WWF: Ground Zero – IYH XVII (09.97)


WWF: Ground Zero – In Your House
September 7, 1997
Louisville, KY
Louisville Gardens

The current WWF champs were as follows:
World Champion: Bret Hart (8/3/1997)
Intercontinental Champion: Steve Austin (8/3/1997)
European Champion: Davey Boy Smith (3/3/1997)
World Tag Team Champions: Vacant (9/7/1997)

A notable show for really only two reasons: it is the first three-hour In Your House PPV and the first-ever match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker.

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

  • Brian Pillman vs. Goldust (w/Marlena)

If Pillman wins, he gets Marlena’s “managerial services” for thirty days. If Pillman loses, he leaves the WWF forever. Kind of an eerie stipulation knowing at the end of the thirty day period, Brian Pillman would no longer be with us. Understandably so, Goldust is ALL OVER Pillman to start. Pillman rakes the eyes and knocks Goldust down. That gives him an opportunity to run after Marlena, but he doesn’t see Goldust sliding out to catch him running and dropped on the steps. Back inside, Goldust avoids a running bulldog and crotches Pillman on the top rope. Pillman takes a powder and tries to set up Goldust, but takes a suplex on the rampway for his troubles. Back inside, Pillman gets his balls pulled into the ringpost, but then he shoves away a bulldog. Pillman takes control, but sadly he can’t do a lot. He sits down on a chinlock and Goldust stands up for the electric chair drop. Pillman gets crotched AGAIN up top and thrown down to the floor for his signature chest bump onto the barricade. Geez. Marlena gets her slap on Brian. Back in the ring, Goldust delivers the CURTAIN CALL as the ref gets bumped. While Goldust tries reviving Hebner, Pillman gets up and spots Marlena on the apron. He steals her purse and whacks Goldust for the 1-2-3. (11:06) After the bell, Pillman grabs Goldust’s wife and forces her to go backstage with him. Very well booked match considering the context of everything. They were able to hide Pillman’s weaknesses by having Goldust control most of the action, which is understandable considering how motivated he should be to want to win this match. *½

Once all that’s over, Jerry Lawler opens the purse and finds half of a brick inside.

  • Brian Christopher vs. Scott Putski

The crowd knows Brian Christopher is the son of Jerry Lawler. No denying that. Putski gets the better of Christopher to start until he receives a full nelson facebuster. Christopher delivers a release German suplex and dumps out Putski for a somersault pescado. Unfortunately for Putski, he takes a bad fall and loses via countout. (4:41) Putski twisted his knee really bad possibly tearing a ligament. His short run in the WWF comes to an end here, but he would reappear in the spring of 1998 in WCW doing very little. As for Christopher, he does really nothing of note until the Light Heavyweight title tournament starts up in November. *

  • Crush vs. Savio Vega vs. Faarooq

Faarooq and Savio team up to beat down Crush to start. Naturally, someone turns on the other and that man is Faarooq. Crush fights back, but gets tossed out. Faarooq delivers a Spinebuster for two. In comes Crush, he powerslams Faarooq for two. Savio nails Crush with a SPINNING HEEL KICK, but can’t do anything to capitalize on Faarooq. Crush regains his composure and throws out Faarooq. For some reason, he thinks it is a good idea to grab a chinlock on Savio with his back turned to Faarooq. With that said, Faarooq slowly climbs to the top rope and delivers a flying headbutt to Crush. Faarooq receives the electric chair drop by Crush, but Savio jumps on the pin for two. Bad botch on a swinging neckbreaker by Faarooq. Holy crap. Now Faarooq and Crush are working together. They both try and pin Savio, but that won’t work. Lots of backbreakers and powerslams are thrown around. Now Savio and Crush are working together. Spike Piledriver to Faarooq. Savio looks for a high five, but Crush could give two craps about Savio and tosses him out. HEART PUNCH to Faarooq, but then Savio hits Crush with the SPINNING HEEL KICK from behind and gets the three-count. (11:40) I dig the GANG WARZ mentality and the brawls that it triggers, but this was just bad. Three-ways are hard to work for a lot of guys (so I hear) and there’s often a ton of miscommunication and what not. If I was going to book these three in a match, it would be a street fight scenario. Considering their characters, why wouldn’t it be a street fight? This was just bad. The story was all over the place and none of the alliances lasted long enough to get any kind of meaningful reaction. CRAP

