PPV REVIEW: WWF Ground Zero - In Your House 17

WWF / WWE: Ground Zero - In Your House17: Event poster
September 7, 1997
Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky

Despite being the first In Your House to run for three hours, and the first to have the actual 'In Your House' as the subtitle instead of the main selling point, the September 1997 Ground Zero event is often an overlooked and entirely forgotten pay per view.

On the face of it, this isn't too surprising. Sandwiched directly between Bret 'The Hitman' Hart's fifth title win at Summerslam 1997 and the debut of both Kane and the Hell in a Cell match at the following month's Badd Blood, the seventeenth In Your House event lacked that big-time memorable moment or any kind of all-time classic match.

Does that mean it deserves to languish, forever forgotten among an enormous pile of pro wrestling shows which only grows higher with each passing week?

Not necessarily.

As we'll find out today, Ground Zero: In Your House may not have changed the world, but it sure did entertain.

Shawn Michaels is a Bad Man

Our opening video tonight focused solely on Shawn Michaels and his ongoing heel turn which began when he accidentally nailed The Undertaker with a chair at Summerslam 1997 and cost The Dead Man the WWF title.

Feeling the wrath of 'Taker himself, not to mention his legions of fans, HBK had developed a new attitude that would eventually see him become a full on degenerate.

Before that though, The Undertaker had promised that Michaels would pay for his crimes, and would pay for them tonight, here at Ground Zero: In Your House

Welcome to Ground Zero

WWE / WWF - Ground Zero: In Your House 17 - Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, and Jim Ross
Tonight marks the first In Your House show where the brand was used as the subtitle instead of the main title.

That was evident when Vince McMahon welcomed us to Ground Zero before welcoming his broadcast colleagues, Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

The trio put over tonight's card after which McMahon told us that our first match would be Goldust against Marlena.

No, that's not a typo. That's what he said.

What he meant of course, was Goldust against Brian Pillman.

Special Stipulation Match
Brian Pillman vs. Goldust

The stipulation here was that if Goldust won, Pillman would have to leave the WWF, but if The Loose Cannon won, he would get the services of Marlena for 30 days, hence McMahon's confusion.

WWE / WWF Ground Zero - In Your House 17 review: Marlena was Brian Pillman's prize for beating Goldust
By this point his career (which would tragically soon be over), Pillman was no longer the high-flying wunderkind he had once been, but by employing a very different approach, he and Goldust were able to work together to put on a fun opening match which got better as it went on.

Of course, it helped tremendously that the crowd were white hot and into every move, but that only added to what was already a fine display from the two men in the ring.

Towards the finish, Earl Hebner got in the way of Goldust landing The Curtain Call and sold the gentle stroke of Pillman's elbow across his cheek as though he'd been run over by a bulldozer.

As Goldie checked on the fallen referee, Pillman snatched Marlena's purse from her, drilled his opponent with it, and won the match.
Your Winner: Brian Pillman

Post-match, The Loose Cannon grabbed hold of Marlena and forced her backstage after winning what was to be his last ever PPV match.

The drama continued for the next five minutes, first with Jerry Lawler showing us that Marlena had a brick in her purse, then with Pillman forcing the blonde beauty into his car and driving away, and finally with Goldust having a breakdown in his dressing room and dropping a couple of well-covered F-bombs.

Scott Putski vs. Brian Christopher

WWE / WWF Ground Zero: In Your House 17 - Scott Putski faced Brian Christopher
Nothing says 'Big Time PPV' like Scott Putski, does it?

Still, I shouldn't mock, because this was starting to look like a pretty fun match until Ivan Putski's lad injured his knee on the outside, promoting Mike Chioda to award the match to Brian Christopher.

Before that, we got a decent little show, albeit one that lacked the impassioned crowd of the opening match.
Your Winner: Brian Christopher

Afterwards, Christopher and his daddy both mocked the fallen Putski as a gaggle of referees tried to help Polish Power Jr. to his feet.

Putski was wheeled out on a stretcher, and I'm not sure he was ever heard from again, at least not on PPV.

Faction Action

Up next, Vince and JR told us that we were going to look at some 'faction action' which to you and me meant the company's thinly-disguised Gang Warfare storyline.

