Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet with less credibility than the WCW Hotline! It’s WWF Revenge of The Taker, The Undertaker is your WWF Champion with his first challenger being none other than the deranged Mankind, Mankind has been a thorn in the side of Taker for almost a year at this point and Mankind makes a fitting first challenger. We also have a Wrestlemania rematch as Stone Cold Steve Austin battles Bret Hart to determine the number one contender for the WWF Championship. We also have Rocky Maivia vs Savio Vega, Rockabilly vs Jesse James and Owen Hart & The British Bulldog defending their WWF Tag Team Championships against The Legion of Doom! Not a bad card for sure, will it be a big hit? Let’s find out!
(WWF Tag Team Championship Match) Owen Hart & British Bulldog © vs The Legion of Doom
LOD have wasted no time looking for championship gold in the WWF, Owen & Bulldog have humiliated LOD in recent weeks but it’s time to put up and shut up. Animal and Owen Hart start out, Animal clubs and lands a shoulder block on Owen, Owen retreats before kicking low. Clubbing blow and a front chancery before Animal tosses off Owen. Owen tags in Bulldog, Animal tags in Hawk who chops up Bulldog. Shots to the gut in the corner and chops too, flying shoulder block from Hawk. Bulldog lands a boot and a clothesline, stalling vertical suplex on Hawk. Diving axe handle from Owen, Owen wants that sharpshooter but Hawk shoves off Owen. Vicious clothesline from Hawk, boot to the ribs from Animal. Powerslam from Animal for two, military press slam for Owen. Animal yanks Owen down by the hair, scoop slam and splash combination from LOD for two.
Hawk and Owen bang heads off an Irish whip reversal, Owen tags in Bulldog who squeezes down on Hawk. Hawk fights out before Bulldog lands a massive knee, Owen comes in and applies a sleeper. Hawk snap-mares his way out, scoop slams from Hawk who is kicked in the bag by Bulldog from the apron. Hawk shoves Bulldog into Owen, Hawk tags in Animal. Sandwich clothesline, assisted powerslam from Animal from the middle rope and we have new tag team champions just like that.
Woah that was fast, what’s going on here? Mike Chioda sprints down to ringside and tells the referee we need to change this decision as they pinned the illegal man. The match has to continue, Bulldog & Owen are not happy about the match continuing. The champions sprint back to ringside with Animal taking down Bulldog with a kick, Owen tags in and wipes out Animal with a spinning heel kick. Wishbone-split from the champions, shoulder thrusts from Owen as Bulldog chokes Animal behind the referee’s back. Leg drop from Owen for two, tag to Bulldog who gets caught in a sunset flip but the referee is distracted. Bulldog escapes and stomps Animal, tag to Owen. Owen takes down Animal, Animal dodges the top rope splash. Animal tags in Hawk who clotheslines everyone, boots too.
Owen clobbers Hawk, double team by the champions goes wrong as we see a massive clothesline. Owen Hart is all alone with Animal, Doomsday Device from the challengers, 1…2… Bret Hart breaks up the pin-fall. Bret Hart has saved the tag team championships for his brother and brother-in-law.
Fun match, LOD can work and Owen can sell. They beat the crap out of the champions and it’s an easy watch, Owen is a fantastic watch too while Bulldog holds his own. Would love to see more of these two work with LOD capturing the gold because this was one hell of an opening match, if only we got this at Wrestlemania.
Winners: LOD over The Hart Foundation via DQ!
(WWF Intercontinental Championship Match) Savio Vega vs Rocky Maivia ©
Rocky Maivia is still your Intercontinental Champion, overcoming every challenge in his way but perhaps Rocky is out of luck against Savio and every member of The Nation supporting Savio. Rocky comes in with a flurry of right hands, big arm-drags and an arm-bar from Rocky. Faarooq is here with his arm in a sling, Faarooq looks massive. More arm-drags from Rocky, Savio wipes out Rocky with a corner spinning heel kick. Axe handles on the back, Rocky is thrown into the buckle hard. Savio applies a nerve-hold before Rocky answers with a crossbody for two. Savio puts down Rocky with a right hand, back to the nerve-hold from Savio.
