Mike Reviews WWF In Your House 8: Beware of Dog
By Michael Fitzgerald on 17th June 2023
Happy Saturday Everyone!
We’ve got a review of In Your House 8 this week, which was a WWF pay per view from 1996 that eventually had to be re-done due to the first airing being taken off the air due to poor weather. Basically, the WWF held the first match of the pay per view and then the power cut out. They still managed to get the WWF Title matched aired during the initial broadcast but the rest of the show was lost to time.
WWF held a make-good version of In Your House 8 a few days later, with the other three matches from the initial show that couldn’t be aired being re-done and added to the two matches from the first show that did air.
The big storyline coming in here was that Davey Boy Smith’s wife, Diana, was accusing Shawn Michaels of stalking her or some such nonsense, leading to a match being booked. It was implied that Diana was being insincere and apparently the Hart Family weren’t happy with how it was making her look, leading to Stu Hart calling in to complain and the angle being scrapped.
You can view the combined card by clicking below;
Let’s review In Your House 8!
The events are emanating from Florence, South Carolina on the 26th of May 1996 and from North Charleston, South Carolina on the 28th May 1996
Calling the action are Vince McMahon Jr. and Jerry Lawler for the 26th, with Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect for the 28th
We get the opening video package focusing on how Shawn Michaels is a naughty man who has been trying it on with another man’s wife. Perish the thought…
Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ an unnamed woman Vs The Wildman Marc Mero w/ Sable
This one came about because Sable was Triple H’s valet at WrestleMania XII and he blamed her for his embarrassing loss to Ultimate Warrior, leading to Mero coming to her aid and a feud beginning. Hunter has an elegantly dressed woman with him here for this show, who the commentary team neglects to name. We see during Hunter’s entrance that Bob Backlund procured the Chickenwing on Mero on the previous episode of WWF Superstars and Hunter pounced with the Pedigree. Mero cuts a whacked out promo with Michael Hayes prior to the bout where he looks wild, hence his name.
They start this one on the front foot, with Mero firing up on Hunter and sending him to the floor for a TOPE SUICIDA, as I forget sometimes that Mero used to be a bit of high flyer at one stage until injuries slowed him down. Hunter takes some very nice bumps in the early going in order to make Mero look good before dodging a shoulder charge in the corner. Mero comes up selling his left shoulder following that, which makes sense seeing as Backlund would have already weakened it on the TV building this one, which leads to Hunter going to town on the injured body part.
Mero sells the injury well and Hunter was already a very mechanically sound wrestler in 1996 and just needed to find a character that clicked for him, so the heat segment is well worked and the crowd gets behind Mero as he tries to fight back. Lawler is doing the gimmick of the Heel not thinking the bayface woman is actually that attractive, which doesn’t really work as Sable looks quite nice here. Lawler would stop doing that when the Attitude Era kicked in and they let him be the randy old man that he is, as he regularly found the hot women hot regardless of their alignment.
Hunter actually busts out a cross arm breaker at one stage, but UFC and MMA in general wasn’t as mainstream in the USA at the time, so they work it more as a rest hold, which isn’t something you could do today as most wrestling fans are knowledgeable enough with MMA to know that an arm bar like that is an instant tap out if you get it applied the way Hunter has it on there. Some of these holds from Hunter are really good actually, as Hunter does a good job of wrenching them in and Mero does an equally good job of making it look like they really hurt. You can tell that the crowd thinks Mero is in jeopardy as well, as they react whenever they think Mero might get back in it.
Mero eventually manages to cut Hunter off when he heads up top and bring him down with a rana, which must have been fun to take in those old rock hard WWF rings, and that gives us a double down into Mero’s one armed comeback. Mero does a great job of selling the shoulder even though he’s now fighting back, with Hunter being exactly where he needs to be with his bumping and feeding to make the comeback work. These two have some solid chemistry together as opponents I must say.
Mero ends up crashing and burning with a TOP CON HILO though, and he seems to injure his knee on top of his shoulder, leaving him as walking wounded and easy pickings for Hunter. However, Hunter demands that Sable watch whilst he finishes Mero off, which proves to be a fatal flaw as it allows Mero to catapult Hunter into the corner and then pin him for three. Vince actually did a really good job on commentary getting that story point across actually. He wasn’t much of a wrestling commentator, but he was a good storyteller I’ll give him that.
WINNER: MARC MERO
Thoughts: This was a great opener, as Mero did a fantastic job of selling his injured body part and Hunter was equally good at playing a ruthless Heel looking to inflict pain. I liked the finish as well, as Hunter’s arrogance got the better of him, just like Alan Rickman in the Robin Hood movie in fact, and it led to him eventually losing when he had the babyface beat. Wrestling is the ultimate morality play at the end of the day, and it’s always fun to see a villain hoist by their own petard
Mr. Perfect is backstage with Camp Cornette, where we find out that Owen Hart will have a manager’s license for the WWF Title match tonight.
