In Your House was to be a supplementary pay per view, offered at a reduced price, and would fill in the gaps between the five tentpole events. Running only two hours in length (for a while, anyway), In Your House was functionally Saturday Night's Main Event, only airing Sundays in prime time, with a $14.95 price tag. And with less commercials for Michelob.
The In Your House events were a mixed bag - some were highly enjoyable, while others rank among the worst pay per views that WWE has ever produced. A good number of them were "one match shows" in which Bret Hart and/or Shawn Michaels saved from being a total loss. It does speak volumes that in 2013, WWE released a DVD of the best matches from the event, and it was a rather impressive set.
In Your House began on Mother's Day 1995. Let's spend the Monday after this year's Mother's Day weekend looking back at all 28 of those events, going from worst to best. It's what mom would want.
28. In Your House 4 (22 October 1995)
Several sources have claimed that once the abominably-slow main event pitting Diesel against Davey Boy Smith came to an end, Vince McMahon slammed down his headset and rasped, "Horrible!" It was close to 11 months into the World Championship reign of Diesel, and the product wasn't exactly where McMahon wanted them to be. When Jim Cornette actually drew a positive reaction for striking Diesel's leg, it was a bad sign.
The fourth In Your House was doomed long before Diesel and Smith's cure for insomnia, in part due to the abdication of the IC title by Shawn Michaels as a result of the "Syracuse incident". The subsequent match between new champion Dean Douglas and Razor Ramon was clunky and noticeably awkward. Those two title bouts following a five-minute trudge between Yokozuna and Mabel, which ended in a maddening double-count out. Essentially, In Your House 4 was Backlash 2018, at half the length.
27. D-Generation X (7 December 1997)
There was plenty of uncertainty in the air following Survivor Series, an odd sense of uneasy bleakness in the wake of how Bret Hart was drummed out of the promotion. Few might have guessed that a drastic turnaround was growing imminent. The head of that turnaround, Stone Cold Steve Austin, made good in his brief appearance on this show, driving a pickup truck into the arena and assaulting the Nation of Domination, enthralling the crowd in his victory over The Rock.
But the rest of the show...oof. Whether it was Ken Shamrock loudly calling spots in the main event (Even Cena would be like, "dude, whisper"), Goldust reading Green Eggs and Ham, Butterbean and Marc Mero, uh, fighting, or Sgt. Slaughter wheezing his way through a Boot Camp match, this was a C-show masquerading as a B-show. And even calling it a C-show is generous.
26. Rock Bottom (13 December 1998)
Can't say the name wasn't accurate. In the Attitude Era, shows can be arbitrarily graded however you like, but it's important to consider the entertainment factor. Rarely do you find three or four great matches on such a show, but even a two-match show with plenty of energy and liveliness can hold up. Sadly, Rock Bottom had only one good match (The Rock vs. Mankind), and even that was marred by a crap finish.
The main event pitted Steve Austin against The Undertaker in a Buried Alive match, and to put it mildly, both have had better outings. Prior to that double-main event, there was nothing in the undercard to inspire one to screen this show, as those six matches ranged from passable (Steve Blackman vs. Owen Hart with a countout finish) to atrocious (The Headbangers vs. Golga and Kurrgan). Mostly, Rock Bottom was the definition of "throwaway show".
25. No Way Out (15 February 1998)
Sometimes events like the Elimination Chamber or Survivor Series make for risky propositions, especially if your roster's on the lean side. You run the risk of cramming too many quality guys into one match, leaving a dearth of talent for the rest of the show. That happened at No Way Out, when almost everyone that was anyone was packed into an eight-man main event.
Granted, the eight-man was a ton of chaotic fun (flying trash can to Billy Gunn's face!), even if injured Shawn Michaels was underwhelmingly replaced by Savio Vega. As for the rest of the show, well, aside from Vader getting clocked with a giant wrench by Kane, as well as The Rock's antics, you didn't miss a thing. If you missed The Godwinns vs. The Quebecers and Bradshaw vs. Jeff Jarrett, you're a better person for it.
24. In Your House (14 May 1995)
To all things, a horrendous beginning. Actually, that statement does not apply to the show itself - Bret Hart and Hakushi stole the show with a killer opener that only showed what a phenom Hakushi truly was. The following match, in which Razor Ramon toppled Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie in a handicap match, was enjoyable in its own right.
After that, it was all downhill. Mabel downed Adam Bomb in a King of the Ring qualifying match that lasted two minutes and may have been a minute too long. Diesel and Psycho Sid's WWE Championship main event was just like any other match the two had with each other, which is to say sluggish and graceless. Not the worst of shows, but an overall dismaying start to the event's chronology.
