WrestleWatch Vault- WWF D-Generation X: In Your House 1997
Following Survivor Series 1997, the WWF was in a chaotic state. The man who had anchored the company during its troubled years in the mid-1990s, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, had jumped to WCW for a big money offer. At the time, WWF was in a period of transition where its kid-friendly gimmicks were giving way to more risque, adult-oriented content. At the helm of this change, perennial main event star, The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels. He shifted his character from that of a narcisstic pretty boy, or of a young man living out his "boyhood dream", depending on his face/heel alignment, to that of a rebellious, carefree "degenerate". Joined by his friends, Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) & Chyna, the stable D-Generation X was born. They said and did whatever they wanted, bringing anarchy and pushing the envelope heavily on WWF programming. The stable quickly became so prominent in the WWF that they got a PPV named after them.
An interesting note about this PPV- it has the subtitle of "In Your House", and I originally believed this was the final In Your House event, based on the fact that it is listed as that in the WWE Network menu. A little bit of research on my part, however, shows that there were events in 1998 and 1999 that included the In Your House branding, but in the Network archives, they are blended in with similiar shows of that name. The next IYH event to follow this is the No Way Out In Texas: In Your House is bundled in with the No Way Out shows, same goes for Unforgiven, Fully Loaded etc. So in WWE's retconned history, they ended the New Generation staple of the In Your House shows with this one. Okay? Okay.
I mean, look at the cheesy colour scheme here. So mid-90s. Doesn't suit the DX aesthetic at all.
Match 1: WWF Light Heavyweight Championship- Taka Michinoku def. Brian Christopher (at 12:02)
Thoughts: This was a lot of fun to watch, considering the context and time period it was in. Wrestlers around the size of Taka and Brian Christopher, working the style they work, are fairly commonplace today. Rewind 20 plus years, and it wasn't common, especially in the WWF. ECW did it as early as 1995 with wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and Psicosis, and it didn't take long for WCW to take that style (and those wrestlers) for themselves. But if you were just a WWF fan, this kind of high flying, fast paced action was almost unheard of! Taka and Christopher were battling in the finals of a tournament that had been taking place on Raw over the past several weeks. JR had a lot of fun with Christopher being King's son, needling him about it on commentary, and although Lawler vehemently denied these allegations, he went to check on "Too Sexy" after he busted his mouth open on a dive. Taka flew around early with reckless abandon- he was only 23 at the time!- and later, the heel Christopher grounded him to build heat nicely. The finish was a good bit of stortelling- Too Sexy got cocky and tried to play Taka's game, going up top for a leg drop. He would miss and Taka would spike him with the Michinoku Driver to become the WWF's first Light Heavyweight Champion. Excellent way to start the show. (***1/4)
Match 2: Los Boricuas def. DOA (at 7:58)
Thoughts: I was a bit wary going into this match, but it turns out the Boricuas have far better chemistry with the biker gang than The Truth Commission did at Survivor Series. DOA also looked more energised and got more of their shit in, it was a faster, more intense pace where everyone played their roles well. Commentary was funny, with neither JR nor King being able to tell Skull or 8-Ball apart- they're both bald guys with goatees, see. Underhanded victory to the Boricuas, after Miguel feigned a knee injury, then landed a somersault leg drop behind the referee's back to give his team the win. Wasn't a fantastic match, but much preferable to the Survivor Series stinker that DOA were involved in. (**)
Backstage, Michael Cole interviews Sable. He looks nervous. I don't know if that's because he's new at his job or if he's just in awe of how fucking hot Sable is. Cole asks about the Mero/Butterbean rivarly, but before she can answer, Marvellous Marc walks in and asks her if he allowed her to do this interview. Or even speak at all. She shook her head no. What a dick Marc Mero was.
