In the previous entry, I looked at Summerslam 1996. It was an okay PPV with a main event that lasted far too long. The next PPV was called International Incident and was a part of a long-running collection of PPVs called In Your House. The purpose of the In Your House PPVs were to give the audience a cheaper and more frequent WWF experience. At the time, the WWF only had four big PPVs – Royal Rumble in January, Wrestlemania near Easter, Summerslam in August and Survivor Series near Thanksgiving. The months in between were filled with In Your House PPVs and this was one of them.
Over the next four weeks, I will review this PPV from the perspectives of a fan looking back at it after two decades as well as my original thoughts as a teenager watching it at the time (though this particular PPV was one I watched in 1998 as my family did not have the channels necessary to watch wrasslin’).
WWF In Your House 10: Mind Games
No tagline this time around, just Shawn Michaels looking up to the left with a bit of a grimace on his face while in the background, in a haze of smoke, Mankind has puffed the doob so much that he can’t feel his face.
Big red WWF screen hits and on the version I have, there is no promo package whatsoever! It just jumps straight into the Free-For-All match. (Note: Before the PPV began, there was a 30-minute show called Free-For-All, which was the nineties equivalent of the Preshow, full of promos and summaries of recent TV matches. There was an exclusive match on Free-For-All and had little to do with the actual PPV. Normally, we miss it, but we have it this time around and it is a Savio Vega vs. Marty Jannetty match. This PPV was also lousy with dark matches, featuring a total of three: Jake Roberts vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley; Faarooq vs. Marc Mero; and Psycho Sid vs. Vader. It’s interesting that all six members of the dark matches are pretty big names in wrestling and play a vital part in the next few months of PPVs and beyond.) This is exciting as my copy of the PPV is different to the one on the WWE Network. Score!
Marty Jannetty is already in the ring with Leif Cassidy AKA Al Snow behind him, pointing at him. Savio Vega’s bongos explode from the speakers and the man himself comes out, high-fiving everyone and being a great face. He gets a bit of a pop as well. He throws his waistcoat at Al Snow, who attempts to wear it. Savio does not seem happy about that.
Savio Vega def. Marty Jannetty via pinfall in 5:22.
JR is bigging up Mankind, who is in the main event with Shawn Michaels for the World Heavyweight Championship. Vince and Mr. Perfect are also on commentary, but we will come to them in good time. Show of Leif Cassidy wearing Savio’s waist coat and smiling. Jannetty runs the ropes for ages but no one on the commentary team sells it, in fact, they’re talking about the beginning of the PPV and sandbagging this entire match.
And who should appear on screen? Only pre-Cunt JBL, Cunt Justin Hawk Bradshaw, with Zeb Coulter standing behind him. They are balanced above a spoooooky skull wearing a Mankind mask with “MIND GAMES” carved into its cranium. Justin Hawk Bradshaw (JHB) is shouting at Vince and pacing. Behind him stands Uncle Zebekiah AKA Zeb Coulter. He has a brand in his hand with J-B on it, where the hyphen mixes with the spine of the J and B to form a H. JHB. Do you see? Do you see? You are looking, but you do not see. JHB gives off because Savio is on PPV again and JHB has been in the WWF for nine months without a chance. He shows his true colours, the racist, ignorant, arrogant side of JBL that we will all come to know and loathe within ten years’ time. JR says, “Those Texans are like that, a little hot-blooded.”
Once again, the announcers are sandbagging the match and-
Wait, what? Are the crowd chanting “ECW! ECW!”?
They are chanting for ECW. Why are they-
Front and to the camera’s left on the hard cam is Tommy Dreamer, standing and waving to the crowd. His is joined by Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman) and Sandman, who are both off-screen. This is due to a cross-promotional “Invasion” angle that ECW and WWF were planning at the time. The reasons behind it are lost to the annals of time as Vince states that he, “cannot remember why [he] helped ECW out,” although it was probably due to him wanting ECW (which was about to have its first PPV and financially was failing at the time) to become a feeder company to the Fed. Either way, the Invasion angle has these three guys ringside and then ECW having matches on Raw six months later. Fairly short, but fun if you’re into that.
In the ring, Savio gets a boot from Jannetty and JR bigs up Jannetty, saying that he has gone downhill since joining with “Nerdy” Leif Cassidy. Vince calls out ECW, saying that they are a “local wrestling franchise”. JR attempts to talk more about it, but Vince sandbags it almost instantly. They do not even mention the name. Savio rolls out and Leif gives him a boot. JR makes fun of Jim Cornette, saying that he was eating two triple cheeseburgers backstage. Corny has a match later on in the evening.
Jannetty hits Vega with a body slam and goes to Bret’s rope, walks along and goes for a double axe handle nothing, but Vega’s boot goes up to hit him in the face. Jannetty hits a cross-body from the ropes but Vega rolls through and pins Jannetty in 5:22.
