The SmarK Rant for WWF Survivor Series 97 – 11.09.97
Yes, as promised, let’s finally take another look at this one, since the last time I watched it was 1999 (!!!!)
The Network has what appears to be the 24/7 edit of the show, by the way, since all the “WWF” references on signs are blurred out, although the commentary is not censored. I suspect it might even be the Coliseum Video version of the show but I have no proof of that.
Brought to you by KARATE FIGHTERS. Possibly the variant where they take passive-aggressive verbal shots at each other and then settle things with a hair-pulling brawl in the back.
Live from Montreal, QC, drawing 20593 and a 0.89 buyrate on PPV. So yes, Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels was definitely a draw.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
The Headbangers & The New Blackjacks v. The Godwinns & Road Dogg & Billy Gunn
Road Dogg declares their team to be Southern Justice on the way to the ring, facing “Steers & Queers” and calling them the “Black-cracks and Butt-bangers”. Yup, it’s 1997 all right. That Southern Justice concept was definitely one that they kept pulling off the backburner and trying to reheat it. Windham chases PIG out of the ring to start and then slams him on the way back in, and Bradshaw comes in with a powerslam for two. JR notes that Bradshaw “reminds a lot of folks of Stan Hansen”, which I believe is one of the things that directly led to Herb Kunze losing his mind and fleeing the internet in a rage a few years later. Henry comes in while Roadie yaps on the apron, and he uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS on Bradshaw, who comes back with a Russian legsweep for two. HOG with a suplex for two while Roadie keeps yelling about “SOUTHERN JUSTICE”. Can you even imagine how badly the gimmick would have died if they got stuck with the hog farmers instead of D-X? Anyway Bradshaw rolls up Henry for the pin at 3:53. Windham comes in and suplexes PIG for two, and a gut wrench gets two. Lariat gets two. Phineas fights back with his own clothesline and pins Windham at 5:15, so you KNOW we’re at Survivor Series! Mosh comes in and works the arm on PIG and weirdly the Headbangers are the only ones getting any kind of a reaction despite getting booked into the damn grave for the past couple of months. Billy Gunn comes in for the first time, which JR depicts as them waiting on the apron for hours despite the match only going 6 minutes so far, and the Montreal crowd has some very hurtful things to say about Billy’s sexuality. Geez, 25 years later and everyone is buying shirts that say “Scissor Me Daddy Ass” for him, so I guess we’ve all grown as people. Mosh with a bulldog attempt out of the corner, but Billy drops him on his face and pins him at 8:43. I have no idea what that was supposed to be. Thrasher comes in and works a headlock on Phineas while the announcers discuss the whereabouts of Vince McMahon tonight. Apparently he’s busy with something. That’s the understatement of the century. Thrasher with a rollup for two as this thing just grinds to a complete halt with nothing happening while they beak at each other. Thrasher takes PIG down with an armbar and works on that, and he goes up with the seated senton for the pin at 12:38. So Road Dogg comes in for the first time and he gets double-teamed and chopped down by Bradshaw. Lariat and powerbomb follow and Bradshaw beats on Billy Gunn for good measure, but Dogg rolls up Bradshaw for the pin at 13:50 in a banana peel finish where Bradshaw literally wouldn’t even stay down for the pin and immediately beat up both guys on his own. So Thrasher is alone with the heels and Billy gets a cheapshot from the apron. Dogg tries the pumphandle slam but Thrasher doesn’t really know what to do with that and reverses out. So they do it again and Thrasher falls on top this time, but Billy makes the blind tag and drops an elbow on Thrasher for the pin at 15:38. Sole Survivors: Road Dogg & Billy Gunn. A completely boring and heatless mess. Man, watching these matches with Gunn and Dogg where they don’t get over at all and the matches are terrible, I’m retroactively starting to dislike them as a team. ½*
The Truth Commission (Recon, Sniper, Interrogator & Jackyl) v. The Disciples of Apocalypse (Skull, 8-Ball, Chainz & Crush)
