WWF: IYH XVI – Canadian Stampede (07.97)

IYH16

WWF: In Your House – Canadian Stampede
July 6, 1997
Calgary, AB, Canada
The Saddledome

The current WWF champs were as follows:
World Champion: The Undertaker (3/23/1997)
Intercontinental Champion: Owen Hart (4/28/1997)
European Champion: Davey Boy Smith (3/3/1997)
World Tag Team Champions: Vacant (6/16/1997)

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler.

  • The Godwinns vs. The New Blackjacks – Free for All Match

This is a situation where the New Blackjacks (who are heels in America) are cheered over the Godwinns. Calgary loves their cowboys and doesn’t exactly care for hillbillies. The Blackjacks frustrate the Godwinns until Bradshaw hits a Pumphandle Slam for two. The match breaks down as Henry kicks away a suplex, allowing Phineas to apply an inside cradle for the win. (5:34) Don’t worry, Calgary. You’ll go home happy. ¾*

Onto the PPV!

  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. Mankind

This is the rematch from the KOTR finals as Mankind continues to ascension into being a babyface. He storms the ring and hits Helmsley early with a Double-Arm DDT. Mankind even does the Helmsley bow for added insult. HHH lands his signature facebuster, but charges Mankind and takes a backdrop to the floor. With Helmsley down, Mankind delivers the Cactus Elbow from the apron. Back in, that gets two. Meanwhile, Vince brags on Chyna’s deltoids. The man is a FREAK. Vince that is, not Chyna. Helmsley takes the Harley Race corner bump out to the floor and decides to fight another day, but Mankind won’t allow that. He runs Helmsley down and gives him a suplex on the ramp. Back in, HHH sunset flips Mankind, but now he’s vulnerable for the MANDIBLE CLAW, which I believe Jerry Lawler found that out during the KOTR. While the ref is REALLY close to Hunter, Chyna reaches in and blasts Mankind with a forearm shot to break up the hold. That brings out Mankind to chase Chyna for the obvious distraction, but he turns around and nails Helmsley just in time. As he goes to whip Hunter into the steps, Helmsley reverses and sends Mankind into a hiptoss by Chyna onto the steps where his left leg gets destroyed. To make matters worse, HHH hits Mankind’s leg real good one time with a chair while the ref is with Chyna. Back inside the ring, Helmsley takes Mankind to school and even locks in the Figure-Four. He uses the ropes and gets caught by the ref, but Mankind punches himself loose anyway. Helmsley tries for a PEDIGREE, but Mankind reverses. Hunter kicks Mankind off into the corner, but he ends up landing head first into HHH’s grapefruits. That usually works best after a collision. The way that was done just looked kind of silly. Anyways, Mankind fires back in the corner and like an idiot, delivers the running knee using his bad leg. Pull-Up Piledriver gets 1-2-NO! Mankind hits the Cactus Clothesline to take them both to the floor. A chair gets involved again. This time, the ref makes sure it isn’t used, but Chyna still lands a big clothesline on Mankind behind his back. Back inside, Mankind crotches Hunter up top and applies the MANDIBLE CLAW. There’s no way to get a submission like that being in the ropes anyways. Chyna saves her man by tripping up Mankind and pulls his crotch into the ringpost. Back on the floor we go, Helmsley beats Mankind all around ringside and takes him into the crowd for the double-countout. (13:14) They fight all through the crowd until the zebras separate the two. Foley was the first guy in the WWF that Helmsley had a chemistry together. They never had a bad match. You could maybe argue Marc Mero if you care to do so, but that’s about it. ***¼

