The main event of WWE In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede occupies #65 on The Best 100..List. It’s a match I’ve only heard good things about. From the hallowed pages of Power Slam to random reviews on the internet, there was great critical acclaim for this ten man tag team match. Looking at the list of talent involved in the match, it could either be a great match or a terrible match. Sure, it includes Steve Austin, Bret and Owen Hart and Brian Pillman, truly great wrestlers. But Jim Neidhart, a knackered Legion of Doom, a fading British Bulldog, Goldust and a green Ken Shamrock could possibly stink up the joint. What transpires isn’t a technical masterpiece, or a match made memorable by the action, but a match made memorable by the crowd. The wrestling is secondary to the incredible heat that makes the simplest eye poke something to behold.
It’s an uneven and unsteady match that doesn’t have a rhythm to it. Nobody sells for a long period of time. The necessity of allowing everyone ample time in the ring is a positive and a negative, giving each wrestler time to shine or time to fail. For example, when Bret Hart faces off against Austin, the wrestling is grand. However, when it’s either of the Legion of Doom against Jim Neidhart, the best you can expect is a variation of kicks and punches (and a wrestling move if you are lucky). Owen Hart and Austin share an incredible segment about halfway through the match (where Owen executes a front missile dropkick and a kip-up…is that what inspired Daniel Bryan’s identical moves?!?!?), but shortly after that Austin assaults Owen’s knee and Owen’s unable to continue. Due to that event, the match falls apart for a while.
There’s so much contained within the match, from technical wrestling to brawling, there’s always something around the corner to keep you entertained. Not only that, but listening to the crowd involves you with an intensity that is rare in wrestling nowadays. In the good old USA, Austin and his team were cheered. But in this match, taking place in Canada, the ostensible heels The Hart Foundation are met with roars of approval right from the entrances. Brian Pillman soaks up the loudest cheer he probably received in his career. Pillman especially acts like a heel throughout the match (even spitting in someone’s face at one point), but all The Hart Foundation wrestle as heels. However, their every heelish move is greeted with thunderous applause. The reversal of reactions to the wrestlers creates an overwhelming atmosphere. An atmosphere that you find it hard to escape.
At times a wild brawl, at other times a sloppy exchange between two past-it wrestlers, this match encapsulates a wide range of quality. From a purely wrestling perspective, it is not a classic at all. It’s intermittently entertaining, and sometimes reaches a peak, but what gels everything together is the crowd. They make the match a classic with their reversal of reactions to the ostensible faces and heels. Without them, it would be a decent ten man tag, but they invigorate the match. It’s also great to see those wrestlers who are no longer alive in action.
VERDICT: 7/10. Deserving of being in the ‘Best 100 List…’ for the crowd reaction alone, this ten man tag team match is not the classic I thought it would be, but still worth watching.
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(Click here for my review of #66 The Undertaker vs CM Punk (WrestleMania 29))