The DOA are babyfaces at this point and also get the first big reaction of the show due to motorcycles. Chainz slugs away on Kurgan the Interrogator to start, and here’s a wacky thought for you: Brian Lee came into the WWF playing an imitation of the Undertaker, but 3 years later Undertaker would revive his career by taking Chainz’s gimmick. Interrogator quickly hits Chainz with a sideslam and pins him at 1:30. Recon comes in and slugs away on a Harris twin, and Recon is of course better known as the father of one of the doofus rednecks in NXT. Jackyl comes in, back when he had glorious rockstar hair, but he gets pinned with a sideslam at 2:55. Poor Don. Sniper hits a Harris with a back elbow for two while Jackyl joins the commentary team. Recon gets caught in the DOA corner and Crush drops a leg on him and gets a belly to belly suplex for two. Recon puts 8-Ball on the floor and Skull switches in behind the ref’s back and clotheslines Recon for the pin at 5:18. Sniper comes in and Skull hits a swinging neckbreaker for two, and a double chokeslam follows, but it only gets two. Sniper with a bulldog on Skull for the pin at 6:33. 8-Ball beats on Sniper with a corner clothesline and then goes to tag in Crush, who is busy playing his hair on the apron and then comes in with a suplex on Sniper for two. Jackyl on commentary blabbing meaningless nonsense about glorification is beyond annoying. Interrogator comes in and hits 8-Ball with a sideslam for the pin at 8:58, apparently only having one move at this point in his career. Sounds right. So that leaves Crush by himself, and he slams Sniper for the pin at 9:48 , but Interrogator gets yet another sideslam to win the match at 10:00. Sole Survivor: The Interrogator. Another awful, heatless match. ¼*
Meanwhile, fans give their opinions on who’s winning the main event tonight.
Meanwhile, Steve Austin answers questions on AOL, which was the root of the Broken Skull Sessions podcast. True story.
Team USA (Marc Mero, Goldust, Steve Blackman & Vader) v. Team Canada (British Bulldog, Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon & Jim Neidhart)
Vader and his team do what is supposed to come off as a babyface interview backstage, but they talk about how they hate Canadians so that doesn’t really come off very well. And then they all get to come out to the future Kurt Angle music, which was being used for the Patriot until his career was cut short a couple of weeks before this. This is the soft launch of Goldust’s new heel persona, with the black facepaint, before it went way over the top soon after. JR notes that the reception for Team Canada is like the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals, like if the Montreal Canadiens were playing the New York Rangers! Which isn’t actually a matchup that could happen in the finals in 1997, but hockey isn’t really Jim’s thing. Honestly, if they need sports metaphor advice, they should just call me and I’d be happy to share my expertise with football and whatever the one that Shaq played is. Rugby? Sounds right. Anyway, Mero slugs away on the Bulldog to start, but Bulldog dropkicks him to the floor and threatens Blackman with some Manchester kung fu. Back in the ring, Team USA works on Bulldog in their corner and Vader hits him with a short clothesline and goes up for a bodypress, but Bulldog reverses him into a powerslam and then gets a delayed suplex in a crazy spot. Over to Lafon, but Vader splashes him in the corner and Mero hits him with a kneelift. Lafon comes back with a leg lariat and Team Canada works Mero over in the corner for two. Anvil comes in and clubs on Mero, but Blackman hits Lafon with a pump kick and necks him on the top rope while JR declares that Blackman is not a “trained professional wrestler”. Sure Jan. Lafon with a crucifix for two, but Blackman fights off the Canada side by himself before getting taken to the floor and counted out at 5:50. He just didn’t understand the complex rules of pro wrestling, King! They couldn’t take 10 seconds before the match to explain that leaving the ring for 10 seconds means you lose? Neidhart beats on Mero for a bit, but misses a flying splash and Vader comes in. Anvil puts him down with a shoulderblock for two, but Vader drops an elbow on him and splashes him for the pin at 7:32. Lafon puts Vader on the floor with a leg lariat while Lawler mocks Blackman for being too stupid to know about countouts, and Team Canada works on Vader outside for a bit. Back in, Vader with a clumsy belly to belly on Lafon and he goes up with a flying splash for the pin at 9:09. So Furnas dropkicks Vader, but misses another one and Mero slugs away on him. Mero goes up with the Merosault for two, and they botched that badly with Furnas trying to catch him in a spinebuster but falling backwards instead. That could have gone REALLY badly.
