One Night Only September 20, 1997 NEC Arena, Birmingham, England
For the first time since Summerslam 1992 we head to the United Kingdom for another WWF PPV. Well kind of. This PPV only aired in Canada and the UK and was the first of what would become a biannual tradition over the next few years of hosting UK exclusive events. Our main event tonight is for the WWF European Championship, as reigning champion and hometown hero the British Bulldog puts his title on the line against Shawn Michaels. Also tonight, Bret Hart defends his WWF Championship against the Undertaker in a Summerslam rematch. Letís get into it, but first, donít forget to follow me on Twitter at
Our opening video package is all about the British Bulldog, which makes sense considering where we are tonight. We even see moments from his Summerslam 1992 victory in there. We then head into the arena where we kick the night off with our announce team of Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler.
Dude Love vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/Chyna
These guys have been going at it ever since the King of the Ring now, but the feud is pretty much over by now, with Helmsley moving into the role of being Shawn's sidekick for now. It saddens me to realise that this will likely be the last show on which Hunter makes his way out to Ode to Joy. Ah well, it was fun whilst it lasted. The match here is decent as always, albeit nothing special. Its still a good start to the show. Dude actually outwrestles Hunter in the early going which JR is surprised about on commentary. Chyna once again makes her presence felt as she was quite good in this role as Hunter's muscle, as she hits a stiff clothesline on Dude behind the referee's back outside the ring. Helmsley takes control, but Dude comes back and looks to put his opponent away with the double arm DDT only for Chyna to put Helmsley's foot on the ropes. Hunter capitalises and nails a distracted Dude with the pedigree to pick up the win at 11:08. Good opener.
We now hear from some local fans giving their thoughts on who will win the main event from earlier in the day. Its surprisingly even, but slightly more are in favour of the Bulldog. We then head back into the arena where Sunny makes her way out to be the guest ring announcer for our next match, since she has nothing else to do at this point.
Tiger Ali Singh w/Tiger Jeet Singh vs Leif Cassidy Wow I had no idea Leif Cassidy was still hanging around. I thought he would have been back in ECW by now. Of course he's on job duty as usual as he's set to take on Tiger Ali Singh who actually made his debut back in April. He's one of those guys who never really did anything of note, probably due to him not being particularly good. He's accompanied by his father here. Prior to the match, Singh preaches to everybody to stay drug free before his father rambles something in Hindi. Leif attacks Singh from behind and we are under way. The crowd just does not care about this one at all, and I can't blame them as this is a pretty bad match. The match is so pointless that we even go to Brian Christopher in the back during it for some random reason. Anyway, Tiger picks up the win with a top rope bulldog which scores the three count at 4:10. At least it was short.
After a brief look back at the Headbangers winning the tag titles at Ground Zero thanks to the interference of Stone Cold Steve Austin, its time for our tag title match.
WWF Tag Team Championship: The Headbangers (c) vs Savio Vega & Miguel Perez Pretty random title match here as I'm not sure what exactly the Boricuas have done to earn a title shot. At least we've got a break from the Gang Wars. Miguel is the incredibly hairy Boricua in case you were wondering by the way. The Headbangers get a nice pop as they head out here, and this match is actually better than you would expect. Its not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but its certainly passable, and given what we have seen of the Boricuas of late, thats definitely a good thing. The Boricuas do some solid double team work in this one taking control for much of the match. In the end the champions fight back with Mosh hitting the Stage Dive from the top on Miguel to cause the Headbangers to retain the titles at 14:07.
We go to the back where British Bulldog is having a sit down interview. He talks about his family in attendance tonight and his sister who is battling cancer. He dedicates his match with Michaels tonight to her.
Flash Funk vs The Patriot Another random match here. Normally both men would be faces, as Patriot is still feuding with Bret Hart, whilst Flash is floating around doing a whole heap of nothing. Since we are in the UK instead of the US though, Patriot is instantly a heel tonight as he comes out waving the starred and striped flag. I'm pretty sure this has just been thrown together to get Patriot a win on this card to keep him relatively strong coming off his loss to Bret at Ground Zero. Both men show respect for one another since they are technically both faces, but the match is pretty uneventful. The end of the match sees Flash go for the moonsault but Patriot gets his knees up. Patriot takes charge with Uncle Slam (a full nelson slam) to pick up the win at 9:31. Nothing to mention here at all.
