WWF Survivor Series 1997: Gang Rulz
by Scrooge McSuck
- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View on November 9th, 1997, from the Molson Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Jim Ross and Jerry "the King" Lawler are calling all the action, with Vince McMahon unusually absent from the broadcast role. In fact, the PPV prior to this, In Your House: Badd Blood, marked the last time Vince McMahon would be featured calling the action from ringside. For whatever reason, we don't have the Fink tonight, and instead have a French-speaking ring announcer.
The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) & The New Blackjacks (Windham & Bradshaw) vs. The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) & The New Age Outlaws (Jesse Jammes & Billy Gunn):
Coming into Survivor Series, I was just barely getting back into the WWF, so color me surprised that the 'Bangers and Blackjacks were now babyfaces, and Billy Gunn and Road Dogg (formerly the NEW Double J) were a team of loud-mouth assholes. We see clips of them causing trouble for the good guys, and the Road Dogg's pre-match rant includes the ever classic "Steers and Queers" tagline. He also drops the term "Southern Justice" which coincidentally or not, became the next gimmick of the Godwinns a short 6-months later. Seeing Barry Windham makes me wonder when he officially stopped giving a crap. I'm going to say 1994, but that's always up for debate. Windham and Phineas start. Lockup, and Windham sends him to the floor with shoulders. Jerry Lawler defending Phineas to Jim Ross sounds wrong. Back inside, Windham with a sucker punch and slam. Bradshaw tags in and plants Phineas with a powerslam for two. Whip to the corner, and Bradshaw charges into a boot. The Outlaws short-arm Phineas on a tag, so Henry enters for more Hoss on Hoss action. Jim Ross with lie #1 of the night, pointing out all the men involved as being former Tag Team Champions: The Godwinns, the Headbangers, and Billy Gunn. Umm... I know it was a long time ago, but Barry Windham held the belt, too. Twice. Bradshaw with a Russian leg sweep for two. He goes for a suplex, but Henry blocks and counters with his own for two. Whip to the corner, and Godwinn with a clothesline for another two count. Bradshaw rolls up Henry Godwinn, and the three count comes out of nowhere at 3:52. Phineas comes in, and quickly loses a slugfest. Windham tags back in, and takes him over with a suplex for two. Windham with a gutwrench suplex for another two count. Whip to the ropes, and a clothesline leads to yet another near fall. Windham meets an elbow on a charge, and Phineas with a clothesline for three at 5:14. Whatever.
Mosh comes in, putting the boots to Phineas. He goes to work on the arm, and surprise surprise, the crowd is dead. Mosh with a dropkick and drop toe hold before settling into an armbar. Billy funally tags in, and puts Mosh down with a double elbow. The crowd with a chant for Gunn, which sounds like it might rhyme with "Maggot." Whip to the corner, and Mosh nails him coming in with a boot to the face, followed by a clothesline. Mosh goes for a bulldog, but Gunn counters with a face plant, and that's good for the three count at 8:45. Thrasher grabs a headlock on Phineas, then thumbs the eye. Lawler and J.R. speculate where McMahon is.. "he's busy" is all Jim Ross can muster. Thrasher with a roll up for two. Lockup, Thrasher grabs a headlock. He takes Phineas over with an arm drag, then the two exchange mule kicks until Thrasher grabs an armbar. Phineas goes for a slam, but Thrasher rams him face-first into the canvas, heads to the top, and hits the Stage Dive for three at 12:39. What an action-packed 4-minutes that was. Road Dog attacks from behind, and gets his arm worked over for his cowardly efforts. Bradshaw tags in and lays into him with chops. Bradshaw with a short-arm clothesline, followed by a gutwrench powerbomb. Gunn with a cheap shot from the apron, allowing a cheap roll up for three at 13:46, despite Bradshaw kicking out. BRADSHAW GOT SCREWED! Funny tidbit: Bradshaw blew his elimination spots two years in a row, and both times involved Brian Armstrong. Weird. Mosh gives it a go, but the odds are not in his favor (the booking odds, that is), as the tag team efforts of the New Age Outlaws are too much, and things come to a conclussion following a diving leg drop from the top rope by Billy Gunn... only problem is he clearly missed the target, but still gets three from it at 15:27. I can't say this didn't get enough time to play out, but all it did was play out how bad 8 men could work together. I can't think of anything nice to say about it, so we'll just hope for better with our next match.
