by Logan Scisco
-A video package highlights how the British Bulldog has become a wrestling ambassador for Great Britain.
-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from Birmingham, England. The setup was pretty cool, with WWF logos in the middle of the Union Jack and attendants in British dress flanking the entrance ramp.
-Dude Love talks in a British accent and says that he does not miss his teeth.
-Opening Contest: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) defeats Dude Love with the Pedigree at 12:53:
The crowd is hot for the opener, with the usual British gimmick of having people in the audience with air horns. I would really hate to be seated by those fans during the show. The announcers do not talk about Foley’s prior feud with Helmsley since he is wrestling under a different gimmick. The announcers also hype Helmsley’s “cerebral” nature and how he is the smartest man in the business. The first five minutes is a pretty good technical wrestling exhibition, with Love working the leg with an Indian death lock. Helmsley bails to avoid Sweet Shin Music and that is Chyna’s cue to start interfering to keep Helmsley in control. Helmsley and Mike Chioda do the “push the referee, referee pushes back spot” after Chioda breaks up Helmsley using the ropes on an abdominal stretch and the crowd loves it. Love pulls out an arm drag off of the second rope (?!?!), but Chyna puts Helmsley’s foot on the rope after Love hits Sweet Shin Music and that distraction enables Helmsley to steal the victory. This was a fantastic opener, with very little resting and it used great pacing to keep a hot crowd engaged. Rating: ***¾
-The crowd gives its opinion on who is going to win the main event between the British Bulldog and Shawn Michaels. There are a surprising number of Michaels supporters, but a thirteen year old kid has the best line of the segment: “What has Shawn Michaels done in the last year except for whining about losing his smile?”
-Sunny comes out to do guest ring announcing duties.
-Tiger Ali Singh (w/Tiger Jeet Singh) pins Leif Cassidy after a Tiger Bomb (flying bulldog) at 3:59:
This was one of the few appearances of Tiger Ali Singh in 1997, despite him being heralded as a big acquisition earlier in the year, and was the first sighting of Cassidy on a big show in more than six months. Before the match, Singh gives a weird promo saying that he is a proud Arab Canadian that is drug free and hopes to set the world on fire. The crowd boos all of it, especially when Tiger Jeet gets on the mic. The match is a disjointed mess, as Cassidy bumps around a lot for the rookie, but Singh fails to pull off a hiptoss and cannot adequately get himself on the top rope when Cassidy tries to suplex him on there to set up the finish. The crowd reads right through Singh’s lack of ability and Ross got so bored during the contest that he bugged Lawler about his relationship with Brian Christopher. Rating: ½*
-Footage of the Headbangers winning the tag team titles at In Your House: Ground Zero is shown.
-WWF Tag Team Championship Match: The Headbangers (Champions) defeat Savio Vega & Miguel Perez when Mosh pins Perez after a Mosh Pit at 13:33:
The Headbangers have not scored a clean win on a big television show since becoming the champions, but I like their chances of getting one here. The Boricuas play the heel role well, despite constantly reverting to nerve holds when they cannot think of anything else to do. Thrasher is placed in peril for ten minutes and when all hell breaks loose, Savio prevents Miguel from getting pinned off of a super hurricanrana and a powerslam. However, Mosh surprises Perez with the Mosh Pit after he powerbombs Thrasher and the Headbangers retain the titles. The heat segment was a little long without enough believable near-falls, but this was a proficient tag team match that the crowd was into throughout. Rating: ***
-European Champion The British Bulldog tells Jim Ross in a taped interview that he is dedicating tonight’s match to his sister, who has battled cancer.
-The Patriot beats Flash Funk with the Uncle Slam at 8:46:
Shades of gray! The Patriot gets booed, since he is waving the American flag in a foreign land. McMahon tries to say it is a mixed reaction, but there are no audible cheers to be found anywhere. The match has its moments, but both men’s styles are so different that they do not complement each other well. Funk does not utilize a lot of high flying offense, but he does hit a splash off the top rope for a believable near fall. However, a moonsault eats knees and the Patriot finishes and gets booed out of the building. The finishing sequence was just enough to keep this from ending up below average. Rating: **
-The Legion of Doom tell the Godwinns that they are going down and Hawk recites some weird poem about a bird doing its business in his eye and saying that cows don’t fly.
