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Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1997 Review

August 14, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
Shawn Michaels Bret Hart SummerSlam 1997 Image Credit: WWE/Peacock
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Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1997 Review  

The World Wrestling Federation was still #2 in the summer of 1997. Those 83 Weeks people spend so much time talking about even today were a thing until April 1998. That being said, even a thirteen year old kid that didn’t know nothing about nothing could tell the momentum was shifting. The WWF was starting to get interesting again. A lot of it had to do with a couple of the main stories of the time.

Bret Hart was still a hero, but no longer the hero America wanted. He was still beloved everywhere else WWF programming aired, but those crazy Americans were more into Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and other ne’er-do-wells that didn’t exhibit any of the qualities that Bret respected in a man. Bret would still be a hero to the rest of the world, but the Americans were invited to stick it. Bret reunited with his brother Owen, his brothers-in-law Davey Boy Smith & Jim Neidhart & longtime friend of the family Brian Pillman to form a new Hart Foundation. They would be the top faces when Raw was televised from Canada, which was quite a few times during the summer of 1997. When Raw was in the U.S., they’d get booed out of the building. It was the first time I’d seen anything like it, and was extremely compelling from the perspective of a viewer.

Bret would challenge Undertaker for the WWF Championship at SummerSlam 1997, held at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Undertaker had held the title since WrestleMania 13, which coincidentially was the night Bret & Steve Austin officially switched places. Bret became a despicable character (to Americans) while Austin’s never say die attitude won over the rest of the audience that wasn’t already cheering him. Austin set his eyes on the Intercontinental Championship this night, challenging Owen for the title. Winning that title would help Austin move even further up the ladder, with the WWF Championship the obvious next step.

The Summer of 1997 was also the Summer of Love. We learned much more about the background of the man previously known as Cactus Jack and known at the time as Mankind. Another personality emerged, that of Dude Love. The Dude was the character Mick Foley grew up wanting to be, and he became that chracter. Ol’ Stone Cold didn’t want to team with Mankind, but Dude Love saved his bacon on an episode of Raw. Mankind was still around though, and he had some business to attend to on this evening.

Cook’s WWF SummerSlam 1997 Review

We open with the National Anthem since we’re right in the middle of the USA vs. Canada feud that tore things up in 1997. Vince has his hand over his gut inside his suit jacket, which is different. Then there’s a video hyping up the issues between Bret Hart, Undertaker & Shawn Michaels. “Life isn’t fair, but who ever said it would be?” is the moral of the story. A very WWF message.

Vince McMahon is joined by Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler for his last SummerSlam at the booth. Our man Vince would have other business to tend to at future SummerSlams, so we wish him well in his future endeavors.

Steel Cage Match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. Mankind: We see clips of Helmsley & Mankind fighting at Canadian Stampede, and Mankind dressing as a cameraman to attack Helmsley on the most recent Raw episode. The fans were aware that Mankind had been at ringside for the Jimmy Snuka/Don Muraco cage match at Madison Square Garden in 1983, so pretty much everybody knew where this was going. Helmsley looks to avoid that by jumping out the cage entrance, but Mankind cuts that off and goes on the offensive. A piledriver has Mankind looking towards the door, but Chyna’s right there to dussuade that idea. So Mankind applies the Mandible Claw instead, which leads to Chyna choking Mankind through the bars. Mankind hits the clothesline and climbs up, but there’s Chyna to give him a low blow at the top of the cage. Helmsley suplexes Mankind from the top of the cage, which is a heck of a move to pull out this early. Helmsley thinks about exiting, but opts to punish Mankind instead. No, he didn’t re-sign Karrion Kross and put him in the main event scene until years after this show, he’s just beating Mick Foley up right now. Helmsley eventually decides to leave, but didn’t do a good enough job on Mankind. Mankind brings Helmsley back in and takes him over to the side of the cage so Chyna can punch Mankind in the face. The men trade inverted atomic drops and Mankind clotheslines Helmsley. Helmsley ends up hanging upside down off the cage so Mankind can knock him down with a charge. Helmsley gets sent into the cage a few times before backdropping Mankind into it. Helmsley gets crotched on the top rope, then his leg gets stuck between the top & middle ropes. Mankind crwwls towards the door and Chyna slams it on his head. She then sends the referee face-first into the steps and tosses a chair into the ring. This all seems excessive. Mankind blocks a Pedigree on the chair and catapults Helmsley into the cage, knocking Chyna off the apron. Mankind double-arm DDTs Helmsley on the chair and starts climbing up & out. Chyna comes in to drag Helmsley out, but then remembers there’s still a spot they need to do and leaves the cage. Mankind decides to climb back up the cage and do the ol’ Superfly thing that some of the fans are asking for. He tears his shirt and jumps off the top of the cage (almost) with an elbow to Helmsley. Then he climbs out and manages to beat Chyna dragging Helmsley’s carcass out the door in the race.

