Friday 21 May 2021

WWF Summerslam 1997: Hart & Soul Review!


Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that continues to confuse you more than an episode of Monday Night Raw! It’s time for WWF Summerslam 1997 where Bret Hart looks to capture his fifth WWF Championship against the seemingly unstoppable Undertaker! We also have Stone Cold Steve Austin taking on the Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart, Brian Pillman vs Goldust and British Bulldog vs Ken Shamrock! Lots of drama involved in this one, Shawn Michaels is the special referee for the main event which creates a massive obstacle for The Hitman. Meanwhile, this night will go down in infamy for one moment and one move that would change the wrestling business dramatically for sure. Can Summerslam be a home-run like Canadian Stampede? Let’s find out!


(Steel Cage Match) Hunter Hearst Helmsley W/ Chyna vs Mankind

This all kicked off at The King of The Ring, these two despise one another with Mankind looking to destroy Helmsley who cost him the chance to be the king of the ring. They battled to a double count-out at Canadian Stampede and things have escalated week after week so now we have to settle the score inside a steel cage match.


Helmsley starts the match by trying to dive out the cage door, Mankind grabs onto Helmsley and yanks Helmsley back into the middle of the ring. Right hands from Mankind, Helmsley tries to escape again but Mankind is not going to let that happen. Helmsley is raked against the cage before landing massive right hands in the corner. You know what’s next, Mankind lands his running knee. Pulling piledriver that looks nasty from Mankind, Chyna prevents Mankind from leaving through the door. Mandible Claw but Chyna chokes Mankind through the cage with her belt, the crowd voices their disapproval at this interference. Irish whip by Helmsley, Helmsley avoids a boot but eats a discuss clothesline from Mankind. Chyna is climbing the cage and low-blows Mankind who is on top of the cage.


Helmsley climbs up and suplexes Mankind to the mat from the top of the cage, that looked so nasty. Helmsley crawls towards the door and decides that Helmsley wants to beat up Mankind. Mankind is rammed into the cage wall multiple times, Mankind’s head is banged off the cage wall multiple times. Helmsley shows that mean-streak again while smashing Mankind repeatedly and Mankind grabs the foot of Helmsley who has almost escaped the cage. Helmsley is almost free, Helmsley boots down Mankind but Mankind comes back and drags Helmsley back into the cage. Mankind tees off on Helmsley with repeated right hands, Irish whip to the corner and a knee to the head. Chyna lands a forearm through the cage.


Both men land inverted atomic drops before Mankind lands a stiff clothesline, Irish whip and Helmsley counters with a face-buster. Mankind blocks the suplex and sends Helmsley into the cage who is in a tree-of-woe like position before Mankind lands a huge running elbow. Helmsley meets the cage hard, again Helmsley meets the cage with Mankind in control. Headbutt by Mankind, Helmsley back-drops Mankind into the steel cage. Helmsley is climbing high, Mankind is battling with Helmsley on the top rope. Mankind batters Helmsley who crotches himself on the top rope, Chyna looks on concerned at ring-side. Helmsley is also caught in the top rope, Chyna is trying to free Helmsley while Mankind crawls towards the door. Chyna rushes to the door and smacks it off the head of Mankind before wiping out the referee.


Chyna has a chair and she throws it to Helmsley, Pedigree is the plan but Mankind reverses and catapults Helmsley into Chyna who was climbing the cage wall. Chyna is down, Mankind lands a massive Double Arm DDT on the chair. Chyna is in the cage, Helmsley is not moving. Mankind rips off his mask not wanting to win by escaping the cage just yet. Mankind sits on top of the cage, Diving Elbow from the top of the cage. Right into the heart of Helmsley, Chyna crawls in trying to pull out Helmsley but Mankind is too fast and Mankind is your winner of this absolute war.


Fantastic opening match, it’s what you want from a cage match with two people who despise one another beating the hell out of one another inside of that cage. Great violence, great intensity from Helmsley and Mankind. So many great spots, the superplex from the top to the catapult into Chyna into that diving elbow, this match packs quite the punch and it’s a great way to cap off the feud if that is it for these two but I have a feeling it’s going to continue. One of my favourite matches of this era, a great feud that just gets better and better. Happy for both men, this is what they needed to get back on track!


Winner: Mankind over Hunter Hearst Helmsley via Escape!


