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Leighty’s Retro Review: WWF Survivor Series 1997

November 8, 2022 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
WWE Survivor Series Montreal Screwjob Bret Hart Shawn Michaels Dark Side of the Ring, Bret Hart Earl Hebner Image Credit: WWE
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Leighty’s Retro Review: WWF Survivor Series 1997  

-We continue and it’s finally time of the most historic PPV of the 1997 run. It’s Survivor Series in Montreal! We know what’s coming! Let’s get to it!

-Announce Team: Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler
-Location: Molsen Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 

-Date: Nov 2, 1997 

-Attendance: 20,953

-PPV Buys: 250,000

-As noted above no Vince McMahon on commentary for the first time in a while which I’m sure doesn’t mean anything and it’s probably dumb that I even noted he wasn’t there. 

Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Headbangers and The New Blackjacks vs. The Godwins and Road Dogg and Bad Ass Billy Gunn

-They weren’t known as The New Age Outlaws yet, but they were getting there and would be champions not long after this. Windham starts with Phineas as JR goes over the rules of an elimination tag match. Windham gets a few shoulder tackles so Phineas bails to the floor. Back in the ring for a test of strength, but Windham opts to just punch Phineas in the face. Effective! Tag to Bradshaw and he gets a powerslam for two. He clubs away in the corner, but gets caught with a boot to the face charging in the other corner. Phineas tries to tag to Gunn or Dogg, but they want no part of this, so Henry gets the tag. Henry gets a side headlock and drops Bradshaw with a shoulder. Bradshaw takes over in the corner and gets a side Russian Leg Sweep as JR talks about how tense things must be backstage. I bet! I hope there isn’t a camera crew back there to catching things! Henry back with a suplex for two and I must note this crowd is dead for an opener of a PPV in Canada. Bradshaw gets a funky roll-up and Henry is eliminated at 3:52. Phineas back in and he fares no better as Windham and JBL takes turns beating on him. Suplex from Barry gets two. Gutwrench suplex also gets two. A clothesline gets two as I do appreciate the constant pin attempts as that is the point of this one. Phineas gets a clothesline out of the corner and Windham is gone at 5:15. Mosh in and he goes to work on the arm on Phineas. He hits a dropkick followed by a drop toehold and floats over into an armbar. Phineas lands a right hand and tags in Billy Gunn. He gets a clothesline and stomps away as the crowd isn’t a fan of Billy. Gunn misses a charge in the corner and and eats a clothesline which is death in these matches, but Mosh doesn’t go for a cover. Mosh seems to get a bulldog, but Billy plants Mosh on his face and that ends his night at 8:42. Thrasher in and Gunn tags out to Phineas. Lawler asks JR if he knows where McMahon is and JR tells him he sure does, but won’t say anything else. I’m sure it’s not important. Thrasher gets a hammerlock into a roll-up for two and he lets Phineas know he almost had him. This is just so dull! They lockup as the crowd starts to turn on the match a bit. Thrasher gets a hiptoss and an armdrag back into an armbar. He backs Thrasher into the corner and drops an elbow to the back of the head. Thrasher avoids a slam and plants Phineas face first into the mat. He comes off top with a dive to eliminate Phineas at 12:42. Dogg finally in the match and gets dominated by Bradshaw. Heavy lariat followed by a gut-wrench powerbomb. Bradshaw takes a swing at Gunn and gets rolled up to send him packing at 13:50. That was a mess as it looked like he kicked out, but who knows. Thrasher in and he stomps Dogg down. Gunn gets in a cheap shot from the apron and Dogg tries a pump handle slam, but Thrasher counters into a hiptoss. Blind tag to Billy who comes off the top with a leg drop for the win at 15:26.

