The pay-per-view opened up with a promo about villains in masks (aka Mankind and Vader) and the heroes that fight them (Michaels and Undertaker). It described Michaels as a "gallant hero" and Undertaker in the role of David vs. Goliath. We're not even 30 seconds in and already the mind boggles.
The video ends but the voiceover continues to tell us that tonight is coming from "beautiful historic Cleveland, Ohio". Using the word 'beautiful' to describe Cleveland may be the biggest lie ever told on a wrestling PPV and there have been some whoppers. I guess Cleveland was attempting some revitalization at the time because entering the arena Vince calls it the 'New American City' and continouisly referred to the 'beautiful' Gund Arena.
Match 1; Savio Vega vs. Owen Hart
Winner: Owen Hart via ref stoppage
The 'Slammy Award winning' Owen Hart came down to the ring with his cast over his supposedly broken wrist and Slammy Award in hand. Vega had a pre match discussion with the ref about the cast, which pretty much telegraphed the finish. Vega started the match working on the arm, much to the chagrin of Curt Hennig (damn he was great as a heel commentator). They had a split screen during the match showing Corrnette in the back training Vader, teasing dissension within Camp Cornette, as he was not ringside to support Owen. There was a lot of talk about Bret during the match and how much better a person he was than Owen. Clarence Mason, the legal counsel for Camp Cornette, started walking down to the ring mid-match with Vince suggesting that he was moving in on Cornette's territory.
Following the match Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw came out to yell at McMahon before laying out Vega
They then had a backstage segment where they were attempting to show how ominous the boiler room was only to find Mankind sitting comfortably back there. Mankind then cut a promo about how he was home.
Match 2: The New Rockers vs.The Body Donnas vs. The Godwinns vs. The Smoking Gunns w/ Sunny (champions) in Tag Team Elimination Tournament for the Tag Team Championship
Winner: Smoking Gunns via pinfall
The New Rockers (Marty Jannety and Leif Cassidy) came down in their tie dye outfits; the Body Donnas walked in with a cast around the neck of Skip (casts seemed to be a theme of the show); the Goodwinns entered with a dog and finally the champion Gunns came down to the ring with Sunny, Again the highlight of the tag team division at this time was Sunny. The rules for the match were that you could tag any other person to come into the ring, not just your partner. It was an elmination match so why any team would accept a tag until the end is a mystery they didn't try to explain. The match started off with Billy Gunn and Henry Godwinn and then became Zip vs. Phineas. Zip and Phinas both tagged the Gunns, which resulted them being in the ring together against each other. They argued and moved around the ring until Bart tagged Zip making the whole segment of the match pointless. Marty Jannetty pulled out Zip's legs when he tried to run the ropes, which was enough to incapacitate him and Billy pinned him eliminating the Body Donnas, without Skip getting in the ring. The Rockers' role seemed to be to help the Gunns. After a sidewalk slam by Henry Godwinn both Rockers came in to break up the count but instead double elbowed Billy, who immediately got up and started arguing with them. Immediately.
Sunny then cut a promo praising the Gunns as the only real men and her as the best woman in the arena and unfurled a giant picture of herself as a distraction from the women beside them.
Cleveland Tourism videos. The final segment was an autograph session. A fucking funeral for fuck's sake.
Match 3: British Bulldog w/ Clarence Mason vs. Psycho Sid
Result: Sid via pinfall
I recently watched a Kevin Nash video that said that Sid wanted to be a vicious heel but Vince wanted him to be the new face of the WWF a la Hogan. Quick personal shout out to the member of the audience, who was featured several times on camera, in full Goldust regalia.
A promo aired for the next WWF In Your House PPV, Mind Games. A guy watching wrestling alone on his couch suddenly became surrounded by aliens, then hot girls. Sold.
Winner: Goldust via pinfall
They said in a prematch interview that this match was due to Goldust's obsession with Sable but showed a video of Mankind calling Sable 'Mama', which just confused things. I guess women being a rare commodity in the WWF made all the men go crazy, even Goldust.
A video segment then showed Ahmed Johnson, who was having surgery for his kidneys after an attack by Farooq and Gorilla Monsoon vacating the title. There will be an 8 man tournament for the Intercontinental Title beginning on RAW the next night. The video questioned whether Johnson would ever return to wrestling. Johnson had also won a WWF Title shot in a Battle Royal so the Final 4; Stone Cold, Goldust, Savio Vega and Psycho Sid would be in a sudden death Battle Royal for a title shot at a special Raw Championship Friday.
Match 5; Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
Winner: Lawler via pinfall
I was not looking forward to this match. They aired a video beforehand outlining the fued. Jake was shown being interviewed about being an alcoholic and drug addict interspersed with clips of Jerry on commentary making fun of him about it. Prior to the match they introduced "The World's Strongest Man" Marc Henry, complete with fireworks, who joined them at ringside for commentary,
Jerry cut a promo talking about how he had invited his friends the Modells (owners that moved the Browns to Baltimore) to the arena and Jake's friends 'Jim Beams', pulling out the bottles. He then ridiculed Jake's wife and Marc Henry for not winning any medals at the Olympics. Jerry is a terrific heel and the way they use him now, with that much great heat is such a misuse of talent. Jake walked to the ring with his green bag, with the snake inside.
