Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WWF Summerslam 1997

(Note: This piece was written last year and yet somehow never got posted. Also, this is straight from Notepad to Blogpost with little edits, so some typos may leak through.)

I'm sure this'll air on the Network eventually, but since I've got the VHS tape on hand, let's give it a lookie now. Summerslam 1997 is perhaps the show that truly planted the seeds for future developments, whether it'd be the World title match between Bret Hart and Undertaker or the injury that almost derailed the biggest superstar to grace the WWF at that time. It's been a good while since I last saw this show, so I guess it's as good a time as any to give it another shot.

Mankind defeated HHH in a steel cage match. This is the match where Mick Foley did the elbow drop off the top of the cage in a tribute to "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. If you set aside that piece of business, this is an awesome match that told a simple but effective story of Mankind overcoming his opposition and hitting the big finish. Foley and Hunter would have some truly great matches in the future, but their 1997 stuff was a sampling of how brilliantly these two gelled together.

Goldust defeated Brian Pillman in a pretty dull match. At some point, Pillman lost a match and was forced to wear a dress. Then at some point, Pillman won a match and garnered the services of Marlena. And then Pillman died and the story went nowhere as a result... yeah, that sounded a little more morbid than I intended. Unfortunately, Pillman's WWF stint was anything but inspired, which is sad considering how decent he was in WCW.

The Legion of Doom defeated the Godwinns. Look, I got nothing. For me, trying to watch the Road Warriors taking on a couple pig farmer wrestlers is like watching paint dry.

There's a bit with a contest for prize money nobody won... given the "financial peril" that the WWF was in at the time, I wonder if they would've actually payed the supposed winner or simply given them an I.O.U. Who knows? They might forward the bill to WCW for good measure.

European champion British Bulldog defeated Ken Shamrock via DQ when Shamrock simply snapped and went crazy after being fed dog food. Shamrock would then choke poor Bulldog and suplex a bunch of referees... Other than provide an image of Krazy Ken for future highlight reels and title cards, this match was just there. Didn't care.

Los Boricuas defeated Disciples of Apocalypse in an eight-man tag-team match that nobody in their right minds cared about. And neither did I, as I promptly fast-forwarded through this one.

Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated IC Champion Owen Hart to win the title. This is the match with the fucked up piledriver that fucked up Austin's neck and potentially cut his career short; who knows how long Austin would've stuck around had the injury not happened? Anyway, the injury itself has been documented on and touched on numerous times, but setting that piece of business aside, this was a pretty solid wrestling match and perhaps the last time anyone would see Austin at his technical best, since he would adopt a more brawler-based style due to his bad neck. Speaking of which, a pretty bad roll-up is how Austin was able to beat Owen, which was the only possible way to go, since the stipulation added here was that if Owen won, then Stone Cold would have to pucker up and kiss the guy's ass. Obviously, there was no chance of that happening even if the injury didn't happen.

Bret Hart defeated WWF Champion Undertaker to win the title when special referee Shawn Michael smacked Undertaker with a chair after Bret spit on Shawn. The stipulations are somewhat convoluted here, but it's necessary for the context of the match. See, if Bret lost the match, he wouldn't be able to wrestle in the United States again (this was during the whole Hart Foundation/Canada vs. USA feud that was the focal point of 1997 WWF). In a bit of a wrinkle, Shawn Michaels was made referee for the match, but if he showed any favoritism towards Taker (purposely let Bret lose), then SHAWN would be barred from wrestling in the United States... and that's why Shawn, after whacking Taker with a chair and Bret went for the easy pin, administered the three-count and gave Bret the win and the title. Bret would proceed to do his own thing for the next couple months, while Shawn and Taker would feud against each other, eventually culminating in the first Hell In A Cell and well... you know.

The match itself started off a bit on the slow side, but eventually picked up steam until the very end. It's a pretty solid match all things considered and knowing the backstory certainly enhances one's enjoyment of the match. Still, considering the seeds planted and what would follow - Shawn and Taker having a feud leading to Hell In A Cell, Bret's fifth WWF title reign relegated to mid-card status, and of course, the eventual Montreal screwjob itself - this is a pretty significant match from a narrative standpoint.

I'll say this much. Compared to the previous year's offering, this felt like a significant step up. Mind you, that isn't saying a whole lot considering this show's share of duds in the middle, but the opening cage match is a sight to behold, the IC title match is good for historical purposes, and the main event has its fair share of drama as well. All in all, this was a good show in my book. That having been said, I'm sure the matches in question that are worth watching can be found anywhere else and you don't necessarily need to sit through the whole show for those matches. Still, I went away from this rather satisfied and that's all I could ever ask of any entertainment medium.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it real and keep it clean.