Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Friday, 28 October 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWF Survivor Series 1997

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Event poster

WWF Survivor Series 1997
Molson Centre, Montreal, Canada

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Survivor Series 1997, a game-changing event which, despite a lackluster undercard, went down as one of the most significant PPVs in pro wrestling history thanks to a little incident known as The Montreal Screwjob. 

Given that my last review of this event was written in 2010 and published a few years later when I started Retro Pro Wrestling, the 25-year anniversary seems like a good time to go back and revisit it all over again.

Besides, I wasn't all that happy with the original Survivor Series '97 review published on this site to begin with. So, without further ado, here's a fresh look at an event that changed the course of the WWF forever.


Hart vs. Michaels II: This Time, It's Personal 

Our show tonight began with a dramatic look back at the iron man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12, followed by sound bites from the two’s scathing, animosity-filled promos in the build-up to their rematch here, a year-and-half later.

It says a lot about the quality of that feud that many of those sound bites have become iconic, as permanently etched in this fan’s mind as Austin’s King of the Ring ‘96 promo or Hulk Hogan declaring a new world order of wrestling at Bash at the Beach that same year.

With the opening video out of the way, Milton Bradley’s Karate Fighters presented the 11th annual Survivor Series before we got pyro galore and sweeping shots of the rabid Montreal crowd.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Jerry Lawler and Jim Ros called the event

Our announcers, Jim Ross & Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler were as psyched as the fans for tonight’s event as they put over Hart/Michaels II (or III if you count their Survivor Series '92 match) and then sent it to the ring for our opening bout.

Traditional 4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Match
The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) and The New Blackjacks (Windham & Bradshaw) vs. The Godwins (Henry & Phineas Godwin), Road Dogg Jesse James, and Bad Ass Billy Gunn

Road Dogg Jesse James and Bad Ass Billy Gunn weren’t officially the New Age Outlaws yet, but they were solidifying their status as the most villainous heel tandem in the company at the time.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - The Road Dog leads his team into battle

Tonight, the two stayed out of the ring as much as possible as The Godwins and The New Blackjacks kicked things off in a good, old-fashioned hoss battle.

The first I reviewed this match, I wrote it off as boring. Years later, while I’m not claiming it was a workrate classic or anything, I certainly enjoyed it more the second time around.

After Bradshaw and Windham had spent the first minute or so exchanging the advantage with Henry and Phineas Godwin, it was Henry who was the first to be taken out, putting the good guys up 3 to 4.

Phineas soon evened the score, getting revenge for his partner by eliminating Barry Windham.

After Billy Gunn took out Mosh, the other Headbanger, Thrasher, worked over Phineas’ arm for a lengthy stretch of time.

Although it wasn’t the most exciting part of the match, the arm spot wasn’t so bad that it ruined what was an otherwise perfectly acceptable opener.

As it wore to a finish, Thrasher did away with Phineas by jumping off the top rope and crashing on the pig farmer’s chest.

Not long after, Roadie and Bad Ass took out Bradshaw and Thrasher in quick succession to become the sole survivors and further cement their status as the top team in the division.
Your Winners: Road Dogg Jesse James & Bad Ass Billy Gunn

Remember The Truth Commission? They were up next.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
The Truth Commission (Sniper, Recon, The Interrogator, and The Jackyl) vs. The Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, 8-Ball, and Skull)

The big problem with a match like The Truth Commission vs. DOA was that, once the biker gang stepped off their motorcycles they had nothing interesting to offer, while Jackyl’s gang of paramilitary soldiers were never had anything interesting to offer to begin with.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - The Truth Commission

Thus, after Crush, Chainz (Brian ‘Fake Undertaker’ Lee), and the team of Skull & 8-Ball (The Harris Brothers) got done popping the crowd by riding around on their bikes all that was left was a fairly lifeless match that was 80% clobberin’ and 20% sidewalk slams.

Seriously, I think there were more sidewalk slams in this match than you’d see in the entire body of work of The Big Boss Man.

The Interrogator (Kurrgan) established his dominance early on by taking out Chainz (with a sidewalk slam, obviously), only for the biker boys to get their revenge by eliminating The Jackyl first and then Recon (Bull Buchanan) a few minutes later.

After he was eliminated, The Jackyl immediately hopped over to the announce table and spent the rest of the match on commentary where he denied JR’s accusation of being the WWF’s answer to cult leader David Koresh and consistently promised to tell us the truth without actually saying what that truth was.

The battle continued as a two-on-two affair pitting Crush and whichever Harris Brother hadn’t been eliminated against Sniper and the big man, The Interrogator.

To the surprise of no one, it was the latter who was left standing as the sole survivor after Crush eliminated Sniper but then got himself pinned after -you guessed it— another sidewalk slam.

To be fair, this wasn’t completely horrible, but it certainly wasn’t much fun to watch either.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: The Interrogator

Post-match, The Jackyl claimed that he had won the Survivor Series and lept into the ring to celebrate with his man Kurrgan.

Shawn Michaels is Gonna Win

Whenever the WWF would poll fans on their predictions for a high-profile match, I can’t help but think of the kid from Summerslam 1992 who proudly declared that the British Bulldog would beat Bret Hart ‘whether he wants to or not.’

Tonight, nobody claimed that The Hitman’s opponent had no choice in winning, but the vast majority of the Montreal fans who featured in this show’s “whose going to win?” segment all seemed to be rooting for the Heartbreak Kid despite Bret apparently being The Canadian Hero.

From there, we went to the America Online room where Stone Cold Steve Austin told interviewer Kevin Kelly that despite being concerned about his neck, he was still going to emerge victorious in his upcoming match with Owen Hart.