Jerry took out a giant bottle to offer to Jake, which resulted in Jake taking out the snake to choke Jerry. Jerry rolled out of the ring to escape and again grabbed a mic and the Jim Beam bottles. Finally, Jake started attacking Jerry on the outside. After a short attack, a boot to the 'lower abdominal area' , an attack on thhe ring post, Jake was dominating. The crowd was chanting for the DDT but l Lawler hit him in the throat with one of the Jim Beam bottles, again right in front of the ref, Harvey Whippleman, who didn't see it.
As Jake sold the throat shot Jerry attempeted to pour the two bottles of Jim Beam down his throat. Mark Henry then got up to stop Jerry before he was able to pour the second bottle, seemingly too lazy to get up to stop the first.
Henry and Whippleman helped Jake get to the back and a video played outlining the fued between Mankind and The Undertaker.
Match 6: Mankind vs. The Undertaker in a Boiler Room Match
Winner: Mankind via grabbing urn
Paul Bearer walked down to the ring with the urn as Vince explained the object was to fight out of the boiler room and get to ring to take the urn.
They immediately cut to the back where Undertaker was entering the boiler room and began playing hide and seek with Mankind. There was a lot of walking around here until Mankind finally came out from behind Taker and hit him with a 2x4.
There were even some transmission difficulties resulting in dead air static for a few seconds.
Getting your money's worth, When the screen returned Mankind had grabbed a ladder, from helpful production staff I assume. He climbed to the top but Undertaker recovered to knock him off for a backstage ladder bump. The two of them began to struggle towards the exit, with Taker finally getting in some attacks, and a visible bleeding elbow. Taker was able to launch a fire extinguisher into the face of Mankind and open the door. The two struggled with the door for a while before Mankind emerging first and attempting to barricade the doors that led to the arena. Instead of using the time to run to the ring he stood there holding the barricade until Taker broke through. The fight continued past the locker rooms where we got an Austin cameo. Mankind was first into the arena as he had incapaciated Taker with hot coffee but once again he just waited for Taker to follow. The two began to fight to the ring past TVs that had been set up for the fans to watch what was going on backstage....Yep...mini TVs. Not even a giant Titantron, mini TVs.
Taker was able to get to Bearer first but Bearer turned the urn away from him. Mankind applied the Mandible Claw on Undertaker twice and held him for Bearer to slap and kick.
Finally, Bearer delivered the final blow and smashed the urn into the head of Undertaker allowing Mankind to take possession of the urn and win the match.
Winner: Michaels via pinfall
This is, according to Cornette and others, the match that killed the possibility of Vader becoming a legitimate top level heel. The original plan was for Vader to win the title, but HBK being HBK refused to the job and the finish was changed. The Outsiders had just recently debuted on WCW Nitro and they were beginning to have some winnings in the ratings, perhaps scaring Vince in taking the title off Michaels. Short term thinking hurt what could have been a long term money making feud.
This was a good match, albeit a little overbooked. Jose Lothario was supposedly at ringside with HBK but he's completely useless so I didn't notice until halfway through the match. Shawn initially had control over the match until Vader caught Michaels and powerbombed him on the outside. They tried to show Michaels punch Vader with no effect, but since Michaels had already managed to get Vader down a few times it wasn't very convincing. The fact that Michaels got as much in as he did isn't the way you want to build a massive heel.
Vader managed to get Michaels knocked down for long enough by picking him up and dropping him on the steel barrier on the outside that he was counted out. Since the title could not change on a countout, Cornette asked Michaels to continue the match to which Michaels agreed.
Cornette hit Michaels with the tennis racket outside the ring and Vader hit a belly to belly but could not get the pin. Michaels took the advantage and was set to hit Sweet Chin Music when Cornette jumped in. He then hit Vader in the head with Cornette's tennis racket earning himself a DQ, giving Vader his second victory of the match. Since the title could not change hands on a DQ Cornette once again asked Michaels for a restart. Michaels once again acquiesced.
Michaels hit Vader with the Sweet Chin music, but Vader kicked out, which was almost unheard of at the time. Vader hit another powerbomb but referee Earl Hebner was knocked out and by the time a replacement ref came to count Michaels kicked out. Vader attempted a moonsault, which is super impressive for a man his size, but Michaels moved out of the way. Michaels then prevailed with a moonsault of his own
All in all this could have been done better. They could have had Michaels hit multiple superkicks to Vader in order to put him out. Better yet, they could have put the title on Vader and had him go on a heel reign with Michaels struggling and eventually getting it back. Instead they killed the Vader experiment before it got off the ground and he was out of the WWF before the Attiude Era got hot. Worst of all they gave away a funeral. A fuckin' funeral...