In Your House 17: Ground Zero
Date: September 7, 1997
Location: Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Vince McMahon
Once again, we have a horrible job of marketing by WWF as I never heard about this show until it was on video. Anyway, we’re after Summerslam now. Austin was semi-feuding with the Harts still, but at Summerslam we had the possibly worst night for the company ever as Austin was piledriven by Owen, breaking his neck. That match got him the IC Title which he would have to vacate the next night.
The tag titles are vacant as well due to Austin’s injury. The problem was that Austin’s neck was bad, but he was on TV anyway. This kept the company afloat, while no one realized that he was really hurt badly. The feuds from Canadian Stampede have split up into single feuds which we’ll get to later. Bret won the WWF Title from Undertaker as Shawn was the guest referee.
He was swinging for Bret with a chair but he hit Taker, costing him the title and setting up the feud for the main event tonight. This is really just a filler show, but it’s the first of the three hour, traditional PPV format. Let’s get to this.
We get a recap of Shawn and Taker’s feud, which also was the groundwork for Shawn’s heel turn. In three weeks there was something that was coming which would change wrestling forever that I’ll cover later on.
Goldust vs. Brian Pillman
The story here, which was VERY controversial at the time, was that Goldust and Marlena’s daughter was actually Pillman’s, at least according to him. This led to Goldust taking off his paint and being Dustin Runnels which wasn’t what people wanted to see. This is the Indecent Proposal match. If Pillman loses, he leaves the company. If he wins, he gets Marlena for 30 days.
Pillman talks about leaving the company forever. That’s so chilling it’s hard to imagine. If you don’t get what I mean by that, I’ll explain at the end of this match. Goldust comes out in full outfit and is over here. Kentucky likes freaks I guess. The roof of the arena is white, which is just a weird thing to see. Lawler implies that Marlena has slept with everyone in the wrestling business. That would be Missy Hyatt I believe.
Goldust works over Pillman’s knee so we have an attempt at psychology. Of course this has no bearing on the ending of the match. Pillman gets beaten on for the majority of the match but in the end we get a ref bump, a loaded purse shot to Goldust, and Pillman wins. He drags Marlena away as she is quite upset. King retrieves the purse which has a brick in it.
Rating: B-. It was fine for an opening match and it had a story behind it so based on that, this was fine. Nothing great here but it was far from a bad match. The purse shot at the end was good for the finish but I would have liked to see Pillman sell the knee and leg work from earlier on.
Now as for what I was talking about it being chilling earlier, Pillman wouldn’t live to see the end of the thirty days. He died of a heart problem about four weeks later, on the night of the next In Your House. The following night, Vince McMahon ensured him place in eternal torment as he had a live interview with Pillman’s ex wife who was in no condition to even think let alone be interviewed on national television. She was pregnant at the time, which Brian never knew when he died.
How do I transition from that? I don’t think there’s a good way to do it, so let’s just move on I suppose.
Scott Putski vs. Brian Christopher
For those of you that don’t know, Christopher is Jerry Lawler’s son. Putski is the son of Ivan Putski, who is another great example of the joke that is the WWE Hall of Fame. He was a onetime tag champion, he rarely won a match, and he’s in the Hall of Fame. You have to love that Vince McMahon logic. Lawler of course denies that he’s Christopher’s father which was a running joke for a long time.
This is another example of how bad the Light Heavyweight division was. There’s no reason to have this match and it’s really just thrown on the card after Lawler and Christopher beat up Putski on Raw. No thought to it other than that.
The problem with this match is simple: Putski mainly wrestles a power style despite being officially a light weight. He’s kind of like a Matt Hardy: Small size, mostly regular offense with the occasional high flying move thrown in. The end is abrupt as Putski legit hurts his knee and has to be counted out. His knee is clearly dislocated.
Rating: D. This was bad, mainly because it wasn’t a light weight match. It was two small guys wrestling. What’s the point of this? There isn’t one other than to try to compete with the cruiserweights in WCW. It just didn’t work, plain and simple. Putski never did anything in his career, and that’s being generous about it.
