HHH and Mick Foley, this time under his cool as a cat Dude Love persona. I love how different Mick wrestles as each character, here he was much more of a wrestler than a fighter or brawler. Sweet Shin Music always pops me. This was good fun. There was a solid tag match between the Boricuas and Headbangers, but there isn't much else appealing in the undercard. Tiger Ali Singh vs Leif Cassidy was painfully boring, as was Flash Funk vs The Patriot until Funk busted out some flashy moves (pun intended). Godwinns and the LOD was another dull match, all these matches were severely lacking substance and I'm surprised the crowd hadn't emptied to go fill up on booze and snacks throughout.

The show picks up in our final 3 bouts. An Owen Hart vs Ken Shamrock match is shelved due to the MMA legend being injured. Vader fills in for him, fresh off of his Kuwait incident which JR tries to work into character development but Vince McMahon shuts down because he is terrible on commentary. Owen got a babyface reaction and played up to it well. This was fun, Hart bumped and sold like a pro and both men have good chemistry together. Vader catches a dive attempt and turns it into a powerslam to win. Bret Hart defends his WWF title against Undertaker next. Bret got a mixed reaction but mostly cheers, but Taker was cheered more. Both men have different feuds upcoming but this is a rematch from their match at Summerslam. This isn't as good as that was, but this is still enjoyable. Hart tries to wear down the big man targeting the knee and lower back, whilst Taker looks to use his power to overwhelm the champion. It ends in a DQ as Undertaker won't stop beating him up, which makes him look a little dumb but both guys are kept strong going into their matches at the next PPV. The main event is a match for the European championship, Manchester-born British Bulldog defending against Shawn Michaels. The local favourite dedicated this match to his sister Tracy, who is recovering from her second battle with bone cancer. All of his friends and family are in attendance too. If you think all of this factors would guarantee a wholesome babyface victory for the Bulldog, you would be dead wrong. That was the plan, but of course Shawn Michaels pushed for a decision change. He wanted to be the first ever grand slam champion. After a very good match, Michaels traps him in a figure four and Davey Boy refuses to quit, but he does pass out in the hold. Damn, a good match but a very questionable booking decision, especially after the dedication to Tracy. No Hart Foundation run in either, another detail Michaels pushed for, which made them all look like chumps. The heat was intense, lots of boos and trash thrown at the new champion while he and his DX friends cut a promo, Hunter even throwing a dig at ECW's Shane Douglas. I imagine some angry Brits driving home on this night.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeats Dude Love. ***

Tiger Ali Singh defeats Leif Cassidy. 1/4*

Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) (c) defeat Los Boricuas (Miguel Perez Jr & Savio Vega), Tag Championships. **1/2

The Patriot defeats Flash Funk. *

Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) defeat the Godwinns (Henry & Phineas). 3/4*

Vader defeats Owen Hart. ***1/4

Bret Hart (c) defeats Undertaker by DQ, WWF Championship. ***

Shawn Michaels defeats British Bulldog (c), European Championship. ***1/2 (MOTN)

14) Royal Rumble, January 22nd 1995. 45%

I'm actually pretty peeved this show has ended up this high, but that speaks volumes of this era. The card is good compared other shows, but it also features one of the worst Royal Rumble matches of all time, which should immediately make this show a failure. I don't have any wrestling related fun facts, but I can tell you this happened exactly 3 years prior to my birth. The Royal Rumble is an Aquarius show and that makes sense (probably, I don't really understand star signs).

Let's get the crappy rumble out of the way. This would be the first and only rumble match to use 1 minute intervals. It was a double-edged sword of a decision. The entrants were coming far too quickly for any reasonable pace to be set, no one really got much time to shine. Though, that might be a good thing. Outside of HBK, Bulldog, Owen Hart and I guess Lex Luger, everyone else in the rumble is a midcarder or below. For real, it is one of the WORST line-ups for a rumble match. Blu Brothers, Kwang, Bushwhackers, Timothy Well, Sione, Mantaur, Steven Dunn, Adam Bomb. I can go on. These are all entrants trying to win a main event slot at Wrestlemania, as well as the managerial services of the hottest woman of the 90s, Pamela Anderson. Barely anything of note happens in this. Bret attacks Owen due to his actions earlier in the night which I'll talk about soon. Bret returns much later to attack Bob Backlund, setting up their disappointing Mania match. The final four are Luger, Crush and the two men who started the match as 1 and 2, Michaels and Bulldog. Michaels eliminates Luger whilst Bulldog eliminates Crush, for the first time ever the first two entrants are the final two survivors. We get a nice back and forth with one of the most iconic moments in Rumble history. Bulldog throws Michaels out and thinks he has won, but Michaels is hanging on and only one of his feet touched the floor, the rules say both feet. He 'skins the cat' back into the ring, eliminates Bulldog and becomes the first man to win the rumble from the #1 position. It was a genius finish to a rumble, the 'skin the cat' spot is one we have now seen a plethora of times. A shame the amazing finish follows an awfully dull and poorly worked rumble match.

Rest of the show however pretty decent, mostly. IRS vs Undertaker was pretty bad actually, but at least Taker won. He finally won a match at the Royal Rumble on his fifth time of trying. 1-2-3 Kid and Bob Holly defeated Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka for the tag titles in a huge upset. The match was decent but slow at first but the final stretch is really good. A miscommunication cost the bigger heels the match, a pissed off Bam Bam would confront a certain NFL linebacker who was in the front row, setting up their unusual Wrestlemania main event match. This was the first time the tag titles changed hands at the Royal Rumble event, not including the defunct women's tag titles of course. Jeff Jarrett won the IC title from Razor Ramon in the opener, a good match that went very long due to the false count out finish which felt a tad unnecessary, but it at least got Razor over as a tough face for soldiering through injury to defend his title cleanly.

Diesel's first PPV title defence was a rematch against the former champion, Bret Hart. I have to say, this match from an in-ring perspective was very good and definitely the best match these two had together. However, the booking of this is so messy and harmful that I have rated it significantly lower. Call me a sourpuss, but it really hurt my enjoyment. I'll explain. In the first part of the match, referee Earl Hebner did not call the rope breaks correctly. He either let the wrestlers cheat for longer than the 5 second count, or he forced them to relinquish a hold before even counting properly. Then in the latter stages, again the referee's ruling is extremely questionable. Shawn Michaels comes out and attacks former ally Diesel, in front of the referee, and no disqualification is called. Then Owen Hart comes out and attacks Bret Hart, again in front of Earl, no DQ called. In fact, he specifically tells Howard Finkel the match will continue. Bret Hart uses a steel chair, once again no DQ called. Then after a bump sends Hart, Diesel and Hebner to the ground, we see run ins from Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Bob Backlund, Jeff Jarrett and the Roadie. Eventually, other referees come down and call of the match, ending in a draw. Fucking awful booking. I understand trying not to make one man booked weaker than the other, but then I dunno, DON'T BOOK THE MATCH? Also there are many different ways to book a screwy finish that doesn't involve the referee blatantly ignoring the rules we all agree are in place. One minor change here, make the referee completely oblivious to the outside interference, then this would have received 4 stars most likely. I'm a whore for consistent rules.