If you recall, Farooq had fired most of The Nation of Domination after the group cost him his WWF title match against The Undertaker at King of the Ring 1997.

WWE / WWF - Ground Zero: In Your House 17 - Crush and the Disciples of the Apocalypse

That prompted ex-members Crush and Savio Vega to form their own gangs - The Disciples of The Apocalypse and Los Bouricas respectively.

Meanwhile, Farooq had rebuilt his Nation with its one other original member D'Lo Brown and former Papa Shango, Kama Mustafa, who hadn't been seen on a WWF PPV since the 1996 Royal Rumble, when he was still Kama The Supreme Fighting Machine.

Farooq's long-time rival, Ahmed Johnson, had turned on the fans to complete The Nation line-up for a while, and even put in an appearance at the end of the D.O.A vs. Los Bouricas match at Summerslam 1997, but when he got injured again, The Nation eventually booted him out and replaced him with Rocky Maivia.

Tonight, the leaders of all thee factions would go head to head.

That match was next.

Triple Threat
Savio Vega vs. Crush vs. Farooq

I swear that when Crush first left The Nation, I wrote about the tattoo on his head disappearing.

WWE / WWF - Ground Zero: In Your House 17 - Savio Vega faced Crush and Farooq in a triple threat match
I must have been on crack though, because he definitely had it tonight as he went up against Savio Vega and Farooq in a match that I don't think was all that special.

I say 'think,' because right from the word go this one failed to keep my attention.

Every time I turned back to the screen, it would bore me so much I was immediately back to playing with my phone or scratching my ass or something far more than this match.

In the end, Crush nailed Farooq with the Heart Punch but then got drilled by a spinning heel kick from Vega who scored the win.
Your Winner: Savio Vega

With that over, we got a look at the outside of the arena including Mohammed Ali Boulevard, and then the crowd.

Minis Match
El Torito vs. Max Mini

WWE / WWF - Ground Zero In Your House 17: Max Mini faced El Torito
No, this wasn't the same El Torito who had that feud with Hornswoggle that time.

This was a mini luchadore who tonight went one on one with the popular Max Mini.

You'd have to be completely heartless not to enjoy this match.

Mostly a fast-paced lucha libre match with a hilarious spot of comedy thrown into the middle, the whole thing was fun from start to finish.

No, it wasn't a classic, no it wasn't a master class in-ring psychology and storytelling, but as a lighthearted diversion from the rest of the show, it was terrific.

Predictably, Max Mini won with a sunset flip.
Your Winner: Max Mini 

Up next, we were reminded that Stone Cold Steve Austin was being forced to surrender his half of the tag team titles on tonight's show.

Austin, if you recall, had originally won the tag team titles with Shawn Michaels earlier in the year, even facing Michaels in a match at King of the Ring 1997 whilst the two held the titles together.

WWE / WWF - Ground Zero - In Your House 17: Sgt. Slaughter forced Steve Austin & Dude Love to give up the tag titles
Michaels then went down with an injury again, leaving Austin to try and capture the now vacant belts on his own.

Instead, Dude Love showed up and the two became champs together until Austin suffered a legitimate and horrific neck injury at Summerslam 97 and was genuinely out of action for a while.

As such, new WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter had ordered Stone Cold to surrender his half of the Championship.

Instead of just, you know, having Austin drop the title off at the office or something, this was pro wrestling, so the official forfeiture had to be done in the ring.

Stone Cold Surrenders the Tag Titles

We began the formalities with Jim Ross noting to Sgt. Slaughter what a crappy part of the commissioner's job this was.

Slaughter agreed, but didn't seem too phased by the whole thing, instead insisting that he knew the job was going to be hard when he first got into it.

WWE / WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero - Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dude Love surrender the tag team titles
Ross then brought out Dude Love, who was in a much more sombre mood than usual.

Though he could try and defend the titles himself, said the Dude, it would be unfair to Austin, since Stone Cold was the only reason Love had the belts in the first place.

That brought out Austin, who wasn't too thrilled to be giving up his title.

Stone Cold ignored Dude altogether, snatched the mic from JR and used it to verbally abuse Slaughter.

After tossing the title at Slaughter's feet and demanding the commissioner pick it up, Austin next turned his attention to Jim Ross.