Winner: Mankind (16:25 via cage escape)
Match Rating: **1/2

The announcers try to explain this as Dude Love emerging from the shell of Mankind while the Dude Love music is playing and he dances out. We’ll take their word for it. The original idea was for Mankind to have a heart shaped tattoo on his chest that would be revealed on top of the cage. Unfortunately it got smudged and it just looked like Mankind had been in a chop battle with Ronnie Garvin. They tried with a couple of big spots, but things went a bit awry with the ending & it didn’t quite win the audience over as much as one would have hoped.

Todd Pettengil introduces New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, along with Gorilla Monsoon & the Headbangers. You see, the WWF/WWE has never done politics, except when a politician saves Vince from having to spend money.

Tiger Jeet & Tiger Ali Singh are in the crowd! Tiger Ali will be in action in the WWF very quickly, and “very quickly” ended up being the length of his stint with the WWF.

Goldust (w/Marlena) vs. Brian Pillman: If Pillman loses, he’ll have to wear a dress on television for the next month. Lawler claims he’s never struck a woman in his life, which one might believe if they hadn’t seen the Wrestling Gold DVD collection with Lawler striking Rick Rude’s valet to the joy of the Mid-South Coliseum. Those Memphis fans really enjoyed the woman abuse, that’s for sure. Pillman attacks Goldust from behind to start things. Goldust hits a reverse elbow off the second turnbuckle, blocks the atomic drop and hits the liplock on Pillman. Pillman gets back in the ring, gets some offense and starts chasing Marlena around ringside, Goldust ends that with a clothesline. BACK RAKE! Pillman gets the advantage again in the ring, suplexes Goldust and goes up top. Goldust tosses him off onto the ropes in a quite awkward tumble, then Marlena blows some smoke in his face on the floor. Pillman DDTs Goldust on the floor, sends him back into the ring and hits a clothesline off the top rope. Part of Pillman’s left boot has come undone as he covers for two. That’s his bad ankle, so that’s not great. Pillman goes to the rear chinlock. Goldust fights out, hits a backslide but gets smacked down after that. They exchange slaps and Goldust does some flip, flop & flying. Pillman blocks the bulldog attempt. Goldust goes for a sunset flip but can’t get ahold of Brian and ends up getting sat on. Pillman crawls to the ropes so Marlena can slap him and Goldust can roll him up in the sunset flip position for three.

Winner: Goldust (7:17 via pinfall)
Match Rating: 1/4*

Marlena slides the mannequin into the ring and Pillman destroys it & rips the dress. The display allowed Pillman to take out some of his frustrations on how this match went, I’m sure. There was a time where Goldust & Pillman could have had one of those “bangers”, but August 1997 wasn’t one of them. Pillman would pass away two months after SummerSlam. There aren’t many things in pro wrestling that make me sad (hell, I watched Ric Flair’s Last Match and got a kick out of it), but watching late-period Pillman is one of those things. Brian was from Cincinnati, played for the Bengals, had exciting matches, pretty much checked all my boxes as a young wrestling fan. He was so awesome as Flyin’ Brian and as one-half of the Hollywood Blondes, and that Loose Cannon gimmick was quite the work of art. He helped lead to my long-term Steve Austin fandom since their tag team was the shit. After the car accident, things just weren’t the same. Except for Canadian Stampede, where Pillman was so moved by the cheers of the crowd that night, watching anything from his WWF stint is an absolute chore. You all probably have wrestlers like that, where you loved them but there’s a certain point in their career where you just can’t watch them anymore. Pillman’s one for me.