Winners: Billy Gunn and Road Dogg via pin at 15:26
-This was dull and they accomplished something miraculous: they killed a Montreal Crowd in the opener of a PPV. Outlaws winning was the right call at least! 1/2*

The Truth Commission vs. The Disciples of Apocalypse

-Well, the motorcycles wake up the crowd at least though once the match happens that will likely end. Jackyl is Don Callis and his team is made up of The Interrogator (Kurrgan), Recon (Bull Buchanan), and Sniper (who worked in Japan as Rambo). All eight men brawl to start which before things settle down to The Interrogator and Chainz (Brian Lee). He throws a lot of punches and gets Interrogator to miss a charge in the corner. A sidewalk slam disposes of Chainz at 1:18. Recon gets the tag and I don’t know why I just dawned on me that this guy ended up being Bull Buchanan. He drops one of the Harris Twins with a slam and Jackyl drops a knee from the top rope which gets no sold. Sidewalk slam finishes Jackyl at 2:55. Perhaps he should become a manager. I’m sure he would be Elite at it! Sniper in with a knockdown for two. Jackyl joins commentary and perhaps he has a future behind the desk. He and JR sound like an Elite Team. Crush in and he gets a few slams and drops a leg. Belly to back suplex for Crush gets two. Recon tries to land on his feet off a backdrop but lands on his ass before hitting a kick. The Harris Twins uses Twin Magic and a clothesline finishes Recon at 5:21. Sniper back in and he misses a clothesline. A swinging neck breaker gets two as even JR doesn’t know what Harris brother is in the ring. Interrogator lands a cheap shot on the apron and Sniper gets a bulldog to eliminate a Harris brother at 6:35. The other Harris, who JR is calling 8-Ball, is in and drops an elbow. Tag to Crush who gets a suplex for two. Crush hooks a head scissors which will wake this crowd up. 8-Ball back with a double thrust to the throat. He plants Sniper with a DDT, but The Interrogator got a blind tag and a sidewalk slam finishes off another at 8:55. Crush tries a slam, but no dice as he eats a headbutt. Sniper back in and he tries to get the crowd into the match, but they can barely be bothered to boo. Crush gets a powerslam to send Sniper packing, but The Interrogator ends this one with another sidewalk slam at 10:02. 

Winner and Sole Survivor: The Interrogator via pin at 10:02

-Well, this was at least shorter than the opener and while an uglier match it wasn’t as boring. Still, this is one of the worst starts to a PPV I’ve seen. 1/2*

-They throw to a video of fans giving their predictions on the Main Event. 

-Stone Cold Steve Austin is backstage answering questions on AOL. Oh man, look at that technology. You kids today don’t know what you were missing! 

-Team USA cuts a promo backstage.

Team USA (Vader, Goldust, Marc Mero (w/ Sable), and Steve Blackman) vs. Team Canada (Jim Neidhart, The British Bulldog, Doug Furnas, and Phil Lafon)

