WWF: SummerSlam 1997
August 3, 1997
East Rutherford, NJ
Continental Airlines Arena
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: Steve Austin & Dude Love (7/14/1997)
Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry Lawler.
Isn’t it just apropos to play our national anthem right before a WAR of a cage match?
- Cage Match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. Mankind
Knowing the craziness of Mankind, HHH immediately makes a dive for the door. Mankind refuses to oblige him and pulls him back inside for cage violence. Pull-up Piledriver connects. Mankind applies the MANDIBLE CLAW, but HHH backs him into the cage to allow Chyna to save him by climbing up and choking Mankind through the bars. Mankind fights back and tries to climb out, but Chyna is there to stop him by punching him in the balls. With Mankind still up top, HHH brings his fat body down with a hard superplex! HHH denies himself the win to inflict more pain on Mankind. He throws Mankind into the cage a bunch and starts to climb, but Mankind stops him at the top. Once again, Chyna reaches in to save Helmsley with a right hand to Mankind. From there, Mankind proceeds to suplex HHH into the cage and then delivers a running elbow drop of sorts with HHH still hanging onto the cage! More cage violence from Mankind, but then HHH backdrops into the cage to end all that. They meet each other on the top rope trying to climb out, but HHH gets crotched and hung up in the ropes. Mankind crawls for the door and he’s almost out when Chyna slams the door in his face. She tosses a chair in the ring over to Hunter, but a PEDIGREE goes awry when Mankind counters and catapults Helmsley into Chyna. Gah, her timing for these spots are just awful. DOUBLE-ARM DDT on the chair looks to put HHH away as Mankind climbs over the top of the cage, but then the crowd starts chanting “Superfly” and he just can’t resist. He rips his shirt open and delivers a FLYING ELBOW DROP FROM THE TOP OF THE CAGE! Again, Chyna screws up on the timing on the finish as you can plainly see if you’re watching the match. After Mankind hits the elbow drop, he climbs out for real this time for the win. (16:24) Afterwards, Dude Love’s music plays and Foley goes into Dude Love mode as a sign of things to come. I’m not really a big fan of this match simply because Chyna’s miscues make all the spots look so planned. Average stuff really with some moderately fun moments mixed in. BLOOD COUNT: None. **½
Todd Pettingell welcomes the first ever female Governor of New Jersey Christie Whitman to the stage. She’s accompanied by Gorilla Monsoon and the Headbangers of all people. No surprise here, but she’s a Republican. She is awarded a replica WWF title belt for reducing state taxes on pro wrestling shows in New Jersey. Vince says it’s the first time the WWF has had a televised event in NJ in eight years, which I believe would be SummerSlam 1989. LOADS of wrestling puns are used. And she gets booed. Wrestling should always follow the same rules as bartenders: never mention religion or politics.
Tiger Ali Singh and Tiger Jeet Singh can be seen in the audience. Just letting you know what’s going on.
