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Attitude Era Classics: WWF D-Generation X 1997

 

WWF D-Generation X IYH

December 7th 1997

Civic Centre, Springfield, Massachusetts

Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Attendance: 6,358

BuyRate: 0.40

 

As we head into the final pay per view of 1997, the WWF was in a very different place as it was the previous month. After all the controversy which took place at Survivor Series, Bret Hart and the rest of the Hart Foundation (apart from Owen Hart) quit the company in protest as well as a few other talents as well. With one of the top heel factions gone, the focus was placed on D-Generation X as the top stable in the company. The WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels, would defend the title against Ken Shamrock in the main event. Meanwhile, Hunter Hearst Helmsley would go up against the Commissioner, Sgt Slaughter, in a Boot Camp Match after being a thorn in his side for a few months. The other historical moment to come from this event would be the 1st PPV meeting between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock as they battle it out for the Intercontinental title.

 

The video package hypes up D-X and their antics at the time. It was a pretty edgy video I must say, a sign of things to come for the World Wrestling Federation in the next few years. After a pyro display, we get a good shot of the crowd and are welcomed to the show by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. They would be the broadcast team for the next few years.

 

WWF Light heavyweight Championship

Tournament Finals

“Too Sexy” Brian Christopher vs. Taka Michinoku

For the past many months, the WWF had created its own Light Heavyweight division as its own answer to WCW’s amazing Cruiserweight division. Tonight marks its official launch as a new Light Heavyweight Champion is to be crowned in the finals of a tournament that had taken place the past few weeks on Raw is War heading into this show. Anyway, Taka Michinoku got here by defeating Aguila in the semi-finals, whilst Christopher beat Scott Taylor, in a few months’ time Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor would end up forming Too Much and later on, Too Cool. Christopher is of course the heel and there’s still the running gag of Ross alluding to Lawler being his father whilst the King would always deny the allegations as would Too Sexy. The match itself is a decent start to the show although it’s nothing that will blow you away. Too Sexy’s reaction to the “Jerry’s Kid” chants was excellent. The crowd is definitely into Taka who busts out some impressive moves in this one. Taka comes away with the victory in this one as he pins Christopher following the Michinoku Driver to become the first ever WWF Light Heavyweight Champion. He gets presented the title by some officials and poses for some photographers. Nice touch to put the new belt over. They make it into a big deal but come this time next year, the belt would be treated like a joke.

Winner and NEW WWF Light Heavyweight Champion: Taka Michinoku via pinfall.

Rating: ** ½

This was a good opener and a good showcase for the new title. Both guys worked well and even pulled out moves that the WWF audience were unfamiliar with. Too Sexy had improved as a heel, in the past he tried too hard to get any sort of heat but here he was smart enough to know how to work the crowd. I always felt he was better as a heel. Taka was clearly the star of the Light Heavyweight division in the early days.

 

Kevin Kelly and The Jackyl are on the Superstar line. The Jackyl says that he will hold no punches and vows to get the answers and the “truth” from the WWF Superstars. On a personal note, I always thought that Don Callis (The Jackyl) was an amazing talent who was blessed with a ton of charisma. His ECW work as “Cyrus” was fucking gold! Go on YouTube and check that shit out.

 

Los Boricuas (Jesus Castillo, Miguel Perez & JoseEstrada) vs. Disciples of Apocalypse (Chainz, Skull & 8-Ball)

Oh no, here we go again with the “Gang Warz”. Thankfully, the feud was coming to an end at this point so I don’t have to re-watch this shit again! The Gang Wars is really feeling dated at this point, especially now that Crush has left in the post-Montreal exodus. His absence was dealt with by having him destroyed by Kane on TV heading into this show. Savio comes out with his team but is quickly sent backstage to keep things even. I really don’t have much to say about this match. It’s more of the same which is not a good thing. Miguel injures his knee which forces him out of the match. DOA dominates early on, but the Boricuas come back and pick up the win when Jose pins Chainz following a somersault legdrop by Miguel, who was playing possum all along.

Winners: Los Boricuas via pinfall

Rating: ½ *

I’ll give it to them; it was a clever finish with Miguel faking an injury only to help turn the tide in favour of his team but it was no different to anything else we’ve seen from these guys.

