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

Thursday, 24 May 2018

PPV REVIEW: WWF One Night Only 1997

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review  - Event poster
September 20th, 1997
N.E.C Arena, Birmingham, England 

I'll be honest with you, I've been looking forward to, and dreading this review in equal measure. 

Looking forward to it because, for the first time since I started Retro Pro Wrestling five years ago, I get to write about a WWF PPV I was actually live in attendance for.

You see, apart from Summerslam 1992, those of us here in the UK were largely deprived of any opportunity to attend a PPV event (or even TV in those days) unless hopped on a plane and flew stateside.

Then, in 1997, the company decided that the best way to improve profits in the face of increasingly dominant competition from WCW was to capitalise on the one market Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner hadn't been able to beat Titan Sports at:

The UK.

So, on September 20th, 1997, we got our first PPV in the UK since Summerslam 92, headlined once again by Britain's most successful pro wrestling export ever, Wigan lad Davey Boy Smith, The British Bulldog.

And that, my friends, is the exact reason why I'm dreading tonight's show.

In September 97, I was 13 years old, young enough to be swept up in kayfabe yet old enough to know the truth about how wrestling really worked.

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review - My Event Ticket Signed by British Bulldog

So when Davey Boy met his fate on tonight's show, I was royally pissed and legitimately heartbroken, because I knew that what we were watching in the ring was only half the story - the other half was that foul, backstage shenanigans were at play and I -and most of the crowd- knew it.

Not only did we know it - we were livid about it.

To be perfectly truthful with you, I'm not entirely happy about reliving that memory again.

But hey, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let's head down to the Birmingham NEC for One Night Only, the UK's first WWE PPV in five years.

Davey Boy Defends His Dream 

After a rather chipper British chappy welcomed us to

Sky Box Office's presentation of a 'World Wrestling Federation Extravaganza,' we got the New WWF intro that told us how many countries the company was popular in.

That took us to a sentimental video package in which Jim Ross told us that Davey Boy Smith had grown from humble beginnings in Manchester (technically Wigan, technically Golborne, but hey) to one of the most popular superstars on the planet.

Tonight, he was coming home to defend the WWF European title (against who, Ross didn't say), and despite being a heel in America, was very much expected to be the hometown hero tonight.

With that, Vince McMahon growled his usual welcome to the show before we got down to our first match.

Jolly Good Bun

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review - Dude Love did a horrible Austin Powers impression backstage
Despite being there, the fact that 20 years has passed from an event that rarely ever gets talked about means that I only remember exactly four things from One Night Only:

1: The main event

2: The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart Match

3: Tiger Ali Singh was there

4: This Dude Love promo.

I remember it mostly because of the awful joke he made about missing two teeth (well, they're gone but I don't miss them! Ho ho ho!) , and also because, on two occasions, Foley said 'Jolly good fun' but it sounded like he said 'Jolly good bun.'

I remember this because -despite this entire promo being cringe-worthily awful, myself and the friend I went to see this show with would often randomly quip 'jolly good bun!' at each other.

Look, I know that's not very interesting, but then neither is this promo.

I'm doing my best, OK?

Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) vs. Dude Love

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review - Triple H sizes up a Beefeater
From their initial meeting at King of the Ring 1997 to their steel cage match at Summerslam 97, via their tremendous, show-long brawl at In Your House: Canadian Stampede, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and the various alter-egos of Mick Foley had spent much of the year at war with one another.

Tonight, they squared off again in a match with an entirely different vibe.

Rather than a heated battle between two sworn enemies, this came off as a basic, by-the-numbers warm-up act between two masters of their craft.

And you know what?

It worked.

Helmsley and Foley worked well together in producing a solid outing that really got the crowd into the show.

Ok, so it was far from the best match these two would ever have together, but it certainly served its purpose well, and was very enjoyable as a result.

At random points, Jerry 'The King' Lawler (who joined McMahon and Jim Ross on commentary) tried to show off his knowledge of British vocabulary, first calling his colleagues 'pillocks' and then suggesting that Dude Love was 'as bent as a nine bob note.'

I don't think anyone had explained to Lawler what that actually means. It was as bad as the time he straight out asked Goldust if he was 'you know, queer.'

Anyway, back to the match, and despite being on the receiving end of a serious Dude Love beating, Hunter landed the Pedigree to pick up the first win of the evening.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Prior to our next match, we got vox pops from the Birmingham faithful, giving us their picks on who was going to win between Shawn Michaels and The British Bulldog.

Despite a few fans being all for HBK, the majority were, obviously, rooting for the hometown hero.

I'm only sad that they didn't go back and reinterview the kid from Summerslam 92 who said that Bulldog was going to win 'whether he wants to or not.'

Sunny is Here

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review - Sunny was guest ring announcer for one match
OK, here's something else I remember - being 13 and swooning like a modern day Justin Bieber fan when the absolute love of my life, Sunny came to ringside to introduce our next match.

