Wednesday, July 1, 2020

WWF In Your House #14: Revenge Of The Taker (April 1997)

(Yeah, so I wrote this back in 2015 and posted it a year later, but rewatching the show recently and in context with everything else, I felt this needed a bit of an update, so here we are.)

This is a PPV from 1997 that I've only seen bits and pieces of on YouTube and was able to track down a copy of the full show just recently. For those requiring a bit of context, this was about a month removed from Wrestlemania 13, where Undertaker won the WWF Championship, Bret Hart and Steve Austin had their bloody submission match that would change the course of their careers forever, and we had this Rocky Melvin fellow defend his IC title amist a sea of "Rocky Sucks" chants. Should be fun, I guess.

Legion Of Doom/Road Warriors defeat WWF Tag Champs Owen Hart and British Bulldog via DQ due to Bret Hart interference. There was a point where they did a fake finish with L.O.D. winning the titles before the match was restarted since the wrong guy was pinned. First time around, I didn't pay too much attention to this match, as the thought of the older, less-mobile L.O.D. taking on a hot Owen Hart/British Bulldog tag-team combination held little appeal for me, but watching it again now, it was alright. The Warriors looked brutish and strong while letting the bad guys keep their titles. Not rocket science or anything, but it's relatively inoffensive.

Rocky Maivia (the reigning IC champ) cuts a crappy promo. Me thinks he needs a bit of natural charisma... or a good character... or fifty nursery rhyme limericks... or a rock. That could work, too.

Crappy promo leads to Rocky successfully retaining his title over Savio Vega in a match that featured supposedly racist commentary from Farrrrooooooqqqqqq. Is that how you spell his name? I don't know, I don't care. Match ends when Crush punches Savio Vega and that's supposed to lead into a stable wars of sorts where Farrrrrooooooooooqqqqq would lead a mostly-black stable in the Nation, Savio Vega would a mostly-Hispanic stable in Los Boriquas, and Crush would lead a biker gang in the Disciples of Apocalypses... because Vince doesn't know any better, I guess.

As for Rocky? He'd drop the IC title to Owen Hart a couple weeks later and then get injured... only to come back and possibly re-invent himself to... well, you know.

We got a thing where "The Real Double J" Jesse James (a.k.a. Road Dogg) is set to face off against the Honky Tonk Man's protege, who turns out to be... Rockabilly (a.k.a. Billy Gunn). Funny thing is that they showed a bit where Billy Gunn rejected Honky's offer in a prior episode of RAW and yet decided to change his mind for some reason... and then they wonder why everybody was watching Nitro at the time. On the bright side, these guys would end up as a team, win the tag-titles, and become something of a big deal the following year, so it's not always a lost cause.

WWF Champion Undertaker defeats Mankind to retain the title. Compared to the matches these guys had with each other before (and after), this match felt like something of a lesser product, but still a good little brawl. Highlight of the match was Paul Bearer getting his face burned and that would result in his no longer wearing make-up several months down the line... although some would call this the "spark" in a long-term build up that would eventually introduce the world to KANE... you know, back when KANE was cool.

Stone Cold Steve Austin defeats Bret "HitMan" Hart via DQ due to British Bulldog interference. The next night on RAW, Stone cold would smash Bret's knee in the ring (and in the ambulance) and that will lead to Bret in a wheelchair for a couple months. After a fantastic Survivor Series encounter and a legendary Wrestlemania match, this match felt like something of a step down. Still a fairly good match for the most part since both Austin and Hart work exceptionally well together, but it's nowhere near as good as their previous encounters.

For the most part, Revenge Of The Taker is a fairly decent showing and probably one of the better In Your House entries as far as the two-hour PPVs go. Sure, some of the match-ups here have had better matches elsewhere, but it's a nice little showing that's good for killing a couple hours.

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