 

Backstage, Doc Hendrix is with Butterbean who looks to teach Marc Mero a lesson tonight. At one point he fluffs his lines but like a pro he improvises. After a brief video package of the events which lead up to this match, we join Michael Cole who is with Sable. She says she’ll be in Mero’s corner tonight, and speaking of the devil he butts in and tells Sable to stop stealing the spotlight. Is it just me or was the Mero/Sable relationship a spoof of Macho Man and Elizabeth? It sure felt like it.

 

Toughman Contest

Marvellous Marc Mero /w/ Sable vs. Butterbean

In an attempt to get some main stream exposure, the WWF brought in Butterbean for this show to work a little angle with Mero. Ever since Survivor Series, Mero had been acting more and more of a jerk towards Sable due to his jealousy for her popularity and he changed his moniker from “Wildman” to “Marvellous”. Then on a recent episode of Raw is War, Butterbean (who had been sitting in the front row) came to Sable’s defence when she was being berated by Mero. Mero responded by attacking the Toughman, leading to this match here. This is basically just a boxing match with four 2 minute rounds. It’s a work by the way, not like the disaster of an idea that would lead to a future Butterbean appearance down the line! Sable is more over than either guy in this match, which I really can’t blame the fans for because she looked incredible at this point. Mero plays stalling tactics whilst getting in a few cheap shots on his opponent here and there. It’s really pretty boring, but I’ve never liked when they try to have boxing matches in wrestling, still have nightmares over Roddy Piper & Mr T at Wrestlemania 2! Mero ends up getting frustrated after being knocked around by Butterbean and responds by hitting the Toughman fighter with a low blow to be disqualified in the fourth round.

Winner: Butterbean via DQ

Rating: DUD

Boring match. Far too gimmicky for my liking. Butterbean looked tired in the second round but to be fair, he was competing the night before. The finish confused me a lot. Mero got disqualified for hitting Butterbean with a low blow despite hitting a high knee early in the 2nd round. Noticed a sign in the crowd saying “Who Booked This?” Blame Russo!

 

Backstage, Dude Love is on the Superstar Line. The Dude says that it’s going to be a long night for The Rock who is facing Stone Cold for the Intercontinental title. Dude Love and Austin were former tag team champions but were forced to vacate the titles at Ground Zero.

 

Back in the arena, The Artist Formally Known as Goldust and Luna Vachon are introduced to the crowd. Goldust has fallen off the deep after breaking up with Marlena and he repackaged himself with this new gimmick where he would experiment with different fetishes and Luna would serve as his “Dominatrix”. Goldust is wearing a pink bondage outfit with white makeup and a black domino mask. And you think Lady Gaga wears strange outfits, right? Anyway, Goldust recites “Green Eggs and Ham” before Luna drags him away. That certainly was a weird segment.

 

Michael Cole is interviewing the Legion of Doom. They’ll be facing Road Dogg and Billy Gunn next for the tag titles. Much like the “One Night Only” ppv, Hawk cuts a promo comparing Road Dogg & Billy Gunn to picking his nose. Yes, you’ve read that right. Road Warrior Hawk cut a promo about picking his nose. I’m not trying to disrespect the Legion of Doom but they are clearly out of touch and dated at this stage of their careers.

 

WWF Tag Team Championship

Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. Road Dogg & Billy Gunn ©

At our last PPV, the Legion of Doom were the reigning WWF Tag Team Champions, whilst the yet to be named New Age Outlaws were a random pairing of guys with nothing better to do that were building momentum as a heel tandem for the first time in a while. In what was a major upset at the time, the future Outlaws defeated the LOD on an episode of Raw is War in November. In fact, that match is part of the “Attitude Era Mode” on WWE’13.The new champs haven’t truly really gotten over yet, but in a few months they will be one of the hottest acts and top tag team in the promotion which really shows that you can turn anybody around. The match here isn’t very good though, which is probably what was expected since the LOD were never great in-ring wise and the Outlaws were still getting into the swing of things at this early point in their run. As a result the match is a heatless and basic brawl for the most part. Continuing the long standing rivalry between the LOD and the Godwinns, Henry Godwinn makes his way out during the match and hits Animal with the slop bucket without the referee seeing it. Hawk retaliates by grabbing the bucket and taking out everyone which ends up getting the former champs disqualified.

Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: Road Dogg & Billy Gunn via DQ

Rating: *

The finish was a let-down but the match was actually okay. The LOD did a lot of jobs to the Outlaws between late ’97 to early ’98 and that took away from their intimidation factor which they were famous for. The Outlaws would go from strength to strength after this and become one of the biggest acts of this era.

 

We get a video package about Slaughter’s issues with DX before sending it to Michael Cole, standing by with Triple H and Chyna. Triple H makes a bunch of age related jokes at the expense of the Commissioner before we go across to Jim Cornette who is standing by with Sarge himself. Sarge cuts his usual type of promo referring to Triple H as a maggot and vows to fight.

 

Boot Camp Match

Triple H /w/ Chyna vs. Sgt Slaughter

After months of being the butt of DX’s pranks and disrespectful antics in the face of authority, Commissioner Slaughter steps out of retirement to battle Triple H in a no disqualification match tonight. Having been made a fool of ever since the formation of the rebellious group, Slaughter gained a measure of revenge on his adversary when he came to the aid of Jim Neidhart in a match against Triple H, locking in the cobra clutch on a recent episode of Raw is War. Now that the Patriot is gone, Slaughter gets the music made more famous by Kurt Angle here. The match is basically here to help get Hunter over as an effective heel by working with a veteran like Slaughter. Aside from the opener this is the best match we have had so far which really is telling about this card. Chyna has her fair share of involvement as she continues to play a key role in Helmsley’s push as a heel up the card. The match comes to an end when Slaughter seemingly has Triple H put away in the cobra clutch, only for Chyna to hit the low blow allowing Trips to come back with a pedigree on a chair for the win.

Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley via pinfall

Rating: * ½

It was a match designed to get Helmsley over as a heel with the aid of a veteran by Slaughter. With Slaughter being the on air authority figure up against the cool DX, it’s hard for the Commissioner to be viewed in a sympathetic light here despite JR’s best efforts on commentary. The other problem I have is the length of time given to this match. To his credit, Slaughter worked hard but he was very tired come the end of the match and with the stipulation in place, they should have used more weapons throughout. The Pedigree on the steel chair was a sick spot at the time.

 

A promo hyping up the Royal Rumble airs. I look forward to reviewing that show!

 

Backstage Michael Cole is with the returning Jeff Jarrett. He’s ditched the country singer gimmick and predicts that a world title is in his future. He is facing the Undertaker who is making his first appearance since Bad Blood.

 

Jeff Jarrett vs. The Undertaker

This is Jarrett’s much-hyped return to the WWF after a run as a Horseman in WCW. This is also the debut of what is derisively called “The Aztec Warrior” costume for Jarrett. It’s basically a teal and orange South-western design. Oddly enough, it’s like the reverse of the Taker’s costume – at least the robe. Jarrett is pretty much just fodder for the Phenom here and I can’t help but notice that he looks tremendously out of place in the ring with Taker. Taker pretty much destroys Jarrett here as you would expect. He looks to put Jarrett away when Kane’s music hits and the Big Red Monster makes his way to the ring. Kane chokeslams Jarrett which causes Taker to be disqualified. Post-match, Kane attempts to goad Taker into fighting him, but the Phenom refuses to do battle with his own flesh and blood. Kane leaves and Taker beats up Jarrett some more before leaving as well. After recovering alone in the ring, Jarrett orders the ring announcer to declare him the winner.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett via DQ

Rating: ½ *

This was designed mainly to add more interest in the Undertaker/Kane storyline before they finally meet at Wrestlemania. As much as I admire Jarrett as a wrestler, he looked like a jobber here despite the hype surrounding his return. It begs the question, was he being punished for his attitude in his previous run? If so, why bother hyping him up in the first place? Another thing I found strange was hyping him up as him making his “debut” rather than his “return”. Strange I know!

 

Up in the crowd, Michael Cole is with Mark Henry. He was a face at the time and the WWF invested big money in making him a massive star but he was always hampered by injury. According to Mick Foley, he says that the WWF planned a line of Mark Henry merchandise yet they had no interest in doing any merchandise for Stone Cold. The “Austin 3:16” shirt would end up becoming the fastest selling shirt of all time. Speaking of Stone Cold, Mark picks him as the winner for our next match.