Honestly, was there anyone in the world hotter than Sunny at that time?

Leif Cassidy vs. Tiger Ali Singh (w/ Tiger Jeet Singh)

Tiger Ali Singh (remember him?) came to the ring as a good guy, hi-fiving the Birmingham crowd and generally being all smiley-babyfacey nicey-nice.

Then he immediately became a heel -not entirely on purpose- by getting on the mic to talk about how proud he was to be an Asian Canadian (the crowd hated that!), how we should all stay drug free (hilarious that the crowd booed that!), how he was the new, true Messiah, and how with the support of his Canadian fans, he was going to 'set the wrestling world on fire.'

This was like one of those promos when the bad guy pretends that he's really a good guy to get heat, except you got the idea he wasn't pretending, and either didn't know that the UK wasn't in Canada, or had been told to cut this god awfully cheesy promo as a rib.

Al Snow Leif Cassidy put us out of our misery by attacking the confused Canadian from behind, though not even he could stop Tiger from picking up the win after a thankfully short and completely unforgettable contest.
Your Winner: Tiger Ali Singh

Let's keep this party going...

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) vs. Los Boricuas (Savio Vega & Miguel Perez)

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review -The Headbangers Successfully defended the WWF Tag Team Titles against Los Boricuas
Having upset Owen Hart and The British Bulldog just days earlier at In Your House: Ground Zero, Mosh and Thrasher put their new titles on the line against Savio Vega and Miguel Perez in a match that was fun, if not a little too long.

Suffering the same fate as many a match before it, this one exploded to life in the early going with a flurry of excitement and finished with a hot ending, but basically dragged on in the middle.

The Headbangers retained after the better part of 20 minutes (seriously), though they could have produced the same result with as much fun in half that time.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Headbangers

'The Headbangers have pulled one off!' exclaimed McMahon. You can pretty much write your own joke there, can't you?

Davey Boy is Ready

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review -Davey Boy Smith sits down for an interview with Jim Ross
Up next, we were taken to a pre-recorded interview in which Jim Ross asked a calm and collected Davey Boy Smith about tonight's match.

The Bulldog dedicated the match to his sister, who had recently undergone a battle with cancer, and claimed that in order to match Shawn Michaels on quickness, he had dropped about two stone, or 28lbs.

The interview was unlike Davey Boy's traditional snarling, 'you're going down!' promo style, and this worked well to help establish the champion as a likeable favourite we could all get behind later on in the show.

Flash Funk vs. The Patriot

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review -The Patriot was booed by the British crowd in his match against Flash Funk
I had honestly blocked this match, which saw the pro-USA Patriot heavily booed by the UK crowd, far from my mind.

Trying to save face (in some ways quite literally), Vince told us that The Patriot received a 'mixed reaction.'

The match itself was fine, though hardly designed to set the world on fire.

The weirdest part, for me, is watching it back as though seeing the match for the first time, despite the fact that I was there in person when it happened.

Anyway, The Patriot won with the Uncle Slam, and the crowd -who hadn't given a damn about anything in the entire match- booed him right out of the building.
Your Winner: The Patriot

What a Rush

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review -Legion of Doom cut a backstage promo about their match with The Godwins
Five years after their long ride to the ring on Harley Davidsons, The Legion of Doom were back in the United Kingdom, this time to take on The Godwins.

In an uninspired backstage promo, Hawk and Animal went through their usual schtick of vowing to maim and decapitate their opponents.

Ohhh, what a rush.

The Godwins (Henry O. & Phineas I. Godwin) vs. The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal)

This one was the perfect example of how some matches can fun to watch in person yet don't necessarily strike the same chord when you watch them back on TV.

You see, LOD vs. The Godwins was as dull as the proverbial dishwater and basically felt like one really long chinlock followed by a Doomsday Device.

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 Review -Legion of Doom vs. The Godwins
The Birmingham crowd however, were stupidly into it, though that had more to do with Hawk & Animal being insanely over than the match being very good.

After several minutes of nothing happening besides the crowd raising the roof for the LOD, it was Phineas who ate the pin to create one of the biggest pops of the night.
Your Winners: The Legion of Doom

The most interesting part of the match was Jerry Lawler just about exhausting his knowledge of British colloquialisms and apparently just making stuff up.

At one point, The King dropped the word 'niffy' as an insult but refused to explain what it meant.

That could be because it doesn't mean anything, unless Lawler meant 'nifty,' which is generally a positive thing.

Anyway, I digress.

On with the show.

Jim Ross Interviews Ken Shamrock

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 - Billy Gunn confronts Ken Shamrock
As The World's Most Dangerous Man made his way ringside, McMahon reminded us that Ken Shamrock had recently been injured at the hands of Nation leader, Farooq.

Live in the ring, Jim Ross told us that those injuries had ruled Shamrock out of action tonight, meaning we wouldn't see him take on Owen Hart as scheduled.

