IN YOUR HOUSE VIII: BEWARE OF DOG
Well this is an interesting chapter in the IYH library, it's basically two shows that make up one show. The PPV was supposed to be held on 5/26, but a power outage caused the PPV feed to be lost for most of the show. A second card was held two nights later (as Beware of Dog 2) to show the matches not seen the first night.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley . . . is involved in a much better match than Shawn Michaels.
Steve Austin . . . is involved in a much better match than The Undertaker
Vader . . . makes Yokozuna look great before closing the books on Yoko’s tenure as a dominant force.
HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY vs. MARC MERO
Wow, this is eons better than you'd expect from HHH and Johnny B. Badd. It certainly helps that the bulk of the match was simply HHH busting up Mero's arm after he takes a bump to the post, but Mero's selling is excellent, and HHH is surprisingly good at coming up with effective offense to keep the match moving. Has HHH ever busted out a juji-gatame, before or since? The hold itself doesn't look all that great, but the thought is nice. Mero is also smart enough to use hope and comeback spots that mostly avoid him using his left arm, like the prawn hold, hurricanrana, and spinning head scissors. The sunset flip and the slingshot are the only spots from Mero that really push it.
The finish makes HHH look stupid, he had the match won, stopped to berate Sable, and Mero slingshots him into the post to KO him and win. There's nothing wrong with HHH being made to look stupid. He’s the heel after all. But, using the slingshot kills the idea of HHH tearing up Mero's arm and the fact that Mero tweaked his knee on a dive to the floor not long before. Countering with the jackknife cradle accomplishes the same thing without ignoring the previous events of the match. ***
SHAWN MICHAELS © vs. DAVEY BOY SMITH (WWF World Heavyweight Title)
Aside from a couple of big bumps, one from Shawn and the other from the ref, and the double pin finish, this is pretty forgettable. It's understandable that the crowd doesn't really wake up, the power had just been restored right before the match, and Davey being as uninteresting as possible doesn't help matters in the least. Davey spends far too much time sitting in a chinlock rather than trying to get the fans interested in the match. Shawn's short arm scissors wasn't really any better, but that at least led to Davey powering out and Shawn taking a big bump to get a reaction. Davey's Canadian backbreaker is better, but nobody thinks Shawn is going to submit, and it wasn't like Davey had worn down Shawn's back to give doubt about Shawn's ability to hold out.
The ref actually takes the biggest bump of the match, Davey runs into him and he goes soaring to the floor, the term ‘smeared’ doesn't even do it justice. It’s one of a very few times that a ref bump actually looks credible. They get a new ref, Davey attempts the powerslam, and Shawn has an escape ready and hits a German suplex, but both of their shoulders are pinned. One ref counts Shawn, the other counts Davey, and the result is a double pin which is ruled a draw. Bad match, and a bad finish for a PPV.
STEVE AUSTIN vs. SAVIO VEGA (Carribean Strap Match)
Vader/Sting from '93 is the standard for strap matches, and this doesn't measure up, but it's pretty good in its own right. Matches like this don't tend to be all that good, so Austin and Vega are both ready, willing, and able to do whatever is necessary to make the match work. They both dish out and take some brutal looking shots from the strap, and they're bumping and selling is more exaggerated than normal, to get over the effects of actually being connected by the strap. When Vega was trying to yank Austin in the ring, Austin was almost looking like a pinball with the way he was flying into the ring apron. There's another smart moment like that when Austin ducks a punch and back drops Savio over the top, it's a pretty commonplace spot, but the strap connecting them means that Austin winds up being pulled to the floor as well. Austin's bump from the top rope to the floor will surprise anyone that's only familiar with his work from 1998 onward.
Austin and Vega also work in some good things when they're trying to win the match. Austin's spinebuster to halt Vega's momentum was a great moment, and there's another when Vega tries to fireman's carry Austin to keep him from stopping him, only for Austin to slip out the back door and take Vega down with a sunset flip. Austin trying to wear down Savio with the Million Dollar Dream was smart, and Vega uses a familiar looking escape, which would cost Austin big time later on. The finish is pretty much perfect, it seems like either Austin or Vega could pull out the win, but when looked at closely, it's easy to believe that Austin really did throw the match (as he claimed the next night). He's dragging Vega in the worst way possible when he touches the first three corners (he has the strap over his shoulder, like he's carrying a sack), and Austin winds up pulling Vega into the final corner, if anything it should have been Vega pulling Austin while Austin tried to run to the corner, since he was closer. ***1/4
VADER vs. YOKOZUNA
Vader may wind up winning, but he puts over Yoko as much as possible before the Cornette run in. Yoko drops Vader easily with a shoulder tackle and then gets some revenge for the leg injury by dropping on Vader's leg a few times. Vader takes a couple of big bumps from a uranage and a Samoan drop, and puts them over nicely. Yoko goes for the kill, but takes Cornette's bait, and it gives Vader the chance to recover. Vader takes down Yoko and quickly finishes him off with the Vader bomb. Yoko stuck around a few more months, but this was more or less the end of Yoko in the WWF.
GOLDUST © vs. THE UNDERTAKER (WWF Intercontinental Title - Casket Match)
Well, if nothing else, watching these horrid UT matches give me that much more appreciation for Bret Hart as a worker. This looks less like a PPV match and more like an exhibition, they may as well be having this match in front of the latest cast of Tough Enough. The execution is fine for the most part, but there's no sense of urgency to what they do. Aside from Goldust trying to steal a couple of UT's moves, which winds up backfiring on him, the match is as uninteresting as it gets. The finish is creative with UT having it won after giving Goldust the Tombstone, but Mankind pops out of the casket and incapacitates UT with the Mandible Claw to let Goldust retain.
Conclusion: A few surprisingly good showings are enough to make this a keeper. It’s funny that the WWF was known for having great main events and so/so undercard matches, given that the title matches are the two worst matches here.