 

After a recap of the events leading up to our next match, we cut over to Doc Hendrix who is with the Nation of Domination. We hear from the Rock who is starting to make strides as a heel.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship

Rocky Maivia /w/ Faarooq, D’Lo Brown & Kama Mustafa vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin ©

History in the making right here! The beginning of one of the greatest feuds of all time that would produce many great matches down the line. This is all happening due to the Nation leader Faarooq being pissed at Austin costing him the I.C title back at Badd Blood. To get some payback, Faarooq ordered the Rock to steal Austin’s belt, and act he was successful in doing. The two men had some great brawls heading into this show with Austin constantly taking it to the Nation in an attempt to get his belt back. The most famous of these incidents was the classic 3:16 beeper incident, which saw the Rock receive a page saying just that whilst being in the ring on an episode of Raw is War, only to be assaulted by the rattlesnake. That segment was covered in the video package shown before the match. Austin is insanely over as always here, and he gets a huge pop as he comes out to the ring driving a truck into the arena. The “Rocky Sucks” chants are deafening, in fact, they were so loud, you could hear Rocky’s entrance music! Despite Austin not yet being fully recovered from his neck injury, this match is actually pretty good, although these two men would go on to have much better encounters down the line. D’Lo takes a bump onto the truck’s windshield as Austin stuns him on top of the truck as the Nation members attempt to interfere on Rock’s behalf before the match gets under way. The crowd goes crazy as the match is officially under way with Austin and Rock going at it. They keep it relatively short for Austin’s sake at this point, but the match is still definitely the highlight of this show. After some more Nation interference, some back and forth brawling between Austin and Rock, and a ref bump mixed into it all, Austin ends up hitting the Rock with the stunner to retain his title to a huge pop.

Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin via pinfall

Rating: ***

It was short yet enjoyable. The chemistry was there and it would only get better over time. This feud would come to a conclusion the following night on Raw when Austin refused to defend the title in a rematch ordered by Mr McMahon, saying that because he beat Rock tonight he didn’t need to prove anything. Austin instead forfeited the title to Rock, saying he had his eyes on bigger prizes, but not before tossing the I.C belt into the river in a famous moment from this era. Austin wrestled the entire match wearing his vest! That was pretty funny.

 

Kevin Kelly and The Jackyl hype up the Superstar line. Jackyl says that he’s not scared of Austin and is willing to get physical in order to get the truth out of Austin.

 

Our main event is up next, so we get a video package highlighting Ken Shamrock’s recent issues with DX. It told the story that once the ankle lock was a dangerous submission hold and once it was locked in, the match was over. We then go to Jim Cornette who is with Shamrock in the back. Shamrock says he’s going to make Michaels cry like a bitch. The promo was so short that it caught Cornette off guard. I think he was expecting Shamrock to talk longer but mic skills were never Shamrock’s strong point. We then go across to Michaels and the rest of DX who make a few jokes at Jim Ross’s expense before brushing off Shamrock’s threats, with Michaels claiming to be the number one man in the company with that not changing any time soon.

 

WWF Championship

Ken Shamrock vs. Shawn Michaels © /w/ Triple H & Chyna

With Bret Hart having left the company following the Survivor Series, Michaels was really left without a strong face contender after winning the title since he had just finished feuding with the Undertaker so they couldn’t go straight back to that. So he gets Shamrock here in a match that was really just thrown together to have a title match on the card. Shamrock was a solid midcarder, but nobody expected him to win the big one here. Anyway, Shamrock has been making people tap out to his ankle lock as usual heading into this show, one of his victims being Shawn Michaels himself, which pretty much earned him this match. DX responded by making fun of Shamrock and the ankle lock, but the submission specialist got the last laugh by locking the ankle lock in on Michaels whilst Slaughter had the cobra clutch on Triple H on the Raw is War prior to this show. It was a pretty basic build just thrown together as you can tell. I should note that Michaels is still the reigning European Champion as well here, but that won’t last much longer. Also Rick Rude is now officially gone from the company after the Montreal exodus. The match itself is really nothing more than average here. Shamrock starts out on fire which has Michaels looking to bail in the early going, but the challenger goes right after him and the match continues. Of course there is plenty of DX interference as you expected from the faction at this point as a bunch of cheating heels but Shamrock does his best to overcome the odds. Late in the match Michaels misses the Sweet Chin Music, and Shamrock follows up by locking in the ankle lock on the champion. Just as it seems Shamrock has the title in his sights though, Triple H and Chyna runs in and trigger the DQ.

