Saturday, 22 November 2014

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1997

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Event poster
WWF Survivor Series 1997
Montreal, Canada

*This is an archived review which I originally wrote in 2010. I'm posting it here, but look fut for an updated review as part of my mission to review every WWE pay per view from Wrestlemania 1 - 30*

The 1997 Survivor Series will live on not only as one of the most memorable events under the Survivor Series banner, but also as one of the most infamous pro wrestling events of all time.

Of course, it was here, under the watchful eye of the Canadian crowd, that the now legendary Montreal Screwjob took place. Yet before the match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, the event which effectively changed pro wrestling featured a number of largely forgettable contests.

As the WWE looks ahead to their latest Survivor Series pay per view, here's a look back at the entire Survivor Series '97 card.

The Godwins (Henry & Phineas) and The New Age Outlaws (The Road Dog & Billy Gunn) bested The New Black Jacks (Justin Bradshaw and Barry Windham) and The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher)

Back in the dying days of the company's tag team division, these four teams locked up in a traditional Survivor Series match.

Following a boring few minutes, the good guys went one-up by eliminating Henry Godwin until Phineas evened the score by taking out Barry Windham

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - The Godwins battle The Headbangers in the opening tag match
More dire action followed, resulting in Billy Gunn (current TNA also-ran, Kip James) eliminating Mosh. Headbanger Thrasher then came in and put Phineas in a wrist-lock for the next several years (seriously, if you look these two up in a 'Where are They Now directory, you'll still find them in a wristlock somewhere in Montreal) before eventually pinning the burly pig farmer.

The 'action', continued with the New Age Outlaws taking out future WWE Champion Bradshaw before and Thrasher to leave the match as the Sole Survivors and embark on their tenure as one of the most entertaining teams in the WWF.

The Truth Commission (Recon, Sniper, Kurgan The Interrogator and The Jackyl) beat The Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, Skull and 8-Ball)

If you thought that last match was dull, then drink a Red Bull if you want to stay awake through this one.

Kurgan made quick work of Chainz before 8-Ball took out the Jackyl to even the score. Recon was also swiftly eliminated, giving the D.O.A a 3-on-2 advantage.  Skull (or possibly 8-Ball, the two were identical) was the next man to leave, followed by the other twin, putting the Truth Commission in front before Crush took out Recon.

Kurgan then did away with Crush to stand tall as the Sole Survivor of the most tedious Survivor Series match to date.

Kevin Kelly interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin

Backstage in the 'America Online' room, Stone Cold Steve Austin, before he became the global phenomenon that would boost wrestling back into the mainstream, told Kevin Kelly that he was ready for action despite suffering a neck injury at the hands of his forthcoming opponent, Owen Hart.

Michael Cole interviewed Team USA

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Team Canada vs. Team USA
Before he did, we got a video recap of how Steve Blackman wound up on Team USA. If you remember rightly, Blackman was a supposed 'fan' who saved Team USA from a beat-down on Raw. With that, he was put on the team.

Backstage, Vader told Michael Cole that despite having no common ground, his men were united in their hatred of Team Canada.

Team Canada responded

Basically by saying that they hated America and would defeat Team USA.

Team Canada (British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Phil Lafon and Doug Furnas) beat Team USA (Vader, Ken Shamrock, Marc Mero and Steve Blackman)

Team USA came out first to what would ultimately become the theme music of current TNA star, Kurt Angle, whilst Team Canada (who only actually had one Canadian amongst their ranks in Phil LaFon (Bulldog was British, The Anvil was from Florida and Furnas from Oklahoma) made their way to the ring to Bret Hart's music.

After two complete duds, this one went a fair way to picking up the pace and delivering an exciting bout as Davey Boy Smith kicked things off with Marc Mero.

Steve Blackman was the first to be eliminated; the newcomer making the rookie mistake of getting counted-out before Vader levelled the scores by squashing Jim Neidhart.

The Mastodon continued to look strong by taking out Phil LaFon, but things soon took a turn for the worse for Team USA.

Not only was Mero eliminated by Furnas, but as Vader and Goldust remained, the former refused to tag in and eventually walked out of the match, out of the Survivor Series and towards his run as The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust.

With the odds stacked against him, Vader held his own, taking out Doug Furnas with the Vader Bomb, but was no match for a ring bell-wielding Bulldog, who drilled his opponent with the object, won the match and made a hasty exit.

