Following the events of the World Wrestling Federation’s “Survivor Series” event, the WWF Heavyweight title picture had become highly contested thanks to three rivals intertwined. The defending champion Sycho Sid used the health of Shawn Michaels’ mentor against “The Heartbreak Kid”, leaving “HBK” prone to Sid’s devastating Power Bomb. Before that match, Bret Hart made his long-awaited return to the WWF after losing the Heavyweight championship to Michaels several months prior. By defeating “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hart earned a shot at Sid for the company’s last pay-per-view of the year. Lets find out if the WWF’s “In Your House: It’s Time” is a classic?
In Your House “It’s Time”
West Palm Beach, FL
December 15, 1996
1. Flash Funk defeated Leif Cassidy
2. Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith defeated Razor Ramon & Diesel to successfully defend the WWF Tag Team title
3. Marc Mero defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley via count-out
4. The Undertaker defeated The Executioner in an Armageddon Rules match
5. Sycho Sid defeated Bret Hart to successfully defend the WWF Heavyweight title
Now That’s Funky: After much hype, the former ECW and WCW champion 2 Cold Scorpio was finally getting a shot at wrestling for WWF … as a blaxploitation dancer named Flash Funk. With his Funkettes by his side, Flash Funk entered the show to take on “The New Rocker” Leif Cassidy (the future Al Snow). The opening minutes were nothing like you’d see in a typical WWF match at the time featuring a lot of crisp moves and counters that saw Funk take Cassidy to the floor for a plancha. Cassidy recovered, actually belly to belly suplexing Funk over the top rope, to the floor to a huge groan from the crowd.
Maneuvers like Cassidy’s springboard somersault plancha and Funk’s handspring enzuguri were so outstanding and awe-inspiring that announcers Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, and Jim Ross remarked that Cassidy was planning to spoil Funk’s debut by matching his skill. But Flash Funk had other things in mind. Following a sleek pin exchange sequence, Funk hit a backdrop driver to set up his patented 450 Splash for the three count.
Though a little sloppy at times, this was an exhilarating opening match completely different from anything else on the show. Funk, and Cassidy to a lesser extent, looked like a true star in the making. Sad WWF never truly followed up.
The Insiders Are Not Taking Over: With the exodus and eventual mega-stardom of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to WCW, WWF countered by bringing in two men as “Diesel” and “Razor Ramon”. These Insiders gained a WWF Tag Team title shot against the “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart – who were having problems with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The early minutes of the tag team battle saw Diesel tossing the much smaller Owen around until Smith entered and started wearing out Ramon. This brought out two Mexican wrestlers Cibernetico and Pierroth to watch and seemingly challenge the winners of this match before leaving.
Little did the four men in the ring know, following the exit of the luchadores was the arrival of Steve Austin. Owen took the punishment for his team as Smith played cleanup duties every time he had the chance. With the fans becoming enamored with Smith again, the “Bulldog” went crazy as he cleaned house and dropkicked a captured Hart into Diesel so the big man could be taken to the floor. When “Bulldog” turned around, he was caught in the Razor’s Edge set up. Before Ramon could complete his finisher, Owen almost took his head off with a spinning heel kick; giving Smith the chance to roll up Razor for the three count. Following the match, Austin clipped Smith’s left leg with a chop block. Owen, for some reason, took his time to check on his hurt partner.
Very formulaic tag team bout featuring a molten finish. It just showed how incredibly over Smith had gotten during that period as any time he was in the ring they popped hard. It helped make the entire battle feel that much more important.
A Wild Situation: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (yes, Triple H) took it upon himself to feud with “Wildman” Marc Mero when H’s valet, Sable, left with Mero. To make matters worse for Triple H, he started hitting on Goldust’s valet Marlena leading into this show. The typical back and forth action between the technical brawler Triple H and the high flyer Marc Mero saw the referee get involved when Hunter questioned if the ref was showing favoritism. Of course, this led to Helmsley almost getting disqualified, leading to a calming in his nature and a beating on Mero’s body with knee drops.
Things were looking good for Hunter when Mero used a hurricarana to turn the tides. Mero’s high impact assault resulted in Helmsley doing everything in his power to avoid the Wild Thing (Mero’s shooting star press). By the match’s final minutes, “Wildman” had Hunter on the floor following a somersault plancha. Out of nowhere came Goldust to knock out both men with the Intercontinental title belt. Mero somehow recovered first and won the bout due to a count out. After the match, Goldust beat up Hunter some more.
Typical Hunter-Mero match with Goldust thrown in their for storyline purposes. And for those who don’t know, a “typical Hunter-Mero” is very good, if a little formulaic after you’ve seen them fight a few times.
A Psycho, A Schizophrenic, and A Crybaby Come to the Ring…: A month earlier, Shawn Michaels lost the WWF title to “Sycho” Sid after Bret Hart earned a shot at the title by defeating Steve Austin. Earlier in the day, a three-way fight broke out between the aforementioned names, leading to Michaels coming to do commentary for the main event. Not only did an aggressive Michaels talk about his loss of respect for Bret Hart crying so much in recent weeks, he also went on a tangent about Sid needing to be carried in the ring. While Michaels spent the rest of the match rambling about individuality, Bret Hart took the fight to the champion by attacking Sid’s massive back. By slamming Sid across the steel ring post, Hart showed why he was called “The Excellence of Execution”.
But it would be Sid’s power that allowed him to turn things around when he caught Bret with a big boot-power slam combo. Just as Sid was getting his momentum going, Hart fell to the floor and was prone from an attack at the hands of Steve Austin. Though they still hated Bret, his little brother Owen and Davey Boy Smith came out to beat Austin to the back. A somewhat concerned Sid took advantage of the situation and started wearing out Hart for the next several minutes until the champion and challenger fell to the floor.
Sid got up, confronting a standing Michaels, pie facing him for giggles. This would cost Bret, not Sid seconds later when champion and challenger traded Irish whips; sending Hart into HBK as Shawn jumped onto the apron. A stunned Bret was left open for Sid’s Power Bomb and the three count. After the match, a furious Bret Hart attacked and laid out Michaels.
This wasn’t a bad match at all, but a little disappointing as the focus was on everything but the match itself. Making matter worse was Michaels’ commentary that helped him sound more like a degenerate than the hero he was supposed to be in the next month. When it was about Bret and Sid, the match was good. Cut out the rest and you have a memorable main event.
It Sure Feels Like the End of the World: Following “Summerslam”, the Undertaker tried his best to get his hands on Paul Bearer for turning on him to join forces with Mankind. Sadly for Undertaker, a masked man named “The Executioner” (Terry Gordy) put a stop to that at “Survivor Series”. To take The Executioner out, Undertaker challenged him to an “Armageddon Rules” match that is basically a Texas Death Match where a man can’t answer the ten count after being pinned or submitted loses.
The match itself was nothing more than a punch-kick affair that was made better by Mankind’s interference and willingness to throw his body through the entrance set and be put in a straightjacket. But even Mankind’s antics couldn’t take away from the fact poor Terry Gordy wasn’t the same man he once was in the ring, and ‘Taker could only do so much before Tombstone Piledriving him for the pin fall-count down victory.
Is It A Classic: This is one of the few top to bottom mostly good In Your House cards. Even the worst part of the show is helped by Mankind’s ability to throw himself through things. The main event was very good, outside of Michaels’ schizophrenic commentary and unneeded interference. The opener was completely different from anything else on the card. And the other two matches were formulaic, but energetic and enthusiastic. It’s the type of show you’ll enjoy watching, but won’t think about it too much afterwards. Don’t worry about going out of your way to see this one.