Henry O. & Phineas I. Goddwinn vs. The Legion of Doom: Henry & Phineas have their rebel flag with them, so they’ve chosen their own side in the USA/Canada tiff. Fortunately nobody thought to give them a faction at this point, as that would make this all kinds of uncomfortable viewing in 2022. It’s a Pier Four Brawl at the start here, as Hawk hits a flying clothesline from the apron to the floor & Animal sends PIG outside. HOG & PIG get clotheslined out of the ring by Animal when they attempt a double team. Hawk clotheslines PIG on the floor. Back in the ring, Hawk gets beat up by HOG for a second, but Hawk takes him to the outside and rams him into the steps. A couple of legdrops get a two count on HOG, who has a bad neck thanks to a Doomsday Device from several months ago. Phineas tags in and does a hangman hold that Hawk quickly gets out of. Henry & Animal tag back in. Animal with a standing armbar, and Phineas kicks Animal on an Irish whip before Henry clotheslines him over the top rope in front of Captain Lou Albano. Animal gets sent into the guardrail and back into the ring, then a powerslam gets two. First time the Goddwinns have had any extended offense here, let’s see how long that lasts. The bearhug lasts longer than one might expect. Animal breaks it eventually, then evades the attempted doubleteam move. HOG & PIG still maintand the advantage. Phineas jumps into a clothesline from Animal & Hawk gets the tag. Hawk goes to town on HOG & PIG. Big ol’ neckbreaker on Henry gets two. Some clotheslines in the corner, and LOD goes for the Doomsday Device on HOG. PIG breaks it up, gets clotheslined by Hawk out of the ring so HOG can eat a spike piledriver for three.

Winners: The Legion of Doom (9:15 via pinfall)
Match Rating: *

Not exactly a technical wrestling clinic with two teams not exactly known for technical wrestling. Hawk wants the tag team titles, and they’d get them from the Goddwinns in a couple of months. JR promises that another war between the teams is coming, and boy I know people were on the edge of their seats for it.

Next is the Million Dollar Chance! Two folks wearing Discovery Zone shirts get to pick numbers, hoping the envelopes contain keys to a casket containing $1,000,000. Sable & Sunny are there, so at least there’s something to look at. Todd’s attempts to call people don’t pan out. Discovery Zone was the site of my best birthday party. Todd finally gets somebody on the line, turns out they aren’t even watching the show. They don’t win, and neither does the next answerer, or our two live contestants. What a shame. Todd did about as good a job here of hosting a game show as Bob Marella & Sean Mooney did on Bingo Break.

We see a clip of the British Bulldog attacking Ken Shamrock with a chair & covering him with dog food on the War Zone last week. Shamrock never blocked a chair shot in his life. It explains a lot.