Austin was as compelling as ever here and ended his promo by leaning over and staring at a laptop running the WWF America Online chat room with such an exaggerated intensity that it made this fan crack up laughing.

A Word With Team USA

Back in the arena, Jim Ross put over tonight’s sponsors, Milton Bradley Karate Fighters, and took us to a clip of some kind of pre-show party to celebrate that sponsorship.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Michael Cole interviews Team USA

Or at least something like that. To be honest, I’m not sure quite what the event was that we saw. All I know is that the clip featured an overhead crowd shot, Thrasher ramming some poor dude’s face into a cake, and nothing else.

Then, as we prepared for our next match, JR reminded us that Steve Blackman had debuted on Raw as a fan who just so happened to be a martial arts bad ass.

Blackman had jumped into the ring to save Vader from an attack at the hands of The British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, and the duo of Doug Furnas & Philip LaFon.

As a ‘fan,’ Blackman had been arrested, but Vader had apparently bailed him out and then petitioned to have him join Team USA for tonight’s next traditional Survivor Series match.

Before we could get to that, however, Blackman, Vader, and their partners Marc Mero and Goldust stood by for a backstage interview with Michael “I’ve Been in this Company Forever” Cole.

Coming off as though he was struggling to remember his lines, Vader did nothing to endear himself to the Montreal faithful by declaring that he and his teammates were sick of "loud-mouthed, trash-talking Canadians telling us what to do.”

For his part, Steve Blackman insisted that despite being new to the WWF, he was plenty experienced in “every form of martial arts known to man” and was thus looking forward to tonight’s big fight.

Offering a retort, well-known Canadian The British Bulldog promised victory for Team Canada while Doug Furnas claimed that he hates America so much he’d moved out of the country.

Traditional 4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Match
Team USA (Vader, Steve Blackman, Goldust, and Marc Mero w/ Sable) vs. Team Canada (The British Bulldog, Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart, Doug Furnas, and Phillip LaFon)

With Goldust slowly transitioning into his Artist Formerly Known As phase and Marc Mero also becoming a heel due to his wife, Sable overshadowing him everywhere they went, Team USA made their way to the ring to the theme that used to belong to The Patriot but which has since become synonymous with Kurt Angle.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Team Canada vs. Team USA

Once their opponents hit the ring, JR took the time to note that only one man representing Team Canada -Phil LaFon- was actually Canadian, with the rest of his team comprising two Americans and an Englishman.

The match itself wasn’t the most spectacular, but with Vader doing most of the work and his teammates providing some interesting moments, it was nonetheless a fun encounter.

Steve Blackman was the first to go when, apparently unfamiliar with the rules of pro wrestling, he went brawling on the outside with Phil LaFon and didn’t bother to answer the referee’s ten count to get back inside.

I mean, that was one way to get the newcomer out of there while still looking like a major badass, but you’d think one of his teammates would have sat him down to explain simple things like the count-out rule, right?

Vader soon evened the odds for his team by destroying Jim Neidhart and then got the upper hand moments later by also doing away with LaFon.

Team USA’s run of luck didn’t last long, however, as Marc Mero was taken out by Furnas.

To be honest, I would have eliminated Mero earlier, not because he wasn’t any good, but simply because the crowd were so hot for Sable that they didn’t really care much about anything else until she was gone.

Down to 2 vs. 2, Vader found that his only remaining teammate, Goldust, didn’t really care about much either. Not only had he not yet stepped in the ring, but when Vader actually tried to tag him in, the former Intercontinental Champion refused.

That left The Mastadon to duke it out with Bulldog and Furnas in an impressive display that was exciting to watch before finally forcing Dusty’s kid into the ring.

Wanting no part of Doug and Davey Boy, Goldust merely walked off and got counted out.

Not long after, Vader eliminated Furnas but was then immediately struck with a ring bell by the Bulldog behind the referee’s back and promptly pinned.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: The British Bulldog

Despite the crowd cheering him hugely for winning whether he wanted to or not, Davey Boy immediately left the ring and stormed straight to the back.

Either that, or there was something going on backstage that he was eager to get back for.

Who knows

Not me, that’s who, but what I do know is that Milton Bradley Karate Fighters got another mention as the PPV sponsors had hosted something called the Survivor Series Super Supper Sweepstakes.

Hmm, I wonder if they were also responsible for the Super Summer Sizzler Spectacular or whatever that show ECW did in ‘93 was called.

Lawler and Ross spoke on the phone to the winner of that sweepstake, a giggly young lady called Jaqueline who, as her prize, got to choose Steve Austin as her dinner date.

Mankind Seeks to Avenge Dude Love’s Demise

From there, we got a video package recapping the arrival of Kane at In Your House 18: Badd Blood, The Undertaker’s refusal to fight his brother, and how that led to Kane annihilating Dude Love.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Mankind cuts a promo on Kane

The Dude’s demise brought back Mankind to seek revenge for his own alter-ego, and that took us to an excellent backstage promo from Foley in which he likened Kane to a brick wall and vowed to run right into him.

I swear down, Foley in his prime has to be up there as one of the best promos in the business.

Mankind vs. Kane (w/ Paul Bearer)

You also have to give Mick credit for sacrificing himself in order to put Kane over as a truly dominant force in this match.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Kane gets ready to face Mankind

Though Mankind certainly got his moments to shine here, he was mostly pulverized by The Big Red Machine.

He took a beating, had the ring steps hurled in his face, and was even sent crashing through a table.

Yet as unstoppable as all this made Kane look, it wasn’t enough to put his opponent away until a tombstone piledriver sealed the deal.