Goldust W/ Marlena vs Brian Pillman

Goldust continues his babyface run against The Loose Cannon Brian Pillman, two men who met at Canadian Stampede in that awesome 10-man tag. Happy to see Pillman in a singles match, curious to see how Pillman does after his ankle injury. Pillman was more of a spectator in the main event of Canadian Stampede, this match starts with Pillman jumping Goldust. Pillman bites the head of Goldust, Goldust is whipped to the buckle and explodes out with a middle rope elbow. Ten punches in the corner from Goldust, Pillman tries the inverted atomic drop but Goldust dodges and kisses Pillman who powders at this atrocity. Pillman goes low with a boot and chops The Bizarre One, side headlock on the ropes from Pillman.


 Irish whip and elbow from Pillman, Pillman stalks Marlena. Goldust nails Pillman hard with a clothesline, chop and back rake from Goldust. Pillman begs off with Goldust landing jabs, Pillman takes advantage of Goldust lowering his head. Snap suplex from Pillman, Pillman climbs high and is crotched on the top rope. Marlena blows her cigar in the face of Pillman before Pillman uses Marlena as a shield and DDTs Goldust on the floor. Diving clothesline from Pillman for two, Pillman clamps on a sleeper. Goldust fires back, back-slide for two but Pillman is up first and lands a massive clothesline for two. Goldust ducks a clothesline and lands a flying clothesline of his own. Both are trading massive blows, Goldust wins the exchange. Running bulldog is countered by Pillman, shoulder thrust from Goldust and a sunset-flip but they botch it. They recover well with Marlena walloping Pillman in the head and Goldust getting the sunset-flip for the win.


Solid at the end of the day, Pillman’s cheating tactics are good fun and Goldust is getting good reactions between the ropes, wish there could have been a bit more to the match. It never left second gear for me, they just got on with it which is not a problem sometimes but I just didn’t care when all was said and done.


Winner: Goldust over Brian Pillman via Sunset Flip!


The Godwinns vs The Legion of Doom

LOD broke Henry Godwinn’s neck so The Godwinns came back with a vengeance and now we have this match between the two. It looked as if LOD would be tag team champions by this stage in the WWF but with Owen Hart being a singles champion, it seems plans have changed. The Godwinns have been part of some of my most hated matches of this era with simpleton Phineas being among my most hated gimmicks of the time so as heels, I am interested to see what the duo can do as I have long since lost my trust in The Godwinns as babyfaces.


We start with a brawl, LOD clothesline The Godwinns. Hawk lands an apron clothesline, Animal lands a shoulder block on Phineas who powders to catch his breathe. Henry works on Animal who missed a corner clothesline, Animal back-flips out of a belly to back suplex and lands a clothesline to both Godwinns. Hawk wipes out Phineas on the floor, lock-up and Henry clubs on Hawk. Hot-shot from Henry, Hawk dodges an apron leg drop. Hawk nails Henry on the floor and sends Henry into the steel steps. Snap-mare into a leg drop from Hawk for two, Henry goes low with a headbutt and a tag to Phineas. Headbutt from Phineas, neck-breaker stretch from Phineas.


Hawk tags in Animal, lock-up and Animal wrenches the arm. Irish whip with Phineas attacking Animal with a knee, Henry wipes out Animal with a clothesline to the floor. Animal is bumped into the guardrail, scoop slam for two. Tag to Phineas, bearhug from Phineas. Phineas tags Henry but Henry misses a clothesline, Phineas comes in and gut punches Animal. Phineas tries a middle rope clothesline, Animal nails Phineas and tags Hawk. Powerslam from Hawk, Hawk is battering both. Corner clothesline to Henry, clothesline to Phineas. Neck-breaker to Henry, Phineas makes the save. Animal wipes out Phineas, LOD clothesline Henry. Hawk wipes out Phineas with a diving clothesline before a Spike Piledriver puts down Henry.


Watchable but not much heat to it from the fans, Hawk receives a lukewarm reaction to his hot-tag. And I do not want to speculate on the personal life of Hawk at this point considering what would be coming in terms of angles in The Attitude Era but Hawk seemed all over the place at times here, timing was off and it made a little sloppy but that’s it now. I imagine this feud is done and dusted, no harm done.


Winners: LOD over The Godwinns via Spike Piledriver!