WWF European Championship Match: British Bulldog (c) vs. Ken Shamrock: So if Bulldog loses this match, he’ll be eating a can of dog food. Given how things would work out for him & the family at One Night Only, he’d have been better off losing here. Shamrock has the early offense early, including the overhead belly to belly and shots into the ringpost & steps. Shamrock tries to work a leglock in the ring but Bulldog finds the ropes. Clothesline gets two. Bulldog gets the advantage with a clothesline that catches Shamrock in the face. Suplex gets two, we go to the chinlock and a closeup on Kenny’s face. Kitchen sink knee by Bulldog and back to that chinlock. Shamrock eventually hits a sunset flip but gets clotheslined again. Chinlock, and now Shamrock’s spitting blood out. Either Bulldog caught him good with one of those clotheslines or its an early instance of Shamrock working the internal bleeding. He sure liked doing that for some reason. Bulldog lands some shots, gets an inside cradle for two, and goes back to the chinlock. Shamrock goes shoulder-first into the ringpost and drops to the floor, then gets sent into the steps. Bulldog gets the steps to finish the job, but the referee won’t allow it. Shamrock fights through the wedgie. Bulldog tries to suplex Shamrock on the floor, but somebody slipped and they both end up back in the ring. Bulldog with some more punches, and you won’t believe this, he goes back to the rear chinlock. At least Shamrock has some more color going now, I guess. Bulldog tosses Shamrock to the floor and slams him down. Then Bulldog takes some dog food and throws it in Shamrock’s face. That awakens Shamrock, and he goes crazy on Bulldog before hitting him in the back of the head with the dogfood can. The referee calls for the DQ, as times have changed since 1989 when the Ultimate Warrior could do whatever he wanted on the outside of the ring.

Winner: British Bulldog (7:29 via disqualification)
Match Rating: *1/2

This match definitely had some bowling shoe qualities, and I think Bulldog ran out of moves he could use on Shamrock fairly quickly. In any event, Shamrock keeps going crazy after the bell, tossing referees down & putting the boots to Bulldog. He locks in a rear naked choke and puts Bulldog to sleep. Heck of a way to put DBS over for that England show! Five referees, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, Dave Hebner & Tony Garea eventually manage to break it up. Patterson, Brisco & two referees get suplexed before the rest of the crew exits the ring. Fans do always like it when wrestlers go crazy and beat up officials. so Shamrock gets a great response from the crowd.

Todd is backstage with Shawn Michaels, who insists that there’s nothing between him & Bret. That was settled back at WrestleMania XII when he beat Bret! Nothing will get past his keen eye.

The announcers talk about that crazy Ken Shamrock, then we see a video of the issues between Los Boricuas & the Disciples of Apocalypse. Faarooq fired Crush & Savio Vega from the Nation of Domination, leading to the formation of two new four-man groups that don’t like each other or the Nation. Savio got three Puerto Rican wrestlers to join him, while Crush got Brian Lee & the Harris Brothers. You can see how WWF fans were going absolutely crazy over this.

Los Boricuas (Savio, Miguel, Jose & Jesus) vs. Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, Skull & 8-Ball): The Boricuas say hi to the Spanish announcers, including Tito Santana. The DOA ride their bikes around the ring, and it’s immediately an 8-man brawl at the bell. DOA clears the ring. Jose & Skull officially start the match. Jose taking some big bumps into the corner, hits a bulldog off the middle rope that gets no-sold. Savio gets hip tossed out of the ring and 8-Ball tags in. Crush tags in to continue the DOA dominance. Miguel Perez Jr. tags in. His father was quite the legend in the PR and tagged with Antonino Rocca in some of Madison Square Garden’s most well-attended main events. As for Miguel Jr., fans here mostly know him for his body hair sweater. Crush gets two on Miguel with a backbreaker. Tag to Jesus, who gets backdropped into next week by Chainz. Chainz moving pretty quick in his SummerSlam return. Not in the main event this time. Skull & 8-Ball introduce Jesus’s face to the turnbuckle, but Savio turns the tide with one of those martial arts kicks in the corner he was known for. The Boricuas beat Skull down in the corner while Tim White is distracted. The referee’s letting a lot slide here, and the fans come to their feet as the Nation of Domination walk down through the crowd. We’ve got Faarooq, D’Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa & Ahmed Johnson at ringside now. Jesus hits a famouser while Ahmed looks menancingly at the Boricuas. We’re all just waiting for the 12-way brawl at this point and Savio’s trying to work a chinlock. Miguel hits a top-rope dropkick before taking Skull back to the corner for a 4 on 1. Skull getting hit with some doubleteams. Savio misses in the corner and Chainz tags in. Jesus gets gorilla pressed and it isn’t long before the referee loses control and everybody’s fighting. Chainz gets tossed outside and goes after Ahmed, who Pearl River Plunges him on the concrete. Well, actually Chainz lands on Ahmed’s knees, which probably isn’t great since Ahmed’s whole legs are already kneepadded up. Anyway, Chainz gets tossed back in the ring and Miguel hits a running elbowdrop for the three count.

