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WWF One Night Only
by Scrooge McSuck
- I totally spaced out on this one when sitting through all the 1997 PPV’s I’ve yet to cover (playing WWE ’13 was my reminder… yes, I’m serious), so lets strap in and hope that this doesn’t suck like most UK Exclusive PPV’s. Speaking of that… as a youngster watching SummerSlam ’97 on PPV, I found it quite pointless for them to advertise “One Night Only”, which was not intended for the (very much) dominant American audience. They actually announced the Main Event of Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels that far in advance. I’m pretty sure there was an official video release, which happened to cut out the entire undercard, so for completion sake, you either had to get a copy of the live show, or deal with it. WWE eventually put the full show on their 24/7 On Demand way back when, but my VHS copy is long gone.
Originally presented on Sky-Box Office on September 20th, 1997, from the NEC Arena in Birmingham, England. Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Jerry “The King” Lawler are calling all the action, unless otherwise noted. No matter how bad the show could be, the crowd is usually jacked and makes everything easier to watch. (Speaking of uneasy things to watch, the same day, the WWF held a B-Show in Scranton, PA with the following matches: DOA vs. Faarooq, Kama, and D’Lo, Ahmed Johnson vs. Rocky Miavia, SKULL vs. Jesse Jammes, Goldust vs. Brian Pillman, Marc Mero vs. The Sultan, The New Blackjacks vs. The Less Boricuas, Brakkus vs. Dr. X, and Brian Christopher vs. Devon Storm).
Dude Love vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna):
Fourth PPV match in as many months between the two. Mick Foley has toggled back and forth between his Mankind and Dude Love personas for most of the summer. Two days later, the 3rd Face of Foley would finally debut… in another match with Helmsley. “Dude Love” cuts an awful promo before the match. Yes, I know it was intentional, but it was awful. Not as awful as Vince pretending to know who “Austin Powers” is (insert obvious “Vince doesn’t get anything” joke). Dude with a quick headlock and shoulder tackle. Whip to corner, Dude with a back drop. Dude gets “funky” to almost zero reaction. Hunter tries a sneak attack, but runs into a clothesline. Dude continues to control, working the arm. Hunter with a flurry of rights, but Dude takes him down with a drop toe hold. Whip to the corner, and Helmsley finds himself in the Tree of Woe. Dude with some struttin’ before connecting with a running double axehandle. He calls for Sweet “Shin” Music, but Hunter dodges it, rolls to the floor, and leads him into a big clothesline from Chyna. Hunter with a snap across the top rope, followed by another cheap shot from Chyna. Dude teases a comeback, but gets nailed with the facebuster. Whip to the ropes, and Helmsley applies the abdominal stretch. To delight of a Mr. Rotunda, he uses the ropes for leverage. Dude with another teased comeback, complete with a running bulldog for a near fall. Whip to the corner and Hunter with a swinging neck breaker. Dude counters the Pedigree with a slingshot into the corner. Dude with a charge to the corner. Hunter gets a boot up on the second attempt, but unwisely goes to the top rope, only to get taken down with an arm drag. Sweet Shin Music and a Double-Arm DDT connects, but Chyna puts Hunter’s foot on the bottom rope. Dude argues the call, only to walk into a Kick-Wham-Pedigree, and that’s all for the three count at 12:53. That was… out of nowhere. **1/2 Decent opener, but the Dude Love character was less over than the referee’s confrontation with Helmsley, and that finish was crap.
- A bunch of marks are asked who’s going to win tonight’s Main Event. Most (not all) of the boys vote for Bulldog, most (not all) of the girls vote for Shawn Michaels, and ALL of them have funny accents, which is probably the only real reason for the segment being included.
Tiger Ali Singh (w/ Tiger Jeet Singh) vs. Leif Cassidy:
Where the hell did this come from moment #1: Tiger Ali Singh, mostly known for his undercard junk work as a heel in the style of the Million Dollar Man (before becoming manager of Lo Down in 2001), is the babyface. Sunny earns her paycheck by doing ring introductions, and manages to mispronounce Cassidy’s hometown (Lima, OH… like the bean). I’m noting this because it’s TIGER ALI SINGH vs. LEIF CASSIDY. What else will there be to comment on? Cassidy attacks from behind, but Singh recovers and stomps away in the corner. Whip to the corner followed by an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Cassidy comes back with clotheslines and a weak spinning heel kick for two. Cassidy with a snapmare, followed by work on the arm. Singh fights to his feet, and they completely blow whatever the fuck they were going for. Cassidy barely gets Singh up on the top turnbuckle, but Singh fights him off and finishes with a bulldog (called a “Tiger Bomb” by Vince) for three at 4:03. ½* That was quick. And pointless.