  • El Torito vs. Max Mini

That’s right – there isn’t just one “El Torito” in the WWF. This has a Rey Mysterio/Psychosis lucha feel to it with Max Mini hitting all the highspots and Torito taking all the bumps. El Torito is about a head taller than Max Mini. Torito works in Mexico as Espectrito while Max Mini is Mascarita Sagrada Jr. I really don’t enjoy transcribing midget matches, but this was pretty fun. The crowd was solidly behind Max Mini. At one point, he runs out and sits on Jerry’s lap and puts on his crown, to which the crowd starts chanting, “Jerry’s kid”. Lawler tries to keep a straight face on camera. With all the high flying headscissors and armdrag maneuvers Max Mini delivers to El Torito, Max beats him with a sunset flip. (9:21) Certainly a step up from Sleazy, Queasy, and Cheesy. So far, the best match on the card! **

Jim Ross introduces Commissioner Slaughter to the ring as it is now time for Steve Austin and Dude Love to turn over the WWF tag belts. Out comes Dude Love first, he plays along and relinquishes his half of the championship over to Slaughter. Next is Stone Cold Steve Austin. What a freaking crazy reaction for Austin. As soon as he steps through the curtain, the sound goes up about ten decibels. Austin berates Slaughter, threatens Slaughter, and then throws the belt down at his feet. “Why don’t you drop down and give me twenty, jackass?” While keeping an eye on Austin, Slaughter reaches down and picks up the other championship belt and makes his exit. Ross then wishes Austin could compete tonight, but wouldn’t want to see Austin risk permanent paralysis. Dude Love puts his arm on Austin’s shoulder wishing Austin the same positive vibes. After Ross tells Austin he hopes he is back at 100% very soon, Austin drops him with a STONE COLD STUNNER. The crowd loses their minds. While agents and refs look after Ross, Dude Love tries to keep Austin back. It doesn’t much matter because Austin is so animated. Commissioner Slaughter returns to restore order. On his way out, Austin flips him the double bird and walks out on his own terms with the audience cheering his every move.

Backstage, Dok Hendrix meets with Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith. Owen thinks it is deplorable that Steve Austin would do such a thing to a mere commentator like Jim Ross, and chastises America for cheering on such heinous acts. Owen says he will do what he can to get Steve Austin JAILED for what he just did and at least hopes he can get the IC belt returned to the rightful owner. Davey Boy echoes Owen’s thoughts.

Over at the commentary table, Vince McMahon calls Steve Austin a “jackass” for what happened. Lawler warns Vince that he better keep his mouth shut.

  • Vacant WWF Tag Team Championship: Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith vs. The Godwinns vs. The Legion of Doom vs. The Headbangers

