When we last left our heroes, “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel had been able to fend off the unwanted advances of monstrous monarch King Mabel to retain his WWF Championship at Summerslam. However, despite slaying the monster in their climatic collision, Diesel was continuing to draw poorly at the gate as well as on pay per view.
Diesel’s scuffle with The British Bulldog at In Your House IV in October had been a particular low point in the big champions reign. One of the smallest pay per view audiences in the history of the promotion tuned in to watch the event, and those that did witnessed a thoroughly wretched match. Indeed, the bout was so awful that Jim Cornette, the manager of Bulldog, felt it appropriate to apologise to federation head honcho Vince McMahon following the match’s conclusion.
So with Diesel drowning as champion, McMahon finally decided that enough was enough, making the decision that Diesel would drop the title to Bret Hart at the Survivor Series event. Bret, despite spending most of the year slogging away in the mid card with evil dentist Isaac Yankem and nefarious pirate Jean Pierre Lafitte, ascended the mountain again with ease. Fans immediately him back into the main event picture and he was crowned champion after a fantastic match.
Not only was the match an intense brawl that debuted the famed “main event table bump”, but Diesel destroyed Bret with multiple power bombs after the bout. All of a sudden the company had a respectable champion again and Diesel’s stale character got a much needed shot in the arm to freshen him up. Smiling hand shaking and baby kissing Diesel was gone, replaced with a much more dangerous and hard edged character who cared not for the fans acclaim.
Meanwhile, King Mabel himself was given another chance to work with a top guy, as he was paired with The Undertaker. Following his feud with Kama coming to an end, King Mabel acquired the melted down remains of Undertaker’s urn, thus earning him the ire of The Dead Man. however, during a beat down angle on Raw, Mabel clumsily injured Undertaker’s face for real whilst delivering some of his always sloppy leg drops. Needless to say, he was not popular in the locker room by this stage, especially after injuring other workers as well.
Booked against Undertaker in a casket match, it looked like this could be the end for Mabel’s run, as Undertaker looked to bury his main event momentum for good.
We’re in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Calling the action are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler
As the opening pyro goes off we see that Santa and The Smoking Gunn’s are giving out gifts to kids in the crowd. Rumours that The Gunn’s were giving out bullets purchased at the 7-11 are unfounded.
Tag Team Match
1-2-3 Kid & Sycho Sid w/ Ted Dibiase Vs Razor Ramon and Marty Jannetty
So as I mentioned in the Summerslam 95 article, 1-2-3 Kid was heading towards a heel turn, and here it is. Kid had joined the side of Dibiase just prior to the Survivor Series, and now former friend Razor is in a mighty bad mood about it.
As Razor and Marty make their way down to the ring, wearing matching leather jackets to project their unity, we see that Goldust is watching from afar. Kid and Jannetty start out with some back and forth, and the action is very good as you’d expect from two talented workers. Marty keeps trying to tag in Razor so he can get some vengeance on The Kid, but Kid does everything he can to avoid it.
Finally Razor gets in against The Kid and he slaps the taste out of his mouth before delivering a big atomic drop. However, as he sends Kid off the rope, Sid gets a blind tag and wipes Razor out with a clothesline. The heat segment now follows on Razor, which is good when Kid is in and…less so when Sid is.
Razor and Sid clock each other with a double clothesline, allowing Razor to make the tag to Marty. Marty fires up on The Kid, hitting a power slam and a version of Charlotte’s Natural Selection from the top for two.
As this is going on, Todd Pettengill tries to speak with Goldust. Goldust fawns over Razor in creepy fashion before giving Todd a golden envelope, which he requests that he deliver to Razor on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Marty has been cut off and his getting worked over by Kid. Kid comes off the top with a frog splash, and Marty kicks out at two. What a waste of a potential finisher that was. Why couldn’t Razor have come inside to break that up?
Sid comes in and, as usual, everything he does looks incredibly hokey and lame. How on Earth was this guy so over when everything he did looked so awful? Razor finally gets the hot tag and he is a house de un incendio. Razor drops Sid with a bulldog from the second rope and pins Sid for the win!? Well, that was abrupt. Was Kid supposed to break that up or something?
WINNERS – RAMON & JANNETTY
RATING – *1/2
This had potential to be a good match, but it just never came together and the finish felt very rushed and anti-climatic. Razor tries to give Kid a Razor’s Edge post-match, but Sid pulls him to safety. Razor would have to wait till In Your House VI to finally get his revenge on The Kid.
Jerry Lawler grabs a microphone and reintroduces “Double J” Jeff Jarrett back to the WWF. Jarrett had walked out of the company back in July, unhappy over how he was being booked. Lawler presents Jarrett with a gold CD and Jarrett crows about how he used the WWF to advance his music career. He declares that he will be entering the Royal Rumble (he ended up not making it into that match) and the fans couldn’t care less. He sticks around for commentary for the next match.