The two weren't best buds yet, though when Austin ordered the announcer to say something, Ross did a pretty good job of kissing some Stone Cold ass. Presumedly sickened by the whole thing, Austin drilled JR with a stunner, earning the loudest crowd reaction of the night.

The best part of all this was actually Vince McMahon, who let it be known on commentary just how much he disapproved of Austin's antics.

That would come in useful down the road.

Owen Hart Likes Saying 'Crap'

WWF / WWE - In Your House 17: Ground Zero - Doc Hendrix interviews Owen Hart & British Bulldog
Backstage, Doc Hendrix spoke with WWF European Champion The British Bulldog and Owen Hart, the latter of whom said that what Steve Austin had done to Jim Ross was 'a load of crap.'

Then he said it again, and a third time. Presumedly, Owen just liked the fact that he could get away with saying 'crap' on TV now.

That aside, this was another entertaining promo from the brothers-in-law, with Owen demanding that he be given the Intercontinental title back (Austin had beaten him for it at Summerslam), and Davey Boy promising to be in Owen's corner when Hart and Austin did lock up again.

Fatal Fourway Tag Team Match for the Vacant World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) vs. The Godwins (Henry & Phineas) vs. The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. Owen Hart & WWF European Champion The British Bulldog

Prior to the match getting started, The Godwins, Legion Of Doom, and The Headbangers all had pre-recorded comments for us.

Unsurprisingly, each one promised to win the tag team title tonight.

WWE / WWF In Your House 17: Ground Zero - The Headbangers won the WWF tag team titles
What they didn't promise, was an entertaining match, which is just as well considering they mostly failed to deliver one.

For the first two-thirds of the bout, the action ranged from passable to mediocre, with the only real entertainment coming from Owen and Bulldog, who refused to tag in and get involved.

Yet when Hawk and Animal got disqualified for hitting Henry and Phineas Godwin repeatedly with a steel bucket, and The Godwins quickly fell to Mosh and Thrasher, Owen and Bulldog had no choice but to get stuck in.

When they did, the match picked up and gave us an exciting finale which almost looked to have Owen Hart secure the win with the Sharpshooter.

Instead, Steve Austin ran and planted the Slammy award winner with a stunner, allowing The Headbangers to get the upset win, and the Tag Team titles.
Your Winners and NEW WWF Tag Team Champions: The Headbangers

Post match, Mosh and Thrasher dove into the crowd to celebrate their big win with their fans. The celebration then moved out into arena lobby, where Mosh and Thrasher celebrated with an army of rabid fans by a mobile food and drink truck and gave out what I assume were burritos.

It was certainly different, and a fun way to show the new Champions' pride and joy at winning the belts.

Jim Ross is a Potty Mouth

WWF / WWE - In Your House 17: Ground Zero - Jim Ross is upset about getting stunned by Steve Austin
Backstage, an understandably upset Jim Ross held an ice pack on his neck whilst letting his feelings be well known about Steve Austin.

Dropping expletives every other word, JR insisted that he'd leave the WWF if he got beat up again.

Oh JR, how little you know about what was going to happen in your future.

A Look at The Patriot

Prior to our next match, we got an in-depth look at The Patriot and why he was so well-equipped to challenge Bret 'The Hitman' Hart for the WWF Championship.

WWE / WWF - Ground Zero: In Your House - Sunny interviews The Patriot about his WWF Championship match against Bret Hart
The video did a good job of making The Patriot look good, but it did nothing to make you want to care about him.

Nor did the promo he cut moments later when Sunny interviewed him backstage.

Bland, riddled with cliches and like something straight out of the 1980s, The Patriot's goody-two-shoes promo was as cheesy as it was cringeworthy.

Bret isn't Worried About The Patriot

The reigning WWF Champion didn't actually say he wasn't worried about his challenger, but that was precisely the point; Bret didn't mention The Patriot at all.

Instead, He spent all of his time with a really scrawny-looking Michael Cole talking about how the American wrestling fans hated him and he hated them just as much.

The only time Bret even considered his opponent was right at the end of his promo when he promised to kick the crap out of 'this guy,' basically treating the number one contender to the title like some no-name jobber.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. The Patriot

WWE / WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero - Bret 'The Hitman' Hart talks to Michael Cole about his match with The Patriot
Having never actually seen this match before, I'd gone into it with low expectations, for some reason thinking that it wasn't going to be as good as the calibre of matches Bret was capable of having.