Instead, Vader would lock up with Hart, and Shamrock would talk to us all about how disappointed he was at being unable to compete.

Before Ken had a chance to leave, however, Billy Gunn (of all people) made it to the ring.

Truthfully, it was only at this point that your writer finally remembered watching this segment live, and that's only because I remember my friend pointing out a couple of moles on Gunn's back (yes, we were that close) that we decided looked like Bisto Gravy Granules.

Anyway, Gunn mocked Shamrock, claiming that he'd gotten a doctor's note for a 'tummy ache,' to get out of wrestling.

Naturally, our man Ken didn't take too kindly to that and slapped Gravy Granule Gunn in the Ankle Lock.

The Fans Don't Like Bret

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 - Bret 'The Hitman' Hart cut a backstage promo
From one interview to another next, as Vince McMahon spoke via video link to WWF Champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart, who was standing by backstage.

Hart received a genuine mixed reaction from the live crowd, but, despite this, insisted that the British fans still believed in him and that he was going to do right by us by defeating The Undertaker, who The Hitman said was likely to be Bret's biggest fight yet.

Vince asked if Bret could hear the very loud boos he was getting, and I have to believe that he was, if only to explain the way he fumbled awkwardly through the entire promo.

I mean sure, Bret always seemed to lack a certain smoothness to his mic work, but this was bad even for him.

Vader vs. Owen Hart

WWE / WWF - One Night Only 1997 - Owen Hart was hugely over with the UK crowd
Having just booed Bret as loud as they could, the NEC were firmly behind The Hitman's younger brother Owen Hart, a fact acknowledged -and questioned- by Jerry Lawler.

Owen played up to this admiration, smiling and hi-fiving fans on the way to the ring for a match with his former Camp Cornette teammate, Vader.

Though it would later prove not to be the best match on the card, Owen/Vader certainly proved a worthy contender for that title, with the smaller Hart flying around the place and Vader using his bulk to dominate the bulk of the contest.

All in all, it made for a very exciting match which really got you on the edge of your seat, rooting for babyface Owen to score the big win.

At one point, it even looked as though he were going to, with a sharpshooter and a flying top rope dropkick rocking The Mastadon.

Alas, it wasn't to be.

Hart tried a second top rope dropkick but was sadly caught, squashed, and pinned.
Your Winner: Vader

WWE / WWF One Night Only 1997 Review - Undertaker cut a backstage promo on Bret Hart
Prior to our next match, The Undertaker cut a backstage promo, promising Bret Hart that tonight, we wouldn't see a repeat of Summerslam 97, when Bret beat 'Taker for the title thanks to a misplaced chair shot from special guest referee, Shawn Michaels.

With that, it was on to the first of two big title bouts.

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

By September 1997, 13 year-old me was aware that all was not what it seemed when it came to pro wrestling, but this match made me forget all that.

This match sucked me into the kayfabe drama of professional wrestling like no other match had before, or has since.

I was at every big WWF and WCW event from the UK during the Attitude Era, but no match that I ever saw live ever lived up to this one.

It remains one of my favourite matches of all time and watching it back now for the first time in years, I'm reminded why.

WWE / WWF One Night Only 1997 Review - Undertaker faced Bret Hart in an awesome WWF Championship match
Absolutely exhilarating from start to finish, the match started with Bret getting his ass kicked by his larger opponent before resorting to his usual strategy for fighting big men - kick 'em in the knee.

That levelled the playing field and gave us a terrific back and forth battle that has me as fully absorbed in the action now as it did 20 years ago when I watched it in person.

I remember that back then, my friend Dale and I had taken a huge Undertaker sign that I, being the arty and creative kind of child that I was (still am) had spent weeks getting just right.

Half way through the match, I found my heart truly wanting The Hitman to win, and dumping that sign on the floor.

I don't think I was alone, either. The more the match went on, the more the Birmingham crowd got fully behind the champ.

Sadly, there was nothing we could do to stop him getting his head caught in the ropes were Undertaker, now the defacto heel in the finest, pummelled away at him.

That caused the referee to throw this one out, and eat a chokeslam as a thank you from The Dead Man.
Your Winner by Disqualification and Still WWF Champion: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart.

Not content to leave it at that, Undertaker also chokeslammed Gerald Briscoe, who had come to help Bret break free, and then went after the ring announcer, who apparently hightailed it out of there.

HBK Is On His Way

WWE / WWF One Night Only 1997 Review - Shawn Michaels cuts a backstage promo
Greeted to a rapturous chorus of boos, The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels cut a boastful and arrogant backstage promo in which he promised not only to juice us the match of the night, but to capture the European Championship in the process.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship
WWF European Champion The British Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels

And so it came to this, the one match that I've been absolutely dreading rewatching.

Yes, I know pro wrestling is fake, I knew it then, but that only made me more angry on this night because I knew that the whole thing was a result of backstage politics more than anything else.