Match 3: Toughman Match- Butterbean def. Marc Mero via DQ (at 10:20)
Thoughts: This was one of those times where the WWF did a worked boxing match. You know what, I thought it worked pretty well. Mero had an amateur boxing career- at least, according to the commentators, I dunno if it was a work or not and don't care enough to check. He played the role well here though, and Butterbean seemed comfortable in there too. They had 3 minute rounds and provided stats in between for punches thrown/landed, which was a nice touch. Mero had a good second round but almost got KOed at the end of the third by a huge Butterbean hook. Saved by the bell though. Butterbean lands another big punch to start R4 but Mero retailiates with a low blow. Mero then cracks Butterbean with his stool (I mean the device used for sitting, not a stool sample) and scurries off as an enraged Bean throws his boxing gloves at the Marvellous one. This wouldn't be the last time Butterbean gets involved with the WWF, as he would do the shoot Brawl For All the following year, but he did really well in this worked environment. And Mero was a terrific bastard. I really enjoyed this! (***)
Goldust and Luna come out to do a promo. I'm sorry, "The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust". This was weird. Like really weird. Goldust's character was basically having a psychotic breakdown, and he left Marlena/Terri Runnels to be in this weird BDSM style relationship with Luna. They were both dressed in pink. Goldust reads a poem, which is a version of Dr. Seuss's "Sam I Am". It was bad. And terrible. And bad. Terribad. Luna has Goldust on a leash, and she gets sick of the poem and drags young Dustin away. Thank God.
Backstage interview with Cole and LOD. Hawk cuts a promo about boogers. Comparing Billy Gunn & Road Dogg to boogers. Again, terribad.
Match 4: WWF Tag Team Championship- Billy Gunn & Road Dogg def. LOD via DQ (at 10:32)
Thoughts: Gunn & Dogg basically play the chickenshit heels, running from the powerhouses Hawk and Animal. They try and cheat to get the upper hand, including hitting Hawk with an esky. Lawler is hilariously dismissive on commentary of the cheating- "it's styrofoam!" Pretty standard stuff, Animal gets a hot tag and does his powerhouse thing, Gunn and Dogg bump around to make him look good. LOD go for the Doomsday Device, but Henry Godwin interferes and hits Animal with a slop bucket. Then Hawk gets caught hitting Billy with the bucket. Ah, guess we're not fully free of the New Generation yet. My interest in the Godwinns is next to zero. Pretty average all around in all honesty though. (**)
Match 5: Bootcamp Match- Triple H def. Sgt Slaughter (at 17:39)
Thoughts: This was one of Triple H's first prominent singles feuds. DX were giving WWF Commissioner Slaughter hell for months, and he eventually snapped after HHH made a comment about his wife. The stipulation is basically a Street Fight, and they do a nice job selling Slaughter as a legend and a threat within this environment pre-match with some archival video footage. Also interesting- they were selling Sgt Slaughter as an "old man" at 49 years old- the current age of AEW Champion Chris Jericho. Also younger than Triple H present day, and I bet you no one will ever call him an "old man"... on screen, anyway. This went too long, narrowly missing the main event length by a minute or so, but credit to Sarge for being willing to take some pretty big bumps. Of course, Chyna was a presence at ringside spicing up the proceedings as well. Slaughter looks as if he might turn back the hands of time briefly with the Cobra Clutch, but Chyna rakes his eyes. Sarge takes a low blow, followed by a Pedigree on a chair to finish things. Decent, but definitely took too long for Triple H to beat someone who had been in retirement for several years. (**)
Match 6: Jeff Jarrett def. Undertaker via DQ (at 6:54)
Thoughts: Too many damn DQs on this show! Literally half the matches on this card have now ended via disqualification. Jarrett- after weeks of waiting to make his re-debut as an entitled "superstar" with outlandish contract demands, incurs the wrath of Commissioner Slaughter, who sics THE UNDERTAKER on him! Jarrett tries to stick and move early. Taker misses a big boot and Jarrett works the leg to try and gain the advantage. Taker rallies back, and then Kane's music hits! Kane enters to stare down his "big brother" Taker, and Jarrett eggs him on to attack the Deadman. This, of course, results in Double J taking a Chokeslam from the Big Red Machine. (**)
Kane slaps Taker in the face but he doesn't fight back. He's vowed to never fight his brother. Heh heh, about that. So Kane leaves and Jarrett tries a sneak attack on Undertaker. He takes his second Chokeslam of the evening. I mean, it doesn't hurt as bad as starting a wrestling company to try and take on WWE, bombing at it and going back with your tail between your legs, but it's still gotta suck!
