Summerslam August 3, 1997 Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
Its time for the biggest event of the summer once again as the WWF comes off a very good PPV outing last month heading into Summerslam. Tonight, the reigning WWF Champion, the Undertaker puts his championship on the line against the number one heel in the company, the Hart Foundation leader, Bret Hart. To add to the star power associated with our main event, Bret's hated rival Shawn Michaels will serve as the special guest referee. Also tonight, Stone Cold Steve Austin challenges Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. All that and more tonight at the tenth annual Summerslam. Before we begin, donít forget to follow me on Twitter at
Our opening video package focuses on our main event tonight, which has led to the neat tag name for the PPV being Hart and Soul. Decent stuff as usual as the company was slowly getting to the point where they would reach their awesome video package level today. As we head into the arena we kick things off with our announce team of Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler.
Steel Cage Match: Mankind vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/Chyna
We kick the show off with what has become pretty solid midcard rivalry over the past few months. First of all, I should note that Foley is currently one half of the tag champs. Although thats in his Dude Love persona, so he doesn't have the belt with him here. As you'll recall from the last PPV, Mankind had been campaigning to be Austin's new tag partner since Shawn Michaels forfeited the title. Well this all came to a head on an episode of Raw is War in July, which saw Austin attempt to go at it alone against Owen Hart & British Bulldog in a tag title match. During that match, we saw the debut of one of Mick Foley's alter-ego as Dude Love would make his way out to ringside to help Austin retain the belts, and officially become one half of the WWF Tag Team Champions. Of course, on the Mankind front, Foley still had his issues with Helmsley, which are set to culminate inside a steel cage here, the idea being Chyna will be unable to intervene after all the interference last month. That doesn't exactly prove to be the case here, as Chyna is still a factor at ringside in this one, but the match is a pretty good opener for the night. The men are stiff with one another, and Mankind takes a tough cage door shot to the skull when Chyna prevents him from escaping the cage at one point in the bout. He comes back however, and manages to take Hunter down with the double arm DDT on a chair before climbing up the cage. Time for Foley to do something crazy. Mankind rips open his shirt to reveal a faded Dude Love heart on his chest before dropping an elbow onto Hunter from the top of the cage. The crowd goes crazy and with both men down, Chyna comes in to try to pull Hunter out of the cage. In the end, Mankind manages to get out first to win the match by escape at 16:13. Post match, he collapses on the floor outside but begins to tap his foot as the Dude Love theme starts to play. A solid ending to this rivalry (at least on PPV) and a good way to phase Foley into the Dude Love persona that he will occupy for the rest of the year for the most part. Foley and Helmsley would meet once more later in the year in a very good street fight which saw the debut of the final face of Foley, but for now, these guys go on their separate ways.
The interview stage is set up in the arena, and Todd Pettengill is standing by with the New Jersey Governor, Christie Todd Whitman. WWF President Gorilla Monsoon presents her with a replica WWF Championship in gratitude for her support of the company. This was due to the governor cutting the New Jersey tax which made holding events here much cheaper for the WWF going forward. We see Tiger Ali Singh who never really did anything of note sitting in the crowd before we continue with our next match.
Goldust w/Marlena vs Brian Pillman Brian Pillman finally makes his singles PPV debut tonight. The feud here is all about Pillman having made allegations of having a history with Marlena, which Goldust has taken issue with. In addition, this has the added stipulation that should Pillman lose tonight, he will be forced to wear a dress on Raw is War. Now Pillman was a phenomenal worker back in his WCW days, but sadly his body has really fallen apart by the time he gets the chance to show his stuff on the WWF stage. Its sad knowing where this is headed in a few months time as well. As a result we have a pretty poor match here, that really could have been solid if Pillman were in a better state at this point. He's still phenomenal as a character, but in-ring he just doesn't have it anymore due to matters out of his control. This match is filled with basic stalling and cheap tactics and in the end Goldust picks up the win with a sunset flip after Marlena nails Pillman with her loaded purse at 7:17. Post-match, Marlena slides a mannequin wearing a dress into the ring, which causes Pillman to snap and destroy it. This feud is not over.
We now hear from the Legion of Doom who are in action up next. Typical LOD promo here.
