wrestling / Video Reviews

Leighty’s Retro Review: WWF In Your House: Revenge of The ‘Taker

April 15, 2022 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Leighty’s Retro Review: WWF In Your House: Revenge of The ‘Taker  

-I know I still have Uncensored to do, but these In Your House shows are a breeze as they clock in under two hours. I will try to get back to Uncensored before getting to Spring Stampede. All the Network content dumped over Mania week took priority over my journey back to 1997. As for this show Taker is fresh off winning the WWF Title for the second time from Sid and Bret Hart and Steve Austin had their epic double turn in one of the greatest matches of all time. Let’s get to it!

-Announce Team: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler
-Date: April 20, 1997
-Location: Rochester Community War Memorial, Rochester, NY
-Attendance: 11,477
-PPV Buys: 120,000

-Blassie narrated opener focusing on Mankind burning Taker with a fireball.

WWF Tag Team Titles: The British Bulldog and Owen Hart vs. The Legion of Doom/b>

-I miss these small arena shows! Two weeks ago The Godwins slopped The LOD trying to get Bulldog and Owen and then Owen and Bulldog cost LOD a match against The Godwins. Owen and Animal start us off and Animal just pounds Owen into goo. He hits a leaping shoulder block and Owen has to rethink things. He opts for a front facelock, but Animal just powers out and tosses Owen across the ring. Bulldog gets the tag and that also brings Hawk in the ring. He drops Bulldog with a clothesline and drops a fist for two. Bulldog gets pounded down in the corner and then Hawk hits his own shoulder block. He sets too early on a backdrop though and eats a boot followed by a clothesline. Delayed vertical suplex from Bulldog and tag back to Owen as he comes off the top with a shot to Hawk’s head. Owen tries the Sharpshooter, but Hawk kicks off and hits another clothesline. Animal back in and he hooks a headlock. We go backstage as Steve Austin has arrived to the building and he calls Patterson a jackass. Slam from Animal and Hawk comes off the top with a splash for two. Double down spot as Hawk gets whipped sternum first into the corner, but catches Owen with an elbow as he falls back. Owen tries a kick, but Hawk catches and that lets Owen hit the enzugiri. Bulldog in and he beats Hawk down a bit. Tag back to Owen who gets a sleeper. Hawk gets a slam, but Bulldog kicks him in the back from the apron to cut off the comeback. Never mind as Hawk makes his own save and sends Owen into Bulldog, Animal gets a powerslam off the top and that gets the win and titles at 6:57. Huh?

-Another ref comes down and yeah, here comes the screwy finish. It seems LOD pinned the illegal man so it doesn’t count. The match is going to continue. Bulldog and Owen feel there should be a DQ as this match is over in their eyes. The ref gives them a count of ten to return or they lose the match and titles. They beat the count and Bulldog and Animal start us over. Owen gets a blind tag and hits a spin wheel kick. Bulldog chokes in the corner while Owen distracts the ref and then Owen follows with a neckbreaker and then leg drop for two. Tag to Bulldog as the crowd rallies behind LOD. Animal gets a sunset flip, but no count as Owen has the ref distracted again. They show the replay where Owen was the legal man, but the pin was on Bulldog. Owen misses a splash off the top and the hot tag is made to Hawk. He runs wild and clotheslines both men at the same time. All four men battle now as Bulldog gets sent into the steps. Doomsday Device connects back in the ring, but again wrong man being covered and Bret Hart hits the ring for the DQ to save the tag titles at 12:16.

Winners: The Legion of Doom via DQ at 12:16
-This was kind of a mess with the stop in the middle and the screwy finish. Weird choice for an opener as well as the crowd is dead after seeing LOD screwed out of the titles. *1/2

-Bulldog and Owen are backstage with Dock and he informs them that Stone Cold has arrived. Owen and Bulldog aren’t buying it.

-Sunny and Brian Pillman are in the Superstar Hot Line Room as they flirt with each other.