Jeff Jarrett defeats Razor Ramon (c), IC Championship. ***

Undertaker defeats IRS. *1/4

Diesel (c) vs Bret Hart ends in a draw, WWF Championship. ***1/4 (MOTN)

1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly defeat Bam Bam Bigelow & Tatanka (c), Tag Championships. **3/4

Shawn Michaels wins last eliminating British Bulldog, Royal Rumble. *

13) In Your House 12: It's Time, December 15th 1996. 46%

Quite obviously, the 'It's Time' tagline is pulled from Vader's signature catchphrase which would usually mean he is in for a marquee match on the card. That was the original plan, though an accumulation of injuries put the mastodon on the side lines so the title feels quite redundant. The final PPV for 1996 plays the role of stepping stone in between Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble, mainly here to progress the existing stories heading into January's regal rumpus. We already covered the 1997 rumble featuring AAA talent, a few of them would be in attendance tonight to hype their appearance at the show.

The opener was a midcard clash between Flash Funk and Leif Cassidy. It had no build but both men are very good wrestlers and worked quite a fun match. Cassidy was far from his future Al Snow excellence but he had a nice showcase here. Funk was impressive as always with his high-flying offence. The same couldn't be said for the tag title match, Owen Hart & Bulldog defending against Diesel & Razor Ramon. "But Connor, wasn't both Kevin Nash & Scott Hall in WCW by this point?" Correct, but WWF owned the Razor & Diesel characters so they recast them and tried to keep the gimmicks going, whilst also vaguely acknowledging they are not the same people, It was weird and obviously it flopped. The angle also turned Jim Ross heel which didn't work because he was far too likable and not a great heel character. The match was fine, but it was backseat to Steve Austin and his feud with British Bulldog. Austin came out and attacked him during and after the match. A shame for Fake Razor and Diesel, they were doomed gimmicks. Fake Razor was probably the best success wrestler Rick Bognar ever had. Fake Diesel however, well his biggest success was the Christmas Creature of course! Or Kane I guess.

The best match comes from the IC title, HHH defending against Marc Mero. This was a very good match, Hunter was improving massively whilst Mero was already a great performer. Only set back here was the finish, a rather unnecessary dusty finish following a ref bump and a Goldust run in. He misses HHH and hits Mero with the belt, then hits Hunter on a second attempt. Mero just gets back in the ring before the count and wins the match but not the title. There were better ways to do the screwy finish. Still, best thing on the show. In contrast, the worst match was a tiresome one between Undertaker and the Executioner in an 'Armageddon Rules' match, a Texas Death match basically. Pinfall and a 10 count needed. This lacked excitement, Executioner was a boring worker. Mankind came out to attack Taker which was a bit of fun but then security subdued him with mace and escorted him out. Then it was back to the boring walking and punching.

The master wordsmith Sycho Sid defends his WWF title against Bret Hart in the main, HBK is on commentary and will meet the winner at the Royal Rumble. This had some good psychology from the hitman, and some great storytelling between both men as well as Shawn Michaels, but this was another Sid match. Bret probably got the best out of this that he could, it was a solid match and Sid didn't botch anything. Steve Austin attacks Bret, Bulldog comes out and fights Austin. Sid throws Bret into Shawn and hits a powerbomb to win. Then after losing, Bret targets Michaels and they have a brawl while Sid smiles and celebrates his win. Quite a hot finish to the show, it built hype for the Rumble. Not a great show, but it served it's purpose.

Flash Funk defeats Leif Cassidy. ***

Owen Hart & British Bulldog (c) defeat "Razor Ramon" and "Diesel", Tag Championships. *3/4

Marc Mero defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) by count out, IC Championship. ***1/4 (MOTN)

Undertaker defeats Executioner, Armageddon Rules match. *

Sycho Sid (c) defeats Bret Hart, WWF Championship. **1/2

12) Summerslam, August 30th 1993. 46%

The 30th ever WWE PPV and it was a big one because it was the first without either Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage wrestling on the card. Not only that, this was the end of Gene Okerlund's presence on WWF programming after not receiving a new contract and heading to WCW. With a very muscular piece missing from Vince's favourite creation (including his own children), he tried to find as similar of a shape as possible to fill the empty space. It's like when you do a jigsaw with a missing piece and you take a piece from another jigsaw that kind of but not really fits. I'm talking about Lex Luger.

Considering the state of the company and the wrestling business, this is a surprisingly decent show but not a remarkable one. Only 1 match I would consider as bad and another I've rated low because it was a squash. New star Ludvig Borga murdered Marty Jannetty in about 5 minutes, getting him over strong in preparation for his big push that he never received. The one bad match on this show would be the worst match of the entire year, if it wasn't for their first match together at Wrestlemania IX. Yes, somehow the creative team thought that booking a second Undertaker vs Giant Gonzales match was a good idea. This time, there is no disqualification. Gonzales used a chair a few times and the managers got involved a few times. That is about as "hardcore" as this one got. I will admit it was better than their first match, but that's like saying getting shot in the arm is better than being shot in your face.

It was a good night for tag team wrestling. The Steiners vs Heavenly Bodies was a fun match that made great use of the time they had. Less than 10 minutes, I imagine if they got another 5-10 minutes to work with it could have been an all time classic. The other tag match was a 6-man, Smoking Gunns and the undefeated Tatanka defeating Bam Bam Bigelow and the Headshrinkers in a well paced contest that exceeded all expectations that I had. The rest of the card was singles match with nothing bad but it didn't set the world alight either. Ted DiBiase wrestled his last WWE match against Razor Ramon, he would leave so he could take time off to rebuild his marriage which is a very commendable move by the Million Dollar Man. IRS vs 1-2-3 Kid was a good 5 minute encounter, the stronger veteran being able to outsmart the younger rookie. Jerry Lawler came out on crutches and said he was too injured to wrestle, so Doink the Clown would take his place. Doink threw a bucket of confetti on the crowd, then a bucket of water on Bruce Hart which was actually quite funny. Bruce didn't know about it either, though Owen did and promised a revenge prank if he got wet at all. A notorious prankster, Owen came out of it drier than sand. It was a well worked match, Bret nearly had the clean win but Jerry attacked him with the crutch for the DQ. It was all a ruse! WWF President Jack Tunney ordered Lawler to wrestle or be banned for a month. This was another quick well worked match, Hart had it won with the sharpshooter but refused to let go and got DQ'd for it again. *sigh". Bret Hart deserves better than this midcard shit. Hart legit hurt Lawler with his submission here, you can here Jerry's pained cries. It was a receipt for the KOTR beat down Lawler did that legit hurt Hart.

Can you remember Edge vs Randy Orton during the Pandemic, where WWE heavily advertised it as "the greatest match ever"? It unnecessarily added insane pressure on the workers to pull off a great match, but in that case Edge and Orton pulled it off. That wasn't the first time. Here, a match for the IC title between Shawn Michaels and Mr Perfect was hyped as being one of the best matches ever. This harmed the match, because we are all expecting a Hart vs Perfect or Savage vs Steamboat classic but we did not. It was still a good match, but this was a case of two amazing wrestlers that did not quite gel as you would like. The cheap count out finish doesn't help. The selling was off the charts at least, which is no surprise. This was the first time the IC title didn't change hands at Summerslam. In fact, this was the first Summerslam with no title changes as Yokozuna kept a hold of his WWF title in the main event against Lex Luger. Luger wasn't very over as a top face, so Vince sent him on a 2 month American tour on the 'Lex Express' to try make him a fan favourite. It didn't work out very well. Because of it, the original plan to put him over as champ at this show was pulled. It was a good match with a weak count out finish. Luger still celebrates as if he has won the title and liberated America, which makes him look all kinds of dumb. Still though, better than Hogan vs Yoko.

