Survivor Series Count-Up – 1997 (Original): Screw This

Survivor Series 1997
Date: November 9, 1997
Location: Molson Centere, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Attendance: 20,593
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross

Well, here we are. Perhaps the most infamous show in the history of professional wrestling, we have arrived at Montreal. I’ll save my thoughts on the Screwjob for the end of the review and for once, actually focus on the show as a whole. This is the culmination of the entire Border War storyline with Austin and Michaels unofficially teaming up to fight Canada and the Hart Foundation who were one of the best heel stables I can remember, despite them only being around for a bit.

Shawn got this title shot for winning the first ever Hell in a Cell match against Taker a month prior to this. That also leads into another match on the show as we have Kane’s PPV debut (he would soon debut on Raw in a handicap match, squashing two jobbers named Matt and Jeff Hardy). Other than that we have Austin vs. Owen in a rematch from Summerslam for Owen’s newly won IC Title.

The other four matches are all Survivor Series matches. We’re in the Attitude Era now, with tonight being considered by some to be the official start. I could see that, but the Attitude Era roster was already here with guys like the Outlaws, the Nation and Ken Shamrock here now, so I’d certainly say that this is the Era, but for the sake of argument we’ll say it begins tonight. Anyway, with the ending being the important part that I’d think most of you are interested in, let’s get closer to that.

The NWO is absolutely dominating at this point with the WWF on the brink. However, they would manage to blow the biggest chance in the history of professional wrestling to end Vince with the absolute disaster that was Starrcade 97. This is the show that got people talking about the WWF again though, and ultimately caused the downfall of WCW in the end which you would know about if you’ve seen the match.

We open with the video hyping this as the rematch of Wrestlemania 12. Bret talks about how he got screwed in Anaheim and he doesn’t like the way Shawn acts. Shawn says get over it. The interesting thing here is that this could almost be classified as heel vs. heel. Bret was top heel, and Shawn was certainly acting like a heel, yet Bret will easily be the crowd favorite, with Shawn being the face by default I guess. That’s certainly an interesting issue to have.

We have to introduce both other announce teams for no good reason.

Headbangers/New Blackjacks vs. New Age Outlaws/Godwins

Bradshaw and Barry Windham are the Blackjacks. This started over Billy breaking a boom box over the head of Thrasher. The other teams were feuding…maybe. The announcer speaks French, which I guess makes sense. Road Dogg does the talking intro to the Godwins slow banjo music, and actually calls the Headbangers queers. I’m very surprised that made it onto the video release. He slips in some more gay slurs, which is very surprising as well.

The Outlaws at this point are a brand new team that is more about talking than what they did in the ring. In other words, they got right into what they were known for. The hog farmers are heels now, and somehow still validate a paycheck each which defies any and all logic to me. Phineas tries to leave but it turns out he’s coming back. Dang it I was hoping we could get this done early. I’ll give Russo this: he had different tag teams. That’s more than we get today.

According to Lawler, no one wants to lose one of these matches. Well I’m glad people like winning. I was afraid I was in a Disney movie where giving away wins was the important thing as long as you don’t cheat. The styles between Henry and Bradshaw are clashing badly here and it’s not working.

Bradshaw gets an abdominal stretch on and drops backwards to roll up Henry for the pin. That was kind of cool actually. Who in their right mind would believe that of these 8, he would have the most successful career? Actually you might because none of them looked like much at this point.

Phineas is in now and brawls with Bradshaw as we hear more about Granny Godwin. Windham just doesn’t look right with black hair and a mustache. I don’t have to look at it anymore because he just got pinned. Mosh is actually quite over. That’s just odd. Billy gets a good solid booing, so apparently he’s doing his job correctly. They make a Sadaam Hussein reference which is just out of place. Billy just looks weird in long tights.

This isn’t much of a match as most of the people just don’t fit in it at all. Billy hits a weird looking move to end Mosh. Mosh is going for a bulldog out of the corner but Billy slams him forward face first into the mat for the pin. That was different at least. It’s 3-2 if you’re counting. How sad is it that I know all 8 men’s real names? We’re on to Thrasher and Phineas now as the greatness of this match is just getting better and better.

Ross says Vince is busy as I’m analyzing every single thing about this show now looking for clues about it. I think we’re having audio difficulties here as we have no talking for a few seconds. Apparently Road Dogg was yelling at them and they lost focus? That’s great stuff there guys. Ross isn’t a character anymore and it’s the standard commentating formula that you know and love/hate/tolerate/cut yourself to.

Thrasher pins Phineas after a Stage Dive (seated senton like Mysterio uses) to make it 2-2. Road Dogg comes in for the first time in the whole match and he gets Bradshaw. The Outlaws were an interesting story as they had this epically bad feud for months and months. They were fighting again on Shotgun Saturday Night (which needs a review of its own sometime) when they actually said that their careers were going nowhere fighting each other so they should team up.

This is the result. Anyway, Road Dogg rolls Bradshaw up and hooks the tights for the pin which didn’t actually hit but whatever. He goes nuts and beats up the Outlaws before he leaves it 2-1 with the Outlaws vs. Thrasher. He’s the one that got hit with the boom box, so Thrasher is actually the point of a feud. Oh my goodness indeed. OH GOOD GRIEF WHAT WAS THAT? Ok, so Road Dogg goes for the pump handle but Thrasher reverses into a cover.

Billy goes up for a guillotine leg drop, AND MISSES BY TWO FREAKING FEET! I mean when he lands, you can see the mat between his leg and the two bodies, but THRASHER SELLS IT. That’s how it ends. I literally do not know how to respond to that. It was the absolute worst miss and sell that I’ve ever seen. I mean literally there were two feet between them. I’m stunned.