-The Legion of Doom beat The Godwinns when Animal pins Phineas after a Doomsday Device at 10:42:
The recently debuted Uncle Cletus is nowhere to be found and Henry is still mad about his broken neck and this feud continues. Both members of the LOD are placed in peril, but the Godwinns offense consists mostly of rest holds so it is tough to watch. They tease you with a finish about seven minutes in when Hawk eats a Slop Drop, but he kicks out and the match just continues. A myriad of clotheslines put the LOD back in control and they capture another victory over the Godwinns, thereby continuing to dominate this feud. Phineas takes a nasty bump off of the Doomsday Device, as he seems to crash down on his head, but he appears to be okay. Rating: *
-Ross interviews Ken Shamrock, who has suffered internal injuries in his match against Faarooq on RAW. As a result, he has been pulled out of his match against Owen Hart on tonight’s show and Vader will take his place. Shamrock says that he is disappointed that he cannot compete and Rockabilly comes out. Rockabilly makes fun of Shamrock’s situation and slaps him, but that leads to Shamrock taking him down and applying an ankle lock before WWF officials intervene. You would think that Billy would learn to counter that by the time he feuded with Shamrock in 1999.
-McMahon interviews WWF Champion Bret Hart, who says that he still hopes that the British fans support him and even though he is fighting a fan favorite in the Undertaker that he is going to give his best effort tonight. McMahon presses Bret on the fans booing him and Bret sheepishly says that he cares about his fans. This was a really awkward interview for all parties and made Bret look really bad. This will become a common booking pattern for Bret's last month in the company.
-Vader pins Owen Hart with a powerslam at 12:14:
Owen is really excited to be cheered by half the crowd and an entire barricade nearly falls over because the fans want to touch him. After Vader showcases his weight advantage in the early going, Owen uses a hurricanrana to escape a powerbomb and teases a Sharpshooter, but can’t turn Vader over. Vader seemingly kills Owen with a Samoan Drop and a second rope splash, but Owen kicks out and then proceeds to outdo his brother’s chest-first bump into the corner. The crowd, which was equally divided at the beginning, starts to cheer Owen since he’s the underdog, but it makes little difference as Vader pounds away. Owen catches Vader off guard with an enziguri and applies a Sharpshooter, which is a great spot because the enziguri can legitimately knock anyone out, but Vader makes the ropes. Owen then slams Vader, which gets Hulk Hogan-type reaction, but that only gets two. Vader Bomb eats knees and Owen hulks up. However, he makes the fatal decision to try a flying body press and Vader spikes him into the canvas to pick up a hard fought win. It was surreal to see Owen play the plucky babyface role, but this is a match you have to see if you are an Owen fan. Easy match of the night so far, with HHH-Dude Love a close second. Rating: ****
-Footage of the ending of the SummerSlam main event between Bret Hart and the Undertaker is shown.
-The Undertaker cuts a taped promo where he says Bret Hart has one night to prove himself worthy of being WWF champion and since Shawn Michaels is not the guest referee he is going to have to beat him one-on-one.
-WWF Championship Match: Bret “the Hitman” Hart (Champion) defeats The Undertaker by disqualification at 28:34:
Back in 1997 there were no immediate rematch clauses, so the Undertaker is getting his rematch with Bret at this show. You would think that because they are on foreign soil that the crowd would be behind Bret, but he gets a John Cena-type reaction. The early stages of the match are an Attitude Era-style brawl, as both men tear into each other and brawl up the entrance ramp, with the Undertaker getting the better of it. Bret gets whipped chest-first into an exposed turnbuckle and the Undertaker works the upper chest with a series of heart punches, which displays some unique psychology. The Undertaker even uses a crucifix pin to secure a near-fall. Bret fights back by working the right leg and gets booed out of the building when he applies the ring post figure-four. Bret pulls out the Mr. Perfect counter from SummerSlam 1991 to put the Undertaker in the Sharpshooter, but the Undertaker powers out and rallies. Bret tries to use the ring bell as a weapon, which the Undertaker blocks with a big boot, but when he tries to use it the referee grabs it and Bret chop blocks the Undertaker’s injured leg. Bret ends up hung in the ropes after fighting out of a Tombstone and when the Undertaker will not stop his attack, the referee disqualifies him. A lame finish for what was a great match, but the Undertaker’s refusal to sell the leg near the end of match always brings these matches down I mean, the Undertaker should have barely been able to stand near the twenty-one minute mark, but he walks out of the match as if nothing happened to him. Still, the interesting psychology in the early going and the divided and vocal crowd make this the best Undertaker-Bret match that I have ever seen. After the match, the Undertaker chokeslams the referee and Gerald Brisco, who has come to get Bret out of the ropes. Rating: ****¼
-Shawn Michaels says that he is going to become the first Grand Slam champion in WWF history.