  • The Great Sasuke vs. TAKA Michinoku

This is the WWF debut for both guys. After Sasuke’s entrance, we look over to see Helmsley and Mankind are STILL fighting in the crowd. Hunter is bleeding. It’s a mess out there. We don’t get to see any entrance for TAKA, but the WWF’s original plan was to push Sasuke ahead of TAKA. To show how in demand these two are, JR mentions how TAKA flew in from Mexico City while Sasuke flew in from Tokyo. Both guys wrestle for the Michinoku-Pro promotion, which actually is a company founded by the Great Sasuke. Feeling-out process to start as they take turns working on each other’s arms. Sasuke catches TAKA with a huge spinning heel kick and moves to the ankle and back with a nasty half crab. TAKA fires back with a palm strike and a series of dropkicks to wow the crowd. To the floor we go, Sasuke connects with a missile dropkick to TAKA. They seem to sell the bump though like they have a 20-count like they do in Japan. Back inside, Sasuke unloads on TAKA with kicks in the corner ending with a sick mule kick straight to the face. TAKA catches a kick and leg whips Sasuke over. Back to the floor, TAKA showcases his Springboard Plancha. Beautiful move that the crowd appreciates. I just wonder how much more they would have liked it had WCW not already been educating the American wrestling fanbase for the past year. In the ring, they have a beautiful exchange as TAKA flips out of a German suplex and delivers a Hurracanrana for a nearfall. Handspring elbow by Sasuke sends TAKA back out for an Asai Moonsault. Back in, TAKA hits a belly to belly suplex for two. Springboard dropkick sets up the MICHINOKU DRIVER for 1-2-NO! TAKA comes off the top, but Sasuke dropkicks him on the way down. Another Asai Moonsault press by Sasuke gets two. THUNDER FIRE POWERBOMB leads to the Tiger Suplex for the win. (10:00) You can’t fault the WWF for trying with these guys. Even if things hadn’t gone the way they did with Sasuke telling the Japanese media that he would only defend the new Light Heavyweight title in Japan, this match to me says that TAKA is the guy to go with since he was the only one who seemed to engage the audience. Great match, but WCW beat them to the punch and had the wrestling fanbase won over. I’ll take Ultimo Dragon in 1996 over Great Sasuke in 1997 any day of the week. ***¾

Mankind and Hunter are STILL fighting outside by a big yellow bus. Agents and refs try to stop them, but they just can’t seem to separate the two. They brawl around beer kegs and pallets for a while.

  • WWF World Champion The Undertaker vs. Vader (w/Paul Bearer)

After Paul Bearer has released the family secrets, there’s lots going on right now with the Undertaker. Naturally, Taker controls to start. He lands Old School for two. Jumping Lariat garners the same result. Vader slows things down with a headlock, but then Taker escapes and boots Vader to the floor for a brawl around ringside. Taker goes knees-first into the steps. Paul Bearer screams at Taker calling him a murderer over and over again. Back in, Taker delivers a flying clothesline for another nearfall. On the floor, Taker stalks Bearer around the ring, allowing Vader to make the save with a clothesline from behind. Bearer hits Taker with his own shoe. Is Percy Pringle making a comeback here? Back inside the ring, Vader pummels Taker down into the corner. Short-arm clothesline by Vader leads to a flying body attack for two. A suplex and a splash off the ropes gets two. Nerve hold from Vader leads to a comeback by the Undertaker, but Vader cuts that short with another clothesline. Crowd is ROCKIN’ right now to rally the WWF champ. Taker fires back and wants a Chokeslam, but Vader kicks him square in the nards right in front of the ref. JR questions why that wasn’t a DQ. Looks like they wanted to do a Tombstone reversal spot, but Taker collapses on Vader. Instead, Vader sets Taker up for the Vader Bomb, but Taker uppercuts him in the balls, much like what we saw back at Final Four. With Vader still on the second rope, Taker brings him down with a Chokeslam! Cover, 1-2-NO! When another Chokeslam won’t finish the job, Taker pulls out the big guns and delivers the TOMBSTONE for the win. (12:29) Far superior to their Royal Rumble match as they worked out the kinks and appeared to show some decent chemistry. Not just the last successful WWF title defense for Taker’s second reign, but also the last main event hurrah for Vader. ***

  • The Hart Foundation vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and the Legion of Doom

We are at the height of the US and Canada border wars. Austin – being the bad man that he is – had no problem going into this match alone against the Hart Foundation, but he was forced into having these other four partners. This is all a big deal for the people of Calgary. The Premier of Alberta is here in the front row beside Stu and Helen Hart. Various members of the Hart family are right there with them – the most prominent being Bruce who is hamming it up standing beside his dad. While the Americans do their standard entrances and either gets booed (Austin, Shamrock) or not much of a reaction at all (Goldust, LOD), the Hart Foundation have separate entrances yet they each wait at the top of the ramp until all five men are out to head towards the ring to show their solidarity as a unit. Big showdown in the ring with Austin and Bret being that lasts the longest and comes to blows. Bret stomps Austin down into the corner as the hard camera already begins to shake. Austin low blows Bret and returns what he got by stomping a mudhole in him. The Survivor Series 1996 finish almost gets Austin pinned again. Austin misses the Bossman straddle, allowing Bret to tag out to Neidhart. Lou Thesz press puts down Anvil. Tag to Shamrock, he kicks Neidhart down and tries for the ANKLELOCK. However, Pillman runs in and trolls Shamrock out of it. Anvil turns the match over to Pillman, who whips Shamrock in the corner and drops him with a backbreaker. As he goes to cover, he makes Shamrock “tap out” for a joke. Shamrock comes back with a belly to belly suplex. Time for Owen and Goldust now. Just huge “Owen” chants. Meanwhile, Austin is giving the crowd a fit as they change over to “Austin sucks” chants. You know he’s loving that. Tag to Hawk, he hits a flying splash on Owen for two. He whiffs on a dropkick though, which gives Owen the opportunity for the SHARPSHOOTER. Animal quickly cuts him off. Bulldog tags in and delivers the Hourglass Suplex for two. RUNNING POWERSLAM gets 1-2-NO! Now Bret and Goldust square off. Goldust gets put in a tree of woe over in the Harts corner. BAD IDEA JEANS. That causes a short pier-six brawl. Once that’s finished, Owen misses a corner charge and eats the post. In comes Animal, Owen nails him with a spinning heel kick and the missile dropkick and kip-up.