We see a recap of the Nation splitting into three gangs. Yes you read that right. Gangs, not factions. We have the New Nation, which is Farrooq, Kama, D’lo and Rocky. We have the Disciples of Apocalypse, which was a biker gang and Los Borecuas, which was a Puerto Rican street gang. This went on for almost a year, with no one at all getting what the point of it was. It’s known as the Gang Wars period, and it never panned out at all. I think this ended at Mania 15 but I’m not sure.
Savio Vega vs. Farrooq vs. Crush
This is for supremacy or something like that. It’s standard triple threat rules which was a new idea back then actually. Soon after this Crush would leave and Chainz, more commonly known as Brian Lee from ECW would take over. I always liked what I saw from him and it’s a shame he didn’t get to showcase himself more often. Savio’s white pants just look weird.
You could tell they really weren’t sure what they were doing with this format of a match and were kind of playing it by ear which makes this a fun match to see. Even the announcers are talking about how what Crush is doing makes no sense. Farrooq is on the floor so Crush puts on a chin lock. He must have trained Randy Orton. There’s really not much to this so far but it’s not bad.
Like I said the psychology isn’t there yet as this was such a new idea at the time. Savio botches a spinning neckbreaker fairly badly. Eventually he’s beaten down and the power guys go at it, which is what it should have been the whole time. They trade off picking on the third guy which makes sense. Savio wins by kicking Crush after Crush takes out Farrooq.
Rating: C. They were unsure with the concept but at least they were giving it a good effort. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad. For a first time thing this was well done I think. It’s kind of like the Bret/Shawn ladder match. They had no clue what they were doing and other matches would easily surpass it but this was fine.
El Torito vs. Max Mini
Oh great it’s small people wrestling. Why do people insist on these matches? They just flat out suck. They’re at a total combined weight of 184lbs. What in the world is the point of this? Someone tell me that please. One of the guys weights 86lbs. My lord this is going to be a long match. While some of the moves are flashy, you could see Rey and Kidman do the exact same things in WCW.
The difference there is they were full sized. I just don’t get the appeal of something like this. Oh dear this match is getting time. We’re at 5 minutes already. It not that it’s bad, it just that it’s a waste of time. Seriously, why is this considered good? The fans are dead for it as no one knows who these people are and we don’t care. FINALLY this ends after nine full minutes plus. Hokey smoke. The Max guy wins with a sunset flip.
Rating: D. What the heck were they thinking here? This match was just not interesting. It wasn’t bad, but the size was just annoying. I don’t want to see people that are praised for a move off the middle rope. That makes no sense and is just a waste of my time. What is the appeal here? Can someone explain that to me? If this was a three minute match I could see that, but this went almost ten minutes. Was there nothing else they could have put on the card at all?
We see a recap of Austin’s injury and the fallout from it. Commissioner Slaughter says that Austin can’t wrestle until he is healthy. Austin and Dude Love were the tag champions at the time (since Michaels had to forfeit the titles, Owen and Bulldog won a tournament to face Austin and a partner he picked for the vacant belts. Austin didn’t want a partner but Love volunteered and they won the belts). Love had debuted that night I think as Mankind was gone by this point. I always loved that music of his. Anyway, this is them giving up the belts.
Austin comes out to no glass shattering after Dude says he can’t defend them on his own despite wanting to. Austin calls out Vince which amuses me as that feud was on the horizon and would explode very soon. Stone Cold is at the top of his game here, talking all kinds of trash to Slaughter and making so much fun of him that it’s great. He even gets on JR, calling him a fat man.
Vince is losing it on commentary which is just such great foreshadowing. JR says he hopes he gets better soon. You know what’s coming don’t you? Yep, there it is. Kick, wham stunner. Love holds back Austin until he leaves. The fans have lost their minds as this is Austin at his best. They’re all over Slaughter here as it was him that decided to strip the belt from Austin.
Doc is in the back with Owen and the Bulldog who are PISSED over what Austin did. They say he should be arrested for assault which is just incorrect. He should be arrested for battery. Vince calls Austin a jackass on commentary.