Buddy Landell w/ Dean Douglas Vs Ahmed Johnson
Douglas is supposed to be in this match, but he’s injured his back, so Landell is his replacement. The joke here of course is that Douglas hates Ric Flair in real life, but he’s managing Landell who is essentially a profession Ric Flair cosplayer. He even comes down to the ring to Flair’s entrance music.
Jarrett is not impressed with Ahmed on commentary, foreshadowing the post-match. Ahmed no sells all of Landell’s “Flair-Light” offense and finishes him quickly with a spine buster and a Pearl River Plunge.
WINNER – AHMED JOHNSON
RATING – TOO SHORT TO RATE, JUST A SQUASH
Lawler and Jarrett belittle Ahmed post-match, so Ahmed responds by yelling at them in an unintelligible manner. As he’s backing Lawler down, Jarrett hits him with Chekov’s gold CD. Ahmed rallies and sends Jarrett fleeing to the back. They would end up facing each other at the Royal Rumble, meaning that neither of them actually competed in the Rumble match itself.
Todd is backstage with Razor Ramon. Razor hypes his Intercontinental Championship match with Yokozuna on the following episode of Raw. Todd gives Razor Goldust’s letter, and Razor is not pleased with what it contains. This would lead to many weeks of Goldust stalking Ramon, eventually building up to a match at the WWF Royal Rumble for the Intercontinental title. Goldust would eventually win that match after help from The Kid.
Hog Pen Match
Guest Referee – Hillbilly Jim
Hunter Hearst Helmsley Vs Henry O. Godwinn
So this match was brought about because Helmsley, a poncing upper class snob, ran afoul of lower class farmer Godwinn. This class war could lead to only one logical conclusion, which was for them to face off in a match where the loser has to be thrown into an actual honest to goodness Hog Pen, complete with real pigs milling about!
Vince McMahon lost something like $5,000,000 in 1995, and I can’t for a moment fathom why. Helmsley sells the stench of the Hog Pen well at least. Henry stalks the Blue Blood with a bucket of hog slop, but misses and ends up getting it on the time keeper and some of the “lucky” fans in the front row. You have to think that Vince found the idea of slopping the fans hilarious.
Both men brawl in the ring and Henry manages to tie Hunter up in the ropes. With Hunter trapped, Henry grabs a handful of slop and shoves it down Hunter’s gullet in a thoroughly gross visual. This fires Hunter up and unloads on Henry with punches and a neck breaker.
Hunter works over Henry and takes the fight outside. He tries to throw Henry into the ring steps, but the Hog Man from Arkansas counters and then runs Hunter’s head into the steps with a bulldog. They brawl over to the Hog Pen, where Hunter almost gets back dropped in, but he just manages to cling on. Hunter actually comes off the Hog Pen fence with an elbow onto a downed Henry, in a move I don’t think he’s done before or since.
The fight makes its way back to the ring, and the crowd just dies as consequence. That’s the tricky thing with Hog Pen/Buried Alive/Ambulance matches etc. You know the match can’t end in the ring, so anytime there’s fighting in there it’s essentially redundant and obviously just the wrestlers killing time.
And indeed, it’s not long before they’re back down the ramp to the Hog Pen again. Henry tries to do a reverse DDT outside the ring, but Hunter grabs the guardrail to block. Henry goes for it a second time near the Hog Pen and manages to deliver it this time. Both men climb to their feet and Henry decides to stupidly charge at Hunter, who has his back to the Hog Pen, and of course Hunter back body drops him into the Hog Pen to win.
WINNER – HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY
RATING – **
They were trying so hard to have a good match here, but the crowd weren’t buying it and the gimmick hampered them. Hunter of course ends up getting thrown into the Hog Pen post-match, with his back bleeding too thus opening himself up to all kinds of infections. Hunter, pro that he is, makes sure to slip and fall in the mud a few times so that the people get their monies worth.
We get a video package detailing Diesel’s journey from smiling champion to bitter anti-hero. However, despite this lean to the heel side, Owen Hart laid out Diesel’s buddy Shawn Michaels with an enziguri kick, so now he’s gunning for revenge on behalf of his friend. They’re selling here that the injury caused by Owen might mean the end of Shawn’s career.
Owen Hart w/ Jim Cornette Vs Diesel
So the real reason for Shawn taking time off was that he got battered by a bunch of angry marines in Syracuse, New York. As a result he had to forfeit his Intercontinental Title in one of the first instances of him refusing to drop a title in the ring. On his first match back on Raw, Owen delivered the aforementioned enziguri and Shawn had to be taken out on a stretcher.
