Thanks to for their badass righteous free counters

In Your House VIII: Beware of Dog
by Brendan "Shaddax" Welsh-Balliett

Note: This was actually written a while ago, for a different idea I was working on. I warn you now, it's like the second thing I ever wrote about wrestling, so it kinda sucks. I apologize, but if you think I'm sitting through this show again, you're nuts. This is slightly remixed, however.

Introduction To In Your House VIII: Beware Of Dog

This show was the "follow up", such as it could be with so much of the principle talent from that show gone, to In Your House VII: Good Friends, Better Enemies, and was in the heart of Shawn Michaels' amazing 1996 run of **** matches with almost everyone. This show, of course, would be an exception to that as circumstances resulted in his match with the Bulldog going on as a literal "dark match", since the lights had gone out in the building due to a power outage and neither Shawn nor the Bulldog were much interested in putting on a **** match no one could see; thus this would be the least good of their three WWF PPV encounters. From a drawing power and logic standpoint, this was a deeply weak story; Bulldog was pulled from the opening match on the last show in a tag and an unrelated plotline to fill the main on this show and begin the segue into Shawn vs. Camp Cornette (and eventually, by extension, Vader), which Vince was planning on being his big summer feud. Note: what I'm watching is a tape of "Beware of Dog II", the second PPV from several days later, featuring a replay of what actually made it to air from the first show combined with rematches of everything which happened after the lights went off the first time, save the main event. First up, taped material.

"Live" from Charleston, South Carolina, JR and Mr. Perfect welcome us to Beware of Dog II, and then throw

-National anthem. At an In Your House?

-Shawn/Bulldog video package: "Shawn Michaels is a homewrecker!"

- Vince McMahon, billionaire in training, and Jerry Lawler are your hosts for the first half. The jokes to make here are too easy.

1. HHH VS. Marc Mero (w/Sable) Hunter is in full on early priss mode, with waistcoat, escort, and about thirty pounds less muscle. Can't imagine why. We get a cruddy Mero promo, before he comes out to the whipcrack music that Sable ended up making famous. Brawl to start, Mero chases HHH around the ring and gets caught coming in, but gets in some right hands to send Hunter bailing to the outside. Pescado from Mero, and a slingshot legdrop coming back in for 2. Mero gets 2 off a left hand after a HHH pseudo-Michaelsesque bump in the corner. Mero posts himself on a blind charge and hurts his shoulder, putting Hunter on top. Hunter posts him again to the other side and does the formal bow. I cannot reconcile this goofball character with what he became; the things he's done to change his appearance mean that over the course of five years, he's come to look like a different person, and not a single vestige of his original character remains. Single arm DDT puts Mero down and kicks the arm psychology into the foreground. Hunter runs through all of his vanilla offense, including the high knee and an armbar, but Mero gets a role up for 2. He tries a backslide but the arm gives out, and Hunter wraps his arm around the post while taunting Sable (the feud had begun over Sable, Hunter's valet for an evening, leaving him for Mero). More vanilla offense from HHH, focusing on the arm. Shootfightin' Hunter even busts out the cross armbreaker. Hunter drops the knee on Mero's arm and stays on the arm, but Mero flips out of a backdrop and gets a rollup for 2. Hunter with a lariat for 2, and back to the arm. Hunter actually hits an axehandle from the top (!), and does the illegal rope leverage spot on an armbar. Hunter gets caught going to the top again, and Mero hits the top rope rana. Headscissors off an Irish whip and Mero takes over with a backdrop and a top rope sunset flip. Dropkick bails Hunter, but Mero misses a somersault plancha and hurts his knee. Hunter sets up for the pedigree but decides against it, opting instead to terrorize Sable. And what usually happens when the heel forgoes his finisher to gloat, friends? Mero takes it off a slingshot to the post at 16:39. Nice little match between two good workers whose time either hadn't come yet, or, in Mero's case, never would due to injuries and bad luck. The difference between Hunter then and now is all about the little things like pacing, since his moveset has changed very little. This match, unlike his present ones, was methodical and one dimensional (all about the arm work) to the point of being boring in spots, since the quality of the work didn't sustain the storyline. These days his work has much more variance in how the match is structured regarding, for instance how long heel heat segments go and how they're used, and there is a far greater sense of energy and meaning in every move. This match by contrast featured long stretches of Hunter's plain offense which never really seemed to be going anywhere in particular. Still, hard work all around, good psychology, decent highspots and nothing blown makes up for bad pacing. ** 1/4.

-Jim Cornette interview, excellent of course, with Bulldog and Owen standing around. He reveals that Owen will manage Bulldog tonight, and brandishes a one-night-only South Carolina manager's license.