WWF Tag Team Championhip Match:
(Mosh & Thrasher vs. Savio Vega & Miguel Perez)
The Headbangers © vs. Los Boricuas:
Wait… we’re not getting another in the endless series of DOA vs. Los Boricuas matches?! This is automatically going to be better by default. The Boricuas attack before the bell, but are quickly sent to the floor. Mosh sends Miguel to the corner and takes him down with a pair of arm drags. Double team hip toss and elbow to Savio. Trasher with an arm drag, followed by a headlock. Savio counters with a head scissors, takes Thrasher down with a headlock, and now Thrasher with the head scissors. Is there a more laughable quote from Vince than him saying “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”? The same man who bases gimmicks and characters ENTIRELY on a stereotypical look? Savio with a cheap shot from the apron. Whip to the corner, and he connects with his spinning heel kick. Miguel with a snapmare and lazy nerve-hold. Whip to the ropes, followed by a clothesline. The Boricuas double-up on Thrasher behind the referee’s back and make an illegal switch. Thrasher fights to his feet and comes off the ropes with a body press for two. Savio with a standing heel kick for two. Snapmare into the corner, Miguel with a slam and standing moonsault for two. Thrasher makes it to his corner, but Savio has Mosh lured away. Miguel with a snap suplex for two. We get another false hot tag spot, and more double teaming from the Challengers. Savio comes off the ropes with a splash, but meets knees. ANOTHER hot tag is teased and unsuccessful. Thrasher fights out of a sleeper and takes Miguel over with a sunset flip for two. Savio misses a charge, Thrasher with a back suplex, and Mosh FINALLY gets the hot tag. He cleans house and sends Savio to the floor with a clothesline. Top rope hurricanrana on Perez gets two! Whip and a Powerslam gets two. Miguel with a Powerbomb on Thrasher, and Mosh with the Stage Dive on Miguel to retain at 13:36. *** Good match, with a decent heat segment built on Trasher, and a surprisingly hot crowd. I say surprisingly considering they weren’t into Dude Love during the opener. THAT’S HOW UNOVER DUDE LOVE WAS.
The Patriot vs. Flash Funk:
... What the FUNK is this? Both are technically babyfaces, but due to England being Pro-Hart Foundation, Patriot gets the best heel heat so far. Did You Know… both Patriot and Flash (a.k.a 2 Cold Scorpio) were former WCW Tag Team Champions with Marcus Alexander Bagwell. They shake hands to start. Lockup and a clean break. They do some chain wrestling, ending in a deadlock. Whip to the ropes, and Patriot with a shoulder tackle. Patriot with a leg sweep, but he misses an elbow. Flash with a dropkick and clothesline. He misses a spinning heel kick, and Patriot comes back with a clothesline of his own. Patriot with another takedown and a falling headbutt for two. Whip to the corner, Patriot misses a charge. Flash pulls himself up to the top rope, and connects with a flying body press for two. Patriot blocks another spinning heel kick, but a clothesline puts him down for another two count. Patriot no-sells some chops. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Patriot connects with an atomic drop-back suplex combo for a two count. Patriot grabs a waistlock chinlock, but Flash rolls through and counters with a modified surfboard. Flash comes off the ropes with what can best described as Trouble in Paradise, but it only gets two. Patriot catches him off the ropes with a Powerslam for two. Flash with a victory roll for two. Patriot with a clothesline, followed by the Patriot Missile, but it only gets two. Flash fights out of an Uncle Slam attempt. Whip to the corner, slam, and a twisting splash from the top rope only gets two. Flash goes to the top again, but the moonsault meets knees, and the Uncle Slam finishes at 8:50. **3/4 Fun face-vs-face match, despite the crowd being entirely behind Flash Funk. Weird to see Patriot give Flash, probably at the very bottom of the fodder ladder, so much offense, but it just shows you another example of wasted talent.