Diesel hammers away on Owen to start with an assortment of power moves. Vince, in a moment of utter cringe, actually refers to him as “Big D” on commentary. Vince trying, and failing, to be “cool dad” is one of the many reasons that neither Shawn Michaels or Diesel really got over the way he wanted them to. Michaels cool factor was shot to bits the minute he started dancing in the ring with McMahon.
Owen gets a heel kick and then a missile dropkick from the top rope to finally get back into the match. Owen works over Diesel’s leg and then fires off the enziguri for two. I’m not sure I would have had people kicking out of that move when it was supposed to be the move that ended Shawn’s career.
Diesel kicks Owen off on a figure four leglock attempt and follows up with a snake eyes. Diesel gets a big boot and then drops Owen with a Jack-Knife Power Bomb, but he opts not to pin him. Diesel goes for another power bomb, but the referee tries to stop him, so Diesel pie faces him for the disqualification.
WINNER – OWEN HART BY DISQUALIFICATION
RATING – *
What a rubbish finish. Diesel power bombs Owen anyway, thus making him look like a chump. Interesting way to build up the guy who could conceivably have been the biggest heel in the company with the Shawn injury angle. As it was, Diesel battered him and then got disqualified for battering him too much.
Ted Dibiase now joins us to rail against Christmas itself, declaring that he has bought Santa! Savio Vega comes out with Santa to dispute this, but Santa beats him up and reveals that he has indeed been bought. This would start a near six month feud between Savio and Dibiase’s stable. Dibiase is clearly having a hoot putting the boots to Savio alongside Santa here.
A video plays hyping King Mabel Vs Undertaker. To recap, Mabel broke Taker’s face, stole the remnants of the urn and then besmirched Taker’s casket with graffiti. So as you can imagine, he’s in a LOT of trouble!
King Mabel w/ Sir Moe Vs The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
The old trope of “Undertaker always seems to lose his specialty match” doesn’t seem to apply to casket matches as he generally does okay in them, in comparison to Buried Alive and Hell in a Cell matches where he often seems to lose.
As Mabel is coming to the ring, Michael Hayes tries to hock the Wrestlemania: The Arcade ports for various systems. Humorously, the game didn’t feature Diesel, who happened to be the WWF champion at the time of the games release. The prices are interesting, with the Super Nintendo coming in at $69.99, the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis coming in at $64.99 and the PlayStation version surprisingly coming in the cheapest at $54.99.
So the version on the most powerful console is the cheapest? No wonder Sony was kicking everyone’s butts during the Fifth Gen!
Both men slug away to start, with Taker getting the better of it. Taker gets a Stinger Splash in the corner but Mabel reverses a whip and catches him with a Bossman Slam. Mabel misses a second rope splash, but Moe distracts Taker allowing Mabel to come back with a belly to belly suplex, a leg drop and then a big splash.
Moe dumps a limp Taker into the casket but doesn’t close the lid. Mabel puts on his crown before going over to shut the casket lid, but Taker comes back and hits Mabel with a flurry of clotheslines to knock him down. Taker gets a big choke slam and then knocks Mabel into the casket.
Moe tries to rescue his boss, but Taker shrugs him off and drops him with a choke slam as well. Taker reclaims the remnants of the urn and then closes the lid on both the casket and Mabel’s push.
WINNER – THE UNDERTAKER
RATING – *
Taker gestures post-match that he wants to be WWF champion, which is what Diesel also did after his match as well. Once again, a bit of foreshadowing for what was to come.
Jim Ross takes us back to Summerslam 92, the last time Bulldog and Bret Hart faced one another. Jim Cornette cuts an impassioned promo on behalf of Bulldog, declaring that history will repeat itself tonight.
Todd is backstage with Bret Hart, he says he’ll get revenge for what happened at Summerslam.
Singles Match for the WWF Championship
Challenger – The British Bulldog w/ Jim Cornette and Diana Smith Vs Champion– Bret Hart
So despite being one half of an utter stinker main event at In Your House IV, Bulldog gets a chance to redeem himself somewhat against his brother in law Bret. Chain wrestling to start us out, and it’s all very crisp and well executed as you’d expect from these two.
Bulldog eventually decides to knee Bret in the gut to stop the wrestling, because Bret was on top doing that. Bulldog works Bret over with strikes in the tree of woe as the fans chant for Bret. Bulldog slaps on a chin lock and yells at the fans as the camera goes to Diana for reaction shots.
Bulldog gets two from a leg drop and goes back to the chin lock as Vince announces that Undertaker will face whoever the winner of this bout is at the Royal Rumble. Bulldog continues to work Bret over with the odd impact move like a back body drop, before going back to a hold to grind his resistance down.
