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Leighty’s WWF In Your House: Mind Games Review

September 26, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
WWE In Your House Mind Games Shawn Michaels Mankind
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Leighty’s WWF In Your House: Mind Games Review  

-I was scrolling through Twitter during AEW Dynamite and saw it was the 25th anniversary of this show. So I had some time this weekend to see how it holds up. Let’s get to it!

-Announce Team: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect
-Original Air Date: 09.22.96
-CoreStates Center, Philadelphia, PA
-Attendance: 13,000
-PPV Buys: 120,000

-Man, I really miss those awesome opening PPV packages voiced by narrator guy. You know the voice! Opening package covers our main matches heading into this show: Shawn/Mankind and Taker/Goldust

-ECW chant as Vince, JR and Perfect hype the show from ringside.

Caribbean Strap Match: Justin Hawk Bradshaw (w/ Zebekiah) vs. Savio Vega

-Kevin Kelly interviews Savio as Bradshaw makes his entrance. He is quited fire up! Savio had beaten Steve Austin a few months earlier in this same match. Perfect points out that Savio already had a dark match earlier tonight against Marty Jannetty. JBL intereferd in that match and thus why we have this match. Weird choice to get to a PPV opener, but whatever. Savio slides into the ring and Bradshaw jumps him and starts laying in the leather as Vince and JR yell at the ref to stop this until both men get their wrists attached to the strap. Savio continues to get whipped as JR goes over the rules. Basically like most strap matches as you have to drag your opponent and touch all four corners. Savio gets dumped to the floor and the ECW chant starts again as we see Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman sitting in the front row. Bradshaw gets pulled into the ring post and then Sandman spits beer in Savio’s face. Vince lets us know there is a local wrestling group in Philly that is trying to make a name for themselves at the expense of the WWF. Funny how that all worked out! The ECW guys get ejected by security and the ECW chant rings out again. THE FORBIDDEN DOOR HAS BEEN KICKED OPEN! Back inside the ring Bradshaw starts to drag Savio around the ring, but gets his momentum stopped by a belly to back suplex. Now Savio whips Bradshaw for a bit and credit to them as they are laying into each other. Savio gets two corners rather easily and uses his foot to get a third, but gets cut off going for the fourth. The crowd is still distracted by the ECW guys being forced out of the arena. Savio catches Bradshaw with a spinning heel kick and gets 3 corners with ease. He runs for the fourth and JBL gives a yank causing Savio to do a U turn. Clothesline (from Hell) for Bradshaw and know he touches a corner and as you usually see in this match, Savio just follows behind him and touches a corner as well. Both men touch three and it’s a battle for the 4th one and Bradshaw catapults Savio into the corner by accident as he didn’t know Savio was at three and that ends this at 7:09.

Winner: Savio Vega via pin at 7:09
-The crowd was distracted by ECW crew and by the time they got back to this match it was basically over. This was fine as they whipped each other hard and used the familiar spots you are used to seeing in this match. Austin/Savio from a few month earlier was miles better than this one, but again, it was fine. **

-Video package for Jim Cornette vs. Jose Lethario. This is an off-shot of Shawn’s feuds with Cornette’s various charges over the summer.

-As Cornette makes his entrance a disturbance is happening in the back and as a cameraman goes running we see “Diesel” and “Razor Ramon” attacking Savio Vega. Yep, this would be right before JR’s ill advised heel turn. 1996 was a wild time man, as JR rants about people not believing him when he said Razor and Diesel were back and Vince saying he thought it was all just a ratings ploy. The Monday Night War was amazing! Just wild stuff!

Jim Cornette vs. Jose Lothario

-Cornette comes out in a red spandex suit with all kinds of padding underneath. He does what he does best as he grabs a mic and runs down the crowd, and Jose before giving Jose a chance to back out of the match. Jose was just shy of his 62nd birthday at the time of this match. Jose lands a punch before the bell as Cornette charged after him. More punches from Jose as Cornette flops all over the place. JR compares Cornette to a giant Twinkie. To the turnbuckles and then another right hand. One more and it finishes this one at 0:56.