This crowd is just unreal. Owen fails on a headscissors and takes a powerbomb from Animal. From there, LOD delivers the DOOMSDAY DEVICE for 1-2-NO! Another brawl erupts. This time, Austin hits Owen’s knee with a chair up against the ringpost. Bruce reaches over the rail to get at Austin until Bret comes by to take chair away from him and check on his brother. He ends up limping backstage with Bret and Davey Boy. Once they return, Austin gets cornered again for some CLUBBERING. Austin fights his way out and drops Pillman with a STONE COLD STUNNER. From the floor, Bret grabs hold of Austin’s leg and drags him over to a corner to wear his knee out on the ringpost. He even uses a fire extinguisher to do more damage before applying the Ringpost Figure-Four! That puts Austin out of action to even the sides again. Brief test of strength between Animal and Neidhart. Anvil kicks Animal back to his corner to tag Bret for Demolition’s finisher. In a funny bit, Shamrock tags in and looks for something to do to Bret’s knee when Pillman just runs in and clotheslines him down. Shamrock wants Bret to knuckle up, but instead Bret throws him on the floor for Pillman to throw him onto an announce table of the Spanish variety – ensuing another brawl this time on the floor. Back in, Shamrock gets dominated until he low blows Bulldog. Tag to Goldust, he sets Davey Boy up for the CURTAIN CALL, but again Pillman runs by and puts a stop to that. Superplex by DBS gets two. That cues Austin to limp back to the ring. He gets a tag, but so does Bret. Austin does alright for a while until Bret fires back with a DDT to start up the backbreaker and flying elbow drop. Sleeper by Bret is broken up with a jawbreaker. Bret trips up Austin for the SHARPSHOOTER, but Animal saves the day. Of all things, Austin himself now locks in the Sharpshooter on Bret. That brings Owen Hart back down to make the save for his brother. Tag to Owen, Austin clotheslines him to the floor. Austin kicks him a bit and tosses him back inside, but now Bruce is throwing a soda or something at Austin, which ticks him off. He thinks its Stu who threw the drink and grabs Stu! That brings the Hart family sitting in the front row to their dad’s defense. Bret sends Austin back inside. When he stands up and reaches through the ropes to get at Bret, Owen comes by and schoolboys Austin for the win. (24:32) The ending is just perfect as the Hart family and security guards clear the ring of the American side. Austin comes back out wielding a chair. He takes out Anvil, but that’s all he can do before the Harts jump him. Our Canadian security guards first check to make sure he didn’t mind and if it wouldn’t be too much trouble if they could haul him off in handcuffs. Apparently it was because Austin is now leaving for the night with those kind gentlemen, leaving the Harts to celebrate with their fans, friends, and family in the final happy moment for the Hart family. If the goal was to have a wild west bar brawl being in Calgary and all, then this is exactly what we got in spades. Unfortunately, I feel like Austin’s team was less engaged in the match. Take the Four Horsemen against Dusty and friends back in 1987 as an example. They line up perfectly against each other. What deep-rooted problems does Goldust or Shamrock really have with the Hart Foundation? The LOD feuded with Owen and Bulldog earlier in the year, but that was less personal and more about winning the tag titles. This was all Austin against the Hart Foundation. It’s a great match with a rare atmosphere that could have been greater with more stories intertwined from the other competitors that wasn’t there. Now feuds come out of this match as we head into SummerSlam and beyond, but they aren’t here yet. ****½

Final Thoughts: Easily the best WWF PPV to date. There is just an atmosphere at this show that has to be experienced. While there were only four matches and just two hours long, every match is worth your time, which is more than I can say for even the best Big Four PPVs of the past. Speaking of the two hour In Your House PPV format, this would mark the end of that era, as Ground Zero in September would be three hours. Some other writers I feel like have overhyped these matches to the hilt, but I think I have given it a fair and objective look, and put it in its proper place once and for all. Thumbs up for IYH: Canadian Stampede.

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