23. St. Valentine's Day Massacre (14 February 1999)
If your cable was out for the first 90 minutes or so of this event, and you tuned in for the remainder, you might have thought, "Man, that was a fun show! I can't wait to see the rest of it!" And then you'd borrow the copy of the show that your buddy taped, and you'd watch the rest, then spend hours afterwards going through the stages of borrower's remorse.
The first five matches of the eight-match card existed within a very narrow range, between "awful" and "below-average", with the "peak" being a 15-minute IC title match pitting Ken Shamrock against Val Venis, which really isn't saying much. Things more than picked up for Rock and Mankind's Last Man Standing match, and the wildly-entertaining Austin/McMahon steel cage fracas, but before then, the show was WCW 1999-bad.
22. Fully Loaded (26 July 1998)
Fully Loaded suffered from much of the same issues noted in the aforementioned entry, in that the undercard was extremely bland and unfulfilling. These were the days before Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boyz, The Radicalz, and others could help fill out the body of a PPV with quality performances prior to the truly-anticipated bouts (which is why 2000-01 had so many wonderful pay per views).
Sure, Austin, Undertaker, Rock, and others delivered in their matches, but Mark Henry vs. Vader? Faarooq and 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Bradshaw and Terry Funk? DOA vs. LOD 2000? The WWF of the Attitude Era was carried by its biggest stars, which is to say that the midcard existed as little more than just filler. Outside of the novel Owen Hart/Ken Shamrock "Dungeon Match", everything else before the main events were just "there".
21. International Incident (21 July 1996)
As stated in the intro, In Your Houses were meant to be supplementary cards, filling in the cracks between the more-important Big Five fare. As such, it's normal to look back at one of the earlier In Your Houses and see it as nothing more than productive establishment and filler, hence the thriftier price tag. Such was the case of International Incident, which had a great main event, and little else.
It was Vader, Owen Hart, and Davey Boy Smith that defeated Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, and Psycho Sid in a high-quality main event that came close to justifying the event's value. Besides that match, and a Steve Austin-Marc Mero encounter that didn't quite equal their King of the Ring showing, the other half of the card doesn't hold up, especially as fans cared so little about the Smoking Gunns-Bodydonnas opener.
20. A Cold Day in Hell (11 May 1997)
Here's a Cultaholic drinking game for you: take a sip every time I describe an In Your House in which a lackluster undercard is bailed out by one or two quality bouts at the end of the show. A Cold Day in Hell marked the first time since This Tuesday in Texas that a WWE pay per view came so quickly after the previous one, three weeks separating this one from the April In Your House.
Steve Austin's first one-on-one championship match on a WWE pay per view went well, as fans bought him as a worthy challenger against The Undertaker. Ken Shamrock and Vader's ultra-stiff fight to the near-death was a slice of something very different than the anodyne WWF product of the time. Aside from that, there's just not much there, even if future players Triple H and Mankind were given emphatic victories.
19. Revenge Of The Taker (20 April 1997)
For the first time ever, Stone Cold Steve Austin would main event a pay per view in a one-on-one match. Austin turned face one month earlier as a result of his courageous performance at WrestleMania 13, and the company was going to see just how much gas was in the Stone Cold tank. Turned out, there was more than plenty.
Austin's DQ victory over Bret Hart combined with Undertaker's successful WWF Championship defence over Mankind was enough to salvage what would've been a dreadful pay per view without those performances. The reveal of "Rockabilly" in a loss to future partner Jesse James shoulders some blame for said dreadfulness, as well as the continued failure of Rocky Maivia, babyface superstar. As has been clear with prior entries, the main event was rock solid, but the undercard needed more sorting out.
18. Judgment Day (18 October 1998)
On the whole, Judgment Day seemed like one of the most thrown-together pay per views to come out of WWE's creative conscious, a strange mix of storied feuds and filler matches that felt like an earnest attempt to get everyone involved. More streamlined events would not have had Al Snow vs. Marc Mero, or Christian winning the Light Heavyweight title from TAKA Michinoku in his first-ever televised match, for instance.
If not for the angle in which Steve Austin was fired at the end of the night (which lasted for 24 hours before he, you know, threatened Vince with a gun), Judgment Day wouldn't have exactly been a memorable card. There were entertaining title matches (X-Pac vs. D-Lo Brown for the European title, Shamrock vs. Mankind for the Intercontinental), but not a whole lot that takes up space in the memory bank.
