Saturday, September 20th, 1997 – Birmingham, England – NEC Arena – One of the pay-per-views that kicked off what deemed to be called the “Attitude Era” in the World Wrestling Federation had the main event where the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels challenged the British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith for his WWF European championship, making if Michaels won, he’d be the first Grand Slam winner in the company (meaning he’d be the first one to win all four championships at that time).
The show opens with a video package talking about the British Bulldog where the first time he came back to his country for a pay-per-view, he defeated Bret Hart for the Intercontinental title at SummerSlam 1992 and tonight he’s defending the country and honor of the country he grew up and represents.
Our announcers are for the show are Vince McMahon, Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross. It’s weird to hear Mr. McMahon open the show and be the announcer Vince, not the boss Vince.
Match One :: Triple H (with Chyna) versus Dude Love
McMahon tells us that Chyna is Triple H’s “…200 pound bodyguard…” Wow! It’s weird thinking of it now that Chyna was that jacked!
[adinserter name=”366 left”]After Triple H was in the ring, we see a video package of Dude Love. I can easily tell that Foley didn’t have Dude’s promo style down during this time. I felt his interview was very awkward. But once Dude Love got into the ring, the crowd ate him up (not literally, but they popped big for him).
One thing I found funny was the announcers were discussing Dude Love’s attire by how it reminded them of the ‘70s, and the Grateful Dead was brought up and compared to the Dudester. I got a chuckle out of their conversation.
When Dude was working on Triple H’s arm, one thing that changed from 1997 to 2013 was how people give up when in submissions. Triple H hit the mat three times if I counted correctly and that wasn’t a submission, which caught me by surprise.
One thing that got the crowd into the match was when Dude put a modified Indian Deathlock onto Triple H and taunted the fans to get into the match.
Triple H baited Dude Love to chase him outside the ring and Chyna hid until Dude ran around the corner she was hiding by and closelined him, taking the advantage away that he had.
Another pop from the crowd was when the ref caught Triple H cheating and the ref got into his face and chased him out of the ring. Only if ref’s acted that way still nowadays, officials would be respected more than they are in the world of professional wrestling.
Chyna helped Triple H when Dude hit the “Sweet Shin Music” and the Double Arm DDT when she put his foot on the bottom rope when Dude had the cover on him for the victory. The ref caught the foot and that gave Triple H the heads when Dude was calling Chyna out for that, Triple H kicked Dude in the gut and hit him with the Pedigree for the win.
Winner: Triple H and his awesome old music that he had back then.
WWF Tag Team Championship :: Los Boricuas (Savio Vega and Miguel Perez, Jr.) versus the Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) (champions)
We see a video package when the Los Boricuas came out showing us how the Headbangers won the tag team titles. Because of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Headbangers won the titles. That reminded me that Austin injured his neck at SummerSlam this year by an inverted piledriver given by Owen Hart.
Out of these two teams, the Headbangers are the fan favorites for this team. I don’t blame any crowd of fans not liking Los Boricuas, back then all those faction splits were confusing the way it was.
Miguel Perez was the original Albert in the WWE by all that body hair he sported back in 1997. McMahon, Lawler, and JR all talked about his body hair. I don’t know why guys don’t shave their bodies if they don’t cover it up. It has to be gross touching it when their bodies are sweaty.
The fans were into this match but it was hard for me to get into this match. I don’t remember much about the Los Boricuas and never cared for the Headbangers when they were popular in the Federation. It didn’t help much that the three-man announce team would go back-and-forth joking argue with one another and not talk about why these two teams are feuding.
The match went back-and-forth with fast paced action and rest holds. A good psychology for the match, take the crowd on a roller coaster ride. Get them excited and into the match and bring them back down, only to bring them back into the match with fast paced action.
When they were doing a lot of rest periods during the match, I felt like this match dragged and often times I felt like this matched dragged lots. Could be me, like said before, not knowing much about either team and not knowing why they’re feuding with one another, I’m finding a hard time to get into this match.