Finally Bulldog gets a hot tag and beats on Mero in the corner to wake up the crowd, then blocks a sunset flip and powers him into the powerslam. But Mero slips out of that and knocks Bulldog down again to kill the crowd, and then brings in Furnas and slugs away on him as well. But then he goes for a sunset flip and Furnas reverses for the pin at 12:10. So Vader beats Furnas down in the corner, but Bulldog comes in again, the only one in the entire match who seems like he wants to be there tonight. Vader reverses a suplex, but Goldust refuses the tag due to his hand injury. JR has no sympathy and thinks that having a broken hand in a cast isn’t particularly bad and should not prevent Goldust from tagging in. So Team Canada double-teams Vader, but Vader comes back again and I’m really confused about who is supposed to be babyfaces at this point. Goldust walks away from Vader’s tag again, so Furnas hits Vader with an overhead suplex for two and follows with a rana for two. Vader wants another tag from Goldust and gets short-armed again, so Vader finally turns on him and hauls him into the ring, and Goldust walks out on the match at 16:50. So this leaves Vader by himself and he fights off Furnas and Bulldog, but Bulldog grabs the bell while Vader pins Furnas at 17:36, and then he hits Vader with the bell behind the ref’s back and pins him at 17:50 to win the match to a big pop. Sole Survivor: The British Bulldog. This was another mess of a match, but Bulldog was at least trying to get it over and Vader took some good bumps. **
Meanwhile, JR and Lawler chat with the winner of a Karate Fighters sweepstakes as they continue doing their weird act of pretending like it’s a normal night while this bizarre industry-changing PPV show proceeds.
Mankind v. Kane
Mankind reveals that his plan is to treat Kane like a brick wall, and instead of going around or going over, he’s going to launch himself through the brick wall and hope for the best. Also he wants to stress that he’s not a pebble. Duly noted. This is the in-ring debut for Kane, and also the debut of the god-awful red lights during his matches. Thankfully that didn’t last long. Kane immediately lays out Mankind on the floor and sets off his pyro for dramatic effect, but Mankind fights back with headbutts and puts him on the floor with a Cactus clothesline and you can’t see a damn thing. The red light gimmick was bad enough in the HD era with the Fiend, but during the 240p broadcast times they need to turn up the damn lights. Kane throws the stairs at Mankind and brings him back in for a beating. Kane takes him to the floor, but Mankind runs him into what I think are the stairs, and then uses something resembling a chair. Back in, Mankind catches him with his head down and piledrives him, but then he has to go after Paul Bearer with the mandible claw because Kane doesn’t have mouth holes. This allows Kane to sit up, and he tosses Mick through the Spanish announce table, no doubt the craziest bump that Mankind will ever take on a WWF PPV. At least in the upcoming year, I’d assume. Kane beats on him out there, but Mankind kicks him in the nuts and hits a DDT on the floor to fight back. Kane sits up again, however, beats him into jelly and slams him off the apron, and then finishes with the tombstone at 9:30. God bless Mick Foley for sacrificing himself to immediately make Kane into a bigtime player here. ***1/4
Meanwhile, send in your cable bill and if you’re one of the first 3000, you’ll get a LIMITED EDITION DOGTAG! Does my Paypal receipt for the WWE Network still count, I wonder? I can’t imagine they actually got 3000 responses so I’m betting there’s still a few of those dogtags left to claim.
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon and Sgt. Slaughter are backstage and stress that they have extra security on hand to make sure that Montreal will get to see the main event, no matter what. Michael Cole asks Vince who’s going to win the match, and he only answers “I don’t know.” YOU LIE!