The British Bulldog vs Ken Shamrock

Continuation of The Hart Foundation antagonizing every babyface in the WWF, Bulldog covered Shamrock with dog food on Raw which leads us to this match. Shamrock comes down intense as always and belly to belly suplexes Bulldog to begin, Bulldog meets the steel steps. Irish whip, heel-hook from Shamrock but Bulldog makes it to the ropes immediately. Clothesline from Shamrock for two, forearms and knee-lift from Shamrock. Bulldog puts up a knee and clotheslines Shamrock down, headbutt from Bulldog. Suplex for two, reverse chin-lock from Bulldog. Shamrock escapes but Bulldog goes low, headbutts from Bulldog. Shamrock is being rocked, small package from Bulldog for two.


Reverse chin-lock from Bulldog, Shamrock is hurled into the ring-post hard. Hard Irish whip into the steel steps, Bulldog has the steel steps but the referee stops this act of violence. Shamrock punches and kicks back into the match before Bulldog lands a low blow. Into the ring we go, right hands from Bulldog who continues teeing off on The World’s Most Dangerous Man. Another chin-lock, Bulldog throws dogfood at Shamrock and Shamrock loses his mind and batters Bulldog with the dogfood can. Shamrock gets disqualified but gets over big-time as a loose cannon as he chokes out Bulldog and body-slams about 5 referees.


Brief and still I had 3 chin-locks from Bulldog, amazing how that man can go from a phenomenal entertaining performer in spots but when Bulldog is in there by himself, it can be torturous at times. Shamrock gets over big time which was tremendous, glad to see how they are handling Shamrock in the WWF. Great reactions from the fans, a success for sure despite the disappointing match itself.


Winner: British Bulldog over Ken Shamrock via DQ!


DOA vs Los Boricuas

So both Crush and Savio Vega had caused problems within The Nation due to their hatred of one another, this brings us to this match between the two groups. Like something out of The Warriors but I guess a more appropriate reference would be to perhaps capitalize on the feuds that rappers were having at the time, we have Gang-Warfare brother!


Crush is the babyface leading a tattooed biker gang against Savio and his Puerto Rican brothers, this match starts with a brawl and DOA control the rings like babyfaces. Skull and Jose, clothesline from Skull. Jose blocks with a boot and a diving clothesline to the back of the head before a boot from Skull. 8-Ball lands a massive sidewalk slam, here comes Crush who lands two leg drops. Miguel and Crush are in, Crush lands a tilt-a-whirl slam for two before we have Chainz and Jesus. Chainz lands a back body-drop and three elbow drops before tagging in Skull who lands punches and tags in 8-Ball. Jesus is rammed into the buckle before Savio Vega lands a corner spinning heel kick on 8-Ball. Jose and Miguel batter 8-Ball, Miguel rams 8-Ball into the turnbuckle and lands a corner clothesline.


Los Boricuas batter 8-Ball behind the referee’s back, Savio misses a clothesline and eats a clothesline from 8-Ball. The Nation of Domination are here, Jesus and 8-Ball are going at it, both men are down with Jesus keeping control. Triple beat-down behind the referee’s back, Savio is now legal. Hip-toss out of the corner, reverse chin-lock from Savio. Savio continues to wind up DOA as Miguel and Jose batter 8-Ball. Missile dropkick from Miguel, more dropkicks and double teaming on 8-Ball. Reverse chin-lock from Jose, 8-Ball fights out but Jose holds onto the leg. Miguel and Savio beat down 8-Ball, Savio misses a corner splash. Tag to Chainz, military press slams and boots all around. The match falls apart as the referee has no clue what to do, Chainz clocks Ahmed. Pearl River Plunge on Chainz, Chainz is thrown back in the ring and pinned off an elbow drop.


That heat segment on 8-Ball went on way too long, match should have descended into chaos the second we saw The Nation of Domination, crowd only cared for Ahmed in The Nation anyways. Easily the worst match on the card, dragged and accomplished nothing.


Winners: Los Boricuas over DOA via Elbow Drop!


(WWF Intercontinental Championship Match) Owen Hart © vs Stone Cold Steve Austin

Owen Hart managed to beat Stone Cold Steve Austin at Canadian Stampede which kicked off this feud between the two, Austin will kiss Owen’s ass if he cannot beat him inside of this ring. Now this match going in we all know is going to be infamous for all the wrong reasons but could these two work with one another? Was this a great match before the piledriver? Let’s see!