The finish came when one of the Headbangers jumped off the top rope and landed crotch first to one of the Boricuas and got a three count.
Winners: Headbangers, retaining the titles.
We go to an interview done earlier with Jim Ross talking to the Bulldog. Bulldog said that this match is important for him since his sister’s there in the crowd and she battled cancer twice and dedicated the match to her, since she’s a champion to him. Bulldog also mentioned that he dropped about 28 pounds for he can try and compete with Michaels speed wise in the match and he knows that Michaels can’t compete with him strength wise, so he feels he has the upper hand because of that.
We go to an interview with the LOD and as a vintage Legion of Doom promos, I had no idea what those two men talked about because the only thing they did was shout the whole time.
The Godwinns (Henry and Phineas) versus the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal)
Thankfully Jim Ross told us why these two teams are battling one another and it’s because the Legion of Doom broke Henry Godwinns neck in April and the Godwinns want retribution for it. I always enjoy brief history lessons like this, especially when I pop in a random PPV and don’t know much of a backstory of any of the matches.
One thing I always appreciate is watching two guys (or for this match, four) who have wrestling styles like these four guys have, and that’s a hard-hitting, no-selling, brawling style. I’m happy never to see one but this match reminds me of a bar fight.
I can tell that the crowd was burnt out up to this point. There isn’t much of a crowd reaction for the match, which I expected when both teams came out.
The crowd started to get into the match when the finish came when all found men were in the ring and started to exchange fists. Once Henry out of the ring, Phineas was picked up and ate a Doomsday Device and the Legion of Doom scored the pinfall victory!
Winners: The Road Warriors and I, since I was bored during this match.
After the ring was cleared, Jim Ross entered the ring and interviewed Ken Shamrock. When Shamrock walked out to the ring, McMahon mentioned that he’s a former UFC fighter, which I’m surprised to hear since nowadays McMahon hates to discuss any competition that he has.
Shamrock suffered injuries when he faced Ron Simmons on a Raw when they were competing in the Intercontinental title tournament when Shamrock was injured by a spin buster.
Billy Gun came out and ran down Shamrock, saying that he doesn’t look tough and slapped him. Shamrock went off and slapped on the ankle lock. Good way to get over Shamrock and the ankle lock.
Vader versus Owen Hart
As explained in the interview with Ken Shamrock, Vader is the replacement for Shamrock against Owen Hart. I’m hoping for a good match with Vader and Owen Hart.
After the first beats played, Owen got a giant pop from the crowd, since he’s one of the brother-in-laws with UK’s own British Bulldog. That was mentioned too when Hart was on his way to the ring, as well as he is tag partners with the Bulldog. And once the bell rang, it was mentioned that Owen’s been in the company for ten years, so since 1987. Another history lesson!
Rather quickly Vader had the upper hand by the shear strength and mass advantage he had over Owen. This is another match-type I enjoy, seeing a power-wrestler like Vader battle a quick, speed-technician like Owen.
One thing I appreciate about the early part of the match was whenever Hart had Vader on his back, Owen tried to slap on the Sharpshooter but couldn’t turn the big man over to his belly to put the full effect onto Vader.
How the match is laid out, I feel like Vader’s trying to make Owen seem like a fighter who, each time he gets an opportunity, gets the short-handed by one of Vader’s jabs.
Once Owen got the Sharpshooter onto Vader, the crowd jumped to their feet and popped loud for the move, hoping to be the finish. Vader got to the ropes and got the break. Once Vader got to his feet, Owen was able to pick up Vader and bodyslam him on his third try.
The finish came out of the blue when Owen went to the top rope to hit Vader with something off the top and Vader caught him and powerslammed him into a pinfall victory.
Winner: Vader and the fans, since I felt this was the best match on the tape.