The Legion of Doom vs. The Godwinns:
(Hawk & Animal vs. Henry O. & Phineas I.)
I guess the LOD are still upset about being whacked over the heads with slop buckets, despite being (kayfabe) responsible for Henry’s neck injury, and beating the Godwinns clean immediately afterwards at SummerSlam. Animal and Henry start with a lockup, because that’s the proper opening of a match where people hate each other. Henry pounds away with rights. Whip to the ropes and Animal comes back with a diving shoulder tackle. Hawk pounds away on Phineas, but meets the post on a charge attempt. Phineas slows things down with a chinlock. Henry with a slam, but he misses an elbow. Hawk with a clothesline, followed by a jaw-buster. LOD with a double elbow, and now its Animal grabbing a chinlock. Phineas with a cheap shot from the apron, and Henry follows with a clothesline, taking them both over the top rope, to the floor. Phineas with a Fujiwara armbar, to Jim Ross’ surprise. He plants Animal with a slam, but meets boot doing something from the middle rope. Hawk in with clotheslines and slams. Hangman’s neck breaker to Phineas for two. Henry with the Slop Drop on Hawk, but only gets two. Phineas with choking in the corner with the confederate flag. Phineas with a snapmare, into an armbar. Hawk fights free, only to run into a knee. Hawk comes back with a pair of clotheslines and makes the hot tag to Animal. Dropkick to Phineas and a Powerslam on Henry. Animal escapes a double team effort and lays both out with a double clothesline. Henry gets sent to the floor, and the Doomsday Device finishes Phineas at 10:45. *1/2 Standard affair from these two. Not too bad, but not very good, either.
- Jim Ross brings out Ken Shamrock for a time-filling interview, which then leads to Shamrock making Billy Gunn his bitch.
Vader vs. Owen Hart:
I don’t think this is anything more than filler, but it's filler worth having. Owen gets the babyface pop, thanks to his association with the British Bulldog. Lockup and Vader easily throws him into the corner. Vader plays to the crowd, drawing boos. Whip to the ropes, Vader with a shoulder tackle, followed by a standing avalanche, sending Owen to the floor. Owen uses his speed to run circles around Vader and takes him over with a hurricanrana. Vader reverses a whip to the corner, but Owen springs off the turnbuckle with a body press for two He goes for the Sharpshooter, but Vader kicks him off. Owen tries a suplex next, but settles on a school boy for a near fall. He goes for the Sharpshooter again, but Vader grabs the ropes to break. Owen ducks under a clothesline and goes for a crucifix, but Vader counters with a Samoan drop. Vader with a splash from the second rope, but it only gets two. Whip to the corner, complete with chest-first bump. Vader with a short-arm clothesline, followed by work on the left arm. He switches to a chinlock, but Owen quickly escapes with elbows to the midsection. Vader catches him off the ropes with a knee to the midsection and follows him into the corner with an avalanche. Vader with an armbar takedown before switching to a modified ankle-lock. Whip to the corner, Owen avoids the charge, but unwisely attempts a slam. Vader with another standing avalanche for a two count, then goes back to the leg. Owen fights out with a flurry of rights. Vader shrugs them off, laying into Owen with rights and lefts. Splash gets two. Vader goes for a Powerbomb, but Owen flips through, lands an enziguri, and slaps on the Sharpshooter! Vader’s too strong, and makes it to the ropes. Owen with a scoop and slam for two! Whip to the corner, and Owen runs into a brick wall. Owen gets the knees up on a Vader-Bomb attempt. Owen with a missile dropkick, nip up, and spinning heel kick for two! Owen to the top again, countered with a Powerslam, and Vader gets the three count at 12:16. ***1/4 Really good David vs. Goliath match. Weird to see them switch the dynamic, with Vader playing heel and Owen the face, but it worked.