WWF Intercontinental Title: Rocky Maivia (c) vs. Savio Vega (w/ The Nation of Domination)

-Still weird hearing a crowd just dead for The Rock. Savio earned this shot with a non-title win in South Africa on RAW. They jump the bell and Rocky controls with an armdrag as Faarooq makes his way down with his arm in a sling. Seems he has a separated shoulder. He joins the announce team as Rocky continues the arm drag parade in the ring. The match gets ignored now as they discuss Faarooq throwing out a challenge for Ahmed to run The Gauntlet against The Nation. He promises to abolish The Nation if Ahmed can beat all three of them back to back to back. Savio works a headlock as this is just death for this crowd. Rocky gets a small package for two, but eats a boot to the face as he tries to stand. Savio chokes Rocky for a bit and goes back to a nerve hold. It mean it looks like he is massaging his neck. Perfect-plex from Rocky, but the ref is distracted. Savio lands a spinning kick and throws chops in the corner. Hiptoss from Savio and a cover gets two. Back to the neck massage! Another kick is ducked and Rocky gets a float over into a DDT for two. Savio gets a roll-up but gets kicked off into the ring post. Belly to back suplex from Rocky as the crowd starts to wake up a little. Belly to belly suplex gets a two count. Rock Bottom gets two as it wasn’t his finisher yet. Backslide gets two. Rocky gets dumped to the floor and lands on Crush. Heart punch from Crush and Rocky doesn’t answer the bell as he is counted-out at 8:33. 2 for 2 in dumb finishes tonight!

Winner: Savio Vega via count-out at 8:33
-This wasn’t good and then as it picked up a bit the finish was stupid. Rocky just looked like a jobber and the heel turn couldn’t come soon enough. I know the idea was to add heat to the never ending Nation/Ahmed feud, but this was just awful. 1/2*

-Savio and Crush argue which brings Faarooq into the ring to make peace. They decide to gang up on Rocky and beat the piss out of him. Faarooq whips Rocky a bit before Ahmed Johnson makes the save with a 2X4. Ahmed accepts the gauntlet challenge and we will get to that next month.

-Ken Shamrock is chatting online with AOL.

-Sable and Marc Mero are backstage to give an update on Mero’s knee. He promises to be back this summer and in the background Austin walks into a bathroom. We hear a bunch of noise and Bulldog and Owen come out with pipes and Owen’s bugged eye look at the camera is fantastic!

Jesse James vs. Rockabilly (w/ The Honky Tonk Man)

-Three weeks ago, James destroyed The Honky Tonk Man’s guitar. Honky Tonk Man is out to pay off his search for a new protege. Billy Gunn under a new name and it’s crazy to think from here we ended up with Two Hall of Famers and one of the most over tag teams of all time. JR chats with Honky as we see the former Billy Gunn punch Honky a few weeks back. Apparently, Honky made Billy an offer he couldn’t refuse. Billy with a kick to the gut and he starts dancing as Vince is still calling him Billy Gunn. Hiptoss from James and a series of armdrags before a clothesline that sends Billy to the floor. James follows with a clothesline from the apron and he threatens Honky. Back in the ring, Billy works in a thumb to the eye and then hits a fameasser. More dancing and then the cover which only gets two. Billy stomps away and then hits a neckbreaker for two. Billy apparently knows what this dead crowd needs as he goes to a chinlock. A rake to the eyes snuffs out a James rally. Billy with another clothesline, but then misses a splash in the corner after dancing too much. Both men are down as the ref starts his ten count. James fires back with right hands and some dancing of his own. He punches away in the corner which gets the crowd into the match as that spot always works. James with a running clothesline in the corner. James gets dumped to the floor as this match seems way longer than 6 minutes at this point. More dancing from Billy as he preps for Shake Rattle and Roll, but James gets a small package for the win at 6:44. Honky tries to break the guitar over James after the match, but he ducks and gets out of the ring.

Winner: Jesse James via pin at 6:44
-At least there was a clean finish, but this was all kinds of boring and thankfully, Rockabilly didn’t last long. *1/2

-Dok Hendrix pimps Taker merchandise!

-Back to Kevin Kelly with Steve Austin and he is rather pissed as he runs down everyone in the Hart Family including Stu. He promises he will go through with the match. President Monsoon shuffles the card to give Austin more time and that match will close the PPV.

-Next we hear from The Hart Foundation. Bulldog says Austin started it as he tried to attack Owen. Owen doesn’t appreciate Austin talking about his dad. Bret: “Who’s crying now?”