Winner: Jose Lothario via pin at 0:56
-Well, it was short and went the way it needed to if you were going to have the match. SQUASH

-WWE Superstar line has Marc Mero w/ Sable and Faarooq with Sunny as the men will be meeting on RAW tomorrow night for the IC Title.

-Brian Pillman wanders down to the ring and the Philly crowd is rather happy to see him. Vince throws to video of Bret Hart in South Africa as he calls Pillman a liar for promising he would be in Philly for the PPV. Pillman gets a live mic and that’s always fun. He trashes Philly and calls it a cesspool of drug abuse, battered women, and welfare recipients. He brings out Owen Hart (with Slammy) to class up the place. Owen referring to Brian as “Pill” always makes me laugh for some reason. Apparently Bret admitted to Owen that he is the best there is, was and ever will be. Owen backs Pillman’s story that Bret was going to return tonight. Owen is confused about Bret and his actions, but he thinks Bret isn’t here because he is scared. He is scared of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and let’s bring him out. Again, history would have you believe Austin was a megastar the night after King of The Ring 1996, but here were are 3 months later and the reaction is rather tepid. He was getting there, but it took this feud with Bret to get him there. Austin cuts a classic old school, Stone Cold promo. “If you put the letter S in front of Hitman, you’ve had my exact opinion of Bret Hart.” Vince apologizes as he doesn’t think they have to go there. Yep, that would sure change once the money started rolling in. He drops an Austin 3:16, Bottom Line, and Stone Cold said so. Again, the train was starting to roll. All three of these guys looked like they were having a ball out there.

-Mark Henry is shown at various tourist attractions in Philly as tonight he gets his debut match with Jerry Lawler.

WWF Tag Team Titles: The Smoking Gunns (c) (w/ Sunny) vs. The British Bulldog and Owen Hart

-Dok is back in the first aid center with Cornette who is so delirious he doesn’t realize he is signing the rights to manage Bulldog and Owen over to Clarence Mason. 1996 Sunny is just an absolute smoke show! She has the giant picture of herself drop and it’s been defaced by Bulldog and Owen. It actually wouldn’t shock me if Owen really pulled that as a legit rib. Clarence Mason is out which distract Owen and he gets rolled up for two. He goes to the corner of Bulldog and Owen as everyone seems to be confused as to what it happening. Owen drops Billy with an armdrag and then get a body press for two. Billy bails to his corner as JR and Vince trade barbs at each other. JR: “you got the benefit of the doubt when you were indicted.” Smart ass JR was awesome even if nobody wanted to boo him! Bulldog and Bart have a go and Bulldog gets a two count. He hits a dropkick and makes a tag back to Owen. He drops Bart with a chop block and goes to work on the damaged wheel. Tag to Bulldog and he goes back to work on the knee as Vince reads Clarence Masons’ business card. Bart gets worked over in the heel (?) corner and tag back to Owen so he can work on the leg. Bart gets to the ropes to break a knee bar, so Owen goes to a Boston Crab. Tag back to Bulldog and he gets the delayed suplex. Legdrop but Billy makes the save. Owen doesn’t tag in, but the ref doesn’t see it, so all good! He works the knee, but gets caught with a small package for two. Owen lands an enzuigiri. Bulldog back in and he gets hit from behind by Billy Gunn and then tossed into the stairs on the floor. Bart makes the tag to Billy once Bulldog gets tossed back in the ring and then just as quickly tags back out. Tag back to Billy and they double team Bulldog for a bit. JR is rather annoyed that Billy would tag Bart back in so quickly. Side Winder connects, but Owen comes in off the top with a forearm to the head behind the ref’s back. Bulldog gets a close near fall off that as the crowd is behind Owen and Bulldog in this one. JR and Vince continue to argue over whether The Gunns are making mistakes in the match. Things continue to drag for a bit as this was more entertaining when Bulldog and Owen were in control. Bart gets pushed into Billy and Billy shoves him back and right into a powerslam for the pin and titles at 11:00. Owen made sure to take Billy out so he couldn’t break up the pin.

Winners and New WWF Tag Team Champions: The British Bulldog and Owen Hart via pin at 11:00</b
-This seemed like a lot longer than 11 minutes. Technically this was fine, but for whatever reason it sucked the life out of me when The Gunns took control. Getting the Titles back on Bulldog and Owen was the right call as was getting Sunny away from The Gunns. **1/4

-Sunny fires The Gunns after the match while insinuating she gave everything to them and she means everything. Billy is crushed by this.