We go backstage to Shawn Michaels and the Heartbreak Kid said that he went to England to become the first Grand Slam winner, being the first one to win the WWF title, the Intercontinental title, the Tag titles, and the European title.
WWF European Championship match :: Shawn Michaels versus the British Bulldog (champion)
To my surprise, I was expecting a gigantic boo-fest for Michaels when he came out but all the kids and ladies wanted to slap hands with the challenger and get hugs from him, if possible.
Once the Bulldog came out, the fans jumped to their feet and cheered for him, since he’s the hometown hero, coming home to defend their title against the cocky American who only wants the gold for selfish gain.
As normal 1997 Michaels, once the bell rang, he jumped outside of the ring to buy time and try to get in the head of the Bulldog, which seemed not to work too well, since those two men have a history with one another.
When they first locked up, the Bulldog overpowered Michaels and pushed him to his back, which threw Michaels off, since the Bulldog got the upper hand rather quickly.
One thing that got the crowd into the match was when the Bulldog had Michaels over his head and was going to press slam him outside the ring and the ref ran in the way to stop it, since it’d be a long drop face first to the mats outside. So what does the Bulldog do? He just dropped the Heartbreak Kid behind him to the mat behind him.
Throughout the match the fans kept chanting “Bulldog!” which was awesome to hear since this is one of few PPV events over in England and in the main event we see one of their countrymen defending their honor and their championship.
We got another history lesson from Jim Ross when he talked about the Bulldog winning the Intercontinental title at SummerSlam 1992 in the UK, and a few months later, who did he lose the title to? Shawn Michaels. JR wanted to put into question that maybe the Bulldog could lose the European championship to the Heartbreak Kid.
Rick Rude came out and pushed the Bulldog into the ring post when he was on the outside and Michaels had the ref distracted in the ring. Shortly after, Jim Ross questioned how much money Michaels paid Rude beforehand to help him get the upper hand.
No matter if the Bulldog and Michaels took the match and had it fast faced or did a lot of rest holds, the fans were into every single thing they did, which made the match better than imagined.
After both guys butted heads and were in the ring laying around, Triple H and Chyna came out to back up Rick Rude to help Michaels out anyway that they can, trying to screw the Bulldog over.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]Shortly after Triple H and Chyna came out, Michaels bodyslammed the Bulldog and went upstairs and went for two flying elbow drops. After that, the challenger went to the corner to “warm up the band” and telegraph the Sweet Chin Music. When Michaels went for it, the Bulldog countered and picked Michaels up for his finish, the running powerslam and Rude had Bulldog’s leg.
Rude was distracting the ref and Bulldog was gonna go for the running powerslam outside the ring and got his leg caught in-between the mat and the barricade and with that, Triple H grabbed the Bulldog (when Michaels had the ref in the ring) and pedigreed him.
Bulldog was rolled into the ring and Michaels took his knee brace off and the challenger slapped the figure four leg lock on the champion.
Because of the pain, the ref stopped the match and awarded Shawn Michaels the victory.
Winner: Shawn Michaels, the NEW EUROPEAN CHAMPION!
As a whole, I feel like his pay-per-view is passable. But I highly suggest finding the main event somehow and watch it. It’s a lot better than what I expected. The crowd helped and brought the match up but with the Bulldog and Michaels made the match great. The crowd ate up everything both guys did in the main event, making the newly made European Championship seem something worth chasing after, as well as two main eventers grappling one another for it. All-in-all, if you want this show for a historical aspect, worthwhile buying, if not, the main event’s worth seeking out to watch.
Eric Darsie is known as a ‘common-man’ among his peers, at least he thinks so. He works hard with his hands in the heart of Minnesota and on his free time, he thugs and a bugs with his family and friends. Whenever he doesn’t do that, he’s found to be writing. Now more of a rare thing, he’s gems could be found here. If you would like to see more of Eric’s work outside of the professional world, check him out at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/, http://www.writerscafe.org/Darsie/writing/, and on Twitter @IAmDarsie.
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