Winners: Los Boricuas (9:07 via pinfall)
Match Rating: *

The Boricuas had a couple of nice spots, but this was a mess. Too many people involved, not enough of them very useful. The Boricuas exit while the Nation & DOA fight in the aisleway. Then Crush decides he’s going to drive his motorcycle around the ring and the melee.

Owen Hart was able to pin Steve Austin at Canadian Stampede. Austin says that if it happens again at SummerSlam, he’ll kiss Owen’s ass if he can’t kick it.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match: Two-Time Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart (c) vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin: Michael Cole makes his SummerSlam debut while Austin’s making his way to the entrance, trying to do an interview and getting nothing in the way of answers. I have to note that Cole looked nothing like Todd Pettengil here, runining the theory that Cole was a clone of Todd that the WWF kept aound while Todd went on to other career choices. Owen breaks up Austin’s corner posing routine and goes right after the left knee. Austin does a Lou Thesz Press, then Owen uses his brother’s sternum-first into the corner bump. Fans are quite behind Austin here, moreso than for anybody else on the card up until now. Austin works the left arm of Owen, ruining Owen’s social plans for later this evening. Owen tries some nice counter-wrestling, but Austin responds with a poke to the eye. Austin & Hart trade hammerlocks with Austin getting the upper-hand and continuing to work the arm. Austin gets knocked to the floor and rammed into the ringpost when he tries to wrap Owen’s legs around it. Austin’s hand gets stomped by Owen. Back in the ring we’ve got Owen biting Austin’s fingers, which doesn’t seem like a sanitary move to me. Hart channeling his father as he screams about breaking Austin’s fingers. Owen takes a bite out of Austin’s middle finger, then ties him in the ropes. I don’t remember this side of Owen coming out so often during his career, and it ends right there as Austin hits a stun gun on Hart. Powerbomb by Austin and a clothesline to the floor, which sends Owen wandering up the ramp. Austin doesn’t want that kind of victory, so he makes sure Owen comes back to the ring. Owen hits a nice belly to belly suplex, then the ol’ neckbreaker. Elbowdrop off the top rope gets another near-fall, then Owen works the neck vice. JR points out that Austin has had neck problems in his career, which is some solid unintentional foreshadowing. Austin comes back with a clothesline and then tries to apply a Sharpshooter, but obviously Owen would have none of that. Legdrop to the back of Austin’s head gets two. Austin rolls through a crossbody for two, then Owen hits a German suplex for two. Then Hart makes Austin humble with the Camel Clutch. More damage to the neck! (And other areas if ya know what I mean.) Austin fights out of it, but gets DDTed for another two count. Sleeper by Austin, Owen reverses to one of his own and Austin reverses that with the jawjacker. Austin jumps into a punch in the gut, then Owen hits the Canadian leg sweep for two. Owen uses his legs and the ropes to increase leverage on his chinlock. Earl Hebner catches Owen the second time around and breaks the hold. Austin with some punches, he sends Owen off the ropes and goes for a slam of some sort, but Owen reverses and twists Austin into a sit-out Tombstone.

And we all know what happened from there. Austin’s head got jammed into the mat and he was temporarily paralyzed. Owen stalls for time and tells the people that Austin’s going to kiss his ass. He then tries to lead a “Canada” chant that turns into a “USA” chant. Austin then rolls Owen up in the weakest rollup of all time for the three count and the title change.