Owen Hart jumps Austin with a chop-block, Owen works the knee with kicks and sends Austin into the ring-post from the get-go. Austin fires back with right hands, Lou Thesz Press from Austin. Owen Hart takes the sternum-bump, Austin yanks Owen down by the hair. Austin chokes Owen with the middle rope, Owen dodges Austin who puts on the brakes at the last second and lands a clothesline for two. Austin works the arm, snap-mare and knee drops onto the arm. Owen has the hammerlock, Austin counters with both men countering before Austin drops Owen on the arm he has been working over. Arm-bar from The Rattlesnake, flying elbow counter from Owen. Austin drops Owen but Owen pulls Austin into the ring-post. Owen rams Austin’s arm into the steel steps, Owen steps all over the arm.


Owen wrenches and bites the arm of Austin, Austin is tied up in the ropes as Owen rips at the ringers. Stomps from the champion, stun-gun counter from The Rattlesnake. Powerbomb from Austin who clotheslines Owen to the floor, Owen calls for a timeout and tries to leave the arena. Austin clotheslines Owen down, Owen begs for mercy in the ring. Owen lures in Austin, big scoop slam and elbow drop for two, Irish whip to the buckle but Austin explodes out with a clothesline. Owen kicks off Austin to avoid the sharpshooter and lands a clothesline + a leg drop to the neck for two. Hard whip to the buckle, headbutt from Austin. Austin rolls through a middle rope crossbody for two, German suplex by Owen for two and a half. Camel clutch from the champion, anything to wear down the neck of Austin.


Austin escapes but lowers his head on an Irish whip, vicious DDT from Owen Hart for a close two. Reverse chin-lock from The Rocket, Austin escapes and applies his own sleeper. Owen reverses for his own, jaw-breaker from Austin. Austin goes to the middle rope, Owen cuts off Austin. Russian leg-sweep for two, Owen applies a sleeper while using the ropes for leverage. Referee Earl Hebnar catches Owen Hart cheating, right hands from Austin. Irish whip, Owen counters and piledrivers Austin and breaks his neck there and then. Owen starts walking around the ring stalling and we can see something is very wrong. You can hear the concern of Mcmahon in his voice, Owen continues stalling as Austin is in a bad, bad way. Austin struggles his way into a roll-up and pins Owen Hart, Austin is your WWF Intercontinental Champion.


What a professional Owen is, Owen knew shit was not good and did not stomp or try and work a different body part. Injuring one of the top stars in the WWF when they are white-hot, could you imagine how Owen must have felt at that time? The match was quite good before the abrupt ending, Austin was so explosive inside of the ring, things will not be the same from this point onwards but it was almost a blessing in disguise as Austin would become more popular in the months where he was injured.


Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin over Owen Hart via Roll-Up!


(WWF Championship Match) The Undertaker © vs Bret Hart (Shawn Michaels = Special Guest Referee)

If Bret loses, Bret will never wrestle in the US again! Quite the stipulation for Mr. Canada himself The Hitman. Bret has said many times that he has been screwed in the WWF, things could not be more clear with Shawn Michaels being the special guest referee in this match. Undertaker’s WWF Championship reign has been quite good so far beyond his match with Faarooq but these two have faced off before, WWF Royal Rumble 1996 and it was nothing to write home about at all with one spot sticking with me all these reviews later and I will be so pissed if they do not replicate it during this match.


Bret jumps Taker who had not taken off his jacket, Bret tees off with right hands but Taker is shaking it off. Taker grabs Bret, rights and lefts from The Deadman. Irish whip and clothesline from The Phenom, Bret powders but Taker rams Bret into the guardrail. Bret lays against the ring-post, Bret ducks the clothesline and Taker hurts his arm. Bret sends Taker into the steel steps, Taker sends Bret into the steel steps. In the ring, back-breaker from Taker who stretches Bret across his knee. Headbutt from Taker, Bret meets the turnbuckle. Bearhug from The Deadman, Bret bites his way out but eats a big boot. Taker misses an elbow drop, Bret goes after the leg of Taker. Repeated stomps, Bret stretches the leg over and over. Eye rake to Taker’s eyes, Bret drops all his weight on the ankle of Taker. Taker fights back before another eye rake, Bret stomps the hamstring of Taker over and over. Taker attempts to club The Hitman but Bret is relentless going after the leg. Figure four from Bret, Paul Bearer is waddling down to ringside, what could this mean?


