In the spring of 1995, the World Wrestling Federation introduced In Your House. Originally intended as a way to deliver content during certain months, In Your House offered PPVs at reduced prices. The months that didn’t feature King of the Ring, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble or WrestleMania would not be left out in the cold. In Your House events ran from 1995 to 1999, and not a single announcement was made regarding new events until just recently.
This past Wednesday, on NXT, it was made official that In Your House would make its return as a TakeOver event. Not only does this serve as a callback for long-time wrestling fans, but it’s a suitable title given how most people are stuck at home during the current COVID-19 pandemic. NXT TakeOver: In Your House will take place on June 7. Before then, it’s worth looking back at the legendary matches within the In Your House chronology.
The following matches are considered legendary for different reasons. Some are considered mat classics, able to be remembered based purely on in-ring work alone. Others are remembered for being master classes in professional wrestling narrative. Regardless, these are some of the most important matches that In Your House offered.
Mankind vs. The Big Show
(Backlash: In Your House – April 25, 1999)
Though this match won’t be remembered for its technical acumen, the Boiler Room Brawl between Mankind and The Big Show is an interesting piece of wrestling history. There have only been four Boiler Room Brawls in WWE. If anyone could be trusted with this style of match, it would be Mick Foley, who worked each one. Granted, this brawl wasn’t as memorable as the one Mankind had with The Undertaker two years prior. However, this is worth checking out and the fact that it took place during the final event under the In Your House banner, at that point, makes it that much more historically important.
The British Bulldog vs. Bret Hart
(In Your House 5: Seasons Beatings – December 17, 1995)
When discussing the best In Your House events, Seasons Beatings is unlikely to make many lists. However, even the most unremarkable of events have their high spots; for the fifth In Your House event, it would be Bret Hart defending the WWF Championship against The British Bulldog. More than three years removed from their epic SummerSlam encounter in Wembley Stadium, these two met in another title encounter that was arguably just as good. This match also featured a fair amount of bloodshed on Hart’s end, which the crowd chanting “ECW” ate up. For fans looking for more classics within the extensive Hart family, give this a watch.
Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel
(In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies – April 28, 1996)
Given the past that Shawn Michaels and Diesel shared, the slogan for the seventh In Your House event couldn’t be more apropos. In this match, the “Heartbreak Kid” wrestled an uphill battle, as he put on a great underdog performance against the larger, more powerful “Big Daddy Cool.” Keep in mind that this match occurred during a time when Diesel pushed the boundaries of his character, even taunting Vince McMahon from time to time. Diesel was relentless in this encounter, as he not only powerbombed Michaels through a table but pulled off Mad Dog Vachon‘s prosthetic leg to use as a weapon. If there’s any match that perfectly encapsulates the greatness of a little man versus big man encounter, it would be this.
Diesel vs. Bret Hart
(In Your House 6: Rage in a Cage – February 18, 1996)
Though business might have been in a lull in 1996, it was arguably Kevin Nash‘s greatest year from an in-ring perspective. In addition to the aforementioned match with Michaels, he wrestled WWF Champion Bret Hart two months prior at the sixth In Your House event. Hart fought from underneath in this match, attempting to develop momentum, only to be cut off by his larger adversary. In fact, if it weren’t for interference by a certain superstar that he’d enter a program with, Diesel’s attempt to become WWF Champion would have been an easier endeavor. Nonetheless, between the story told in this match and the aforementioned interference, this is yet another In Your House classic to check out.
Mankind vs. Shawn Michaels
(In Your House 10: Mind Games – September 22, 1996)
From Diesel to Owen Hart to The Undertaker – we’ll get to the latter soon – Shawn Michaels worked several In Your House classics. At Mind Games, the WWF Champion would have one of his most challenging encounters in the form of Mankind. The demented demeanor of Mankind was unlike anything the “Heartbreak Kid” experienced, but this didn’t make the match any less exciting. Michaels would have to fight dirty as well, utilizing such weapons as steel chairs to his advantage. Keep in mind that the company was still about a year away from fully realizing the Attitude Era. This match went on to become the runner-up for Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Match of the Year.” By the end, it’s plain to see why it earned this distinction.
Mankind vs. The Rock
(St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House – February 14, 1999)
The rivalry between Mankind and WWF Champion The Rock was nothing short of a contrast. While the champion was an affluent, charismatic loudmouth, his challenger was the endearing everyman that fans vicariously lived through. Their showdown at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, in a Last Man Standing Match, stands as one of the greatest chapters of said rivalry. Mankind took considerable punishment during this match, even having steel steps thrown in his direction. Both men took so much punishment that it resulted in an ending that would have been frowned upon if this were the main event. Even so, this is a memorable encounter in an already memorable feud.
The Undertaker vs. Mankind
(In Your House: Buried Alive – October 20, 1996)
The objective of a Buried Alive Match is simple: throw the opponent into a grave and fill it to the brim with dirt. This match concept was introduced at the aptly named In Your House event in 1996 and has been used sporadically over the years. However, the original may be the most memorable. At this point, The Undertaker met perhaps his greatest challenge in the form of Mankind, who has been successful at inflicting pain on the seemingly immovable “Deadman.” The ending segment of this match, in particular, is etched in the minds of long-time wrestling fans. The dramatic nature of the segment in question, in addition to the brutality of the Buried Alive Match itself, is worth revisiting or experiencing for the first time.
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker vs. Vader
(In Your House 13: Final Four – February 16, 1997)
By this time in the World Wrestling Federation, the Attitude Era was starting to take shape. While “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was rising in popularity, fans were becoming less warmly receptive toward Bret Hart. Throw in the brutal nature of Vader and it’s surprising that The Undertaker would become the clearest babyface in this match. This four-way match for the vacant WWF Championship stands as one of the most memorable clashes in the In Your House legacy. This match was violent, featuring a brawl between Austin and Hart, in addition to Vader bleeding profusely. Much like Seasons Beatings, Final Four is validated by this one match. Needless to say, it’s worth checking out.
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
(Badd Blood: In Your House – October 5, 1997)
As the first Hell in a Cell match in the World Wrestling Federation, this had high expectations. In retrospect, they were exceeded. The prize of this match was huge: Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker competed for number one contendership for the WWF Championship. What fans would remember, however, is the conclusion. The Undertaker is the character with the most lore in company history and when he was approached by a demon from his past, it shocked and awed viewers around the world. Fans remember the lights going red and the “Deadman” standing in stunned amazement, unable to truly comprehend what he was seeing. Though future Hell in a Cell matches would build upon the foundation, the original may very well be the most integral to wrestling history.
Goldust, Ken Shamrock, The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk and Road Warrior Animal) and Steve Austin vs. The Hart Foundation (Brian Pillman, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, The British Bulldog, Owen Hart and Bret Hart)
(In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede – July 6, 1997)
The Hart Foundation was one of the most unique anomalies in the World Wrestling Federation. While Bret Hart and his teammates were reviled in the United States, they were beloved in Canada and abroad. At Canadian Stampede, the sixteenth In Your House event, they were treated like heroes in Calgary. To see them being cheered over the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was wild, to say the least, but the match itself can’t be ignored. Instead of attempting to craft their own narrative, the WWF leaned into The Hart Foundation’s popularity in Canada, presenting them as indisputable fan favorites. It stands as the main event in what was awarded Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s “Best Major Show” of 1997. The conclusion of the event was heartwarming, as the Hart family flooded the ring to celebrate with the victors.
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