WWF: One Night Only 1997 (UK PPV)


WWF: One Night Only
September 20, 1997
Birmingham, England
NEC Arena

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

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

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

So Foley and Helmsley pick up where they left off after SummerSlam. Safe to say that Helmsley is the only man to face all three faces of Foley. The interactions between the guards and Helmsley and Dude are pretty humorous. Dude tries to be Austin Powers in an interview before the match, yeah baby YEAH. I mean, it’s 1997; wasn’t EVERYBODY imitating Austin Powers then? Helmsley takes a lot of elbow and turnbuckle smashes to start. Dude FLIPS THE SCRIPT on Helmsley by first punishing him with an armbar and then an Indian Deathlock. Of course, nobody really wants to see technical stuff from Foley. Helmsley takes the Ray Stevens corner bump and gets stuck in the tree of woe. In a great bit, Dude climbs up and delivers a ten-count corner karate chop to the knees. Hunter jumps away from Sweet Shin Music and heads to the floor so he can bait Dude into a tide-turning clothesline from Chyna. Back inside, the Helmsley Facebuster gets two. He gets caught grabbing the ropes during an abdominal stretch, which results in a major argument between Helmsley and the ref. They’re doing the same bit over in WCW with Buff Bagwell. Dude catches Helmsley with the running face slam, but lowers his head for a swinging neckbreaker. Hunter looks for the PEDIGREE, but Dude counters with a catapult. Dude delivers ten turnbuckle smashes and brings Hunter down off the top rope with an armdrag. SWEET SHIN MUSIC sets up the DOUBLE-ARM DDT for 1-2-NO! Chyna puts Helmsley’s foot on the bottom rope. That’s enough to kill the Dude’s chances of winning as he turns back around into the PEDIGREE to give Helmsley the win. (12:53) Pretty good opener, but nothing special. They put on quite a better show very soon back across the pond. **½

Fans are asked who they think will leave One Night Only with the WWF European title. Everybody sticks with the hometown hero. No surprise there.

Just had to point out how British this ring announcer is.

Just had to point out how British this ring announcer is.

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

Because it’s 1997 and it’s all Sunny does nowadays, she takes a break from whoever she’s enjoying backstage to introduce the next match. Since Al Snow the character is currently working for ECW and not supposed to do jobs on WWF TV, the WWF flew in Al Snow the man to Birmingham here to wrestle as Leif Cassidy the character. In real life, Snow doesn’t feel Singh is ready for the big time, and really doesn’t want to do the job here. So Snow is a disgruntled employee that the WWF couldn’t exactly punish since he was already a jobber and couldn’t dock his pay because he’s being paid by Paul Heyman. Singh aligns himself with Canada to try and get a babyface reaction from this crowd that loves the Hart Foundation, but it doesn’t work at all. Singh is BOOED out of the building. Sloppy glorified squash here as Singh wins with the Steiner Bulldog which McMahon calls the TIGER BOMB. (4:01) Everyone still hates Tiger Ali Singh. I think the crowd is just confused because he’s foreign and therefore they think he should be booed, or they just don’t like people who tell children to stay “drug free”. Those British people do love their drugs. I guess it all worked out for Al Snow in the end. His gimmick stands out from the Attitude Era years later, and nobody knows who the crap Tiger Ali Singh is today. ½*

  • WWF Tag Team Champions The Headbangers vs. Los Boricuas

Headbangers are over HUGE with the British crowd. Savio Vega and Miguel Perez Jr. represent Los Boricuas here. Mosh and Thrasher have answers for everything until Vega kicks Thrasher in the back of the head when he’s coming off the ropes. Los Boricuas cut the ring in half and start to frustrate the dickens out of Mosh by drawing him in and then double-teaming Thrasher. There’s a false tag spot and everything here! Savio tries a running splash and hits knees. Thrasher gets super close to making the tag when Vega nails Mosh. Desperation sunset flip on Perez gets two. Savio tries an avalanche, but Thrasher moves out of the way and hits Savio with a back suplex. NOW MAKE THE TAG! Here comes Mosh. He throws out Savio and headscissors Perez off the top for 1-2-NO! Vega takes Mosh with him to the floor. He tries a piledriver, but Mosh backdrops out. Meanwhile, Perez staggers around while he’s giving Thrasher a powerbomb. So unsafe! What Perez doesn’t see is Mosh coming off the top to hit him with the MOSH PIT for the 1-2-3. (13:34) Huge pop for the Headbangers. Really the highlight of their short tag title run. ***

From earlier today, Jim Ross sits down with Davey Boy Smith to talk about tonight’s main event. Bulldog mentions his sister who had battled some serious bouts of cancer, and dedicates this European title defense to her. He’s ready to face Shawn Michaels tonight. He says he’s lost about 28 pounds so he can be as quick as HBK is. These are the moments that make wrestling feel legitimate.

