Tuesday, May 29, 2012

WWF Survivor Series 1997 Review

WWF Survivor Series 1997 featured the World Wrestling Federation Championship on the line in a battle between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in Montreal. The face of the World Wrestling Federation would never be the same again. Plus Stone Cold Steve Austin takes on Owen Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Title, Kane faces Mankind, and Team USA takes on Team Canada. It is WWF Survivor Series 1997, Part 1 of the WWF Attitude Era Series.

WWF Survivor Series 1997-November 9th 1997, from Montreal Quebec Canada. 

The first match featured the Godwinns, Billy Gunn, and “The Road Dogg” Jesse James teaming up to take on the New Blackjacks and The Headbangers.

 Billy Gunn and the Road Dogg had just been teaming up recent weeks, forming on an episode of WWF Shotgun in October of 1997. Previously, Billy Gunn had been Rockabilly, managed by the Honky Tonk Man, but the gimmick flopped and the Road Dogg was not much better, as “The Real Double J”. They were one of the key parts of the Attitude era as the New Age Outlaws. The Godwinns were a leftover staple from the loathed New Generation Era of WWF, hog farmers. The Headbangers were skirt wearing metalheads and a long term tag team on the independent scene that had a cup of coffee.

 There has never been a team that had been an updated version of an established tag team that had been good and the New Blackjacks were no exception. They were Barry Windham and Justin Bradshaw, who would go onto be Bradshaw and then John Bradshaw Layfield. Windham was the real life son of Blackjack Mulligan and they claimed that Bradshaw was the son of Lanza, but obviously that was not true. It should be noted that this entire card was not good or memorable. The Not Quite New Age Outlaws are your Sole Survivors. Gunn and the Road Dogg would go onto better things rather shortly.

The Truth Commission took on the Disciples of Apocalypse in a Four on Four Survivor Series 

Match. The Truth Commission were South African mercenaries and were Sniper, Recon(who later was Bull Buchanan in Right to Censor), The Interrogator(also known as Kurrgan and he had a part in the movie 300), and the Jackly(the man known as Cyrus the Virus, the head of the Network in ECW).

The Disciples were bikers and consist of Chainz, who was Brian Lee, who had a stint in ECW and also played Ted DiBiase's fake Undertaker. Crush is Brian Adams and is this is like his fifth gimmick, after Demolition Crush, Kona Crush, Japanese Crush, and Convict Crush. 8-Ball and Skull are Ron and Don Harris, who have been around forever. The Truth Commission are your winners and the less said about this match, the better.

Team Canada took on Team USA.

Team Canada was Doug Furnas, Phil LaFon, Davey Boy Smith, and Jim Neidhart. Funnily enough, the Canadian team consisted of two Americans, a British Bulldog, and one Canadian in Phil LaFon. Team USA was Vader, Goldust, Marc Mero, and a man who was the last minute replacement for the Patriot, who suffered injuries, Steve Blackman. Goldust was about to take a really weird turn. Marc Mero was on the American team for reasons that I still don't know and he turned heel the next night. His former wife, Sable, now married to Brock Lesnar, became a bigger star than he ever was and Mero would return to the spotlight in 2007, as one of the fifty million wrestlers to try and get their fifteen minutes based off of the Chris Benoit murder-suicide. Bulldog pins Vader to win after Goldust bails. The Team Canada with One Canadian wins. This was much better than the first two matches but that's like saying that a root canal is better than a kick below the belt.

Kane with Paul Bearer took on Mankind.

Kane had made his WWF debut, as the horrifically burned brother of the Undertaker, who had thought to have died in a fire that may or may not have been started by the Undertaker. The entire Kane/Undertaker backstory is one that's going to give you a headache if you try and make everything try to fit. The back story of this match was Dude Love was attacked by Kane and Choke Slammed on the ramp twice. This caused Mick Foley to morph into his more psychotic alter ego, Mankind. Mankind was the first person to take Kane off of his feet, hitting him with a wrench.