Legion of Doom vs The Godwinns The big story here is that the Godwinns are now heels after assaulting their former manager Hillbilly Jim, having been frustrated with their recent lack of success in the tag division shortly after Wrestlemania. In the weeks that followed, they began to feud with the Legion of Doom, leading to a match on Shotgun Saturday Night which saw the LOD hit the Doomsday Device on Henry, legitimately breaking his neck in the process. As a result, the Godwinns bave been off TV for a few months, looking for revenge on the LOD here. I think the Godwinns were much better suited as heels, especially with their cool creepy new entrance theme, but that doesn't change the fact that they just aren't very good in the ring. The match is pretty basic as you would expect from these teams, and the crowd just does not care at all, as you can see the LOD have already lost their lustre after being hot back at Mania. Animal gets the hot tag to Hawk at one point and the crowd is just dead. The LOD comes out victorious from this one, hitting a spike piledriver on Phineas, allowing Hawk to score the pinfall at 9:15. Nothing to get excited about here.
Back up on the interview stage its time for our Million Dollar Giveaway competition. Todd is with Sunny, Sable and two contestants who have to try to unlock a coffin (what?) full of money with a key. Neither opens the suitcase, nor do the two contestants they call. Nobody wins. This went on for far too long, although Sunny and Sable looked wonderful as always.
WWF European Championship: British Bulldog (c) vs Ken Shamrock
Its our second Hart Foundation stipulation match of the night, and also the first time that the European Championship has been defended on PPV. The stipulation for this one is that if Bulldog loses the title he will eat a can of dog food. Of course, these guys were on opposing teams last month at Canadian Stampede, and they've been going at it since then. On a recent episode of Raw is War, Bulldog cost Shamrock a match against Vader, leading to the two men facing off in an arm wrestling contest the following week. Shamrock was about to win that contest, but Bulldog cheated by head-butting his opponent and then beat him down before pouring a can of dog food over him. That brings us to the match here. Its nothing too special as Shamrock is still getting into the swing of things ring wise, having to adapt from the UFC world. Vince actually mentions on commentary during this one that Shamrock has had difficulty adapting to the WWF. The announcers also plug the One Night Only PPV coming up next month in England during this one. The action spills outside the ring, where Bulldog grabs a handful of dog food from a can and slaps it across the challenger's face. This causes Shamrock to snap, and he hits Bulldog with the can to be disqualified at 7:29. After the match, Shamrock destroys Bulldog as referees attempt to break up the action, only to be tossed around as well. Good way to put over Shamrock as a total nut job. At least Bulldog avoids having to down the dog food.
In the back, Todd is now standing by with Shawn Michaels, our referee for the main event tonight. He promises that he is going to call it right down the middle, regardless of his issues with Bret. Vince seems like he doesn't believe the Heartbreak Kid before we send it to a video package highlighting the gang wars that have led to our next match.
Disciples of Apocalypse vs Los Boricuas Ah yes, the Gang Wars. First off, the DOA are the faces here, comprised of Crush, Chainz. 8-Ball and Skull (the latter two being the former Blu Brothers). The Boricuas are Savio Vega, Miguel Perez, Jose Estrada and Jesus Castillo. Yeah, in other words, outside of the captains (and even thats arguable) its a bunch of guys that nobody cares about. This all stems from Faarooq firing Savio and Crush from the Nation of Domination. Since then the two former members introduced their gangs on subsequent weeks, leading to brawls between the two teams and the Nation heading into this show. It was an interesting idea for a storyline, but the matches were flat out terrible. This is no exception as we have a total clusterfuck of an eight man tag (which Vince seems to think is a ten man tag for some reason). Its a very basic brawl filled with lots of illegal double teams and such which eventually brings the Nation (Faarooq, Kama, D'Lo & Ahmed Johnson) out to ringside to join in the affray as well. All hell breaks loose as Crush gets into a fight with Ahmed on the outside and is dropped with a Pearl River Plunge for his efforts. Savio looks to capitalise and brings the fallen DOA captain into the ring and scores the pinfall for the Boricuas at 9:08. This was a mess, but this is far from being over. Ahmed Johnson won't stick around for much longer though as he will go down with another injury resulting in him being fired from the Nation shortly after this show. Anyway, after the match, the DOA brawl with the Nation. Crush chases them off with his motorcycle and we can move on from this.
We now cut to the back where the newest member of the broadcast team, some guy by the name of Michael Cole attempts to get a word with Stone Cold Steve Austin before his upcoming match. Austin simply pushes Cole aside and makes no comment.