The Dicyples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, 8-Ball, Skull) vs. The Truth Commission (The Interrogator, Sniper, Recon, The Jackyl):
Oh what the fuck... How can so many crappy workers be crammed into so few matches to open a card? The DOA are the default babyfaces, and the truth Commission is a South African militant group, about 10 years too late to be relevant. Jackyl is their manager, Don Callis, and the Interrogator is easier to call Kurrgan, so we'll just call him Kurrgan. The DOA ride around, then decide to bum rush the ring. Way to waste time on PPV. The ring eventually clears out until it's down to Kurrgan and Chainz. Whip to the ropes, and Chainz offers some roundhouse rights. They blow a spot it seemed, and Chainz with clotheslines. Kurrgan shrugs him off, and connects with the side suplex (Dino Bravo's old finisher) for the three count at 1:19. The Twins double team, but the referees (yes, both of them) force a break. Recon (Bull Buchanon) comes in to work over, let's say, Skull. Recon with a front powerslam, and Jackyl comes in with a splash from the top. Skull no-sells it, and rightfully so (he's a manager). Whip to the ropes, and a side suplex... another one?... finishes him off at 2:54. Sniper (no clue) comes in for an exchange, and hits a crappy diving elbow for two. Sniper with a body press for two. Recon meets a fist coming off the top, and now Crush comes in to punch. Crush with a slam and leg drops. Whip to the ropes, and a fight over a hip toss leads to a belly-to-belly suplex from Crush for two. Skull tags in, Recon does something that looks botched, and a head collision knocks Skull to the floor. 8-ball comes in illegally, and a clothesline finishes off Recon at 5:21. Ugh. Sniper pounds away until 8-Ball takes him down with a swinging neck breaker. Skull and 8-Ball with a double spinebuster for two. Kurrgan nails Skull from the apron, and Sniper with a bulldog for three at 6:31. 8-Ball pounds away and charges into the corner with a clothesline. 8-Ball with a snapmare and elbow drop. Crush with a suplex for two. Crush with the workrate, busting out a head scissors. 8-Ball tags back in, and it's been too long since the last elimination, so we jump-cut to Kurrgan finishing 8-Ball off with, you guessed it, the side suplex at 8:51. Crush takes his shots at Kurrgan, but unwisely goes for a slam. Sniper comes in, simply to do the job, via a powerslam at 8:47, and Kurrgan quickly finishes Crush off with the You-Know-What at 9:59. Really, could they have not given him another move to do? Match stank, but it was short(ish). Crush's last WWF PPV... except for a very brief return for Unforgiven 2001.
Team USA (Vader, Marc Mero, Goldust, Steve Blackman, w/ Sable) vs. Team Canada (British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas, Phil LaFon):
Steve Blackman is a very late replacement for the Patriot, and is playing the "guy from the crowd" role of explaining who he is. Team Canada features maybe one authentic Canadian, and again, surprises me to see LaFon and Furnas as heels, after watching them as faces the last time I was into WWF. Mero is back from an injury, calling himself "Marvelous" and acting more like a boxer (and an asshole), while Goldust just dumped Marlena on Raw (the alternative to her siding with Pillman, but we all know what happend there), so Vader and Blackman are the only true faces... except we're in Canada, so the heels are really the faces. The faces (USA) come out to the Patriot's music, and yes, it was recycled for Kurt Angle. No big deal. Jim Ross mentions this feels like the Stanley Cup Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and... New York Rangers? Um... aren't both teams in the (renamed at the time) Eastern Conference, thus making that impossible?