Undertaker’s brother is still alive but can Paul Bearer be trusted? Is Kane alive? Taker reverses the figure four and Bret breaks the hold, Taker works Bret’s leg by driving it into the mat. Taker decks Paul Bearer with a right-hand, Bret Hart chop-blocks Taker hard. Ring-post figure-four from The Hitman, The Hart Foundation are at ringside while Michaels and Bret Hart are having words. Taker collapses to the mat as Bret continues working the leg, elbows to the knee with a grapevine from the challenger. Taker grabs a headlock but Bret continues to maintain control, Taker uses his good leg to kick Bret in the face. Taker beats up Pillman & Owen at ringside, HBK takes the duo to the back. In the ring, Chokeslam from Taker. Michaels does not see the pin, Taker is not pleased by Michaels not seeing the pin-fall.


Roll-up from Bret for two, Taker clotheslines Bret down and has words with Michaels. Bret pulls out Taker, Taker is rammed spine-first into the ring apron. Bret slams Taker into the ring-post, Bret lands headbutt to the spine of The Deadman. Back-breaker from Bret, two for The Hitman. Taker sits-up, suplex from the challenger and Bret’s Rope Elbow Drop. Two for Bret, Taker sits up again. DDT from Bret for two, headbutts from Bret. Taker stun-guns The Hitman, Bret answers with a Russian leg-sweep. Bret wants the sharpshooter but Taker has Bret by the throat, Taker pummels Bret in the corner. Hard Irish whip, Bret kicks away at Taker but Taker avoids the chop-block. Both men brawl with Taker getting the victory in that contest, flying clothesline by Taker.


 Sternum-turnbuckle bump from Bret, two for Taker. Boot by The Deadman and a leg drop for two, Taker Chokeslams Bret from the apron back into the ring. 1…2.. Bret kicks out! Bret crotches Taker who was going for Old School, Bret wants the superplex. Bret lands the superplex, Sharpshooter from The Hitman. Taker muscles out of the hold, sending Bret to the floor with his powerful leg strength.


Bret tees off with right hands, clothesline from Taker. Tombstone is avoided by Bret who pulls Taker into the ring-post, Bret locks in the Sharpshooter using the ring-post before Taker shoves off Bret into HBK. Bret grabs a chair from ringside, Bret clocks Taker in the head with the chair. Michaels is at ringside on one knee, Bret covers Taker for a close two. Michaels spots the chair, Bret and Michaels are having words, Bret spits on HBK. HBK swings the chair and waffles Taker in the head by mistake. Michaels has no choice but to count and Bret wins the WWF Championship.


So this one actually was lacking for me which is almost blasphemous for me to say considering how much I enjoy Bret’s work and his 1997 work has been excellent but this feels a step down from his matches with Austin and Taker is not the best when being worked on, always hard to feel for the giant 6 foot 10 beast. And they did not repeat my favourite spot of the crossbody counter into the Tombstone. Regardless, it just didn’t come together in this match for me and that’s a shame because there were elements that made it entertaining like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart bubbling over and resulting it Michaels costing Taker the WWF Championship. It’s great to see another feud come out of this match but will either man be the one to dethrone The Hitman? Maybe not, could it be The Rattlesnake who takes the championship from Bret Hart? Of course all speculation at the time if we only knew how much the WWF would change in the next several months.


Winner: Bret Hart over Undertaker via Steel Chair to The Skull!


That was WWF’s Summerslam 1997, a good PPV showing from the WWF. It will be hard to top Canadian Stampede but this had many moments during this show where I was really enjoying the action. Helmsley vs Mankind in the cage could be considered a classic, it is a hot feud and the fans are invested 100% which makes for matches with big reactions to all the big spots. Foley tortures himself in the name of performance and is rewarded with huge cheers when he leaves the steel cage. The likes of Pillman vs Goldust & LOD vs The Godwinns are solid matches that do not overstay their welcome, they give you the result they want and move on, my knock would be both feuds have very good reasons to be heated but for one reason or another, we don’t get to see those fireworks come out during the matches. The DOA vs Los Boricuas match drags, it’s awful and I hate it. However, we have a big moment for Ken Shamrock who looks like a star with his wild man attitude of destroying everything thin sight, we have Austin vs Owen showing they can have a good match albeit the ending is all that will be spoken about for the next number of months and a main event that while it may not be a masterpiece or exciting affair, the ending will have major effects on feuds going forward and you definitely want to tune into RAW to see what happens next! The WWF without Austin until Survivor Series 1997 sounds bleak but HBK is back, could the WWF continue its good streak of PPVs? Join me next time to see, thanks for reading and remember: there’s always another night!

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