-Creepy video package for Taker/Mankind with people talking in tongues spliced between highlights from the previous 4 PPV matches from the two. Yes, this is the 5th PPV meeting between the two in just under a year, and it does make sense for Mankind to get the first shot at Taker’s WWF Title. Mankind set a fireball off in Taker’s face to add more heat to this one. Yeah, I said it!

-Mankind and Paul Bearer cut a promo. Mankind says Taker’s screams will be music to his ear. Nice!

WWF Championship: The Undertaker (c) vs. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)

-This is Taker’s second reign as WWF Champion and only his second defense as he lost his one defense in 1991 against Hogan. Well, unless he had a random house show defense between Survivor Series and This Tuesday in Texas. JR asks Vince if he has ever thought about Mankind being the poster boy of the WWF, and Vince laughs, but just wait. Taker’s entrance finally wakes this crowd up and it’s time for these two to do what they can to save this show. Just let them loose! They jump the bell and Mankind pounds away in the corner. To the opposite corner and now Taker is laying in the heavy strikes. Taker is sporting a bandage on his head from the fireball. Right hand drops Taker, but he sits up and gets caught with a Cactus clothesline to the floor. Taker lands on his feet and sends Mankind into the railing in a sick bump and then again just to make sure his head hit flush this time. Mankind gets tossed into the crowd and Taker follows as the ref has opted to just let them go. Smart! Taker does roll in for a second to break the count and then back out where he just bounces Mankind’s face off the guard rail. Ouch! That was quite a sickening sound. JR: “He’s missing an ear. That was probably the best day of his life.” Preach! Old School but Mankind walks away, so Taker just hits a flying clothesline that nearly went bad as his foot started to slip. Paul Bearer runs interference which lets Mankind get the urn and blast Taker in the head for two. Mankind starts pulling out his hair in what I always appreciated as a nice character touch! JR brings up Vader’s situation in Kuwait which lets Lawler tell us that Vader is “doing time. Hard time.” Nerve hold from Mankind which lets the crowd rally Taker. Mankind shifts his position as he gets back control, but Taker rolls and unloads with right hands to the ribs. He sends Mankind to the floor and Taker follows. Mankind gets sent face first into the steps, so Mankind grabs a glass pitcher off the announce table and explodes that over Taker’s head. Vince and JR wonder why there wasn’t a DQ called and they are really baffled as Mankind bends a chair over Taker’s head. Again, just let them go! Mankind drops the elbow from the middle rope to the floor and finally tears the bandage off Taker’s head. Lawler brings up “it’s an eye for an eye.” These two probably could make that eye for eye stipulation work. Back in the ring Taker gets stomped down in the corner and then planted with a piledriver for two. Another piledriver as Lawler asks McMahon how WWE suits would handle Mankind as WWE Champion. Vince: “I’m sure they would find someway to market him.” Sure did, as all it took with a sock! Taker ducks a clothesline and hits his flying clothesline and then chokes away in the corner. The ref tries to force a break, but Taker just stares him down. Taker tries a corner clothesline, but Mankind pulls the ref in the way to take him out of the match. Mankind gets the Mandible Claw and another ref heads down, but Mankind takes him out. The Fink gets knocked down by Bearer so he can toss a chair in the ring. Mankind opts for the steps and Taker dropkicks them back in his face. That had to suck! Sickening chair shot to the face as poor Mankind loses more brain cells. Mankind gets tangled in the ropes and Taker ends up tearing his mask off. Mankind gets back on the apron and Taker rams the steps into him, which sends him off and head first through The Spanish Announce Table. Lawler tells us he is dead, but we are about 14 months early on that line really having meaning. The crowd is losing it now after that crazy bump. Chokeslam back in the ring gets a shocking two count as Mankind is still alive somehow. No matter as The Tombstone ends this one at 17:26.

Winner and Still WWF Champion: The Undertaker via pin at 17:26
-This was a high quality war as these two have great chemistry obviously. This one gets forgotten at times as they have had more famous matches. Definitely check this one out as something finally delivered on this show. ****

-After the match Mankind tries to burn Taker again, but things gets screwed up as it was supposed to be Paul getting burned. Taker adjusts on the fly and just opts to set the fireball off in Paul’s face. They made the best of it, that they could and it worked out in the end to set-up the story of you know who debuting six months later.

-In Your House returns May 11!

