Films and television aren’t the only mediums to be influenced by Halloween, so to was Pro Wrestling. During the 90s there were a number of specialty Pay Per Views that were based around the holiday.
One such event was WWF’s In Your House 11: Buried Alive.
The event took place on October 20, 1996 at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana and featured a very Halloween friendly match called a Buried Alive Match.
The point of the match was to beat your opponent up to the point that you can place him in a grave and bury him in dirt. Does this seem a bit extreme? Yes but this is 90s wrestling and the industry LOVED stupid gimmick matches. So this one fits in pretty well.
But before we get to that, there were four other matches on the show before that one, so let’s start at the beginning.
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Yes the discount show with a gimmick final match starts with two future WWE champions in a pointless singles match. It’s funny to look back isn’t it?
Hunter comes out with a random attractive woman, like he did during the time. While the trope was interesting, that was about it for Hunter at this time. He’d more or less dropped in from WCW the year before and was a lower card guy on the roster until his DX run in 97.
However, on the way up was Steve Austin, who was starting his feud with Bret Hart. The feud would lead to some great matches and make him one of the most popular wrestlers of the 90s.
However, before the match we get some awkward storyline development. Not between the two in the match but around Jim Ross and Vince McMahon.
The event starts off with Ross not having a mic and not really being happy about it. Over the course of the night a sudo-feud between the two would start and lead more or less no where.
During the match Ross’s headset messing up while he’s talking. Vince more or less ignores this and pushes on but Ross cries conspiracy.
Hunter and Austin work an OK match, that’s very much in tune with the New Generation style of WWF i.e. a bit slower than what modern fans would be use to.
Austin had started his finger flipping ways at King of the Ring earlier that year, but his in-ring style was still forming a bit, as he was still working a Ringmaster like style.
The crowd really isn’t into the match, and more or less sit on their hands. This is probably due to the fact that both of these guys are heels and they don’t know who to cheer for, a trend that would continue into the next match.
Near the end Mr. Perfect comes out to the ring and steals Hunter’s girl, like he had been doing for a while to set up a feud with Hunter. While the ref is yelling at Hunter, Austin goes to Perfect and throws a soda in his face, only to be clocked by Perfect.
While this would normally be the opening that a heel would need to win a match, Austin rallies back and wins with a Stunner at 15:30.
The match was solid but not really that interesting. These two would end up having better matches down the line, but it’s clear that the company was building Austin up at this point.
Smoking Guns vs. Owen Hart and the British Bulldog (with Clarence Mason) for the WWF Tag Titles
(Note: I can’t find a video of just this match…sorry but you didn’t miss much)
Before the match we get a video package setting up the building feud between the Guns themselves. Billy was seemingly dating their manager Sunny and Bart was a bit sore about it. This led to the team losing to Owen and Bulldog at Mind Games the month before and Sunny firing them.
After the package the Guns cut a horrible promo that more or less shows the rift between the two and go out to the ring.
Still ongoing at this point was Ross’s mic issues. It’s clear that this was intention for story reasons as during the latter half of matches the mic worked fine but during the matches beginnings it mess up making it either impossible to understand him or it made his voice echo. Ross continues blames Vince for the issues.
Owen and Bulldog come out to the ring with someone named Clarence Mason. After some research I found out that Mason was hired in the WWF after the events of the O.J, Simpson trial as a heel manager. He’s a practicing lawyer who did like work in wrestling outside of WWF.
He ended up stealing the contracts of Owen and Bulldog from Jim Cornette, their former manager. Again this story is dumb because all members of this feud are heels and the fans couldn’t really care less.
Speaking of all heels, this match again was between two groups of heels, leading to the crowd to cheer in small increments’ when Owen and Bulldog start working babyface. They probably only cheer for them because The Smoking Guns were a lame tag team even during this period of time.
This match was short, lasting under 10 minutes. The Guns worked over Hart in their corner for most of the match and tease him getting to his corner.
During the match they cut to Sunny standing in the back watching the match, clearly cheering for Hart and Bulldog but the commentator’s don’t seem to notice until the end of the match for some reason.
What they do talk about is how attractive she is, and end up spending most of the match gocking at her awkwardly.
The Guns tease dissension when Owen pushes Bart into Billy leading to a two count. However, the Guns continue to take advantage of Hart and go for their finish, the sidewinder.
However, Bulldog HIDES BEHIND BART GUN and pulls him out of the way to break up the move. Yes Bulldog, a six-foot tall muscle man hides behind another six-foot tall man and Billy doesn’t notice…what an idiot.
Owen Hart ends the match by hitting a spinning heel kick (by heel I mean the heel of his foot) and gets the pin at 9:17.
The match wasn’t great and the crowed didn’t help. Matches with heel vs. heel need to feel special but they had to sit through two of them in a row and they didn’t care about either matches.
Shortly after the match Ross get’s in the ring and cuts a promo.
He more or less yells at McMahon for the bad mic equipment and says that Bret Hart is returning because of him. He then says Vince talks out of both sides of his mouth and throws the mic to him and leaves.
This story would lead to Ross becoming a heel commentator for a while before dropping it completely later.
Goldust (with Marlena) vs. Marc Mero (with Sable) for the WWF Intercontinental Title
This match was originally meant to be between Mero and Faarooq (Ron Simmons) but before the event Ahmed Johnson attacked him and leaving him unable to work the match, he was then replaced with Goldust.