Rating: D+. This is partially for that ending, but other than that, the match just bombed overall. There was just nothing of interest here and it was just four teams beating on each other for 15 minutes. The Outlaws were clearly going to be either a big deal or something close to one and they certainly were. Other than that, there’s nothing here so it’s a traditional Attitude Era opener: all flash and very little substance.

Truth Commission vs. Disciples of Apocalypse

Dang I forgot about the gang wars period. Ah the Truth Commission. Now if there has ever been a stable that I would have liked to see go further, this was it. We’re not incredibly sure what it was, but that was kind of the point. They were led by the Jackyl, who would become known as Cyrus in ECW. He was kind of a cult leader with this weird brainwashing/mind control thing going on. The Truth Commission was based on South African military units that investigated Apartheid acts after it was outlawed.

One of them would later become known as Bull Buchanan and the big one would become known as Kurrgan. They were very interesting and different, so naturally they were split up and Kurrgan was turned into a comedy character. Allegedly Jackyl was going to be a big deal in the Ministry, but that never came through as he left. This was the era in the company where most of the midcard guys were in gangs.

You had the DOA, the Truth Commission, Los Boricuas, the Hart Foundation and the Nation. It was rather annoying as it turned into a ton of eight man tags that weren’t any good. The Truth Commission here is comprised of Jackyl, Kurrgan, Sniper and Recon. Recon is Bull Buchanan, so we’ll refer to them as Jackyl, Kurrgan, Buchanan and Turnip, because that’s about as much as he’s worth.

The DOA, who don’t have motorcycles yet, are comprised of Skull and 8-Ball (the tall bald twins that are in every wrestling company ever yet never win anything), Chainz (Underfaker/Brian Lee from ECW) and Crush. Lee was good at times, but this is going to be a mess. We start with a massive brawl so I’m likely right. Chainz and Kurrgan start, This lasts about a minute as Chainz takes a sidewalk slam to end him.

Jackyl isn’t on the apron most of the time. Buchanan comes in against one of the twins. JR isn’t sure which it is either. Jackyl comes in off the top with a knee that’s not sold. Three punches and sidewalk slam later we’re tied up. Wait, did two guys just use the same generic finishing move to get rid of people? Was Skull watching the match? You just don’t do that.

You’re a big power guy. There’s about a dozen moves there you could use to get rid of him: boot, spinebuster, powerslam etc., but you use the SAME FREAKING THING. And you wonder why no one cares about you. Turnip comes in next to waste more time. Jackyl is doing commentary now and washes a few brains as we go. I hope he waxes them too. The crowd is just dead here.

The twins switch and a clothesline gets rid of Buchanan. Ok so we’ve had three eliminations: two by sidewalk slams and one by clothesline. A nap sounds good now. After a boring exchange, Turnip hits a bulldog, which is somehow the best elimination move of the match by leaps and bounds, to get rid of a twin, leaving us at a twin and Crush vs. Kurrgan and Turnip. Since the boring pace and repetitive moves have worked so well and gotten such great reactions, we continue with it.

None of this is worth talking about at all as it’s just boring power moves by not incredibly talented big men. Kurrgan gets a blind tag and after the other twin puts Turnip down, he walks into a, get ready, SIDEWALK SLAM for the pin. My goodness was that a reaction? Yes I believe it was.

I have no idea what for so I’m assuming a sale on popcorn. Actually it’s for Crush. Crush is popular? Why? I don’t get it, but ok I guess. He puts Turnip out with a powerslam but as he gets up, I kid you not, he becomes the fourth out of 7 men in the match to be eliminated with a sidewalk slam.

Rating: F. There is no way to validate using the same finishing move FOUR times. On top of that, one of them was from another guy. Now I can get a wrestler being limited to a few moves. I could see if this was Orton hitting three RKOs for three pins, but if say Ted DiBiase used it as well, then it’s just stupid. This was a bad match as the moves and wrestlers were boring, there was ZERO plot, and the crowd hated it. This was a complete waste of ten minutes.

A bunch of fans say who they think will win. Surprisingly, Shawn seems to be the favorite, but not by much. I’d call it 50/50 actually but it’s very close.

As we talk about being in Montreal, King gets in a funny line about not knowing it was Halloween because no city could have faces like this. It’s corny but I laughed. Lawler has a great delivery.

Austin is dictating messages to a person posting them on AOL. That’s perfect for him actually.

For the third year in a row, Karate Fighters is sponsoring this. That might be a record of some kind.

We get a recap of how Blackman is in this upcoming match. He jumped the railing and beat up Bulldog but Anvil just tackled him. Apparently he was able to get a job, trained and onto a PPV in 6 days. That’s not bad.

Team USA vs. Team Canada

USA: Goldust, Vader, Marc Mero, Steve Blackman

Canada: Furnas, Lafon, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog

That’s a great American team isn’t it? Oh yes it is. On the Canadian side, Lafon is French, Bulldog is British, Furnas is from Oklahoma and Neidhart was always billed as from Nevada. In a quick interview, Vader says they have nothing in common other than they don’t like Canadian meanies. It’s not Vader Time. It’s America Time. Yes he really said that. Team America comes out to a familiar song. For some reason I want to start chanting YOU SUCK to the beat of this song.

The Americans get a decent pop but nothing great. Goldust has paint on his face saying F U, which stands for Forever Unchained. Well ok then. Bulldog says Canada will win. They come out to Bret’s music to a huge pop. Ross says this is like game 7 between the Canadiens and the Rangers. The Rangers won the cup in 94, so does that make any sense to anyone? I guess it’s because New York might as well be the national capital?

JR points out all of the un Canadian things I mentioned, but apparently Lafon is French-Canadian, so that’s somehow better. Lawler points out how truly awful this face team is. Mero, who recently turned heel, starts with Bulldog. This isn’t going to be pretty is it? Team Canada is ridiculously over. Bulldog mocking karate poses is just funny. The fans chant for Sable which was Mero’s main and pretty much only storyline for the rest of his time in the company.