-Team USA gets Kurt Angle’s music as The Patriot had been using it the last few months. I am still trained to hear “You Suck” in my inner ear every time I hear that song. The crowd is alive as they finally get a match they care about. JR notes that Team Canada is mostly made up of men who aren’t Canadian. Mero and Bulldog start and the crowd hates Mero. Bulldog beats on Hero to send him to the floor and then doses some karate poses to mock Blackman. The crowd chants for Sable, so Mero moves her to a different corner to show he is a dick. Vader gets the tag and comes off the middle rope with a shot to Bulldog’s arm. He flattens Bulldog but gets caught coming off the middle rope with a powerslam and then Bulldog gets a vertical suplex to pop the crowd. Lafon in and Vader catches him with a shot and tags Mero back into the match. Mero gets a Million Dollar knee-lift as called by JR which is kind of surprising since Dibiase is still in WCW. Lafon lands a heel kick and Neidhart is in. He gets in some shots and tags out to Lafon. Mero catches him and gets the tag to Blackman. It’s noted he is not a trained wrestler and is a martial artist. After a few kicks, Lafon plants him with a DDT for two. Blackman fights back and sends Lafon to the floor with a backdrop. Neidhart and Furnas get into it with him on the floor and Blackman gets counted out at 5:50. Apparently he doesn’t know the rules according to JR. Mero and Neidhart have a go back in the ring where Neidhart misses a charge in the corner, but lands a clothesline. He misses a splash from the middle ropes which lets Mero tag Vader. Neidhart gets a knock down for two, but Vader waffles him and drops an elbow followed by a splash and Neidhart is gone at 7:37. Lafon in and he lands a kick that sends Vader over the top to the floor. He sends Vader into the steps and Furnas makes sure to get in some kicks. Lawler tees one up for JR by noting Oklahoma and Colorado never got along. You don’t have to say much to get JR going on about football. Vader gets as suplex in the ring and hits a middle rope splash to eliminate Lafon at 9:09. Furnas in and he misses a dropkick which lets Mero get the tag. He uses his boxing background as JR and Lawler note Goldust hasn’t been in the match yet. Mero gets the Mero-sault for two. Furnas looks a little banged up as he tags in Bulldog. He runs Mero into the buckle ten times which lets the crowd count along. Mero tries a sunset flip, but Bulldog powers out and tries for a powerslam, but Mero slips out and lands a right hand. Bulldog is able to tag back to Furnas and they start exchanging right hands. Mero wins that battle and gets a roll-up for two, but Furnas turns that into his own roll-up for the pin at 11:58. That seemed a little wonky with the count, but it sticks I guess. The crowd is not happy that Sable has to leave as well. Vader in and Furnas gets a leaping clothesline. Tag to Bulldog, but he gets caught with a vertical suplex. Vader goes for the tag, but Goldust short arms him and tells the ref he has a broken hand (he does have a cast). Vader gets a belly to back suplex on Furnas and looks for the tag again, but Goldust walks away. Furnas lands a low blow behind the ref’s back for two. Bulldog in and he eats a boot on a charge. Vader gets another knock-down, but again Goldust wants no part of this match as he drops to the floor. Furnas gets an impressive belly to belly suplex on Vader. Nice! Next he pops off a rana for two as Vader is running very slowly. Vader looks for another tag, but turns his back so Vader spins him around and slaps him in the face. I guess that counts as a tag so Goldust bails to the floor and takes the count-out as he heads to the back. He is officially gone at 17:00. Vader who has worked most of this match is left 2 on 1 and he holds his own for a bit. Vader heads up and hits a Vader Bomb which eliminates Furnas at 17:30. Bulldog grabbed the ring bell while that was going on and blasts Vader in the head as the ref put Furnas out of the ring. That is enough to finish for Team Canada at 17:48. No celebration as Bulldog immediately heads to the back.

Winner and Sole Survivor: The British Bulldog at 17:48
-Best match of the night so far as the crowd actually got into this one. Vader carried the load for his team and looked a little gassed by the end. The best parts of the match were Vader vs Bulldog. They protected Blackman as much as possible and everyone got a little shine other than Goldust who was there to continue his new heel character. **

-Recap of Paul Bearer promising The Undertaker that Kane was alive and then he debuted last month at Badd Blood. Undertaker refuses to fight his brother, so Kane is on a path of destruction until Taker accepts the challenge. 

Mankind vs. Kane (w/ Paul Bearer)

-When you need someone to take an ass kicking and get over a new monster character in the ring, just call Mick Foley! Mankind jumps Kane on the floor which doesn’t prove to be smart as Kane tosses him against the stairs and then again. The match is fought under Kane’s red lighting which is awful and someone apparently thought it was a good idea to bring it back for The Fiend. They get in the ring and Kane sets off his pyro and the match begins proper with the bell sounding. Mankind fights back and gets a Cactus Clothesline to the floor, but Kane lands on his feet and gets his own clothesline. Kane back to the steps and he casually tosses them at Mankind’s face. Back in the ring Kane just methodically beats Mankind down with right hands and boots to the face. Kane gets a sidewalk slam and boots Mankind back to the floor. Mankind fights off being thrown into the stairs, so Kane just pounds him into a pile of good until he ends up taking the trip into the stairs. Kane charges and gets caught with a boot. Mankind gets a Stun Gun onto the stairs and swings away with a chair. Back in the ring he sticks Kane with a stump piledriver and then goes after Bearer with The Mandible Claw. Kane sits-up and tosses Mankind from the apron through one of the announce tables which fires up the crowd. He uses remains of the SAT to to beat Mankind around the ring. Mankind lands a low blows and gets a DDT on the floor. Mankind crawls to the apron and comes off with the Cactus Elbow! BANG BANG! Mankind heads up and Kane just pops up and leaps to the apron and tosses Mankind off the top to the floor. Ouch! Mankind crawls back into the ring and it’s a moot point as Kane stuffs him with a Tombstone for the win at 9:29. 