We cut to the back where the LOD deliver a typically strange promo about their upcoming match with the Godwinns, whom they have been feuding with pretty much since the Godwinns turned heel earlier in the year. That match is coming up next.
Legion of Doom vs The Godwinns Of course this is a rematch from Summerslam. The two teams had an altercation during the elimination match for the tag titles last month which saw the LOD get disqualified, and they have continued to have issues, the idea being the Godwinns want revenge for the LOD breaking Henry's neck earlier in the year. Now believe it or not this is actually a decent match, better than their Summerslam outing. I should point out that in the weeks leading into this show the Godwinns have gotten a new manager by the name of Uncle Cletus. He's not here tonight though so I'll get into him at our next show. Both teams take it to one another, with the Godwinns working over Hawk until he manages to get the hot tag to Animal. The crowd shows their support for the LOD as they come back and hit the Doomsday Device on Phineas. This allows Animal to pick up the pinfall for the LOD at 11:34. Nothing special, but I've seen worse between these guys.
Jim Ross now gets in the ring and brings out Ken Shamrock for an interview. Shamrock was supposed to face Owen Hart tonight, but he was injured by Faarooq leading into this show. Shamrock says he wishes he could compete but he claims to have a punctured lung. Rockabilly (yep that was still happening) makes his way down to the ring and gets in Shamrock's face. He slaps Shamrock which is never a good thing to do. Shamrock snaps and has Rockabilly tapping to the ankle lock in seconds. By the way, Vader will be taking Shamrock's place against Owen in our next match.
Before we get there though we head to the back for a word with Bret Hart, our reigning WWF Champion. He cuts a more face than usual promo since we aren't in the States, saying that the opinions of the British fans still matter to him. He says that tonight he will prove against the Undertaker why he is the greatest champion of all time.
Vader vs Owen Hart After floundering a little aimlessly as a heel for the past few months, Vader is officially a face now as we saw back at Ground Zero. That turn came about in a match against the Patriot on Raw is War back in August. During that match, the Hart Foundation made their way to the ring and joined in on beating up the Patriot. After beating Patriot down, the Hart Foundation draped the Canadian Flag over his body, but Vader took exception to this and snapped it in two, getting a huge pop and turning face in the process. The Hart Foundation would beat down the Mastodon after that, which led to him chasing of the British Bulldog in Patriot's match with Bret Hart a few weeks later at Ground Zero. Anyway, all of that goes out the window tonight, as whilst Vader gets a decent enough pop, the Hart Foundation are faces to this English crowd, as Owen makes his way to the ring to a huge ovation. The announcers cover it up by saying its due to his affiliation with the Bulldog. Anyway this is a very good match, as you would expect from these two great workers. Owen pretty much works this one as the face which is fun to see as its been a while, whilst Vader beats on him throughout most of the match. Owen locks in the Sharpshooter on the big guy at one point, but Vader fights through. Vader takes control as he goes for the Vaderbomb, but the momentum shifts once more as Owen lifts his knees as the big guy comes crashing down. Owen builds some more momentum and goes up top for a cross body, only to be caught by Vader, who hits him with a powerslam to pick up the win at 14:21. A pretty good showing that got a nice amount of time as well. This was the best match so far, but we have two great ones coming up.
We now hear from the Undertaker, who says that Bret won't be able to rely on Shawn to beat him tonight. The WWF Championship match is up next.
WWF Championship: Bret Hart (c) vs Undertaker This is a rematch from Summerslam where Bret Hart beat the Undertaker with the inadvertent assistance from Shawn Michaels to win the WWF Championship in the first place. Having said that, Taker has been feuding with Shawn ever since, but since he's preoccupied with the Bulldog tonight we are getting this match instead. No complaints here as you'll never get a bad match when you throw these guys in the ring together. The crowd is again divided here, since Bret is only really a heel in the US, and Taker isn't going to be booed any time soon. The match is excellent, and is one of those forgotten classics. They go at it for nearly thirty minutes and put on one amazing WWF title match in the process. Two real pros here showing why they are two of the greatest of all time. The only thing that hurts this one is the lack of a definitive ending, but it makes sense as they want to keep the belt on Bret whilst keeping Taker strong for his next PPV outing (I'm really looking forward to that one). After taking it to each other for a lengthy match, Taker becomes frustrated when Bret counters his way out of a Tombstone and he ends up getting the Hitman's head caught between the ropes. Instead of stepping back to let the champion get free, Taker proceeds to pummel the Hitman which gets him disqualified at 28:42. Weak ending but a great match. Bret Hart retains his title as he continues to reign on top (or second from the top) as WWF Champion.