Vader, the only somewhat likable member of his time, comes in to beat on Bulldog for awhile. Goldust has just started going freaky as he has just left Marlena. I never got the appeal of her. She’s just not sexy looking. Bulldog has the crowd going insane as he hits his vertical delay suplex ON VADER. Yes, he actually held him there for a bit. I don’t care if you like Bulldog or not, but that’s just freaking scary power.

Lafon and Mero are in now, and for some reason, Mero is on long term offense. What was the appeal of this guy? The boxing thing I think was what killed him as it was just far too one dimensional. Blackman comes in and clearly knows what he’s doing as JR tries to convince us he’s not a trained wrestler. It’s so painfully obvious that he is as he is clearly experienced at least in something beyond the basics as he’s crisp and is going on instinct as you can tell.

He beats up all four heels, or maybe they’re faces as I’m not sure anymore (Russo’s vision begins to come true). Anyway they hit the floor and Blackman is counted out as he doesn’t know the rules that well yet. Well at least that makes sense storyline wise. For some reason this takes a minute or so to explain to him. Ross contradicts himself again by saying Blackman knows and then later that he doesn’t know catch as catch can style.

Neidhart against Mero now, so the level of talent is somehow going up. Neidhart majored in psychology at UCLA. That’s actually kind of impressive. I didn’t know that one. Vader apparently likes USC because he kills Neidhart with power moves and a splash. How many times is Anvil overpowered?

Lafon knocks Vader to the floor with nothing but kicks, which is kind of impressive as well. They hit the floor and Vader is getting beaten up. How did he fall so far in a single year? At Summerslam 96 he was the top heel in the company and now he’s in the midcard at best. He KILLS Lafon with a belly to belly that looked amazingly painful to set up a huge splash from the middle rope, and we’re down to 3-2.

Furnas hits the weakest looking dropkick that I can ever remember which of course drops Vader. It was worse than the springboard version that Tyler Reks uses. In a BADLY botched spot, Mero goes for his moonsault from the top, but Furnas I think was trying to turn it into a powerslam where he would slam Mero forward. Somehow, and I don’t actually know how this happened, Mero wound up on top.

Mero was coming down with a good looking moonsault to a standing Furnas, and Furnas hit the mat head first. This defied anything resembling a law of physics. The announcers are even confused on who got hit with what. He gets the tag to Bulldog, who gets one of the absolute loudest roars I’ve ever heard. That was beyond a pop. The fans were so loud there you almost couldn’t hear a slam on the mat.

It’s a shame he would leave over what happens in the main event. Furnas pins Mero with tights being held. Thank goodness one of them is gone at least. They were both just annoying. Mero had no character at all. I know he was a boxer, but come on now. There’s just no substance there at all. Goldust still hasn’t been in the match at all. Even the announcers point out that Vader has carried his team here and that’s certainly true.

He’s the only one that hasn’t gotten embarrassed out there. Goldust refuses to tag in, blaming a hand injury. This would be the start of a bad feud between the two with Goldust becoming the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust. Apparently he’s rejecting his responsibilities by divorcing his wife and giving up as a father. I hate angles that get that in depth. It’s just complete overkill. My eyes just bugged out. Furnas hit an overhead belly to belly on Vader and got air underneath it.

I mean Vader was airborne for that. That’s two times in this match that he’s been put in power moves. I don’t ever recall that, and it’s not like he’s dropped weight or something at this point. That was impressive. He follows that up with a Frankensteiner. Good grief this guy isn’t half bad. He’s trying if nothing else. Furnas isn’t a big guy or anything. According to Wikipedia he’s 5’11 and under 250lbs.

That’s below average actually, but he made it look awesome. I’m impressed if nothing else. I’m also legit surprised that these two never got over at all. Vader has finally had enough and nails Goldust who walks out. Ross says he’s walking about on his team and country, just like he did on his family. Vader hits the Vader Bomb to end Furnas and in about 20 seconds Bulldog smacks him (kind of) with the bell to win it with a HUGE pop.

Rating: B+. This was just a sweet match. This is the closest Vader ever got to being the dominant force he should have been after Summerslam 96. He just looked awesome on all levels out there, hitting everything perfectly and looking like a guy that should have been the captain of his team.

For the life of me I don’t get why he didn’t get pushed. I also don’t get why Smith is so over here. I mean he’s getting a pop that should be reserved for Bret in Canada. This was just a fun match overall and the ending worked perfectly. It doesn’t make up for the first two, but I’m interested now at least.

Buy this Steve Austin shirt.

We get a recap of Kane’s arrival, which I’ve always thought was one of the best done feuds in wrestling history. It worked for a number of reasons, but the big one was he was talked about for months but you never saw him. You kept hearing the name Kane and you saw Taker’s reactions to it. That’s a brilliant strategy for debuting a character.

You keep hearing about someone over and over again and eventually you don’t care what he looks like and you’re going to think he’s awesome no matter what you see. That’s exactly what happened here, and the debut went great too. It brought Taker to a level he doesn’t go to that often, but when he does it’s EPIC. Anyway, this is happening because Kane was beating up random people and one of them was Dude Love. Foley became Mankind again to fight Kane, leading us to this.

Kane vs. Mankind

This is Kane’s major debut for all intents and purposes. He beat up some jobbers (the Hardy Boys actually) but hasn’t had any official match against legit competition yet. Mankind says he’ll throw himself against a brick wall as many times as he has to until he knocks it down. Foley meets him in the aisle and it’s on immediately.

Kane throws him into the steps and he’s in trouble. Everything in covered in that red light here too which is always annoying. There’s the fire out of the corner and hey we get a bell too. Cactus Clothesline as we more or less say screw the ring. Kane throws the steps at Foley’s head as this is one sided so far. Back inside now.