The power went out in the building following this and they ran the rest of the show just for the live crowd until they were able to restore power and air the WWF Title Match
Champ: Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels w/ Jose Lothario Vs The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith w/ Diana Smith and The Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart
Diana had been suggesting the Shawn had been acting inappropriately towards her in a romantic manner, leading Shawn to tell her not to flatter herself. Diana thus set her angry husband on Shawn and we have a Title match. The storyline ended up getting dropped due to Stu Hart complaining that it made his daughter look like a “whooerrr”, which Jim Cornette then made worse by angering Stu on a phone call because he thought it was Bruce “Smithers” Pritchard playing a rib on him. Shawn and Mr. Perfect have a weird face off backstage, which was to set up Perfect as the referee for Shawn’s match the next month at King of the Ring.
Vince stresses that Shawn’s upcoming appearance in Playgirl will be solely to provide an interview. Clarence Mason, a spoof on Johnny Cochrane, serves Shawn with papers for a lawsuit, which Shawn of course rips up. I must admit, if they’re trying to tell the story that all of the Heels are in on this and they’re just doing it in order to mess with Shawn so he’s not at his best for the Title match, then it kind of works as a storyline. However, I think we’re supposed to believe that Davey Boy actually thinks that Shawn has done the stuff that Shawn has been accused of, which kind of makes him a sympathetic figure as he’s just standing up for his woman who he believes has been wronged and is just a pawn of Diana, Cornette and Mason as they try to win the WWF Title.
I wonder if the eventual payoff to all of this would have been Davey Boy realising he’d been played for a fool and eventually going babyface because of it? Anyway, the match itself is decent, although Shawn does legitimately seem like he’s off his game here, which is either good acting on his part or the interruption with the power cut has thrown him off. It’s still a watchable contest, but they don’t appear to be clicking and things are a bit sloppy in parts. Shawn uses his speed early on to try and keep Davey Boy on the back foot, going for quick pins and using traditional babyface fare such as headlock takedowns and the like.
Davey busts out the old Bob Backlund arm scissor counter where he stands up out of the hold and muscles Shawn up into a slam, which is possibly my favourite counter in all of wrestling. Davey gets a back body drop following that and works some heat, mostly focusing on stomping away and working rest holds. The crowd stays with Shawn and reacts whenever it looks like Shawn is going to get back into the fight, including a moment where Shawn slips out a back breaker hold but then has his crucifix pin attempt countered into a Samoan Drop by Davey. That was slickly done and looked good.
Shawn appears to be saying something in a chin lock at one stage, almost as if he stops selling to have a discussion with Earl Hebner. I believe this was due to Shawn being annoyed by a heckler in the crowd, who you can hear on the audio once and a while. There was also a rumour doing the rounds online that they cut the match short for time and Shawn was complaining to Hebner about it. Either theory seems viable, and Shawn himself has given credence to the first one. Shawn takes a weird stumbling fall to the floor at one stage, where it looks like he was supposed to duck a Davey Boy attack and hit the ropes but totally botched it.
That was really weird and very un-Shawn like, as he was usually pretty smooth in there. Shawn makes a comeback following that at any rate, necking Davey on the top rope and following with a springboard clothesline back into the ring, although he almost didn’t make contact with Davey. We get a double down following that when both wrestlers collide, as something continues to feel kind of “off” about this one that I just can’t quite explain. It just looks like they aren’t working together well at all and Shawn just seems like his head isn’t in it.
Shawn eventually kips up and starts making a comeback, which the crowd responds to, but then Earl Hebner gets trampled by Davey Boy accidentally, meaning we don’t have a ref as Shawn drops the elbow from the top rope and TUNES UP THE BAND. Owen tries to help out Davey Boy, but Shawn prevents that with some Chin Music, as Owen takes the best bump of the match thus far. Davey Boy catches Shawn with a German Suplex following that and appears to win the Title following a three count from a new referee, but both wrestlers’ shoulders were down on the pin, which a recovering Hebner noticed, and we appear to have a draw.
DOUBLE PIN: SHAWN MICHAELS RETAINS
Thoughts: This one just never got going for me, as Shawn didn’t seem to have his head right and Davey Boy mostly stuck to rest holds. It could be that they legitimately did have their time cut and that messed up their rhythm, or the fan in the crowd was so annoying that they just couldn’t block her out and work the match they wanted. Either way, this wasn’t the usual top notch pay per view effort that you’d expect from Shawn Michaels in 1996
Diana tries leaving with the belt following that, but WWF President Gorilla Monsoon declares that there has been a miscarriage of justice and that you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, so after consulting with the referees he decides that Shawn Michaels will retain, because you don’t get a body like he does from waiting for a bus. This was a pretty flat close to the first show, but though some fans seemed to boo, the majority of them accepted it and were just happy that the Heel didn’t win. 1996 was a simpler time.