  • The Patriot vs. Flash Funk

No one in the UK gives a crap about the Patriot. He waves the US flag anyways. Know what these two guys have in common? They both held WCW tag team titles with Marcus Alexander Bagwell. This one takes a while to get out of the preliminary phases. Flash seems a little limited as to what he can do here. Patriot Missile connects, but Funk kicks out at two. Funk comes back and changes directions with his Flying Splash for 1-2-NO! Flying Moonsault hits knees, and Patriot delivers the UNCLE SLAM for the win. (8:49) Maybe they have something here. Have an over-the-top American patriot try and work babyface in Europe. People will pay to see America lose. That’s gold, Jerry. GOLD. *

Elsewhere, the Legion of Doom are looking for revenge on the Godwinns. They feel they are just a Doomsday Device away from a victory.

  • The Legion of Doom vs. The Godwinns

No Uncle Cletus tonight. I don’t think anyone is too disappointed. Except maybe Uncle Cletus. He’s missing out on a payday. Henry and Animal have a big man showdown. Animal sends Henry to the floor after a jumping shoulderblock. Tag to Hawk, he quickly misses a corner charge as the Godwinns get some heat. Hawk fights back on Henry and delivers a jawbreaker before tagging out to Animal. After Henry escapes a chinlock, Phineas kicks Animal from the apron, which allows Henry to clothesline Animal to the floor. Back inside, the Godwinns work on Animal’s arm. Phineas flies and eats a boot on the way down. Hot tag to Hawk, he’s all clotheslines and slams. Reverse Neckbreaker to Phineas! Cover, 1-2-NO! The match breaks down and Henry hits Hawk with the SLOP DROP. He has to nail Animal before making the cover, which means he only gets two. Ross explains to the British masses what the Confederate flag is all about. Anyways, Hawk gets caught on the wrong side of town for a bit. He finally escapes with clotheslines and makes the tag to Animal. He fights off a double-team attack and clotheslines both the Godwinns down. In comes Hawk again, he clotheslines Henry out. That leaves Phineas all alone for the DOOMSDAY DEVICE. It’s all over. (10:44) Can we get some more clotheslines here? Not such a bad little match here. **

In the ring, Jim Ross introduces Ken Shamrock. He’s here to explain that the injury he suffered is a punctured lung. Rockabilly appears and makes fun of Shamrock’s pathetic lungs. He then slaps Shamrock across the face. Big mistake. Shamrock SNAPS and puts Rockabilly in the Anklelock almost instantly. Things just never seem to work out between Billy Gunn and Ken Shamrock.

  • Vader vs. Owen Hart

Unlike in America, Owen is the smiling babyface here and Vader is back to normal being the heel. Owen even snubs Lawler at ringside. Vader naturally overpowers Owen to start. At one point, he hits Owen like a Mack truck as he comes off the ropes. Geez. Owen changes gears and uses his speed to take advantage of Vader. He tries a sunset flip knowing Vader would try to squash and moves out of the way. A big headscissors takes Vader down as well. Owen then goes for a suplex for some reason, but no sir. Owen flips out of Vader’s try at the suplex and rolls him up for 1-2-NO! Sharpshooter fails and so does a crucifix, as Vader falls back on top of Owen. Vader splashes Owen from the second rope for 1-2-NO! Owen crawls away from Vader clutching his ribs, so Vader picks up Owen off the mat and whips him in the corner for the chest-first bump. That rocked the top turnbuckle. For some reason, Owen tries to slam Vader. He makes Owen pay by beating him down. Vader grounds Owen for a few moments. As Owen gets back to his feet, Vader whips him in the corner again and avalanches him. When Owen comes off the mat again, Vader tries another avalanche. This time though, Owen moves and wants that slam. Vader refuses him and clubs Owen down. Another big body attack gets two for Vader. Back to the mat, Vader bends Owen’s leg in such a way that the leg isn’t made to go. Reminds me of the Sting-Vader match from Slamboree 1994. Owen punches Vader to get loose, but then Vader splashes him for 1-2-NO! Time for the POWERBOMB, but Owen escapes and enziguri kicks Vader down! SHARPSHOOTER! Oh, but Vader makes the ropes. With Vader hurting, Owen is finally able to hold up Vader and slam him down. Love that they paid that off. Owen collapses on top for 1-2-NO! Owen whips Vader into the corner, but Vader explodes out with another body attack. He looks for the VADER BOMB, but Owen gets his knees up to block. Missile dropkick and Owen kips up! Spinning Heel Kick gets two. Owen goes up again, but Vader catches him in mid-air for the powerslam. Cover, 1-2-3. (12:15) The crowd lets out a collective shriek at the end there. This could have been a show-stealing match had it gone another five minutes. Definitely shades of Sting/Vader storytelling here. The only difference is Sting came at Vader with a different kind of offense than Owen. ***½