Razor Ramon defeats Ted DiBiase. **1/2

Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) (c) defeat Heavenly Bodies (Jimmy Del Ray & Tom Pritchard), Tag Championships. ***1/2 (MOTN)

Shawn Michaels (c) defeats Mr Perfect by count out, IC Championship. ***1/4

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

Bret Hart defeats Doink the Clown by DQ. **1/4

Jerry Lawler defeats Bret Hart by DQ. **

Ludvig Borga defeats Marty Jannetty. *1/4

Undertaker defeats Giant Gonzales, Rest in Peace match. nil

Tatanka & Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart) defeat Bam Bam Bigelow & Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu). ***

Lex Luger defeats Yokozuna (c) by count out, WWF Championship. **3/4

11) In Your House 13: Final Four, February 16th 1997. 46%

After Steve Austin won the 1997 rumble in controversial fashion, Bret Hart was so angry about being screwed again that he kayfabe quit. Gorilla Monsoon, acting commissioner, agreed about the unfair victory and booked a star studded match in the main event featuring all the men Austin illegally eliminated. The winner would face the world champion at Wrestlemania. This satisfied Bret to return. There was a planned Michaels vs Sid rematch on the last Raw before this show, however we had a drastic change of plan. On February 13th, Shawn Michaels cut his 'lost smile' promo, vacating the championship and taking a sabbatical to heal injuries. Many believe the injuries to not be as severe as he said, myself included, but Shawn gotta be Shawn. This four corners main event will now have the WWF title on the line. This is the first ever WWE PPV to only have Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler on commentary. Vince would return a few more times after this, but once he adopted his heel boss persona he would rarely come behind the booth again.

This is a one match show essentially so I'll keep it brief, Marc Mero vs Leif Cassidy was well worked but pretty boring, a slow match with no heat. Mero would get injured the next night and be out for months. The Nation of Domination defeated Flash Funk Goldust & Bart Gunn in a nothing 6-man match. HHH vs Rocky Maivia was probably the worst encounter these two ever had with each other. Rocky was still very green and was about as over as a babyface as his "cousin" Roman Reigns was. It was a basic match with some weak points, especially Rocky's mounted punches which looked so fucking awful. He would quickly improve. Goldust cost HHH the match, but HHH gets a measure of payback with the debut of a muscular woman in the front row who chokes out Goldust's valet Marlena. Commentary sell that a fan attacked a wrestler, but it would be revealed in the future that it is HHH's new bodyguard Chyna. Credit is given when it is due and I do have to applaud the tag title match for being a good contest. Owen Hart and British Bulldog lost the match but not the titles as they were disqualified against Furnas & LaFon. The challengers struggled to get over, but they were phenomenal wrestlers and showcased their skills here. Even the cheap finish didn't harm this one much. However, it had nothing on our main event.

We have heard promos from all involved as well as future challenger Sid, but now it is time. Vader, Bret Hart, Undertaker and Steve Austin. No DQ, no count outs, eliminations occur by pinfall, submissions and also being thrown over the top rope. This was a quality brawl between 4 men who had intertwining stories with each other. The brawling doesn't stop until Hart dumps Austin over the top and eliminates him. Vader and Bret double team Taker, but Austin is back to attack Hart. The referees stop him, whilst Taker low blows Vader and pushes him over the top eliminating him. Austin gets involved again, Taker this time even helping Bret with knocking Austin down. Bret capitalises though and uses the distraction to eliminate Sir Spooks-a-Lot to win his 4th WWF Championship. A great match with good storytelling, compelling intensity and a hot crowd who woke up after finally being given some fun to watch. Bret would drop the title after a few days to Sid thanks to Austin, setting up the two major matches for the show of the immortals.

Marc Mero defeats Leif Cassidy. *1/2

Nation of Domination (Faarooq, Crush & Savio Vega) defeat Bart Gunn, Flash Funk & Goldust. *

Rocky Maivia (c) defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley, IC Championship. **1/4

Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon defeat Owen Hart & British Bulldog (c) by DQ, Tag Championships. ***

Bret Hart defeats Steve Austin, Undertaker & Vader, Four Corners Elimination, WWF Championship. ***3/4 (MOTN)

10) Wrestlemania X, March 20th 1994. 46.1%

Though far from a perfect show, this Wrestlemania is by leaps and bounds the best from the New Generation Era. You have four men to thank for that. The tenth grandaddy returns home to be broadcast from New York's Madison Square Garden, where the first ever Wrestlemania was held. There was a real sense of change in the air. This was the first Wrestlemania without Hulk Hogan and also the last televised match for Randy Savage. With 2 Royal Rumble winners, will we see WWE solidify either man as the face of the company going forward? You already know the answer. This is the show where we would see a lot of "Bill Clinton" in the audience, for some reason. I guess McMahon couldn't afford any real celebrities. I don't know who Ronda Shear or New Kids on the Block are. There was a 10-man tag match booked, but it was scrapped when the ladder match ran over time. Randy Savage chewed out both HBK and Ramon for being selfish, which is fair since 10 people lost out on Mania Money.

I want to get all of the less interesting stuff out of the way first before talking about the greatness this show has. Undertaker misses this show due to injury which sucks, but his streak hasn't created any bangers yet so we ain't missing much. Bigelow & Luna Vachon defeated Doink & Dink in an average tag match, I always thought Luna was a really cool character and a trailblazer in the representation of women in wrestling. A shame she was paired against a mini clown. Alundra Blayze defeated Leilani Kai in about 3 minutes, Kai wasn't that good but Blayze hit some nice moves and was put over strong. The tag title match was a similar quality. The Quebecers were a good team but Men on a Mission were not, though Mabel was surprisingly over after a hot tag. Not very well worked but it was kept under 10 minutes so I don't hate it too much. What I did hate though was Earthquake vs Adam Bomb. It was only 32 seconds long, which makes me sound like a hypocrite but they had an incredible talent (stuck in a bad gimmick) in Adam Bomb who they were building up as a physical threat, for him to be put down in 3 moves by Earthquake who hadn't been relevant in about 3 years. A real waste. There was a rather unique Falls Count Anywhere match between Randy Savage and Crush. You had to pin your opponent and then they had 60 seconds to make it back to the ring. On paper, a cool concept but it was flawed with a lot of dead air after pinfalls. Both men worked hard though and did they best they could. The crowd was hot for this and I really liked the finish. Savage incapacitated Crush enough backstage for a pinfall and then tied him by his feet with rope wire so he couldn't walk. Rare we will ever see a finish like that again.

We saw the "first ever" ladder match in WWE history, though in reality it was the second after Hart vs Michaels wrestled a ladder match on a TV taping to put over the match to Vince. However, this was the first in front of a large audience and the world was watching in awe at Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon tear it down in an epic fight for the IC belt. I actually don't rate it as high as other people say, though I think it is still a banger which set a precedent for ladder matches for years to come. It's a really innovative contest. They had plenty of creative uses with the ladder as a weapon and a prop for their stunts, most famously the huge splash by HBK to Razor. Razor won after Michaels got tangled in the ropes and struggled to get free. The match is paced superbly, the selling is stellar, it's almost 5 stars to me. What definitely was a 5 star match and probably the best match of the entire era was brother vs brother, Owen vs Bret. Hey look, another Hart family match outclassing years worth of wrestling. The story had been bubbling since 1993 and exploded at the Royal Rumble with Owen turning heel but in the best way. Some of the best heels are the ones who have good reasons but bad actions. This was a 20 minute masterclass in wrestling, psychology and storytelling. There really isn't much else to call it other than perfect. Bret had a world title match scheduled on the show too so a win against his brother seemed like a near certainty, especially since his brother was not a main eventer. However, Owen outsmarted and outwrestled his older brother and pulled out a shock win with a pin reversal. It is the best Wrestlemania opener ever. A timeless classic every wrestling fan can appreciate.