Winner: Steve Austin (16:16 via pinfall)
Match Rating: ***

The referees help Austin out of the ring and to the back, and the fact Austin didn’t try to abuse any them told the people something was up, if the rollup didn’t convince them already. This match ended up being the best & worst thing that could have happened to Austin. On one hand, it made everybody’s respect for him higher than it already was. The time period just after this saw Austin further establish a connection with the fanbase that would make him one of the biggest stars in wrestling history. On the other hand, the injury played a major role in Austin’s run being shorter than it should have been. Some would say that Austin was never quite the same worker after this match, and he certainly had to adjust his style to make things easier on him. Years were taken off of his career due to this match and the aftermath. As far as Owen was concerned, this was the beginning of the end of any chance he had of becoming a tippy top guy. The DX-adjacent folks were already inclined not to work with Owen (unless he was putting them over), and Austin’s interest in ever re-visiting their feud once it wrapped up was nil. Of course, perhaps things would have changed over time, but life didn’t have that in the plans.

We see a video package on the issues between Bret Hart, Undertaker & Shawn Michaels. Bret promised that if he doesn’t win the WWF Championship tonight, he’ll never wrestle on American soil again. I mean, they were running enough international shows at this point that it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference. Shawn was made the guest referee, but if he leans towards Undertaker, he can’t wrestle in the US again. See, that doesn’t sound fair, as that sort of thing can be very subjective and open to interpretation. Bret got so worked up over the situation that he got into a shoving match with mild-mannered announcer Vince McMahon at ringside. Sure hope those two can mend fences. Nice to see The Patriot pop up here.

Lawler notes that Vince & JR seem much more concerned about Austin than they were about Henry Goddwin’s neck problems. Vince says that isn’t it at all, but we all know he & JR were at least 100 times more concerned about Austin’s neck problems. With all due respect to ol’ Henry, we all were! Lawler runs through some of his egomaniac jokes on the subject of Michaels.