All of this played out beneath red lights which, although they were a little distracting, they did add something unique to a match that was otherwise already entertaining.
Your Winner: Kane

Did any of you send your cable bill proving you’d bought Survivor Series 97 so that you could get a free WWF dog tag?

Me neither, but JR told us they had 3,000 of those bad boys to give away, so I hope somebody did.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Michael Cole interviews Vince McMahon and Sgt. Slaughter

Meanwhile, out in the back, Sgt. Slaughter told Michael Cole that they had extra security in place should anything crazy happen in tonight’s main event.

Cole then turned his attention to Vince McMahon and asked him who would win said main event.

Vince lied and said he had no idea.

What a Rush!

Backstage, Doc Hendrix interviewed Ken Shamrock, The Legion of Doom, and Ahmed Johnson about their upcoming match with the Nation of Domination.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Doc Hendrix interviews Ken Shamrock, Legion of Doom, and Ahmed Johnson

Shamrock kicked things off by delivering a promo that was all Jeff Farmer levels of bad in which he basically said he and his men were all business.

Fairing a little better on the mic, Hawk gave the usual Road Warrior promo in which he promised that he and Animal would wipe out the “criminal element” from the WWF.

Fortunately, Hendrix was smart enough to keep the microphone away from Ahmed Johnson.

Traditional 4 vs. 4 Survivor Series Match
The Nation of Domination (Farooq, D’Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa, and Rocky Maivia) vs. Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and WWF Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal)

A year on from his debut as a perma-grinned babyface, Rocky Maivia wasn’t yet The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment, but he was certainly on his way to becoming a heel worth paying attention to and further established himself by eliminating Hawk in the first two minutes of the match.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - They are the nation...of DOMINATION!

Ahmed Johnson then ensured an even playing field by pinning arch-nemesis Farooq, but the Nation leader retaliated by holding Johnson’s legs down while Rocky scored his second elimination on the master of the Pearl River Plunge.

Proving that their never-ending rivalry was far from done, Johnson and Farooq then brawled all the way to the back, ending an exciting first six minutes of the match.

From there, things slowed down considerably and the middle portion of the match seemed to drag on with little in the way of excitement.

It was during this lackluster middle section that Animal took out Kama Mustafa, only to be eliminated himself when Road Dogg and Billy Gunn interfered, blasting the Road Warrior with powder to the eyes and causing him to get counted out.

It was at that point that the match really picked up again. Shamrock snapped, eliminated D’Lo Brown, and then went at it with The Rock in a hot exchange that ended things in fine form.

Shamrock made Rocky tap in the ankle lock to win the match and emerge as the sole survivor.

The opening and closing minutes of this match more than made up for the lag in the middle, ensuring that this was an all-round enjoyable contest.
Your Winner and Sole Survivor: Ken Shamrock

1.55.02 - record attendance.

As Shamrock celebrated his big time win, Jim Ross announced that tonight’s event had set a brand new attendance record.

Prior to the next match, a clip aired to promote the next WWF PPV, D-Generation-X: In Your House 19. That show would see Shamrock capitalize on his big win here, and his overall popularity, by headlining the show as a challenger for the WWF title.

We then took a look back at all the times Stone Cold Steve Austin’s rivalry with Owen Hart, including that awful moment Owen dropped him on his head back at Summerslam ‘97.

The two would meet in a hotly anticipated rematch next.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart (w/ Team Canada) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

Damn, I miss Owen Hart.

Wearing his infamous Owen 3:16 t-shirt, the reigning and defending champion was accompanied to the ring by Neidhart, Smith, Furnas, and LaFon, but shortly after Anvil ate a stunner, those guys left and we got a short but explosive one-on-one encounter.

With the cruel Canadians showing their support for their countryman by yelling “break his neck! Break his neck!” Owen first got his ass whooped by Stone Cold but got a modicum of revenge outside the ring.

There, he choked Austin with a cable, and, when the referee threatened to disqualify him, Hart told him to go ahead and even rang the bell for him.

Of course, the official was having none of that, so it was back to the ring where Stone Cold regained the advantage and captured his second Intercontinental championship with an almighty stunner.

That wasn’t a long match. In fact, it was more of a short version of the main event brawls that would eventually become Austin’s trademark than an actual match, but the crowd and the competitors were both on fire and it made for compelling viewing
Your Winner and New WWF Intercontinental Champion: Owen Hart

Before a final look at Hart/Michaels, JR warned us that their match was going to be very personal and, I quote, “very stiff.”

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart vs. WWF European Champion Shawn Michaels

And so, five years after they first headlined a Survivor Series and began their journey to becoming bonafide main eventers, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would meet one last time in a match that is still talked about today.

WWF / WWE - Survivor Series 1997 - Shawn Michaels puts Bret Hart in a sharpshooter

Adding an extra sense of suspense and drama to an already historic match, both HBK and The Hitman were filmed walking from their respective dressing rooms to the gorilla position with their allies in tow.

Michaels had HHH, Chyna, and Rick Rude with him while Bulldog and Anvil accompanied Hart.

Once both men were in the ring, they wasted no time in going at it, giving us a wild and out-of-control brawl into the stands and up the entranceway for a full solid ten minutes before the bell even rang.

The in-ring action was equally as enthralling, and though the spot where Michaels held Hart on the mat in a front face lock wasn’t the most exciting moment, it was an obvious call back to their Survivor Series ‘92 encounter.

Bret regained the advantage and began working over the European Champion’s legs, softening him up for the inevitable sharpshooter.

Of course, that move was applied, not by the man who had mastered it and made it so famous, but by Shawn himself.

A moment later, the call was made to “ring the f**king bell” and arguably the most controversial moment in WWF history occurred.