As mentioned, Bret was far from done tonight but he had to wait to see who his opponent would be. Lex Luger challenged Yokozuna first, with Mr Perfect as special guest referee. This was not very good. Yoko had to pull double duty so he took it VERY easy here and gave Luger little to work with. It went nearly 15 minutes too, I think they should have just made this a 5 minute brawl, especially considering the finish they went with. Luger knocks down Yoko's managers Jim Cornette and Mr Fuji then makes a pin but Perfect doesn't count. Luger shoves him, Perfect calls for a DQ and leaves. Lame. If they're going for a Perfect heel turn, just have him outright low blow Luger or something, not this confusing pool of wank juice. Later in the show, Bret Hart got a much better match out of Yoko, the best he could of. Roddy Piper was the referee for this one too, teasing another screw since Piper and Hart have history. Yoko was very tired and Bret was selling his prior match so it was a slow one, but the story was told well and we finally got Bret's crowning moment at Wrestlemania. All of the faces in the company come and celebrate with him, a nice touch thanks to wrestling genius Randy Savage. A unique legend comes with the world title on this show. After the Summerslam '93 fiasco, Luger was promised the belt, but after the double elimination at the Rumble WWE clearly learned that Bret was the fan's choice for top face. The plans changed, however a journalist claimed to have overheard discussion over the world title between all the men involved, but seemingly misheard that Luger was going over. So when Luger didn't go over, the reporter claims that plans were changed 2 days prior to the event because of him, but there is little evidence to suggest and no one can corroborate the story. Far from a clean show, but two of the best Wrestlemania matches of all time are here so I cannot complain too much.

Owen Hart defeats Bret Hart. ***** (MOTN)

Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon defeats Doink & Dink the Clowns. **

Randy Savage defeats Crush, Falls Count Anywhere. **3/4

Alundra Blayze (c) defeats Leilani Kai, Women's Championship. *1/4

Men on a Mission (Mabel & Mo) defeat Quebecers (Jacques & Pierre) (c) by count out, Tag Championships. *1/2

Yokozuna (c) defeats Lex Luger by DQ, WWF Championship. *

Earthquake defeats Adam Bomb. nil

Razor Ramon (c) defeats Shawn Michaels, Ladder match, IC Championship. ****3/4

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

9) In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks, July 23rd 1995. 46.7%

Spider-Man 2, Godfather Pt II, Empire Strikes Back, Toy Story 2, Aliens, Rocky II, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, LOTR: Two Towers. These are all the second instalments of film series' that are superior to their predecessor. Similarly, In Your House 2 was a far better show than the first, but it still wasn't a classic. The world title was in dire straits as Diesel and Sid were lumbering over the big gold, so we have to find other ways to keep entertained. We're in Nashville, so how about a live performance by Nashville's own J-E-double F, J-A-double R, E double T? Now that is something to look forward to.

The show started off pretty well with a good match between the Roadie and the 1-2-3 Kid, even with the scary piledriver spot at the end to the Kid who had just returned from a serious neck injury. The surprises continued when Men on a Mission defeated Savio Vega & Razor Ramon which was quite fun. I know, pairing Mabel and the word fun sounds like a cruel April Fools joke but I'm serious. They're pushing Mabel here which I don't agree with but Razor & Savio were great, MOAM were good too. After some promos, it is time for the real main event. Jeff Jarrett "sings" a live rendition of 'Back with My Baby Tonight'. I quote the word sings because it was a clear lip sync. Who cares, this song is an absolute banger and is one of the best original songs created and sang by a professional wrestler. Surprisingly, it goes down without a hitch, no interference.

After a pretty basic and flat power match between Bigelow and Henry Godwinn, we get our IC title match as Jarrett defends against Shawn Michaels. This was a marvellous match, a hidden gem between two great workers with a lot of chemistry together. I liked how evenly matched it was even with interference from the Roadie. It was the Roadie who cost Jarrett the match too, inadvertently. He wasn't looking as he went for a trip and caught Double J instead, letting HBK hit his SCM for a win. Both Jarrett and Roadie would walk out of WWE immediately following this match due to contract issues and bad creative. WWE planned on them breaking up and feuding so soon after being paired together and both men didn't want to. Roadie would be back in a year, Jarrett in 2 years. The Roadie and Jarrett fall out was done terribly in front of a closed door and Dok 'Michael Hayes' Hendrix who excitedly talked about a fight they had, but we couldn't see it and neither did he. He doesn't know what happened, but also described what happened. This was like when that kid at school said he had a girlfriend but she went to a different school. Abhorrent segment.

Owen Hart and Yokozuna retained their tag titles against Lex Luger and British Bulldog, it was mostly decent thanks the Hart relatives being the main focus. Then our main event, Diesel vs Sid in a lumberjack match. If you know me, you know I hate these matches usually. They're always the same. Faces help face back in the ring, heels do the same, then the heels attack the face so the faces attack the heel. Then there is a big ol' shmoz of all the wrestlers having a big ol' fight, usually leading to a quick flash victory to someone. We got all of your favourite wrestlers out here as lumberjacks. Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, Duke Droese, Mantaur, Rad Radford (I'm serious), Man Mountain Rock (I'm also serious), Travis & Troy. Huuuuge names. This goes nearly exactly how I said it would. Mabel targets Diesel because he is the KOTR winner but surely he should be targeting either man. Sid and Diesel both wipe out all the lumberjacks before Diesel ends the match with a big boot. See the idea of this stipulation is usually to prevent a pussy heel from running away thanks to the men on the outside. The match stipulation is kinda redundant when both competitors can just waste every single one of them. This was about a good of a Sid vs Diesel match as we could have gotten. Hey look! A show without a single DQ, count out or non-finish! How cool.

The Roadie defeats 1-2-3 Kid. ***

Men on a Mission defeat Razor Ramon & Savio Vega. **1/2

Bam Bam Bigelow defeats Henry O. Godwinn. *

Shawn Michaels defeats Jeff Jarrett (c), IC Championship. **** (MOTN)

Owen Hart & Yokozuna (c) defeat Allied Powers (Lex Luger & British Bulldog), Tag Championships. **1/4

Diesel (c) defeats Sycho Sid, Lumberjack match. *1/4

8) Summerslam, August 29th 1994. 47.9%

On August 18th 1994, the United Center in Chicago was opened after 2 years of construction and $175 million in funding. 11 days later, the first major event to take place at the newly built arena would be this one, funnily enough the only televised WWE event from the United Center due to their extortionate prices for booking. It has since been used numerous times by AEW. Summerslam would be the last major appearance for Randy Savage, sadly reduced to a 'master of ceremonies' where he introduced a couple of people and that was it. He would end up in WCW by the end of the year. This is also regarded as a one match show, but that is a discredit to two other matches on the card.

The first of those being a match between Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano for the women's title. This was a good match, but for the time this was an amazing women's match. They were trying to build a division around Blayze and bringing in one of the best female wrestlers in Japanese history is a great way to do it. This was a simple dominant heel vs valiant face programme and it worked. Great work from these women, a shame they didn't get many other opportunities on WWF PPV. Nakano became the first Japanese-born wrestler to challenge for any WWE title on PPV (Jumping Bomb Angels at the Royal Rumble was a TV special). The other good match was a clash between Kliq buddies, Diesel and Razor Ramon for the IC championship. Since they're close friends, both men worked their hardest to make each other look good and it resulted in a pretty damn good match. It was a good back and forth, Ramon overcomes Big Sexy thanks to a mistake from HBK, kicking his tall bodyguard friend in the face. Having NFL star Walter Payton at ringside in support for Razor was smart too, it popped the crowd.

