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WWF One Night Only
20th September 1997
NEC Arena, Birmingham, England
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler & Jim Ross
Our first UK exclusive pay per view in our Attitude Era series. The pay per view was aired in the UK and Canada. The main event was for the European Championship, where Shawn Michaels would go up against the champion and “England’s favourite son” The British Bulldog. The WWF title match was between Bret Hart and The Undertaker. Undertaker lost the title under suspicious circumstances at Summerslam so a re-match was slated in for the pay per view. Bret mentions in his book how he found it frustrating how the WWF title match wasn’t mentioned on the poster yet he and Undertaker were McMahon’s two biggest draws overseas. Since winning the title at Summerslam, Bret was treated pretty much like an afterthought despite carrying the company for the majority of the year prior to his title victory. It’s also worth mentioning that this match isn’t on the VHS release but is on the DVD. I have my suspicions why the WWF title match was overlooked but I’ll get into that later on.
The opening video package focuses on Davey Boy Smith rather than the main event itself. It showed clips of Davey as a child and more photos of him as a teen and his early days at Stampede in Canada. Summerslam 1992 got a mention too. Davey’s crowning moment and my 3rd favourite match ever. I actually got a bit emotional watching this if I’m being totally honest.
Our announce team; Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler, introduce us to the show. The crowd looked pumped. Noticed one fan was wearing a Sunderland shirt which was nice.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley /w/ Chyna vs. Dude Love
These guys have been going at it ever since the King of the Ring now, but the feud is pretty much over by now, with Helmsley moving into the role of being Shawn’s sidekick for now. It saddens me to realise that this will likely be the last show on which Hunter makes his way out to Ode to Joy. Ah well, it was fun whilst it lasted. The match here is decent as always, albeit nothing special. It’s still a good start to the show. Dude actually outwrestles Hunter in the early going which JR is surprised about on commentary. Chyna once again makes her presence felt as she was quite good in this role as Hunter’s muscle, as she hits a stiff clothesline on Dude behind the referee’s back outside the ring. Helmsley takes control, but Dude comes back and looks to put his opponent away with the double arm DDT only for Chyna to put Helmsley’s foot on the ropes. Hunter capitalises and nails a distracted Dude with the pedigree to pick up the win.
Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley via pinfall
It was a good opener. The fans were well into it, booing and cheering at the right times. Both guys had good chemistry together and they’ll have even better matches against each other later on down the line.
Moments before the show, the fans were asked about their thoughts on the main event. Every women they asked wanted Shawn Michaels to win.
Sunny is introduced to the crowd as our guest ring announcer. She gets unbelievable loud pop. Shame she was announcing for Leif Cassidy (Al Snow) vs. Tiger Ali Singh. Before the match, Singh cuts a corny 1980’s babyface promo where he wanted all the kids to remain drug free. No idea what they were trying to achieve about that like. Better as a heel but an awful wrestler though.
Leif Cassidy vs. Tiger Ali Singh /w/ Tiger Jeet Singh
Wow I had no idea Leif Cassidy was still hanging around. I thought he would have been back in ECW by now. Of course he’s on job duty as usual as he’s set to take on Tiger Ali Singh who actually made his debut back in April. He’s one of those guys who never really did anything of note, probably due to him not being particularly good. Leif attacks Singh from behind and we are under way. The crowd just does not care about this one at all, and I can’t blame them as this is a pretty bad match. The match is so pointless that we even go to Brian Christopher in the back during it for some random reason. Anyway, Tiger picks up the win with a top rope bulldog which scores the three count.
Winner: Tiger Ali Singh via pinfall
Rating: ½ *
Boring match, at least it was short though. Leif Cassidy joined ECW and started a gimmick where he suffered from depression because of his lame gimmicks and status as a jobber in the WWF. He’d return in the summer of ’98 under the Al Snow gimmick.
A video recap plays showing the fans how the Headbangers won the tag titles at Ground Zero.