Ladies and gentlemen, we had all just witnessed The Montreal Screwjob.
Your Winner and New WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels

Post-match, the last live shot of Bret Hart on WWF programming for many years saw a bewildered and enraged Hitman spit in the face of chairman Vince McMahon while Michaels acted equally as surprised and annoyed as he grabbed the title and was rushed to the back by Triple H and Gerald Briscoe.

The camera followed him, zoomed in on the Survivor Series logo, and faded to black as Jim Ross wished us a good night.

Had the show not ended the way it did, Survivor Series 1997 would have probably gone down in history as a largely forgettable show, with only the main event, the IC title match, and arguably the Nation vs. Team Shamrock main event standing out as above average.

Yet that final call to “ring the f**king bell” and that lasting image of The Hitman grozzing right in Vince McMahon’s face would ensure that it didn’t really matter whether the show was any good or not.

Writing this review 25 years after the fact, it’s fair to say that it matters not one jot whether DOA vs. The Truth Commission sucked, or that the red lights in the Kane/Mankind match were distracting. It doesn’t even really matter that the Rock/Shamrock ending was a lot of fun.

All that matters is that Survivor Series ‘97 was an event that altered the course of history, serving as the catalyst for Vince McMahon’s groundbreaking heel turn, Bret Hart’s disappointing WCW run and sad end to his career in WCW and, with the then-new Intercontinental Champion Steve Austin at the helm, the dawning of the WWF’s hottest period of its existence.

Make no mistake about it. The World Wrestling Federation and, indeed, the entire landscape of professional wrestling would never be the same again.

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

EVENT REVIEW: Clash of the Champions XVII

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review

November 19, 1991
Savannah Civic Center, Savannah, Georgia

WCW's Clash of the Champions 17 was notable for being the first Clash show since the first event in 1988 not to have its own subtitle. 

The event is also highly regarded for being one of the better shows World Championship Wrestling put out that year, helping the company find its footing after the departure of franchise player Ric Flair and the steaming pile of garbage that was the company's first Flair-less PPV, The Great American Bash 1991.

Was it really all that good?

Let's go down to Savannah, Georgia to find out, shall we?

All the Titles are On the Line

Tonight's show began with a garishly 90s video that ran down tonight's big matches, mainly focussing on the fact that all titles except for the US tag team titles would be defended here tonight.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone called the action

From there, we went to our announcers, Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, who also put over tonight's action before sending it to Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt

The two said little of note, though Missy and her enormous hair were excited about interviewing "WCW's newest rookie," Marcus Alexander Bagwell.

So that was nice.

Lumberjack Match
Thomas Rich (w/ Alexandra York) vs. Big Josh

Big Josh was a lumberjack, you see, or at least some type of vague "outdoorsman" so the lumberjack match was apparently his thing. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Thomas Rich and Alexandra York

Not that he had many people to be lumberjacks for him.

On Thomas Rich's side were his York Foundation stable mates Terrence Taylor and Richard Morton along with The Young Pistols and, randomly, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker

Sure, just five lumberjacks for the heels was a pretty sad affair, but apparently, Josh could only convince The Fabulous Freebirds and Todd Champion to back him up. 

The match was decent enough, but the lumberjack gimmick seemed silly and unnecessary with only eight people surrounding the ring. 

After a solid opener, Rich's teammate Terrence Taylor deliberately tripped him up. That allowed Big Josh to hit his rival with "The Northern Exposure," which I still say is a horrible name for a move that involves sitting on your opponent's chest so that your junk is in his face. 
Your Winner: Big Josh

Folks, call the WCW hotline right now and you could talk to The Steiner Brothers! 

Beautiful Bobby Eaton vs. Firebreaker Chip 

This wasn't a terrible match, but it was bland and just kind of there to fill a little bit of TV time. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Clash of the Champions 17 - Firebreaker Chip gets the better of Bobby Eaton

Nothing exciting happened and then Bobby won with a back suplex, and that's all I've got to tell you about this one.
Your Winner: Beautiful Bobby Eaton 

Before the commercial break, a promo aired for the upcoming Starrcade 1991 event featuring the inaugural Battlebowl. To be honest, I'm looking forward to reviewing that one soon.

Sting Receives His Final Gift

Over the last several weeks and months, Sting had been receiving mysterious packages (some of which included surprises like Cactus Jack and Abdullah The Butcher) and had been promised that he would receive his final gift tonight.

The US champion made his way out at the request of Tony Schiavone and excitedly claimed that getting his gift was just like being at a party.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Madusa seduces Sting

At that point, a bunch of oily dudes in black undies (one of whom I swear down was Mike Awesome) brought out a royal lifter-type thing from out of which stepped Madusa

Looking all kinds of foxy, she crawled up to Sting and began rubbing herself all over him until Sting did his patented "Wooo!" 

That was clearly Lex Luger's cue to burst out of the box thing and attack Sting as JR told us that it had been The Total Package all along.

That was pretty underwhelming.

The Diamond Studd vs. The Z-Man

It's almost impossible to say much about this match as viewers hardly got to see any of it.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - The Diamond Studd attacks The Z-Man after losing to him

Clash of the Champions 17 returned from the commercial break with the match already in progress. Almost immediately, cameras cut to the back where Sting was being loaded into an ambulance to go have his knee checked out. The match continued in a small box in the corner of the screen, but it was hard to pay attention to it as Eric Bischoff jumped in the ambulance too and the thing rode off.