We now move onto matches from the 28th May event
Caribbean Strap Bout (Drag opponent to all four corners)
Lucha de Apuestas
If Austin wins then Savio Vega must become Dibiase’s servant
If Vega wins then Ted Dibiase must leave the WWF
Stone Cold Steve Austin w/ Ted Dibiase Vs Savio Vega
Vega had been feuding with Dibiase since the winter and this is the final blow off to the feud. Dibiase was planning on leaving for WCW and Austin didn’t really like having a manager anyway, so this seemed like a suitable way of writing Dibiase out seeing as it wouldn’t constitute Austin having to get pinned and it would let Vega get a win in his trademark gimmick bout. They do a good job of having Vega be more proficient with the strap in the early going as well, such as pulling Austin back when Austin tries to get a breather, which makes sense as he’d been in more of them than Austin.
This is a pretty darn good fight, as they clobber one another with stiff shots from the strap, and the crowd gets into it as a result. These two generally worked well together, and this bout is a good example of that, with them teasing the false finishes well by having a wrestler stop the other from touching the corners before laying in some more shots from the strap. I know some don’t enjoy this particular match stipulation, including Scott Keith in fact, but I think even those who aren’t fans of the gimmick will like this one just because of how good it is.
There’s just fantastic intensity to it, which Jim Ross even comments on at one stage, even if from a play by play perspective you’d basically just write “they hit each other with the strap and go to touch all four corners before being stopped”. However, when you actually watch the match you just get invested in the fight due to how hard bother wrestlers are working. They fight heads to the floor multiple times as well, with Vega giving Austin a big suplex out there at one stage, as Dibiase does a good job of freaking out due to his career being on the line if Austin loses.
Vega busts out a Superplex back in the ring after some more teases, and that’s a double down, with the crowd being into the action. Vega looks like he might win following that, but Austin cuts him off with a last gasp Spinebuster before Vega can touch the last corner. The timing on that was fantastic and Austin’s delivery of the move was top notch. Things gradually get more desperate, with the two wrestlers trying to find a way to win, with Vega pulling the strap to send Austin flying from the top rope into the metal railings outside of the ring, which is a bump you probably weren’t getting from Austin post Owen Driver.
Austin manages to fight back following yet another four corner tease, leading to a big piledriver. However, Dibiase demands that Austin delivers another one rather than win and Vega is able to counter that one with a back body drop. Austin tries the Million $ Dream instead, which Vega does a great job selling until he’s able to kick off the ropes to save himself. Austin busts out the Stun Gun for old time’s sake, although they commentary team doesn’t call it that, and then drags Vega with him whilst he touches the corners. However, this technique allows Vega to touch the corners as well, meaning that when we reach the fourth one both wrestlers are in a winning position. This leads to a mad scramble for the last corner, with Austin accidentally tugging Vega into the corner, thus losing the match in the process.
WINNER: SAVIO VEGA
Thoughts: This was a fabulous match, as they beat the absolute plum pudding out of one another and made good use of the match stipulations to create drama, especially with the victory teases. You wouldn’t think two blokes clobbering one another with a leather strap with minimal wrestling going on could be so entertaining, but these two made it work. This is possibly one of the best examples of this match type I think
They would retcon this to Austin deliberately throwing the match so that he could be free of Dibiase. In reality, Dibiase was one of the many who were jumping ship to WCW around this time and he’d probably outlived his usefulness by this stage anyway. He would join the nWo and manage The Steiner Brothers in WCW, to diminishing returns with every appearance. I’m sure some like his WCW stint, but it never really did much for me, although his acting on his babyface turn when he was disgusted at Kevin Nash being so villainous at Spring Stamped 1997 was very well done, so I’ll give him that at least.
Savio takes the opportunity to sing the goodbye song to Dibiase, with Dibiase doing a good job at selling his anger and disgust at the whole situation.
Shawn Michaels is chatting with folks on America Online, and as always he looks totally befuddled by the very notion of a computer.
The Man They Call Vader w/ Jim Cornette Vs Yokozuna
Cornette had kicked Yoko out of his faction in favour of Vader, so Yoko is looking for payback here, especially after Vader had delivered a brutal attack to Yoko’s leg on an episode of television. Yoko was getting so big at this stage that a lot of commissions wouldn’t actually sanction him to wrestle, meaning he was gone from the WWF later in the year. Hulk Hogan tried to get him into WCW so he could get his win back from King of the Ring 1993, but it never worked out.