Domination here by Kane. On the floor though Kane takes a hot shot into the steps and for the first time ever Kane is in trouble. Foley caves his head in with a chair and Kane kind of shakes it off. Piledriver by Foley but Mankind goes after Paul Bearer instead. Kane pops up and launches Mankind from the apron through the announce table. Nice one.

Tito Santana is hurt somehow. It would be nice to see this but with that red light everywhere you can’t really see anything. Ross wrote that off as a power. I love little things like that. Mankind gets a DDT on the floor as he won’t die. He hits the elbow from the apron which he blames most of his hip injuries on. Kane lays him out on the floor as momentum shifts again. Tombstone ends this clean.

Rating: C+. I don’t get the point of the red light but whatever. This was sloppy, but I think that was the point. It’s Kane’s first time in a ring allegedly, and Foley is sloppy to begin with so that makes sense. For a debut, it did exactly what it was supposed to do: it made Kane look like an absolute monster that could kill whomever he faced.

The choice of Mankind was perfect considering what he had done to Taker in the past. You knew the showdown was coming, but the only question was when. When it finally happened at Mania 14, the drama could not have been better, and the whole thing delivered perfectly.

Send in your cable bill and get a free dog tag. They should do more stuff like this. It’s a good customer relations thing. Maybe throw out a t-shirt or something like that.

We go to the back where Vince and Slaughter (the Commissioner at the time and in Vince’s pocket) is with Cole. Slaughter guarantees the match will happen tonight. Oddly that has nothing to do with the Screwjob. Part of the problem leading up this was that the match had been scheduled before but it kept getting canceled due to injuries.

That’s why a lot of people thought the ending was another work because it had happened so many times, with the people thinking the REAL rematch would be at Mania 14. Obviously they were wrong. Vince says he doesn’t know who will win, but he just ever so slightly chuckles before he says it.

It’s so tiny that you wouldn’t notice it the first time watching the show. Granted, it easily could have been classified as just Vince being unsure for kayfabe’s sake. This was destined to be huge, but unfortunately it’s for the wrong reasons.

Nation of Domination vs. Ken Shamrock/Ahmed Johnson/LOD

The Nation is Farrooq, Kama (Godfather), D’Lo Brown and Rock, who was absolutely hated at this point. Like I said yesterday, he was so happy all the time and the people got flat out sick of it. He got hurt and came back as the heel Rock, joining the Nation which was what he needed to do all along. The company knew that they had struck gold with him so the next night, the angle that made his career began as he called out Steve Austin for the first time.

They met the next month at DX In Your House in the infamous truck match where the Austin style match was firmly cemented. The next night, Austin said he was going for the world title, and the rest is history. Those two had such a great chemistry together that it’s hard to come up with a pair that also had it. This feud gave us the absolutely amazing pager sequence, which ranks among my favorite wrestling moments ever.

It was just done perfectly and they had the crowd in the palms of their hands. Anyway, tangent over and let’s get to this. Ahmed is still in his eternal feud with the Nation, having actually turned heel for about a week before getting hurt AGAIN. He would be gone soon though. Shamrock was about to start feuding with Rock around the time of the Rumble, and the LOD are just faces fighting heels. We go to the back for an interview with the faces.

Shamrock has to talk loudly to be heard over the Rocky Sucks chants. He’s on a microphone and the crowd is drowning him out. That’s a hot crowd. LOD are the tag champions here as well. Shamrock is clearly reading off a script. Hawk gets about as close to a Warrior promo as you can while still making sense. Animal and Ahmed don’t talk. I get Ahmed but Animal was decent at talking.

It seems like whenever someone comes out they get no reaction but the fans pop after the name is said. I guess that’s the custom up there. I keep thinking that it’s odd that someone that was pushed pretty well is getting nothing from the crowd, but then it comes and my mind is calmed. A fan has a Stone Cold for President sign. I’ve been to Canada before, and I don’t remember them having a president.

Shamrock is apparently the future of the company. That’s just odd. He gets a very good pop though. Ahmed gets a good one as well. He’s just a freak, plain and simple. Ahmed actually looks more intimidating than Lesnar did. Now if he had any single pit of skill, he’s have been in the Hall of Fame 10 years ago. They both got good pops, but the one for LOD is epic. The fans blow the roof off for them to say the least. They’re a gimmick that just flat out works.

Both of them just look like they could beat the living heck out of anyone you put in the ring with them, and that often times is all you need. They don’t have their spikes though, which is odd to see. The belts just look perfect on them though. Screw Demolition, this is the coolest team ever. Ok that’s nonsense because I really like both teams but I don’t see them at the moment so my allegiance lies with the Road Warriors at the moment.

Hawk and D’Lo start and Brown is beaten up pretty badly here. He tags Rock in and Hawk slaps him a few times. He hits the ropes and someone hits him off camera, sending him into a somewhat odd looking Rock Bottom. He didn’t have the move down yet and it’s obvious that he didn’t. That took about a minute after the action started, so they’re clearly pushing Rocky hard here as they should.

Apparently this shocks JR, which means it was likely pretty average. Ahmed’s right leg looks like it’s covered in armor. Replays show that it was Kama that hit Hawk. How exactly do you knock someone down with authority? I’ve never gotten that term. Brown gets a leather strap from somewhere and whips Ahmed with it in the corner.

Farrooq beats on him for awhile but as he goes for the Dominator, Johnson rolls over, spins Farrooq around and hits the Pearl River Plunge for the pin to tie us up at three. Well that was quick. Brown comes in and hits the Low Down in about four seconds but doesn’t cover. It doesn’t have a name yet at Brown isn’t even the small deal that he would become. He’s about as low as you can get at this point.