Winner: Kane via pin at 9:29
-This served its purpose as Mankind put Kane over strong and bumped all over the place for him. He got in a few shots to let Kane show he could take shots and pop back up much like Taker. This was solid! **3/4

-Michael Cole is standing by with Vince McMahon and WWF Commissioner, Sgt Slaughter. They promise Bret vs. Shawn will happen tonight after being delayed several times through the year. McMahon notes Bret and Shawn are two of the greatest WWE Superstars of All Time. He is asked to pick a winner and responds, “I don’t know.” Sure! 

Survivor Series Elimination Match: The Nation of Domination vs. Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, and The Legion of Doom

-That babyface side is quite the collection of scary, intimidating dudes! The crowd is all over Rocky. I should note this is his first PPV appearance in 6 months. D-Low and Hawk start and Hawk no sells everything including a piledriver. Hawk gets a neckbreaker which has D-Lo tagging out to Rocky. He comes in and after a shot from the apron, plants Hawk with a Rock Bottom to end his night at 2:15. Quick night for Hawk! Kama and Ahmed have a go for a bit before Faarooq comes in to lays the beats on Ahmed. JR immediately goes over the football background of Ron. I mean, it is pretty impressive! Ahmed gets trapped in the wrong corner where they whip him with a strap. Ahmed falls on his ass escaping a Dominator and sticks Faarooq with a Pearl River Plunge and he is gone at 4:42. Brown back in and he hits a Frog Splash from the top. He throws some punches which only wakes Ahmed up. He returns fire and catches D-Lo with a modified Falcon Arrow. Rock in and he gets dropped with a spinebuster. Farooq trips Ahmed and holds the foot as Rocky gets the cover to send him out at 6:18. Ahmed and Faarooq battle to the back as we are left with Shamrock/Animal vs. Rocky, D-Lo, and Kama. Animal runs wild on Rocky and gets a running clothesline in the corner. Shamrock in for the first time and he and Rock would have a fun rivalry the following year. Rock gets in a shot to the eyes and makes a tag to Kama. The former pretend MMA guys takes on a UFC Hall of Famer, but this pro-wrestling so Shamrock gets the worst of it and has to tag out to Animal. The Nation regroup in the corner and we go with Kama delivering heavy forearms to the back of Animal. Animal tosses Kama across the ring and they clothesline each other for the double down. Animal ducks a clothesline and gets a belly to back suplex for two as this crowd just went DEAD for some reason. I mean you can hear one guy whistling it’s so quiet. They finally go back to letting Rocky know he sucks. Animal gets a slam as this match is falling apart with the dead crowd and ring mics making weird noises that Lawler blames on Kevin Dunn. Animal gets a roll-up on Kama to end his night at 10:53. Shamrock back in and he catches D-Lo with a clothesline. A very faint UFC chant starts. The Rock sneaks in behind the ref’s back and punches Shamrock right in his dick. DAMN! D-Lo drops the leg for two and then hooks a reverse chinlock. I mean, that’s just giving Shamrock a chance to regroup after getting his little Shamrocks punched. Shamrock fights back, but gets caught with a knee to the gut. D-Lo misses a middle rope moonsault and the tag is made to Animal. Rocky gets the tag as well and Animal catches him with a dropkick. Animal runs wild until Billy Gunn and Road Dogg are out wearing their shoulder spikes. They throw powder in Animal’s face to blind him and he gets counted out of the match at around 15:18. That leaves Shamrock alone with Rocky and D-Lo. Shamrock gets dropped with a clothesline from D-Lo as again, I am amazed at how dead this crowd is. So weird for a PPV in Canada. Shamrock drops both Rocky and D-Lo with a clothesline and then sends Rocky to the floor. D-Lo gets caught with a belly to belly suplex and taps to the ankle lock at 17:15. The Rock blasts Shamrock with a chair which only gets two. Seeing Rock figure things out with this heel run is pretty cool actually as he throws the famous punches while talking trash. He floats over Shamrock and hits a DDT for two. The People’s Elbow (with no reaction) gets two. Shamrock fires back and counters a DDT with a Northern Lights Suplex. They slug it out in the middle of the ring and Shamrock busts out a rana. Lawler notes he does that move from time to time and threatens to do it to JR if he isn’t quiet. Shamrock gets the ankle lock and Rocky taps to end this one at 20:35. 

