IN YOUR HOUSE XII: IT’S TIME
December 15, 1996
Al Snow . . . still in the goofy Lief Cassidy gimmicks, performs light years better than one would expect him to.
Terry Gordy . . . shows exactly how much he’d lost it by this point in his career (the match with Raven notwithstanding).
Bret Hart . . . follows up on his classic with Steve Austin by carrying Psycho Sid to a watchable main event.
ROCKY MIAVIA vs. SALVATORE SINCERE
Why is Jim Cornette taking the best bump of the match? This might be the loosest worked match that I’ve ever seen. Rocky’s strikes looked like they couldn’t break an egg, and literally none of the spots looked any good. Rocky’s powerslam and Sal’s roll through on the flying body press are the worst of the bunch, but everything looks bad. Sal’s shoulder bump into the post, followed by Rocky’s shoulder breaker is the only good thing here, and even that gets ruined by the Cornette run in. There’s no good reason why Rocky couldn’t have gotten the pin on Sal, before Cornette’s failed ambush.
FLASH FUNK vs. LIEF CASSIDY
This is better than Rocky/Sal by virtue of them being able to work together, without looking like they were afraid of breaking a nail. It’s also worlds better than you’d expect, given those involved. It’s nice to see Scorpio go along with Snow’s basic work, instead of just flying around like a precursor to RVD, and it’s ironic that Scorpio’s first two attempts to fly backfired on him, he slips off the ropes the first time, and then overshoots Snow on a flying body press and winds up giving himself a Samoan drop. Snow keeps things interesting by throwing out some surprisingly good spots, the flapjack counter to the head scissors, and the overhead to the floor are the best, but he also adds a Dragon sleeper, and he and Scorpio work a decent sunset flip to jackknife cradle and back again sequence. Scorpio finally gets a chance to take to the air with a plancha and a couple of kicks (with Snow’s reaction to the enzuigiri being especially good) and he finally finishes him off with the 450. They both performed better than expected, even the two blown spots work in their own way, and in fact, this is probably Snow best WWF match from a work standpoint. ***1/4
OWEN HART/DAVEY BOY SMITH © vs. DIESEL/RAZOR RAMON (WWF Tag Team Titles)
Bogner and Jacobs’ impersonations of Hall and Nash are amusing at first, but once it’s time for them to settle down and actually work, this starts sinking fast. The best thing is Owen’s bump to the floor, and it only required Diesel to pull the rope down, and Owen took care of the rest. The best stretch of the match is from Bulldog’s hot tag to the finish, with Razor escaping the powerslam and preparing for the ‘Edge, until Owen gives the assist that lets Davey score the pin. But, the match itself seemed to take a backseat to the Austin/Bulldog angle anyway.
HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY © vs. MARC MERO (WWF Intercontinental Title)
The story of HHH pushing the envelope to get himself disqualified, in order to ensure that he kept the title, led to some nice moments. HHH added a few smart touches himself, but neither he, nor Mero, were good enough at this point to make the match anything more than fun at times. Probably the best moment was when HHH was cranking the abdominal stretch and got caught using the ropes. The ref kicks his arm off the ropes, and the usual sequence is that the babyface will escape the hold with a hip toss, but this time HHH just shoves Mero down and goes after the ref in hopes of getting the DQ. There’s also the standard HHH pedigree attempt, but it’s not the standard escape, instead of letting go and the taking the obviously cooperative backdrop, HHH takes a slingshot instead, complete with overdone bump and sell job. Mero doesn’t really have much to add besides spots, but he’s the babyface, so the onus isn’t on him to carry the match. They finish they have is beyond stupid. There’s just no good reason for Goldust to lay out both of them with the belt. Even the Dusty finish, with Goldust laying out HHH and Mero winning the title, only for Monsoon, or a second ref, to reverse the decision would have come off better.
THE UNDERTAKER vs. THE EXECUTIONER (Armageddon Rules Match)
This is essentially a Texas Death Match, but the somewhat gothic gimmicks of both UT and Gordy necessitate a more appropriate sounding name. The way this plays out shows exactly how much Gordy had really lost it. Gordy and UT trade punches, and the only real bumps from Gordy are from a surprise lariat reversal from UT, and the Tombstone at the end. Mankind shows up to get thrown through the set, and get sprayed with mace and put into a straightjacket, and also to hide how little Gordy has to offer. Mick exits stage right and Gordy comes back to eat the Tombstone and fail to answer the count. This would have been interesting to see in 1993, after Gordy left WCW, and before his OD, but, watching Gordy here was just sad.
PSYCHO SID © vs. BRET HART (WWF World Heavyweight Title)
There’s nothing here that’s all that surprising, Sid performs better than one would probably expect him to, but he’s way out of his league compared to Bret. Sid throws some good looking strikes, uses his usual few spots (powerslam, chokeslam, and powerbomb), and even remembers to sell his midsection from time to time. For his part, Bret does a good job of putting over Sid’s assault, and when it’s his turn to be in control, he’s smart to target the midsection, which allows him to use some of his usual stuff and not come across like he’s just doing his usual stuff, the backbreaker and Russian legsweep are both good example of typical Bret spots that were given new meaning. There are things that they both could have done to add to the match, such as Sid using the midsection to be unable pull something off, like going for the kill early with the powerbomb, and Bret pulling off some sort of reversal or counter on Sid, to continue showing off his superior wrestling.
Austin’s ambush was a nice way to push their feud forward, but didn’t add anything to the match. Austin gives Sid a huge opening with the chop block, but Sid doesn’t take advantage and go after Bret’s leg, even after Bret’s knee gives out on him a bit later on. It’s apparently the night of goofy finishes, between this, the IC Title match, and the free for all match. This goofy finish is the least offensive of the three, since it intends to serve a purpose (setting up Sid/Shawn the next month, and heating up the eventual Shawn/Bret rematch). But, it sucks to see a PPV title match end like that. Sid shoves Shawn (who was doing color commentary), Shawn takes offense and goes after Sid, but he collides with a charging Bret, and Sid takes advantage of Bret being stunned and powerbombs him to retain. Shawn and Bret get into it, while Sid walks away. Sid performed better than he did with Shawn the month before, but this was far from the level of Bret’s match with UT at the Rumble. ***
Conclusion: There’s a couple of nice surprises, in the form of decent performances from wrestlers you wouldn’t expect it from, but on the whole, this is largely skippable.