Mero and Bulldog start. Mero tosses his head band at him, so Bulldog wipes his ass with it (it had the American flag design, making him just as much of a dick to someones flag as Shawn Michaels). Mero bum rushes, but gets sent to the floor quite easily. Crowd with a mild "Sable" chant, ticking Mero off. Back inside, Vader comes in and lays the Bulldog out with a short-arm clothesline. Vader to the second rope, and Bulldog turns whatever he was trying into a powerslam, then follows up with the delayed suplex to a big pop. Lafon tags in, and almost blows being sent to the corner. Mero in with a boot to the midsection, followed by a running knee lift. Whip to the ropes, and Lafon comes back with a spinning heel kick, followed by a clothesline for two. Neidhart tags in, gets a few shots in, then tags back out. Lafon goes for a suplex, but Mero escapes and tags in Blackman. He pounds away on Lafon and throws a dropkick. Blackman with a goofy elbow drop for two. Lafon with a knee to the midsection, followed by a DDT for two. Whip to the ropes, and Lafon with a crucifix for another two count. Blackman ducks under a roundhouse and puts Lafon down with a double thrust to the chest. All of Team Canada gets into the action, and we spill to the floor, where Blackman gets Counted-Out at around 5:50, reason being "he's not a wrestler or aware of the rules." Back inside, Mero pounds away on the Anvil, but that doesn't last long. Mero avoids a charge and rolls him up for two. Neidhart with a charging clothesline, but a splash misses. Vader tags in and gets wiped out with a clothesline. Neidhart runs into a brick wall, and Vader follows with a splash for three at 7:31. Lafon in with a series of crescent kicks, and a spinning heel version sends Vader to the floor. Vader tases some of the steel steps, and Furnas gets a few shots in to fil ltime. Whip to the corner, and Lafon blows it again, somehow. Vader with a belly to belly suplex, and a second rope splash kills him dead at 9:08.
Furnas comes in, unloading with kicks. Whip to the ropes, and he connects with a dropkick. Whip to the ropes, and this time Vader avoids it. Mero tags back in, and dishes out a series of jabs and right hooks. Mero heads to the top rope, and a moonsault connects (quite ugly looking) for a two count. Furnas responds with a spine buster, and tags out to the Bulldog. He sends Mero to the corner 10 times (thanks for counting, crowd). Whip to the ropes, and a sunset flip is blocked and turned into a Powerslam attempt, but Mero slips free at the last second. Whip to the ropes, and Mero with an elbow. Furnas tags back in for a slugfest. Whip to the corner, Mero goes for a sunset flip, but Furnas counters for three at 12:00. Vader pummels Furnas in the corner with his signature blows. Whip to the ropes, and Furnas takes Vader down with a diving clothesline. Bulldog works Vader over as we talk about Goldust and his interesting paint job with "F U" on his face, Freedom on his cast, and "Alive Again" on the back of his head. Vader tries to tag, but Goldust short arms him. Vader brings Furnas down with a tear drop suplex, and again tries to tag, with no luck. Furnas goes low and gets a two count from it. Furnas with an over-head belly to belly suplex for another two count. Furnas with a hurricanrana for two. Goldust walks away from yet another tag, so Vader finally says fuck it, bitch slaps him, and brings him into the ring himself. Goldust chooses to walk away, taking the Count-Out at 16:57. INSTA-FEUD! Vader and Furnas trade blows again, with Vader winning that exchange. Vader with a slam, and the Vader-Bomb finishes Furnas at 17:34. Bulldog sneaks in with the ring bell, bops Vader with it, and that finishes it off at 17:46, making Davey Boy Smith the sole survivor. Pretty good match, with a few exceptions here and there from sloppy work. Pretty much the last time we saw the entire heel side in WWF (some for different reasons than others, of course), and we kicked off a pretty bland program with Vader and Goldust immediately afterwards.