Still, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Things started with Shawn making his way to the ring to a very mixed reaction - loud boos coupled with hysteria from girls on the front row and -hilariously- one young fan beating the shit out of Shawn with a British Bulldog Hasbro action figure that uber-heel Shawn stole and dropped down his pants.

WWE / WWF One Night Only 1997 - British Bulldog faced Shawn Michaels in the main event
Davey Boy made a humble and straightforward entrance, accompanied by his sister, who he'd dedicated the match to.

Things started off well, with Michaels being a Super Dick Heel and getting his comeuppance at every turn thanks to the overwhelmingly popular Bulldog, who was wrestling better here than he had done in a long time.

I'm even prepared to say that, for the first five or ten minutes, this was even better than the two WWF Championship matches they had at King of the Ring 1996 and In Your House: Beware of Dog, but then Michaels' 'insurance policy,' Rick Rude came down and things descended into a long, slow, and painful-to-watch slog that saw HBK take apart his opponent.

Davey recovered a little and gave plenty of hope to his countrymen, but the arrival of Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna soon dashed those hopes.

The numbers game prices too much, and Bulldog succumbed to a Triple H Pedigree before eventually -after a valiant battle- passed out in a Shawn Michaels Figure Four.

OK, so the match was a lot better -and a lot less emotionally traumatic- now that I'm watching it back for the first time in 20 years, but that still sucked as an ending.
Your Winner and New WWF European Champion: Shawn Michaels

Afterwards, Michaels and Hunter tormented the live crowd whilst beating on Bulldog some more until Diana Smith, Bret Hart, and Owen Hart, all rushed to Davey Boy's aid.

As a way to establish Michaels and his entourage as the company's top heel outfit, I admit that this was actually a perfect move, but it was not what any of us wanted, and boy did we let the heels know it by pelting the soon-to-be D-Generation-X with an onslaught of plastic bottles as our hero bravely tries crawling to his feet.

You know, I started this review not looking forward to that main event, but after watching it -and the entire show- again, I actually find myself filled with a sense of gratitude.

I'm grateful because, at an age when I was accepting that pro wrestling was all a big work, One Night Only gave me that one last chance to suspend my disbelief and act like it was all real.

From Owen Hart's plucky battle against Vader to Bret's dramatic title defence against The Undertaker and that truly heartbreaking main event, I was able to lose myself completely in the emotion of pro wrestling, not just when I was there live as a 13-year-old kid, but even now, 20 years later.

We all laughed when that kid broke down and cried that it was still real to him, dammit, but you know what?

I think I'd give anything to go back to that time when I was just able to lose myself in the stories pro wrestlers told us and avoid all the worrying about ratings, work rate, and smart fans, wouldn't you?

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
  17. WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero
  18. WCW - Fall Brawl 1997
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Thursday, 17 May 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Fall Brawl 1997

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Event Poster
September 14, 1997
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The long-term success of the New World Order angle meant a lot of positive benefits for World Championship Wrestling. 

For one thing, it meant a remarkable change in fortunes and unprecedented profit. For another, it meant that for the first time in the company's short history, they could legitimately claim to be the number one pro wrestling company in North America, if not the world.

It also meant that they didn't really need to put too much effort in creating compelling storylines and matches; simply pit someone from the nWo against someone from WCW and you had a feud all lined up.

Thus it was that, for the second year in a row, we got some variation of World Championship Wrestling vs. The New World Order in the company's flagship match - War Games.

At Fall Brawl 1996, it had been three of the nWo's biggest stars - Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall teaming up with a fake Sting to battle Lex Luger and half of the Four Horsemen, with the briefest of cameos from the genuine Stinger.

This year, only Nash remained to do battle once more for the renegade faction, with B-Level players Konnan, Buff Bagwell and Syxx joining him for a match against all four members of the current incarnation of The Four Horsemen.

Yet just because it worked once, we were about to find out that WCW vs. NWO in War Games wasn't guaranteed to work again, and the lack of star power may well have been a factor.

Here's what went down when WCW presented Fall Brawl 1997...

It's War Games, And It's Personal 

Our show tonight began with a recap of the August 25th episode of Nitro, where Arn Anderson retired and Curt Hennig became an official member of the Four Horsemen.

That led to the infamous Four Horsemen parody by the nWo, which in turn led to Rowdy Roddy Piper (who was now in an authority figure role similar to the one he'd held in the WWF prior to Wrestlemania 12) booking nWo vs. The Four Horsemen in War Games.

The video took us to the arena, where Tony Schiavone welcomed us to the show and intrigued us to his broadcast colleagues Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and -for the first time in forever- not The American Dream Dusty Rhodes but Iron Mike Tenay.

The announcers talked up tonight's main event before turning their attention to ringside for our opening contest.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero 

The last time we saw Chris Jericho on PPV, it was at the previous month's Road Wild 1997, where he unsuccessfully challenged Alex Wright for the Cruiserweight Championship.