As soon as the show cut back to focusing only on the match, Z-Man caught The Diamond Studd with a roll-up and that was that.
Your Winner: The Z-Man

Post-match, Studd attacked Z-Man with a clothesline then hit him with The Diamond Death Drop before yelling "I'm the bad guy!" at the camera.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW TV Champion Stunning Steve Austin (w/ Lady Blossom) vs. PN News

This wasn't a bad match, but it easily could have been had PN News' opponent been anyone other than Steve Austin. Indeed, it was the US champion who carried his opponent to a watchable match before pinning him in under five minutes with his feet on the ropes.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Lady Blossom leads TV Champion Stunning Steve Austin into battle

It wasn't an amazing match or anything, but it was certainly better than most PN News matches had any right to be.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Steve Austin

At this point, I believe the Missy Hyatt interview with Marcus Bagwell was shown, but for some reason, it's omitted from the WWE Network.

Cactus Jack vs. Van Hammer

After Cactus Jack made his way to the ring, a "music video" of sorts played in which Van Hammer and his band stood in a wrestling ring in an empty arena Milli Vanilli'ing their way through Hammer's theme song. Their performance was intercut with clips of Hammer hitting Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker with a slingshot suplex and pinning him inside the same ring where he'd just been jamming out.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Heavy Metal Van Hammer prepares for his match with Cactus Jack

Once in the ring, WCW's resident rocker had a decent TV outing with Cactus, making up for what he lacked in-ring skill with charisma and enthusiasm while Jack did most of the heavy lifting.

After a few minutes of action, Cactus rammed Van Hammer in the throat with his own guitar and pinning him in the middle of the ring, ending the rocker's undefeated streak.
Your Winner: Cactus Jack

Post-match, Jack and Hammer continued to brawl.

Sting is Going to Be OK...Probably

Up next, Jim Ross got on the phone with Eric Bischoff, who was supposedly at the hospital with Sting. Bischoff told us that Sting had three doctors looking at his knee, but an orderly had just given him -Bischoff- a thumbs up. 

Quite what that gesture meant for The Stinger remained to be seen.

Who is Dustin's Mystery Partner?

Before the next contest, we were reminded that The Enforcers had taken out Barry Windham back at Halloween Havoc '91 by crushing his arm in a car door. Windham had returned to action but reinjured the already damaged arm, meaning there was speculation over whether or not he would compete here tonight alongside his tag team partner, Dustin Rhodes.

Putting paid to that speculation, Windham came out wearing a cast as he accompanied Rhodes to the ring. He then took to the microphone to confirm that no, he wouldn't be competing tonight but that he did have a suitable replacement.

That's the point when a random figure wearing a crazy dragon costume came out. 
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Dustin Rhodes' mystery partner


The fact that it was a dragon should've immediately told you who was underneath the mask, but this being pro wrestling, the announcers were both clueless.

Of course, when the crazy-looking character finally revealed himself, he was none other than the returning Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Barry Windham) vs. The Natural Dustin Rhodes & Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat 

Last seen on WCW PPV back at The Great American Bash 1989 (and last seen on PPV overall at Summerslam 1990), Steamboat's return was a huge deal. The crowd popped big time, and you have to give credit to Arn Anderson who sold it beautifully.

Even with the cameras nowhere near him, Arn could be heard yelling "Oh no! Not Ricky Steamboat!"

It was a great moment that kicked off a great match.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - The Enforcers double-team Ricky Steamboat

Ok, scrap that, this wasn't just a great match, it was an awesome match, and perhaps one of the best Clash of the Champions matches ever. 

The babyfaces started strong, with Steamboat in particular getting the better of the champions at every turn. At one point, Arn Anderson and Larry Zybysko regrouped on the outside, with Anderson reminding his partner that "he (Steamboat) is only a man."

That seemed to be all the pep talk The Enforcers needed, as they soon cut The Dragon off from his corner and began to wear him down. 

Anderson & Zybysko were a fantastic tag team, and when you combined that with Steamboat's top-notch job of playing the face-in-peril, it created a truly golden match.

Eventually, Ricky made the hot tag to Dustin, who cleaned house before letting The Dragon fly high, taking out Anderson with a wicked flying body press for the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes

Seriously - track down that match, it was phenomenal.

Will Sting Forfeit?

After the commercial break, Ross & Schiavone told us that The Enforcers had been protesting the outcome of the last match, noting that they had signed a contract to face Rhodes & Windham, not Rhodes & Steamboat, thus the title change shouldn't count.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Paul Heyman reveals the US title match contract


This was followed by a quick video package looking at Jushin 'Thunder' Liger as he kicked some ass in Japan ahead of his WCW debut in December.

When we returned from that video, JR was standing by with Paul E. Dangerously, who claimed that the earlier actions of Madusa and Lex Luger were heinous before showing Ross a written contract that stated that if Sting didn't make it to the ring by bell time, he would forfeit the title and Ravishing Rick Rude would be the new US champ. 
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Jim Ross on the phone with Eric Bischoff


Another commercial break followed, after which we saw Jim Ross phoning Eric Bischoff at the hospital to tell him about Dangerously's loophole. Bischoff then relayed this message to an angry Sting, who apparently "commandeered an ambulance" so that he could make it back to the arena.

I don't use this term often on Retro Pro Wrestling, but "lol."

World Championship Wrestling World Light Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Light Heavyweight Champion Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Johnny B. Badd (w/ Teddy Long)

As Johnny B. Badd made his way to the ring, the announcers told us that he and manager Teddy Long had been having their issues, essentially giving us a heads-up as to what would happen at the finish of the match.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Flyin' Brian Pillman celebrates his big win over Johnny B. Badd

Before that, he and champion Brian Pillman engaged in a decent but unspectacular match which made the challenger look strong.

Towards the finish, Badd looked to have Pillman beat with his trademark sunset flip, but Long was busy distracting the referee on the outside.