In that respect, I was sort of right:

This wasn't the best Bret Hart match ever.

Then again, even the worst Bret Hart match is better than many other's best, and that was certainly the case here.

After a somewhat dull start, things quickly picked up, turning into a good match with a few exciting moments.

One of those came early on, when Davey Boy Smith got involved, only for his interference to be countered by the arrival of Vader, who was now a full-fledged babyface.

With those two gone, it was left to champ and challenger to build up the drama, most of which focused on teasing the idea that The Patriot might just win the title.

Whilst the execution of those drama-building spots was perfect, I'm not sure anyone in the arena that night truly believed that Bret was going to lose.

So, when Bret slapped on the Sharpshooter and won the match, it seemed all too obvious, taking the shine over what was otherwise a solid contest.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

Afterwards, we saw both men making their way to the back, The Patriot looking especially frustrated.

Everyone's a Loser

WWE / WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero: Bret Hart and British Bulldog called everyone losers
Backstage, Micheal Cole caught up with Bret Hart and The British Bulldog, suggesting to The Hitman that the Hart Foundation's war with the USA might be 'starting all over again.'

Bret merely dismissed such silliness, instead claiming that the USA were losers, The Patriot, The Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels were all losers, and well, everyone was a loser.

Not Canada and the UK though, they were great, said The British Bulldog, and they were going to win the war.

In a not-so-subtle attempt to ensure he got a babyface reaction at the upcoming One Night Only PPV in England, Bret then mentioned that the UK appreciate great wrestlers.

Shawn Michaels Never Sleeps

Prior to our main event, we got a look back at the intense rivalry between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.

That took us to backstage comments from HBK himself, who said that he could never rest in peace because he never slept, and was more than ready for The Undertaker.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Though erring on the side of heeldom, Shawn was in a 'tweener role here, one minute having garbage thrown at him on his way to the ring, the next hi-fiving a group of fans at ringside.

Whether you liked him at this stage of his career or absolutely hated him, there was no denying how entertaining he was.

The referee got bumped right from the off, giving The Undertaker the chance to batter Michaels around the ring and up to the entrance without mercy or regard for the rules.

Michaels sold his ass-whooping like a hero, at one point even banging on the front door of the In Your House set as though begging someone to let him in so that he could get away from his pursuer.

Order was restored when Commissioner Slaughter brought out Earl Hebner to oversee proceedings, giving HBK a chance to turn the tides in his favour.

Despite Michaels getting the upper hand, however, The Undertaker continually managed to turn the match back in his favour, even after Michael's insurance policy, Rick Rude, came down and handed his client a pair of brass knuckles.

WWE / WWF: In Your House 17 - Ground Zero - Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
From there, the match descended back into the chaos that it begun with. More referees got bumped, chair shots were threatened but never materialised, and brass knuckle shots were exchanged.

Marking the first PPV appearance of what would come to be known as D-Generation-X, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna also came out, but even despite their efforts to help Michaels destroy The Undertaker, the Man From The Darkside continued to fight back and even took out another referee.

Eventually, Tim White decided that he had completely had enough, ran to the ring and threw the whole thing out.
No Contest

Afterwards, a random assortment of WWF Superstars ran out to break up the fight, only for The Undertaker to break free and hit a sweet looking tope on Michaels, The Godwins, and a crowd of other ne'er-do-wells.

The whole thing, from Shawn's pre-match promo to the final moments of the show wase're an absolute joy to watch. One of the most fun main events I've seen in ages, this is definitely worth checking out.

I couldn't say that the whole of Ground Zero: In Your House is a total must-see show, but it's certainly one of the better events to be promoted under that brand.

The main event was superb, the title match was textbook but still enjoyable, and the undercard -despite dragging at times- did have its own flashes of brilliance.

Sadly, this did mark the last PPV appearance of Brian Pillman, a subject that's going to be even more difficult to talk about in the next WWF In Your House review - Badd Blood.

1997 events reviewed so far:
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
  12. WCW - Great American Bash 1997 
  13. WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede 
  14. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1997 
  15. WWF - Summerslam 1997
  16. WCW - Road Wild 1997
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Post a Comment