Since then, Jericho had won the title and came to the ring to defend it tonight accompanied by Break The Walls Down, which was impressive considering that theme wasn't written for another two years.

I'm kidding of course, Jericho came down to his Pearl Jam rip off theme that WWE Network dubbed over.

Meanwhile, his opponent Eddie Guerrero had recently turned heel and sauntered to the ring wearing a brilliant scowl and accompanied by a theme song that sounded like a cross between Bad Street USA and Don't Step to Ron.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Chris Jericho defended the Cruiserweight Champion against Eddie Guerrero
But hey, the entrances were hardly the talking point of the match.

No, Sir, that honour went to the action itself, which was nothing short of fantastic.

One of those matches that you could use to show non-fans why you like pro wrestling, Jericho/Guerrero was every bit as good as you might expect it to be, if not better.

After a great effort, Eddie picked up the win with a beautiful frog splash, ending what Tenay told us was the one-month reign of Chris Jericho.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero 

Backstage, Jeff Jarrett spoke to an interviewer from not about his upcoming match with Dean Malenko tonight, but a different match against Curt Hennig on Friday.

The interviewer did then ask about Malenko, but we cut back to the ring before we could find out what Double J had to say.

Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Jacqueline) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) 

With Larry Zybysko now taking Mike Tenay's place on commentary, we got one of those rare matches that pitted two teams of actual legitimate brothers against one another.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - The Steiner Brothers faced Harlem Heat
I'll be honest with you, I've never been as big a fan of Harlem Heat as lots of other people, but I have to give them their due here - they worked hard against Rick and Scott Steiner and delivered a good -if not great - match that at least had the live crowd fully hyped and popping for just about every move.

After some good action, The Steiners got the win and the crowd just about lost their minds.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers 

Moving swiftly on...

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World TV Champion Alex Wright vs. Ultimo Dragon 

For the second PPV in a row, Alex Wright successfully defended a title.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Alex Wright defended the TV title against Ultimo Dragon
This time, it was against Ultimo Dragon in what has to be considered one of the best of his career.

The crowd were not into it even half as much as they were for Steiners vs. Harlem Heat, but that was a shame because Alex Wright vs. Ultimo Dragon was tremendous.

I've said it before that because of the dumb Dancing German Guy gimmick and lack of any meaningful storylines, Alex Wright was grossly underrated.

Actually watch his matches such as this career-defining performance, his outing against Chris Jericho at Road Wild or his highly enjoyable bout against Dean Malenko at Clash of the Champions 32 and you'll see a guy who would really go.

Not only could he go, he could also win, picking up the victory via -fittingly- a German Suplex.
Your Winner and Still WCW TV Champion: Alex Wright 

Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund told us to call the hotline for an exclusive interview with Arn Anderson, but as he did so, Konnan, Buff Bagwell, and Syxx, and Kevin Nash all stormed past him, barged into a locker room, and then barged out again.

When Gene went to investigate, we found Curt Hennig lying on the floor in that room, the implication being that the New World Order had gone in and beaten him up.

Match to Decide the Number One Contender to the US Title
Jeff Jarrett (w/ Queen Debra) vs. Dean Malenko 

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record today, this was yet another fantastic match.

Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, just proper, old-school professional wrestling at its very best is exactly what Jeff Jarrett and Dean Malenko delivered in a bout that deserved to rival anything else on the card for Match of the Night honours.

After a long and very enjoyable battle, Jarrett made Malenko submit to the Figure Four, earning himself a shot at the US title currently held by his arch nemesis, and husband of his valet Debra, Steve McMichael.
Your Winner and New Number One Contender to the US Title: Jeff Jarrett

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - The NWO cut a backstage promo about their War Games match with The Four Horsemen
In one of those edgy, black and white promos that was the staple of their presentation, the nWo War Games team (Nash, Syxx, Bagwell, Konnan) cut a long and tiresome promo in which they none-too-subtly bragged about attacking Curt Hennig before claiming, over and over again, that they wanted to end The Four Horsemen once and for all.

Wrath & Mortis (w/ James Vanderberg) vs. The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian) 

Yes, Wrath and Mortis were still a thing at this stage.

Meanwhile, after The Dungeon of Doom had effectively ended following Kevin Sullivan's retirement at Bash at the Beach 1997, Meng and Barbarian had apparently lost Jimmy Hart but gained some shiny new red pants.

The match itself was a little underwhelming compared to the awesome card we'd had so far, but that doesn't mean it was a bad match.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Wrath & Mortis beat the Faces of Fear
Far from it.

With Barbarian taking the bulk of the abuse and Meng being just the personification of brutality in his inevitable hot Tag moment, The Faces of Fear worked well with James Vanderberg's men to create a decent hard-hitting big man match.