Bret manages to counter Bulldog coming off the rope with a monkey flip, and follows up with an inverted atomic drop and a bulldog for two. Bret gets a piledriver for another two before getting the Russain leg sweep. Bret heads up to the second rope and comes down with a customary elbow drop. Bret sets Bulldog up for a superplex, but Bulldog fights out and then crotches Bret onto the top rope with a suplex.
Bret rolls outside to sell the counter, but Bulldog follows him right out with a running forearm to the back. The impact of the move sends Bret flying face first into the ring steps, and it’s soon revealed that this has busted Bret open.
Back inside, Bulldog works over a bloody Bret with a piledriver of his own for two. We get the extreme close up on Diana again as Bulldog continues to work over Bret. Not only is this distracting, but Diana also seems to be showing concern for Bret, despite the pre-match promo suggesting she was very much backing Bulldog in this match. If she’s meant to be conflicted like she was in 1992, then fine, but the story is clearly that she’s being heelish and is backing her husband over her brother. If she can’t sell that convincingly then keep the camera off her. It also doesn’t help that the cameraman is seemingly trying to zoom right up her nostrils with how close up he is.
Bret’s blood is now starting to stain both the match as well as the white parts of Bulldog’s ring attire. Bret gets a sloppy diving head butt from the top on Bret and comes up selling his back. Vince is imploring the referee to stop the match as Bret gets a German Suplex for two. Double clothesline and both men are down.
Bret back drops Bulldog over the top to the outside and follows with a plancha. He tries to do a pump splash off the apron onto Bulldog on the outside, but Bulldog catches him and gets the running power slam on the floor. Bulldog pulls the mats away revealing the cold, unforgiving, concrete underneath and goes for a suplex, but Bret counters and suplexes Bulldog crotch first onto the guardrail. That was a nice call back to when Bulldog crotched Bret earlier on. Bret then lariats Bulldog from his seated position to the floor below.
Bret gets a back breaker back inside for two before flinging Bulldog into the corner with a hard Irish whip. Bret finally gets the superplex he was looking for earlier and this gets a count of two. They trade O’Connor roll attempts and Bret slugs away in the corner. Bulldog reverses a whip to the buckle but he runs into a raised boot from Bret. Bret uses the opportunity to apply a La Magistral to the dazed Bulldog to pick up the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION – BRET HART
RATING – ****
Unlike the opener, this had been a long and gruelling match, so having Bret win it out of nowhere like that didn’t bother me as much. Bret Hart is a bit good at this wrestling lark isn’t he? Bulldog and Diesel had a rotten match with each other, but put them in there with Bret and he gets cracking matches out of both of them, with each match being different. He’s the perfect World Champion in some ways. He can have a good match with anyone and elevate them even in defeat by selling for them en route to winning.
Todd is with Undertaker and Paul Bearer backstage. Bearer thanks the fans for their support, as he feels they played an integral role in Undertaker being granted a title shot. Diesel barges in unhappy that Taker is getting the shot and not him. He and Taker go nose to nose as the show ends.
Undertaker’s definitive and thorough defeat of Mabel essentially ended any aspirations the big guy had of being a top guy. He made one more pay per view appearance at the Royal Rumble before disappearing from WWF screens for over two years.
Ultimately, what did Mabel in more than anything else was his penchant for hurting people and the booking of the tournament that saw him crowned king. Had Mabel defeated 1-2-3 Kid as planned in the finale, it might have actually given him some momentum to beat someone the crowd actually cared about.
As it was, his win over lame duck finalist Savio Vega didn’t elevate him in the slightest, and he was doomed out of the gate as a result. As heel King Mabel he did cut some good promos and the angle where he conspired with Bulldog to attack Diesel was heated. However, the match with Diesel was a lousy effort and him hurting both Diesel and Undertaker in quick succession was basically the end for him.
Diesel himself would cost Undertaker the title at Royal Rumble to fully cement his heel turn and the two would do battle at WrestleMania XII in an exciting bout. As much as this trilogy has been about Mabel, it has also been about both Diesel and Bret Hart. We started with Diesel struggling to be the heroic face of the company whilst Bret lingered in the mid card. We end with Diesel reinvigorated as one of the companies most effective heels, whilst Bret fulfils the role as champion in a way Diesel just wasn’t capable of.
This show is really lousy, with only the main event being of any worth. If you have the WWE Network, just skip ahead to that, you won’t be missing anything.
Thanks for sticking with this series. I already have ideas for our series, but if you can think of one you’d like to see then please feel free to share in the comments. At some point I’ll be getting back to video games as well when I finally find some time to play one properly.