From somewhere dark and scary, the Undertaker reminds Shawn Michaels that he will pay for his sins in the Hell in a Cell.

  • WWF Champion Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker

Really strange albeit strong fan support in this match. There are moments where they are cheering and booing each man. They go from corner to corner punching and choking to start. Knowing his opponent like he does, Bret immediately pulls off a turnbuckle pad to use later. To the floor we go, Taker backs Bret into the ringpost, and they brawl up the aisle and back into the ring. Taker telegraphs a backdrop and gets dumped on his head with a DDT. Bret tries to whip Taker into the exposed corner, but Taker reverses and Bret goes in chest-first. Taker then punishes the chest. You know, CHEST PSYCHOLOGY~! He even busts out a heart punch. Despite that being someone else’s finisher, it definitely works within the context of the match. Taker pulls back on the arms and then tries to get a quick pinfall on Bret, which is very unlike Taker. Bret kicks at the knee to get out of the corner, but Taker knows exactly what Bret is thinking since he used the same psychology at SummerSlam, and throat punches him down. He works a backbreaker for a while. Bret returns to the knee, but again Taker knows Bret’s gameplan. Taker charges into the corner, but runs his knee into the top turnbuckle. Now Bret capitalizes and takes Undertaker to school. This leads to the ringpost Figure-Four. Bret applies the Figure-Four in the center of the ring. Taker reverses out, but the damage has been done. Bret goes back to kicking at the knee and then delivers a Russian Legsweep for two. Nice suplex gets two as well. Bret hits the backbreaker and heads up for the flying elbow, but Taker brings his boot up to block. Double-KO ensues, but Taker is the first to sit up. Mixed reaction for that. Taker hits Bret with a couple legdrops between the legs, but Mr. Perfect can tell you that’s a bad idea. Bret catches one of the legdrops and turns Taker over into the SHARPSHOOTER. Bret is bending back on that hold and has Taker stuck in the middle of the ring.

Somehow, Taker powers out and goozles Bret when he tries another Sharpshooter. Bret kicks at the knee to avoid a Chokeslam, but Taker lands the super quick body blows. Big boot and the legdrop from Taker gets two. Bret brings the ringbell into the mix, but nobody gets to use it. As soon as the ref takes the bell away from Taker, Bret clips him from behind. BRILLIANT. Back to the floor, Bret takes a hard bump into the steps. To avoid the exposed turnbuckle, Bret ducks and rolls straight into the ringpost for one of his best Stampede wrestling bumps. Bret pulls Taker down when he tries to hit Old School. Bret also escapes the Tombstone and O’Connor rolls Taker for 1-2-NO! Now Bret tries the Tombstone, but of course Taker reverses. Bret holds onto the ropes and as Taker throws him away, Bret lands on the apron with his head caught in between the top and middle ropes! As Taker is pounding a completely helpless Bret, ref Mike Chioda calls for the bell to DQ Taker. (28:35) When Chioda tries to stop Taker from punching Bret’s head, Taker gives him a Chokeslam. Finally, Gerald Brisco and Owen Hart help Bret get out of the ropes. Unfortunately for Brisco, he’s the sacrificial lamb to get a Chokeslam while Bret and Owen get away. Even the British ring announcer gets chased over the guardrail by Taker. Brilliant psychology, fantastic continuity as they basically picked up where they left off at SummerSlam, and dramatic all the way to the end. If only it had a better ending, we might be talking about this match more today than we do. However, they were really in a tough spot with the finish because you had to keep Taker strong going into Hell in a Cell so he obviously couldn’t be pinned, but you didn’t need to give him the belt back either. ****¼

