You’ll notice that in the mid-nineties, the WWE (the WWF, at that point) was a very different place. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were the two top guys pulling the cart; no wonder their rivalry went from professional to personal! The company decided to also do away with their 4-5 Pay-Per-View (what is today called a Network Special) concept, and have less expensive, shorter PPVs in the months that didn’t have one of the “Big Five.”
The In Your House concept began in May 1995 and ran for thirty events until April 1999. It was essentially the WWE’s pay version of WCW’s Clash Of Champions. That doesn’t mean these were lesser events, they were just at a lesser price point. These were big time house shows that had plenty of action for the folks at home and then some extra main events for the fans in attendance. A lot of great matches happened at In Your House event. There was the Caribbean Strap Match between Savio Vega and Steve Austin, Bret Hart against Hakushi, and Great Sasuke taking on TAKA Michinoku to name a few. But here are the best - The 10 Best WWF In Your House Matches, Ranked.
10 Bret Hart Vs. The British Bulldog: IYH5 - Season’s Beatings
The Hitman against the Bulldog from SummerSlam at Wembley is one of the best matches you’ll ever see. But it was lacking the element of good vs. evil, since both of these guys were babyfaces at the time. That, and the fact Davey completely forgot the match, leaving Bret to have to shoulder the load. Their contest from Season’s Beatings was just as good in different ways. Bulldog worked heel here in a match that helped cement Bulldog as a new heel not to mess with.
9 Shawn Michaels Vs. Diesel: IYH7 - Good Friends, Better Enemies
Hardcore matches were few and far between in the WWE in 1996. So, it was called a No Holds Barred Match when Shawn Michaels and Diesel tore into each other in HBK’s first title defense at Good Friends, Better Enemies. They might not have used the kitchen sink, but they beat on one another with chairs, announcer’s shoes, and referee’s belts. But the real shocker (for the time), was when Diesel grabbed legendary Mad Dog Vachon and ripped off his prosthetic leg to attempt to thump Shawn with.
8 Owen Hart Vs. Shawn Michaels - IYH6: Rage In The Cage
There weren’t a lot of superstars who came close to touching Shawn Michaels in 1996. It was the year that he transcended from superstar to legend. Owen Hart, though not as flamboyant, gave HBK a run for his money in every match they ever had. The duo did battle with Shawn’s WrestleMania XII main event spot. Even though die-hard wrestling fans had seen this kind of action elsewhere in ’96 (Eddie Guererro / Dean Malenko matches), HBK and the King Of Harts tore the house down.
7 Bret Hart Vs. Diesel: IYH6: Rage In The Cage
The other half of the main event of WrestleMania XII was up for grabs as well at Rage In The Cage. Bret Hart defended the WWE championship against Diesel in the steel cage. The match was the usual Bret Hart classic that fans became accustomed to and applied by during this era.
But the big memory is the build-up for Diesel and Undertaker began here. The two would clash at the show of shows, but on this night, the Deadman tore from underneath the ring and dragged Big Daddy Cool into the depths.
6 Bret Hart Vs. Stone Cold Vs. Undertaker Vs. Vader: IYH13 - Final Four
Find just about any event in 1997, and you’ll find The Hitman and Stone Cold at the top of their game. At Final Four, the two men added the Deadman and the Mastodon to the mix. To date, this is one of the only Fatal Four Way matches that didn’t seem like a cluster. Thanks to HBK losing his smile, the WWE title was up for grabs. Even Vader was the Vader of old in this one. It certainly helped that he bled a gusher during this contest.
5 Shawn Michaels Vs. Mankind: IYH10: Mind Games
Mick Foley taking a header off of the Hell In A Cell might be the most memorable moment of his career, but his most spectacular match came at Mind Games. Mankind took on Shawn Michaels for the WWE title. Foley himself votes the match as one of his best outings and it’s hard to disagree. Foley was in phenomenal shape to be able to go with HBK for nearly thirty minutes in a match that saw the Hardcore Icon nearly out wrestle Michaels.
4 The Rock Vs. Stone Cold: IYH28: Backlash
Having just faced each other at WrestleMania XV, the Great One and the Texas Rattlesnake were fixing to get it again one month later at Backlash, the final In Your House.
The odds were again stacked against Austin, it was No Holds Barred, and Shane was the referee. The match had the crowd roaring as they fought in the ring, up the aisle, through the crowd, and at one point, the Rock giving his own commentary, a staple of the Brahma Bull’s during this time.
3 Stone Cold Vs. Dude Love: IYH22: Over The Edge
In the beginning stages of the Austin-McMahon war, Dude Love was one of the first of Vince’s proxies to try and dethrone the World’s Toughest SOB. The conditions of this match were a little convoluted- Pat Patterson as the guest announcer and Gerald Brisco as the timekeeper. Not to mention, Vince himself as the referee! Aside from that matches like this showcased just how awesome Foley was in the ring. Three distinct personas all with similar styles. During the Attitude Era, this was a typical Austin match and a lot of the fun was seeing how he would overcome the odds.
2 Shawn Michaels Vs. The Undertaker: IYH18: Badd Blood
The first ever Hell In A Cell was and still is one of the best matches you’ll ever see, period. But that can be said about any HBK / Undertaker match. Here, they both worked to bring the devastation and terror of the Cell. Even though there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, Michaels found a way out of the cage and took Hell In A Cell’s first jaw-dropping bump. If you’ve never seen this match, you owe to it yourself to do so right now, and then watch it again.
1 The Hart Foundation Vs. Goldust, Austin, Shamrock, And LOD: IYH16: Canadian Stampede
You might never hear an arena more deafening in your life. From the moment Brian Pillman comes out until the entire Hart family jumps into the ring to celebrate, the Calgary crowd showered their hometown heroes with love and adoration. In between the absolute pink and black loving riotous crowd was a pretty good ten-man tag team match. This match wasn’t about the work rate though. Sometimes wrestling is more about the awesome moments and seeing the Hart Foundation united with the entire family and crowd behind them is a site that will never be forgotten.