When Johnny confronted his manager, the champion pushed his opponent into Long, knocking the manager off the ropes and then rolling up Badd for the win.
Your Winner and Still World Light Heavyweight Champion: Flyin' Brian Pillman 

Post-match, Badd punched out Long, ending the duo's relationship and turning face in the process. 

As the show went to break, Ross and Schiavone reminded us that the US title match was next. If Sting wasn't back in time, he was done for.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Sting vs. Ravishing Rick Rude w/ Paul E. Dangerously

Fortunately for him, Sting did make it back as he was driven to the arena in an ambulance at full speed with its sirens blazing. While the idea that an ambulance crew would consider getting a wrestler to a match on time to be a siren-worthy emergency was a little goofy, it was kind of fun at the same time.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Rick Rude prepares to challenge Sting for the US title


As he got to the arena, a gaggle of babyfaces hurried the champion inside as referee Nick Patrick began to count him out. 

Ravishing Rick Rude then met his rival on the entranceway and thus began an explosive and wildly entertaining match in which Sting seemed to overcome all the odds. 

Alas, those odds were simply too heavily stacked against him on this night. 

After doing everything he could to topple Rude, Sting was hit over the head by Dangerously's cell phone. Sting kicked out of the near fall, but when he confronted Dangerously, he got himself rolled up and pinned by Rude.

Seriously, that was awesome. Just an intense, electric storm of a match that only lasted five minutes but was so compelling you couldn't help but love it.
Your Winner and New United States Champion: Ravishing Rick Rude

Out in the back, Tony Schiavone interviewed Rude and Dangerously. 
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - The Dangerous Alliance celebrate Rick Rude's US title victory

With Madusa fawning over Rude, the two men revealed that it had been a conspiracy all along to take out Sting and destroy WCW. The promo was every bit as compelling as the match itself. 

Big Bad Ron is Back

Before our main event, Jim Ross interviewed Ron Simmons.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Jim Ross interviews Ron Simmons


Simmons thanked the fans for their well wishes after he had been sidelined with a broken wrist that he'd suffered in his Halloween Havoc match with Luger. 

Undeterred by his injury, Simmons insisted that he was there to scout the winner of the upcoming world title fight as he would then beat them and keep his promise to become the first black man to hold the world title.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger (w/ Harley Race and Mr. Hughes) vs. Rick Steiner (w/ Scott Steiner)

This was a solid main event that saw both champion and challenger utilize brawn and brute power against one another. The crowd was hot for it, the announcers made it sound like the most important event in the world, and while it lacked the intensity of Sting/Rude and the all-out drama of the earlier tag team title match, it was still a very good effort in its own right.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Lex Luger defends the world title against Rick Steiner


Towards the end, everything broke down with Luger, The Steiner Brothers, Harley Race, and Mr. Hughes all getting involved. 

In the middle of the chaos, Lex blasted Steiner with the title belt and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Lex Luger

Once a sweat-drenched Luger had made his way to the back, Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone signed off one of the best Clash shows in ages by telling us that if we wanted to know what was going on with the tag team titles, we'd have to call the WCW Hotline.

It's no exaggeration to say that Clash of the Champions 17 was one of the best Clash shows to have taken place in a long, long time. 

The main event delivered, the US title match and surrounding storyline were utterly compelling, and the tag team title match was a thing of pure beauty. 

Elsewhere, while some of the under-card matches weren't exactly amazing, nothing really sucked.

If you're looking for a good example of how excellent Clash of the Champions events could be, check this one out, if only for the magnificent Enforcers vs. Rhodes & Steamboat match.

Monday, 10 October 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Summerslam 2003

WWE Summerslam 2003 Review - poster for the event

August 24, 2003
America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona

As Summerslam 2003 approached, the WWE was in something of a decline.

With the Monday Night War well and truly over and the competition eliminated, the company had tried to reengage those wrestling fans who had simply tuned out when WCW went out of business by hiring one of World Championship Wrestling's biggest stars, Goldberg, as well as bringing Attitude Era favorite Sable back into the fold.

Yet Goldberg's run had so far been a flop. He had been routinely booed by the WWE faithful in his debut PPV match against The Rock at Backlash and though he was being better received by the time Summerslam rolled around, he still wasn't the answer to all of WWE's creative and financial woes.

Neither was Sable. Yes, she was still hot, but she wasn't exactly popping buyrates or selling out arenas.

Still, there was a glimmer of hope. 

The 16th annual Summerslam had a larger attendance than the previous year's event and drew 415,000 buys, meaning -if nothing else- that the show was a financial success.

Would it be a creative one too?

Let's head down to Phoenix to find out.

Please Rise for the National Anthem

Our show tonight began with the introduction of some local military officers who held the US flag aloft while WWE's own Lillian Garcia belted out an impressive rendition of the US national anthem. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 Review - Lillian Garcia sings the national anthem

I don't know whether I've said this before, but I always enjoy it when wrestling companies do this kind of thing before a big event. I feel it adds a sense of legitimacy and importance to the occasion.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee

From there, we went into a stunning opening video package in which footage of tonight's biggest stars in the heat of battle was interspersed with old clips of folks digging gravestones and generally doing spooky Irish Catholic stuff while a grizzled Irish voiceover warned us about sins, punishment, and death. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the raw action

It was one of the coolest opening videos I've seen for a while and led us into the obligatory crowd shots and pyro as Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler welcomed us to Summerslam 2003.

The duo passed us to their Smackdown counterparts Michael Cole and Tazz who, in turn, introduced us to the Spanish announce team.

With all that done, it was time for our opening contest.

WWE World Tag Team Championship
WWE World Tag Team Champions La Resistance (Renee Dupree & Sylvan Grenier) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley)

We kicked things off with a solid tag team match between evil foreigner champions La Resistance and sixteen-time champion veterans The Dudleyz, who came to the ring waving Old Glory.

