Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
In Your House #13: Final Four
Date: February 16, 1997
Location: UTC Arena, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross
This show is built entirely around a four way elimination match for the vacant WWF Title between Bret Hart, Vader, Undertaker and Steve Austin. The problem with having four top guys in a single match is that it takes away from the rest of the show. Luckily there was a title match on the special episode of Raw that saw newcomer Rocky Maivia upset HHH for the Intercontinental Title, meaning there’s a rematch tonight. Other than that there isn’t much here to say the least. Let’s get to it.
The opening video talks about what it means to be WWF Champion and how the desire for the belt has changed people’s lives, implying Bret turning to the dark side after being screwed out of the title at It’s Time.
Marc Mero vs. Leif Cassidy
Cassidy doesn’t even get an entrance. Instead he slaps Mero in the face and gets taken down by an armdrag for his efforts. We hit the armbar for a bit with Mero in control but Cassidy fights up and shoves the referee before bailing to the floor. Leif wraps Mero’s leg around the rope but Sable goes after him, allowing Mero to come back with right hands. Back in and a slingshot legdrop keeps Cassidy in trouble with Mero shouting to stay away from Sable.
Cassidy comes back with a pair of dropkicks to the knee and Mero is in trouble. More kicks to the knee have Marc on the mat and Leif slaps on a leg lace. Mero’s knee is slammed down into the mat as the fans are starting to wake up a bit here. Back to the leg lock as Mero’s offense is stopped cold again. Mero finally reaches over and grabs a rope so Leif keeps stomping away.
The leg locks continue until Mero fights up and scores with an enziguri, setting up a rollup for two. Cassidy will have none of this being on defense and puts on a lame figure four leg lock but Sable helps Marc get to the ropes. Leif goes after Sable so Mero dives through the ropes to take him out. Back in and Marc rams him face first into the mat a few times before a Samoan drop sets up the Wild Thing for the pin.
Rating: D+. I didn’t hate the match and the psychology was working, but the execution was rather boring for the most part. This was more about pushing Sable as having more backbone and Mero being more protective of her, but I see no reason for this to have been on PPV. This could have been accomplished in half the time on TV which brings this down. Not a horrible match though.
Former Intercontinental Champion the Honky Tonk Man comes out for commentary as he searches for a protege.
We go back to that special Raw where Shawn forfeited the title due to a knee injury. We see nearly the entire speech, which would be undone when his knee miraculously healed about a month after Wrestlemania. The announcement of the Final Four match becoming a title match is included as well.
Sid says he doesn’t feel bad for Shawn because Sid never got his title shot due to Shawn’s injury. He’ll get his chance tomorrow night and will rule the world again.
Nation of Domination vs. Bart Gunn/Goldust/Flash Funk
The Nation is Faarooq, Savio Vega and Crush. Bart had a match against Faarooq where the rest of the Nation interfered so he wants revenge. The same thing happened to Goldust in a match with Crush while Flash is just there to make it 3-3. The Nation also includes two white rappers, Clarence Mason, and several unnamed actors who were there to make the Nation look bigger in a brilliant move.
Faarooq has something to say before the match but Goldust jumps him, starting a six man brawl. The Nation is sent to the floor but Funk dives on the three wrestlers to take them all out. We finally get going with Goldust vs. Faarooq and the golden one in control. It’s quickly off to Funk who gets caught in a spinebuster to give the Nation control. Funk fights up and hits a quick springboard hurricanrana but Crush breaks it up.
Bart comes in to fight Crush and the Nation bails to the floor, only to have Gunn launch Funk over the top and onto all three of them. However it’s a bad idea to have Funk dive on all three of them as the three on one beating begins. Crush gets two off a belly to belly suplex before it’s off to the leader of the Nation who cannonballs down onto Funk’s back, only to have Funk turn over and crotch Faarooq on his knees.
Goldust tries to come in but the distraction allows Crush and Vega to spike piledrive Flash for two. Funk comes back with a quick double clothesline to Vega and Faarooq, allowing for the tag off to Gunn. A powerslam gets two on Faarooq as everything breaks down. Bart hits a top rope bulldog on Faarooq but Crush hits a guillotine legdrop to knock Bart out, giving Faarooq the pin.
Rating: D. This match exists and that’s about all there is to say about it. It was a glorified squash with the Nation never being in any real danger at all. Much like the opening match, this was something that could have been on any given television show and no one would have known the difference.
Doc Hendrix asks Austin if he’s worried because he’s never beaten any of the other people in the Final Four match. Austin says he won the Rumble and is tired of the BS and politics that have been holding him back because it ends tonight.