Big video package treatment for Austin vs. The Rock. It's obviously early days for these two future mega-stars, but there's still a cool little feud brewing.
Match 7: WWF Intercontinental Championship- Stone Cold Steve Austin def. The Rock (at 5:28)
Thoughts: A short little match, but really fun. Rock is announced as "The Rock Rocky Maivia", so very much in that transitional period, but he's finding his feet. He's also accompanied by The Nation of Domination. Austin arrives in his pick up truck and takes out the whole Nation. Stunner on D'Lo, Faarooq takes a chair shot from Kama, Austin takes Kama out. The Rattlesnake gets in the ring and Rock puts the boots to him. Austin, just off having his neck broken a couple of months ago, is still a bit limited, but bringing the intensity. He takes what I believe are his first proper bumps on TV as Rock scoop slams him twice. Rock hits a People's Elbow- but without the fanfare that would later follow- and misses a second attempt. Austin knocks Kama off the apron, and the ref grabs Austin from behind for some stupid reason, so Stone Cold reaches back and gives him a Stunner, thinking he was The Rock. In the chaos, Rock got himself a set of brass knux... but Austin strikes first with The Stunner! Good little match. Obviously, they would have far greater battles, but given Stone Cold's health and limitations around this time, they did really well with what they had. (**3/4)
Match 8: WWF Championship- Ken Shamrock def. Shawn Michaels (w/ DX) via DQ (at 18:27)
Thoughts: Well worked main event match. Shamrock was still very green, but HBK led the dance well, controlling the pace, stopping and starting to build heat. Shamrock was able to do short bursts and quick moves to get some pops, and Michaels would use his veteran savvy and a little interference from DX to regain the advantage. He would also do a nice dive onto Shamrock to the outside and later "skinned the cat" as JR touted Michaels as "perhaps the best athlete he's ever seen in a wrestling ring". HBK could do some truly great stuff in the ring, but it's knowing when to do it that is the difference, and he showed that here. Shamrock had his first WWF match about six months earlier, but he looked like he belonged in there. A nice sequence ends things when Shamrock ducks Sweet Chin Music, hits a big belly to belly suplex, then locks in the Ankle Lock... only for HHH & Chyna to hit the ring and cause a DQ. Argggh. Too many DQs! If this had been the only one, I'd be more receptive to it. DQs are okay sometimes to advance a story, and in this case, I really want to see Shamrock get his revenge on DX. But PPVs should have more definitive conclusions for the most part in my opinion. (***1/4)
Post-match, a hooded figure enters the ring and blasts Shawn Michaels off the apron and through the Spanish announcer's table! It's Owen Hart! Owen appears to be laying in a couple of those punches. He takes off through the crowd and HBK has a bloody nose. Looks like at least one member of the Hart Family is staying in the WWF...
D-Generation X: In Your House started with strong action, finished with strong action, and had some decent stuff in the middle, including an Austin vs. Rock match from before they were wrestling mega-stars, which was really cool to see. The biggest negative for the show was an over-reliance on matches ending via disqualification. At times, it can work to further a story, other times, it feels like a cop-out and is just disappointing more than anything. What this show did accomplish was showcasing strongly the new stars of the Attitude Era- Austin, Rock, DX, Shamrock, Kane, Taker... it was clear that the WWF had a great cast of characters to carry them into 1998!
Until next time, take care,