WWF Tag Team Championship
Los Boricuas (Savio Vega & Miguel) vs. The Headbangers © (Mosh & Thrasher)
The fans go crazy over the Headbangers. Both of whom weren’t that great in the ring however Chaz “Mosh” Warrington showed some promise as a singles performer in ’99 (When he competed as “Chaz”, don’t remind me of that God awful Beaver Cleavage gimmick he had!). Pretty random title match here as I’m not sure what exactly the Boricuas have done to earn a title shot. At least we’ve got a break from the Gang Wars. Miguel is the incredibly hairy Boricua in case you were wondering by the way. The Headbangers get a nice pop as they head out here, and this match is actually better than you would expect. It’s not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s certainly passable, and given what we have seen of the Boricuas of late, that’s definitely a good thing. The Boricuas do some solid double team work in this one taking control for much of the match. Miguel hits a sloppy power bomb on Thrasher. Headbanger Mosh surprises Miguel with the Stage Dive from the top which in turn causes the Headbangers to retain the titles. Headbangers celebrate in the crowd.
Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: The Headbangers via pinfall
It was a tag match which followed the traditional formula. As I said before, it’s not amazing but with the talents involved, it was better than what I expected.
A pre-recorded interview between Jim Ross and the British Bulldog. Bulldog talks about how his sister had been battling cancer from an early age and dedicates the match to her. Bulldog seems pretty confident about victory tonight but anything can change though.
Flash Funk vs. The Patriot.
Patriot gets heavy boos from the crowd. Feels weird for him to go from having a high profile pay per view match against Bret Hart for the title to having an a filler match against Flash Funk! That entrance music sounds familiar. Flash is floating around doing a whole heap of nothing. Both men show respect for one another since they are technically both faces, but the match is pretty uneventful. The end of the match sees Flash go for the moonsault but Patriot gets his knees up. Patriot takes charge with Uncle Slam (a full nelson slam) to pick up the win. After the match, Patriot waves old glory. I’m sure he was doing that for a piss take.
Winner: The Patriot via pinfall
Nothing to mention in this one. I’m pretty sure this has just been thrown together to get Patriot a win on this card to keep him relatively strong coming off his loss to Bret at Ground Zero.
The Legion of Doom vs. The Godwinns is up next. The LOD cut a strange and cryptic promo. Had no idea what Hawk was talking about. Said something about a bird shitting in his eye and not crying about it and that cows don’t fly. I’m being 100% serious.
The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) vs. Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal)
Of course this is a rematch from Summerslam. The two teams had an altercation during the elimination match for the tag titles last month which saw the LOD get disqualified, and they have continued to have issues, the idea being the Godwinns want revenge for the LOD breaking Henry’s neck earlier in the year. Now believe it or not this is actually a decent match, better than their Summerslam outing. I should point out that in the weeks leading into this show the Godwinns have gotten a new manager by the name of Uncle Cletus (Zeb Colter). He’s not here tonight though so I’ll get into him at our next show. Both teams take it to one another, with the Godwinns working over Hawk until he manages to get the hot tag to Animal. The crowd shows their support for the LOD as they come back and hit the Doomsday Device on Phineas. This allows Animal to pick up the pinfall for the LOD.
Winners: The Legion of Doom via pinfall
Better than their Summerslam match (rated it * ½). Actually surprised by the rating considering of who’s involved.
An in-ring interview between Ken Shamrock and Jim Ross. Shamrock suffered an injury against Faarooq which ruled him out of tonight; he was originally going against Owen Hart but is replaced by Vader. Shamrock’s interview skills were pretty basic but his character and in-ring skills got him over. Rockabilly (Billy Gunn) comes out and mocks Shamrock for pulling out because of a “stomach ache”. He slaps Shamrock and Shamrock snaps. He locks on the ankle lock and Billy screams in pain.
Bret Hart interview. He gets a very mixed reaction. He was facing the Undertaker in the semi-main event so I guess that explains the reaction. Bret says that saying that the opinions of the British fans still matter to him. He says that tonight he will prove against the Undertaker why he is the greatest champion of all time.
