Monday, 9 February 2015

The Best Of In Your House

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 441 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: May 27 2013

When it was announced, The Best Of In Your House did not sound like the most appealing DVD release. There would undoubtedly be some entertaining stuff on it, but was it really necessary to recap a series of PPVs which, on the whole, were secondary even to the likes of King Of The Ring and Survivor Series, much less WrestleMania? And was there an audience in 2013 for a DVD on an era which, for its majority, was not exactly a vintage time in WWE history? Nevertheless, I gave the DVD the old college try, and in actual fact I was pleasantly surprised, to the point where I feel a sequel is in order, as I will explain.

Before breaking down the matches, it's worth noting that WWE has done a better job than usual of adding small touches to make this DVD stand out. The menus are simplistic and accompanied by the classically cheesy In Your House song (I think it was for IYH 2; and the original, equally corny tune is used at the very beginning and very end of the main programme); some matches are separated by an old-school IYH graphic (although the same one is shown when there were several produced); and, best of all, Todd Pettingill returns as host! Okay, so he was the original Michael Cole - a geeky, uncool presenter/interviewer who, despite being a good guy, was hated by most fans on the grounds of being annoying - but having him return after 16 years away from WWE shows that whoever dreamed up this DVD at least wanted to make it authentic, and despite his reputation during his WWF tenure, he operates just fine as host here.

Onto the bouts then. Disc one covers 1995, with Bret Hart vs. Hakushi and Shawn Michaels vs. Jeff Jarrett from the first two IYH shows kicking off the DVD with a bang. It slows with Razor Ramon vs. Dean Douglas at IYH 4 (Razor's pinfall on Douglas comes across as an attempt to make the Dean look incredibly weak), and to a lesser extent the IYH 5 Hog Pen match (Hillbilly Jim's theme being dubbed over is a let-down), but comes back to life with a great disc-ender in Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog that main evented the same show. Incidentally, Bret bleeds heavily here; not only is this strange to watch in what was definitely a PG environment, but the blood loss was not authorised by the office; you can almost here Vince McMahon react like the teacher who caught a pupil misbehaving when the blood becomes noticeable.

We start Disc 2 with Todd informing us about the IYH shows taking on sub-names, which would eventually replace IYH and become main names (eerily, the first such one was Over The Edge 1999 which was the site of Owen Hart's tragic death). The first example of the theme given was IYH 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies, epitomised by a No Holds Barred match between Shawn Michaels and Diesel. This was an incredibly brutal and shocking match for the era and, in hindsight, was an uncredited step towards the Attitude Era. It's also a great bout, as is the following IYH 10 clash between HBK and Mankind (which I think is slightly overrated, but is really good nonetheless).

We then get two matches from IYH 11: Buried Alive which are the first PPV clash between a young Triple H and a younger Stone Cold Steve Austin (which is unfortunately overshadowed by Jim Ross's odd commentary and Mr. Perfect's baffling-in-hindsight interference) and, as you may imagine, the first Buried Alive clash between The Undertaker and Mankind. Disc two ends with a forgotten classic: a Final Four match at IYH 13 for the vacant WWF Title (vacated after Shawn Michaels 'lost his smile', which is a story in itself) between Bret, Austin, Undertaker and Vader. This is a super-brawl which was actually more exciting than the Royal Rumble bout which set it up. Can you imagine a four-way like this in 2015?

We kick off the third and final disc with the classic 10-man main event at IYH 16: Canadian Stampede, the atmosphere for which may never be equalled. From this point, however, the DVD falters a bit. I understand not wanting to repeat over-released content, but having Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker from IYH 17: Ground Zero and not their score-settling Hell In A Cell match at IYH 18: Badd Blood (the most memorable IYH match of all, and arguably the best Cell bout ever) is a glaring omission. Other notable IYH bouts are not included later on, such as Stone Cold's major clashes with Dude Love, Vince McMahon and The Rock.

We do get a strong climax to the release: a truly chaotic 8-man from IYH 20; a tag clash between Austin/Undertaker and Kane/Mankind (IYH 23); a forgotten bout between Mankind and Ken Shamrock (IYH 25); and a Mankind-Rock Last Man Standing match (IYH 27), although the double knockout finish is an awkward end to the DVD. (There are a few extra bouts in the Blu-ray, although none are chronologically after this one.)

The set is interesting in terms of showing the shift from the New Generation to the Attitude Era, from the increased violence to the Austin-influenced language and gestures. By the time the DVD ends, the WWF has completely changed, and the release does a nice job of showing the Federation's evolution during this time. But, as stated, several key IYH matches from the later shows are not included. The aforementioned omissions alone could fill one disc on a sequel; other inclusions could be more Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels gems, plus at least one Stone Cold-Undertaker showdown amongst others.

But what is here is very good. A mix of big matches and rare classics comprise a strong DVD release. There are few weak points, largely because the set focuses on specific big-name wrestlers (e.g. Mick Foley is in six matches, including the final four bouts). Combined with the small touches to make the release stand out, The Best Of In Your House is rather like the event itself was: it may not be the most vital purchase, and by missing it you won't necessarily regret it, but if you do decide to buy it, you'll be rewarded with plenty of action and entertainment.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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