WWF Intercontinental Championship: Owen Hart (c) vs Steve Austin Yep, its this match. Continuing the stipulations associated with Hart Foundation matches tonight, Austin must kiss Owen's ass if he loses this one. We saw these two on opposing teams at Canadian Stampede last month, a match during which the beginning of the shift from Austin/Bret to Austin/Owen was observed. Of course, Owen pinned Austin at that PPV to win the match for the Foundation, which brings us to this one after the two men have been going at it the past few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, Austin is also one half of the tag champs with Dude Love here. Now this match is most famous (or rather infamous) for what happens in the closing minutes, but before any of that, the match is actually very good. Both men put on a solid showing, and Austin is incredibly over as his ascension to the top of the company continues. Its a great match for the most part between two very talented workers doing their thing, but sadly things go haywire late in the contest. Owen hits a piledriver on Austin but messes up and ends up dropping Austin straight on his head. And with that, the hottest act in the company has potentially been taken out, and I'm sure Vince was shitting himself at that moment. Austin isn't able to move and Owen's face tells you this is legit. He does his best to stall for time whilst the official checks on Austin. Finally Austin manages to get some small amount of control of his movement, and ends up rolling Owen up into a very (understandably) weak small package to win the I.C title at 16:16. Honestly, considering the pain he must have been in at the time (if he could even feel anything) its impressive that Austin could even manage that, and it instantly earns him the position of star of the night. Had this injury not happened, I have no doubt that this match would have been even better, as it was really going along nicely until the aforementioned incident. Austin would be sidelined for a few months following this, which is also quite impressive for being such a short amount of time. Of course, that would bite back later down the track. For this moment in time though, the future of the man being groomed to be the future of the company is uncertain. After the match the officials have to carry Austin to the back, but the crowd gives him the ovation he deserves here.
We now get a recap of the story heading into our main event coming up next. Before we get there, the announcers talk about what we just saw. JR is concerned about Austin's health, whilst Lawler does his best to stay in character and rips on the other two for not being worried about Henry Godwinn's neck injury a few months prior.
WWF Championship: Undertaker (c) vs Bret Hart Special Guest Referee: Shawn Michaels The actual feud here is more about Bret and Shawn, since Taker still has his ongoing issues with Paul Bearer, who has assured him that his brother Kane is alive and coming for him. Of course, Shawn was taken off TV after walking out on the company following a backstage fight with Bret last month. Vince managed to convince Shawn to come back, and he's the guest referee in this one. The stipulations in this one are that if Bret loses, he will never wrestle in the US again. Shawn has also vowed that if he doesn't call this one down the middle, he won't wrestle in the US again either. Bret asks for the Canadian National Anthem to be played prior to the match, which of course generates some solid heel heat. Shawn gets a nice pop here, as does Taker. Before the match gets started, Bret takes the title belt from Michaels and nails Taker over the head with it before we get under way to take the advantage. Anyway, this is a very good match, as we have two incredible superstars in there going at it for the richest prize in the business with another major star being the referee. The pace starts out quite slow but things pick up the longer the match goes for. Paul Bearer makes his way down to ringside midway through the match to play some more mind games with Taker just as the Phenom has taken control. He gets decked for his efforts, but the distraction allows the Hitman to get back in control of this one. We see Owen and Pillman head down to ringside later on to lend their support to the Hitman, but they don't get involved. Shawn ends up ejecting them from ringside and misses a pin for Taker following a chokeslam in the process. From here, Taker and Bret go at it some more until Taker sends Bret crashing into Michaels. With the referee down, Bret gets a chair shot to the face of the champion. Shawn sees the chair and confronts Bret over it. Bret ends up spitting in Shawn's face which results in Shawn going to smash him with the chair in return. Bret ducks however, and Shawn's chair shot connects right on Taker's skull. Bret makes the cover, and due to the stipulations, Shawn has no choice but to count the three at 28:19. Bret Hart is now a five time WWF Champion. Shawn is disgusted and he quickly leaves the ring whilst Taker follows in pursuit of the man who cost him the championship. We close the show as Bret Hart celebrates his win with the rest of the Hart Foundation.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a pretty decent show, although not quite as good as the previous years Summerslam. The main event was a very good match with some great psychology at the end which will lead to the next major feud in the company going forward between Taker and Shawn. Of course, this means that after being the focus of the company for the first half of the year, Bret Hart now fades into the background despite winning the WWF Championship. The I.C title match was also pretty solid despite the ending which sadly is what the match will forever be remembered for. Most of the undercard was pretty forgettable, although the opening cage match was a pretty good way to kick off the show. An above average Summerslam and a solid PPV for the company. After all, there was no way the company could top last month's showing.
Three Stars of the Night: 1. Steve Austin - it is simply a credit to this man's toughness that he was even able to finish the match after the major injury he suffered to his neck. It also didn't hurt that the match was quite good leading up to the incident
2. Bret Hart - on top of the company once again, or so we thought. Who would have imagined that he would have been more the focus of the company in 1997 prior to winning the title?
3. Undertaker - put on a strong showing in the final match of his lengthy title reign. Lots of good stuff going on here with Michaels and Bearer to lead him over the next few months as well
FINAL GRADE: 6.5 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.