17. Breakdown (27 September 1998)
Judgment Day: The Prequel. Put out two or three matches that feature the top stars of the show in memorable, meaningful matches, and then fill the rest of the card with thrown-together midcard bouts and voila, you have a product to sell. The undercard oddities consist of Owen Hart vs. Edge (which gave us the debut of Christian), Bradshaw vs. Vader in a falls count anywhere match, and Too Much against Al Snow and Scorpio, all of which were solid on their own merits.
But again, this was all about the two big matches. This was the night where Austin was robbed of the WWF Championship after being pinned by both Undertaker and Kane in a Triple Threat match ("YOU DON'T HAVE IT ANYMORE! IT'S MINE!" rasped Vince), which set up an autumn's worth of story twists. But on a happier night, this was also the occasion where Rock sent the crowd inside Copps Coliseum into a frenzy with the first-ever Double People's Elbow onto Ken Shamrock and Mankind, in a damn good cage match to boot.
16. Unforgiven (26 April 1998)
Four of the seven matches on the card were either a direct rematch from WrestleMania 14, or some modified version of one, thus beginning the time-honoured tradition of using the post-Mania pay per view to mine more gold out of the marquee event. The Triple H/Owen Hart and Undertaker/Kane redos (the latter of which was the first ever Inferno match) helped put Unforgiven a cut above most of the secondary fare.
What puts Unforgiven in a bit of higher standing was the main event, the first-ever pay per view title defence by WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, taking on the McMahon-aligned Dude Love. Although the two would have a better match later on (more on that entries from now), this was an excellent bout of its own accord, mixing Austin's popular brawling style with the genuine intrigue surrounding the Austin/McMahon rivalry. It was a formula that would be mined for some time to come.
15. In Your House 5 (17 December 1995)
We've reached the portion of the list in which each entry has either one genuine match-of-the-year candidate, or was otherwise a high-quality show. In this case, the fifth In Your House is true in the sense of the former, as Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith did everything in their power to match the intensity of their SummerSlam 1992 classic, in front of a crowd one-tenth the size of the one in Wembley.
The blood-stained struggle for Hart's WWF Championship was match of the night by several country miles, but the undercard had a bit of weight to it. Razor Ramon and Marty Jannetty's victory over Psycho Sid and the 123 Kid was a fine opener, while Hunter Hearst Helmsley's Hog Pen win over Henry Godwinn overachieved to a fair degree. Even Undertaker's casket match victory over King Mabel, in its abbreviated form, electrified the crowd.
14. It's Time (15 December 1996)
Not much in the way of a truly memorable match, but it was one of the rare In Your Houses where nothing was terrible. Maybe the worst match was Undertaker and The Executioner's "Armageddon Rules" match, but at least that had some stimulating scene changes that would become standard in the Hardcore division of the nearing future. As far as mindless pre-Christmas shows go, it was fine.
The event is also notable for the most productive match that the faux Diesel and Razor Ramon ever took part in, losing a quality Tag Team title bout to Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith. Also of note was the continued friction between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, continuing in the ending of the Hart/Psycho Sid WWF Championship bout. It's definitely not a chore to sit through, which is high praise compared to other shows of the time.
13. In Your House 3 (24 September 1995)
By this time, the Monday Night Wars were underway, and WCW was emboldened through the early wins (and the signing away of Lex Luger). Over in WWF, it just felt like more of the same, which wasn't a great thing in the doldrums of 1995. While the overall product felt like it was lumbering through some technicolour abyss, it did produce some sneaky-good shows, such as this one.
Bret Hart and Jean-Pierre Lafitte's hard-hitting, bump-filled showcase was easily the best match of the show, and could well be the best match ever for Pierre who today has found a resurgence on the indies as Pierre Carl Oulette (or PCO). The "Triple Header" main event with all the belts on the line was sadly undone by screwy booking but was still an enjoyable closer. Even Razor Ramon and Dean Douglas managed to play nicely on this night.
12. Badd Blood (5 October 1997)
It was mere hours before show time that WWF officials were made aware of the fact that Brian Pillman had been found dead in a hotel room in Bloomington, MN. The company carried on with the night's events, reconfiguring the event to remove the involvement of Dude Love and Goldust, who were each set to work with Pillman that night. Hart Foundation members took part in two different matches (including Owen defeating Faarooq to win the vacant IC belt), and understandably, neither was particularly spirited.