We now send it back to Shawn Michaels, who is with Rude, Hunter and Chyna, but they are still not named as a group at this point. Shawn says that tonight he will become the first grand slam winner when he adds the European title to his resume. Our main event is up next.
WWF European Championship: British Bulldog (c) vs Shawn Michaels This match has been booked for quite a while as it was mentioned at our last PPV. It basically all stems from Michaels wanting to win the European title to become the first grand slam winner in company history, meaning that he would have won all the championships in the company throughout his career. He gets some major heat from the crowd as he heads on out to the ring alone here, and he's followed by the champion, who of course gets the biggest pop of the night. Vince calls this a battle of the egos on commentary. The match is another very good one, with Bulldog starting out looking dominant in the early going. Rick Rude eventually makes his way down to ringside to help Shawn out behind the referee's back as he gets some cheap shots on Bulldog. Hmm surely the Harts are going to come out to stop this right? Anyway Michaels retakes control of the match, but Bulldog fights back until we get a double KO spot after both men run the ropes and take each other out. Then all of a sudden Hunter and Chyna head out to ringside as well. Bulldog takes control, and goes to powerslam Michaels as the action spills to the outside. The numbers game catches up to the champion though, as Hunter and Rude get in some cheap shots as Michaels nails Bulldog with Sweet Chin Music. Helmsley follows up with a pedigree and the future DX is doing a number on Bulldog. Where are the rest of the Hart Foundation? Back in the ring Shawn Michaels ends up locking in the figure four leglock on his opponent after taking off his knee brace and throwing it at Diana at ringside. Bulldog does his best to fight it, but he passes out after a while resulting in the referee stopping the match and awarding the title to Shawn at 22:53. Post-match, Shawn keeps the hold locked in, prompting Diana to jump the rail only to get taken out by Chyna. Finally Bret and Owen run down to the ring to make the save as Shawn and company flee the scene as we go off the air. My only real problem with this match is the fact that Bret and Owen kind of looked stupid for not running down earlier when all the DX interference was going on. A lot of people take issue with Shawn going over and the post-match stuff here, but I see it as a perfect way of building heat on the new major faction on the scene. Sure, the fact that Bulldog had dedicated this match to his sick sister makes it a little tasteless, but knowing the outcome of this I probably wouldn't have had him say that in the first place. A very good match though which firmly establishes Shawn Michaels as the most hated man in the WWF at the time.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a very good show, especially looking at the last three matches. The match of the night was the Taker/Bret match which could have been even better with a different ending, but the Owen/Vader and Shawn/Bulldog matches were also very good. There were a few let downs in the undercard, but for the most part those matches were pretty good as well. I'd say this was one of the better shows in 1997, and its not even a proper PPV. A very good first of these UK exclusive PPVs, and it will probably end up being the best of them as we continue our journey through time.
Three Stars of the Night: 1. Bret Hart/Undertaker (tie) Ė too hard to decide. A very good WWF title match between both men.
2. Shawn Michaels Ė whilst many see the title change as Michaels politicking at its finest, the title change was a great move in terms of getting even more heat on the quickly growing DX prominence. The match was solid too.
3. Vader Ė nice to see the big guy get a chance to shine again after being overlooked for the past few months.
I was tossing up between Vader and Bulldog in the third spot, but decided to go with Vader since the night wasnít exactly a highlight for the former European Champion despite having a solid match.
FINAL GRADE: 7.5 out of 10
ALL TIME PERFORMANCE TALLY: What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1. The list is put together from all the shows I have reviewed thus far. Tonight the Undertaker jumps into the top 5, bumping Hogan from the fifth spot.