WWE Summerslam 2003 - La Resistance celebrate winning the tag titles thanks to Rob Conway's help

There was nothing out of the ordinary about this match, but the lively crowd were super into it and that made it seem more entertaining than it might have been otherwise.

In the end, The Dudleyz hit a 3D and looked to have the match won, only for a random photographer to burst into the ring and interfere on the champion's behalf, allowing Renee and Sylvan to pick up the three count.
Your Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: La Resistance

Post-match, Spike Dudley ran in to help his brothers but he got his ass kicked too. As this was happening, the random photographer removed his wig and revealed himself to be the same guy who had faked being a US serviceman on Smackdown to help La Resistance get one over on The Dudleyz. 

That man would eventually be known as Rob Conway.

People Who Don't Like America Suck

As The Dudley Boyz made their way to the back, Jonathan Coachman stopped them for an interview and claimed that La Resistance's tactic for winning the previous match had been "clever."

"Clever?" asked Bubba Ray. "What are you? One of those anti-American sympathizers? You know what I think about people who don't like America? I think they suck!" 

Although that didn't quite address Coach's comment, Bubba did say that he and his brother would stop at nothing to get back their tag team titles. 

Christian Interupts Eric Bischoff

Backstage, Intercontinental Champion Christian interrupted Eric Bischoff as the Raw co-GM psyched himself up for his match with Shane McMahon later on the show. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Eric Bischoff tries to explain himself to Christian

Christian was upset at not being featured on tonight's card, a move that Bischoff claimed was entirely Stone Cold Steve Austin's decision.

The IC champion then wanted to know if Bischoff needed his help tonight, but Sleazy E already had it covered.

As Christian continued to become an ever-increasing pain in Eric's butt, he interrupted him a third time to ask whether he'd "sealed the deal" with Linda McMahon recently. 

Bischoff promised to reveal all later in the show. 

This was a decent segment that got funnier and funnier thanks to Christian being super annoying.

WWE Summerslam 2003 - The Undertaker vs. A-Train match graphic

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at how A-Train had become Mr. McMahon's hired gun,  first being commissioned to belly-bump Stephanie McMahon back at Vengeance and then attacking The Undertaker at McMahon's behest. 

The big hairy giant would face 'Taker next.

The Undertaker vs. A-Train (w/ Sable)

As A-Train made his way to the ring, he was joined by Sable, who the announcers told us was a "perk" gifted to Mr. Train for his work as McMahon's heavy.

Sable spent the match standing at ringside doing little of note, which is pretty much what A-Train and The Undertaker did too.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it a bad match, but it was pretty boring and uninspired. 

After almost 10 minutes of so-so action, Big Evil put his opponent away with a big time clothesline.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Sable tries to seduce The Undertaker

Post-match, The Undertaker set up A-Train for the Last Ride, only for Sable to start hitting on him. Unimpressed, 'Taker grabbed her by the throat and held her until Stephanie McMahon came to the ring to attack her rival. 

Goldberg is Gonna Win (whether he wants to or not)

Out in the back, Chris Jericho psyched himself up for the Elimination Chamber match while, out in the crowd, Coach asked two random fans who they thought was going to win that match. 

Both picked Goldberg.

Shane Wants Revenge

Right then, so here's how this next match came about:

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Shane McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff

According to the pre-match video, Kane had recently unmasked and went nuts, even going so far as to attack Linda McMahon. Shane McMahon had then returned to the company to defend his mama's honor and attacked The Big Red Machine with a chair. 

Vince McMahon had then instructed Eric Bischoff to have Shane escorted from the building on the following week's Raw, leading to Stone Cold Steve Austin booking Shane vs. Eric. 

Bischoff had then somehow set Jim Ross up to be set on fire by Kane, with JR only agreeing to not sue the former WCW boss if Eric signed up for a match. 

Bischoff agreed and ended up in a match against Kane which the Raw GM won when -for reasons unexplained- Kane simply walked off and awarded Bischoff the victory via count out.

Later, Austin had revealed that in the fine print of the contract, it said that the winner would face Shane at Summerslam, and here we are.

Shane McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff

I don't care what you say, this was damn fun.

OK, so it didn't start that way. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Eric Bischoff covers Shane McMahon

The match began with Bischoff boasting about sleeping with Linda McMahon multiple times because, as we all know, there's no bigger way to insult your enemy than "I banged your mom."

Shane O' Mac then came down and beat Bischoff senselessly. It was fine, and the crowd loved it, but it wasn't anything particularly special. 

Then, out of nowhere, Jonathan Coachman (of all people) suddenly and surprisingly turned heel by blasting Shane with a chair. 

Utilizing his GM powers, Bischoff then declared the match "Falls Count Anywhere," and got a two count after ordering Coach to throw Shane into the ring steps. 

Back between the ropes, Bisch' ordered JR & King's mics to be turned off so that Coach could do live commentary as the two beat up on McMahon.

Predictably - but nonetheless enjoyably- Stone Cold Steve Austin made his way to the ring to even the score. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Jonathan Coachman pushes Stone Cold Steve Austin's buttons

Of course, there was a rule in place that, as GM, Austin wasn't allowed to hit anyone unless physically provoked, so Shane first shoved Coach into the Texas Rattlesnake, then used Eric's arm to slap him so that Austin could beat up both men.

Finally, McMahon placed Eric on the Spanish announce table and hit him with a flying elbow drop off the top for the three count.

It wasn't a technical masterpiece or anything, but I personally found myself very entertained by everything that happened after Coach's random heel turn.
Your Winner: Shane McMahon

Post-match, Shane and Austin shared a beer.