Intercontinental Title: Rocky Maivia vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Maivia won the title from Helmsley three days ago and this is the rematch. Helmsley grabs a headlock to start before taking over with an armbar and slapping Rocky in the head. Rocky trips him down and hooks a hiptoss followed by a dropkick. There’s an armdrag and armbar from the champion who slaps Helmsley in the back of the head as payback. Helmsley fights up but gets taken down into another armbar seconds later.
Rocky gets up but hits the ropes once too often and gets sent out to the floor. A baseball slide sends Rocky into the barricade as things slow way down. There’s a knee drop to Rocky’s head for two and we hit the chinlock with Helmsley putting his feet on the ropes for extra leverage. Earl Hebner breaks up the hold so Helmsley has to put Maivia down with a running knee to the face. Rocky comes back with a quick small package for two but HHH stomps him right back down.
A backbreaker gets two on the champion and it’s right back to the chinlock. Rocky fights up again and scores with a cross body but avoids a dropkick, sending Maivia back down to the mat. HHH clotheslines him down again but goes up top, only to jump into a shot to the ribs. Rocky speeds things up and hits a powerslam before hitting his high cross body for two. Maivia charges into a boot in the corner but comes back with a spinning DDT to put both guys down. Rocky comes back with a facebuster and neckbreaker but here’s Goldust to distract Helmsley. The distraction lets Maivia suplex him down to retain.
Rating: C-. The match wasn’t great but both guys would get so much better. These two would go on to have one of the best feuds of all time and carry the company in years to come. At this point though, Rocky was still very young and inexperienced, meaning the match wasn’t all that great yet. Still though, worth a look for historical purposes if nothing else.
Post match Goldust gets on the apron when an overly muscular woman reaches over the barricade to choke Marlena. This woman would soon be revealed as Chyna, who we’ll get to soon enough. Security takes the woman away as Goldust demands she be put in jail.
Vader, now managed by Paul Bearer, promises to win the title and run through all three other men to do so.
Tag Titles: Doug Furnas/Phillip LaFon vs. British Bulldog/Owen Hart
Furnas and LaFon are a team of smaller but very strong guys who mostly wrestled in Japan but are here to try to breathe some life into the tag team division. This should be very good stuff. During the entrance, Owen sneaks in front of Bulldog to make sure he gets the spotlight, which is partially what broke up Shawn and Diesel. Owen also eliminated Bulldog from the Rumble to further the potential split.
Furnas and Hart get things going with Doug grabbing an armbar. Off to LaFon who counters a monkey flip into a sunset flip for two before rolling Hart into a leg bar. Bulldog comes in and forearms Phillip instead of accepting a handshake. A spinwheel kick gets two for LaFon but Owen gets in a cheap shot from behind, allowing for a double team by the champions. Owen comes in legally with a backbreaker for two before it’s back to Bulldog. Smith stomps away as well but gets caught in a sunset flip, only to have Owen distract the referee to prevent a near fall.
Hart’s Sharpshooter attempt is kicked away but he still blocks a tag attempt. Off to a leg lock from the champion before Bulldog comes in and lifts up LaFon with Owen adding a cross body for a nice combo move. The referee yells at Bulldog as Phillip rolls up Owen, but the Bulldog comes in to turn the small package over. While he’s being put back into the corner, Furnas comes in and turns it over again to give LaFon two.
LaFon rams the champions’ heads together and Owen accidentally spinwheel kicks Bulldog in the face, furthering the tension even more. Bulldog powerslams Owen down and LaFon gets two off a top rope splash. The hot tag brings in Furnas for a dropkick and belly to belly suplex as everything breaks down. A DDT and a legdrop get two on Owen but he comes back with the enziguri to Furnas.
The double tag brings in LaFon vs. Bulldog with Davey throwing the smaller man around. LaFon gets a sunset flip for two as everything breaks down again with the champions being thrown together. Bulldog drops LaFon face first onto the buckle and loads up the powerslam, only to have Owen come in with his Slammy award and hit LaFon for the unneeded DQ.
Rating: B-. This was really good stuff but the ending went for the story development instead of the good match ending. LaFon and Furnas are guys who have grown on me over the years and this is one of their best matches in the WWF. Owen and Bulldog were guys that could work well with anyone and when you give them talented people to work with, the matches were always going to work well.
Post match the champions argue and Bulldog breaks the Slammy but they eventually make up, though the tension is still there.
Undertaker says he has his edge back and will take the title tonight.
We recap the main event. Again these are the final four in the Rumble but the ending was such a mess that the only way to settle it is this Final Four match which is now a title match due to Shawn forfeiting the title.
WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Vader vs. Steve Austin vs. Undertaker
This has some unique rules in that it’s elimination style with eliminations coming from pinfall, submissions or over the top rope with both feet hitting the floor. Other than that, anything goes. Undertaker and Vader go at it while Austin gets pounded into the corner. Undertaker goes after Bret before punching Austin as well before getting VERY risky with Old School. Vader comes back with a belly to belly suplex on Undertaker but the dead man sits up.
The two monsters fight to the floor which means they’re still in the match. Vader’s chair shot hits the post instead of Undertaker before the dead man kicks it back into Vader’s face. Undertaker sends Vader into the steps, busting him open before pounding away on the cut. Both guys head inside where Bret has been working over Austin’s back to join the fight. Now it’s Vader pounding away on Undertaker’s face as Austin breaks up a sleeper from Bret. Undertaker chokeslams Vader but Austin tries a Stunner, only to have Undertaker turn to the side, making it more of a neckbreaker.
Bret pounds on Vader but the monster hits him low and they head outside. Undertaker pounds away on Austin in the corner but Steve comes back with a neckbreaker. Vader hits Bret in the back with a chair a few times as his eye is just gushing blood. All four guys are on the floor with Undertaker backdropping Austin on the concrete. Undertaker goes after Bret while Vader stumbles out to the floor to beat on Austin. Steve sends Vader into the steps and drops them on Vader’s back as Undertaker gets two on Bret via something we couldn’t see.
Bret takes over and goes after the Undertaker’s knee as Vader sends Austin into the barricade. This match is really hard to call with everything that’s going on. Austin hits Vader with the belt a few times but Vader fights back and drags Bret to the floor for no apparent reason. Austin tries to come off the top on Undertaker but gets crotched as Vader and Bret fight up the aisle. Vader is sent into the crowd and Undertaker gets a two count on Austin. Undertaker tries to throw Austin out for the first time but Austin comes back with a clothesline for two.
Sid is watching in the back as Vader puts Bret in a Sharpshooter of all things on the floor. Austin breaks it up for no apparent reason so Bret goes after Steve in retaliation. Undertaker pounds on Austin but Bret wants some of the dead man, allowing Austin to hit the Thesz Press on Vader and fire off even more right hands. Undertaker goes after Austin but Bret drops Undertaker, leaving Hart as the only man on his feet. Vader hits a nice clothesline on Undertaker as Bret hits a good looking piledriver for two on Austin.
The 450lb Vader misses a moonsault onto Undertaker, firing the crowd up even more. The monsters head to the floor to brawl even more as Vader’s eye is looking horrible. Austin tries to throw Bret over the top rope but Bret saves himself and slugs Steve down as Vader chokes away on Undertaker. Bret drives some elbows into Austin’s face for two but Undertaker goes after Austin instead. Hart comes back with a low blow on Vader, sending the blood down onto his chest in a scary visual.
Austin stomps on Undertaker but the dead man tries to backdrop him out to the floor. Vader tries an armbar of all things on Bret as Austin has Undertaker over the top rope and onto the apron, but it appears that Austin has hurt his knee in the process. Keep that in mind as it comes into play later. Bret goes after Austin as Steve can barely even stand up. Not that it matters as he’s thrown out just a few seconds later.
Back in the ring and Undertaker splashes Vader in the corner so Bret goes after the dead man and Vader helps him, sending Undertaker under the ropes and to the floor. Bearer gets in an urn shot to Undertaker as Vader goes up top, only to be superplexed down. Vader’s face is COVERED in blood now.
There’s a Sharpshooter to Vader but Undertaker breaks it up out of instinct. Cue Austin to go after Bret and send him into the post. Back inside and Vader loads up the Vader Bomb but Undertaker gets to his feet and low blows him out, leaving us with two men. Undertaker chokeslams Bret and loads up the tombstone but Austin breaks it up. Undertaker goes after him, allowing Bret to get a rollup for two. Bret pounds away on Austin before clotheslining Undertaker out to the floor for the win and the title.
Rating: A. This is such a unique match that I’m surprised they’ve never used the rules again. The key to the match was keeping the pairings moving, giving you a string of matches instead of the same guys fighting over and over again. Vader’s eye looked HORRIBLE and made the match that much better. As for Austin’s knee injury, allegedly he was supposed to win the title here and lose it to Sid the next night thanks to Bret but the knee injury changed things.
Sid comes out to stare down Bret to close out the show.
Overall Rating: B-. Much like Mind Games, when you have one match take up thirty minutes of a 105 minute show, it’s hard to call the show a failure at all. The tag title match helps a lot as well, giving you two very solid matches out of five and nothing was really bad, leaving this as probably the best overall show so far. Things would get WAY better soon though.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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