-Kevin Kelly is in the boiler room of the building to get a word with Paul Bearer and Mankind. Bearer blames the fans for what happened to Taker and for what will happen to Shawn tonight. Mankind promises misery and destiny. He lives to make Shawn Michaels miserable. I love the original Mankind character so much! Just greatness and Foley just owned the character.

Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Mark Henry

-Lawler cuts a promo on the crowd and Henry as he makes his way to his ring. As mentioned this is Henry’s debut and I am sure Lawler was picked because he could walk Henry through this match match blindfolded if needed. Lawler talks more trash before the opening bell and informs Henry he is going to start this match out with a simple headlock. This may shock you, but stalling to start as Lawler works the crowd. As he stated, he starts with a side headlock, but Henry breaks rather easily and gets a hammerlock. Lockup and now Henry with a side headlock, so Lawler reverses to a hammerlock and then Henry reverses to one of his own. Lawler stalls some more and then goes for a slam, which seems rather stupid. Henry then gets own of his own and Lawler sells it as you would expect. Shoulder block goes nowhere and then again. Henry side steps a third try and Lawler basically throws himself out of the ring and takes a nasty bump head first into the railing. That was rather awesome! Lawler back with the phantom foreign object which always works. Henry takes a few shots, but that only angers him so he lands some knees and then some chops. Henry gets an overhead body vice/backbreaker for the submission at 5:13.

Winner: Mark Henry via submission at 5:13
-As basic as you can get. Lawler bumped well and Henry barely had to move. That dive to the floor and into the old school railing was great. Match also had good heat because Lawler is a master at working a crowd. *

-Marty Jannetty, Leif Cassidy try to jump Henry and get tossed to the floor in short order. Next Hunter Hearst Helmsley is out and he gets in a few shots before getting press slammed to the floor on top of The New Rockers. Mark celebrates as pyro goes off in the arena. Well, you can’t say that didn’t put Henry over strong in his debut and considering the money spent, they had to.

-Vince hypes In Your House: Buried Alive for next month and he announces the main event will be the first unsanctioned match in WWE history: Taker/Makind in a Buried Alive match. The WWF Title won’t be on the line should Makind win it tonight. Makes sense considering it isn’t a sanctioned match.

-Video Package for Undertaker vs Goldust which has ties to Undertaker/Mankind feud.

The Final Curtain Match: Goldust (w/ Marlena) vs. The Undertaker

-Final Curtain is just a fancy name for no disqualification, though the match has to end by pin fall. Paul Bearer turned on Taker the previous month and Taker is rather pissed. Goldust and Mankind had a weird pairing where Mankind would call Goldust “mommy” and they just made life miserable for Taker so this is Part I of his revenge tour. As mentioned, Taker is pissed and drops Goldust with a right hand before the bell and the beating is on. Taker lands more strikes and drops a leg for a two count. Goldust tries to bail and gets brought back to the apron, but is able to drop Taker neck throat on the ropes. Marlena throws in a slap for good measure. Back in the ring Goldust gets a swinging neckbreaker, but Taker sits up and on his feet before Goldust. Big boot from Taker and then a suplex gets a close two count. Hiptoss from Taker which is kind of weird to see and then we go Old School (when it wasn’t really old) with the rope walk forearm. Goldust gets dumped to the floor. He grabs Marlena’s purse and after a distraction from Marlena, he tosses glitter in Taker’s eyes. Goldust with a thumb to the eye as Vince talks about there being no DQ and yet the ref counts for Goldust to break and even counts both men when they are out of the ring. Well, that makes no sense when they stated the match had to end by pin fall. Back to the floor as Taker gets rammed head first into the announce table back when it was just a plain table with a black cloth covering. Clothesline back in the ring gets a two count. Goldust pounds away in the corner as Perfect brings up that Goldust beat Taker in a casket match earlier in the year. Taker gets a belly to back suplex and as he sits up his hair is all sparkly. He was years ahead of The Twlight craze I guess! Goldust smothers Taker for a bit, but a well placed right hand stops that. They exchange right hands and Taker wins that battle surprisingly. Taker gets whipped into the corner. Goldust poses to the crowd and Taker is heated as he just beats the tar out of Goldust in the corner. They collide in the middle of the ring in a rough spot and Goldust follows with a powerslam for two. Taker sits up so Goldust slugs him back down. Taker ducks a clothesline and gets his leaping clothesline. Goldust heads up top, but Taker goozles him and hits a rough chokeslam. Taker calls for the end and The Tombstone finishes this at 10:26.