The Nation of Domination v. Ahmed Johnson, Ken Shamrock and The Legion of Doom
This is one of the rare times when Canada didn’t hate Shamrock’s guts. Don’t worry, that would change soon. We have BREAKING NEWS from the front row, as some guy has a sign that says “Hitman going to WCW”. That’ll be the day, pal! FINALLY we get some heat from the crowd, thanks to Rocky getting booed out of the building, but D-Lo is the one who starts the match and gets dominated by Hawk. He immediately hits a piledriver on Hawk, who no-sells it and puts him down with the neckbreaker, but then Rocky comes in and immediately pins Hawk with the Rock Bottom at 2:50. Ahmed is in next and the Nation quickly swarms him and puts the boots to him, and Faarooq gets a backbreaker and slugs him down. But then he goes for the Dominator and Ahmed falls out of it and pins him with the Pearl River Plunge at 4:50. D-Lo comes in with the frog splash and Rock comes in and walks into a spinebuster, but Faarooq trips up Ahmed from the outside and Rocky pins him at 6:47. That was lame and Ahmed looked bad in his time in there. Rocky beats on Animal and the crowd is just all over him, but Animal comes back with a corner clothesline and Shamrock comes in with a dropkick. Kama trades kicks with Shamrock and chokes him out in the corner, so it’s back to Animal again. He gets a back suplex on Kama for two as the crowd dies every time Rocky isn’t doing stuff. Animal with a slam for two as the sound goes all crazy and the announcers bury Kevin Dunn as a result. And then Animal dropkicks Kama into Rocky and pins him at 11:00. Shamrock slugs away on D-Lo in the corner and puts him down with a clothesline, but Rocky comes in and punches Shamrock right in the old yam bag behind the ref’s back. Brown gets two off that. Legdrop gets two. Brown with the chinlock and Shamrock fights out of that and brings Animal back in. So Dog-Ass joins us and distracts Animal, throwing powder in his face on the floor for the countout at 15:00. This leaves Shamrock on his own against Rock and D-Lo, and they take a while to figure out what to do. Shamrock dumps Rock and anklelocks D-Lo for the submission at 17:10, but Rock grabs a chair and waffles him for two. So Rock puts the boots to him in the corner, laying the smackdown if you will, and a hurricane DDT gets two. Rock with the PEOPLE’S ELBOW, which gets no reaction, for two. He needs to learn to work to the hard cam. Shamrock comes back with a northern lights suplex and the rana to make the comeback, and takes Rock down with the anklelock, and Rock taps at 20:34 to kick off their long-running feud. Sole Survivor: Ken Shamrock. This started pretty good, got REALLY bad for a big chunk, and then they got good again with the Rock-Shamrock finale so it all evened out. Of course this was intended to make Shamrock into the star, but we know who really ended up getting over. ***
So at this point in the Network version, they insert the ad for the D-Generation X PPV, but I thought that the song and video didn’t debut until the next night on RAW?