Anyway, Ahmed gets up as Brown punches him. There is literally no reaction from Ahmed. It’s like that Bruiser Brody vs. Luger cage match where Brody stopped selling, but in this case it’s just Ahmed coming back. Dude at least let your head go back a bit to make it look like you’re trying. I get what you’re going for here but it’s just not working.

Ahmed hits a front falling suplex which for some reason the announcers have no idea how to describe. They call it everything from a reverse Michinoku Driver to a reverse Pearl River Plunge. Guys, it’s a front falling suplex. It’s been done many times before. Now we get to the stupid part of the match as Brown is on the mat and Ahmed hits the ropes. Farrooq has stayed at ringside and trips Ahmed and holds his foot down so Rock can just climb on him and pin him.

The other referee tries to get Rock to stop, but doesn’t do anything about it like perhaps yell about how there’s ANOTHER GUY HOLDING HIS FOOT to the in ring referee. He also doesn’t even tell the referee after the pin. So wait, what’s the point of the outside referee? Is his job to just get the wrestlers to the back? If that’s the case why not just have Dog the Bounty Hunter out there? Or maybe Cartman? Is Grannie from the Beverly Hillbillies still alive? Maybe she could referee.

Also, let’s take a look at the referee in the ring. Number one, he sees Farrooq at ringside. He has to. He was there almost two minutes after he was pinned so I’m assuming the referee looked in that area at least once. If not he should be fired. Even still, let’s assume he was distracted by some cotton candy in the 14th row. Doesn’t it seem odd that a man randomly falling down with no one even in the area?

Actually wait, Farroq was near there. Hmm, the other referee is clearly trying to yell at someone in that area. Eh must be autograph hounds. You know how popular we referees are among Croatian youths age 8-12. Finally, what the heck? Ahmed was literally not even moving a few seconds ago when a grown man was punching him in the jaw, and now being tripped prevents him from raising his shoulder?

The guy is a freaking tank and he can’t raise his arm because someone has a grip on his foot? Tell me in any way shape or form how that even begins to make sense. I mean seriously, that’s the best he can do? He can’t even throw up his shoulder? I get that he was supposed to get beaten, but freaking move blast it. It’s not even realistic at all. Once Rocky gets off, Ahmed pops up and chases Farrooq to the back and they brawl on the way. Does Rock weigh as much as an actual rock or something? That was just ridiculously stupid. Getting rid of Ahmed by cheating make sense, but for the love of turnips is it that hard to do it with some intelligence?

ANYWAY, Rocky sucks apparently. He’s not the only thing. We have Rock vs. Shamrock now which would become one of the big feuds in a few months, yet Shamrock wouldn’t really ever do much because of one simple reason: he never took the title from Rock. He beat him about 5 times but he never got the title. That was kind of pointless but whatever. Somehow we’re not even halfway through with this match and I’ve said this much already.

This was during a weird time in the Nation as Rock was usurping Farroq’s leadership as he was clearly the bigger star. Somehow there was never a big match between the two. I never got why it didn’t happen. Kama and Animal go at it for awhile and I literally have never heard a quieter crowd. Rocky Sucks apparently though. Some weird sound effect goes off which the announcers clearly didn’t know was coming.

I think the sound guy (Kevin Dunn according to Lawler) fell asleep from how boring that segment was. Animal rolls up Kama to make it 2-2. It’s Brown and Rock against Animal and Shamrock. JR says it’s back down to 2-2. When was it 2-2 before Jimbo? Shamrock wearing black doesn’t work because his opponents are all wearing it. It just isn’t working that well from a looks perspective.

Brown low blows him to stop the momentum. Due to this, Rocky is gay. Lawler knows what lackadaisical, or however you spell that, means. Hey, since D’lo and Shamrock are fighting, let’s talk about Austin vs. Owen. Is this WCW all of a sudden? Jennifer Aniston is on the Tonight Show so I’m officially distracted. Granted it didn’t take much at this point as this match is going on a bit too long, but at least there’s a point to this one unlike the first two of them.

Eventually Animal and Rock get tagged in and as Animal is cleaning house, the Outlaws come out. Road Dogg has Animal’s spikes and Gunn is wearing Road Warrior face paint. It amuses me how they stole the spikes and the LOD didn’t just perhaps go to their locker room and take them back. Wouldn’t that have solved a lot of issues?

Billy throws powder in Animal’s eyes and he gets counted out. Billy Gunn with white powder. The cocaine jokes write themselves. Animal gives chase, since apparently Hawk was busy playing dominos or something.

It’s Shamrock against Brown and Rock. Apparently Shamrock made both Bret and Shawn tap within the last two weeks. I remember Shawn tapping but not Bret. Wait yes I do remember Bret’s tapping. King says that this is wrestling and you don’t win by tapping out. Ross says like heck you don’t. Ok wait a minute. Lawler was trying to say that tapping out means nothing in wrestling, but in reality he said the right thing: if you tap, you don’t win.

Ross says apparently that you do. So let me make sure I’ve got this straight. Lawler messed up a line but was incorrect in the first place so his mistake made him correct, and Ross corrected Lawler’s mistake but in reality Lawler was right so Ross’ correction was incorrect? X, I think I might have to get you to teach me how to do drugs. This is absurd on so many levels anymore. Rock won’t tag Brown.

Oh wait yeah he did, making him saying no completely pointless. Shamrock hits that sweet belly to belly that he would do and gets the ankle for the tap out on Brown. It’s not a suplex but more of a throw so there we are. Rock nails him with a chair as the ref is getting Brown out but he kicks out. Rock hits that spinning DDT he would do that I don’t think ever had a name. I think on Wrestlemania 2000 it was called the Maivia Hurricane.