Towards the finish, Meng got both Vanderberg and Mortis in the Tongan Death Grip, but that allowed Wrath to come up from behind and slam his opponent down for the one, two, three.
Your Winners: Wrath & Mortis 

Out in the back, Chris Benoit, WCW US Champion Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, and Nature Boy Ric Flair were interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - 3/4s of the Four Horsemen cut a backstage promo about their War Games match with the NWO
Benoit had choice words for everyone in the nWo War Games team, including this zinger:

'Nash, you've been so many different characters that nobody knows what you're about.' 

Mongo followed that by promising an apocalypse for the New World Order, and Flair styled and profiled whilst declaiming that he had more heart and determination than Nash.

Nobody will ever list this as their favourite promo, but it was short and effective, with perfectly acceptable performances from all involved.

Scott Norton vs. The Giant 

Honestly, I groaned when this was revealed to be the next match. I mean, Giant vs. Scott Norton? There was. I way this could be good, right?

Well, no, there wasn't, but at least it was short, and at least both men did their best to make it entertaining, with a violent brawl on the outside proving to be legitimately enjoyable.

Still, when The Giant choke slammed Norton for the win, it came as a big relief.
Your Winner: The Giant 

From there, it was straight onto our next match.

Diamond Dallas Page & Lex Luger vs. Macho Man Randy Savage & WCW World Tag Team Champion Scott Hall (w/ Miss. Elizabeth) 

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 - Randy Savage and Scott Hall faced Lex Luger and Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger had originally been in the WCW War Games team until the nWo attack on the Four Horsemen prompted a change in the card.

That left DDP to once again get his hands on Macho Man Randy Savage after the two had a terrefic match at Spring Stampede 1997,  with Luger and Scott Hall thrown into the mix to make this a tag match.

On an unrelated note, Elizabeth looked incredible here, what a truly beautiful woman she was.

The action in this one was merely a build up to the bizarre ending, which started when Hall and Savage took out the referee (just as the announcers had suggested they might in the previous Giant/Norton match) and then took out their opponents.

The nWo beat down was so intense that it prompted Larry Zybysko -who had been having a feud of his own with Hall- to come down to the ring and square off with his nemesis.

Hall mockingly backed off from Larry, straight into a prone Lex Luger, who wrapped Hall up for a pin.

Zybysko, using some hitherto unknown authority possessed by retired-wrestlers-cum-commentators, then made the three count, and this one was over, apparently.
Your Winners via Larry Zybysko pin: Lex Luger and Diamond Dallas Page 

Our main event was next, which gave Mean Gene just one last chance to shill the hotline - don't forget - kids, get your parents permissions.

A Slim Jim commercial aired, and then it was on to a match that Michael Buffer told us would be unlike any other match (apart from all the other War Games matches, of course).

War Games
The Four Horsemen (Nature Boy Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, and WCW United States Champion Steve 'Mongo' McMichael) vs. New World Order (Kevin Nash, Syxx, Buff Bagwell, and Konnan) 

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 - Curt Hennig betrayed the Four Horsemen and joined the nWo
Like the previous match, this one was all about the finish.

Unlike the previous match, everything leading up to the finish was mind-numbingly tedious.

That finish see Curt Hennig come to the ring and -predictably - revealing that he wasn't hurt at all, and hadn't been attacked by the nWo.

Instead, he was with the boys in black and white, and helped Nash, Bagwell, Syxx and Konnan to handcuff Benoit and Mongo to the cage and basically destroy the Horsemen until Mongo volunteered to surrender so that Hennig wouldn't slam the cage door on Flair's head.
Your Winners: New World Order 

Naturally, Hennig slammed the door on Flair anyway, and this one was over.

Apart from a very boring main event and a weird finish to the Hall/Savage vs. DDP/Luger match, this was a fantastic show with lots to enjoy.

That said, even the main event -poor as it was- had a genuinely exciting finish.

All in all, one of the best PPV shows of 1997, and one of WCW's best of the past few years.

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
  17. WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

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
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Thursday, 3 May 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Road Wild 1997

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Event Poster
August 9, 1997
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota.

In 1996, Eric Bischoff gleefully pissed Ted Turner's money up the wall by hosting the Hog Wild 1996 PPV at the famous Sturgis Biker Rally but not actually charging for tickets. 

That event had seen the newly-heel nWo leader, Hollywood Hulk Hogan challenge future nWo member The Giant for the WCW title.

One year later, and after apparently getting away with not charging for tickets, Bischoff once again presented the Sturgis PPV, this time renamed Road Wild after Harley Davidson had threatened to sue for Hog Wild related copyright infringement.

Once again, Hogan, now fully comfortable in his role as the egomaniacal leader of the renegade New World Order, found himself in the challenger's role, this time against the man he only recently lost the title to on Nitro, The Total Package Lex Luger.

That's your introduction, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is what went down when WCW presented Road Wild 1997.