WWF Championship Match:
Bret “Hitman” Hart © vs. The Undertaker:
This would typically get “Main Event” status, but Davey Boy Smith’s homecoming has pushed this to the second-from-the-top spot. Both men have obviously gone in separate directions since the title switch at SummerSlam, but it’s a good fallback match. They trade rights in the corner to kick things off. Whip to the corner, ‘Taker with a double choke lift and throw. He drives a series of knees to the midsection and grabs a chokehold. Bret manages to remove the turnbuckle pad while the referee and ‘Taker have a disagreement. Whip to the opposite corner, but this time Bret gets the boots up on a charge. He takes ‘Taker back to the corner, but gets laid out with a short-clothesline for a near fall. Bret rolls away from an elbow drop and goes for the Sharpshooter, but ‘Taker blocks. Bret uses the momentum of his kick-off to bounce off the ropes and connect with a clothesline. Bret with more rights and a clothesline, sending ‘Taker to the floor. Bret with a baseball slide, knocking him into the Announcer’s table. Bret follows with a dive from the apron, but ‘Taker catches it and drops Bret with a Spinebuster. ‘Taker picks him back up, and rams him back-first into the ring post. They trade blows, making their way up the entrance ramp.
Back in the ring, ‘Taker remains in control. Whip to the ropes, ‘Taker sets up for a back drop, but Bret counters with a DDT. Bret with a leg drop and series of elbow drops. He rakes the eyes across the top rope and follows with some choking. ‘Taker reverses a whip to the corner, forcing Bret to take the chest-first bump into the exposed steel buckle. ‘Taker follows with a heart punch, totally killing Brian Adams’ finisher. ‘Taker with a pair of elbow drops for two, hooks a surfboard, and turns it into a crucifix for another two count. Bret kicks away at the right knee, only to get knocked down with a right uppercut. ‘Taker with a back breaker, holding Bret in the position to punish the lower back. Bret goes back to the knee, drawing boos. Whip to the corner and a charge meets an elbow. ‘Taker with a charge, and for some reason, he decides a running high knee is a good idea. It missed, allowing Bret to take him off his feet and start punishing the leg. Bret with a series of leverage moves to jerk the leg back before applying a grapevine. ‘Taker blocks being pulled to the corner, only for Bret to rake the eyes. Bret wraps the leg around the post and slaps on the Figure-Four.
Bret continues working the leg, and this time the Figure-Four is applied in the center of the ring. ‘Taker eventually reverses the pressure, but Bret makes it to the ropes. Whip to the ropes, Bret ducks a boot, and kicks the leg out again. He drives a series of knees into the leg, drops an elbow across the thigh, and hooks another grapevine. Hart with headbutts to the back and a Russian leg sweep for two. Snap suplex gets two. Back breaker connects, but a second rope elbow is countered with a boot to the face. Whip to the ropes, and a double clothesline puts both men down. ‘Taker gets up first and drops a leg across the midsection for two. Bret blocks a second attempt, crosses the legs, and turns Undertaker over with the Sharpshooter! Undertaker somehow has the strength to not only escape, but kick Bret across the ring. Bret goes for it again, but ‘Taker grabs him by the throat. Bret escapes with a kick to the knee, and Undertaker throws a flurry of rights and lefts in response. Whip to the ropes, ‘Taker with a big boot and leg drop for two. Bret rolls to the floor and grabs the ring bell, but ‘Taker boots him in the face before he can use it. The referee stops ‘Taker from using it, allowing Bret to take advantage of the situation and clip the knee! Bret keeps going to the knee, and this time gets sent out of the ring for it. ‘Taker follows, sending him into the steps. Whip to the corner, and Bret slides ribs-first into the post! ‘Taker to the top rope, but Bret counters old school by jerking him down. He slips out of a Tombstone attempt and rolls ‘Taker up for two! Bret goes for the Tombstone, but it’s countered! Undertaker dumps him into the ropes, trapping him by the neck. He keeps pounding on him, drawing the Disqualification at 28:38?! That long for that finish?! Post-match, the referee and Gerald Brisco eat a Chokeslam. **** Despite the awful cop-out finish, this was a hell of a match, with great mat-wrestling from Hart, great momentum built to a hot final few minutes, and Undertaker proving his gimmick could work while keeping up with his opponent in the ring.