Winner: The Undertaker via pin at 10:26
-This was a basic match with a fancy tag attached. For a no DQ match this was rather tame as glitter was the only weapon used. No clue why they added the stipulation. This was fine. **

-Kevin Kelly is backstage with WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels. He is a bit nervous about the match and admits if this was a wrestling match he would be confident, but you don’t know what you are going to get from Mankind. He is going to figure it out on the job.

WWF Title: Shawn Michaels (c) (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer)

-Druids roll a casket out as Paul Bearer trails behind and Mankind pops out of the casket to some shrieks from some children in the crowd. Nice! Again I say, I loved the original Mankind character. JR says Mankind as WWF Champion will be challenging to market, and we would find out a few years later they would be able to figure it out. Shawn gets a strong reaction from the Philly crowd and Vince compares it to The Flyers winning The Stanley Cup. Yeah I wouldn’t know because thankfully it has never happened in my lifetime. I’ve seen my Pens win it 5 times! Have you seen The Flyers win The Cup? Shawn does a great job of conveying that he is nervous and apprehensive as this one starts. Mankind lands an elbow to the face and then stomps away. Shawn gets sent flying with a backdrop and then the Cactus Clothesline sends both men to the floor. Shawn charges and gets kicked into the railing. Mankind tears up the blue mat, but Shawn dropkicks him and then stomps on Mankind as he is trapped under the mat. Shawn heads up and comes off to the floor with a crossbody and then he splats Mankind’s head off the concrete. Back in he ring and Shawn comes off the top again and this time with a double axe. Mankind misses a clothesline and Michaels fires off right hands followed by a clothesline of his own. Some power from Shawn as he hits a slam and then heads up again. He drops the elbow and preps for Sweet Chin Music, but Mankind knows what’s coming and dives to the floor. He rocks out there with the urn and gets advice from Paul Bearer. Mankind goes back inside and the brawl is back on again. We get the working the smarts spot where it looks like Mankind screwed up a spot and Shawn throws a tantrum. Basically a way to work the fans after a real issue like that happened with Shawn/Vader at SummerSlam. Mankind nearly gets the Mandible Claw, but Shawn stops that with a well placed elbow and then he gets the mount. Ground and pound from Shawn for a bit, but Mankind just decks him with a right hand. To the floor again because why not and Mankind pulls the announce table out a bit. Shawn dives over the table with a flying forearm and hits a suplex that sends Mankind’s leg into the steps. That was brutal! My ankles hurt after that replay! Back inside Shawn goes to a chop block and then rams Mankind’s damaged knee on the top of the casket. Michaels continues to work the knee and even shoves the ref because pissed off Shawn is the best Shawn. Mankind comes back with right hands, but gets his leg caught and Shawn gets a leg drag. Figure Four follows and you can hear some boos from the fans in Philly. Mankind nearly gets counted out, but gets his shoulder off the mat and turns the hold to reverse the pressure. Michaels dropkicks the bad knee and steals a move out of Mr. Perfect’s playbook as he continues to work on the knee. He goes to a half crab, but Mankind gets to the ropes to force a break. Mankind lands a shot, but gets caught with a crucifix into a sunset flip for two. Shawn charges again and ends up getting dropped throat first on the top rope. Mankind gets a pen from Paul and stabs his knee to get feeling back in it which is an awesome character touch! He sends Shawn to the floor and then slaps at his knee some more. Mankind hammers away in the corner and hits the running knee that looked like it destroyed Shawn’s face. The replay made it look even better and Vince makes sure to point out Shawn’s concussion history. Mankind bites Shawn and then fires him face first into the mat. Perfect loses his train of thought trying to make a point and Vince calls him out for it. Shawn gets a belly to back suplex and starts firing back with right hands, but one kick from Mankind snuffs out that rally. Michaels slides to avoid and temporarily wins a punching match, but gets sent into the corner and bounces around so much he ends up on the Tree of Woe. Mankind follows with a diving double axe to the head