Kane defeated Mankind

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Kane's first PPV match against Mankind
After debuting the previous month at Bad Blood, The Undertaker's storyline brother, Kane, made his pay per view debut in a brutal destruction of Mankind.

The match came about as a result of Kane destroying Dude Love a few weeks prior, causing Love's alter-ego Mick Foley to bring out his most deranged personality, Mankind.

Prior to the bout, Mankind compared Kane to a brick wall; vowing to run straight into him as many times as is needed.

Unfortunately for the man formerly known as Cactus Jack, running straight into Kane did him no favours, as The Big Red Machine finally got the win following a wild, entertaining match.

Michael Cole interviewed Vince McMahon and Commissioner Slaughter

Voluntarily revealing himself as the head of WWE for the first time in the storylines, Vince McMahon assured fans that despite numerous failed attempts to make the match happen, they would finally see the long-awaited Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart rematch.

“Vince, who's going to win?” asked Cole
“I don't know,” replied Vince, the big liar.

Slaughter was there too, and mumbled something about there being extra security for the match.

The Nation of Domination (Farooq, Kama Mustafa, D'Lo Brown and The Rock) defeated Ken Shamrock, The Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson

“This is the man many believe will be a dominant force in the WWF for years to come,” declared Jim Ross as Ken Shamrock made his way to ringside.

Oh Jimmy, how wrong you were. With hindsight, we can all look back now and note that the true future star in this match was the man known as The Rock.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Ken Shamrock teamed Ahmed Johnson and the L.O.D to face the Nation of Domination
On the cusp of greatness, The Rock was quick to eliminate Road Warrior Hawk, before escaping the clutches of the enormous Ahmed Johnson and tagging out to Kama.

Johnson picked up the next elimination, taking out arch-rival Farooq with the Pearl River Plunge. The leader of The Nation got his own back by helping The Rock take out Johnson before the two enemies brawled all the way to the back.

The match continued, and was really quite boring, So boring in fact that if you're not careful, you might fall asleep waiting for Road Warrior Animal to eliminate Kama, evening the scores out a 2 vs. 2.

Even the announcers got bored; instead deciding to talk about the upcoming Owen Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin match coming up next.

Things got a little more interesting when the New Age Outlaws arrived on the scene, distracting Animal and causing him to be eliminated via count-out.

With the odds stacked against him, Shamrock soldiered on alone against D'Lo Brown and The Rock, overcoming both men to leave as the sole survivor after finally defeating The Rock.

Just a few short months later, The Rock would go onto capture the Intercontinental Championship, lose it, and go on to be arguably the most successful wrestler since Hogan.

Prior to the next match, we get a video recalling the rise to prominence of Austin 316.

Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Owen Hart to capture the Intercontinental Championship

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Steve Austin beat Owen Hart for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Seeking revenge for the career-altering injury he suffered at the hands of Owen Hart the last time the two met over the Intercontinental strap, Austin made his way to ringside looking angry and ready to raise hell.

Hart, on the other hand, walked slowly to the ring, a cocky look upon his face and flanked by the rest of Team Canada.

The King of Harts took his time getting into the ring, only doing so when Austin was distracted whilst delivering a Stone Cold Stunner to Jim Neidhart.

When the bell finally rang, the two exploded with a short, fast and furious brawl which quickly spilled to the outside and took much longer to return between the ropes.

Hart seized the advantage with a low-blow and assaulted the challenger with some vicious offence, but it didn't take long for Austin to retaliate, dropping the Stunner from out of nowhere and capturing the IC belt.

European Champion Shawn Michaels defeated Bret 'The Hitman' Hart to capture the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in the legendary Montreal Screwjob.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart met for the last time in the Montreal Screwjob
It was one of the most anticipated rematches of the 1990s, it was the match that everybody had paid to see and it was the match that would ultimately change the professional wrestling landscape.

As an ominous beat set an intense atmosphere, European Champion Shawn Michaels made his way through the backstage area with DX into tow and went out into the arena, alone revelling in the hatred shown towards him by the Canadian faithful before desecrating the Canadian flag

World champion, Hart was followed to the ring by Bulldog and Anvil as that same ominous beat loomed, heightening the suspense.

In sharp contrast to his real-life rival, Hart received an overwhelming reception from his fellow Canadians, but seemed too distracted by the match at hand to pay them any real attention.

Michaels attacked before the opening bell, but Hart retaliated and sent his foe reeling to the outside with a stiff clothesline.