It seems this whole match is all about Faarooq’s promo on commentary, Savio tries a suplex that Rocky counters with a small package for two. Savio lands a big boot before choking Rocky. Rocky continues to fight back with a massive fisherman suplex, D’Lo Brown distracts the referee which allows Savio to recover. Spinning kick from Savio, Savio chops Rocky in the corner over and over. Big hip-toss for two, Savio misses a spin-kick and eats a massive DDT from Rocky. Rocky covers for two, Rocky tees off with right hands. Savio tries an O’Connor roll but Savio is shoved into the ring-post. Savio misses a corner attack, belly to back suplex from Rocky.
Irish whip and gut punch, belly to belly suplex from Rocky for two. Savio reverses the Irish whip but eats a Rock Bottom for two. Backslide for two, Savio sends Rocky to the floor into Crush. Crush goes to work on Rocky, Heart Punch from Crush. Rocky is down and is not moving, Savio looks on as Rocky is counted-out and the championship will not change hands on a count-out. Savio and Crush are having words, Faarooq cannot believe his eyes. Faarooq brings Rocky into the ring and they stomp the bejesus out of Rocky before Ahmed Johnson comes down with a 2X4, The Nation powder real fast.
Dull and lifeless, Rocky’s smile and cookie-cutter babyface character or lack of character rather was starting to irritate the fans. Meanwhile, Savio as a heel is no different than Savio as a babyface. I am sure in Puerto Rico Savio has to have something that had the fans buying into him and getting involved but here and now, there is no added value in having Savio on a WWF card. The finish makes Savio look like a total fool as well, why wouldn’t Savio take advantage of the situation with Crush knocking out Rocky. Just a bizarre match really, not sure what was accomplished here but there you go.
Winner: Savio Vega over Rocky Maivia via Count-Out!
Jesse James vs Rockabilly W/ Honky Tonk Man
The Roadie is still around without his dreads and looking very much like a cowboy, I am pretty sure I have not see Jesse James since 1995 but the big thing here is Honky Tonk Man has a new protégé and it’s Rockabilly. This right here is the first solo run they would give to Mr. Gunn that well, we will just see where this goes. Anyways, haven’t seen Billy Gunn since The Smoking Gunns were having problems with Sunny. The future would be bright for these two but what about in this moment?
Rockabilly boots down James, Irish whip reversed by James who lands a hip-toss and arm-drag followed by a dropkick. Clothesline to the floor, apron clothesline from James who struts to mock Double J who jumped to the greener pastures of WCW. Rockabilly begs for mercy, eye poke from Rockabilly. James lowers his head off a back body drop and eats a Fame-Asser which gets a two because Rockabilly danced for 10 seconds after applying the move. Neck-breaker from Rockabilly, reverse chin-lock from Rockabilly before a mean right hand. James fights back from his knees with mean rights, another eye-poke from Rockabilly. Irish whip to the corner with an elbow from Rockabilly. Irish whip and Rockabilly misses his corner splash, James answers with big right hands.
Ten punches in the corner from James, Irish whip to the opposite buckle. Corner clothesline with strutting, Irish whip reversed by Rockabilly. James is side-stepped to the floor and lands hard on his hip. Rockabilly gets caught when attempting a tornado DDT and James gets the small package for the win.
So the new protégé loses in his first match with his new gimmick, that’s a good start isn’t it? I always am a little confused when something like this happens especially when they have a very competitive first match. For me, if you are going all in, you go all-in on the new gimmick and if you aren’t then ask yourself why are you bothering with the gimmick in the first place? Two very meh matches back to back, making this a drag so far, how long before Austin & The Hitman?
Winner: Jesse James over Rockabilly via Small Package!
(WWF Championship Match) The Undertaker © vs Mankind W/ Paul Bearer
This is a fitting first challenger for Undertaker, the deranged Mankind who often got the upper-hand on The Deadman in their encounters, led by the man who knows Undertaker better than anyone else. A possible mental block for The Deadman, the master of mind-games is backed into the corner and that does not happen too often. However, this is The Deadman and Undertaker has no intention of being a fluke champion. They have always had good chemistry, this feud reinvigorated Undertaker in many eyes and made his matches watchable for the first time in a while so I am pumped, this should be a slobber-knocker!