Winner: Ken Shamrock via DQ

Rating: ** ½

The ending was confusing. I understand the DX interference but why not put Michaels over clean? Shamrock was never in title contention after this and the DQ finish would suggest a re-match later on down the line. The match itself was good but let down by the finish.

 

As Michaels goes to put a beating on Shamrock with with his DX partners, none other than Owen Hart comes out from the crowd and jumps Michaels, officially turning face in the process. I believe this was his first appearance since Montreal, but I may be wrong on that. The crowd goes wild as Owen beats the hell out of the WWF Champion, legitimately breaking his nose in the process and sending him through the announce table. Triple H attempts to come to Shawn’s aid, but Owen takes off through the crowd having done the damage as we go off the air.

 

Random thoughts

  • Three DQ finishes on a pay per view is never a good thing. I understand the DQ finish for the tag title match and even for the Toughman fight too but for the main event it should have finished clean. Shamrock was never in title contention after this so the DQ finish was pointless. Slaughter should have come out, removed Hunter and Chyna from ringside and re-started the match. Shawn could then get the victory by outsmarting Shamrock in some way.  I always thought that the title match at the Royal Rumble would have been Shawn vs. Owen. That would have been a huge money match but instead; Undertaker got the nod whiles Owen had to make do with a feud with Triple H.
  • The WWF’s Light Heavyweight division had potential but it could never compete with WCW’s Cruiserweight division though. I liked how they made Taka’s victory look like a big deal with the photographers and the Legends getting involved in the title coronation. However, come December ’98, it was treated like a joke with Gillberg as Champion. It wouldn’t receive the same attention that it received here when Dean Malenko won it 3 years later.
  • To be honest, I totally forgot about that Rock/Austin match. Who would have imagined that once day “The Ringmaster “and “Flex Kavana” would end up as the biggest draws in wrestling history. The chemistry was there and it would only get stronger resulting in one of the greatest matches ever. Which match I’m I talking about? Just wait and see kids!
  • That Goldust segment was pretty weird, right? Credit must be given to Vince Russo for coming up with the gimmick. One thing I truly loved about the Attitude era was the amount of characters at the time. Some good, some bad and some pretty damn ugly!

 

Best Match: Rocky Maivia vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – A fun title match between two future world champions.

Worst Match: Marc Mero vs. Butterbean – The match that inspired the mess that is the “brawl for all.” Such a Terrible match!

Attitude Era Moment: The 1st ever Rock/Austin match on PPV – History in the making between two of the biggest names in Wrestling history and the poster boys of the Attitude Era. Rock & Austin would end up having amazing matches down the line.

 

Top 5 Superstars

1. Stone Cold – His rebel gimmick was catching on. Performed well in his match against the man who would end up becoming his greatest rival.

2. The Rock – His heel persona was working well. It wouldn’t be long until he started to use more comedy in his promos. Ended the year as the Intercontinental Champion.

3. Taka Michinoku – Showed some impressive moves in his match. Clearly the star of the LHW division in its infant stages.

4. Shawn Michaels- I enjoyed his performance. He sold the beat down from Owen Hart perfectly.

5. Ken Shamrock – Deserves credit for his involvement in the main event. He moved into contention for the Intercontinental title after this event.

 

Superstar Rankings

Shawn Michaels – 21pts

Bret Hart – 18pts

Stone Cold – 17pts

Undertaker – 14pts

The Rock – 5pts

Owen Hart/Taka Michinoku/ Ken Shamrock – 3pts

Mick Foley/ Vader– 2pts

British Bulldog/ Kane – 1pt

 

Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 2.5

The WWF was a tough place to be at the time after Survivor Series and it showed here tonight. The opener and IC title matches were good with everything else being very underwhelming. It felt like nothing more than a throwaway show. It’s not all doom and gloom though. 1998 is just around the corner and to me, that’s the greatest year in the company’s history. The Attitude Era is coming guys, get ready!!

 

Pay Per View Rankings

One Night Only – 7.5

Summerslam ’97 – 6

Ground Zero – 4

Survivor Series ’97 – 4

Bad Blood – 3

D-Generation X – 2.5

UP NEXT: WWF Royal Rumble 1998

https://rifrasslin.wordpress.com/category/attitude-era-classics/

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