Mankind vs. Kane (w/ Paul Bearer):
Kane is making his in-ring debut here, after spending the last month laying beatdowns on most of the undercard babyfaces. One of them ended up being Dude Love, who didn't take kindly to this, and morphed into the Mankind persona to try and match the intensity and sanity levels of the big red monster. In an idea that fell flat on it's ass, the entire match is done with the red lighting of Kane's entrance. I've done a short-form recap of this on the Kane DVD, but the styles don't match, so here's a fresh version. Yay!
Mankind attacks in the aisle, but Kane no-sells and choke throws Mankind into the ring steps. Then he does it again, just because he can. Into the ring, as the match begins, proper. Mankind offers an assortment of rights and headbutts, then takes it back to the floor with the Cactus Clothesline. Kane lands on his feet, of course, and lays Mankind out with a clothesline of his own. Kane with the steps, and he throws them into the face of Mankind. Kane's got to have some major lifts in his boots. He's looking way, way bigger here than in coming years. Mankind yanks his hair out for motivation, and runs right into a boot. Into the corner, and Kane with some clawing of the face. Kane with choking, as Lawler and J.R. hype the Superstar Hotline. Whip to the corner, and Kane with a sidewalk slam. Lawler shoots "as stupid as Dude Love is, I thought that's what Mick Foley would be from now on." Back to the floor, and Mankind gets sent to the steps. Mankind fights back, and flapjacks Kane face-first into the steps. Mankind with rights, and a chair shot goes bonk on the skull. Back in the ring, and Mankind wins a slugfest. He connects with the piledriver, but it doesn't keep Kane down for long, as he resurrects himself in time to save Paul Bearer from the Mandible Claw. Mankind somehow positioned himself onto the apron, allowing Kane to choke throw him off, and through the Spanish announcers table! Kane with remains of the table to the back of the head of Mankind, as I wonder how awesome a job Tito Santana, one of the spanish PBP men, would do putting Kane over. Mankind goes blatantly low to escape a choke, and plants Kane with a DDT on the concrete. He heads to the apron, and comes off with an elbow. Mankind heads to the turnbuckles to come down with another elbow, but Kane pops up, and slams him off, onto the very same floor. Someone is dead. Back in the ring, and the Tombstone Piledriver is all there is left to do, and it's more than enough for the three count at 9:31. A little long-ish, but it's a fun brawl, with some great bumping from Foley to put over Kane as a monster. Note, Kane's first match was a extended squash of Mick Foley, not some scrub people had little investment in.
Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. The Nation of Domination (Faarooq, The Rock, Kama Mustafa, D'Lo Brown):
The only thing different coming into this match that made me go "wha" was the completely different direction that Rocky Miavia went since the Spring. Gone is the smiling babyface looking for high fives, welcome is a smug, arrogant jackass who refers to himself in the third person. I honestly don't know much in terms of storyline purpose here. Ahmed has had issues with the Nation for a year (including a horribly failed heel turn to join them), and Shamrock was just starting a damn near 8-month long program with the Rock. The LOD broke the rules of "if we lose, we split up" by actually winning their match against the Godwinns for the Titles. Hawk and Brown start. Brown grabs a headlock, but a shoulder block doesn't do anything. Criss-cross, and Brown pretty much clotheslines himself. D'Lo gets the piledriver, but Hawk no-sells and hits D'Lo with a neck breaker. Rock tags in, and Hawk looks wasted off his ass. Rock quickly hits the Rock Bottom, and Hawk is done at 2:16. Good, he looked like shit. Johnson comes in, gets a few shots in on the Rock, and tags out to Kama. Whip to the ropes, and Mustafa puts him down with a shot to the chest. Faarooq tags in (Jim Ross breaking kayfabe, calling him Ron Simmons) and connects with a back breaker. Brown whips Ahmed like a mule with the referee's back turned, on top of a double pounding from Kama and the Rock. Faarooq goes for the Dominator, but Ahmed lands on his ass, and the Pearl River Plunge finishes Faarooq off at 4:42. Brown with a spinning heel kick. He goes to the top, and hits the Frog Splash, but it's all transition moves at this point. Ahmed starts no-selling (Black Warrior!) and plants Brown with a front suplex. Faarooq is still at ringside, so we know what's coming. Ahmed with a spinebuster on the Rock. Faarooq trips him up, and Rock covers for three at 6:18. Ahmed chases Faarooq, and dammit, did that happen too much. Animal puts the boots to the Rock, then charges to the corner with a clothesline. Shamrock tags in and hits a clothesline of his own. Whip to the ropes, and Shamrock with a dropkick. Kama tries to go UFC on Shamrock, but it doesn't work too well. Animal and Kama have a boring exchange and finish it with a double clothesline. No one cares. Animal with a back suplex for two. Whip to the ropes, and Animal with a diving shoulder tackle, followed by a slam. Animal knocks Kama into the Rock, and rolls him up for three at 10:51.