Ross says Shamrock was shot with a shotgun. What in the world does that even mean? Ok I get what it means but why did he say it? I’m chalking that up to just another randomly stupid JR line. Rock hits the People’s Elbow, which wasn’t named or a big deal yet so he just looks like a complete moron pointing like that. Ok so he looked like a moron when it was a big deal too, but shockingly he doesn’t get the pin.

Could that have anything to do with the fact THAT IT’S A STANDARD ELBOW DROP? The ropes don’t add any momentum because the big leg kick slows him down. It’s a dumb move and I’ve never been able to stand it. Here’s the comeback from Kenny as it amazes me that when this was taking place, South Park was three months old. DANG that show has been around forever. Rock taps to the ankle lock in a pretty easy ending for Shamrock.

Rating: B. There are very slow parts here but also some very good parts. The ending was very solid with Shamrock looking great as he gets the clean tap out win over Rock. That would be enough to get him a world title match next month. Other than that, there’s some ok stuff here. For a twenty minute match, this was fine. It has some parts that drag and would have been better at about 3 minutes shorter, but overall I’m fine with this. Good match.

There’s a new attendance record for this building. JR calls the WWF the leader in pro wrestling. I can’t make a joke here. That’s just such a flat out lie that it’s beyond jokes. The company was so close to being dead at this point that words don’t describe it. Ok so maybe they do, but WCW was completely dominant at this point.

The change was coming, but it was nothing Vince did. WCW just screwed up so completely and then Vince capitalized on it, but dang man the idea of Vince saving anything. WCW screwed up and WWF took the opening, plain and simple.

Order DX In Your House next month. All the cool kids are doing it.

We get a recap of Austin and all his injuries and how he’d never quit. We also see him getting dropped on his head at Summerslam, which changed his entire life and career. Owen doesn’t like him either. Austin had to forfeit the title which Owen won in a tournament thanks to Austin, who wanted to beat Owen for it.

Intercontinental Title: Owen Hart vs. Steve Austin

Austin gets a solid pop, but it’s nothing major. He flips off the crowd so we know how this is going to go. He got hurt two months ago and he’s wrestling here? Owen has the siren music here which is rather annoying. You can tell Austin is loving getting to be the jerk heel again. He was on the verge of shattering the glass ceiling and it was just a matter of time before he would. Owen comes out with Bulldog, Neidhart and Furnas and Lafon.

Apparently that name is spelled Lafond. I’m not going back and changing them so get over it. Owen’s Owen 3:16 says I just broke your neck shirt is either awesome or tasteless. I’m not sure which one. We get the big stall from Owen to start which is classic heel stuff, but he’s clearly the face here. It’s just hard to book shows in Canada because you need to keep the heels and faces acting accordingly, but that’s very rarely going to fly up there so what can you do?

Neidhart tries to sneak in and gets a Stunner and we’re off and running. The Break His Neck chant starts up as well. The vest is still on. Owen sets for a piledriver and the fans LOVE it. Owen and Team Canada leave, which Lawler says is Owen opening a can of haul off. I’m not sure if that’s funny or not but I think it is. The announce table that Mankind went through is still down, which is funny because they’re just sitting there in chairs, so Owen rams him into the table as it’s on the floor.

Owen is trying to lose via DQ and tries to ring his own bell. That sounds like a bad porn title. In a weird ending, Austin reverses Owen in the corner, stomps the mudhole, tries the same piledriver that injured him, flips Owen off and stuns his way to the title. Team Canada takes them as well and that’s it? That was barely four minutes long, but ok I guess. The goal was accomplished.

My guess is that was all Austin could do as a lot of this was choking and really basic stuff. Austin winning gets a HUGE face pop, which is surprising. Actually it’s not. Austin was the undisputed top face in the company everywhere else, so that actually does make sense. It’s saying something when someone is more popular than a Hart in Canada.

Rating: C. I’m calling it average because there just isn’t enough here to really go on. It’s fine I guess, but in four minutes with a lot of stalling and stuff on the floor there’s only so much I can grade. Austin was still banged up and you could see that he was wrestling a very different style over the next few months and even years due to the injury.

The car angle in two years was when he took the time off for surgery. By then his neck was just a complete mess and it didn’t do all it should have, but he did it for the company. That’s why I have issues with people saying Austin owes Vince something. That may be true, but Vince owes Austin a new neck, or half the company, one or the other.

And now, we have arrived. This is going to be different indeed as this is just such a famous moment that it’s hard to write about. I’m not sure how many jokes are going to be here as it’s not really something that’s easy to poke fun at but here we go.

We get the recap of Bret vs. Shawn from Mania 12, which I’m sure you’ve all known. There’s a review of it in Old School if you don’t know. Bret doesn’t like Shawn, period. He claims that he keeps getting screwed. The rematch was supposed to have happened at Mania 13, but Shawn was “injured”, which is still questioned to this day. Bret got Austin in the submission match, so he did ok as well.

Shawn accidentally caused Bret to win the WWF Title at Summerslam by swinging a chair at Bret but hitting Taker. That led to Shawn vs. Taker which ended in the first ever Cell match, which Shawn won to become number one contender. This is his title shot, and the first rematch in over a year and a half between these two.

This was always going to be epic. There’s some great arguments in here with Shawn saying he does this because he loves it and that Bret does this because he feels he has to. There’s a lot in that line.

WWF Title: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

We see DX, which in this case is Shawn, HHH, Chyna and Rick Rude coming down to the ring from backstage. Shawn is European Champion here as well since the belt meant very little. He would drop it to HHH soon, literally just laying down for him in a rather funny moment. There’s more to it than that but that’s the gist of it. Shawn is booed out of the building of course, which means he’s doing a fine job.

He tells the Canadian flag to suck it and then humps it, which followed by a cut to a sign that says Shawn = Fag is a rather funny moment. We can infer from this that the flag is male. Bret and company are shown coming to the ring and the cheers start already. The announcer can barely be heard over the ovation he gets. Word hadn’t gotten out that this was likely his last night, so that’s a legit pop. My goodness that’s insane.