And due to power failure we go right to…

2. Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) VS. The British Bulldog (w/ his wife, Clarence Mason and Owen Hart) Endless Mason promo before the match goes nowhere, and is basically there to let Shawn tear up some documents for a pop. Shawn counters power with speed and blitzes Bulldog to start with armdrags and such. Bulldog avoids the superkick by rolling to the outside, but Michaels follows him out with a pescado. Bulldog stalls. Back in and Shawn with a l o n g h e a d l o c k. Really, it's like five minutes long. Short back and forth sequence gives HBK a lucha-style rollup for 2, than an Owenzuigiri for 2. Arm-bar leads to a Michaels hip toss, and thence to a short arm scissors. The psychology is that Shawn works the arm to nullify the strength differential, a good idea they would improve upon the next month. Bulldog picks Shawn up while still in the hold, Kane-style, and backdrops him. He hits another backdrop and wanders around. The pace here is glacial. Bulldog hits a hair assisted slam, and poses for the crowd. Chinlock. Nothing is happening here, as neither guy wants to put any effort into this dead show. Over shoulder back breaker hold from the Bulldog. Shawn breaks and tries a crucifix hold, but gets caught with a Samoan drop. Leg drop gets 2 and now…the chinlock…. This whole match is meaningless restholds punctuated with just enough athleticism to keep the crowd from not completely nodding off. Michaels breaks and runs the ropes, but trips and sprawls to the outside. Bulldog sends him to the rail and goes back inside to do…nothing. Shawn finally gets back in and makes a comeback with a guillotine and a slingshot lariat. Irish whip, double headbutt, double knockout. Notice all the spots in which no one actually has to, y'know, move? Shawn is up first and hits the trademark forearm, then kips up. Bodyslam, stomp, double axehandle nets 2. Hebner is bounced to the outside on an Irish whip, and Shawn hits the Savage elbow to set up chin music, which actually hits on the interfering Owen Hart. Bulldog takes over on the distraction, but Shawn escapes the powerslam and hits a German suplex for a three count… by Hebner and a second referee simultaneously. Yes, the old double pin finish; Shawn retains on a draw at 16:56. Nothing match dominated by both men's desire to do as little as possible given the circumstances, saved partially by their natural talent. **1/2. For what it's worth, I've read at one point or another that they were actually instructed to go easy from the back since the show was dead anyway, then told to speed up, then told to slow down again, so the quality of this may not all be their fault.

-Back we go to JR and Mr. P for the live portion.

3. Steve Austin (w/The Million Dollar Man) VS. Savio Vega They show clips of Austin losing in the dark on Sunday, then of Dibiase making this match for his WWF career on Monday. If Vega loses, he's Dibiase's chauffer. This is a "touch the turnbuckles" style strap match. Austin won't let Savio in to start, swinging the strap at him over the ropes. They finally get the strap on in the ring, and Austin bails to avoid a strapping; back in and he dominates Savio with punchy-kicky, but gets backdropped and bails again. Savio uses the strap to pull Austin into the side of the ring, and then follows him out. Back in, and Austin takes a strapping. He bails a third time, but Savio pulls him back with the strap and suplexes him in. Strong spinkick and Savio starts touching turnbuckles, until Austin pulls him back and starts strapping. A scrum sends them to the outside where Austin takes over. He hits a stungun on the railing, then pulls Savio back to the ring and chokes him over the top with the strap. Suplex outside in, and Austin gets 2 turnbuckles. Vega pulls him around the ring, and headfirst into a turnbuckle. Strapline from Savio, but Austin backdrops him out and gets caught by the strap and pulled out over the top himself. Savio with the suplex on the floor and some strapation, brother. Inside the ring Savio gets 3 turnbuckles before Austin stops him and whips Savio with the strap. Savio comes back with his own strapping, puts Austin on top, and eventually hits the superplex. Dibiase pitches a fit outside. Savio gets 2 off that, but Austin spears him away from a third. Goldberg *was* a rip off! Or not! Savio placed on the second rope and Austin hits the running leap onto his back. Strap chocking. 2 buckles for Austin, and he goes for a tombstone which is reversed twice, with Savio spilling over the top on the last reversal. Austin goes up top and chokes Savio with the strap. Austin gets yanked off the top all the way to the outside and takes an ugly bump outside. Savio yanks him into the stairs. He piggy backs Austin and gets 3 before Austin pulls him back, inches away from the fourth. Austin with a piledriver. Dibiase tells him "one more", at which point Savio backdrops out. Million dollar dream from Austin, but Savio gets 2 buckles even while in the maneuver, before doing the Bret Hart climb-the-wall counter. Austin stun guns Savio off a turnbuckle and gets 3, but Savio is following behind him touching turnbuckles as he goes. They struggle with the strap over the final turnbuckle, and Savio releases the pressure and is catapulted over Austin into the fourth and final turnbuckle for the win, and a big pop, at 21:23. Pretty good match, ***. Hard bumping, constant use of the strap to put over the stip, heat, and a strong back-and-forth flow combine with good work to produce a nifty little match. Savio sings the goodbye song afterwards, sending Dibiase off to WCW to play human furniture behind Hall and Nash for a few months.

