Counting Down the Days of Summerslam: Summerslam 1997

Summerslam 1997
Live from East Rutherford New Jersey
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry “The King” Lawler

Opening Match:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Chyna vs. Mankind – Cage Match.

Triple H is still doing the snob gimmick with Chyna as his MANager. HHH was still very green here, but I loved his gimmick and his entrance music. They both were very heel-ish.  Mankind was in the process of transforming into Dude Love, which was Foley trying to be his boyhood dream wrestler HBK.  These two hated each other ever since King of the Ring finals match where Hunter defeated Mankind where he rudely used the crown to beat the hell out Mankind. Not very classy at all.  Sweet! WWF was still using the blue cage.I wonder if this the last one. Quick, someone look that up for me. What? I don’t make enough money to do research too. Pshh.  Hunter tried to quickly escape, but Mankind says no sir and drags him back into the cage. It would be cool – even if cheap – if a match ended like that. It would break one of the many cliches in wrestling. Mankind takes it to HHH for a while. Running knee into HHH’s face followed by a piledriver. Mankind goes to escape, but Chyna doesn’t allow him to. Mankind puts in the maniable claw, but Chyna pulls  Mankind’s hair through the cage, allowing HHH to get some offense in. That is until Mankind hits a clothesline and then tries to escape. Chyna has other ideas as she gives Mankind a low-blow. HHH suplexes Mankind off the cage! Trips tries to escape, but rather punish Mankind instead. He throws him into the cage three times, making the cage look like its about to break. Trips tries to leave the cage, but Mankind drags him back into the cage. Chyna punches Mankind through the cage. Well, Mankind deserved that since he put his head out of the cage. Mankind finds through until Trips hits hit vintage knee drop. Trips goes for a suplex, but Mankind reverses it with a tree of woe from the cage. He follows with an elbow drop. Cool spot. Mankind throws Trips into the cage again and again. Triple H backdrops Mankind right into the cage. Another cool spot. Both fight on the top ropes trading off punches.  Trips falls and his leg gets caught. Mankind is about to leave…..until Chyna throws the cage door into Mankind. The referee is pissed at her, thus she kicks his ass. She throws a chair into the ring. HHH goes for a pedigree, but Mankind reverses it by taking Trips’ legs out and then throwing Trips into her, as she stands there like “derr, what’s happening?”.  Mankind is about to win the match, but decides to do the spot that got him into the wrestling business, Jimmy Snuka GOING SUPERFLY on Muraco!!!!! He climbs out as Chyna tries to pull HHH out, but Mankind still beats the race @ 16:00. WWF tried to make the finish dramatic, making Mankind look kind of a moron that almost costed himself the match. It still translated in a great moment if you knew what inspired Foley into the business. Trips’ offense was tedious and he didn’t really know how to cunningly dictate the pace as a heel yet, but Foley took his hand and carried him through it. Trips took some sick bumps to his credit. Chyna was ahead of her time as a manager, but had bad timing and was in the wrong spot a lot. Let’s call it  *** 1/4.

Loser Wears Dress: Brian Pillman vs. Goldust.

I’m going to be honest with you, this match is a total blah and nothing happens, other than some half-hearted brawling and basic 101 wrestling. The finish comes with Pillman throwing Goldust outside the ring and Goldust doing one of the worst sunset flips ever with Pillman trying to cover the botch up. Marlena hits Pilman with the purse, allowing Goldust to finally get the pin. It sounds like bad pbp on my behalf, but it’s hard to call such a screwed up finish. Of course, Brian Pillman had to wear the dress the next night since Russo doesn’t believe people who order to see the match should see the stipulation of the match done on the show. Bad match. 1/4*

The Godwinns vs. The Leigon of Doom

The Godwinns were a team who I assume Vince McMahon wanted to use to remember his epic failure of a year 1995. They didn’t fit into the evolution of the business, as they same off as very stereotypical rednecks, which is saying a lot because stereotypes are wrestling’s middle name. The LOD had no motivation whatsoever at this point.  In fact, they never showed any real motivation in WWF ever. It seemed like they didn’t want to be here and were using them for a paycheck. Generic tag team formula wrestling for most of the match. Good because it’s hard to mess up. Bad because it’s dull.  After being in peril, Hawk makes the hot-tag to Animal, who takes on both Godwinns with clotheslines and then a piledriver to end it @ 9:51. By-the-books match that could have been better given less time. * 3/4

European Title Match: British Bulldog vs. Ken Shamrock – If Bulldog loses, he must eat dog food.