and then another one. Leg drop to the back of the head and a boot to the face sends Shawn to the floor. Mankind follows as the Spanish Announce Table is still hanging out of place down there. Mankind misses a running knee and connects with the steps. Shawn then gets a drop toehold to send him back into the steps. Shawn tries a suplex back in and Mankind teases one to the floor which freaks out the women and kids in the crowd. Nice! They both end up on the apron and Mankind ends up going head first into the post. Back in the ring, Shawn gets a powerslam for two. Mankind then gets sent into the ropes and gets his head trapped (the move that cost him his ear vs Vader). Shawn walks right into the Mandible Claw and both men are down. They head to the floor and Mankind gets The Mandible Claw again. The Spanish Announcers get run over and then Mankind takes a swing and Shawn gets a chair up to block. He uses the chair to smash the mandible claw hand and then bites the claw back inside the ring. This match is just so great! Shawn stomps the hand because when you are in there with a maniac, you do whatever you can. He stomps away some more as the guard has come off Mankind’s hand, which shows it was never really disfigured. JR tried to cover saying it was the other hand. Shawn gets backdropped to the floor and Mankind drops the Cactus elbow from the apron to the floor. Mankind heads back out and hits a sick neckbreaker on the floor and the ref is pissed at both men. Shawn tries to crawl through the ropes, but Mankind is there with a leg drop and then a double arm DDT gets a good near fall. Stump piledriver gets another two count and then another. Another one has Mankind frustrated as he starts pulling his hair out. ECW chant breaks out as Mankind starts tossing chairs into the ring, but the ref tosses them back out. Mankind opens the casket and the crowd freaks out as Shawn gets tossed inside. He fights back out through and this war just continues! Flying forearm from Shawn and he stomps away in the corner. A slam and back up top for a crossbody that gets a two count. Shawn up again, but gets crotched on the top rope. Mankind heads to the apron and we get awesome spot where Mankind tries to belly to back, but Shawn turns and they both crash through the Spanish Announce Table that was moved about 20 minutes ago. Crazy spot for the time and still awesome now. Bearer distracts the ref as Mankind brings in a chair, but Shawn leaps off an open chair and hits Sweet Chin Music to send the chair back into Mankind’s face. Shawn gets off the cover though as Vader runs in for the DQ at 26:24. Bearer clocks Shawn with the urn, but Sid is out to take Vader out of the picture as the crowd is just losing it now. Mankind is up and he gets The Mandible Claw as the bell keeps ringing. The casket opens and The Undertaker comes out to blow the roof off the place and Mankind is screwed. Taker stalks Mankind to the back as Shawn is announced as the winner by DQ.

Winner: Shawn Michaels via DQ at 26:24
-Still awesome as they two just clicked. Foley has called this the greatest match of his career and it’s hard to argue against it. Shawn has credited this match with giving him a toughness the fans could believe and Foley did the same thing years later with HHH and Randy Orton. This was a different type of match from Shawn as he mixed his style with Foley’s and it gave us something special. I know we didn’t get a clean finish, but it ended with the crowd losing it and going home happy. It also kind of made sense considering how different this match. Still one of my favorites and a match that just flies by. *****

-Shawn celebrates with the fans after the match and even gets a handshake from Vince and JR. He and Perfect have some words as Vince signs off.

-We get the highlight package of what we just saw which they don’t do anymore and that’s a shame as I was always a sucker for them.

-Thanks for reading!

The final score: review Good
The 411
This is the definition of a one match show but it's a classic match. Everything else was rather middling to pretty bad, but the show is only 2 hours and the Main Event and post match stuff eats up nearly 45 minutes. Even in the bad stuff there were some crazy things happening good or bad as ECW invaded for the first time, "Razor" and "Diesel" returned and Steve Austin's star making feud with Bret Hart started. The Shawn/Foley match is on a bunch of DVD releases, so you can easily just find that match somewhere else, but this show has a special charm about it.