WWF Championship Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. The Undertaker (c): Not very nice for Vince to go back to calling New Jersey “the shadow of New York City” so soon after dragging the Governor out to kiss her ass. Bret dedicates the playing of “O Canada” to his fellow Canadians. And people wonder why he’s still so beloved up there. Shawn makes his entrance between the opponents’ entrances, which is certainly unorthodox for a referee. I never saw Mike Chioda dancing around like Shawn is here. Then again, I never toured with the WWF during this time period. Who knows what Chioda was doing at the night clubs? Bret attacks right after he & Taker get checked for weaponry. Undertaker fires away on Bret in the corner and clotheslines him down. They go outside and Taker introduces Bret to the guardrail & ringpost before Bret introduces him to the ringpost & steps. Bret goes into the ringpost again and Shawn would really prefer if these two get in the ring. He even grabs Undertaker’s hair for a second, then realizes the mistake he’s made. Back in the ring and a backbreaker from Undertaker. Shockingly Bret doesn’t submit. Then we get a bearhug while Vince speculates that it wasn’t just the piledriver but an accumulation of events that led to Austin being taken to the hospital. To be fair, Vince hadn’t seen the replay showing Austin’s spine during the piledriver yet. Undertaker misses an elbowdrop, but still maintains the offensive on Hart. Hart ducks a big boot and starts targeting Undertaker’s left knee. Bret locks in a figure four as Paul Bearer makes his way down to ringside for the first time this evening. At this time, Bearer was talking about Undertaker’s brother Kane, who allegedly was alive contrary to popular belief. We don’t find anything out on that front tonight, but Taker gets out of the figure four and gives Bearer a couple of punches at ringside before Bret attacks from behind. Some referees come down to escort Bearer from ringside, as he’s neither man’s manager. Bret locks in the figure 4 on the ringpost. He breaks at the four count and has some words with Shawn. Now Owen Hart & Brian Pillman appear at ringside and draw the attention of Michaels. Pillman doesn’t have to wear the dress until Monday, so he might as well appear on TV while he still can. Shawn breaks up Bret ramming Taker’s knee into the ringpost. Bret keeps working that knee in the middle of the ring until Taker yanks him by the hair and legdrops his way out of the leglock. Taker vaults over the top rope and takes some shots at Owen & Pillman, leading to Michaels sending them up the aisleway. Bret runs into a chokeslam, but Shawn’s slow to get there thanks to Owen & Pillman. Undertaker takes issue with Shawn’s speed in getting back to the ring, leading to a rollup for two for Bret. Taker clotheslines Bret down and stares down Michaels. Bret takes over on Undertaker on the floor, getting another warning from Michaels. Bret double axehandles Taker down in the ring. Bret flips off the crowd before delivering a driving elbow and flips Vince off before getting a two count. DDT barely gets a two count. Bret headbutts Taker a couple of times before getting dropped face-first on the turnbuckle. A rare mental mistake by Hart. Lots of legdrops on this show, I’ve noticed. None of them ending matches. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Undertaker chokes him out of it. Bret blocks in the corner, then blocks a chokeslam attempt with a low blow. Undertaker with a bunch of fast fists like he’s the best pure striker in WWF history or something. Flying clothesline by Undertaker and both men are slow (but not that slow) to get up. Undertaker gets a two count on the sternum first bump into the turnbuckle. Big boot and the legdrop get two. I wonder if the Hulkster was in these guys’ heads at this point. Undertaker chokeslams Hart from the apron to the ring and gets a two count. Taker gets crotched on the Old School attempt and gets superplexed off the top rope after one near fall to the floor. Bret’s first up, and now he locks in the Sharpshooter. Undertaker powers out, sending Hart flying to the outside! JR says nobody’s ever done that before, and he might be right. Taker clotheslines Bret down, and even with a bad leg he’s still motioning for that Tombstone. Bret slips out, takes Taker into the ringpost and then applies the Sharpshooter around it! Or at least tries to, Taker kicks Bret off into Shawn. Shawn’s knee got tweaked during that apparently, and while he’s still outside Bret takes a chair into the ring and knocks Undertaker out with it. Shawn only gets to a two count, and Bret gets up in his face! Bret goes back to working on Undertaker in the corner while Shawn sees the chair over in the corner of the ring. Shawn wants to know if Bret used it, Bret responds by spitting in his face! Shawn rears back with the chair, Bret moves out of the way and Undertaker gets clobbered, much to Shawn’s dismay. Shawn makes the three count in disgust, with Bret’s loogie all over his mouth.

Winner: Bret Hart (28:09 via pinfall)
Match Rating: ***1/2

I loved the finish here, as it set up the new feud of Shawn vs. Taker, which hadn’t been seen yet in the WWF at this point, and got Bret & Shawn out of having to be barred from American wrestling. Which we knew wasn’t going to happen anyway, but the road getting there was interesting. Michaels did a darn good job as guest referee that did enough to be noticed, but not so much that it took away from the match. It’s a tough balance to strike and he did it.

As much as I appreciated the finish, New Jersey did not, as we see trash flying into the ring. It’s absolutely for the best that people don’t do that sort of thing anymore, but it’s a nice visual for those of us that don’t have to be there. You know the people are mad. Or you know they saw the NWO get drenched in garbage and thought it’d be a cool thing to do here. Either way! Owen, Bulldog & Pillman come down to celebrate with the now five-time WWF Champion.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
The WWF had some really popular stars at this point. You could see there were plenty of people worth watching. But when those people weren't involved...things got rough. That was on display here, as for every match with an interesting build with characters you could sink your teeth into, there was another match that had the complete opposite going on. Once the WWF shuffled their deck and put their cards in the right places, things got hot. Here, they were on the verge but still needed some work. This was that weird period with a few elements of the New Generation & a few elements that would bring the Attitude all mixed together, still cooking in the oven waiting to be done.

article topics :

Summerslam, WWE, Steve Cook