Intercontinental title: Owen Hart v. Steve Austin
Owen was on his second title reign after initially losing the title to Austin at Summerslam in the infamous neck breaking match, and then winning it back in a really bad tournament. Austin was making his return to the ring here despite being told by doctors that he had “the neck of an 80 year old man”, so people were understandably concerned about the potential for this to go very wrong again. Austin of course gets a giant reaction for his entrance, although his glass-breaking gimmick in the doorway only breaks halfway. Maybe that’s where Broken Skull ranch got its name? Despite being babyfaces earlier, Team Canada gets booed out of the building here while accompanying Owen. Neidhart tries a sneak attack and takes a stunner for his troubles, allowing Owen to slug on Austin in the corner. He teases a piledriver to huge heel heat, but Austin backdrops out and Owen bails and trips up Austin from the floor. So Austin chases him out and they brawl on the floor, but Owen runs away and catches him with a kick to the groin to take over. Owen chokes him out with the TV cable and the ref threatens to DQ him, so Owen yells back “So disqualify me then!”, calling his bluff and then ringing the bell himself for good measure. As if someone just ringing the bell at a Survivor Series in Montreal would ever count as an official finish! That would just be silly. Back in the ring, Austin abruptly fights back with KICK WHAM STUNNER and pins Owen to regain the title at 4:00. Man this was not exactly a hidden gem. Clearly Austin was barely ready to come back and had to be heavily protected to the point where this was barely even a match. ½*
WWF World title: Bret Hart v. Shawn Michaels
So after all the months of backstage fights and working themselves into a shoot and nonsense and gaga, we finally get to the match, the last one between them ever. Shawn, always classy, flosses with the Canadian flag and picks his nose with it before throwing it on the mat and humping it. The entrances for this are really fascinating, with extended cuts of both guys walking from the dressing room and through the arena to the entrance, which lends it that extra layer of cinematic build. Also Jim Ross saying “WWF title” is muted here, so I’m increasingly confused about which version of the show this is. So they immediately slug it out and Bret sends him to the floor and runs him into the post as they brawl on the floor and into the crowd, giving the crowd exactly what they wanted out of the match after all this time. Shawn tries to retreat into the audience and Bret hauls him back by the hair and tosses him back to ringside while JR rages about people making assumptions and speculating about Bret’s future. Also Vince McMahon has shown up at ringside with the agents, but I’m sure that doesn’t mean anything. Shawn chokes him out with a flag and they fight into the crowd again, but Bret backdrops him over the railing as you can’t say Shawn isn’t giving it his usual effort tonight. They fight into the aisle and Bret backdrops out of a piledriver and then suplexes him onto the floor. Shawn uses a referee as a battering ram, but Bret continues kicking Shawn’s ass, tossing him over the railing again and beating on him with a fire extinguisher. So it’s interesting to note that in bidding farewell to an entire era of wrestling, this match actually foreshadowed what would soon become the dominant style of the Rock/Austin era. And ironically, both Bret and Shawn were gone when it could have probably prolonged their main event careers like it did for Austin.
They finally make it to the ring to start the match proper, and Bret drops a leg on him and follows with an atomic drop, but Shawn fires back with the flying forearm and puts the boots to Bret. More flag disrespect as he chokes out Bret with the Quebec flag, but nobody likes Quebec anyway so that’s not a big deal. Shawn beats on him in the corner and tosses him while beaking at the front row, then drops Bret on the stairs facefirst and jams a flagpole in his throat. Back in the ring, Shawn comes in with a double axehandle and goes to a facelock on the mat, but Bret fights out and goes to work on the legs. Shawn rakes the eyes and goes up with a flying bodypress, but Bret rolls through for two and goes back to the leg again, setting up the ringpost figure-four. Back in the ring, Bret continues to work on the leg while a portion of the crowd chants “Bret Souled Out” in a stunningly accurate prognostication of his first WCW main event, and Bret gets a figure-four, but Shawn reverses and Bret has to make the ropes. Bret slugs away on Shawn and follows with the Russian legsweep for two. Suplex gets two. Backbreaker and he goes up for an axehandle, but the ref gets bumped on the way down. But then Shawn gets his own Sharpshooter and Hebner miraculously revives and RINGS THE BELL, RINGS THE FUCKING BELL at 12:25 to apparently make Shawn Michaels the WWF champion? Pretty sure that decision won’t stand. I bet Tony Khan will go on Dynamite and hold a tournament for the title. And JR immediately says goodnight and we go black with Shawn running to the back with the belt. Disregarding everything else around it, it was at the very least a hell of a brawl leading up to the nonsensical finish. ***1/2
Man, it feels like they need a “director’s cut” of this show, with all the post-match spliced in. As a PPV on its own merits, this is definitely not worth watching, especially if you somehow don’t know all the backstory and fallout from the main event. It’s just a mostly bad series of elimination matches and then a main event with a bizarre finish…which just happened to change the business forever. Is there a thumbs rating for that?