-European Championship Match: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels beats The British Bulldog (Champion w/Tracy) via submission to a figure-four leg lock to win the title at 22:53:
The European championship was never intended as a long-term WWF title, as it was more of a prop for the Bulldog, but this match changed that. This is also the first and only time that a European title match headlined a pay-per-view. The Bulldog dominates the early going with his usual power offense and Michaels bumps like a pinball. If Michaels really wanted to rehash the issues between these two he would walk over to Diana and hit on her, but on second thought he was innocent of those accusations in the summer of 1996. Rick Rude wanders out ten minutes in and immediately gets involved by interfering in a Bulldog roll up, tripping him when he runs the ropes, and tossing the Bulldog into the ring post. Michaels opts to keep the match grounded, but the Bulldog mounts a second rally, which brings out Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Now, this never made sense to me because Owen and Bret Hart are backstage, so why are they sitting around and not coming to their comrade’s aid? Michaels hits two flying elbow drops, but misses Sweet Chin Music. However, Rude prevents the Bulldog from hitting a running powerslam. The battle spills to the floor, where the Bulldog tries to give Michaels a running powerslam, but his foot slips off of the stage the outside mats are on and he eats Sweet Chin Music. With the referee’s back turned, Rude and Helmsley damage the Bulldog’s knee further and Helmsley hits a Pedigree for good measure. Inside, Michaels takes off the Bulldog’s knee brace, tosses it to Diana, and applies a figure-four, with Helmsley and Chyna assisting in leverage, and Rude prevents the Bulldog from reaching the ropes. Faced with four-on-one odds, the Bulldog eventually passes out and Michaels becomes the first Grand Slam champion in WWF history. The original booking of the match called for the Bulldog to win in triumphant fashion in his hometown over a long-time rival that he had never defeated on the big stage, which is why he dedicated the match to his dying sister Tracy, but Michaels vetoed the finish. Under these circumstances and Michaels behavior at the time it does make you sympathetic to Bret’s case about why he refused to job to him at Survivor Series. The heel interference was great for crowd heat and made the Bulldog appear strong, but I never care for this match. Maybe it’s because I know the political games played behind the scenes or the fact that the Bulldog really should have gone over here, but this is a tough contest to stomach. Rating: ***½
-After the match, Michaels gets on the house mic and gloats about his victory as trash begins to fill the ring. Michaels taunts Diana and then reapplies the figure-four until Diana and Owen Hart hit the ring and force the heels to flee.
The Final Report Card: A Bulldog victory, where the Hart Foundation stormed the ring and helped fight off D-Generation X, would have made this one of my favorite WWF shows of all-time. Despite the political games of the finish, this is a very solid show that is worth checking out if you have never seen it. The opener is great, the tag team title match is better than expected, and the last three matches are fantastic. In some ways, I think this pay-per-view is on the same level as Canadian Stampede and could easily be considered the WWF’s best pay-per-view outing of 1997, even if the United States did not have access to this show.
Also, random aside for my readers, but would you like me to start posting two reviews a week (say Tuesday at the regular time and on Saturday) or just keep it at one?
Also, random aside for my readers, but would you like me to start posting two reviews a week (say Tuesday at the regular time and on Saturday) or just keep it at one?
Show Evaluation: Thumbs Up
Yeah, the Bulldog/Shawn match here is one of the peaks of HBK being an insufferable dickweed in those days. Might be a very good match, but I can't stand watching it.ReplyDelete
Maybe that back injury was karma after all.ReplyDelete
I would say no to posting on Saturday because I don't really check the site that often on weekends and would miss it.ReplyDelete
Too lazy but anyone able to find video of this awkward Bret interview with McMahon from the show? Also, where was it said that Bulldog was for sure originally going over on this night? He dedicated the match to his sister that night so he knew he was losing by that point. Michaels was slated to become WWE Champion so I can't really see why they'd have him job here.
Yay a show I was there live for. I know Shawn gets a lot of hate in hindsight for all the things he did, but at the time I was a huge mark for the guy and was the only person in my section cheering him when he came out.ReplyDelete
Bret getting the John Cena reaction also surprised me too at the time, especially when the crowd was *really* into Owen, it was a weird night.
Yeah Bret and Owen not helping Bulldog in his match made no sense. I think Bret mentioned that in his book.ReplyDelete
I've heard 2 justifications for Shawn winning. One was to set up a rematch at another UK PPV. The other was in Shawn's book, where he said he got the finish changed because it would draw so much heat for his character. I can see the rationale for both, but DX needed to get some comeuppance. If he's gonna win the belt after some big HF/DX schmoz, then after the match DX should have been left laying - at least to give the crowd something. But then I don't think anyone really got one over on DX until Austin began his feud with them.
What did you have in mind for doing after you finish 1997? I'd certainly enjoy reading your reviews twice a week, but that would cause you to burn through the rest of the year pretty fast.ReplyDelete
I would think the location alone would be reason enough to job Michaels. After all, Austin was huge in 97 too and yet they had him lose in Calgary on PPV to the Harts.ReplyDelete
Pretty much everywhere... Shawn's book, Bret's book. Meltzer also talked about it not too long ago... where Davey did the interview with the dedication to his sister and then found out the finish was changed. Shawn's rationale was to build heat for a rematch on the next UK PPV, but given Shawn's penchant to not do jobs in that point of his career, who knows if the favor would've ever been repaid.ReplyDelete
I also don't know if Shawn was set to become champ at this point, because the stuff with Bret was still very much up in the air at the time of this show. Also given that the PPV wasn't airing in the US, HBK jobbing to the hometown Bulldog wouldn't have made too much of a difference... and if he didn't want to lay down, it could've been a DQ finish easily.