Tag Titles: Headbangers vs. LOD vs. Godwinns vs. Owen/Bulldog
This is elimination style which is a fun way to make the title match interesting. No one knew what to make of the Headbangers at the time. They were just weird to say the least. We get a mini advertisement about One Night Only which was a European PPV which had Bulldog vs. Shawn for the European Title. Hawk and Animal say they want the belts back and to beat up the Godwinns.
LOD’s pop is massive to say the least as they’re just legendary at this point. One of the rules in this is anyone can tag anyone which makes this even more fun. I’ve always liked things like this and tonight is no exception. It’s more or less just random combinations for the early going with nothing of real note. Eventually we get our big war going and it ends with LOD being disqualified for hitting the Godwinns with the slop bucket.
Of course this isn’t a popular move and I think it hurts having them being eliminated first. It sort of makes the match seem weaker as the big name tag team is eliminated first. Very soon thereafter the Godwinns are eliminated by the Headbangers. This match really isn’t as good as I expected it would be. The USA chant starts up which is as tried and true of a way to get support as there ever has been.
Lawler talks about how there are 600,000 people at Stu Hart’s house watching this match and to imagine the cheers. Vince of course wastes this great set up line by saying if you think that’s loud imagine the cheers at next month’s PPV! Vince just amazes me with his tunnel vision when it comes to business sometimes. They brawl for awhile but of course in the end Austin runs out and stuns the heck out of Owen for the ending and gives the Headbangers the titles.
Rating: D+. This match is just freaking boring. I don’t get the appeal to something like this. The idea is cool, but it just goes to show you the shambles that the tag division was in around this time. There’s nothing at all of interest here and none of the teams grab you at all. The Outlaws are coming though to save the day soon.
After the Headbangers celebrate at the concession stand, we see JR complaining about getting stunned. Good for him.
Recap for the WWF Title match. Tonight, we have Bret defending against perhaps the most bland main event gimmick I have ever seen: The Patriot. He’s a guy that loves America but wears a mask. Of course then, they show him playing football at South Carolina. Why? You can see his face there so why wear the mask? He has this match because he pinned Hart.
There’s little point to watching this match as he’s about as likely to win the title as Shawn Stasiak was. He was bland and plain and no one cared at all. They show him in Japan where he is getting his head handed to him by Misawa. What’s the point to showing his face in interviews and having him in the mask in the ring?
He’s in the back with Sunny and actually is built very well. He says he’s not afraid of Bret.
WWF Title: Bret Hart vs. The Patriot
You know, just by listening to Patriot’s music I’m already starting to dislike him. Asctually it makes me think he kind of sucks. I think I’ll chant that. YOU suck! You Suck! Dang, what kind of patriotic character has music that you chant you suck to? He won the match over Bret in Pittsburgh apparently. That’s quite a coincidence. Bret gets a bigger pop than Patriot does which is amusing.
Patriot is left handed which is just a bit odd looking. Of course Patriot controls things early on and then gets slowed down to allow Bret to get things even. So far this is a pretty slow and bland match and pretty typical for any Bret match. That’s not to say it’s bad but it’s just not that interesting. Patriot just has no credibility at all at this point or ever. Lawler is great on commentary for some reason here, snapping off all kinds of stats and facts.
You can tell Patriot is bad as the fans are clearly cheering the heel here since they simply don’t care about the challenger at all, and why should they? Bulldog comes down to ringside for no apparent reason. Patriot is getting a few cheers but it’s not as big as what Bret gets.
After a mistake by Smith, Bret gets hit by Patriot’s finisher, the Uncle Slam. Yeah I know just go with it. Vader comes out and beats on Smith to take him out of the equation after Smith breaks up a pin which for no real reason doesn’t cause a DQ. From there it’s pretty bland to put it mildly.
For the most part it’s just Bret faking being close to losing the title until Patriot hits his finisher again and it still doesn’t work so he goes for Bret’s. Bret reverses and Patriot taps. What a “real American.” Post match Bret beats on him some more and takes the flag to break it and choke Patriot with it. Bret beats up a lot of the officials afterwards.