4 of the remaining 5 matches though, yikes. The opening tag match was boring was a weak DQ finish. Tatanka vs Lex Luger was a well worked but also monotonous. Jeff Jarrett vs Mabel was like throwing an action figure at a bean bag over and over for 6 minutes. I can't wait to stop talking about Mabel matches, but he pops back in WWE sporadically for the next (*checks cagematch*) 14 FUCKING YEARS?! Dear lord give me strength. Somehow though, not the worst thing. That would be the main event of the show. So, if you remember at the Rumble '94 Undertaker died after being put in a coffin and his soul ascended. Recently, Ted DiBiase has claimed he has brought back the Undertaker however Paul Bearer calls him a fake and promises to bring back the real one. After DiBiase's Taker enters, we get the "real" Undertaker. The Undertaker's return entrance on this show, is fucking amazing. We get the druids with the casket, Bearer pulling out the urn and casting a light as the lights go off, when they return we see another Undertaker in the ring. For ease and sanity purposes, we are using the terms 'Undertaker' or 'Taker' for Mark Calloway, and 'Underfaker' or 'Faker' for Brian Lee who portrays the other. Lee was actually trained and prepared by enhancement talent PJ Walker aka Justin Credible, who earned himself a job for his services, becoming Aldo Montoya. Unfortunately, not even the entire Hart Family could train Brian Lee to not be shit. This should have been a quick squash destruction of the imposter, but it was not. I am being very generous because I think the spectacle of Taker vs Faker deserves a star, however it is a pretty brutal match. It's like how Hogan vs Andre is rated higher than it deserves even though from an in-ring standpoint it is real bad. Most people would give this a dud rating and I understand, but the imagery was cool The rumoured original plan was to have a lights and magic finish with the two Taker's somehow merging into one, as if Taker consumed the Faker's soul. That sounds ludicrous and I wish they did it.

Bret Hart vs Owen Hart inside a steel cage for the world title. 5 stars. Depending on what type of person you are, you may even prefer this to their Wrestlemania X classic. I have often commented on how the steel cage match is prone to being repetitive and the same as every other cage match. Not this one. These two wrestled an amazing match, that just happened to also be inside of a steel cage. They utilised the cage excellently to sell how desperate they were to try and escape at times. If you removed the cage, this is still a 5 star match which you can't say for any other match of its kind. It was another technical masterpiece but with splashes of brawling and violence as the feud has intensified since Wrestlemania. Like their first match, everything from the wrestling to the selling was perfection. Always worth a rewatch. More fuel was poured onto the family feud after the match. Jim Neidhart came out and attacked Davey Boy Smith who was sat in the front row with his wife Diana (his first WWE appearance in 2 years). Neidhart joined Owen as a jealous Hart member and attack Davey for cheering on Bret. A clothesline also knocked over Diana, which was an unscripted spot by both Davey and Diana that the other Harts didn't know about or liked very much. Still, it was a great angle that somehow added even more heat to an already volcanic rivalry.

Bam Bam Bigelow & IRS defeat Headshrinkers by DQ. *1/2

Alundra Blayze (c) defeats Bull Nakano, Women's Championship. ***

Razor Ramon defeats Diesel (c), IC Championship. ***1/4

Tatanka defeats Lex Luger. *3/4

Jeff Jarret defeats Mabel. *1/4

Bret Hart (c) defeats Owen Hart, Steel Cage match, WWF Championship. ***** (MOTN)

The Undertaker defeats The Under-Faker. *

7) In Your House 9: International Incident, July 21st 1996. 48%

The show name derives from it not taking place in America. It is broadcast all the way from...Canada. That is more continental than international. The big selling point of the show was a stacked 6-man main event putting Camp Cornette against the top babyfaces of the company. However, we have some classic beef between the Ultimate Dickhead and Vince McMahon. Warrior no showed some events and blamed it on his father dying. Vince didn't buy the excuse since Warrior hadn't spoken to his dad in years. Another major issue was Warrior wanting to buy 10 million copies of his own comic book for a dollar a piece. Vince refused. These reasons, plus constant bust ups over creative decisions and other royalties saw his contract terminated mere months after his grand return. It was for the best, somehow I actually prefer that Sycho Sid takes his place. A sentence that will probably doom me to an eternity in wrestling hell.

The show begins with bummer diddly of a tag match between the Smoking Gunns and the Bodydonnas, but they were a back drop to the stunning Sunny who accompanied the Gunns. Billy was too infatuated with her which causes Bart to be isolated and defeated. The Gunns would split in the near future, another tag team lost in an already floundering division. A Mankind vs Jake Roberts match is pulled due to a no show from 'The Snake' who is deep into his demons. Mankind will face Henry O. Godwinn instead, this was a filler match for Foley who is waiting for the Taker/Goldust feud to end so they can pick up where they left off heading towards Summerslam. The match was decent, a dominant win for Mankind. Austin vs Mero was a King of the Ring rematch, they incorporated the real life mouth injury caused by Mero into the story. Austin accused him of doing it on purpose. These two have another good match, not on the level of their KOTR bout but good nonetheless.

Undertaker fought Goldust in a battle between 2 of the company's 3 major weirdos, Goldust working with Mankind to take out the Deadman. This was slow but well worked even with a no contest finish but the imagery was cool. Mankind appears through a hole in the mat and locks in the mandible claw. The match isn't very good but I didn't hate it. Mankind drags Taker below, the lights flicker and Taker reappears behind him! They fight some more. Classic spooky nonsense, good fun. Poor Shawn Michaels tries to cut a good promo alongside Ahmed Johnson and Sid, 2 of the worst talkers of the time. At least the 6-man match exceeded expectations. Everyone looked motivated and ready to work here, even Sid and Ahmed put in the work and the hours for possibly their best match ever? It helps being surrounded by Hall of Famers (Owen is in many other HOF's outside of the WWE). This was a great mix of technical wrestling, chaotic brawling and set up storytelling. Cornette's involvement would help Vader score a pin over the reigning WWF champion HBK, setting up their future clash at Summerslam. By far the best thing on this show.

Bodydonnas (Skip & Zip) defeat Smoking Gunns. *1/4

Mankind defeats Henry O. Godwinn. **

Steve Austin defeats Marc Mero. ***1/4

Undertaker vs Goldust ends in a no contest. *3/4

Camp Cornette (British Bulldog, Owen Hart & Vader) defeat Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson & Sycho Sid. ***3/4 (MOTN)

6) In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies, April 28th 1996. 48%

All of the previous IYH shows were just numbered originally, with the subtitles being added retroactively but this show was the first to carry a subtitle on broadcast. Both Hall and Nash handed their notice in pre-Wrestlemania, choosing to join WCW for significantly more money and less working dates. This would be the televised swansong for the Kliq, the last appearance on WWE programming for the soon-to-be Outsiders. Razor is fresh off his suspension so he isn't in a major feud, but Diesel is going out challenging BFF Shawn for the world title. For the most part this is a good show and would have placed a lot higher if it wasn't for one match.