4. Vader (w/ Jim Cornette) VS. Yokozuna Do you like sumo? Hope so. This is of course a runoff of Jim Ross' two favorite pre-Mark Henry fat farm candidates, and Yoko looks like a small planet with arms at this point. He attacks before the bell, and WE BE CLUBBERIN'! I always liked Dusty on commentary; he was always excited about things and seemed happy to be there. Can't beat that. We get the setup for the inevitable sumo vs. football fat men running at each other spot, but Vader backs out and poses, 'cause he's a cowardly heel; GET IT!?. They set up again, and Vader backs off again. Third time's the charm as Yokes uses his grotesque flab to bull Vader down and over the top with a lariat. Back in, punching. Yoko gets the single leg (!) and drops an elbow on the knee. Vader bails. Back in for punching, another single leg, another elbow to the knee. Punches and chops in the corner. Vader can't slam the big(er) man, and Yoko hits a uranage and a splat in the corner. Samoan drop, and Yoko catches Cornette interfering and brings him in for Wacky Hijinx. He goes for the banzai drop on Corny, but Vader breaks it up, splashes the knee, and hits the Vader bomb for the win at 8: 54. ½ *. Nothing offensive, and they both tried.

-King Of The Ring promo

5. Goldust (w/Marlena) VS. The Undertaker This is a casket match, the last one before the stip was revived for the Michaels/Undertaker match at Royal Rumble '98. Not much of a main event. Goldust does his entrance, then the lights go out for the ooh-scary Undertaker. When they come up, he's already in the ring behind Dustin. Soupbone! Goldie bails to the outside and tricks UT into following, and Goldust gets the stomp as Taker follows him back in, but he puts his head down on a whip and gets choke-chucked. Taker goes into an energetic version of his 1996 offense, pre Mankind: hard whips, punches, elbows, and he dumps Goldust over the top onto the casket, and follows him out. Back inside, big legdrop, ROPEWALK. I always think that's cool. More methodical offense from UT, but not in a bad way. UT puts his head down on a whip, but they blow the uppercut reversal and Goldust has to get a quick gut punch to set up a tombstone. Yeah, he actually hits it on UT; other than Kane, he may be the only guy ever to do that. He starts to get his generic offense rolling, the same stuff he's been doing for years, but he rolls UT into the casket early and that triggers the reversal as UT beats the crap out of him some more, before getting backdropped out. Goldust starts the of-necessity cheap offense with some choking using a television cord. Back inside and more generic offense from both guys with punches and sleepers, etc. This has no flow to speak of, and it's been mostly an unmitigated squash for UT. Goldie rolls UT into the casket, but UT holds the lid open and escapes. Inside, big leaping clothesline from Taker and he dumps Dustin outside. Goldust gets a lariat in, and a powerslam back in the ring. He tries something off the top that turns into a lariat, and he actually hits it, albeit looking like a crippled 747 going down in the Atlantic in the process. He makes the cover for a self-counted 3, but, obviously, that means nothing. He goes for his own ropewalk, but gets chucked by the wrist halfway across the ring. Neato. Tombstone kills him deader then dead, but as UT opens the casket, Heeeere's Foley! Mick chokes him out with the mandible claw, puts him in the casket, and that's a win for Goldust at 12:48. The casket smokes, and when it's opened UT is gone. A not bad, but utterly generic brawl carried by UT. Not much flow, one blown spot, but the work was hard. Decent stuff here gets **. It's also, sadly, a Kevin-Nash level example of how not to put a guy over; Taker simply killed Goldust for the vast majority of the match, turning him into the Daryl of this PPV ("Taker's bitch!").

Bottom line here is that the show is utterly pointless. Michaels vs. the Bulldog was a nothing feud cooked up by the WWF basically to kill time and give Michaels someone he could beat, and in the hope that his presence on PPV alone could draw ratings. Austin and Savio was okay, Vader and Yoko was a counterproductive waste of Vader, and UT/Goldust was a joke put on to further another feud. The best ongoing story at this point, in terms of believability and match quality, might have even been HHH/Mero. Don't watch this show; it's probably the worst of 1996, or at the very least the least consequential.

Next up: King Of The Ring, as the WWF gets it Right, big time

Brendan Welsh-Balliett
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