Luger is The Champion 

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby Heenan were the event announcers
We started our show with a quick recap of how Luger had defeated Hogan just a week ago on Nitro, after which Tony Schiavone welcomed us to Sturgis.

Joined, as ever, by The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Schiavone speculated that tonight could finally be the night that WCW finally put the NWO to rest if only its stars could get the better of the boys in black.

With that, it was on to our opening match.

Vicious & Delicious (Buff Bagwell & Scott Norton w/ Vincent) vs. Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Jacqueline Moore was revealed as Harlem Heat's new manager
Our opening contest this evening was a mostly mediocre affair, the sole highlight of which being the surprise arrival, mid-way through the match, of Jacqueline, who took up post in Harlem Heat's corner.

Booker T and Stevie Ray had recently separated from Sister Sherri, and it seemed Jackie was here as her replacement, even going so far as to help her boys win the match by attacking Scott Norton.

Unfortunately, not even she had what it took to make this one exciting, and what we were left with was a reasonably dull effort that nobody -including the wrestlers in the ring- cared about.
Your Winners: Harlem Heat 

Before our next match, we were shown The Steiner Brothers with their new manager, Ted Dibiase, talking to'a reporter.

Dibiaise told the reporter that he had chosen to manage Rick and Scott Steiner because they represented 'traditional wrestling values.'

Konnan vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Konnan beat Rey Mysterio in a good match
A recent addition to the New World Order, Konnan was a pretty sloppy performer at this stage in his career, whilst Rey Mysterio Jr. was, as always, about as good as it ever got.

Putting the two together in one match made for interesting results - a bout that was at once both one of Konnan's best since he'd joined World Championship Wrestling and one of Rey Mysterio's worst.

The nWo star dominated proceedings, even unmasking his rival at one point (Rey got the mask back without revealing his face on camera) and eventually made Mysterio tap to the Tequila Sunrise, though not before a strong showing from Little Rey himself.
Your Winner: Konnan 

Afterwards, they played up Mysterio's injured leg by having a gaggle of referees and the trainer came down to help out the fallen star, even bringing a leg splint out.

Killing time, Tony, Bobby, and Dream told us how important Sturgis was and what a huge event the whole Biker rally was.

Kids, Get Your Parents' Permission 

Up next, Mean Gene Okerlund showed us his terrible-looking fake tattoo in order to prove his Biker credentials before reminding us to call the WCW Hotline if we wanted to know who the two new managers were they were coming to World Championship Wrestling.

Tag Team Elimination Match
WCW United States Champion Jeff Jarrett & Dean Malenko (w/ Queen Debra) vs. The Four Horsemen (Crippler Chris Benoit & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael) 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Dean Malenko teamed with Jeff Jarrett and faced Chris Benoit and Mongo McMichaelFor all intents and purposes, this was a handicap match.

United States Champion Jeff Jarrett wasn't exactly in the good books of Dean Malenko, so he let the Man of 1,000 Holds start the match and basically get his ass whooped for a good few minutes, without Jarett ever volunteering to get involved.

When Malenko did surprise Double J with a tag, the champion simply pulled arch-rival Steve 'Mongo' McMichael on top of him and had himself pinned.

Malenko then put up a good fight against The Four Horsemen but succumbed to a tombstone piledriver and diving headbutt from

Benoit and a second tombstone from Mongo to win the match.

I will say though, that as handicap matches go, that was pretty good, with an early exchange between Malenko and Benoit turning into a thing of absolute beauty.
Your Winners: Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael  

The match was followed by the briefest of clips showing us Diamond Dallas Page and The Steiner Brothers riding into Sturgis on their Harleys, after which it was straight onto our first title match of the evening.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Alex Wright vs. Lion Heart Chris Jericho 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Chris Jericho challenged Alex Wright for the Cruiserweight title
Having recently defeated Chris Jericho for the WCW Cruiserweight title, Alex Wright put the belt on the line in a return match which started off clumsily but gradually evolved into a great piece of wrestling.

Both men worked hard to deliver the highlight of the show up to this point, with Jericho seemingly on course to regain his title.

At the last possible moment, however, Wright -who had recently turned heel- rolled up Lion Heart and kept his title with a fluke pin.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Alex Wright 

More random 'hey, we're at a biker rally' footage followed, after which it was onto our next match.

Syxx vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair 

After going at it in a big six man at last month's Bash at the Beach 1997, Syxx and Ric Flair had become the most bitter of rivals.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Nature Boy Ric Flair faced Syxx
Tonight, the two would finally get the chance to settle the score in a match that turned out to be even better than the previous one.

A hugely enjoyable see-saw battle, this was one of the best matches I've ever seen Sean Waltman involved in, and a perfect example of Flair proving that he could still deliver at this stage of his career when he was sufficiently motivated to do so.

The whole thing was tremendous fun from start to finish and ended when The Dirtiest Player in The Game pinned Syxx using the ropes for leverage.
Your Winner: Ric Flair  

Another brief clip of the Sturgis bikers followed, after which we got back to the ring for our next match.