That would be Goldust defending his IC title against the Ultimate Warrior. So, Goldust was going into this with a knee injury and could not work a match. Instead of cancelling the match, they did this. Goldust enters with Marlena and a bodyguard, Marlena is smoking a cigar and has a directors chair to sit in. Ultimate Warrior enters, all 3 of them scarper away. Goldust stalls as the bell rings, Warrior approaches them but they keep running. Marlena drops her cigar, so Warrior puffs on that and also sits on her directors chair. This happens for a while, Hellwig is SUCKING on that cigar like no tomorrow. Warrior convinces Goldust to enter the ring, he sits him down in the chair and shares a smoke with Marlena. Goldust gets comfy, offering his hand to Warrior, who puts out his cigarette on it and clotheslines him. Goldust then runs away and gets counted out. This was over 7 minutes long with no wrestling. This was like watching a high-school drama class shooting a scene. A terrible match, a terrible segment and I'm not surprised Warrior was gone in a couple months.

The rest of the show is rather enjoyable. The opening tag match was a solid contest even with an injured Bulldog, an aging Jake Roberts and Ahmed Johnson. Thanks Owen, you're great. A contest for the tag titles was solid, Sunny playing her role as pretty but devious valet very well helping her team the Bodydonnas get the win. Vader had been on a tear recently, he is being put over strong by injuring Yokozuna and putting him on the shelf. He wrestled a hard-hitting clash with Razor Ramon, who kept going for the Razor's Edge but Vader was too strong to be kept in the position. Jim Cornette compares Razor to paralysed and mentally ill Margot Kidder which is, definitely a choice. We now get videos hyping our big main event, covering the storied relationship between Michaels and Diesel. From bodyguard, to friend and now to bitter enemy. We also have legend Mad Dog Vachon in the crowd, who has a prosthetic leg due to a car accident. I am telling you this for a very good reason.

HBK vs Diesel is a No Holds Barred match for the WWF title, Diesel's last match before leaving for WCW and it might be his very best. This was a very violent match unlike anything WWF were doing at the time. Diesel chokes the referee and takes his belt to use to hang Michaels over the ropes. Diesel beats him with a chair, even powerbombing him through the announce table. Michaels gets some space using a fire extinguisher. HBK rallies but struggles to overpower the far bigger man. Fighting back on the outside, Diesel decides to steal Vachon's prosthetic leg! I love this spot so much. Diesel swings but gets a low blow, HBK hits him with the prosthetic and a sweet chin music to retain. An excellent match to close the show and close the book on this chapter of Nash's career. A top tier match elevating the entire show. Next time WWE venture on PPV though, disaster would strike beyond even Vince's godlike control.

Owen Hart & British Bulldog defeat Jake Roberts & Ahmed Johnson. **1/4

Ultimate Warrior defeats Goldust (c) by count out, IC Championship. nil

Vader defeats Razor Ramon. ***1/4

Bodydonnas (c) defeat the Godwinns, Tag Championships. **

Shawn Michaels (c) defeats Diesel, No Holds Barred, WWF Championship. ****1/2 (MOTN)

5) In Your House 8: Beware of Dog, May 26th & May 28th 1996. 50%

This was not a planned 2 night event, but an act of god (nature) derailed the original show. Beware of Dog is a weird name, it sounds like broken English. The show is named after the feud between HBK and British Bulldog, so why not call it "Beware of the Dog"? Names were far from biggest concern. On May 26th, a severe thunderstorm loomed over South Carolina but Vince went ahead with the show, hoping for the for the best. At the start of the second televised match, the power went out in the arena and the broadcast went down. Back up generators were able to provide lighting in the arena but they could not get the live feed back for PPV buyers. The show went on with only the paying audience able to watch the show, until they managed to get the PPV feed back online in time for the main event. Of course, WWE received complaints so they offered a resolution. 2 days later, Beware of Dog 2 would air with the 2 full matches that survived the broadcast being replayed at the start of the show. Then, the other 3 matches that were missed for PPV buyers were re-worked by the wrestlers involved. A very unfortunate situation, but WWE made the best of it and it may have had some positives to come from it. I'm going from the WWE Network version of the show, which doesn't acknowledge a blackout at all.

The opener was HHH vs Marc Mero, a prototype for future Triple H matches that work a slow pace but tells a good story. Mero's injured knee is worked throughout and he sells well. Hunter tries a pedigree but its reversed and he crashes into the ring post, Mero covers to win, good start. The planned main event airs next, HBK defending the world title against Bulldog. This was another long match with a focus on storytelling, though not as good as the opener. Bulldog's family are suing HBK for attempted alienation of affection, due to the storyline where Davey's wife Diana is head over heels for him. Bulldog almost quit over the angle, so it would be dropped soon after. For such an intense feud, this did not have much aggression in the work. It was a close back and forth, HBK hits a bridging suplex and the referee counts the 3 but both men's shoulders are down. One referee raises Bulldog's hand as his music plays, whilst referee Earl Hebner raises Michaels' hand in victory. They argue, Gorilla Monsoon rules it a draw. Far from their best work, but understandable considering the circumstances.

Beware of Dog 2 began with a Caribbean strap match between Savio Vega and Steve Austin. I hate strap matches, but I loved this though. This is how they should be booked, a high-intensity fighting from bell to bell, incorporating the turnbuckle touching without disrupting the rhythm. Ted DiBiase has to leave the WWE if Austin loses, which he did. Ted would rock up as the nWo's sugar daddy in WCW. This cemented Austin as "the guy" in Vince's eyes too, he worked well throughout the power outage and didn't complain or slack off because of it. I believe Austin also thinks the outage allowed them to do a trial run of the match for the live audience and make their second attempt even better. The only stinky piece of business on this show was a hoss fight between Vader and Yokozuna. This didn't work. A lot of stalling. Vader wasn't at his best and Yoko was beyond obese at this point. Vader's win wasn't very dominant either. The main event was a casket match between Undertaker and Goldust. This was another match that benefited from a re-run, being able to tweak what was apparently a weak first attempt. The match is fine, a lot of walking and brawling but it wasn't as bad as others say. Taker looked poised to win, but he opens the casket and there is Mankind! A mandible claw helps Goldust trap and defeat the Deadman. Smoke pours from the casket, Bearer demands the referees open it but he has vanished. Taker's music plays as the lights go out, intentionally not because of a storm. Do evil undead spirits have an allergic reaction to caskets? Anytime Undertaker is put in one things happen to him. Somehow, a show that was disrupted by a storm ends up in 5th place which I think speaks volumes to the lack of quality throughout this era of wrestling.

Marc Mero defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley. ***

Shawn Michaels (c) vs British Bulldog ends in a no contest, WWF Championship. **1/2

Savio Vega defeats Steve Austin, Caribbean Strap match. ***1/2 (MOTN)

Vader defeats Yokozuna. *1/2

Goldust (c) defeats The Undertaker, Casket match, IC Championship. **

4) Survivor Series, November 19th 1995. 50%

As we already know, 1995 was a rough year for the wrestling business. This show was a symbol of that. being the least bought 'Big 5' PPV in company history, pre-WWE Network. Only 128,000 homes purchased this event, in comparison to the second lowest King of the Ring '95, 150,000. I would guess the sheer trash we saw at KOTR '95 is why buys were even lower for this show, because this is by far the most consistent show from 1995. After 9 years, Survivor Series comes for us on God's day of rest for the first time, Sunday.