WWF European Championship Match:
The British Bulldog © vs. Shawn Michaels:
Was there any doubt that the high-profile match with the Bulldog would go on last? Earlier in the show, Bulldog did an interview dedicating the match to his Sister, who has been battling Cancer, and that his entire Family will be in the front row to watch his homecoming. Shawn is looking to become the first-ever “Grand Slam Champion”, having previously won the meaningful Championships, and now has his eyes set on a Trophy Title. He also milks his entrance like you wouldn’t believe and attempts to make-out with as many young ladies in the front row as possible. Lockup, and Bulldog shoves Shawn across the ring. Michaels tries climbing the ropes to get extra leverage, only to get thrown off. Bulldog with a clip of the knee and clothesline, sending Michaels over the top rope, to the floor. Bulldog brings him back in with a reverse suplex and takes him down with a press slam after teasing a launch over the ropes. Whip to the ropes, and Bulldog with an abdominal stretch. Michaels counters with a hip toss, but gets sent back to the floor on a charge. Bulldog with a slingshot to bring Shawn back in, takes him over with a pair of arm drags, and grabs an arm-bar. Michaels escapes with a series of forearms. He thumbs the eyes after a criss-cross, but a hurricanrana is countered with a sit-out Powerbomb for a two count. Bulldog with another big counter, blocking a crucifix and hitting a Samoan Drop. Bulldog continues the domination, applying a Surfboard. Shawn briefly takes control, only to get caught with his head down and taken over with a delayed vertical suplex.
Here comes “the insurance man”, Ravishing Rick Rude. Bulldog with a roll up, but Rude intervenes and pushes Shawn on top for two. Bulldog hits the ropes, and Rude gets another shot in. Bulldog turns his back, and gets knocked to the floor by Michaels. Rude shoves him into the post while Shawn distracts the referee. Shawn from the top rope with a double axehandle. Back inside, Michaels hooks a sleeper. Bulldog fights to his feet and escapes with a back suplex. Michaels remains in control, sending Bulldog hard to the corner. Whip to the ropes, Shawn with a hip toss, and applies a short-arm scissor. Bulldog uses his strength advantage to muscle Shawn over his shoulders and slam him back down to break the hold. Whip to the ropes, and they bop heads. The crowd suddenly boos loudly, and here comes Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Whip to the corner turns Shawn upside down. Bulldog with a clothesline and slingshot to the buckle for two. Bulldog meets the post on a charge attempt. Michaels with a slam, followed by his signature flying elbow drop. He goes up again and connects for a second. He sets Bulldog up in the corner, but misses Sweet Chin Music! Bulldog scoops him up for the Powerslam, but Rude hooks the ankle. Bulldog with a clothesline, sending Michaels to the floor. Helmsley tries an ambush, but Bulldog sees it coming. He goes for the slam on the floor, but his knee buckles, and Michaels lays him out with Sweet Chin Music! Hunter and Rude punish the knee and Hunter connects with the Pedigree. Back in the ring, Shawn takes off Bulldog’s knee brace, tosses it at Davey Boy’s wife, and slaps on the Figure-Four. Bulldog sells it like death (thanks to extra leverage from Helmsley and Chyna). Bulldog almost turns the pressure, but Rude cuts it off. The ridiculous amount of cheating continues until Davey Boy passes out, and the referee calls the match at 22:53, needlessly making Shawn the new European Champion. The crowd rightfully pelts Shawn and Helmsley with trash. *** Good match that would’ve been better had it reached another level. Had the match kept going and Davey Boy made a miraculous comeback to win, it would’ve been a phenomenal showcase. Instead, the over-booking was ridiculous, the referee is made to look like a complete imbecile, and the finish was nothing more than political maneuvering over a TROPHY CHAMPIONSHIP. As much as one can defend the WWF side of things about building a rematch (a rematch that would take place no sooner than 8 MONTHS LATER, the next time the WWF went on a UK Tour), there was no need for Bulldog to lose here.
Final Thoughts: The finish of the Main Event leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth, but up until those 5-6 minutes, this was easily one of the best PPV’s the WWF produced in 1997… unfortunately it wasn’t for the American audience! With the exception of a couple of undercard matches, everything else delivered, and in some cases (I’m looking at the Tag Title Match), over-delivered. In cases like Flash Funk vs. The Patriot and Owen vs. Vader, they broke away from the typical WWF formula and worked a much different style, adding a bit of freshness to the three hours of almost nothing but wrestling. For historical purposes, the show doesn’t really mean much. It’s obscure, but other than the shenanigans at the end over the European Championship, nothing else from the show meant much going forward. Despite the lack of historical importance, it’s still a fun show, and a solid Recommendation.
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