Bret waving the Canadian flag looks perfect. We’re underway and Shawn is getting his face kicked in. Maybe it hasn’t started yet. Either way, Bret is just owning everyoone here. In essence this is just a big pre match fight and since Bret is getting to beat on Shawn, I doubt he’s complaining about working more than he’s required to. For the first time ever that I can remember, Bret hits the headbutt and hurts his own head.

Vince and the Stooges come out to try to stop the brawl, and you can see the pieces falling into play already. Shawn takes over and they go into the crowd again. Ross mentions that there are rumors that if Bret loses he’s done. I don’t think that had been previously mentioned, so this was clearly a huge deal on many levels despite what else was coming. Slaughter is there too as they fight up the aisle.

Some of the referees get taken out as we’re five minutes into this and they were in the ring all of 8 seconds of it. The rest of it has just been a wild brawl. Bret knocks out another referee and they’re at the entry way so this part is going to go on for awhile. Vince gets in his face as I’m impressed with Vince being able to stay in character knowing what’s coming soon. After seven minutes we’re in the ring and Bret is choking Shawn with a Fleur De Lis flag.

Less than a minute after we actually start Shawn hits the forearm and the nip up and now he’s in control. Shawn chokes him with the flag and Bret is lightly bleeding. It really is hard to not just do commentary here. They go back to the floor again because we haven’t had enough of that yet in this match/fight. The announcers debate who has better cardio which they say Shawn does. If they knew anything was coming, they didn’t let on at all.

A piledriver on the stairs doesn’t work but Shawn keeps control. He breaks the flag and hits Bret in the chest with the pole. Fighting on the floor follows. This has been about 80% on the floor. Naturally, they’re back in there now. Even in the most infamous matches ever my timing is great. Bret does a weird sell as he gets hit by a top rope axe handle but pauses for a second before selling. Maybe it was just a reaction thing.

Shawn is apparently using some of Stu’s old moves. That’s either brilliant or stupid. If Stu used them a lot, wouldn’t Bret know the counters to them? Just as I say that, Bret counters. Bret goes for the knee but Shawn stops him again. Bret reverses a top rope cross body and gets a long two. I wonder what would have happened if he had gotten a fluke pin like that. Figure four on the pole, which I’m still trying to get how the pole actually helps here. I’ve never gotten hat one.

It’s standard (I will not say vintage…blast it) Bret here as he goes for the figure four. The fans chant Bret Sold Out, so apparently they knew he was gone. After a good amount of time in it, Shawn reverses and Bret breaks it with ropes. So it was Bret in the ring with the rope? Yeah I’ve got nothing for this. The match itself is solid actually so it’s even harder to do. Bret initiates his ending sequence, but for some reason he goes to the top for the elbow.

The extra time allows Shawn to pull the referee in the way so we know what’s coming. And there it is. Shawn goes for the Sharpshooter, which he does wrong at first. Earl Hebner doesn’t even get down to check with Bret and calls for the bell. He’s out of the ring as fast as humanly possible. In one of the most famous scenes in wrestling history, Bret spits on Vince as he automatically knew what was going on.

The camera on Bret’s face a second before this tells the whole story. He knew he got screwed over. Shawn plays innocent before walking by Vince and then grabbing the belt and jetting out of the arena. I think Vince might have said something. Since this is the home video release, we go straight to bonus footage after the show went off the air. Bret’s music plays as Bulldog tries to talk to him. You can tell Bret isn’t hearing a word he’s saying as he’s in his own world right now.

His face is a mixture of anger and being upset, but he really doesn’t look surprised. Anvil comes in and gets the same treatment. It’s clear that the fans don’t grasp what just happened and there’s no reason they should. He high fives a few fans and then goes nuts on the equipment from the announce tables, slamming monitors on the floor as we really go off the air. It’s probably better that they didn’t show what else happened backstage after the show.

Shawn played innocent, the Harris Brothers (Skull and 8-Ball of the DOA) went to Shawn and HHH and Vince and said they were on their side no matter what, and Bret took a shower. Vince was locked in his office in fear for his life. Undertaker literally kicked the door in and dragged Vince out to face Bret like a man. Bret had just gotten out of the shower when this happened, so during the confrontation, Bret was freshly out of the shower.

He punched Vince in the jaw and Vince staggered backwards. He stepped on Brisco’s foot and broke his ankle. That’s just great. Taker and Foley were on the verge of quitting and heading to WCW that night actually. Bulldog, Owen and Neidhart did quit, but Owen came back a month later. Bret debuted in WCW soon, and at Starrcade 97’s main event of Hogan vs. Sting, WCW in a way parodied/referenced the Screwjob, which ultimately resulted in their downfall as I’ve mentioned many times before.

Rating: B+. All historic aspects aside, this was a very intense match that worked very well. Both guys were gods in the ring so it’s not like they couldn’t put on a good match. It’s the polar opposite of the Iron Man match, but that’s good I think. This is more of a fight than a match, but that’s fine by me. The match itself is overlooked I think, as no one even remembers anything but the finish.

Overall Rating: B+. Again, this is with all historic aspects of the main event aside. The show starts off really bad but it picks up very well afterwards. The crowd is white hot as most Canadian crowds tend to be which helps a lot. Everyone looks like they’re working hard and having a lot of fun, which is what makes a card great as well. The stories were advanced or ended here, which is what PPV is for.

Even the first match is ok I guess, meaning that this is a very recommended show. It’s well done and a great peak into what’s coming in the months and years to come while still having that taste of old school in it. It’s a great blend, which is an excellent and difficult component to have. Check the whole thing out as it’s very well worth your time.