It was here that we saw the end of Diesel's 358 day reign as world champion and as the WWE's lowest drawing main eventer. He lost the title to Bret Hart in a No Disqualifcation match between the two faces. It was good, but not great. I know a lot of people are hot for this match, but I wasn't a big fan of much of Diesel's work. This was a classic big man vs small man, Bret bumped and sold like a pro and Diesel worked hard as the dominant force. Diesel was looking for his powerbomb before being caught in a small package, making Hart look smart and keeping Diesel looking strong. We also saw the first ever destruction of the Spanish announce table, a spot which we RARELY see used nowadays. chuckle, sarcasm, chuckle. Hart becomes the 2nd person to win 3 WWE titles and he deserves it. This is far from the only good thing on this show. The opening elimination tag match was filled with midcarders and jobbers, yet somehow was the most entertaining match on the show. Yes a match featuring Barry Horowitz and Rad Radford was better than matches featuring Bret Hart, Undertaker or any of the Kliq members. They got ample time to tell a good story and because all these guys don't get as many opportunities as those higher up the card, they worked their asses off and it paid off. 1-2-3 Kid went over as the sole survivor which made sense since he turned heel recently.

We also had another good Survivor Series match, with a twist. Teams led by Shawn Michaels and Yokozuna clashed with 'Wild Card' picks, their partners being randomly picked. We have faces teaming up with heels, rivals forced to tag together and allies force to face each other. Time to answer WWE's age-old question. CAN THEY CO-EXIST? The answer is a hard no. Ramon causes Douglas to get eliminated, HBK causes Sid to be eliminated and there was plenty of infighting. This was a real fun match, actually better in-ring work than the opener but it has one major detriment. On two occasions an illegal man was pinned and eliminated. It can be hard to keep track, but the referee has a job to do. Also Bulldog looked lost sometimes, coming in with offence about as graceful as falling down the stairs, in your pants. HBK, Johnson & Bulldog survived which made sense with all 3 men being in prominent programs at the time.

There was a women's elimination match on the card too and you know what, it was pretty enjoyable. Sure it was because 6 of the 8 participants were brought in from Japan including the legendary Aja Kong, but it was fun nonetheless. Kong battered everyone and was the sole survivor, eliminating all of the opposing team herself because she is a tank on oestrogen. An elimination match with captains Undertaker and Mabel, was less fun. It wasn't awful, Undertaker made his return after a month away due to a kayfabe injury and was sporting a Phantom of the Opera style mask. It looked a bit silly, but I'm not one to laugh at a vengeful zombie mortician. The match was just boring until the final minutes, but it achieved what it set out to do which was put over the Undertaker strong AF who eliminated 3 of the opponents before chicken shit Mabel wobbled away being counted out. I guess we have to wait another month for that singles match, oh the joys. The only match that sucked was Goldust vs Bam Bam Bigelow, which ended up being the big man's last match for the Fed before going back to Japan and eventually appearing for ECW. Overall, this is the first show we've talked about that I would probably call a good show, as opposed to the mediocre shows with some good/greatness on it.

The Bodydonnas (Skip, Rad Radford, Dr Tom Pritchard & 1-2-3 Kid) defeat The Underdogs (Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Barry Horowitz & Bob Holly). ***1/2

Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe & Lioness Asuka defeat Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa & Chaparita Asari. **1/2

Goldust defeats Bam Bam Bigelow. *

The Darkside (Undertaker, Savio Vega, Fatu & Henry O. Godwinn) defeat The Royals (King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem & Hunter Hearst Helmsley). *3/4

Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, British Bulldog & Sycho Sid defeated Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon & Dean Douglas. ***1/4

Bret Hart defeats Diesel (c), No DQ match, WWF Championship. ***

3) In Your House 11: Buried Alive, October 20th 1996. 57%

We are smooth sailing now boys, our final 3 shows are by far the best shows of the era, I think number 1 should be obvious but before we get there we must talk about 2 more shows from 1996. The show is named after tonight's hyped main event, the first ever Buried Alive match, where you win by dropping your opponent in a hole and smothering him with dirt. Wrestling is the weirdest thing. According to Bruce Pritchard, this was originally planned to be a Graveyard Match where they fought in a real graveyard but they axed the idea. Good job, WCW actually did do a graveyard match, and it was fucking terrible.

After our spooky intro we get our first match of the night, a pretty good fight between 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and HHH. Hunter fills in for an injured Savio Vega so there is no story here. The wrestling was good but it was a backdrop to Hunter's ongoing feud with Mr Perfect and also Jim Ross being a heel commentator. He had technical issues and cussed out Vince McMahon for it, blaming him. I don't know if the issues were a work or if it was a legit issue turned into an angle, but whatever the case it was very distracting and hampered the match a little. The show continues with a tag match with the Gunns looking to reclaim their titles from Owen Hart and Bulldog. Sunny recently fired the Gunns for being losers but said she will rehire them if they win back the gold. Unfortunately for them, they do not as Billy is too focused on taunting and getting Sunny's attention and it costs them. I understand Billy. This was a well worked match but a flat finish and too much focus on Sunny again prevents this from being as good as it could.

Jim Ross cuts a heel promo on Vince McMahon being an asshole, but it is hard to hate him because he raises good points and it seemed like his technical issues were intentional to fuck with him. Plus he promised to bring back Bret, which the fans wanted so how can we hate him? Marc Mero successfully defends his IC title against Goldust in a sound match that was again second place to an outside story. Mr Perfect joins commentary and tries helping Mero on the outside, Hunter returns to fight him and they have a scrap. There is a severe lack of focus throughout this show, but at least the action is good. The weakest match on the show unsurprisingly comes from Sid but it's not bad. Sid and Vader have a basic but pretty fun hoss fight to be number 1 contender for Michaels' world title. Sid comes out on top which is interesting because they're both faces. We will see how their match went, in the next entry.

For now though we finish with what seemed like the blow-off to the Undertaker vs Mankind feud, but they did continue to wrestle for the coming months. Their previous matches have all been good to very good, this was borderline great. The burying your opponent stipulation is silly sure, but wrestling is sillier than the word collywobbles. The action was intense, they brawled pretty much from start to finish using anything they can get their hands on. A shovel handle, microphone cables, a fucking pen. They didn't pull any punches, throwing their entire arsenal of moves to put each other in their grave, literally. It is Big Scary Mary who gets the better of Mrs Foley's baby boy, chokeslamming him into the grave and covering him a bit with dirt. I would have liked more dirt coverage before the bell being rung, but the match was still a great show closer. Undertaker tries to bury him more, but a mystery man (The Executioner) comes in and attacks Taker, saving Mankind. Then they bury the Deadman with the help of heels HHH, Crush. Bradshaw & Goldust because sharing murder is caring. This whole thing drags on quite a bit, but we get that awesome show closing moment of a lightning strike to the grave and Undertaker's gloved hand bursting through the dirt, reaching into the air. Incredible.

Steve Austin defeats Hunter Hearst Helmsley. ***1/4

Owen Hart & British Bulldog (c) defeat Smoking Gunns, Tag Championships. **1/4

Marc Mero (c) defeats Goldust, IC Championships. ***

Sycho Sid defeats Vader. **

Undertaker defeats Mankind, Buried Alive match. ***3/4

2) Survivor Series, November 17th 1996. 57.5%

It took 10 years until Madison Square Garden's hosted Survivor Series which is a shock considering how famous and important the arena was to the Fed before the 2000s. MSG gave shows a special feel in comparison to most arenas. Although WCW were still pissing in the mouths of WWF's TV ratings, they were definitely showing signs of major improvements as the months and shows rolled on. Here we have the very best of 1996 and this show would be a very important one, setting up one of the best Wrestlemania matches of all time and debuting a certain blue chipper who would go on to be one of the most recognised stars in the world today. Phil LaFon. I kid, of course I mean Doug Furnas. No, it's The Rock, of course it is.