- Goldust (w/Marlena) vs. Brian Pillman
Because Goldust is a tad on the eccentric side, the loser of this match must wear a dress the next night on Raw is War. I can’t imagine Goldust really freaking out about that. Pillman is rather limited at this point compared to his earlier days, but even a great performer can make something out of nothing. Pillman pearl harbors Goldust, but gets punched in the corner and smooched to the point he must take a sabbatical. Back inside, Pillman knocks Goldust around and then stalks Marlena out on the floor. She sends Pillman straight into a trap though as Goldust clotheslines him down. Back in, Pillman hits a suplex and heads up top, but Goldust throws him from the top buckle onto the ropes for a mean bump. With Pillman laid out on the floor, Marlena blows some cigar smoke in his face. Back on his feet, Pillman does the Macho Man bit where he shields himself with the opposing valet and nails Goldust followed with a DDT. Back inside, a flying clothesline by Pillman gets two. Crazy eyes chinlock slows down Goldust for a while. Goldust fights up with a clothesline and delivers the Flip Flop and Fly. FUNKY LIKE A MONKEY LIVE AND IN PUBLIC IF YOU WILL! Pillman shoves off the bulldog sending Goldust out on the floor. The sunset flip spot screws up (poor Brian), but they recover the best they can. Marlena whacks Pillman with her purse or something like it to knock Pillman back down into the rollup to give Goldust the win. (7:16) All I have to say is, poor Brian. Afterwards, Pillman rips up the dress in frustration. ½*
- The Legion of Doom vs. The Godwinns
This is the match that is over three months in the making since LOD broke Henry Godwinn’s neck with the Doomsday Device. LOD clean house on the Godwinns with clotheslines to start. The Godwinns try to double-team Animal, but he drills them both with a clothesline. Hawk and Henry go to the floor where Henry gets ran into the steps. Back inside, the Godwinns work over Hawk’s neck as some sort of retribution, I’m sure. Tag to Animal, he gets ran off the apron onto the barricade. Captain Lou Albano makes sure to react to the camera like the blubbering idiot he is. Back in again, they work over Animal with a bearhug. Miscommunication spot for the Godwinns doesn’t quite make it. Phineas gets nailed in mid-air by a clothesline from Animal. HOT TAG TO HAWK! Just to be a dick, Hawk drops Henry with a Reverse Neckbreaker. LOD look for the Doomsday Device, but Phineas shoves away Animal and receives a Flying Clothesline by Hawk. To REALLY be a couple of dicks, LOD deliver a Spike Piledriver to Henry for the 1-2-3. (9:52) If they weren’t so beloved, you’d think the LOD would have turned heel here essentially trying to cripple poor Henry Godwinn. An okay-ish brawl. *½
Okay, so now it’s time for the WWF to try and give away a million dollars to a lucky person. All you need to know is that Todd Pettingell has the same problems dialing phone numbers as he did at the first In Your House, nobody won the million dollars, Sable and Sunny are here looking quite wonderful, and the tweener gets a hug from Sable, which I’m sure won’t cause him any problems in his future. Sunny gives the other guy a hug. Give her $75 and she’ll let you spoon her!
- WWF European Champion Davey Boy Smith vs. Ken Shamrock
If Shamrock wins the European title, Davey Boy Smith has to eat dog food. Seems like a pretty tame Cornette stipulation if you ask me. It still has to be better than Russo’s “Judy Bagwell on a Pole” (I wouldn’t want to touch her) or a “Kiss My Butt” (seems pretty obvious why this would suck) matches. Just to be clear though, I don’t eat dog food. Shamrock is serious business right from the get-go. Belly to belly suplex and DBS is on the floor. Shamrock bounces Bulldog’s face off the steps and puts the boots to him. Back in, Davey Boy fires back with a hourglass suplex and grabs an extended chinlock. Somewhere along the way, Shamrock’s mouth gets busted open. They head back to the floor where Shamrock takes a ride into the steps. Bulldog threatens to drop half of the steps on him, but ref Jack Doan convinces him to put the steps down. They flub a suplex spot on the steps and head back in the ring. Okay, back to the floor. Davey Boy grabs a handful of dog food from the can on the announce table and wipes it on Shamrock’s face. Shamrock goes into a UNCONTROLLABLE DOGFOOD-FUELED RAGE and hits Bulldog in the back of the head with the can for the DQ. (7:27) He then takes Davey Boy back into the ring and chokes him out with a sleeper. Refs and agents try to contain him, but then he starts dropping a bunch of them with belly to belly suplexes in one of Shamrock’s first truly memorable moments. Match was lame though. ¾*
In the back, Shawn Michaels tells Todd Pettingell that any problems between he and Bret Hart were taken care of back at WrestleMania 12. He is just here to be an impartial, unbiased, fair referee. Nothing will get past Shawn’s keen eye. Vince says he has his doubts.