Winner and Sole Survivor: Ken Shamrock via submission at 20:35
-This started decent and then had a lull in the middle before getting solid again. The Rock was clearly the star of this match though they put Shamrock over strong which makes sense as he was put into the WWF Title picture the next month. The future Outlaws messing with The LOD makes sense as well as they were after their tag titles. ***

-Commercial for in Your House: DX PPV. Probably not a good sign for Bret’s Main Event future! 

-Video package for Austin/Owen which focuses on Austin’s toughness and Owen breaking Austin’s neck. How Austin managed to crawl and finish that match is insane. 

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Owen Hart (c) (w/ Bulldog, Neidhart, Furnas and LaFon) vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

-This is Austin’s first match since the botched piledriver at SummerSlam. He came back too soon which explains what is about to happen with this match. Austin was hated in Canada back in July, but gets a strong reaction here. Owen stalls so Neidhart can jump in the ring and he gets stunned. Austin opens a chan on Owen in the corner as the crowd chants “break his neck.” Owen tries for a piledriver to thunderous applause, but Austin backdrops out. Sick people! Owen’s help all heads to the back so Owen decides to head out with them. Lawler: “Owen is opening up a can of haul ass.” That line always cracked me up! Austin follows Owen out and beats his ass back to the ring. Owen immediately heads out again and catches Austin with a mule kick to the broken skulls. Owen rakes the eyes and uses a cable to choke as he tells the ref to disqualify him. Owen even rings the bell for the ref…..perhaps he should have been the timekeeper for the Main Event. Back in the ring Owen stomps Austin in the corner, but gets caught in the eyes with a thumb. Now Austin stomps a mud hole and walks in dry. They tease the Tombstone reversal spot, but Austin just lands on his feet, flips Owen off and finishes him with The Stunner at 4:04. Furnas and Lafon are out and they each get dropped with a Stunner as well. 

Winner and New WWF Intercontinental Champion: Steve Austin via pin at 4:04
-As I mentioned Austin wasn’t in any condition to do much more in the ring as he was making his return. This was what it needed to be though as Austin got revenge, stayed healthy, and won back The IC Title. *

-The WWF Attitude commercial debuts with Bret and he would quickly be edited out in short order. You know the one…”try lacing my boots.”

-Video Package for Bret/Shawn. I mean what can you say about this rivalry? Thankfully everyone got back on speaking terms and we got the DVD release where they both went over everything in regards to their rivalry together. 

-For personal perspective I was 16 at the time of this match and was still 2 months away from having internet in my house. I actually found out about Bret leaving from watching ECW the night before this show.

WWF Championship: Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) vs. Shawn Michaels