I usually leave it to the you all where I go. I have all kinds of stuff like 1993-1999 RAW, 1994-1997 Superstars, 1994-1995 Action Zone, 1991-1992 Prime Time Wrestling, 1999 Smackdown, 1998-1999 Sunday Night Heat, 1997-1999 Shotgun Saturday Night. That doesn't even touch what I have for WCW, but I know Tommy Hall is reviewing all that stuff. I have 1995-1997 USWA as well. I also have all of the episodes of SNME in its initial run and Clash of the Champions. Basically when I run through the rest of '97, I'll leave it to people to pick where we go and we'll head there.ReplyDelete
If Saturday doesn't work for people, I suppose I could post on Friday. I know the site doesn't get a great deal of traffic then and I wouldn't want people to fall out of sequence.
HBK/Bulldog is a great match. And I have no problem with the finish. They needed to get DX over as mega dicks, and it did the job.ReplyDelete
Thanks, didn't remember any of that stuff.ReplyDelete
The HBK-Bulldog match is one of the most egregious displays of just how EVIL the Kliq ultimately were. The fact that Davey's dying sister to see this debacle makes it all the most saddening. I understand that DX needed to get heat, but that match is extremely distasteful. It's the kind of match that turns people off to the product as a whole, instead of getting people engaged. Disturbing, evil, and shameful stuff. The feeling I get when I watch that match is very similar to the feeling one would get watching someone get gang-raped. A dark chapter for 1997 WWF, for sure.ReplyDelete
Good job equating fake wrestling to being gang raped.ReplyDelete
Shawn and his coveted European title.ReplyDelete
That's a little much with the rape comparison but I guess I get what you're trying to say. I actually thought the Jim Neidhart thing on Raw was worse than this. Say what you want about the possible politics behind the title change, but the match was good, it had insane heat, and really a surprise ending because who would have thought Shawn would win that going in? But the Neidhart thing was just meanReplyDelete
Bumping is an evil act?ReplyDelete
Ever see Beyond The Mat?ReplyDelete
When Wash died in Serenity I literally started bleeding from the mouth.ReplyDelete
I might have. But I was also doing 10 foot back bumps at the same time.ReplyDelete
But were they in front of your wife and children?ReplyDelete
Excuse me, some weirdos in my house keep telling me that they love me. Freaks. Gotta call the cops again.
Pre-emptive vote: Continue with Raw and add SD when it starts! I'm working on catching up to your reviews and it's been great reading them after every episode.ReplyDelete
16 years later, and I still find Shawn Michaels' win of the European title as the start of a new era. In hindsight, I wish Taker had won the World Title back here and then Shawn wins the title at Badd Blood in the cell. Then you still do the Montreal -----job as a work this time around, and Bret rides off to WCW - where he can flounder, while making a few million. I got a gut feeling if Owen hadn't died, and Bret hadn't gotten a career-ending concussion - he would have eventually ended up back in the WWF/E. (I know technically he returned in 2010 and he has been there off and on since then - but I think you guys get where I'm going here.)ReplyDelete
I can give you all of 1998, most everything from 1999 except for Armageddon (which was shit anyway), all Smackdowns and Raws from 99-01 and every ppv from then save a couple from 2000 I don't have,ReplyDelete
No, it wasn't. That match was a #1 contender's match for the WWF title, though, as the winner would face the WWF champion at Survivor Series. The thought of the Undertaker as European Champion is kind of funny, though.ReplyDelete
Are these in digital form or do you have DVD copies?ReplyDelete
Files on a hard drive.ReplyDelete
And for the 2000 ppvs I don't have, I have some of the better matches for them.
Not really. The Hart Foundation were heels. Sure, Bulldog was a babyface in England, but most of the televised shows were held in the U.S. So basically, on the Raw after One Night Only, all of the fans in the U.S. were told "Shawn is now the European Champion, and he won it in a controversial manner". So basically,.one heel beat another heel by cheating, for a title that no one gave a shit about anyway. Hence, the finish has absolutely no purpose whatsoever other than to hurt the Harts and to feed Shawn's ego.ReplyDelete
no but after all the crap he pulled in 97 and then he messes up his back not long after,ReplyDelete
Karma is cause and effect, not divine punishment.ReplyDelete
If you're a dick, karma is people no longer being friends with you. Not you breaking your legs in a car accident.
he was short on friends as wellReplyDelete