The event is just as well-known for its main event, the first ever Hell in a Cell match in which a blood-caked Shawn Michaels barely eked out a win over The Undertaker. What might be the greatest Cell match ever (one of only five main-roster WWE matches to earn five stars from Dave Meltzer) was augmented by what may be the greatest debut ever, as Kane was finally unleashed upon his own horrified brother. Overall, Badd Blood was a weird show for obvious reasons, but the main event is simply legendary.
11. Mind Games (22 September 1996)
Just another case where the main event bailed out an uninspiring undercard (Read: "DRINK!"). You know a Mick Foley match was truly special when he later writes that he felt it was his greatest match ever, and his bruising battle with Shawn Michaels was certainly one to be proud of. In front of his old Philly faithful, Mankind and Michaels alternated between skilful wrestling, visually-awing stunts that looked dangerous, and nearly beating each other into oblivion.
Elsewhere on the card...well, let's just say nothing else really compared. The Tag Team title bout in which Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith defeated the Smoking Gunns was fine, as was Savio Vega's strap match with Bradshaw. That latter bout was notable for the intrusion of ECW rowdies, as The Sandman (from the front row) spewed beer all over Vega, while Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer, and a litany of ECW fans watched on happily.
10. Ground Zero (7 September 1997)
The first In Your House to be presented in three-hour form did its best to make good use of that length of time, but it still wasn't a particularly great show. The absence of Steve Austin due to injury didn't help, even if he did get to stun Jim Ross during the Tag Team title abdication segment. Even without a match, Austin was clearly the biggest star on the show.
Even without a finish, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker's boundless brawl was enough to be the clear match of the night. Bret Hart's successful WWF Title defence against The Patriot is a lesser-heralded but altogether solid bout that's unfortunately lost to history. Ground Zero was fine, but wasn't even the best pay per view that WWF produced that month - One Night Only would lap its American counterpart several times over.
9. Good Friends, Better Enemies (28 April 1996)
Farewell to The Kliq as we knew them. Counting a pre-show match in which The 123 Kid lost to Marc Mero, this would be final WWE pay per view appearances for Kid for two years, and Razor Ramon and Diesel for six. The two Outsiders each went out with a very good match in Ramon's case, and for Diesel, one that may have been the best of his career.
The Ramon/Vader match probably would've been the second best match for most events on this list and would've been second best at this year's Backlash. As for Diesel's loss to new WWF Champion Shawn Michaels in a brutal, hate-filled no-holds-barred match, that would've trumped Seth Rollins and The Miz by a comfortable margin. If you can get past Ultimate Warrior and Goldust's alleged "match", then you've got a pretty nifty two-hour show here.
8. Over the Edge (31 May 1998)
The main event was both a blessing and a curse. It was the first time that WWE ever attempted the "crooked guest referee that tries to screw over the champion" gimmick when Vince McMahon presided over Stone Cold's WWF Championship defence against Dude Love, and in a word, it was phenomenal. The potent blend of multi-faceted drama, comedy, and brutality was utter perfection and has never been equalled in similar bouts since then. Shame, because it's spawned a million crappy impostors.
It's true that the rest of the card didn't have a whole lot to write home about, outside of a decent DX-Nation six-man tag, and a fast-paced handicap match that pitted Kaientai against the oddball duo of Bradshaw and TAKA Michinoku. What helped aid the show was an absolutely-nuclear crowd in Milwaukee, especially for the main event when every spike in action nearly caused tremors. Nobody was looking to "beat the traffic" that night.
7. In Your House 2 (23 July 1995)
Some would call this a one-match show, which is a bit of an unfair statement. Granted, the most-remembered match of the evening saw Shawn Michaels defeat Jeff Jarrett to win the Intercontinental belt for the third and final time. It was yet another Michaels classic, this time augmented by Jarrett's well-honed villainy and timing. It was the clear match of the night, but it was far from the only good one.
Future DX teammates The Roadie and The 123 Kid delivered an enjoyable seven-minute opener, in addition to some solid midcard tag team bouts in Men on a Mission vs. Razor Ramon and Savio Vega, and The Allied Powers vs. Owen Hart and Yokozuna. Yes, there's another snoozer of a main event between Diesel and Psycho Sid, but on the whole, the second In Your House far surpassed the quality of the first.
6. In Your House 6 (18 February 1996)
Out of 10 wrestlers on the main pay per view card, all five Kliq members had a match, as did three Hart family members. The exceptions were Yokozuna and Duke "The Dumpster" Droese. The best match of the evening was one that pitted Kliq vs. Harts, when Shawn Michaels retained his WrestleMania championship match by defeating Owen Hart in a true thriller, which called back to the infamous concussion storyline.