Kane was very green in this match and he gets the win, obviously building him up for his match with Undertaker at Wrestlemania 14. Kane is your winner. Other than Mick killing himself to get the monster over on a couple of points, this match was just merely passable.

Our next match is Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and the WWF Tag Team Champions the Legion of Doom against the Nation of Domination of Faarooq, D'Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa, and Rocky Maivia. 

To see the Nation in this match was very surreal. D'Lo Brown was the least important member of the Nation, which given the insane run he had in 1998 and 1999, would be very intriguing. Kama Mustafa was so far from the Godfather that it was night and day. Rocky Maivia was showing perhaps the faintest of the flashes of the Rock but there was a long way to go. One may argue that the Rock did not really become the Rock until his feud with Triple H in the summer of 1998.

Ahmed Johnson really fell a lot in the past two years, being the future breakout star, to being an out of shape sloppy competitor who had a reputation of injuring himself and his opponents. Hawk and Animal had really had a lot of their legacy damaged as well, and in fact, the feud that perhaps killed off their credibility(while also elevating the New Age Outlaws), was set up during this match some, when Gunn and Road Dogg interfered.

The only person on the face side to really come out ahead was Ken Shamrock, who after making both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels tap out to his ankle lock in back to back weeks on RAW, managed to beat both D'Lo Brown and Rocky Maivia to become the sole surivor. Ken Shamrock, The Road Warriors, and Ahmed Johnson are your winners.

Steve Austin took on Owen Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

Steve Austin was put on the shelf for months, suffering a brutal piledriver at the hands of Owen Hart, which is why you should drop to your knees on a Tombstone and not your behind. Owen Hart was not one hundred percent in this match, due to the fact he suffered a concussion at the hands of Ahmed Johnson. Yeah, I know, Ahmed Johnson injuring someone, bit of a stretch.

Steve Austin gets the championship back, after fighting off Team Canada and avoiding a piledriver, before hitting the Stone Cold Stunner. This reign as WWF Intercontinental Champion would be the launching pad to perhaps one of the biggest stars in wrestling history. The match was not good due to both men being hurt.

If the Pay Per View had stopped right there, this would be one of the least memorable WWF Pay Per Views of all time, with perhaps only a couple of the matches being borderline decent. However, there is that one match.

The match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels was about was good as you could expect for a match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.

Yet, no one really is going to remember that, for the finish. Referee Earl Hebner gets knocked down in the center of the ring and Shawn Michaels puts Bret Hart in the Sharpshooter. This was supposed to lead to Bret reversing the move and then it leading to a no contest when everyone runs in.

Yet that's not what happened.

Ring the damn bell!

Four words that would change the entire face of wrestling. Just as Bret Hart was reversing the Sharpshooter, WWF Owner Vince McMahon, sitting at ringside, made the call. Shawn Michaels is told to take the belt, he rushes off with Triple H and Chyna, and Bret Hart starts throwing monitors at ringside. This is pretty much where it ends for the fans at home. Shawn Michaels is your new WWF Champion and the biggest scandal in the history of wrestling has happened.

The Aftermath:

Backstage after the show, Vince McMahon tried to explain his reasoning to Bret Hart. Needless to say, Bret was not too happy and he registered his displeasure by punching Vince McMahon right in the face. This lead to Vince suffering a busted jaw and Bret Hart breaking his hand on Vince's mouth.

The incident that was dubbed the Montreal Screwjob had taken place. Bret Hart was off to WCW. Shawn Michaels was the WWF Champion, but there was a number of fans who felt that he did not deserve the title. WWF appeared to be disgraced, as many wondered how could anyone ever take Vince McMahon at his word. There were many wrestlers who had threatened to walk out over Montreal.

The Montreal Screwjob should have lead to a scandal that would have shut down the McMahon wrestling empire. Yet, logic rarely has a point in professional wrestling. It would get the ball rolling to one of the hottest eras of wrestling and one of the famous feuds. And would be the beginning of the end of Bret Hart's career as well.

The Attitude era had officially began for the World Wrestling Federation.

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