Taker almost sprints into the ring with his new gear, Mankind tees off with multiple right hands before Taker reverses it and pummels Mankind who is almost kicked out of the ring. Taker is wearing a bandage over his eye due to the assault at the hands of Undertaker who used a fire extinguisher to injure the WWF Champion. Mankind hammers the eye and down goes Taker who lands on his feet from a clothesline. Taker has Mankind by the throat before tossing Mankind into the barricade hard twice. It looks so nasty, Taker breakes the count and goes back to punishing the challenger. Mankind is sent into the crowd, we are getting more crowd-brawling ladies and gentlemen.
Taker lands shoulder thrusts on Mankind who does not have an answer, a variation of old school from The Deadman. Taker wants a tombstone early with Paul Bearer interfering, Mankind has the urn and cracks The Deadman in the skull for a close two. Mankind is irate with this, Mankind pummels Taker with right hands and his running corner-knee. Throat thrust and choke from the challenger, Taker begins answering with his own big shots. Taker lowers his head off an Irish whip though, massive neck-breaker from Mankind. Nerve-hold from Mankind, Taker escapes and lands a massive flurry. Taker sends Mankind to the floor, Mankind pulls out Taker. Taker meets the steel steps, Mankind smashes a jug of water over Taker’s head.
Mankind nails Taker with a chair in the head, where is the DQ? Mankind lands a middle rope elbow drop to the floor, Mankind rips and rips at the head of Taker. A little juice would add so much to the idea that Taker is in a bad way, shame about the policy in the company. However, we do get a nice shot of Taker’s head that has make-up on to look like a burn. Beautiful piledriver from Mankind for two, headbutts and another piledriver. Taker is walking around the ring, trying to shake it off. Mankind is being beaten back by Undertaker, flying clothesline from Undertaker. Mankind pulls the referee in front of him, Undertaker wipes out the referee as Mankind applies The Mandible Claw.
Mankind puts the claw on a new referee, Paul Bearer throws Mankind the chair. Mankind grabs the steel steps, fans are getting excited now. Taker sits up and dropkicks the steel steps into Mankind’s head. Taker has the chair and Mankind is waffled in the head with the chair. Mankind is tied up in the ropes and Taker rips off the mask of Mankind. Taker has the steel steps and rams the steps into Mankind on the apron and Mankind goes flying through the announce table head-first. Unbelievable bump all these years later, Taker looks to have killed Mankind. Chokeslam! 1….2… Mankind kicks out! Taker calls for the tombstone, Mankind is crawling to the corner. Tombstone Piledriver and this match is over!
Very good match, I would have liked a little blood to put over the dire straits that Undertaker was in when Mankind was battering his skull with chairs and headbutts but this was a brawl and it delivers especially the bump at the end which is tremendous and we get some good character protection too with Mankind’s love for pain keeping him going, Mankind survives the Chokeslam but The Tombstone is too great for Mankind to survive. These two batter each other like all their other great matches they had over the course of 1996, very happy with this main event. Very unfortunate that the ending angle went to shit with Foley’s lighter malfunctioning and Taker salvaging the angle by lighting the fire in Bearer’s eyes but yeah, this match was a lot of fun.
Winner: Undertaker over Mankind via Tombstone Piledriver!
(Number One Contender’s Match) Bret Hart W/ British Bulldog & Owen Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
Wrestlemania rematch time with Austin taking on The Hitman, the tables have turned with Bret Hart no longer being a hero, the fans are firmly in the camp of one Stone Cold Steve Austin. Earlier in the night, Austin was jumped by Bulldog & Owen, can The Rattlesnake defeat Bret Hart when he’s not 100%?
We start hot with brawling, Austin is winning the war with right hands that floor The Hitman. Stomps from Austin, Bret cannot get away as Austin lands an elbow. Big suplex from Austin, stomp to the gut from Austin. Bret is choked against the middle rope, they spill to the floor with Bret tasting the steel steps. Bret meets the steps again as Austin mocks The Hitman in the ring, Bret meets the steel steps once more. Austin throws Bret to the crowd, they brawl back into the ring and it’s all Austin. Middle rope elbow drop by Austin for two, Bret rolls to the floor looking for a break. Bret has a chair, Austin manages to thwart The Hitman. Austin has the chair, Bret dropkicks Austin into the referee. Bret goes after the knee of Austin, Bret stabs the knee with the chair again and again.