Razor Ramon and a now-heel 123 Kid squared off in an entertaining "Crybaby" match, in what would be, for both men, among their final major appearances with the company before leaving for WCW. The Bret Hart/Diesel steel cage main event wasn't the best match that the two had with one another, but it proved to be a serviceable finish, especially with the decidedly-unorthodox finish. As a WrestleMania XII hype program, this show hit its mark.
5. Backlash (25 April 1999)
The final event under the long-since-yellowed In Your House header was coming off of a mostly-poor WrestleMania, so massive 'Mania buyrate aside, there was nowhere to go but up. In fact, Backlash was considerably better than WrestleMania XV, in large part because Sable didn't wrestle Tori, and there were no ungodly-slow Hell in a Cell matches. And Mankind vs. Big Show was about three times better than their drab 'Mania match, so there's that as well.
Some would even say that Steve Austin and The Rock's WWF Championship rematch surpassed their WrestleMania outing, though both were the best bouts of their respective cards, anyhow. Triple H's return to playing a heel kicked off with a quality match against former ally X-Pac. In all, Backlash was 'Mania 15 with better matches, and most of the BS messily excised. There wasn't much of a funeral for the In Your House name, but at least it went out with an underappreciated bang.
4. Buried Alive (20 October 1996)
Imagine a show that begins with Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H, and ends with The Undertaker vs. Mick Foley. A good year before "Attitude" became a lucrative ad campaign, the flagbearers of that eventual era were pulling the weight of an above-average B-show, one that ended with a rather unique gimmick match.
The first-ever "Buried Alive" match pitted enemies Undertaker and Mankind in the sort of bone-crunching, skull-smashing brawl that the two had been engaging in since the spring, and there really hasn't been a match of its sort that's been as great since. Austin and Helmsley didn't exactly occur at either man's career zenith, but it's a fine technically-based battle between two sworn heels. It's another one of those shows where none of the matches suck and it even comes with Vince McMahon and Jim Ross making catty comments at each other all night. Fun stuff.
3. Final Four (16 February 1997)
About 72 hours after Shawn Michaels declared his smile "missing", his abeyance'd WWF World Heavyweight Championship was put up in a four-way match that was originally meant to determine the number one contender for WrestleMania. Belt or no belt, the battle royal-style match pitting Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, and Vader more than made up for the sudden uncertainty surrounding WrestleMania.
Beneath that Four Corners match, you had an action-packed Tag Team title bout pitting Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith against the oft-forgotten duo (in terms of their WWF run, anyway) of Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon, which crammed in tons of wild athleticism in under 10 minutes. The event is also notable for the debut of Chyna, as she choked Marlena during a skirmish between Goldust and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Random fact: for 24 hours after the show, the two singles champions were Bret Hart and a young Rock, the only stretch in which both men held WWE gold simultaneously.
2. Beware of Dog (26 & 28 May 1996)
You know that In Your House hasn't exactly had a stellar catalogue of events when the second-best event under the show's banner was compromised by a powerful storm. Shortly after Marc Mero defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a solid opener, a thunderstorm knocked out the power to the show, and the next three matches were held in near-darkness. Electricity was restored in time for the main event, a Shawn Michaels/British Bulldog championship bout that was a bit lacklustre compared to their usual standards.
The three matches that were blacked out would be redone two nights later, and edited into a replay broadcast. Good thing, because we were given a Steve Austin/Savio Vega strap match that was as enthrallingly-brutal as a WWF match could be in 1996. An underrated match saw Undertaker unsuccessfully challenge for the Intercontinental belt, losing to Goldust in a casket match after Mankind got involved. When spliced together, the action from both nights made for one helluva show.
1. Canadian Stampede (6 July 1997)
With all due respect to Beware of Dog, the distance between that event and Canadian Stampede is borderline astronomical. Beware of Dog is a solid B or B- show, while Canadian Stampede is a firm A+, one of the 10 or 15 best events that WWE has ever produced. Only four matches took place on the Calgary pay-per-view, and all of them were of top quality.
The "worst" match was The Undertaker and Vader's WWF Title bout, which would have been match of the night for any show on the bottom half of this list. Mankind and Hunter Hearst Helmsley's match may have been a double-countout, but it was a frenzied brawl while it lasted (and even after). The Great Sasuke and TAKA Michinoku stunned onlookers with their respective debuts, matching what Rey Mysterio and others were doing in WCW. But all paled to the main event, as The Hart Foundation valiantly fought off Steve Austin's Team USA contingent in one of the greatest "audience matches" of all time, a heated fracas that deserves five stars on raw emotion and energy alone. If you've never seen this show, what are you waiting for?