This is elimination rules here, folks. Godwinns and Headbangers start things feeling each other out. Once Phineas is down, Thrasher tags in Animal who wants him a piece. Phineas corners Animal and tags Henry, but Animal throws him out to Hawk. Back inside, LOD take turns beating up Mosh. Owen doesn’t want a tag, so Hawk punches Bulldog for a tag. They go back and forth with the Godwinns. Tag to Animal, he misses a clothesline on Henry and goes flying out over the top rope. Back in, Phineas fails to lower the boom on Animal and eats a boot on the way down. The match breaks down a little bit, and out comes the slop bucket. Animal saves Hawk from getting his head bashed in and wipes out the Godwinns instead. However, the ref turns back around and sees what is happening to DQ the Legion of Doom at 9:37. The Headbangers try to take advantage and get rid of the Godwinns, but Henry “pulls the top rope down” and causes Thrasher to fall out to the floor. Back in, there’s a struggle over a sunset flip. Mosh runs down Henry as Thrasher rolls up Phineas for the weird three-count at 12:44. AND THEN THERE WERE TWO. Owen and Davey Boy corner Thrasher for a while. Hourglass Suplex by Bulldog gets two. Together, the former tag champs make-a-wish on poor Thrasher. He tries a desperation crucifix on Bulldog, but it doesn’t work out. HOT TAG TO MOSH! Owen nails Davey Boy by mistake with a Spinning Heel Kick. Owen and Davey thwart the attempt at the Stage Dive. Just as Owen looks for the Sharpshooter, Stone Cold Steve Austin runs right past the ref and drops Owen with a STONE COLD STUNNER. The crowd erupts as Mosh jumps on top of Owen for the win. (17:19) Ladies and gents, we have NEW WWF tag team champions. The Headbangers celebrate in the crowd. Although everything was pretty predictable, that was a great finish. **

We check in with Jim Ross and Commissioner Slaughter. Ross doesn’t care how popular Steve Austin is, something has to be done about this character.

  • WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. The Patriot

Bret plays the dirty rat to start by running Patriot’s eyes across the top rope and hanging him in the tree of woe (where the US flag is hanging) to put the boots to him. Patriot fires back with clotheslines and takes Bret to the floor where he regroups. Back in, Bret cowers in the corner so he can sneak attack Patriot, but that goes awry for him as he runs into a series of armdrags. Patriot works the arm for a while. Bret finally creates enough distance between them and kicks at his knee. He takes Patriot to school and gives this match that little extra something with the ringpost figure-four! Once ref Mike Chioda makes him break, he walks over to Vince to say something negative about America. Back inside, Bret starts softening up the Patriot for the Sharpshooter. Meanwhile, here comes Davey Boy Smith to cheer on Bret. The crowd starts calling for Austin. Russian legsweep gets two. Patriot counters a suplex for one of his own as he mounts a comeback. DDT scores a nearfall. As Patriot comes off the ropes, Bulldog trips him up, allowing Bret to come up behind him for an O’Connor roll for 1-2-NO! As they exchange punches, Bulldog gets up on the apron, so Patriot shoulderblocks Bret into Bulldog, knocking him down to the floor. Rollup by Patriot, 1-2-NO! Whoa, looks like Louisville thought it was over. UNCLE SLAM connects, but Davey Boy pulls Bret away before he can get pinned. Patriot starts to back Bulldog up the rampway, and here comes Vader to ensure that Davey Boy no longer gets involved tonight. Again, the crowd reacts to Vader like Austin has just arrived. Everybody stands to their feet. While the Patriot takes care of Bulldog, Vader whips Bret into the steps. Afterwards, he rolls Bret inside for the Patriot to finish him off. There’s the PATRIOT MISSILE! Cover, 1-2-NO! Bret stuns Patriot with a hotshot though as he falls on the second rope. Running Bulldog followed by the Flying Vertical Elbow Drop gets two. Patriot turns the tables on Bret in the corner and catches the ref with an elbow by accident. He still manages to nail Bret with another UNCLE SLAM. Delayed count gets a nearfall. Double-KO ensues. Bret tries to get the quick win over Patriot with an O’Connor roll and an inside cradle, but Patriot seems one step ahead. Patriot levels Bret with the chest-first bump and then applies the Sharpshooter. But you see, Del Wilkes, no one can put Bret in the Sharpshooter and win the match. Well, okay, maybe Shawn Michaels. Bret powers out and reverses the hold on Patriot to get the submission victory. (19:20) This took its sweet time to get going, but it turned out okay in the end. Bret can have a good match with virtually anyone. After receiving easily the biggest push of his career, Del Wilkes would retire a few months later when he suffered a torn tricep. Just to further the notion that Bret is in fact a complete dick, he chokes Patriot with the American flag until the WWF agents and referees clear him of the ring. Crowd wants Austin, but Austin doesn’t come. ***¼

  • Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Before the match can even begin, Taker decks the referee who was standing between he and Shawn. As Shawn decides maybe it is best to save himself the butt-kicking and just leave, Commissioner Slaughter forces Shawn to head back to ringside. That’s when Taker picks up the lifeless ref and chucks him on top of Shawn. There’s so many great things going on here as Shawn sells his extreme fear of this man. At one point, Shawn crawls up the aisle and tries to leave through the front door of the In Your House set. He even starts knocking at the door! Taker is just beating up Shawn six ways from Sunday in and out of the ring and up the aisle for a solid 8-10 minutes. Slaughter eventually brings out Earl Hebner to replace Mike Chioda. While Taker scares off Hebner, Shawn shoots in the ring and strikes with a chopblock to the knee. He unloads on Taker who keeps shoving him back. Shawn gets goozled, but goes to the eyes. He comes off the top with a double sledge, but Taker nails him on the way down and then clotheslines him to the floor. Back inside, Shawn is just bumping like crazy for Taker. He winds up the arm and wants Old School, but Shawn kicks the top rope to trip up Taker. Shawn punches him to the floor and tries a pescado, but Taker catches him and drives Shawn spine-first into the ringpost a few times. Back in, we get more crazy bumping from Shawn as he tries to separate himself from the Dead Man. After Shawn catches Taker with a swinging neckbreaker, his back starts to bug him. He bails to the floor and retrieves a chair to play off the story from SummerSlam. As Shawn runs at Taker, he gets a boot up to block the chairshot. Now Taker has the chair, but Hebner gets it away from him, only to get the chair kicked in his face. Whoops. Shawn lands a couple flying elbow drops. Hebner slow counts two, but then Shawn gets tossed on top of him. Here comes Rick Rude to toss Shawn some brass knuckles. WHAM! Taker gets nailed. No ref. Oh wait, here comes Jack Doan for 1-2-NO! Since he didn’t get the job done, HBK decks the poor guy. Now here comes Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Shawn kicks out Taker for HHH and Chyna to whip him knees first into the steps. Hebner is starting to wake up, so Shawn knocks him out again by slamming his head into the turnbuckle so that DX can continue to triple-team the Undertaker. Taker starts his comeback, but gets interrupted by HHH and Chyna. As Taker goozles HHH, Shawn flies down from the top with a double sledge. Back inside, they trade finisher attempts, leading nowhere. Taker pulls the brass knuckles out of Shawn’s tights and decks him one good time. Hunter gets nailed. Here comes Hebner to count the 1-2-NO! Chokeslam to Hebner! This is just getting ridiculously out of hand. As Taker nails HBK with the Jumping Lariat, ref Tim White runs down and decides to just throw out the whole match. (15:32) Afterwards, Shawn gives Taker SWEET CHIN MUSIC as he falls back into the ropes and gets tied up. Chyna gives Michaels a chair and as he goes to nail Taker for a wide open shot, he brings his boot up again to block and send the chair back in his face. The 2-on-1 attack ensues as WWF agents run down. While they get punched by Shawn, Taker TOMBSTONES Helmsley. A whole bunch of midcarders run down to separate Shawn and Taker. With Shawn and Helmsley on the floor, Taker breaks loose from the boys and NO HANDS PLANCHAS on top of them and some other midcard guys. He only pulls that one out on special occasions. It’s not perfect and didn’t need to be because it was simply setting up what was to come next month. Even so, Taker and Shawn are just incapable of having a bad match. ***½

Final Thoughts: Doubt that the double main event was enough to save this show. Despite it being a real butt-kicking show, the first half overall is really lackluster. Everything picks up after Steve Austin shows up, but not enough to make this a really strong PPV. Slight thumbs in the middle for Ground Zero: In Your House.


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