Vader vs. Owen Hart
After floundering a little aimlessly as a heel for the past few months, Vader is officially a face now as we saw back at Ground Zero. That turn came about in a match against the Patriot on Raw is War back in August. During that match, the Hart Foundation made their way to the ring and joined in on beating up the Patriot. After beating Patriot down, the Hart Foundation draped the Canadian Flag over his body, but Vader took exception to this and snapped it in two, getting a huge pop and turning face in the process. The Hart Foundation would beat down the Mastodon after that, which led to him chasing of the British Bulldog in Patriot’s match with Bret Hart a few weeks later at Ground Zero. Anyway, all of that goes out the window tonight, as whilst Vader gets a decent enough pop, the Hart Foundation are faces to this English crowd, as Owen makes his way to the ring to a huge ovation. The announcers cover it up by saying its due to his affiliation with the Bulldog. Anyway this is a very good match, as you would expect from these two great workers. Owen pretty much works this one as the face which is fun to see as it’s been a while, whilst Vader beats on him throughout most of the match, even bodyslamming Vader which surprised me. Owen locks in the Sharpshooter on the big guy at one point, but Vader fights through. Vader takes control as he goes for the Vaderbomb, but the momentum shifts once more as Owen lifts his knees as the big guy comes crashing down. Owen builds some more momentum and goes up top for a cross body, only to be caught by Vader, who hits him with a powerslam to pick up the win.
Winner: Vader via pinfall
Rating: *** ½
The show begins to pick up here with this excellent match that got the right about of time. The Bodyslam spot on Vader was a genuine surprise and I had no idea Owen was capable of doing that. The other thing which I found surprising was how well both guys gelled together. Shame they never had a series of high profile matches together.
The announcers recap what happened at Summerslam in the main event. The camera cuts over to the Undertaker. Undertaker says that Bret wouldn’t have Shawn Michaels there to help him again. The irony huh?
The Undertaker vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart ©
This is a rematch from Summerslam where Bret Hart beat the Undertaker with the inadvertent assistance from Shawn Michaels to win the WWF Championship in the first place. Having said that, Taker has been feuding with Shawn ever since, but since he’s preoccupied with the Bulldog tonight we are getting this match instead. No complaints here as you’ll never get a bad match when you throw these guys in the ring together. The crowd is again divided here, since Bret is only really a heel in the US, and Taker isn’t going to be booed any time soon. I think the fans are booing Bret because they love Undertaker’s gimmick so much. I’ve seen ‘Taker wrestle live many times and let me tell you, he ALWAYS gets a great reception. The match is excellent, and is one of those forgotten classics. They go at it for nearly thirty minutes and put on one amazing WWF title match in the process. Two real pros here, showing why they are two of the greatest of all time. The only thing that hurts this one is the lack of a definitive ending, but it makes sense as they want to keep the belt on Bret whilst keeping Taker strong for his next PPV outing (I’m really looking forward to that one). After taking it to each other for a lengthy match, Taker becomes frustrated when Bret counters his way out of a Tombstone and he ends up getting the Hitman’s head caught between the ropes. Instead of stepping back to let the champion get free, Taker proceeds to pummel the Hitman which gets him disqualified.
Winner: Bret Hart via DQ
Rating: **** ½
Outstanding match. I gave it the same rating as their Summerslam match but I would rank that match higher than this. Bret has always speaks highly of the Undertaker and his respect for him shows in these matches. I don’t know what it is but they just click whenever there in the ring. I mentioned that this is somewhat of a hidden gem; I guess if this match wasn’t aired for an UK exclusive event, it would have had more recognition. Arguably, two of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time.
We now send it back to Shawn Michaels. Shawn says that tonight he will become the first grand slam winner when he adds the European title to his resume. Our main event is up next.