- Los Boricuas vs. Disciples of Apocalypse
So it’s the Puerto Ricans against the bikers, or WWC vs. SMW (sans Crush). At least on Raw, these Gang Warz angles seemed to be pretty hot. We’ll just have to see if that continues here at SummerSlam. DOA clean house on Los Boricuas to start, so you know which team to cheer for. Obvs DOA. A lot of brawling in this one. Crush gives Miguel Perez Jr. (the hairy one) the Tour of the Islands. One of the Harris twins – Skull or 8-Ball – is *your* biker in peril. During the heat segment, the Nation of Domination come down to the ring through the crowd. Some dude in a white t-shirt tries to tag along, which made me laugh. Anyways, most of the focus is on Ahmed Johnson, who shouts obscenities at ringside fans. Chainz gets the hot tag and throws the Puerto Ricans around. It turns into a pier-six brawl and Chainz finds himself dumped out in front of Ahmed. Chainz slugs Ahmed and pays with a PEARL RIVER PLUNGE ON THE CONCRETE! Miguel Perez Jr. “aprovechar el día” and pin Chainz. (9:08) Oof. Not one of my favorite SummerSlam matches. Afterwards, Los Boricuas quietly leave while the NOD and DOA fight it out. ¾*
- WWF Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart vs. Steve Austin
As Michael Cole says to Austin before the match, Austin has to “kiss Owen’s backside” if he can’t win the IC title. This is one of those matches for me that I get kind of nervous about recapping because we all know what’s going to happen by the end. Owen clips the bad knee during Austin’s four corner introduction and goes to work. He wraps Austin’s knee around the post, but Austin fires back anyway with a Thesz Press. Austin whips Owen from corner to corner and punches him around. He then bars the arm and during an exchange of hammerlocks, Austin shoves away the snapmare counter. Owen fights out of the armbar with a back elbow and makes Austin eat the ringpost. To the floor, Owen stomps Austin’s hands on the ring steps. Back inside, Owen tries to rip and bite Austin’s middle finger off. Austin stops Owen with a Stun Gun and blocks a headscissors with a powerbomb. Owen decides to leave and take the loss via countout, but Austin has other plans. He brings Owen back to the ring, but winds up taking a Belly to Belly Suplex. Owen follows up with a swinging neckbreaker and lands a Flying Elbow for two. Owen crimps the neck, but Austin fires back with a clothesline. He wants to embarrass Owen with the Sharpshooter, but gets kicked away. Crossbody out of the corner by Owen gets reversed by Austin for two. Owen delivers a nice Bridging German Suplex for 1-2-NO! Not enough. Owen applies a camel clutch doing more damage to the neck. Austin fights out, but gets dumped on his head with a DDT. They exchange sleeperholds, but Austin escapes with a jawbreaker. Owen reapplies a chinlock and uses the ropes for leverage until he gets caught. Oh boy, and here comes the dreaded Tombstone Piledriver spot. While Austin regains any composure he possibly could muster that point, Owen berates the crowd. With his back turned, Austin crawls over to Owen and lets him fall backwards for a schoolboy for the saddest three-count of all-time. (16:17) Ladies and gents, we have got us a new IC champion. This was just a good old-fashioned wrestling match up until the unfortunate ending. ***¾
- Special Referee – Shawn Michaels: WWF World Champion The Undertaker vs. Bret Hart
If Bret doesn’t win the WWF title, he agreed to never wrestle on American soil ever again. Bret makes everybody listen to the Canadian national anthem before the match. Singing it like Nikolai Volkoff would have turned it into comedy. And you know Bret doesn’t want you to laugh unless he WANTS YOU TO LAUGH. Shawn comes out in his referee gear. At least he’s not wearing bike shorts. Just like his brother did to Austin, Bret jumps Taker before the bell attacking with the WWF title. Taker makes him pay by beating him out to the floor. He takes a ride into the steps, but then posts Bret’s back real good. Back inside, Taker is all over Bret’s lower back. Bret bites his way out of a bearhug and kicks at Taker’s knee. Time to go to school! Bret applies the Figure-Four as Paul