While Goldust was still doing the “bizarre” thing but he’d stopped using his Goldust voice and starting talking like a pissed off Texan. The sound and the visual didn’t really make that much sense.
The I.C. Champion at the time was Marc Mero. Remember him kids? Hopefully not.
It’s clear that the WWF was looking to make another Randy Savage with Mero but his level of talent and craziness was so subpar that it was shameful.
Before the match Mr. Perfect comes out once again, this time to do commentary. He says that he and Mero are good friends and tries to put him over. However, it’s Marc Mero and a 50 foot ladder wouldn’t get him over.
Goldust carries the match for the most part working as a heel.
The commentary team of Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler and Mr. Perfect is so bad that it’s painful. Once again most of the match is dedicated to talking about the attractive women out with the wrestlers.
Vince calls Sable a classy woman. But classy can’t help here cut a promo to save her life. Luckily for us Sable is in full Elizabeth mode and doesn’t due anything other than look concerned during the match.
Mero demonstrates his in-ring ability by pulling off one of the worst arm drags in history and sums up the match as a whole.
Mero ends up winning with a Shooting Star press at 11:38.
All I can take away from this match was just how awful Mero was and is. I have no idea why they spent time and money on him. There’s only one Macho Man/King, except no substitutes.
Vader (with Jim Cornette) vs. Sycho Sid for #1 contendership of the WWF Title
At this point in the night there really wasn’t anything horror based on the show, but the idea of watching Sid and Vader wrestle for 8 minutes is truly a scary thing.
Sadly Sid doesn’t cut a normal Sid promo before the match and just comes out to the ring. Weirdly enough Sid was a fan favourite at the time, despite…being himself.
Before the match Shawn Michaels, the WWF Champion at the time, comes out and for commentary, it goes about as well as you might think.
There’s not a lot to say about this match other that it was sold as the battle of the powerbombs which was the finisher that both guys routinely used.
This title was backed up by the opening package and the commentary team. So we expect a powerbomb finish or at least one in the match.
So how does it end? With a chockslam…with not one powerbomb in the match.
Sid wins at 8:00. After the match Shawn and Sid shack hands. A month later during their WWF title match, Sid would hit him with camera to win the match, so these two were really close friends.
After the match we get an amazing post match interview with Sid. Doc Hendrix tries to ask a question but Ross does a drive by to catch a predator-like interview and Sid ends up having a brain embolism trying to answer a basic question. This was the best part of the match.
Mankind (with Paul Bearer) vs. The Undertaker in a Buried Alive Match
Before the match we’re told that this is the first unsanctioned match in WWF history. Unsanctioned as in the WWF was not responsible for what happens to each wrestler. Yet they paid for the seven foot high pile of dirt outside the entrance way to which someone will be “Buried Alive” in. In not sure what message they were hoping to send, but I don’t think they got it across.
As you might expect this match isn’t very technical. In fact these two had been having some aggressive matches of the past few months and this more or less alines with those.
This was the rubber match between the two as Mankind lost in a singles match at King of the Ring but won the boiler room brawl at Summerslam. So the only way to end a feud is to…kill each other by burying each other alive.
The match is basically all action as the two worked around the grave a far amount, going back and forth between there and the ring. The main issues with this match was the WWF’s lack of lighting along the entrance way. They’d just walk out there and after a good three count two spot lights would appear and try to light up the two, missing a bit of the action.
They’d use a number of weapons during the match including Mankind’s spike, which he feels that he needs to hide despite the fact that it’s a no Disqualification match.
In the later half of the match Vince McMahon tells the audience that we shouldn’t feel bad for the Undertaker and also implies that he’s a really life talking zombie. I thought he was a cult leader or a biker with a ponytail.
They work for the better part of 20 minutes until Taker chockslams (again sadly no powerbombs) Mankind into the grave and covers him with dirt for the win. And by cover, I mean put some dirt on him.
Shortly after, a masked man hits Taker with a shovel knocking him out. He then uncovers Mankind and they start to bury Undertaker.
Soon after a group of heels come out and help. Everyone wants to bury Taker like a smileless Shawn Michaels (get it?).
The burying takes around 10 minutes for some reason and the crowd celebrates the long running time by throwing garbage at the grave and the heels.
After that fake thunder and lighting start to fill the arena. The heels soon leg it out of there and a fake lighting bolt hits the grave and Takers hand rises from the grave ending the PPV.
Saying this looked silly would be an understatement. The idea of thunder and lighting in a inclosed environment is very 90s WWF i.e. gimmicky. Despite this the event goes off the air with a cool image of Takers hand raising from the grave, it’d make most people tune into RAW the next night.
Taker would miss the next months PPV, Surviver Series, but reappear for the next In Your House to continue his feud with Paul Bearer as he would fight the masked man that hit him with a shovel.
In the End
Unlike other October shows put on by WCW this show wasn’t very Halloween based. The final match was the selling point of the show and it was something to watch the first time but other than that there really wasn’t much on this show.
The WWF’s In Your House shows were an hour shorter and they generally felt much cheaper because of it. This show wasn’t any different.
So for those looking for some wrestling on Halloween night I’d skip the lower card and just stick to the main event. At least it has a bit of a cheesy Halloween vibe.