Curt Hennig vs. Diamond Dallas Page (w/ Kimberly) 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Diamond Dallas Page (w/ Kimberly) faced Curt Hennig
As Curt Hennig made his way to the ring, Tony Schiavone told us that he and Diamond Dallas Page had been at war and bad each been attacking each other from behind.

Tonight, the two would go face-to-face in what proved to be another fantastic match.

Starting off with a wild brawl before settling into your standard two-guys-hate-each-other wrestling match, this one saw Hennig play the role of the crafty veteran, pitting his cunning and experience against the unbridled energy and determination of DDP.

That experience ultimately triumphed tonight.

A couple of ref bumps and an ill-advised run in from Ric Flair left Page -who had been busted open thanks to a wicked face smash into an exposed turnbuckle- vulnerable to a Perfect Plex, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner: Curt Hennig

Post match, Mean Gene once again told us to call the WCW Hotline, this time to find out who Raven's first in-ring opponent would be in the company.

Okerlund then introduced us to a commercial for next month's Fall Brawl. The commercial, which focussed on the War Games match, showed us the likes of High Voltage, Hugh Morrus and Public Enemy all competing in the cage - as if there was any chance in the world that we would ever see then in War Games.

A quick clip then played of Eric Bischoff promising that Lex Luger would pay for beating Hogan, and with that, it was back to the action.

Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Miss. Elizabeth) vs. The Giant 

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) faced The Giant
With the sun setting over South Dakota, The Giant looked to conquer the New World Order in a decent effort against Macho Man Randy Savage.

Though not on par with the last couple of matches, this one was fun for what it was, with Savage -like Hennig before him- using cunning heel tactics to counter The Giant's sheer strength and size.

This time, however, experience wasn't enough.

The Giant caught Macho Man coming off the top, choke slammed himself and won't match.

So far, WCW were 3-1 against the New World Order.
Your Winner: The Giant 

I can't believe how quickly this show has gone - only two matches left.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) 

The Steiner Brothers' efforts to wrestle the tag team titles away from Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had been frustrating and heartbreaking for their fans.

If you recall, Rick and Scott first beat The Outsiders for the titles at Souled Out 1997 before Eric Bischoff overturned the decision and gave the belts back to Hall & Nash.

Then, when it looked like they might get a rematch, Hall and Nash had Masa Chono and The Great Muta take their place at Bash at the Beach 1997.

Tonight, the brothers looked to finally get their hands on the titles that the announcers frequently told us rightfully belonged to them, but were alas met with more frustration and yet more heartbreak.

The bulk of the match saw Scott Steiner separated from his brother and forced to play the babyface-in-peril for about a thousand years.

The beat down of Scotty lasted for so long that there seemed to be only one rightful conclusion - a crowd popping hot tag followed by the long-awaited big win.

The crowd popping hot tag came alright, and when it came that pop would have blown the roof off the arena had there been a roof there in the first place, but the big win?

Forget it.

Just when The Steiners looked to have the win in the bag, Kevin Nash pulled referee Nick Patrick out of the ring.

Patrick disqualified The Outsiders and thus, even though they won the match, Rick and Scott still wouldn't get the titles.
Your Winners via Disqualification: The Steiner Brothers (The Outsiders retain the titles)

Talk about disappointing.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Lex Luger defended the WCW title against Hulk Hogan
At Bash at the Beach 1997, Lex Luger had made Hulk Hogan submit when the two faced off in a big main event tag team match (Hogan teamed with Dennis Rodman and Luger with The Giant).

That had been enough to give Luger a title shot, but after shocking the world with the win, it was time to restore the natural order of things in a rather mediocre main event.

I was tempted to call this disappointing, but then it's Hogan vs. Luger, so my expectations were never that high to begin with.

Some mostly uninspired back-and-forthing filled up the bulk of the contest before the somewhat inevitable nWo run-in.

Luger saw off the attack by Vicious & Delicious and the Wolfpac but fell victim to a baseball bat shot from another fake Sting and was unceremoniously pinned.
Your Winner and New WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hulk Hogan 

Wasting no time, Hogan and his crew celebrated briefly then hightailed it to the back, leaving the announcers to wonder where it all went wrong as The Steiners and Curt Hennig helped Luger to the back and the announcers buried their heads in their hands, wondering aloud where it had all gone wrong.

Finally, we were told that a fight had broken out backstage, but we're instead just shown the nWo celebrating and Dennis Rodman doing the honours of retagging the WCW title with the nWo logo.

You know, WCW gets a lot of flack for a lot of things - including wasting money on Hog/Road Wild, but whatever business decisions were made, that doesn't take away from the fact that Road Wild 1997 was mostly a very fine show with a lot of quality wrestling involved and for that, if nothing else, you have to give the company credit.

Though not everything on the card was top quality, enough of it was to make this one well worth your time.

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
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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.