Bearer waddles down to ringside. He warns us that Kane is coming. Meanwhile, Taker reveres out of the Figure-Four and heads out to punch down Bearer. Bret takes that opportunity to clip Taker from behind and locks in the Ringpost Figure-Four. Shawn does everything a ref should do to get Bret back in the ring. Now that Paul Bearer is gone, Owen Hart and Brian Pillman head down to get a closer look. Bret is still working the leg and wraps Taker’s knee around the post. He grabs a leglock, but Taker escapes and heads out to take care of Owen and Pillman. While HBK is directing Owen and Pillman back towards the locker room, Taker delivers a Chokeslam to Bret! Taker has Bret covered, but Shawn is taking his sweet time getting back into the ring, which pisses off Taker. Bret schoolboys Taker and Shawn hurries back in and counts 1-2-NO! Back to the floor, Bret does some damage to Taker’s back by ramming into the apron and the ringpost. Again, Shawn gives Bret an earful. Back inside, Bret begins the Five Moves of Doom, but Taker refuses the Sharpshooter and goozles Bret back into a corner. Bret runs into another goozle, but kicks the knee to avoid another Chokeslam. Even with Taker on his knees, he still manages with rapid fire blows to punch down Bret. Jumping clothesline connects. Bret takes the chest-first corner bump, leading up to the big boot and legdrop from Taker for two. Bret retreats to the apron, but Taker brings him back into the ring with another Chokeslam. Cover, 1-2-NO! He looks for Old School, but Bret blocks and brings him down with a superplex. SHARPSHOOTER! Just when things look bad for the Deadman, he powers out and sends Bret flying out to the floor. Pretty phony-looking, but it is wrestling. Bret slips out of the Tombstone and applies a Ringpost Sharpshooter, which honestly makes no sense. With Bret hanging on the apron, Taker powers out of the hold and sends him crashing into Shawn, which may or may not be perceived as Bret’s fault. Shawn is down and that allows Bret to grab a chair and crack it over Taker’s head. Delayed count gets 1-2-NO! Shawn then finds the chair that is still laying in the ring and interrogates Bret. After Shawn puts his hands on Bret, Bret spits on Shawn. And with that, Shawn has had enough and swings the chair at Bret – only instead of wiping out Bret, HBK knocks out the Undertaker. Whoops! Forced to make the count, Shawn counts the 1-2-3 to give Bret his fifth and final WWF championship. (28:10) Clearly frustrated, Shawn hangs his head down all the way backstage. While Bret celebrates in the ring, Undertaker follows after him. Owen, Bulldog, and Pillman return to the ring to join Bret for high-fives. Just a real organic buzz in the air watching this one. Very underrated match, too. What it may lack in fast-paced workrate, it makes up for with great psychology and all the drama surrounding Shawn Michaels for a very fun main event for me. ****¼
No mention made of Jim Neidhart or Psycho Sid tonight. Neidhart would disappear for two months and Psycho Sid would never return on a full-time basis.
Final Thoughts: Hard to recommend the entire show, but the last two matches are very relevant to the history of the WWF. Certainly for Austin’s injury, but also for what lied ahead for the next three months of storylines between the Undertaker, Bret Hart, and Shawn Michaels. Heck, even Mankind’s performance was monumental. I would give SummerSlam 1997 a solid thumbs in the middle, but be ready to FUHFUHWID through some of these matches.
Posted on February 4, 2014, in WWE and tagged 8-Ball, Ahmed Johnson, Bret Hart, Brian Pillman, Chainz, Chyna, Crush, D'Lo Brown, Davey Boy Smith, Disciples of Apocalypse, Faarooq, Godwinns, Goldust, Headbanger Mosh, Headbanger Thrasher, Headbangers, Henry O. Godwinn, Jesus Castillo, Jose Estrada Jr., Kama, Ken Shamrock, Legion of Doom, Los Boricuas, Mankind, Marlena, Miguel Perez Jr., Nation of Domination, Owen Hart, Paul Bearer, Phineas I. Godwinn, Road Warrior Animal, Road Warrior Hawk, Savio Vega, Shawn Michaels, Skull, Steve Austin, SummerSlam, Tiger Ali Singh, Tiger Jeet Singh, Triple H, Undertaker. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.