And now, for the white elephant in the room. Obviously, this is one of the most famous and influential moments in wrestling history as nearly twelve years later at Breaking Point they redid it with Punk vs. Taker. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the story, here’s the basics of it. Note: there is likely FAR more to it than this, but there have been full books written about this night so I’ll have to go with the shorter version.

After Wrestlemania 12, Bret began negotiating a new contract with Vince while at the same time, WCW was offering him a ton of money. Bret was loyal to Vince and signed a mind blowing 20 year contract. The idea was that Bret would wrestle three more years then move into a management job with occasional TV appearances, similar to what someone like Foley was doing a few years ago.

In short, Vince ran out of money and couldn’t pay huge amounts to Bret after the first year and Vince told Bret that for his own financial security, he should go to WCW where the money would be guaranteed. Note: Bret had Vince’s blessing. Anyway, Shawn and Bret had NEVER gotten along, period. Bret was worried about the Clique’s booking powers growing rapidly and the rise of the Attitude Era, so he decided that he should go.

He had been working with Shawn on house shows, and at one of them Shawn called him out for sleeping with Sunny. That didn’t help things obviously. Then at a show in I think San Jose, Bret said he would lose to Shawn if asked to. Shawn said he would NEVER lose to Hart. Granted, this comes from Bret’s book and I’m always skeptical about anything any wrestler says.

Shawn would later say this was a lie and that Shawn would have no problem losing to Bret as he had before. I lean towards Bret here, as Shawn had lost to him when Shawn was just a blip on the radar and never when they were both the top dogs in the company. Shawn’s ego went through the roof by that time and it seems very plausible for him to say he wouldn’t lose to Bret. Anyway, due to Shawn saying this, Bret changed his mind and said he wouldn’t lose to Shawn at Survivor Series.

Now we get to the hard part. Bret’s contract expires Sunday night, but he’s still champion. He says he’ll lose to anyone that Vince asks him to other than Shawn with zero complaints. Names like Austin, Shamrock, Taker, Mankind and Ahmed were thrown around for this, but in no way shape or form would he lose to Shawn in Canada.

So they struck a deal where Bret would keep the belt in Canada and the next night on Raw he would either surrender it or lose in a title match to someone Vince would decide on between the time the deal was made and Raw. So we get to Canada, and Vince is terrified that Bret is going to pull out on the deal. Now depending on who you want to listen to, anywhere from three to about 10 guys were in on the Screwjob.

There are so many theories out there from Bret was in on the whole thing (which isn’t that unplausible actually. The idea would have been Bret leaves for two to three years and then comes back in a shocker to face Vince and Shawn at Mania. Shawn would get hurt two months after this though and would be out for four and a half years. Bret would get hurt just over two years after Montreal, so neither of those things happened.

It’s still I guess a possible theory though. The basic theory that I believe is that Vince, HHH, Shawn, Brisco and Hebner were the only ones that knew. Vince secretly changed the ending of the match from Shawn getting the Sharpshooter and Bret countering into one of his own for the tap out into what actually happened.

You can see Bret going for the pre planned counter when the bell rings. Bret went to WCW and has been seen on WWE programming twice since: at his Hall of Fame induction and in a taped segment for Vince Appreciation Night. Anyway, that’s the main idea of it. Obviously there’s a lot more, but that would go on for days.

The more I’ve read about it, the more I side with Vince. Think about this for a minute. The common comparison that is made is that Vince was afraid that Bret would show up on Nitro with the belt etc. and do what Alundra Blayze did with the Women’s Title. That’s far from the truth. If you think about it, Vince, as a wrestling historian and fan, would have been worried about what he had done six years earlier with Ric Flair and the NWA Title.

Due to Flair taking that title to the WWF, the WCW Champion was looked at as a complete joke. Why should anyone care about their champion when they’re nothing more than a paper title holder? The NWA hasn’t recovered from that yet and never will recover from that. Vince had his back to the wall to put it mildly with WCW’s foot on his throat so he had to do what he had to do. I know that what he did wasn’t right, but dang man how much can you ask him to put up with?

Ok, I get that Bret didn’t want to lose to Shawn, but come on now Bret. It’s one match at the end of a 14 year Hall of Fame career. Lose to cheating or something like that. Bret’s pride got in the way here. There is no reason to not drop a title on your way out the door. I would say it’s unprofessional, but Vince wasn’t exactly a saint here either so that’s not fair to put on Bret.

Like I said though, how much can you ask Vince to have to deal with though? I think that’s overlooked a lot in this: the position Vince was in at the time. We all know that Bret was in an awkward spot, but what about Vince? His company was on the brink of bankruptcy, his talent was leaving left and right for WCW, he was getting killed in the ratings, and now he has to worry about his belt being disgraced on WCW.

Actually wait. I need to clarify that. Bret couldn’t show up with the belt, but even if he didn’t, it would have been disastrous for Vince. Like with Flair, if Bret is never beaten for the title and he leaves, why should we believe anyone that gets the belt next is a realistic champion? They never beat Bret. Bret is the WWF champion, not say Shamrock or whomever gets it next.

With the position that Vince was in, he was completely stuck and had to do something. While I don’t think it was the best choice, I honestly don’t know of anything else he could have done. As for Shawn, he’s the most innocent of all in this I think. He shot his mouth off yes, but he was just a pawn in this whole thing. He’s the guy that’s standing next to a fight but not doing anything in it.

Anyone that was in his place would have gotten the same looks, but honestly what is he guilty of? Nothing at all. He did what his boss told him to do. Shawn is innocent. As a whole, I think Bret doesn’t get enough of the blame and Vince gets too much. Vince should get more than Bret, but not as much as he gets.

It was a horrible situation, but I think Bret pushed it too far. I understand where he was coming from, but I think his pride went too far and he became selfish. I know this is going to get some replies and arguments, so bring them on.



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