Brown comes in to try his luck, but Animal plows through him with a clothesline. Shamrock with a dropkick, followed by rights and lefts in the corner. Whip across the ring, and Shamrock with a clothesline. Brown thumbs the eyes and plants him with a slam. Rock comes in with a very well placed right to the nuts. Sorry, can't be any more blatant than that. Brown covers, but it only gets two. Brown with a snapmare, followed by a leg drop for another two count. Brown slaps on a chinlock. Shamrock fights free with elbows, but runs into a knee. Brown with choking and a back breaker. He goes to the top rope, and misses a moonsault. Animal gets the mild tag and connects with dropkicks on both remaining opponents. Whip to the ropes, and a powerslam on Brown. The New Age Outlaws come to ringside, distracting Animal long enough to throw Hawk's stash in his eyes, and get him counted out at 15:00. Lame! After some stalling, Brown goes to work on Shamrock with rights. Whip to the ropes, and he puts Shamrock down with a clothesline. Rock does the short-arm trick, but eventually relents and comes in, only to have Shamrock run through him with a clothesline. Shamrock with a belly-to-belly suplex on Brown, and the Ankle Lock finishes him off at 17:11. Rocky tries to pull a Bulldog, bashing Shamrock with a chair behind the referee's back, but Shamrock is able to kick out at two. Should've used the ring bell, it's heavier. Rock stomps away on Shamrock in the corner. Whip to the ropes , and Rock with the Layin' the Smackdown DDT for two. Rock with a slam, and the People's Elbow gets no reaction for a two count. I hated that move as a transitional move. Shamrock offers a comeback and counters a DDT with a northern lights suplex. Shamrock with a hurricanrana, and they lay around some more. Shamrock "snaps", brings Rock down with an armbar, and the Ankle Lock forces Rock to tap at 20:35, making Shamrock the Sole Survivor. Decent match for the most part, mostly thanks to Shamrock, D'Lo, and the Rock. Everyone else kind of either brought nothing or dragged things down with their usual boring styles.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
We know the backstory here... Austin won the IC Title at SummerSlam from Owen, but an ill-concieved spot featuring a tombstone piledriver went wrong, and nearly ended Steve Austin's career. In an example of making lemonade out of lemons, the WWF milked the very real incident into furthering the angle, having Owen gloat about injuring Austin, and even giving him a shirt: Owen 3:16: I Just Broke Your Neck. Austin remained mostly out of action since, with only a handful of live appearances, and even fewer that weren't tag matches. Austin is pretty much greeted as a heel, thanks to the 1997 USA vs. Canada feud that was ran throughout the summer. Neidhart tries an ambush before the match kicks off, but eats a Stunner for his efforts. Owen pounces on Austin, pounding away in the corner. Mild chant of "break his neck". Austin turns things around, and returns the favor with blows of his own. Owen goes for a piledriver, but Austin counters with a back drop. Owen rolls to the floor, sweeps the legs of Austin, and wraps them around the post. Owen tries to take a hike, but Austin chases him down, and hits a clothesline to the back of the head. They continue brawling around, outside the ring. Owen with some cables to choke Austin out. Owen rings the bell on himself for a wanted Disqualification, but that's not exactly how it works. Back inside, and a lot more of the basic stuff is done, thanks to Austin's limitations. Austin stomps a mudhole in the corner. Austin with the Stunner from out of nowhere, and we have a New Intercontinental Champion at 4:02. Phil Lafon and Doug Furnas run in to take Stunners, too. That was.... unnecessary. Match was nothing, but you can hardly hold anyone at fault for that, except people pushing Austiin back into the ring too soon.