Rating: C-. There was no heat for Patriot to win at all. That’s what killed this match. Bret was fine and the match was fine but it was the Patriot vs. Bret Hart. That’s the problem in this match. Aside from that you get a long match that’s pretty back and forth which means it’s not terrible.
Recap of Taker vs. Shawn which is more or less one chair shot. Other than that it’s nothing but the recaps of their feuds over the past few months. I’ll say one thing for this feud: it got taker to actually do a sit down interview which is just weird to see. We see the chair shot which gave Bret the title as show counts the one, two, three four. Yep it’s clearly a four count to get the belt off of Taker.
In the back we see Shawn who is apparently heel now. He says he’ll win.
Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker
They actually say this has PPV time remaining. What an odd thing to hear. Shawn’s pyro messes up which is funny to see his reaction to. Taker’s entrance is another classic one with the lightning, the thunder, the smoke and the silhouette of the Phenom as he stands at the entrance. He raises his arms really fast to turn on the lights now and they come on with an explosion.
I think I like that version better than the slow rise. Match starts off kind of odd as Shawn hides behind the ref forever until Taker just nails the ref. Shawn runs but Slaughter, the worst commissioner of all time orders him back into the ring where Taker throws the referee onto Shawn. Massive brawl ensues. Shawn is bumping like a crazy man here as each punch sends him at least 10 feet.
They brawl all over the place until finally Shawn gets his head handed to him in the ring. Hebner comes out to be the referee and Shawn uses the distraction to chop block the Undertaker and we get a bell. What’s going on? They’re still fighting, and apparently, NINE MINUTES after the brawl started, that’s the start of the match? What the heck??? Nine minutes and THEN the bell rings? Give me a break here people.
This is a very hard hitting match that’s working very well so far. It’s rare to see Shawn as a heel but it’s more or less the exact same style. Now I’m not sure if that’s good or not but it’s pretty entertaining if I do say so myself, and I do say so myself. Shawn apparently has a back injury. Can you imagine Taker hurting Shawn’s back? I certainly can’t. We have another ref bump which I think makes three so far, which isn’t good for 8 minutes into the “match”.
Rick Rude, Shawn’s insurance policy, comes to the ring and gives Shawn brass knuckles. However, since we’re having a three for one referee special, the fourth is late counting the pin. HHH and Chyna are here, and all of a sudden I think I see a stable in the making. HHH is starting to get some muscles on him and he even throws in a crotch chop.
According to every source I can find, DX didn’t officially form until about two weeks after this at One Night Only, but they look pretty formed here to me. I know the name wouldn’t be for about another month and a half, but they look pretty united to me. Oh, another referee went down a little bit ago, so the fourth ref is slow getting to the count. Since he’s slow, Taker chokeslams him.
A FIFTH referee comes out and finally calls for the double DQ. Post match, Shawn hits SCM to tie Taker in the ropes. He breaks out as Shawn has a chair and beats on HHH and Shawn. As he’s about to kill them both, about fifteen guys from the locker room run out to stop him.
He throws them off and debuts the over the rope dive which has Lawler screaming like a girly man as he nearly kills Shawn dead with it. About ten more guys come out to finally separate them as Taker poses in the ring with the lights going out to thunderous cheers as we go off the air!
Rating: B. WOW. This was far less of a match and more of a fight. It was the prototype for what the Attitude Era main event would become. No one really knew what to expect from this match and I’m not sure if it was good or not. The ref bumping went WAY too far for my tastes as it was just getting ridiculous. However, with these two it was great as you know they’re going to put on a good match. There would be a rematch the following month inside the debuting Cell, which is the far more famous of their wars.
Overall Rating: B-. While it was the first of its three hour formula, this IYH left me wanting more. With a double DQ for the finish to the main event and a pretty bland world title match, I felt like there was no payoff to the show. I got to the end and I was thinking I wanted a better way to close out the show. It felt like the way a Raw should end instead of a PPV. The rest of the show is just ok as well, but it’s slightly better than average. Not great but not awful, watch it if you’re intrigued but don’t go out of your way.