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Ric Flair and Triple H warn Randy Orton to know his role in the elimination chamber match

Out in the back, Triple H and Ric Flair warned Randy Orton that his only job in tonight's Elimination Chamber match was to ensure that The Game remained the world champion. 

Neither of Orton's veteran stablemates wanted to even entertain Orton's question of "what if.." 

Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE United States Championship
WWE United States Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Tajiri vs. Rhyno 

This one started off as a fairly average four-way match but eventually picked up in terms of both pace and intensity to become a hugely entertaining match.

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Eddie Guerrero puts a submission move on Tajiri

The fun thing about this -for me at least- was that champion Eddie Guerrero was clearly booked as a heel, but was so good that the crowd couldn't help but love him.

Speaking of Guerrero, it was the champion who emerged victorious after a very strong match in which all four men worked hard to deliver. 

After Tajiri and Chris Benoit toppled to the outside, Eddie crushed Rhyno with a frog splash and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner and Still WWE United States Champion: Eddie Guerrero 

Out in the back, we saw Shawn Michaels taping up ready for tonight's elimination chamber.

Zach Gowan Loses a Match via Getting Murdered

Before our next contest, we were shown a clip from Smackdown in which Brock Lesnar -who was now a heel again- had destroyed Zach Gowan, "breaking his leg" in two places and beating him until he was so bloody you'd be forgiven for thinking he'd been stabbed repeatedly in the face.

This was followed by a clip from earlier on Sunday Night Heat where Matt Hardy -Gowan's scheduled opponent for tonight- had declared himself victorious over Gowan via forfeit.

Finally, we saw a video package highlighting the upcoming Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar match, and then we got into it.

WWE Championship
WWE Champion Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar 

Though I personally preferred their Wrestlemania 19 classic, Angle/Brock II was still a tremendous match that was every bit as good as you'd expect it to be.

The two started off slowly and then worked their way up, the match building and building into an all-out war for the ages that was utterly compelling to watch.

Towards the end, Brock tapped to the Ankle Lock, but the referee was taking a nap in the corner so it didn't count. At that point, Vince McMahon -who was now allied with Lesnar- came down and blasted the champion across the back with a chair, but that didn't help the challenger gain the title.

Once the referee rose from his slumber, Angle twisted Brock's ankle once again and finally made him tap a second time to win the match.

That was awesome.
Your Winner and Still WWE Champion: Kuirt Angle

Out in the locker room, Bill Goldberg warmed up for the Elimination Chamber match. 

Back in the arena, we panned the crowd to see some football players and recent Diva Search winner Jaime Koeppe who was incredibly gorgeous. Jaime never did much in WWE which was a shame because I would've happily seen more of her.

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Diva Search Winner Jaime Koeppe

This was followed by a look back at the feud between former tag team partners Kane and Rob Van Dam which, as we discussed earlier, all revolved around Kane taking his mask off and going bat-sh*t crazy.

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Kane vs. RVD

The video was pretty good and made the whole thing feel like a trailer to a horror movie. It was exciting and cool, perhaps more cool than the match would be. 

No Holds Barred
Kane vs. Rob Van Dam

The no holds barred stipulation for this was only just added, with Howard Finkle telling us that he'd just been informed of it as he introduced the combatants. 

This turned out not to be the best match on the card, but it was still a solid effort with a lot of fun and creative spots that made full use of the no holds barred gimmick.

After a good back-and-forth battle, Kane destroyed his former partner with a tombstone on the ring steps for the win.
Your Winner: Kane

Backstage, Terri tried to interview a bloody Eric Bischoff, but he was too busy icing his battered face to give her the time of day. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Terri tries to get an interview with Eric Bischoff

As Terri left, Linda McMahon arrived on the scene and smacked Eric across the mush.

Across the way, Triple H stared lovingly at his world title belt. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 - Ric Flair gives HHH a pep-talk

His manager, Ric Flair, told him not to worry, he wasn't saying goodbye to the title tonight, he was simply taking out to show people for a bit.

Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Nash  vs. Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels

This was another excellent match. It wasn't as good as the Elimination Chamber match from Survivor Series 2002, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a good show-closer in its own right. 

WWE Summerslam 2003 - match graphic for the Elimintion Chamber match

Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho kicked things off, giving us an exciting wrestling match before Randy Orton and Kevin Nash eventually entered the fray.

Nash was soon eliminated after HBK superkicked his former bodyguard and Y2J pinned him, but that only made Nash mad. Holding nothing back, he went on a rampage and destroyed everybody in sight with big, brutal power bombs galore. 

Orton was next to go, then Goldberg murdered Jericho and Michaels with a  couple of deadly spears, leaving just him and the world heavyweight champion left.

WWE Summerslam 2003 - World Heavyweight Champion Triple H

Wearing bicycle shorts under his ring attire, The Game was recovering from a groin injury and had done nothing all match, despite being officially entered into it before Goldberg. 

Even when Big Bad Bill eventually smashed his way through Hunter's pod, the champion took not a single bump, instead brawling with Goldberg until the former WCW star went to spear him. 

At that point, the Evolution leader hit his rival in the head with a sledgehammer, and that was that.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Afterward, Randy Orton returned to the ring and he, Hunter, and Flair handcuffed Golberg to the cage and beat him to a bloody pulp as Summerslam 2003 went off the air.

All in all, I'd say Summerslam 2003 was a  good show with only one match (Taker/Train) that didn't really do much for me.

As you might expect, Angle/Lesnar was the match of the night, though everything else was certainly enjoyable enough to make this an entertaining show.

Though I wouldn't call it a must-see or anything, you could certainly do far worse than spend a few hours with this one.

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.