The brawl continued on the outside, spilling into the rowdy crowd as The Hitman pummelled The Heartbreak Kid with some stiff blows.

As Michaels managed to turn the momentum in his favour, Vince McMahon made his way to ringside whilst announcer Jim Ross speculated on the future of the departing Hitman.

The fight went back into the crowd, this time with Michaels in control until Hart once again took the advantage.

As a swarm of referees and sundry other officials, McMahon included, urged the combatants to return to the ring, Hart suplexed Shawn in the isle-way and continued his assault with more stiff shots.

Refusing, both Shawn and Bret took out a number of officials before finally, after beating each other senseless all over the arena, making it to the ring.

The bell rang, the match was officially on.

The challenger regained control; stomping on his prone opponent and choking him out with a flag before taking time out to taunt the crowd.

Shawn continued his assault on the outside, before wearing down his foe further inside the ring.

The weary champion fought back with his patented ring-post-assisted-figure-four and took control, dominating his foe with everything he had.

And then it happened.

Referee Earl Hebner took a bump. Michaels applied the Sharpshooter. Vince McMahon demanded the timekeeper 'ring the f****g bell'. Bret Hart had lost the WWE Championship.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the Montreal Screwjob, the event that changed the professional wrestling landscape.

Hart would leave immediately for WCW (though not before punching out McMahon backstage), Michaels and his friend Triple H would cause havoc as D-Generation-X before the former finally lost the WWF Championship to Stone Cold Steve Austin and disappeared for the duration of the Attitude Era.

Forced to turn heel thanks to the overwhelming negative reaction to his orchestration of the Screwjob incident, Vince became the evil Mr. McMahon character, entered a feud with Austin and helped propel him to one of the biggest names in the industry, along with The Rock, and later Triple H.

The Attitude Era came and went and everything changed after Survivor Series 1997.


I can't remember if they cheered for Owen or Austin in Canada that night...

It's too bad that I have nothing positive to say about this event, because it pisses me off so much, even 24 years later, that I feel anyone who defends Shawn, H, or Vince needs their faces punched for speaking those opinions to others.

But this is why(detailed explanation ahead).

A] Bret's loss here is something that could have done serious financial damage to the WWF had Canada's fans totally abandoned that company to follow Bret to WCW.

B] Had TSN, who aired Raw in Canada at the time, known more about the wresting business than they did, then TSN would've told Vince to fuck off and start airing Nitro live in Canada as a replacement...likely ending the presence of the WWF on TV here.

C] Vince lost the goodwill of the fans in this country that they wanted to probably kill him, Shawn, and H for ripping us off.

Now, that might've been fine for Vince when it happened, but the Montreal ScrewJob ended up contributing, unwittingly, to a far more tragic scene later on, which would be collateral damage from the ScrewJob.

Without Bret's presence in the company, and with both Davey and Neidhart bailing, it left one other Hart in the WWF at that point....Owen.

And this time, Owen was there without the rest of his family supporting him on TV. No one, as a shoot, liked Owen anymore post-ScrewJob, and he was there to do things on his own, under a dark cloud of suspicion from everyone around him.

We would later see how things turned out for him on May 23, 1999.

The Montreal ScrewJob on Bret eventually cost him his brother's life, because Bret wasn't there to aggressively tell both Vince's to fuck off, and to protect Owen from making that mistake of choosing to go into the rafters.

Owen's death hurt me as a fan to have to hear about, and even over 22 1/2 years later, the news report on that disaster that CBC Newsworld on it that they aired is drilled into my mind. The tribute show later that night will haunt me forever too.

But wait, there's more....

Sadly, in the pro wrestling world, anytime a talent dies in it, there's always a vacuum left behind, in the form of the roster spot that 'needs to be filled'. This was no exception.

Now, who was it that filled Owen's spot on the roster, and took away any and all possible career improvements that Owen could have received?

Paul 'Triple H' Levesque.

And that's something that, after 4 years of thought from the night of Owen's death, made me rage in a horrible way to him, and WWE as a whole.

Paul used Owen's fatal fall to build his rise in WWE. That's the conclusion I drew from what I was seeing. And it made me not even want to watch Raw, and stick only with SmackDown, for the entirety that Paul basically controlled Raw's booking.

It took me 9 years to even want to directly look at his face again, because that's how deeply angry I was at him for that. Even now, it's still not something I want to do.

And yeah, I still hate him for that, because that was unacceptable actions from him. You don't do that.

Post a Comment

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.