-Look at Bret, finally getting to Main Event a PPV during his last run as WWF Champion. It only took three months! Shawn gets booed out of the building and gets caught with a soda to the face. He just smiles it off and then picks his nose with a Canadian flag and then lays it on the map and humps it. Shawn is making friends tonight! It’s crazy to think what both these men were thinking as they walked out for this match. Shawn had to be worried about a riot knowing what was going down. I haven’t watched this match in a long time and it’s just surreal watching it twenty five years later. JR makes sure to note that Bret is a 21 year veteran which is basically Vince telling the fans that Bret is old. JR tells us the smart money is that we will never see this match again. The sad thing is it likely would have happened again if Bret didn’t suffer the concussion. Shawn jumps Bret and they start trading blows as we don’t have a bell yet. Bret unloads with right hands as Shawn starts bumping all over the ring. A clothesline sends him to the floor and Bret follows. He sends Shawn into the post and then into the stairs. Shawn gets tossed into the crowd which isn’t the safest place to be for him. The refs try to keep the fans away, but good luck with that. Bret tosses Shawn back over the railing as more security and officials head down including Vince McMahon. DUN DUN DUN! Shawn fires back and sends Bret into the stairs. Shawn grabs an American Flag and chokes Bret out with that as JR mentions that there is speculation that if Bret loses this match it will be his last in the WWF. Well, at least we know Vince isn’t feeding him lines in his ear though I am sure he had points he wanted him to hit. They head back into the crowd and Bret gets a backdrop that sends Shawn back over the railing. Low blow from Bret as Lawler what McMahon thinks he is going to be able to do. I am sure he has something in mind. JR also mentions that Vince owns the place which rarely happened before this. Bret gets a suplex in the aisle and then another for good measure. Shawn takes a swing at Pat Patterson while JR mentions this looks like the locker room from Hartford. More insider references that went over my head twenty-five years ago. They brawl near the entrance set as Bret hits Shawn with a fire extinguisher. They fight in the entrance set and Bret decks a referee. Vince screams for them to get back in the ring and he and Bret stare at each other. Oh Bret, if you only knew. Shawn has taken a major ass kicking in this one as they finally get back to the ring. After nearly 9 minutes the match starts proper and Bret choke Shawn with a Quebec Flag. He drops a leg as JR notes that Shawn is younger and not carrying as much weight. Shawn ducks a clothesline and gets the flying forearm to many boos! He kips up and just punts Bret right in the face. He stems away and then uses the Quebec Flag to choke Bret. He then tells the crowd to Suck It before dropping a fits on Bret’s head. He tosses Bret to the floor as who needs the ring for this match? Shawn says something a security guard in the crowd and then spits as someone. He smacks Bret around in front of the fans with a smile on his face. He lifts Bret up for a suplex and then just drops him face first on the rings steps. He breaks the Canadian Flag in half and hits Bret with the pole. That should have been a DQ, but we are well past that with this one. The crowd is just in awe of this one as they aren’t sure how things are going to end and it’s got them on edge. Back in the ring Shawn gets a front face-lock, but Bret is able to get to his feet and break by tossing Shawn across the ring and on his face. Bret goes to work on the knee, but gets caught with a rear naked choke which lets Shawn rake the eyes. They trade blows in the middle of the ring and Shawn goes back to the eyes. Shawn hits a slam and heads up. He comes off with a crossbody, but Bret rolls through and gets a two count. Bret drags Shawn to the corner and wraps his knee off the post. He gets the ring post figure four as the crowd explodes. Some in the crowd start a “Bret Sold Out” chant which shows that not everyone was on Bret’s side. Back in the ring Bret gets the figure-four, but Shawn fights off the pain and is able to turn to his stomach to reverse the pressure. Bret quickly gets to the ropes which causes a break. Bret pounds away in the corner and flips upside down off a whip to the corner. Bret gets two off a Side Russian Leg Sweep as JR puts over the toughness of Shawn. Vertical suplex gets two! Bret with a side suplex and he heads up, but Hebnar gets pulled in the way by Shawn which takes him out of the match. Shawn trakes the eyes and puts Bret in The Sharpshooter and Hebnar yells “ring the bell,” and that’s it at 12:11. 

Winner and New WWF Champion: Shawn Michaels via submission at 12:11
-So historically this is one the most famous and important matches of all time. You can call it ***** for that. The 8 minute brawl before the match was great and intense which was probably ****. The actual match was solid with a deflating and confusing ending for fans who didn’t know the backstory and history. That would be around ***1/2 or so. In total I’ll just call it **** for everything. It is definitely bizarre and surreal to watch all these years later. I was more focused on what everyone involved was thinking more than I was focused on the match itself. It is still crazy to me that Shawn went through with this match knowing what was going down and how they fully trusted each other out there. Bret telling us years later he shook Shawn’s hand for the match even though he knew deep down that Shawn was in on it is something else as well. After watching this show I feel I need to watch Wrestling With Shadows again and then the Shawn/Bret Rivalries DVD set. 

-Bret is up and spits in Vince’s face as Shawn pretends to be pissed off. JR rushes us off the air as Brisco and HHH hurry up and get Shawn to the back with the WWF Title.

-Thanks for reading!

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
This is one of those shows that every wrestling fans needs to watch as it is historically one of the most important, and infamous, shows of all time. Outside of the Main Event though and a solid Survivor Series Match and Kane destroying Mankind, this was pretty bad. The crowd was dead for most of the show and they got treated to an ending that left most confused. This is a weird one to rate and I will just focus on the actual wrestling, but again, everyone should see this show at least once just for perspective of what was going down at the time. The funny thing is that this was a bad show, but one that saved the WWF in the long run and made them the juggernaut they are today.