Bret starts working the leg with kicks and dropping his weight on the knee, Austin fights back but Bret rakes the eyes and drags that leg to the ring-post. Apron figure-four from The Hitman, Bret smashes the knee of Austin with the chair. Austin answers back with elbows to the back of the head, Bret goes to the knee and drops an elbow on the leg. We interrupt the main event to see Paul Bearer in the hospital, Bret rips off the brace of Austin. More leg work, Bret has Austin on the floor. Austin goes low and Bret is down, still no DQ call from the referee, Austin drops a leg on the groin of The Hitman. Elbow and choke from Austin, Austin uses his wrist-tape to choke-out The Hitman. Middle rope elbow drop misses for Austin, his knee being the target of Bret’s attacks.
Hamstring kicks from Bret, Austin hot-shots Bret. Austin is suplexed into the ring by Bret, figure-four leg-lock from Bret who is trying to destroy the knee of Austin. Austin reverses the hold which puts pressure on Bret, the referee eventually separates both men. Austin talks too much trash with the referee which allows Bret to kick out Austin’s leg. Austin avoids a figure four on the apron, Bret decks Austin with right hands before a back body drop from Austin has Bret in the crowd. Massive rights from Austin, Bret is dumped back ringside. Bret is dropped on the guard-rail, apron diving clothesline from Austin. Irish whip into the corner with Bret taking his bump in the corner, Austin mounts Bret and lands multiple right hands. Bret lands a shoulder block, Bret runs into Austin though. Austin wants a piledriver, Austin’s knee gives out.
Bret laughs and stomps the leg of The Rattlesnake, right hand from Bret. Bret whips Austin who collapses, no Irish whip here. Bret pummels the knee, Austin manages to send away Bret. Austin assumes control, Bret latches onto the ropes to avoid the stunner. Bret low-blows Austin and Bret wants the superplex, massive superplex from The Hitman. Bret calls for the end, Bret was close to applying the sharpshooter but Austin smashed Bret with his knee-brace and Austin applies his own sharpshooter. Owen and Bulldog are here, Austin batters both away, the referees come to save the day. Austin goes back to the sharpshooter, middle of the ring as Bulldog grabs a chair and clocks Austin in the back. Austin is your winner and will be the number one contender for the WWF Championship. Austin manages to smash the knee of The Hitman with a chair, Austin goes for the leg with a sharpshooter and damages the knee of The Hitman.
It was never going to match the intensity and epic encounter that was Wrestlemania the previous month but here we have a feud that has the steam to carry the company because by God do I believe that these two despise one another. From the opening bell to the finish, I feel the hatred these two have for one another, it’s in a league of its own in the WWF at the time and they batter one another. Bret’s leg work feels so much more brutal as a heel with the ring-post figure-four in his arsenal as well as using every cheap tactic he can think of, we have weapon shots and low blows. A joy to watch while Austin is developing into that babyface that can overcome anything the dynamic is a little-off with some people still siding with Bret and there are going to be some growing pains for sure but this is a solid main event to end the night.
Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin over Bret Hart via DQ!
That was WWF’s In Your House: Revenge of The Taker, a largely forgettable pay per view outside of a solid main event and a good WWF Championship match between Taker and Mankind. LOD are rightfully where they should be, on top in the tag division as legitimate competition for Davey Boy & Owen Hart. The matches should be a lot of fun as we saw here and it can go either way between the two, the Intercontinental Championship scene in the WWF needs a serious shot in the arm as it continues to suffer ever since the injury of Ahmed Johnson with Rocky Maivia carrying the torch as best as he can but with the likes of Helmsley, Goldust and Savio Vega being his challengers, I don’t see much hope in a revival of the scene with Rocky spearheading it. Mankind and Taker deliver as they usually do, it’s brutal and carnage and the fans along with me eat it up while Bret and Austin have the intensity for their rivalry and it feels like things are only starting there, we are only scratching the surface. Again like 1996, 1997 is having some bright spots but the cards are weak and even the short In Your House PPVs can feel like a drag, will things change with a returning HBK, the rise of Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Austin in the main event? We will have our answers soon, thanks for reading and remember: there’s always another night!