Entire match is ignored by the commentators and isn’t that interesting to begin with. It is better as a placeholder match, used to remind the audience of the upcoming festivities. To be fair, though, Savio Vega is about to have another match with JHB so he probably didn’t want to wear himself out.
Sit down in front! You’re ruining the show for the rest of us, you damn ruffians!
Vega celebrates as Cassidy comes back in to remove his buddy. As Savio dances, out comes Uncle Zebekiah, pointing that damned dirty brand on him. JHB runs out and whips Savio with a big whip before escaping almost as quickly as he had arrived.
Smash cut to a promo package calling Mankind “the face of fear, the mind of madness… the horror that might soon be champion.” Distorted samples of Mankind talking. We see Undertaker vs. Goldust, an angle that is linked to Mankind as he and Goldust are buddies and Paul Bearer left Taker for Mankind in the last PPV. The announcer is gibberish, mixing metaphors and that sort of caper.
Cut to a horrible CG skull chomping at the bit and we are live at the CoreStates Centre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home of ECW! 15,000 in attendance, apparently, and no word on how many PPV buys at home. Our announcers are Vince McMahon, Jumping Jim Ross and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. Whilst Vince sports a tux, JR has no tie like an Amish, Hennig is decked out in a brown suit with pink shirt. Behind them, a sign, amongst others, says, “Vince McMahon for God.” Another shot of a sign that says simply “Shawn Michaels and the Kliq!” Hennig asks if the curtain will fall on the Undertaker and if Shawn will lose his title… and his mind!
Ultimate Warrior-style music hits and out comes Cunt JHB, even though he left, like, ten seconds ago. Howard Finkel introduces the match as a “Special Caribbean Strap Match”, which is saying a lot about it considering it’s a very boring match style. The announcers talk over Finkel and mention that Savio Vega has never lost a strap match, even going so far as to beat Stone Cold Steve Austin himself, way before his push.
Cut to Kevin Kelly and Savio is furious, walking back and forth as KK talks to him. Savio shouts at JHB, even though the man himself is in the ring and will never hear the shouts. Savio runs to the ring and slides in as JHB beats on him with the leather strap. The official calls for the bell before Savio is actually tied up!
Carribbean Strap Match: Savio Vega def. Justin Hawk Bradshaw via tapping all corners in 7:09.
Bradshaw whips on Savio and Vince questions whether Harvey Wippleman should have rand the bell before securing Savio’s wrist. JR reminds us of the rules – the winner cannot pin, nor submit his opponent and can only win by slapping each turnbuckle one by one, in succession, without interruption. Bradshaw gets three until Savio fights back. Savio rolls to the outside, Bradshaw chooses to exit on the other apron so that the strap is caught between the turnbuckle. He chokes Savio with the strap as the crowd cheer for ECW. Savio pulls on the strap, forcing Bradshaw’s face into the turnbuckle. As Savio beats on Bradshaw, Sandman spits beer into Vega’s face, who, fair play to him, sells it like a boss.
Straight-up Shoot Fact: Although the ECW wrestlers being there was sanctioned by McMahon, he was the only one in attendance who knew it was a work so Savio and Bradshaw had no idea that the ECW guys were invited there. Considering JHB’s history of being a fuckhead, I’m surprised that didn’t backfire horrendously… although that might have been Vince’s intention.
Savio genuinely shows a mix of confusion and bemusement as Sandman busts himself open with the beer can. JHB pulls on the leather strap as Vince mentions that they are a, “local wrestling group,” again. Paul Heyman is pulling on Tommy Dreamer and Sandman as security go to them. JHB looks on. Vince says, “We will not shoot this incident that is occurring… Savio and Justin are ignoring it, as well they should…” Bit cheeky considering it was Vince’s idea.
JHB gets three turnbuckles and is backdropped before hitting the fourth. JR gets Savio’s record with strap matches over. Savio whips at JHB, even whacking him in the face at one point. JR: “Savio is whipping Bradshaw like a government mule!” Savio gets two turnbuckles and Bradshaw fights back. Savio gets three turnbuckles and is yanked back by Bradshaw. Both men are spending a lot of time on their backs. Bradshaw goes and hits a turnbuckle and behind him, Savio batters it. Same for the second… and the third (which Vince miscounts and thinks it is the final turnbuckle) and on the fourth, Savio pulls back and the two men tug of war until Bradshaw falls down, Vega springs forward and hits the fourth and final turnbuckle to win this gimmick match in 7:09.
Not an exciting gimmick and not an exciting match.
I certainly hope I do not have to listen to that loud Texan ever again.
Savio wins, lies outside for a while and chubby Bradshaw (a man who does not look good shirtless) stands mid-ring, looking awful. Savio Vega looks genuinely annoyed, hides from the ECW boys, even though they’ve been tossed out.
On the Card will return on September 29th with part 2 of Mind Games.