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After what many people consider to be one of their best pay per views of all time, the WWF ended their run of two-hour In Your House shows, deciding that (as WCW had shown) that in 1997 the industry was capable of handling now 24 three-hour pay per views a year. It was a ballsy move in some respects – the two hour IYH shows were often of mixed quality, and adding an extra hour effectively only exposed the WWF’s horridly-weak undercard.
Ground Zero continued both promotion’s uneasy runs with monthly shows though – wrestling still was struggling to evolve around having to find a big marquee match every four weeks. WCW managed largely thanks to a stacked main event card that they could handle having the likes of Hogan, Piper and (lest we not forget) Sting off of the majority of shows and still have enough momentum and star power to make it work. The WWF, didn’t – particularly with Steve Austin out injured for the next few months.
It left the WWF with putting the Patriot in the title match slot against Bret Hart. Del Wilkes was a mid-card act for WCW a few years previously and it’s not necessarily a huge stretch to suggest that may have been where the WWF planned to put him, but needs must in the latest USA vs Canada action of the year. Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels was given the main event slot, with Michaels now a fully fleged heel alongside Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna in a group yet to be named.
The other “build” of note (as much build as you can have for a show that took two weeks off for some tennis, replaced by a pair of “Friday Night’s Main Event” shows) was between Goldust and Brian Pillman. Pillman, after losing at Summerslam, had been forced to wear a dress until he won – which he didn’t. So (and see if you can spot the minor Jim Cornette contribution to this storyline) he proposed a match with Goldust at this show: if Goldust won, Pillman would quit the WWF. And if Pillman won, Pillman would get Marlene as his personal assistant for 30 days. Why would Goldust accept that? You may ask, well, we never get to find out – as Marlene hastily does on his behalf. A throwback to the sketchy real-life past between Pillman and Terri Runnels in WCW.
Goldust (w/ Marlene) vs Brian Pillman
One of Brian Pillman’s better matches since the car accident, but that’s not necessarily saying a lot. Pillman attempts to leg it (quite why he would, I don’t know – if he’d have lost he might as well never have turned back) – Goldust suplexes him on the ramp. Pillman chucks Goldust off of the top before he can superplex him, Pillman then sparks out the ref as Goldust goes for the curtain call. Marlene attempts to hit Pillman with her purse, Pillman grabs it and nails Goldust with it – turns out there was a brick inside. Pillman wins the match, and Marlene.
Which is where things get a bit… weird. Pillman drags Marlene kicking and screaming to the back, through the back and bundles her into a waiting car before speeding off. Not the best optics, I’ll be honest (although they get a bit worse on Raw).
Scott Putski vs Brian Christopher
Fans chant “Jerry’s Kid” at Christopher, which shows they’re significantly more invested in this farce than I am. This isn’t really a match, early doors Putski attempts to catch Christopher coming off the top to the floor and screws his knee up. He’s not continuing and the match ends. Lawler does a horrible job trying to kill time with a promo on Putski.
Savio Vega vs Farooq vs Crush – Triple Threat Rules
Ya know… it’s hard to work out how three way matches in the WWF ever kicked on. That is to say this isn’t even the worst Triple Threat in September to include Savio Vega (the one on Raw the next night is a proper all-timer). This was just, bad… 3-ways give opportunity for unique spots and in theory should reduce the amount of down-time as one guy can sell at various points. This… wasn’t that. Very clunky, very bad, no heat. Eventually Crush hits a heart punch on Farooq, Savio spin kicks Cursh and that will do that.
El Torito (not that one!) vs Max Mini
Max Mini is 85 lbs… weighs about as much as one of my legs – he’s also very short. Torito is bigger, and provides a base for Max to do lots of legitimately very impressive action that gets some great reactions from the fans. We get the arse biting stuff, which is weird… but there’s a great moment where Mini ends up sat in Jerry Lawler’s lap (wearing his crown, no less), and the fans start chanting “Jerry’s Kid” – which is great humour from a group of America fans. The match does go comedy for a bit, but Max rolls back into the ring and just gets smashed with a big axe kick. Lots more lovely arm drags from Max and an Asai moonsault, before he hits a sunset flip for a big pop. Real good this.
We get a segment involving Jim Ross interviewing Sergeant Slaughter – who sinks on the mic but nowhere near as badly as he did the following night on Raw. On both occasions Steve Austin came out to save the segment, he surrenders his belt, gets a lecture from Jim Ross an then just hits him with a stunner. This Austin stuff isn’t particularly nuanced, but he’s now consistently getting really great reactions and him attacking people who usually were off limits (refs, commentators etc…) really makes him stand out.
The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) vs The Godwinns (Henry and Phineaus) vs Owen Hart and The British Bulldog vs The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) for the WWF Tag Team Titles
Man did this tag match struggle… lots of stalling and very little action particularly while the best team in the match (by a mile) didn’t feature much early. Hawk grabs the Godwin bucket and gets disqualified for using it as a weapon, Henry gets pinned by one of the Headbangers then we get down to two. The action picks up a little, Mosh gets a hot tag and Bulldog ends up levelling Owen by accident. Owen puts in the sharpshooter, Austin comes out and hits him with a stunner – the crowd explodes and the Headbangers, of all people, are the tag champions.
Bret Hart vs The Patriot for the WWF Title
Basically every Bret Hart (as a heel) match you’ve ever seen. The face (in this case a lukewarm Patriot) gets on top early then Bret dominates the middle with the same routine working over the leg that he always does. Vader comes out to rough up Bret at one stage, Bret kicks out of Patriots Uncle Slam before Patriot puts in a sharpshooter. Bret reverses it then into one of his own, then while the crowd are chanting “USA, USA, USA” – Patriot submits. Odd. Decent match, but nothing remarkable.
The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels
The first five minutes of this took place before the bell as Undertaker just wiped out the ref for no reason (everyone has an attitude these days). Earl Hebner eventually comes out – Michaels begs him to disqualify Taker (Michaels is a great heel). The match is fine, both guys are over but it really struggles for purpose with so much going on (and each ref barely lasting five minutes before they get taken out). Rick Rude comes out and throws in some brass knucks, which Shawn uses but there’s no ref – Shawn picks up Hebner then justs knocks him down again. Taker hits Shawn with the knucks then a final ref comes out and calls the whole thing off. Just bad. A main event they did not need to do and it was booked like it.
Score Rating: 2.5/10
Go Back and Watch: Not a good show. The minis match is great. Everything else…you’re on your own.