It wouldn’t be a Russo show if someone didn’t have to eat  dog food. Shamrock was still green in the ring and Bulldog wasn’t one to carry people. The finish comes where Shamrock cannot take it anymore and just snaps. Bulldog is scared for his life, thus hits the referee resulting in a DQ at 7:50.  Shamrock chokes Bulldog and the officials come out to get him off of him. Shamrock then attacks them, getting a huge pop. The match was dull, but it showed how over Shamrock was becoming if anything. * 1/2

Los Boricuas vs. The Disciples of the Apocalypse

I had to do some research to understand this feud and I am still not entirely sure if it makes sense. Me trying to explain will do us no justice. Let’s just call it what it is:  a very nonsensical Vince Russo angle.   They do some brawling….and then some more brawling…..and then some more brawling…..and then some more brawling….and then right when you think they’re done….they do more brawling.  Oh, and trust me, it’s that half-hearted brawling, not the heated kind. Ahmad hits the plunge on Chainz, but sends him in only for the Hispanic team to steal the victory@ 9:06. Oh, Russo and your racial stereotypes. Everyone keeps brawling. This entire thing gets a big DUD.

IC Title: Owen Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin- If Austin loses, he has to kick Hart’s ass

At Candian Stampede, Owen Hart pinned Stone Cold and he allows everyone to know about it, which, of course, pisses Stone Cold off.  Hart works on Austin’s knee before Austin had a chance. Austin comes right back with a Thez Press. Austin throws Hart right into the turnbuckle, making Hart fall viciously to the ground. Austin goes to work on Owen’s arm, trying to break it.  Outside, Austin tries to put in the figure-four with the ringpost, but Owen pulls Austin in right into the turnbuckle. Back in, Hart tries breaking Austin’s fingers and goes to the point of biting his middle finger. Owen goes for a ‘rana but Austin reverses into a powerbomb. Owen Hart drives to leave, but Austin drags him back into the ring. Owen hits a belly-to-belly suplex followed by a vicious neckbreaker as Jim Ross called it. Hart works on Austin’s neck. Austin gets a hope-spot in, but Owen remains on offense. The crowd tries to get Austin back into the match. Austin goes for a suplex, but Owen nails a german suplex. ONE-TWO-THRE-NO! Hart puts in the camel clutch, while we get Shiek’s comments on it: “That no good piece of shit.”  Owen has the sleeper in, but Austin counters with a jawbreaker. Austin comes off the top, but Owen reverses with a punch in the midsection. Hart puts back in the sleeper hold. Thus far, this has had great storytelling with Austin trying to itch his way back into the match, but Owen having a counter for Austin’s counter every time. Plus, it means more because the crowd wants Austin to comeback so bad.  Owen fights with the ref, which allows Austin to pick Hart up for the piledriver. Owen counters into one of his own, breaking Austin’s neck.  Instead of pinning him, Hart panders around he talks to the crowd not knowing what to do. Austin fights his way to Owen Hart and rolls him up with the worst roll up in history @ 15.00. How to rate this one because it seemed like they had way more to offer before Austin broke his neck. This was a sad moment because Austin never became as good as he was in the ring after this. On the other hand, he became the second biggest drawing wrestler ever. You win one, you lose one. The match had great storytelling with Owen constantly getting heat on Austin, but Austin – being the tough SOB he is – kept trying to crawl his way back into the match. But Hart still had the brains to counter Austin’s counters. If the story finished at its original destination, this just well might have been a 5 star match. *** 1/2