Owen Hart © (w/ Team Canada) vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin:
WWF Championship Match:
Probably the most infamous match in the history of professional wrestling. Storyline: Bret and Shawn don't like each other, but really, their interaction with each other was all over the chart for the entire year. Most of their feud was centered around promos that were hitting a little too close to home, and gradually it built up to them finally having their long-awaited rematch to WrestleMania XII. In real life, Bret Hart was practically shown the door and told to negotiate a contract with WCW, with McMahon claiming he could not honor the contract he gave Bret Hart no more than a year earlier, a contract that was to span 20-years. The new contract also included creative control over his character. So with Bret negaotiating a contract with the competition and bound for departure by the end of 1997, the short-sighted decision of keeping the title on him up to this point was starting to become a huge headache. Bret, to his own admission, was willing to drop the title to Shawn Michaels... but not in Montreal. Odd. He also was willing to lose the belt to anyone else, anywhere, at any time. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and at the time, McMahon probably had thoughts in the back of his mind of when Alundra Blayze/Medusa went on WCW Nitro and tossed the Women's belt in the garbage, and you never know what can happen. Bret Hart, back inb 1992, was so close to jumping to WCW with the Intercontinental Title, you have to believe McMahon had to be aware of it, and considering the bitterness over the broken contract, you can't tell what someone would do, for the right price.
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Shawn Michaels:
The news of Bret Hart leaving was so hot, even Jim Ross made a comment about it during the broadcast, that should Bret lose, it'll probably be the last time we see him in the WWF. The only other time I recall this happening was the Brock/Goldberg nightmare at WrestleMania XII. Anyway, as for the match... according to reports, the agreed upon finish would have been a No Contest/Double DQ with interference from D-X and the Hart Foundation. The match itself was nothing to write home about... it started off with a good 10-minutes brawling in the entrance area and the crowd, with Vince McMahon and other road agents at ringside, a convenient set-up for later. After 10-minutes of the "real" match, there was a referee bump, and Bret Hart allowed himself to be put in the Sharpshooter, a decision he was warned against by fellow wrestlers who have seen workers betrayed in the ring. His only reasoning of going through with it had to be Earl Hebner giving his word not to do anything fishy. Of course, someones word means nothing in business, as Hebner popped up like nothing happened, and signaled for the bell almost instantly. Shawn Michaels was the Champion, and the PPV feed goes black only a few seconds later. Cameras at ringside later revealed it was McMahon who was originally calling for the bell, and one camera did show a quick glimpse of Bret spitting in McMahon's face at ringside, right before the show cut off. Bret remained at ringside after the show, destroying any equipment left behind, before returning to the locker room, where a confrontation with McMahon became physical. As mentioned already, the match means nothing, but everything surrounding it is drama you couldn't script if you tried. Bret would leave, and it would be over a decade before he would make his first live appearance in a WWE ring. Vince McMahon morphed himself into one of the greatest heels of all time as Mr. McMahon, and Shawn Michaels' career changed forever just months later, when a back injury took him out of the ring for over four years, only to return, possibly a better worker, and definitely a better person.
Final Thoughts: Other than the main event changing the course of history for the World Wrestling Federation, this is a complete throw-away show with only one match really worth watching. Outside of the Team USA/Team Canada match, all of the Survivor Series style matches were either average at best or complete garbage, and the remaining matches featured on the card fall under the same range. The WWF title Match is a wash, Austin's inability to take bumps made the IC Title Match nothing, and Kane/Mankind was a watered-down version of an ECW brawl. It had it's moments, but went on way too long. Skip this show. Even the "Montreal Screwjob" isn't worth sitting through this one.
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