This would be the American version of Big Daddy Vs Giant Haystacks I guess; although Vader and Yoko were both significantly better workers than Daddy (Haystacks could work a bit in his younger days until his health started deteriorating). Yoko is actually a pretty good babyface, showing some good fire and doing a solid job of geeing up the crowd. Yoko actually had quite sympathetic facial expressions and they probably could have done something with him as a babyface during this run if his weight hadn’t been so out of control.
Vader stalls a lot in the early going in order to draw some cheap heat, although the crowd does pop big when Yoko knocks Vader down and sends him out of the ring, so it ends up having the desired effect. Yoko tries going after Vader’s legs at one stage as well in an effort to get revenge. The storytelling aspect of this match has been solid and the wrestling has been fine as well, although I don’t think we can expect them to put that much time in there due to both of them being so big.
Vader eventually goes to the eyes in order to gain a foothold in the bout, but he then stupidly goes for a body slam and Yoko is able to block it on account of his girth, before following up with a Uranage and a Samoan Drop. The Bonzai Drop looks to follow from Yoko, but Cornette provides a distraction and gets dragged into the ring, where Yoko gives Cornette a head butt. However, before Yoko can squish Cornette, Vader drags his manager out of the way and gets a splash onto Yoko’s leg before following with the Pump Splash for the three count.
Thoughts: This was fine for what it was, with Yoko getting a measure of revenge and showing he could hang with Vader until Vader used some Heel tactics in order to pick up the victory. This wasn’t a burial of Yoko but Vader still got the win. I think the feud was out of juice following this and Vader moved on to feuding with Shawn Michaels
We get a King of the Ting video, where Jerry Lawler has to do battle with other kings throughout history whilst vaguely Mortal Kombat-like music plays in the background.
We get some matches announced for KOTR, including Jerry Lawler taking on Ultimate Warrior. Hopefully Warrior doesn’t wear a hat in the build-up for it, because that would just ruin everything in some way somehow presumably.
Casket Bout for the WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Goldust w/ Marlena Vs The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
Taker was actually already feuding with Mankind prior to this whilst Goldust was starting his feud with Ahmed Johnson, but the two had a secondary feud going on with one another that saw them cross paths a few times in 1996. Undertaker presses Triangle and a shoulder button prior to the bout, as he appears behind Goldust and starts putting a whupping on him whilst Paul Bearer distracts Goldust in the aisle.
This is fought at a slightly quicker pace than you’d expect from these two going at it, especially as they both worked quite deliberate styles at this stage in their respective careers. Goldust would start picking up the pace following a babyface turn, whilst Undertaker would start having wild brawls with Mankind where he’d actually sell more regularly, meaning both wrestlers’ matches became automatically more interesting to watch.
Goldust spends most of the early stages of the bout getting destroyed, and doing a good job of bumping and selling for it all. Goldust eventually manages to get a foothold in the bout with an elbow smash in the corner and actually busts out his own version of the Tombstone Piledriver. The crowd chants for Undertaker to fight back, as this match has had decent crowd reactions for the most part. Goldust tries to use a sleeper hold to put Taker out, but Taker recovers when Goldust tries to stuff him into the casket and makes the comeback.
Goldust shows some hitherto unseen resilience to keep fighting back, which the commentary team mentions at one stage, and comes back with a clothesline from the top, but he goes for a pin instead of trying to put Taker into the casket, which gives Undertaker time to recover again and fight back. Goldust tries to steal another Taker move by going Old School, but Taker counters that and then puts Goldust down with the Tombstone. However, Mankind is in the casket somehow, and he assaults Taker with the Mandible Claw before stuffing Taker into the casket so that Goldust can retain the Title.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: GOLDUST
Thoughts: This was quite watchable, with them picking up the pace a bit by their usual standards and doing some solid brawling. The finish also protected Undertaker whilst not hurting Goldust, and it advanced both of the feuds Taker had going on at the time. By switching between his two rivals they managed to keep Undertaker busy all the way up to Survivor Series, with the Goldust matches being okay whilst the Mankind matches were genuinely great
Mankind locks the casket following that, but smoke comes out of it as Undertaker is still all spoopy.
For a five match show, we’ve got two of them in the 4* range by my watch, with nothing under 2*, which is enough for an easy thumbs up. Business wasn’t great for the WWF in 1996, but you could usually expect to get one or two great matches on these In Your House events, and Beware of Dog is no different. For a show that comes in at under 2 hours, it’s an easy watch and definitely worth your time. If only Shawn and Davey had delivered in the high end of what they were capable of it might have been one of the best overall pay per views the WWF ever put on.