WWF Title: Bret Hart vs. Undertaker 

HBK is the special guest referee, but he promises he’ll call it straight down the middle. If HBK touches Bret Hart, he’ll never be able to wrestle in the US again, and if Bret Hart touches HBK, he’ll never be able to wrestle in Canada again. Also, Bret Hart said if he loses, he’ll never wrestle in the WWF again. Just so many stipulations  in this match.  Hart  nails Taker with the belt from behind. Taker isn’t affected in runs Hart into the ringpost. Back in, Taker hits a backbreaker followed by a  stretch across the knee. Taker hits Hart with a big boot, but he misses a second. Hart works over Takers leg and puts in a  figure four. Paul Bearer comes down to say Kane is coming. OH YESS!!!!!!. Taker counters the figure-four, but Hart makes it to tho the ropes. Taker then works on Hart’s leg until he goes after Bearer, which allows Hart to take out Taker’s knee from behind. HBK kicks  Bearer out. OH NOOO!!!!!!!  Meanwhile, Bret sinks in the ring-post figure-four. HBK breaks it up, thus Hart gets in his face.  Owen Hart and Brian Pillman come out. Back in,  Bret works over Taker’s leg, but Taker fights back and then goes after Owen Hart and Pillman.  HBK also ejects them and Bret walks into a choke slam. Taker is going to win,  but Shawn is  too busy making  in ejecting both Owen and Pillman. Taker isn’t happy on it so he has some words for HBK, allowing Bret to roll him up. ONE-TWO-THR-NO!  Bret gets 4 out of 4 of his 5 moves of doom in, but Taker grabs him by the throat while Hart goes for the sharpshooter. Taker goes for a chokeslam, but Hart kicks his knee. Taker fights back and delivers a chokeslams. ONE-TWO-THRE-NO!. Taker goes old school, but Bret counters and hits a  superplex. Bret puts in the sharpshooter, but Taker powers out of it, which tosses Bret to the floor. Hart sells the frustration of someone being able to kick out of his finisher. Back in, HBK takes a bump so  Bret gets a chair and nails the Undertaker with it. HBK – not knowing what’s going on – counts ONE-TWO-THRE-NO! Shawn sees the chair and gets in Bret’s face. Hart spits on HBK, causing HBK to reach his breaking-point as he swings the chair but Bret ducks and HBK nails the Undertaker. Bret covers Taker, forcing HBK no other choice than to count. A long staredown happens between the two during the count. ONE-TWO-THREE, Bret Hart wins the title @ 28:00.  Hart and Undertaker  would go on and one-up this match later on at One Night Stand.  HBK and Undertaker’s heat went on all the way to their famous HITC match where Kane finally debuted. The match had tedious and slow parts, but the drama and all of the added elements boosted the matches’ rating.  *** 1/2

Final Thoughts:  Man, I forgot how awful the midcard matches were on this show. They were really, really bad, and made this PPV at one time feel like it was heading towards King of the Ring 1995 territory. Of course, that is until the main guys, much like always in 1997, delivered and saved it.

WWF really hit their hot-point around this time as they put on some of the most entertaining and well-booked feuds in the history of wrestling (aside from the the Russo convoluted stuff in the midcard of course). However, long booked feuds that accumulate over a span of time didn’t exactly intrigue the usual viewer of this generation, who were instead watching WCW and their ADHD program. In 1998, WWF fired Jim Cornette from the booking team and hired Ed Ferreria to help Vince Russo write the show. They both were heavy fans of  shock-tv that had a lot off cussing, sex-references, puppies, and gimmicks like Val Venis and the Godfather.

Albeit most of their programming was stupid and convoluted, the core audience never remembered most of it because they were so focused in on Stone Cold Steve Austin (who could take a shit in the ring and still get a huge pop) and plus the fact that the car-crash style made people easily forget what was even going on. Despite the long-term impact on the business it had, it became a huge success and allowed WWF to overcome the odds against WCW, which was practically the only thing that mattered at that point.

Mild Thumbs Up For Summerslam 1997

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Posted on July 30, 2011, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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