WWF European Championship
Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog ©
During his entrance, Shawn takes a kid’s British Bulldog action figure and shoves it down his tights. Found that to be inappropriate and as a born again Christian, I’m sure Shawn regrets doing stupid stuff like that. This match has been booked for quite a while as it was mentioned at our last PPV. It basically all stems from Michaels wanting to win the European title to become the first grand slam winner in company history, meaning that he would have won all the championships in the company throughout his career. He gets some major heat from the crowd as he heads on out to the ring alone here, and he’s followed by the champion, who of course gets the biggest pop of the night. Vince calls this a battle of the egos on commentary. The match is another very good one, with Bulldog starting out looking dominant in the early going. Rick Rude eventually makes his way down to ringside to help Shawn out behind the referee’s back as he gets some cheap shots on Bulldog. Hmm surely the Harts are going to come out to stop this right? Anyway Michaels retakes control of the match, but Bulldog fights back until we get a double KO spot after both men run the ropes and take each other out. Then all of a sudden Hunter and Chyna head out to ringside as well. Bulldog takes control, and goes to powerslam Michaels as the action spills to the outside. The numbers game catches up to the champion though, as Hunter and Rude get in some cheap shots as Michaels nails Bulldog with Sweet Chin Music. Helmsley follows up with a pedigree and the future DX is doing a number on Bulldog. Where is the Hart Foundation? Surly they’ll be here to equal the odds right? Back in the ring Shawn Michaels ends up locking in the figure four leglock on his opponent after taking off his knee brace and throwing it at Diana at ringside. Bulldog does his best to fight it, but he passes out after a while resulting in the referee stopping the match and awarding the title to Shawn. After the match, Shawn keeps the figure four locked in, prompting Diana to jump the rail only to get taken out by Chyna. Finally Bret and Owen run down to the ring to make the save as Shawn and company flee the scene as we go off the air. My only real problem with this match is the fact that Bret and Owen kind of looked stupid for not running down earlier when all the DX interference was going on.
Winner and NEW WWF European Champion: Shawn Michaels via TKO
Rating: **** ½
I’ll talk more about the finish in the random thoughts section but for the time being, I enjoyed this match. Shawn and Davey Boy are two of my favourite wrestlers ever and they always produce the goods. Davey looked dominant early on but the numbers game with Rude, Hunter and Chyna getting involved turned the tide in favour to Shawn. Shawn’s selling and bumping was great like always. Sadly, I’d consider this to be Davey’s final best match. He would leave the WWF in November and suffer a serious back injury in WCW; he wasn’t the same performer after that.
Shawn, Hunter, Chyna and Rude celebrate as the show comes to an end.
Best match: Undertaker vs. Bret Hart – A solid match between two of the best ever.
Worst match: Leif Cassidy vs. Tiger Ali Singh – I don’t know what’s worse. The match or Tiger’s pre-match promo.
Attitude Era Moment – Shawn Michaels wins the European title. Politics aside, Shawn makes history as the first ever grand slam champion.
Top 5 Superstars:
1. Shawn Michaels – Despite the obvious politicking surrounding the main event, a grand slam champion is something not to be sniffed at. The title change was also a great move in terms of getting more heat on the future DX stable
2. Bret Hart – His last PPV match for the WWE in the UK.
3. Undertaker – Was great in the title match. Shame it had to end in DQ though.
4. Owen Hart – Shame he had to do the job. He was brilliant as always.
5. British Bulldog – You have to feel for him for being a victim of backstage politics. Had a solid match.
Shawn Michaels – 11pts
Bret Hart/ Undertaker – 10pts
Stone Cold – 8pts
Owen Hart – 3pts
Mick Foley – 2pts
British Bulldog – 1pt
Overall show rating (Out of 10): 7.5
This was a great show, I’d even go out on a limp and say it’s the second best pay per view of ’97 (Canadian Stampede being first). There were a few let downs on the undercard but for the most part, they were pretty well too. The last three matches truly delivered and that’s no surprise when you got the likes of Bret, Owen, Undertaker, Shawn, Davey Boy and Vader involved. One of the better shows of 1997 and it wasn’t even a proper pay per view either. I look forward to re-viewing these UK exclusive shows.
Pay Per View Rankings
One Night Only – 7.5
Summerslam ’97 – 6
Ground Zero – 4