A top to bottom solid card with only one lousy bit of action. Team Faarooq vs Team Savio Vega significantly lacked quality, Vader, Vega & a debuting Flash Funk (who last worked at ECW the night before) were good but an old Jimmy Snuka, overweight Yokozuna (in his last televised WWF match) and also Fake Razor & Diesel were not. This was a poorly worked match with a horrible finish. Diesel eliminated Vega, Snuka eliminated Ramon, then the remaining men brawl with 2 people using a chair so the referee disqualifies everyone and it ends in a draw. That is so weak. Even JR calls it premature but of course Vince agrees with the ref, because it was his stupid booking. I know it was hard to follow Hart vs Austin, but it didn't have to be this bad. Talking about Hart vs Austin, you bet this was the best thing on the show. Austin's stock had risen since Bret took some time off and has been very verbal about the (s)hitman ever since winning King of the Ring. Hart beat Austin in his first televised match since Wrestlemania at the Sun City Superbowl in South Africa in September, with his first match on American programming being here at Survivor Series. The match was a phenomenal one, it started pretty technical before building intensity and violence. Austin looked poised to put Hart away with sleeper hold finish, but Hart did that counter into a pin that we see all of the time now and got a clever but maybe fluke victory. Great storytelling with Austin trying to win any way he can, but he was unable to defeat the best there is, was or will be.

The other elimination tag matches were average but not great. Team HHH vs Team Mero was pretty basic and boring at times, a lot of running through the motions, however Rocky Maivia debuted and WWE put him over really strong as the sole survivor. He did a fine job, his shoulder breaker finisher was terrible but he worked hard and the fans cheered him. That would change soon after. The opening elimination tag pitched heel tag teams against face tag teams, and it was good. The crowd didn't react to anyone except the champions Hart & Bulldog, the Godwinns sucked but once they were out it became an impressive tag contest. Furnas & LaFon survived, putting them over strong as future challengers for the gold.

Mankind vs Undertaker here was probably their weakest encounter together, with Paul Bearer suspended above in a shark cage. It was well worked and quite physical but it didn't fully click for me, I found myself a bit bored, especially considering it was just a normal match following their epic feud up to this point. The show closed with Sycho Sid challenging the world champion Shawn Michaels. Is this Sid's best match of his entire career? I think so. The crowd was interesting because they were behind both men even though Sid was portrayed more heelish. We can credit this match for the Shawn Michaels Tree meme, you know the one. Michaels bumped his ass to make Sid look like a pro. A really even match, but HBK's manager Jose Lothario getting knocked down plus a referee bump allows Sid to strike HBK with the camera. One powerbomb later, and Sid is world champion. I wouldn't mind Sid as champion if he only fought against wrestlers like Michaels or Hart to get good matches out of him. Quality way to close an enjoyable show.

Doug Furnas, Henry O. Godwinn, Phil LaFon & Phineas I. Godwinn defeat British Bulldog, Owen Hart, Leif Cassidy & Marty Jannetty. ***

Undertaker defeats Mankind. **1/2

Jake Roberts, Marc Mero, Rocky Maivia & The Stalker defeat Crush, Goldust, Jerry Lawler & Hunter Hearst Helmsley. **1/4

Bret Hart defeats Steve Austin. ****1/2

Faarooq, "Diesel", "Razor Ramon" & Vader vs Flash Funk, Jimmy Snuka, Savio Vega & Yokozuna ends in a no contest. *

Sycho Sid defeats Shawn Michaels (c), WWF Championship. ****

1) In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede, July 6th 1997. 77.5%

We've talked about some great wrestling and it can always be up for debate what the best matches and worst matches are. Wrestling is subjective. However, this show is unequivocally the greatest show from the New Generation Era and it is not even close. I still holds up as one of their greatest PPV's of all time. Leading up to the event the main story had been the Hart Foundation being very mean about America, making them the top heels in the country, but essentially baby face everywhere else in one of the most unique storylines WWE have ever done. This In Your House show not only emanates from Canada, but from Calgary which is the home of the Harts. So yeah, they were ever so slightly popular. Bret Hart was returning from a 2 month layoff due to surgery, this being his return match in a star-studded 10-man tag main event.

Everything on this digestible 4-match card slaps. The opener was a competitive back and forth between HHH and Mankind, improving on their previous clash at King of the Ring. We saw glimpses of the magic these two could do together in the coming years. The double count out finish is a little unsatisfying but it was good fun and built to their third match, which was even better. After that, we saw a Japanese masterclass between the legendary Great Sasuke and the young star Taka Michinoku. There is no storyline or set up, Vince just said "you two, go out their and have the best match you can" and oh boy they tried their bloody hardest. A ten minute sprint that the crowd did not give a fuck about at the start, but could not resist the insane levels of talent both men possessed. The quick reversals, the stiff strikes, the huge dives and fluid sequences. The audience was stunned and reacted loudly to both men by the end of the match. This is how you get yourself over when no one knows who you are. We transition from that, to Hunter trying to murder Mankind with a shovel which was hilarious. The Undertaker defends his WWF title against Vader in a very fun big boy match stiffer than your dad when he sees your mum. It was a little too one-sided, but both guys worked real hard and that tombstone on the mastodon was very impressive. Vader kicked out of a lot of big offence which put him over strong, even if they failed to use him correctly after this.

After some promos and video packages, it is main event time. The 5 American boys come out, Steve Austin got a very mixed reaction and clearly loved being at least partially a heel. The other 4 lads were booed pretty heavily. The Hart Foundation come out, all getting loud reactions but none louder than Bret who felt like a megastar. There are cameras at ringside filming for Bret's upcoming documentary Wrestling with Shadows. This could be the best multi-man tag match, maybe ever? It's really special. The match is booked so well that there is never a lull in the action, there is always something going on unless there are moments where the match needs to breath. Austin and Bret had some amazing encounters with call backs to their previous classics, Pillman spends the match being a madman always running in to break things up. Austin goes into full heel mode by maiming the local favourites and trash talking other Hart family members in the crowd, mainly Bruce. Owen is taken out of the match but returns later on to save the match for his team to a huge ovation. Bruce Hart throws a drink at Austin, he targets Stu thinking it was him and immediately gets jumped by all of the Harts. There probably could have been a DQ here but who cares this is all so much fun. Austin is too focused on Bret and he gets rolled up by Owen for a Canadian win, lets go Canucks. The crowd lose their minds, the 'Muricans leave but Austin is dragged away after trying to cause more damage to the Harts. The Family stand in the ring as the crowd shower them with. There is even a very young Natalya and future husband Tyson Kidd in the ring, how very cute.

This is a perfectly done show, in front of a molten hot crowd who were great throughout the entire night. The show was concise with 4 good to great matches, there wasn't any bullshit to pad the time. A wonderful 2 hours of fun that has so much replay value, I'm even going to go rewatch it right now.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Mankind ends in a double count out. ***1/4

The Great Sasuke defeats Taka Michinoku. ****

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

Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog & Brian Pillman) defeats Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, Animal & Hawk. ****3/4

That is all of the PPV shows from the New Generation Era! This was a bit of a slog, mainly due to the incredulous amount of shit that there was. I am very much looking forward to talking about the Attitude Era. I'm taking a brief break after these go up, I will have a stats post to follow this one and I will continue to post some Let's Reviews but these articles take some work to do. Thank you for reading, come back in a week for the final article covering this era.


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