  • WWF European Champion Davey Boy Smith vs. Shawn Michaels

Shawn gives a shove and takes one that sends him to the other side of the ring courtesy of DBS. They lock up and Shawn gets pushed away. Shawn even tries to get a leverage advantage by climbing up the ropes during a tie-up and Bulldog just throws him down to the mat. Bulldog clotheslines HBK out where he goes flying chin-first onto the guardrail. Shawn takes a powder, but takes a couple turnbuckle smashes while he’s on the apron. Reverse suplex brings Shawn back inside. Davey Boy wants to press slam Shawn out to the floor, but the ref stands in his way, so Bulldog drops him in the center of the ring. Shawn hiptosses out of an ab stretch, but charges into a backdrop to send him flying out to the floor. Back in, DBS goes after the arm. Davey Boy leapfrogs Shawn a few times, but then Shawn puts on the brakes and pokes him in the eye. Hurracanrana is blocked with a sitout powerbomb by the Bulldog for 1-2-NO! Back to an armbar. Shawn battles out and tries a crucifix, but Davey Boy falls back on him and applies the Surfboard. When Davey Boy nearly has his shoulders pinned to the mat for a three-count, he releases the hold. Stalling Suplex gets 1-2-NO! Out comes Shawn’s insurance policy in Rick Rude. Just as he makes it to ringside, he overturns an O’Connor roll to give Shawn the advantage for a two-count. Rude causes Davey Boy to get distracted some more. As DBS leans through the ropes, Shawn knees him out to allow Rude to post him. Back in the ring, Shawn applies the sleeper. Bulldog fights out with a back suplex for two. Michaels grabs the short-arm scissors, which allows Bulldog to show off by lifting Shawn up and dropping him back down to the mat. Both men up, they collide into each other. If Rick Rude wasn’t enough, here comes Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna.

Davey Boy mounts a comeback and delivers a catapult onto the top of the ringpost for 1-2-NO! Just when things are going the Bulldog’s way, he misses a corner charge and runs shoulder-first into the post. Shawn gives Davey Boy Smith not one, but TWO Flying Elbow Drops. He props Davey Boy up in the corner and goes for SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but Bulldog ducks and hoists Shawn up for the RUNNING POWERSLAM. As he starts to leave the corner, Rick Rude grabs hold of Davey’s leg! Davey Boy lets go of Shawn and pulls Rude up to the apron. Instead of nailing Rude, Davey Boy clotheslines Shawn to the floor. Davey Boy nails Hunter and tries the RUNNING POWERSLAM on the floor, but he slips on the ringside mats and gets his foot caught between the elevated mats and the guardrail. See, the ring is set up on a platform for these UK shows. With Davey Boy stuck, HBK gives him some SWEET CHIN MUSIC. Hunter, Rude, and Chyna all continue to smash the guardrail into Davey Boy’s leg while Shawn distracts Hebner. Helmsley delivers a PEDIGREE on the floor for good measure. Back in, Shawn rips off Davey’s knee brace and throws it to Diana Smith who is sitting in the front row! WHAT A JERK! From there, Shawn applies the figure-four and gets a TON of leverage help by the ropes, Helmsley, Chyna, and Rude until the Bulldog blacks out to give Shawn the European title. This title victory made Shawn Michaels the first wrestler to ever win FOUR different titles in the WWF. Another little factoid is that Shawn Michaels has now ended three of Bulldog’s four different title runs in the WWF. (22:32) This was a case where DX got as much heat as possible by constantly interfering in the match. I don’t think WWE’s intentions were to legitimately bury Davey Boy in his own homeland, but that’s what happened. Then again after what transpired six weeks later in Montreal, perhaps it was the intention. ****

Final Thoughts: Just based on the last three matches alone, One Night Only gets a thumbs up from me. One could argue that this is one of the greatest WWF PPVs of all-time. Incredible atmosphere courtesy of the UK crowd, interesting booking considering the insanity of the times, and really nothing that makes you want to hit the stop button. If you’re wanting to watch this on the WWE Network though, be aware that Bret/Taker (also Singh/Cassidy and Patriot/Flash) has been cut. Basically, it’s the Tagged Classics edited version that’s on the WWE Network. Try and seek out the full PPV if you can, or at the very least enjoy the 2-hr WWE Network version, and then check out the Bret Hart DVD for the WWF title match.


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