-Dok is backstage with Bret Hart and he is joined by Bulldog and Owen. Nice touch as you can hear Paul Bearer screaming in agony off camera. Bret promises to cripple Austin on his way to beating everyone in the WWF. Seems Owen and Bulldog will be at ringside for this one.

Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

-Gorilla Monsoon is out and sends Bulldog and Owen to the back. Still weird not hearing an earth shattering pop when the glass shatters on Austin’s entrance. They trade blows before the bell as they were just meant to fight each other. Back elbow from Austin and then a snap suplex. Austin talks some trash and stomps on the midsection before choking Bret on the middle rope. Bret bails, but Austin follows as a few people start an “ECW” chant. That reminds me that I have Barely Legal to do this month. I may never get back to Uncensored. Austin sends Bret into the stairs on one side of the ring and for good measure the stairs on the other side as well. They brawl up the aisle as Bret is just getting the dog piss beaten out of him. They head back in the ring and the ass kicking continues. Middle rope elbow gets a two count. Bret bails again to create any separation, but Austin just won’t let him go anywhere. They fight over a chair as Monsoon is sitting ringside and that ends up in the ring along with both men. The ref tries to stop Austin from using the chair which lets Bret hit a dropkick that also takes out the ref. That lets Hart use the chair to destroys Austin’s bad knee. Bret helps the ref to his feet, but I would be wary of that ref Bret. That dropkick that took him could come back to haunt you as I heard Hebnars hold a grudge. Hart works over the knee, but Austin continues to fight back on one leg, just to drive home the point of who the hero is now. Bret goes to the ring post Figure Four which can’t win the match because Austin is obviously in and under the ropes. Bret uses a chair on the knee which has Lawler becoming a fan of Hart now. Bret talks trash to the fans, but Austin is back on him as Vince is drooling over Austin on commentary. We get split screen footage of Paul Bearer being loaded into an ambulance. Back with Bret tearing the knee brace off Austin because he is in full dick mode. Bret continues to work on the knee but then takes a ball shot for his troubles. That gives Austin the advantage obviously and he chokes away on the mat. He still wrestles like a heel, but the fans don’t care. Case in point he uses wrist tape to choke and tries another elbow from the middle rope, but Bret is out of the way. Bret goes back to work on the knee for a bit and then hits a suplex from the apron back in. Bret opts for a Figure Four as JR gives us the history of the hold. Austin turns the hold over and Bret gets to the rope to force the break. Austin argues with the ref which lets Bret kick the back of the knee. They brawl on the floor some more as the crowd is fading and they realize that as Bret takes a bump into the crowd to wake them back again. It’s like these two know what they are doing! Bret takes his corner bump, but into the railing. Ouch! Back in the ring and now the proper corner bump from Bret. I always appreciated that bump! Austin fires off right hands and we get our first pin attempt in quite some time, but it only get two. Austin tries for a piledriver, but his leg gives out in a nice touch and Bret is right back on the knee. Hebnar pulls Bret off Austin as he was tied up in the corner and that lets Austin hit a Stun Gun on the top buckle. Stunner is blocked as Bret grabs the ropes and then he catches Austin with a back elbow. They head up and Bret brings Austin down with a top rope superplex to pop the crowd. The move leaves both men down for a bit, but Bret is up first and looks for The Sharpshooter. Austin finds his brace close by and blasts Bret in the head. That lets Austin get The Sharpshooter and here come Owen and Bulldog to force the break. Austin goes back to the hold and this time Bulldog is in with a chair to end this one at 21:09.

Winner: Steve Austin via DQ at 21:09
-Just an awful ending made worse by the fact the opening match also had a DQ finish. The match was ok, but wasn’t their best. I think they were still working out a formula for heel Hitman and the crowd was into Austin, but not yet to the level that would come. ***1/4

-They continue to fight after the match as Austin uses a chair on Bret’s knee. Bulldog and Owen pull Bret out and exit to end the show.

-Thanks for reading!

The final score: review Poor
The 411
-Weird show as there are only five matches and three of them had awful finishes. The opening 3 match stretch was just brutal and nearly killed the crowd for good before Taker and Mankind saved things. Definitely check that one out and Bret vs Austin is a decent watch just to see them wrestle with the roles officially reversed. Overall though a down PPV with bad finish after bad finish.

article topics

Robert Leighty Jr.